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to the manes of his ancestors, a Brahmin advance in chemistry. They know the must be near, and give his sanction and periods of fevers, and for this knowledge, aid; nor must the offering be given to Hippocrates may have been indebted to any but the priests, on pain of torture in them, or to their teachers, the Egyptians. the world to come. By these, and other A whole volume of the Vedas is devoted contributions, a thousand Soudras, though to a kind of physiological mysticism, miserably poor themselves, will support which enumerates every part and funcone Brahmin in affluence. Certain of the tion of the body, connecting each with Shastras, or religious books, which con the elements of the world, and the powtain prayers, mythological histories, and ers of those gods which are only personithe adventures and exploits of incarnate fied elements. deities, are set apart for the use of inferior The second caste of Soudras are mercastes, and are assiduously read by them. chants, shop-keepers, farmers, and the
The wisest of the Brahmins affirm, that like; but in Bengal, there are fewer of there are now no Sondras of the caste these than of Brahmins. A third caste that sprung from the feet of Brahma; but deal in drugs and spices; they learn readthat all inferior Hindoos are only de- ing and writing, and to keep accounts. generate Brahmins. Whole families, A fourth order work in brass, and other and even villages, lose caste, from time metals. The fifth class make shell braceto time, by some crime or inadver- lets and armlets, which are worn in tency; and the majority of the priestly profusion by the women of Hindostan, order, marry women of inferior rank, by though forbidden by the Vedas. These whom their children become inferior to classes read mythological poems, and themselves; and from these causes, the other fictitious works, in which the liteprocess of degeneration goes on continu. rature of India abounds. Such are the ally over all India, and has gone on for Mahabarata and the Kamayana ; epics of thousands of years; so that every mean, indifferent execution, but imaginative in est Hindoo is remotely of Brahminical the extreme, abounding in mysteries, and extraction. The rise of any family, or composed in an exquisitely melodious individual, to a rank above its origin, is and expressive language. The poem the rarest of events in India, and happens called gavah, is a collection of mystionly by favor of the priests; a condition cal narratives, interspersed with theolowhich checks all social ambition, and gical and philosophical dialogues, and turns the attention of all classes upon defaced with the grossest obscenitiessensual enjoyment, or the acquisition of a common fault of Hindoo literature. It wealth, as a means of luxury.
is used as a first book for boys, and by The highest class of Soudras claim to exciting impure fancies, prepares the be physicians. Medicine, among the way for universal impurity of manners. Egyptians, was practiced by a division of Women of good reputation are not taught the sacred caste; and many of that caste, either to read or write, and the character in India, profess to effect cures, but chief- of Indian literature would forbid it. ly by incantations and magical rites. But The sixth class are husbandmen; not the healing art is certainly less reputable the owners of the soil, but miserable in India than it was in Égypt. Hindoo tenants, racked by Zemindars, or by the physicians make use of powerful medi- priest
. These landlords oppress and imcines, such as arsenic and opium, and poverish their tenants, wresting from with frequent success; but their practice them, under pretext of gifts and taxes, is traditional, only, and they have no everything but the necessaries of life. science, but mingle superstition with ob Because of such oppressions, endured servation.
by indolence and cowardice, the agriMany of this, and of other educated cultural population are uniformly poor, castes of Soudras, cultivate poetry and except in districts cultivated by Brahmins logic
. They have a great number of who direct their own farms. Nor are fictitious and speculative books, com- they the less thriftless and extravagant, posed in modern dialects, and the more spending all surplus in sensual pleasure. learned of them, forbidden access to the They make wedding feasts, to which sacred writings, incline, on the one side, friends, priests, and gatakas are invited, to pagan grossness, or, on the other, to to eat up quantities of sweetmeats and godless scepticism.
