The Project Gutenberg eBook, The History of Antiquity, Volume IV (of 6), by Max Duncker, Translated by Evelyn Abbott

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Title: The History of Antiquity, Volume IV (of 6)

Author: Max Duncker

Release Date: October 6, 2012 [eBook #40960]

Language: English

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It was not only in the lower valley of the Nile, on the banks of the Euphrates and the Tigris, and along the coast and on the heights of Syria that independent forms of intellectual and civic life grew up in antiquity. By the side of the early civilisation of Egypt, and the hardly later civilisation of that unknown people from which Elam, Babylon, and Asshur borrowed such important factors in the development of their own capacities; along with the civilisation of the Semites of the East and West, who here observed the heavens, there busily explored the shores of the sea; here erected massive buildings, and there were so earnestly occupied with the study of their own inward nature, are found forms of culture later in their origin, and represented by a different family of nations. This family, the Indo-European, extends over a far larger area than the Semitic. We find branches of it in the wide districts to the east of the Semitic nations, on the table-land of Iran, in the valleys of the Indus and the Ganges. Other branches we have already encountered on the heights of Armenia, and the table-land of Asia [Pg 2]Minor (I. 512, 524). Others again obtained possession of the plains above the Black Sea; others, of the peninsulas of Greece and Italy. Nations of this stock have forced their way to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean; we find them settled on the western coast of the Spanish peninsula, from the mouth of the Garonne to the Channel, in Britain and Ireland no less than in Scandinavia, on the shores of the North Sea and the Baltic. Those branches of the family which took up their abodes the farthest to the East exhibit the most independent and peculiar form of civilisation.

The mutual relationship of the Arian, Greek, Italian, Letto-Sclavonian, Germanic, and Celtic languages proves the relationship of the nations who have spoken and still speak them; it proves that all these nations have a common origin and descent. The words, of which the roots in these languages exhibit complete phonetic agreement, must be considered as a common possession, acquired before the separation; and from this we can discover at what stage of life the nation from which these languages derive their origin stood at the time when it was not yet divided into these six great branches, and separated into the nations which subsequently occupied abodes so extensive and remote from each other. We find common terms for members of the family, for house, yard, garden, and citadel; common words for horses, cattle, dogs, swine, sheep, goats, mice, geese, ducks; common roots for wool, hemp or flax, corn (i. e. wheat, spelt, or barley), for ploughing, grinding, and weaving, for certain metals (copper or iron), for some weapons and tools, for waggon, boat and rudder, for the elementary numbers, and the division of the year according to the moon.[1] Hence the stock, whose[Pg 3] branches and shoots have spread over the whole continent of Europe and Asia from Ceylon to Britain and Scandinavia, cannot, even before the separation, have been without a certain degree of civilisation. On the contrary, this common fund of words proves that even in that early time it tilled the field, and reared cattle; that it could build waggons and boats, and forge weapons, and if the general name for the gods and some names of special deities are the same in widely remote branches of this stock,—in India, Iran, Greece, and Italy, and even on the plains of Lithuania,—it follows that the notions which lie at the base of these names must also be counted among the common possessions existing before the separation.

We can hardly venture a conjecture as to the region in which the fathers of the Indo-European nations attained to this degree of cultivation. It must have been of such a nature as to admit of agriculture beside the breeding of cattle. The varieties of produce mentioned and the domestic animals point to a northern district, which, however, cannot have reached down to the ocean, inasmuch as no common roots are in existence to denote the sea. This proof is strengthened by the fact that in all the branches the wolf and bear alone among beasts of prey are designated by common roots. If we combine these considerations with the equal extension of the tribes of this nation towards east and west, we may assume that an elevated district in the middle of the eastern continent was the abode of the nation while yet undivided.

The branches which occupied the table-land of Iran and the valley of the Indus were the first to rise from the basis acquired in common to a higher civilisation; and even they did not attain to this till long after the time when Egypt, under the ancient kingdom of[Pg 4] Memphis, found herself in the possession of a many-sided culture, after Babylon had become the centre of a different conception of life and development. The western branches of the Indo-Europeans remained at various stages behind their eastern fellow-tribesmen in regard to the epochs of their higher culture. If the Greeks, who were brought into frequent contact with the civilisation of the Semites, came next in point of time after the eastern tribes, and the Italians next to the Greeks, it was only through conflict and contact with the culture of Greece and Rome that the western branches reached a higher stage, while the dwellers on the plains of the Baltic owe their cultivation to the influences of Germanic life. Finally, when the West European branches, the Indo-Germans, had developed independently their capacities and their nature, when in different phases they had received and assimilated what had been left behind by their Greek and Roman kinsmen, and formed it into the civilisation of the modern world, their distant navigation came into contact with the ancient civilisation, to which their fellow-tribesmen in the distant East had finally attained some 2000 years previously. With wonder and astonishment the long-separated, long-estranged relatives looked each other in the face. But even now the ancient, deeply-rooted, and variously-developed civilisation of the eastern branch maintains its place with tough endurance beside the mobile, comprehensive, and restlessly-advancing civilisation of the west.

On the southern edge of the great table-land which forms the nucleus of the districts of Asia, the range of the Himalayas rises in parallel lines. The range runs from north-west to south-east, with a breadth of from 200 to 250 miles, and a length of about 1750 miles. It presents the highest elevations on the surface of[Pg 5] the earth. Covered with boundless fields of snow and extensive glaciers, the sharp edges and points of the highest ridge rise gleaming into the tropic sky; no sound breaks the deep silence of this solemn Alpine wild. To the south of these mighty white towers, in the second range, is a multitude of summits, separated by rugged ravines. Here also is neither moss nor herb, for this range also rises above the limits of vegetation. Much lower down, a third range, of which the average elevation rises to more than 12,000 feet, displays up to the summits forests of a European kind; in the cool, fresh air the ridges are clothed with birches, pines, and oaks. Beneath this girdle of northern growths, on the heights which gradually sink down from an elevation of 5000 feet, are thick forests of Indian fig-trees of gigantic size. Under the forest there commences in the west a hilly region, in the east a marshy district broken by lakes which the mountain waters leave behind in the depression, and covered with impenetrable thickets, tall jungles, and rank grass—a district oppressive and unhealthy, inhabited by herds of elephants, crocodiles, and large snakes.

