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table” were for the Sudra's gathering. This degradation of the slave is clearer, perhaps, than the humiliation of the upper castes, upon whom the authority of the Brahmins was nevertheless fast bound. But, in comparing the condition of the Sudra with that of the Vaisya or the Chatriya, we can measure the change between the civilization of the priests and the system of things which went before." But beyond the laws of the priesthood it was not intended that there should be any further progress; and the castes, as they have been defined, were declared to be fixed and immovable. There was an ideal standard, it is true, to each; * but the Sudra could never hope to be a Vaisya, nor was it possible for the Vaisya or the Chatriya, though neither was a slave, to reach a higher place than that in which he had been born. None would find it practicable to rise by services more eminent than his caste was expected or entitled to fulfil; for the laws denied him any other reward than what his birthright suffered him to receive. The superior regarded his inferior with contempt; the inferior looked up to his superior with despair. A great object with the Brahmins was to preserve this isolation of the castes, and even of the families of their subjects. They insisted upon purity of descent, visited the offspring of a mixed marriage with the heaviest penalties,” and guarded the rights of the women in each separate order with as much solemnity as if they had been on the same footing with the men. But the charms of the mother and the wife were lost in the polygamy which the laws allowed.” It need not be imagined that these various divisions and institutions appeared of old so formal or so oppressive as they have been here described. In the times antecedent to the period of our inquiry, before the laws and the habits of the dwellers by the Ganges were such as we have found them, there had been a priesthood, distinguished by its energy and its violence, amongst the tribe or the tribes to which it belonged. It was undoubtedly through force as much as through wisdom, that its authority was established, and transmitted, unbroken, to its posterity. But the priests of later years were distinguished for something else than energy. They brought themselves into close intercourse with the abundant and the glowing nature which met their eyes and provoked their wonder; they penetrated, in part, at least, within their own minds, and discovered how they might be uplifted by knowledge, of which their forefathers had never dreamed. Theirs were the powers, eminent above the inactivity and the ignorance of their people; and to them belonged, nearly as of right, the liberty in which their powers could be employed. But they or their successors appear to have speedily passed into still another phase. Uncontrolled by truth or by sympathy, to which they had scarcely aspired in all their toils, they exalted themselves, whether they knew or knew not better, at the expense of their fellowbeings. Others were content to obey them with reverence for the authority and the knowledge so far superior to their own; though the abuses in religion and in government, to which the system of the Brahmins was exposed, were seen, in time, to lead either to reform or to degradation. The reform came first in the history of the Brahmins. Earlier traditions of wars and conquests and empires had been succeeded by the castes and the laws which seemed to be established for ever. But other accounts now follow these, bearing with them a few indistinct outlines of a great history. Here it can be but briefly mentioned, that the name of Bouddha” belongs to a spirit of resistance against oppression and of progress towards freedom, which appears to have been for once excited, even in immovable India. Whether the traditions be connected with one man or with many men, it is equally reasonable to believe some earnest effort to have been made to reject the doctrines and the practices of the Brahmins, and to create.in their place a more liberal government and a simpler faith. According to these new principles, however they were proclaimed, the whole constitution of exclusive and hereditary castes was to be done away, and some glimpses, at least, of general freedom were to be revealed. The first subject of reform was, of course, the priesthood. A new hierarchy was proposed, which, taken from all classes, was to exercise authority over the religious affairs alone, which formed its peculiar charge.” The royal power was at the same time to be increased at the expense of the usurping priesthood; while every part of the political system would be affected through the changes by which the hierocracy was undermined. But the reform of Bouddha was still more distinguished, if we trust tradition, for the purer and juster precepts set forth concerning the nature of man and the service of his divinities.” The Brahmins confounded the Supreme Being, of whom they had some indistinct imaginations, with the animate and inanimate objects of creation; while the Bouddhists, as if to secure the purity and the superiority of the Deity, believed in the other extreme of an abstract nature and a passive existence. Neither, therefore, were likely to obtain much comfort from their creed; but in an age of idolatry and polluted worship it was better for man that his Divinity should be removed beyond the reach of offensive superstition. In after times, the appellation of Bouddha became synonymous with some divine intelligence; but there seems to be no reason for doubting the traditions concerning the life and character of a mortal of this name. He was by birth a Chatriya. Disturbed by desire either for distinction he could not acquire under existing institutions, or else for truth he could not wrest from out the religion of the Brahmins, he became an anchorite, and afterwards a teacher. It is doubtful whether he and his followers excited immediate alarm, or whether he continued to lead a lowly life, imparting his principles to a few disciples, by whom they were afterwards greatly modified, and upon whom, in much later times, a dire persecution fell. The most probable account,” judging from the common relations concerning the
40 Menu, IV. 80.
* “Perchè la legge teocratica,” says the Italian historian, Micali, “everamente la prima delle sperienze politiche messe in opra a mansuefare uomini fieri e materiali, ed a condurli quietamente a vita ordinata.” Stor. Antichi Popoli Italiani, Cap. XXI.
42 “Devotion,” the law declared, “is equal to the performance of all duties: it is divine knowledge in a Brahmin ; it is defence of the people in a Chatriya ; devotion is the business of trade and agriculture in a Vaisya; devotion is dutiful service in a Sudra.” Menu, XI. 236. Cf. the Vishnu Purana, Book III. ch. 8. 43. The child of a mixed marriage was always degraded to one of the mixed castes, the most inferior of all. The offspring of a Sudra and one of any other caste, for instance, was condemned to a condition still lower than that of the Sudra pure. Taking the number of the pure, the mixed, and the impure castes together, there were more than eighty in all. Each of these would be separ
ated from the others either by pride
* The name in full was Bouddha was generally equivalent to the Sakia Muni. In after times, at any English “Saint.” rate, the name of “Bouddha” alone
* A more thorough description be taken for a sample of the is given in Creuzer's great work, whole : — Book I. ch.5, of the French transla- « why have the head and mow the chin, tion. Whilst bristling follies choke the breast 3 47 In the play of Mrichchakati Apply the knife to parts within,
- And heed not how deformed the rest : (Act VIII.) there is a hymn of a The heart of pride and passion weed,
Bouddhist, one verse of which may And then the man is pure indeed.”
48 Bouddha's death is supposed to have taken place A. C. 543, while the expulsion of the Bouddhists from India (Hindostan) is commonly fixed at about the sixth century of our own era. No doubt,
however, exists in relation to the Bouddhist colony in Ceylon, more than five centuries before our Sar viour; and so remote a settlement would scarcely have been made except under persecution.