spices. The people are consequently Medicines are prepared by alchemisti- subject to famines, and perish in years of cal processes, but the Brahmins make no scarcity, by myriads. ‘All classes live
principally, and the lower castes entire- of the Hindoos, and, indeed, of all Asiatic ly, on vegetables. To a dish of rice, a nations, though excellent in practice, is little milk and butter, with spices and founded on mere tradition. sweetmeats, make a luxurious addition. The seventh class of Soudras are barThe houses of the poor consist of four bers; an employment of much consemud walls, sun dried, and thatched with quence in a country where custom restraw. These are built irregularly in quires that several parts of the body shall close villages, surrounded by a broad be submitted to the razor. The better common. In the dry season they are classes shave the head, leaving only a often burned, either purposely or acci- tuft behind; unlike their teachers, the dentally, and then renewed at the cost of Egyptians, who shaved the whole head, a little labor. The rich live in houses and wore a peruke; but an Hindoo would of brick, which have flat roofs, and are think himself defiled by only touching built, (after the Egyptian fashion) with the hair of a dead person. The caste of a body and two advancing wings, about barbers are shrewd and intelligent, and three sides of a small court, or area. The have a smattering of literature and Janfourth side of each court, upon the street, guages. They meddle in surgery, like is shut in by a high wall, having a door- the barbers of Europe, three centuries way in the middle. These houses are ago. The barber's wife performs offices from two to three stories in height, and of neatness for the women, while her have a balcony of baked earthen ware husband shaves the men. Hindoo woabout the roof. The inhabitants sit at men stain their teeth red, and the edges evening upon the house top, and even of the eyelids black, and have figures in sleep there, in a little chamber set apart. red painted on the sides of their feet. A few mats to sleep and squat upon, The eighth class are confectioners. earthen and brazen dishes, a smoking They make a variety of preparations with apparatus, and a shelf for books, are all rice and sugar, of which the Hindoos the furniture of a poor native of the bet consume a vast quantity, to the injury ter class. The rich indulge in every of health and fortune. In a market of luxury, as well of their own country as an hundred shops, twelve or fifteen are of Persia and Europe.
confectioners. This caste have some Cities in Northern India, are built near education, and read tales and poems. the great rivers, and resemble a close line The ninth class are potters and plasof villages, gathered for miles along their terers, and make clay idols. They use banks. They are composed, in great part, the potter's wheel. Cooking utensils in of the huts of artisans and traders, con India, are of coarse earthenware. This fusedly mingled with the palaces of caste dig wells, and line them with baked wealthy rayas and the splendor of mosques earthenware cylinders. The Hindoos and temples. At the annual inundation of know nothing of pumps, or water-wheels, the Ganges, the streets of its cities, hardly or of any complicated machinery. wider than foot-paths, and choked with The tenth class are weavers. Their every species of filth, are overflowed, loom is the same in principle, with the and defiled by carcasses of men and ani- ancient Egyptian, and the European hand mals that have perished in the flood, or Joom. Women of all castes spin thread were cast dead into the stream. By the from a distaff. The under dress of a multitude of carcasses, the cities become Hindoo is cloth folded about the loins, pestilential in the season of rains; but in and depending to the heels;, over this a the dry months, fires sweep over them, cloak is thrown, by which the neck and and render their sites again habitable. arms are covered or left bare, at pleasure.
The cities of the Ganges are only vast The rich wear pointed slippers, ornaencampments for the purposes of traffic, mented with gold and silver thread. The and superstition, and grow rapidly, or are poorer classes have only a slip of cloth deserted with the fluctuations of trade, to hide their nakedness. Hindoo women the change of a seat of government, or wear a single white robe, depending low the popularity, or decline of a famous from the loins, and brought from behind temple, or place of baptism. A close over the head, like a cloak hood. To this and thorny vegetation soon converts a a profusion of ornament is added. They deserted city into a habitation of tigers fix rings in the ears and nose, and roband serpents.
bers frequently enter houses with the Every species of grain and vegetable purpose of twitching off these ornaments, is cultivated in India. The agriculture which they do without any remorse.