The mighty wall of the Himalayas decides the nature and life of the extensive land which lies before it to the south in the same way as the peninsula of Italy lies before the European Alps. It protects hill and plain from the raw winds which blow from the north over the table-land of Central Asia; it checks the rain-clouds, the collected moisture of the ocean brought up by the trade winds from the South Sea. These clouds are compelled to pour their water into the plains at the foot of the Himalayas, and change the glow of the sun into coolness, the parched vegetation into fresh green. Owing to their extraordinary elevation, the mountain masses of the Himalayas, in spite of their[Pg 6] southern situation, preserve such enormous fields of ice and snow that they are able to discharge into the plains the mightiest rivers in the world. From the central block flow the Indus, the Ganges, and the Brahmaputra, i. e. the son of Brahma.

Springing from fields of snow, which surround Alpine lakes, the Indus descends from an elevated mountain plain to the south of the highest ridge. At first the river flows in a westerly direction through a cleft between parallel rows of mountains. In spite of the long and severe winter of this region, mountain sheep and goats flourish here, and the sandy soil contains gold-dust. To the south of the course of the river we find depressions in the mountains, where the climate is happily tempered by the nature of the sky and the elevation of the soil. The largest of these is the valley of Cashmere, surrounded by an oval of snowy mountains. To the west of Cashmere the Indus turns its course suddenly to the south; it breaks through the mountain ranges which bar its way, and from this point to the mouth accompanies the eastern slope of the table-land of Iran. As soon as the Himalayas are left behind, a hilly land commences on the left bank, of moderate warmth and fruitful vegetation, spreading out far to the east between the tributaries of the stream. The river now receives the Panjab, and the valley is narrowed in the west by the closer approach of the mountains of Iran; in the east by a wide, waterless steppe, descending from the spurs of the Himalayas to the sea, which affords nothing beyond a scanty maintenance for herds of buffaloes, asses, and camels. The heat becomes greater as the land becomes flatter, and the river more southerly in its course; in the dry months the earth cracks and vegetation is at a standstill. Any overflow from the river, which[Pg 7] might give it new vigour, on the melting of the snow in the upper mountains, is prevented for long distances by the elevation of the banks. The Delta formed by the Indus at its mouth, after a course of 1500 miles, contains only a few islands of good marsh soil. The sea comes up over the flat shore for a long distance, and higher up the arms of the river a thick growth of reeds and rushes hinders cultivation, while the want of fresh water makes a numerous population impossible.

Not far from the sources of the Indus, at the very nucleus of the highest summits of the Himalayas, rise the Yamuna (Jumna) and the Ganges. The Ganges flows out of fields of snow beneath unsurmountable summits of more than 20,000 feet in height, and breaking through the mountains to the south reaches the plains; here the course of the river is turned to the east by the broad and thickly-wooded girdle of the Vindhyas, the mountain range which rises to the south of the plains. Enlarged by a number of tributaries from north and south, it pours from year to year copious inundations over the low banks, and thus creates for the plains through which it flows a fruitful soil where tropic vegetation can flourish in the most luxuriant wildness. This is the land of rice, of cotton, of sugar-canes, of the blue lotus, the edible banana, the gigantic fig-tree. On the lower course of the river, where it approaches the Brahmaputra, which also at first flows between the parallel ranges of the Himalayas towards the east, in the same way as the Indus flows to the west, there commences a hot, moist, and luxuriant plain (Bengal) of enervating climate, covered with coco and arica palms, with the tendrils of the betel, and the stalks of the cinnamon, with endless creepers overgrowing the trunks of the trees, and ascending even to their[Pg 8] topmost branches. Here the river is so broad that the eye can no longer reach from one bank to the other. In the region at the mouth, where the Ganges unites with the Brahmaputra, and then splits into many arms, the numerous waters create hot marshes; and here the vegetation is so abundant, the jungles of bamboo so thick and impenetrable, that they are abandoned to the rhinoceros, the elephant, and the tiger, whose proper home is in these wooded morasses.

Into this wide region, which in length, from north to south, exceeds the distance from Cape Skagen to Cape Spartivento, and in breadth, from east to west, is about equal to the distance from Bayonne to Odessa, came a branch of the family, whose common origin has been noticed, and their civilisation previous to the separation of the members sketched. The members of this branch called themselves Arya, i. e. the noble, or the ruling. In the oldest existing monuments of their language and poetry these Aryas are found invoking their gods to grant them room against the Dasyus,[2] to make a distinction between Arya and Dasyu, to place the Dasyus on the left hand, to turn away the arms of the Dasyus from the Aryas, to make the hostile nations of the Dasyus bow down before the Aryas, to increase the might and glory of the Aryas, to subjugate the "Black-skins" to them.[3] In the epic poetry of the Indians we find mention of black inhabitants of Himavat (i. e. inhabitants of the snowy mountains, the Himalayas), and of "black Çudra" beyond the delta[Pg 9] of the Indus. By the same name, Çudra, the Aryas designated the population which became subject to them in the valley of the Ganges; and when they advanced from the valleys of the Indus and the Ganges towards the south, to the coasts of the Deccan, they found there also populations of a similar kind. Even at the present day the inhabitants of India fall into two great masses, essentially distinguished from each other by the formation of their bodies and their language. In the broad and inaccessible belt of the Vindhya mountains, which separates the peninsula of the Deccan from the plains of the two rivers, are situated the tribes of the Gondas, men of a deep-black colour, with thick, long, and black hair, barbarous manners, and a peculiar language. Closely allied to these nations are the slim and black Bhillas, of small stature, who inhabit the western slopes of the Vindhyas to the sea; and the Kolas, who dwell in the mountainous district of Surashtra (Guzerat), and to this day form two-thirds of the inhabitants of this district.[4] On the eastern declivities and spurs of the Vindhyas we find in the south the Kandas, in the north the Paharias, nations also of a dark colour and thick long hair. Distinct from these rude savages, less dark in colour, and exhibiting other modes of life, are the tribes which possess the coasts of the Deccan, the Carnatas, Tuluwas, and Malabars on the west, the Tamilas and Telingas on the east. Opposed to all these tribes are the Aryas, with their light colour and decisively Caucasian stamp. These once spoke Sanskrit, and are still acquainted with the language, and to them is due the development of civilisation in these wide districts.