Hindoo women of rich families marry tions deceive their employers to the utwhile they are mere children, and are most, and every man is driven to be the then treated with great tenderness, and secret enemy of society and of his neighlive almost unrestrained in their desires. bor. A smooth and cringing politeness Some householders have a room called to superiors, rivalling, courtly polish, in kroodagara, the room of sulks. If a the educated Hindoos, compensates for woman is discontented, she shuts herself the extremest insolence to inferiors and in kroodagara, until the master hearing dependants. Their genius for deceit apof it, comes to ask her wish ; this is pears even at the instant of death, and usually some trivial matter, either a trin- enables them to endure torture without ket or a bit of luxury from the market. a groan. Hindoo malefactors ask mercy The dress worn by widows is pure white; on the plea that theft and robbery is the that of married women has a colored privilege of their caste ; their fathers border.
were thieves before them, and their reAmon gother castes of Hindoo Soudrasligion allows it. The law of Egypt reare the goldsmiths, noted for their most cognized a caste of thieves, but punished remarkable dexterity in theft and coin- every discovered theft; and the same ing, (a proficiency which no wise dimin- happens in India. ishes, but, in the opinion of a Hindoo, No advantage to the perfection of a rather increases their respectability;) and trade, seems to have been gained, by lim. the Chaudalas, whose duty it is to take iting its use to a caste ; for the Hindoo away and burn the corpses of men and carpenters and blacksmiths, though bunanimals. These latter are the most de- gling workmen at first, become expert graded of all, because of their contact and diligent, under the guidance of Euwith the dead; and are required by the ropean masters of their craft; a proof that law to live a vagrant life about the excellence in the meanest occupation can suburbs of cities. The code of Menu be sustained only by keeping it in close commands the Chaudala to use broken alliance with character and intelligence. vessels in the preparation of food as a A person who forfeits rank by any token of his low condition. To touch a overt or accidental act, such as eating Chaudala is defilement to one of better food cooked by some one of a different caste. Last and lowest, the Hindoos religion, becomes an outcast; a misforplace their European masters, and all tune which sometimes befalls whole vilwho are not of their own race and re- lages at once : and the lost rank can be ligion, associating them in rank with regained only by bribing the Priests. The those gangs of miserable outcasts who outcast becomes an exile from his father's haunt the roads, and by reason of defile- house, and his own mother even, must not ment dare not approach the traveler of speak with him, unless at night, and by whom they ask an alms, but make signs stealth. In 1801, three Brahmins, having to him that he may leave it in the way at night and secretly, performed a sacriand pass on.
fice for another Brahmin who had lost Thus, by the barbarous institution of caste, were discovered by the head priests, caste, nine-tenths of the people of Hin- and in despair drowned themselves in the dostan are fixed in hopeless degradation, Ganges. Some years ago, Rama, a Brahand in a poverty which leaves them on min of Trivanee, having by mistake marthe verge of famine. The classes abhor ried his son to a girl of the Peëralee caste, each other: if a Soudra enters the kitchen was abandoned by his friends and died of of the poorest Brahmin, every earthen grief.* vessel is defiled, and must be broken and Sometimes, all the principal persons thrown away; nor can a Brahmin re of a village assemble to decide upon the ceive a cup of water from his own child, conduct of an individual ; if his caste is if that child be of inferior rank, without declared forfeit, (a result which he may loss of caste in this life, and of heaven prevent by profuse bribery.) no one of his in the next. But nature revolts against friends will eat with him ; but when a such laws, and in private they are per- whole village, or neighborhood, suffers petually violated ; causing an unlimited at once, they do not feel it as much, and deceit and hypocrisy to prevail among are contented to step a degree downward all classes to a degree unimagined in in the scale. other nations. All trades and occupa Next in rank are the caste of merchants
• Ward on the Hindoos, vol. iv., p. 129.