This juxtaposition of two populations, of which one is in possession of the best districts in the country,[Pg 10] while of the other only fragments are in existence (combined masses are not found except in the most inaccessible regions),—the indications supplied by these invocations, according to which the light-coloured population on the Indus was in conflict with the "Black-skins,"—the fact that the light-coloured population, both on the Ganges and the coasts of the Deccan, has always taken up an exclusive and contemptuous position towards the darker tribes existing there, justify the conclusion that the whole region from the Indus to the mouths of the Ganges, from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin, once belonged to the dark population, and that the Aryas are immigrants. These immigrants partly drove back the ancient population, and confined it in hardly accessible mountains or morasses, partly forced it to submit to their rule and accept their civilisation, partly allowed it to live among them, as now, in a despicable and subordinate position. In historical times we can trace this process, by which the old population was driven back or civilised, on the coasts of the Deccan and in Ceylon. From the position of the remnant of this population on the Ganges, and these invocations of the Aryas, which spring from a time when they were not yet established in the land of the Ganges, we may conclude that a similar process went on in a severer form on the Indus. Following the example of the Indians, modern science collects the languages of these inhabitants of India, who are found under and among the Aryas, so far as they at present exist, under the names of the Nishada and Dravida languages.[5] The language of the Brahuis to the west of the Indus,—they were settled there, or at least retired from thence, at the time of the immigration of the Aryas,—the Canaresian, the Malayalam, the[Pg 11] language of the Tamilas, of the Telingas, the Badaga of the inhabitants of the Nilgiri, on the southern apex of the Deccan, are closely related, but to which of the great stems of language they are to be apportioned is not determined.[6]

The immigration of the Aryas into India took place from the west. They stand in the closest relation to the inhabitants of the table-land of Iran, especially the inhabitants of the eastern half. These also call themselves Aryas, though among them the word becomes Airya, or Ariya, and among the Greeks Arioi. The language of the Aryas is in the closest connection with that of the Avesta, the religious books of Iran, and in very close connection with the language of the monuments of Darius and Xerxes, in the western half of that region. The religious conceptions of the Iranians and Indians exhibit striking traits of a homogeneous character. A considerable number of the names of gods, of myths, sacrifices, and customs, occurs in both nations, though the meaning is not always the same, and is sometimes diametrically opposed. Moreover, the Aryas in India are at first confined to the borders of Iran, the region of the Indus, and the Panjab. Here, in the west, the Aryas had their most extensive settlements, and their oldest monuments frequently mention the Indus, but not the Ganges.[7] Even the name by which the Aryas denote the land to the south of the Vindhyas, Dakshinapatha[Pg 12] (Deccan), i. e. path to the right[8], confirms the fact already established, that the Aryas came from the west.

From this it is beyond a doubt that the Aryas, descending from the heights of Iran, first occupied the valley of the Indus and the five tributary streams, which combine and flow into the river from the north-east, and they spread as far as they found pastures and arable land, i. e. as far eastward as the desert which separates the valley of the Indus from the Ganges. The river which irrigated their land, watered their pastures, and shaped the course of their lives they called Sindhu (in Pliny, Sindus), i. e. the river[9]. It is, no doubt, the region of the Indus, with the Panjab, which is meant in the Avesta by the land hapta hindu (hendu), i. e. the seven streams. The inscriptions of Darius call the dwellers on the Indus Idhus. These names the Greeks render by Indos and Indoi.