named VoIshyAS; who, although forbid The BRAHMINS, if not the contrivers, den to read the holy books, and ac have been the firm supporters of this syscounted Soudras, by the priests, assume tem of caste, so advantageous, in appearthe poita, or cord of sanctity, and regard ance, to themselves, and so ruinous, in themselves as regenerate, or “twice truth, to all. born.” The poita is a twisted cord, worn So sacred is the priestly order, vast over the left and under the right arm, numbers of Soudras purposely drink the like a sword belt reversed; it is put upon water in which the feet of Brahmins have the young Brahmin, and upon the Voishya been washed. Other Soudras frequent and Chastria, at the time of his initia- assemblies, and collect and eat the dust tion, when he is figuratively born into of their shoes, esteeming it to be a sohis order; and hence, all classes who as- vereign sanctifier and heal-all. Soudra sume the poita, are styled in the holy will fall upon his knees before a Brahmin, books twice born, or regenerate classes. clasping his hands, and exclaiming “ You
Boys are regularly initiated between are my God.” the ages of nine and fifteen; the cere Only Brahmins are permitted to read mony is tedious and frivolous, although the Vedas, the sacred sources of all law sanctioned by the prayers of priests, and and of all belief. When the dignity of the a number of mystical observances; by order is at stake, a Soudra cannot obtain which, the child is devoted to all the ele- justice against a Brahmin. No religious ments, to the gods, and to his order. Ini- ceremony is of any avail, unless a priest tiation begins and concludes with festivi- be present and receives a perquisite. A ties, during which, the friends and rela- feast, a sacrifice to the manes, a marriage, tions, and a crowd of Brahmins are en an investiture, a birth, a name-giving; tertained with sweatmeats and music. the consecration of temples, hearths, The poita, assumed at initiation, is the tools, nets, gardens, and fisheries; any external badge of caste.
piece of good or ill fortune; all suggest CHASTRIAS, or Ketris, descendents of a gift to the priest. Brahmins are feasted the ancient military order, claim to be by the rich as an act of merit, and to regenerate, and have their ceremony of shorten the purgatorial pains of their aninitiation. Though they must not read cestors. In one instance of the present the most sacred of the Vedas, they may century, one hundred thousand Brahmins repeat a certain prayer called gayatri, were invited and feasted by a Hindoo supposed to be essential to second birth, governor, at a sacrifice of the manes to and which none but the initiated, twice his ancestors; and assemblies of thousands born, are permitted to hear. This prayer on such occasions are not unusual. The they name their spiritual mother; and temples have each a sacred territory aphe who administers the sacrament of ini- propriated to them, which supports a tiation, and repeats the gagatri, is their number of priests. Brahmins fill all the spiritual father. Ketris, and merchants, civil offices, and preside in the courts and have many grades in their own castes, councils of the native Rajas. They are which they observe with great strictness. also the advisers and functionaries of Some of these are permitted to associate Moslem and European magistrates. They and eat together; but always under are theologians, writers, teachers, mer. restrictions. The Chastrias are a vigor- chants and usurers, and fill every situa. ous race, superior to any caste of Soudras, tion that requires intelligence or learning: and, in intellect, inferior only to the They are the rich men of Hindostan, and Brahmins; but those of the pure blood hold all the landed estates that are not in are few in number. Anciently, all Rajas the hands of foreigners, or of the military and soldiers were of this order. They order. The importance and power of maintain their rank, and those who are their caste may be judged by the number not employed in military and civil offices, and profit of their occupations, but their occupy the central
of Hindostan. power is diminished of its ancient splenThe historians of Alexander speak of dor, and they are not now what they certain free tribes, which opposed that were before their subjugation by the conqueror in his retreat through Moultan. Moslem, when the military and priestly They describe them as a powerful and orders were a mutual support to each courageous people, living in walled tow- other. Nor is their dignity descended to ers, as a free military democracy. They them from the days of Vicramaditya, when were probably a remnant of the ancient the literature of India was producing its Chastrias,
perfect fruit; when the Vedas were read
and understood, and penance and pious mystical allusion. Every step of the mysticism withdrew multitudes of vota. ceremony is sanctified by prayers repeat. ries from the tumult of life into forests ed from the Vedas; and by that prayer and sacred groves, where they indulged of prayers, named Gayatri, which the in intellectual reveries, or alternated the priest whispers in the ear of the candihymns of Vishnu, with the incantations date, while he invests him with the poita. of Siva.