Can we fix the time at which the Aryas immigrated into India and occupied the valley of the Indus? As we proceed it will become clear that it was not till a late period that the nation began to record the names of the kings of their states, that they never wrote down in a satisfactory matter their legends and the facts of their history, and that we cannot find among them any trustworthy chronology. Even with the assistance of the statements of western writers, we can only go back with any certainty to the year 800 B.C. for the dynasties of the kingdom of Magadha, the most important kingdom in ancient times on the Ganges. But if at this period the Aryas held sway not on the upper Ganges only, but also on the lower,[Pg 13] they must have been already settled on the Indus for centuries. If the narratives already given of the foundation of the Assyrian kingdom and the war of Semiramis on the Indus (II. 9 ff) were historical, the Aryas must have been settled in that country even at this date, i. e. about 1500 B.C. They must have lived there under a monarchy which could place great forces in the field, and they must have been already acquainted with the use of elephants in war. Stabrobates, the name of the king of the Indians who met Semiramis and repulsed her, would become Çtaorapati, i. e. lord of oxen, in the language of the Aryas. But after what has been previously said (II. 19 ff), we can only allow this narrative to have a value for the conceptions existing in Persian epic poetry about the foundation of the empire of Assyria, and the campaigns of Assyrian rulers to the distant East. In their statements about India we can only, at most, expect to find a repetition of the information existing about that country in the western half of Iran in the seventh or sixth century, and even this takes a form corresponding to the views expressed in the poems. In the monuments of the kings of Assyria we found the elephant and the rhinoceros among the tribute offered to Shalmanesar II., who reigned from 859-823 B.C. (II. 320); the inscriptions of Bin-nirar III. (810-781 B.C.) pointed to campaigns of this king extending as far as Bactria (II. 328); we were able to follow the marches of Tiglath Pilesar II. (745-727 B.C.) in the table-land of Iran as far as Arachosia (III. 4). Hence the Assyrian tablets do not as yet supply any definite information about the land of the Indus. Arrian has preserved a notice according to which the Astacenes and Assacanes, Indian nations on the right bank of the Indus, between the river and Cophen[Pg 14] (Cabul), were once subject to the Assyrians.[10] The Indian epics extol the horses of the Açvakas, who, in them also, are an Indian nation, and we may venture to regard them as the Assacenes of Arrian. Alexander of Macedon found them in that region; they could place many warriors in the field against him on their high mountain uplands. But the observation in Arrian, even if we attach weight to it, does not carry us far in answering the question when the Aryas came into the valley of the Indus, for it does not make it clear at what period the Açvakas were subject to the Assyrians. More may be gained, perhaps, from the Hebrew scriptures. We saw that about 1000 B.C. Solomon of Israel and Hiram of Tyre caused ships to be built and equipped at Elath, on the north-east point of the Arabian Gulf. These ships were to visit the lands of the south, and we saw what wealth they brought back from Ophir after an absence of three years (II. 188). They are laden with gold, silver, precious stones, and sandal-wood in abundance, the like of which was not seen afterwards; peacocks, apes, and ivory.[11] Now ivory, sandal-wood, apes, and peacocks are the products of India, and peacocks and sandal-wood belong to that land exclusively. It is true that they might have been transported to the south coast of Arabia or the Somali coast of East Africa by the trade of the Arabians, or even of the Indians (I. 321); but the ships of Solomon and Hiram would not need to be absent for three years in order to obtain them there. For our question it is decisive that the names with which the Hebrews denote apes, peacocks, and sandal-wood, kophim, tukijim, almugim, are Sanskrit (kapi, çikhi, valgu), and from this it follows that the[Pg 15] Aryas must have been in possession, at any rate, of the land of the Indus and the coast of that region as early as 1000 B.C. The book of the law of the Aryas mentions a nation Abhira. According to the Aryan epics this nation possessed cows, goats, sheep, and camels. Ptolemy places a land Abiria at the mouth of the Indus, and to this day a tribe of the name of Ahir possesses the coast of the peninsula of Cashtha (Kattywar).[12] These Abhiras may therefore have been meant by the Ophir of the Hebrews. It is true that the genealogical table in Genesis puts Ophir among the tribes which are said to spring from Joktan, but no doubt it includes under the name of Joktan all the nations of the south-east known to the Hebrews. If the ships of Hiram brought back gold in abundance from their voyages to the mouth of the Indus, this can only have been conveyed to the lower Indus, where there is no gold, from the upper Indus, which is rich in gold, and from other upland valleys in the Himalayas, where the mountain streams carry down this metal. Hence about the year 1000 B.C. there must have been a lively trade between the upper and lower Indus. Further, if the Phenicians and Hebrews purchased sandal-wood among the Abhiras, this can only have been transported to the mouth of the Indus by sea, and the coast navigation, which is rendered easy in the Indian Sea by the regular occurrence of the monsoons, for sandal-wood nowhere flourishes except in the glowing sun of the Malabar coast. Whatever may have been the case with this trade, products of India, and among them such as do not belong to the land of the Indus, were exported from the land about 1000 B.C., under names given to them by the Aryas, and therefore the Aryas must have been settled there for centuries previously. For this[Pg 16] reason, and it is confirmed by facts which will appear further on, we may assume that the Aryas descended into the valley of the Indus about the year 2000 B.C., i. e. about the time when the kingdom of Elam was predominant in the valley of the Euphrates and Tigris, when Assyria still stood under the dominion of Babylon, and the kingdom of Memphis was ruled by the Hyksos.

We have no further accounts from the West about the Aryas till the year 500 B.C., and later. It is not improbable that the arms of Cyrus reached the Indus. The Astacenes and Assacanes are said to have been subject to the Medes after the Assyrians; then Cyrus, the son of Cambyses, imposed tribute upon them.[13] As Cyrus subjugated Bactria, fought in Arachosia, and marched through Gedrosia, we may assume that he compelled the nations of the Aryas on the right bank of the Indus to pay tribute. It was in conflict with the Derbiccians, to whom the Indians sent elephants as auxiliaries, that Cyrus, according to the account of Ctesias, was slain. Darius, as Herodotus tells us, sent messengers to explore the land of the Indus. Setting out from Arachosia, they proceeded from Caspapyrus (Kaçpapura), a city which, according to Hecatæus, belonged to the Gandarii[14]i. e. without doubt from Kabura (Cabul) down the Indus to the sea. According to Herodotus' account the Gandarii, together with the Arachoti and Sattagydæ, paid 170 talents of gold yearly; the rest of the Indians paid a larger tribute than any other satrapy—360 talents of gold.[15] The Indians who paid this tribute were, according to Herodotus, the most northerly and the most warlike of this great nation. They dwelt near the city of Caspapyrus, i. e. near Cabul; their mode of life was[Pg 17] like that of the Bactrians, and they obtained the gold from a sandy desert, where ants, smaller than dogs, but larger than foxes, dug up the gold-dust.[16] Darius tells us himself, in the inscriptions of Persepolis, that the Gandarii and the Indians were subject to him. Like Herodotus, these inscriptions comprise the tribes of the Aryas on the right bank of the Indus as far down as Cabul under the name of Indians, so that the Açvakas were included among them. The Gandarii, as is shown by their vicinity to and connection with the Arachoti, lay to the south of Cabul. In the epos of the Indians the daughter of the king of the Gandharas is married to the king of the Bharatas, who lie between the Yamuna and the Ganges, and the Buddhist writings speak of the Brahmans of the Gandarii as the worst in India.[17] In the campaign of Xerxes, Herodotus separates the Gandarii from the rest of the Indians who are subject to the Persian kingdom. The first, he says, were armed like the Bactrians; with the rest marched the Ethiopians of the East, equipped almost like the Indians; but on their heads they had the skins of horses' heads, with the ears and mane erect, and their shields were made from the skins of cranes. These Ethiopians of the East were not distinguished from the others in form and character, but by their language and hair. The Libyan Ethiopians, i. e. the negroes, had the curliest hair of all men; but the hair of the Eastern branch was straight.[18] We have already observed that now, as in the days of Xerxes, remains of the dark-coloured pre-Aryan population of India are found on the right bank of the Indus (p. 10).

Of the Indians "who never obeyed Darius,"[19][Pg 18] Herodotus tells us that they lived the furthest to the east of all the nations about which anything definite was known. Still further in that direction were sandy deserts. The Indians were the largest of all nations, and the Indus was the only river beside the Nile in which crocodiles are found (they are alligators).[20] The remotest parts of the earth have always the best products, and India, the remotest inhabited land to the east, was no exception. The birds and the quadrupeds were far greater in size here than elsewhere, with the exception of the horse; for the Nisæan horses of the Medes were larger than the horses of the Indians. Moreover, India possessed an extraordinary abundance of gold, of which some was dug up from mines, and some brought down by the rivers, and some obtained from the deserts. The wild trees also produced a wool which in beauty and excellence surpassed the wool of sheep; this the Indians used for clothing. There were many nations of the Indians, and they spoke different languages. Some were stationary; some dwelt in the marshes of the rivers, and lived on raw fish, which they caught in canoes made of reeds, and every joint of the reed made a canoe. These Indians wore garments of bark, which they wove like cloths, and then drew on like coats of mail. Eastward of these dwelt the Padæans, a migratory tribe, who ate raw flesh; and when any one, even the nearest relative, among them was sick, they slew him, in order to eat the corpse. This custom was also observed by the women. Even the few who attained to old age they killed, in order to eat them. Other Indian nations lived only on herbs, which they ate cooked, and troubled themselves[Pg 19] neither about their sick nor their dead, whom they carried out, like the sick, into desert places. All the nations spoken of were black in colour.[21]

These, the oldest accounts from the West on the ancient pre-Aryan population of India, and on the black-skins of the Rigveda, we owe to Herodotus. His statements about their physical formation are correct; those on their savage life may be exaggerated; but even to this day a part of these nations live in the marshes and mountains in a condition hardly removed from that of animals.

The contrast between the light-coloured and dark population of India, between the Aryas and the ancient inhabitants, did not escape Ctesias. India, he maintained, was as large as the rest of Asia, and the inhabitants of India almost as numerous as all the other nations put together. The Indians were both white and black. He had himself seen white Indians, five men and two women. The sun in India appeared ten times as large as in other lands, and the heat was suffocating. The Indus was a great river flowing through mountains and plains; in the narrowest places the water occupied a space of 40 stades, or five miles, in the broadest it reached 100 stades.[22] The river watered the land. In India it did not rain, and there were no storms there, though there were violent whirlwinds which carried everything before them.[23] On the Indus grew reeds small and great; the stoutest reeds could not be spanned by two men, and the height of the largest was equal to the mast of a ship.[24] The fruit of the palms also in India was three times as large as in Babylonia, and the sheep and goats there were equal in size to asses elsewhere, and had such enormous[Pg 20] tails that they had to be cut off to enable them to walk. Ctesias goes on to describe the large cocks of India, with their beautiful combs, and broad tails of gold, dark-blue, and emerald; the peacocks, the many-coloured birds with red faces, dark-blue necks, and black beards, which had a human tongue, and could speak Indian, and would speak Greek if they were taught; the little apes with tails four cubits long.[25] He was the first to describe the elephant to the Greeks.[26] He had seen these animals, and had been present in Babylon when the elephants of the Persian king had torn up palm trees with their roots out of the ground. These animals could even throw down the walls of cities. In war the king of India was preceded by 100,000 elephants, and 3000 of the strongest and bravest followed him.[27][Pg 21]

After the army of Alexander of Macedon had encamped in the Panjab, the Greeks could give more accurate accounts of India. Megasthenes assures us that India reached in breadth, from west to east, an extent of from 15,000 to 16,000 stades (1940 to 2000 miles), while the length, from north to south, was 22,000 stades (2750 miles);[28] and in these distances he is not very greatly in error, for, measured in a direct line, the breadth is 13,600 stades (1720 miles), and the length 16,400 stades (2050 miles). To the north India was bounded by lofty mountains, which the Greeks called Caucasus, and the Indians Paropamisos (Paropanishadha[29]), and Emodos, or Imaos. Emodos, like Imaos,[Pg 22] is the Greek form of the old Indian name for the Himalayas, Haimavata (Himavat).[30] In India there were many great mountains, but still greater plains; and even the mountains were covered with fruit-trees, and contained in their bowels precious stones of various kinds—crystals, carbuncles, and others. Gold also and silver, metals and salt, could be obtained from the mines,[31] and the rivers carried down gold from the mountains.[32] The streams of India were the largest and the most numerous in the world. The Indus was larger than the Nile, and all the rivers of Asia; the Ganges, which took an easterly direction on reaching the plains, was a great river even at its source, and reached a width of 100 stades, or 12½ miles. In many places it formed lakes, so that one bank could not be seen from the other, and its depth reached 20 fathoms.[33] The first statement is exaggerated, the second is correct for the lower course of the river. The Indus, according to Megasthenes, had 15 navigable affluents, and the Ganges 19, the names of which he could enumerate.[34] In all there were 58 navigable rivers in India.