His head is then veiled, and holding a Every epoch in the life of a Brahmin staff and a branch of the vilwa tree, with is marked by ceremonies and festivals, a satchel on his arm, he proceeds a menand his memory is followed for several dicant, fulfilling the requisitions of the generations by prayers and offerings for ancient law. Coming first to his mother, the deliverance of his soul. The princi- he begs and receives from her, and then pal festivals are those at birth, naming, a from each of his relations, a piece of second naming, investiture and marriage; money. Then, as though about to leave besides feasts and offerings in his favor, them, in the condition of a mendicant to a number of gods; but all require the priest, he presses toward the gate, but is presence of a priest
. The ceremony of held back by his father, who promises investiture occupies several days, and is a for him, that he shall become a secular curious tissue of mysticism and absurdity; Brahmin and return to the business of the but all to the one purpose of investing world. Other ceremonies follow. For the idea of second birth with an adequate twelve days the neophyte must sleep upsolemnity. On the fourth or fifth day on a bed of cusa grass, (which is singuprevious, the body of the young candidate larly sacred,) under a blanket of deeris anointed with tumeric, (a yellow skin-eating but once a day, and bathing stain,) yellow being the color of the mid- many times in the river, with prayers
and dle region, and of life. He is then feasted idol worship. During all this time, no from house to house by all his friends. Soudra must hear his prayers or see his The day before investiture, all the female face, or be seen by him; but if one of friends in the neighborhood are feasted inferior caste, with whom his father has at his father's house. They are there a relation of friendship, chances to meet perfumed, anointed and painted, and him, he must fall at the feet of the young dismissed with a present of oil. Then Brahmin, and receiving a small alms follows an evening feast of Brahmins, at must promise to be his friend for ever. which their foreheads are stained red, Next in importance, is the ceremony of and wreaths of flowers put upon their marriage. It resembles that of investi. necks close the day. The guests are ture, but is more magnificent, and attendentertained with music, sweatmeats, to- ed with an hundred odd observances.* bacco and betel, and with abundance of Marriages being negotiated and arrangfood that has been offered to the house- ed by the Gatakas, a multitude of hold gods.
At two in the morning, this profession are always invited to wedthe women go with lights in their hands dings, where they are feasted and receive from the house of one Brahmin to presents. Girls become wives in their another, giving oil, and receiving water ninth and eleventh year; boys, husbands in their pitchers; and returning feast at twelve or fifteen. A Brahmin may together, for the last time, with the young take as many wives as he pleases, but Brahmin; for an invested Brahmin must he usually takes but one home to be his not take food with a woman. The housekeeper. With every wife of an inceremony of investiture is conducted ferior rank, a Brahmin of the better class under an awning adorned with sacred receives rich dowry. branches, under which a large company The Kooleenas, who are the highest are seated and entertained. The candi- caste of Brahmins, must marry at least date is then anointed and shaved, leaving one wife of their own class, that they a tuft, only, upon the back of the head. may have children equal in rank to them(In Egypt, the tuft was left at the side of selves. But Brahmins of lower order the head, and hung in a curl.) Four ambitiously offer their daughters to the distinct sacrifices are made by the father, Kooleenas, with a rich present, for the who also touches the forehead of his son honor of their alliance. The ceremony with a variety of things, intending some takes place at the bride's home, and her
Upon a certain occasion, the women make puddles of mud behind the house, and, squatting in these, bespatter each other.