This abundance of streams in India the Greeks explained by the fact that the lands which surrounded the country—Ariana, as the Greeks call eastern Iran, Bactria, and the land of the Scythians—were higher than India, so that the waters from them flowed down, and were collected there.[35] The water was also the cause of the great fertility of India, which the Greeks unite in extolling. The rivers not only brought down, as[Pg 23] Nearchus observes, soft and good earth into the land from the hills,[36] but they traversed it in such a manner that, from the universal irrigation, it was turned into a fruit garden.[37] Onesicritus tells us that India is better irrigated by its rivers than Egypt by its canals. The Nile flows straight on through a long and narrow land, and so is continually passing into a different climate and different air, while the Indian rivers flow through much larger and broader plains, and continue long in the same region. Hence they are more nourishing than the Nile, and the fish are larger than the fish in the Nile;[38] they also refresh the land better by their moist exhalations.[39] Besides, there were the inundations caused by the rivers; and the land was also watered by the heavy rains, which fell constantly each year at a fixed period with the regular winds, so that the rivers rose fully 20 cubits above their beds,—a statement quite accurate,—and in many places the plains were changed into marshes,[40] in consequence of which the Indus had sometimes taken a new channel through them.[41] Since, then, the warmth of the sun was the same in India as in Arabia and Ethiopia,—for India lay far to the south, and in the most southern parts of the land the constellation of the Bear was seen no longer, and the shadows fell in the other direction, i. e. to the south,—[42]while in India there was more water and a moister atmosphere than in those other countries, the creatures of the water, air, and land were much larger and stronger in India than anywhere else.[43][Pg 24] Further, as the water in the river and that which fell from heaven was tempered by the sun's heat, the growth of the roots and plants was extraordinarily vigorous. The strength of the tiger, which, according to Megasthenes, is twice the size of the lion, the docility of the elephant, the splendour of the birds, were the admiration of the Greeks. With horror they saw the whale for the first time in the Indian waters. Nearchus caused his ship to be rowed forward at double speed to contend with this peaceful monster of the deep.

According to the statement of Megasthenes—which for the land of the Ganges is quite correct—there are two harvests in India. For the winter sowing rice and barley were used, and other kinds of fruit unknown to the Greeks; for the summer sowing, sesame, rice, and bosmoron; while during the rainy season flax and millet were planted, so that in India want and famine were unknown.[44] Equally luxuriant in growth were the herbs and reeds. There was a reed there which produced honey without bees (the sugar-cane); and in Southern India cinnamon, nard, and the rest of the spices grew as well as in Arabia and Ethiopia.[45] The Greeks did not know that the cinnamon is a native of India only, and that the bark came to them from that country, though it came through Arabia. The marshes of India were filled with roots, wholesome or deadly; the trees there grew to a larger size than elsewhere; some were so tall that an arrow could not be shot over them, and the leaves were as large as shields. There were other trees there of which the trunks could not be spanned by five men, and the branches, as though bent, grew downwards till they touched the earth, and then, springing up anew, formed[Pg 25] fresh trunks, to send out other arches, so that from one tree was formed a grove, not unlike a tent supported by many poles. Fifty or even 400 horsemen could take their mid-day rest under such a tree. Nearchus even goes so far as to say that there were trees of this kind under which there was room for 10,000 men.[46] There were also trees in India which produced intoxicating fruits. This description of the Indian fig tree and the statements about the shelter its branches afford are not exaggerated. By intoxicating fruits the coco and fan-palms are, no doubt, meant, from which palm-wine is made.[47]

The northern, i. e. the light-coloured, Indians, or Aryas, are said by the Greeks of this period to have most closely resembled the Egyptians in the colour of their skin and their shape. They were light, delicate, and slim of body, and not so heavy as other nations. They were free from diseases, for their climate was healthy, and their land possessed good air, pure water, and wholesome fruits. The southern Indians, i. e. the non-Aryan population, who were at that time far less broken up in the Deccan by Aryan and other settlers than now, and must therefore have existed in far greater masses, were not quite so black as the Ethiopians (the negroes), and had not, like them, a snub nose and woolly hair. Strabo was of opinion that their colour was not so black owing to the moist air of India, which also caused the hair of the inhabitants to be straight.[48] Of the 200 millions, at which the population of India is now estimated, more then 150 millions either spring from the Aryas or have adopted their civilisation. The[Pg 26] number of the dark-coloured races, dwelling in the mountains and broad marshes, who have remained free from the dominion of the Aryas, the Mohammedans, and the English, and are, therefore, strangers to their civilisation, is estimated at 12 millions.


[1] Whitney, "Language," p. 327; Benfey, "Geschichte der Sprachwissenchaft," s. 598.

[2] "Rigveda," 1, 59, 2; 7, 5, 6; 10, 69, 6. Cf. Manu, 10, 45. That in the Rigveda the Dasyus are always enemies, and even evil spirits, is beyond a doubt, and cannot excite any wonder when we remember how the Indians confound the natural and supernatural; Muir, "Sanskrit Texts," 22, 358 ff. On the original meaning of the word Dasyu, and its signification in the Mahabharata, cf. Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 12, 633.

[3] Muir, loc. cit. 5, 110, 113.

[4] Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 440.

[5] Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 461.

[6] According to Whitney ("Language," p. 327), the language of the Kolas and Santals is quite distinct from the Dravidian languages. Lassen's view on the relation of the Vindhya tribes to the Dravida and the Nishada is given, loc. cit. 12, 456.

[7] The Ganges (Ganga) is mentioned only twice in the Rigveda, and then without any emphasis or epithet; "Rigveda," 10, 75, 5; 64, 9. This book is of later origin; Roth, "Zur Literatur und Geschichte des Veda," s. 127, 136, 137, 139.

[8] This name, it is true, may also have arisen from the fact that the Indians turned to the east when praying.

[9] The root syand means "to flow."

[10] Arrian, "Ind." 1, 3; "Anab." 4, 25.

[11] 1 Kings ix. 26-28; x. 11, 12, 22.

[12] Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 651 ff.; 22, 595 ff.

[13] Arrian, "Ind." 1, 3.

[14] Steph. sub. voc.

[15] Herod. 3, 94, 105; 4, 44.

[16] Herod. 3, 102 ff.

[17] "Mahavança," ed. Turnour, p. 47.

[18] Herod. 7, 66, 70.

[19] Herod. 3, 101.

[20] Herod. 3, 94; 4, 44.

[21] Herod. 3, 96, 98 ff.

[22] Ctes. "Ecl." 1.

[23] "Ecl." 1, 8.

[24] "Ecl." 6.

[25] Ctes. "Ecl." 3; Aelian, 16, 2.

[26] Herodotus only makes a passing mention of the elephant in Libya, 4, 191.

[27] Ælian 17, 29. Arrian also ("Anab." 4, 14) maintains that the Indus is 100 stades in breadth, and even broader; Megasthenes also relates that the elephants tore down walls, and that the bamboo was a fathom in thickness. Strabo, p. 711. That Ctesias followed Persian-Bactrian accounts is clear from the fact that the scene of all his history is the north-west of India. He knows that India is a civilised land, though he also believes that it obeys only one king; he knows the veneration of the Indians for their kings, their contempt of death, and some products of Indian industry. The fabulous stories of the Pygmæans, Dog-heads, Shovel-eared, Shadow-feet, and Macrobii he did not invent, but copied. Similar marvels of men with dogs' heads, and without a head, and of unicorns, are narrated by Herodotus, only he ascribes these stories to the western Ethiopians, not to the eastern (4, 191). Homer had already sung of the Pygmæans ("Il." 3, 6). Hecatæus had spoken of the Shovel-eared and Shadow-feet (fragm. 265, 266, ed. Klausen), and also Aristophanes ("Aves," 1553). Of the griffins, the one-eyed Arimaspians, the long-lived, happy Hyperboreans, Aristeas of Proconnesus had told and Æschylus had sung long before Ctesias (above, III. 232). Megasthenes repeats the legends of the Pygmæans, Shovel-eared, Shadow-feet, Dog-heads, and adds accounts of men without mouths, and other marvels. Ctesias, therefore, had predecessors as well as followers in these stories. The fantastic world with which the Indians surrounded themselves, the nicknames and strange peculiarities which they ascribed to some of the old population and to distant nations, reached the Persians, and through them the Greeks. "Kirata" of small stature in the Eastern Himalayas, against which Vishnu's bird fights, Çunamukhas (Dog-heads), "brow-eyed" cannibals, "one-footed" men, who bring as tribute very swift horses, occur in the Indian epics, and in other writings. On the divine mountain Meru, according to the Indians, dwell the Uttara Kuru, i. e. the northern Kurus, who live for 10,000 years, among whom is no heat, where the streams flow in golden beds, and roll down pearls and precious stones instead of gravel. Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 1, 511; 2, 653, 693 ff.; Muir, loc. cit. 22, 324 ff. According to the cosmology of the Buddhists, whose Sutras also knew these Uttara Kuru, Mount Meru is the centre of the world. To the south of Meru is Yambudvipa, to the north the region of the Uttara Kuru, who live for 1000 years, while the inhabitants of Yambudvipa only live for 100 years. Burnouf, "Introduction à l'histoire du Bouddhisme," p. 177; Koppen, "Buddh." p. 233. Ptolemy, obviously following Indian sources, puts the Ὄττορα Κόῤῥα to the north of the Imaus, beyond the highest range, which with the Indians is a spur of the divine mountain Meru. This land and nation is obviously the garden of Yima and his elect, whom the myth of Iran places on the divine hill. These are the long-lived Hyperboreans of the Greeks, who dwell in the remote north beyond the Rhipaean mountains—one of the old common myths of the Aryan and Greek branch of the Indo-Germanic stock.

[28] Megasthenes and Eratosthenes in Strabo, pp. 689, 690; Arrian, "Ind." 3, 8.

[29] Lassen explains Paropamisus as Paropa-nishadha, "lower mountain," in opposition to Nishadha, "high mountain," by which the high ridge of the Hindu Kush is meant, loc. cit. 12, 27, n. 4.

[30] Muir, "Sanskrit Texts," 22, 324, 328.

[31] Strabo, pp. 690, 691.

[32] Diod. 2, 35; Strabo, pp. 700, 717.

[33] Megasthenes in Strabo, pp. 690, 702; cf. Arrian, "Ind." 4. Diodorus allows the upper Ganges a breadth of 30 stades, at Palibothra a breadth of 32 stades—2, 37; 17, 93.

[34] Arrian, "Ind." 4.

[35] Diod. 2, 37.

[36] Strabo, p. 691.

[37] Diod. 2, 37.

[38] Strabo, p. 695.

[39] Diod. 2, 37.

[40] Strabo, pp. 690, 691.

[41] Aristobulus in Strabo, pp. 692, 693; cf. Curtius, 8, 30, ed. Mützell.

[42] These statements, which are quite correct, are found in Megasthenes in Strabo, p. 76; Diod. 2, 35.

[43] Strabo, p. 695; Diod. 2, 35.

[44] Strabo, pp. 690, 693.

[45] Strabo, p. 695.

[46] Strabo, p. 694; Arrian, "Ind." 11.

[47] Strabo, pp. 692, 693. Arrian ("Ind." 7) mentions the Sanskrit name of the umbrella palm, tala, and tells us that the shoots were eaten, which is also correct.

[48] Arrian, "Ind." 6, 17; Strabo, pp. 96, 690, 696, 701, 706, 709.



[Pg 27]



We have already examined the earliest date at which the kings who reigned in antiquity in the lower valley of Nile attempted to bring their actions into everlasting remembrance by pictures and writing. The oldest inscription preserved there dates from the period immediately preceding the erection of the great pyramids. The same impulse swayed the rulers of Babylon and Asshur, of whom we possess monuments reaching beyond the year 2000 B.C. The Hebrews also began at a very early time to record the fortunes of their progenitors and their nation. With the Indians the reverse is the case. Here neither prince nor people show the least interest in preserving the memory of their actions or fortunes. No other nation has been so late in recording their traditions, and has been content to leave them in so fragmentary a condition. For this reason, fancy is in India more lively, the treasures of poetry are more rich and inexhaustible. Thus it becomes the object of our investigation, from the remains of this poetry, and the wrecks of literature, to ascertain and reconstruct, as far as possible, the history of the Indians. From the first the want of fixed tradition precludes the attempt to establish in detail the course of the history of the Aryan states and their rulers.[Pg 28] Our attempts are essentially limited to the discovery of the stages in the advance of the power of the Aryas in the regions where they first set foot, to the deciphering of the successive steps through which their religious views and intellectual culture were developed. And when we have thus exhumed the buried history of the Indians, we are assisted in determining its periods by the contact of the Indians with their western neighbours, the Persian kingdom, and the Greeks, and by the accounts of western writers on these events.

The oldest evidence of the life of the Aryas, whose immigration into the region of the Indus and settlement there we have been able to fix about 2000 B.C., is given in a collection of prayers and hymns of praise, the Rigveda, i. e. "the knowledge of thanksgiving." It is a selection or collection of poems and invocations in the possession of the priestly families, of hymns and prayers arising in these families, and sung and preserved by them. In the ten books which make up this collection, the poems of the first book are ascribed to minstrels of various families; in some the minstrel is even named. "This song was made by Dirghatamas, of the race of Angiras;" "this new hymn was composed by Nodhas, a descendant of Gautama." Of the other books, each is ascribed to a single family of priests—to the Gritsamadas, Viçvamitras, Vamadevas, Atris, Bharadvajas, Vasishthas, and Kanvas. The tenth book contains isolated pieces which found no place in the earlier books; several of these pieces bear the stamp of a later origin, as they exhibit a more complicated ritual, the operation of various classes of priests, and reflections of an abstract character.[49][Pg 29]

We see, then, that from ancient times there were among the Aryas families in possession of effectual invocations of the gods, who knew how to pronounce and sing the prayers at sacrifice, and offer the sacrifice in due form. We may gather further from the Rigveda that these families were distinguished by special symbols. The family of Vasishtha had a coil or knot of hair on the right side,[50] the family of Atri had three knots, the family of Angiras five locks, while the Bhrigus shaved their hair.[51] Sung for centuries in these families, in these circles of minstrels and priests, these poems were thus revised and preserved, until at length out of the possessions of these schools arose the collection which we have in the Rigveda. We find frequent mention in the poems of the invocations of ancient time, of the prayers of the fathers, and hence what is in itself probable becomes certain—that we have united in the Rigveda poems of various dates, and invocations divided in their origin by centuries.

Though the minstrels of the poems of the Rigveda could look back on a distant past, though they could distinguish the sages of the ancient, the earlier time, and the present, and the men of old from those of the later and most recent times,[52] there is yet nothing in these poems to point to an earlier home, to older habitations, or previous fortunes of the nation, unless, indeed, we ought to find an indication of life in a more northern[Pg 30] region in the fact that the older poems in the collection count by winters, and the later by autumns.[53] In any case there is no remembrance of earlier abodes, and therefore we must conclude that even the oldest of these poems had been sung long after the immigration. If the assumption established above, that the immigration took place soon after 2000 B.C., is approximately probable, the extinction of any memory of earlier abodes and fortunes will hardly allow us to carry back the origin of the oldest songs of the Veda beyond the sixteenth century B.C.

On the other hand, the hymns of the Veda contain conceptions of the creation and early ages of the world, the outlines of which, like the conception of the contrast between the men of the old time and the present, must have been brought by the Aryas into the land of the Indus from the common possession of the Aryan tribes. The oldest man, the father and progenitor of the Aryas, is, in the hymns of the Veda, Manu, the son of Vivasvat, i. e. "the illuminating," the sun. Frequent mention occurs in these poems of the "father Manu," of "our father Manu," "the paternal path which Manu trod," "the children of Manu," "the people of Manu." Manu brought the first offering to the gods of light; with Atharvan and Dadhyanch he kindled the first sacrificial fire; he has set Agni to give light to all the people, and to summon the gods, and prayed to him with Bhrigu and Angiras.[54] Five races of men sprung from Agni—the Yadus, the Turvaças, Druhyus, Anus, and Purus.[55] Beside Manu[Pg 31] stands Yama (geminus), like Manu, the son of Vivasvat. In the hymns of the Rigveda he is the assembler of the people, the king, the pattern of just dealing. He "has discovered the path which leads from the deeps to the[Pg 32] heights;" he "has removed the darkness," and "made smooth the path of the godly." He first discovered the resting-place from which no one drives out those who are there. From the depth of the earth he first ascended to the heights of heaven; he has had experience of death, he has entered into heaven, and there gathered round him all the godly and brave. "He went before us, and found for us a dwelling-place on a plain, which no one takes from us, whither the fathers of old time have gone; thither his path guides every child of earth."[56]

Manu and Yama are not unknown to the mythology of the nations of Iran. With the Iranians Yama is Yima; his father, according to the laws of the Bactrian, the language of East Iran, is not Vivasvat, but Vivanghat. The meaning is of course the same. According to the myths of Iran, Yima is the sovereign who first established the cultus of fire, and first tilled the field with the plough. In his reign of 1000 years there was neither heat nor cold, hunger nor thirst, age nor sickness, hate nor strife. And when this golden age came to an end, Yima continued to live an equally happy life in his garden on the mountain of the gods (i. e. in heaven), where the sun, moon, and stars shone together, where there was neither night nor darkness, in everlasting light with the elect. In the Rigveda the sacrificers of old time, who kindled the fire with Manu, and offered the first sacrifice,—Angiras, Bhrigu, Atharvan, and their families,—are half divine creatures, though not quite on an equal with Manu and Yama. They were ranged with the spirits of light, and shone like them, though with less brilliancy.[57] In the faith[Pg 33] of the Aryas the good and pious deed confers supernatural power; it makes the body light, and therefore like the body of the gods. The myths of Iran also praise certain heroes and sages of old time, who sacrificed first after Yima.

We can ascertain with exactness the region in which the greater number of these poems grew up. The Indus is especially the object of praise; the "seven rivers" are mentioned as the dwelling-place of the Aryas. This aggregate of seven is made up of the Indus itself and the five streams which unite and flow into it from the east—the Vitasta, Asikni, Iravati, Vipaça, Çatadru. The seventh river is the Sarasvati, which is expressly named "the seven-sistered." The land of the seven rivers is, as has already been remarked, known to the Iranians. The "Sapta sindhava" of the Rigveda are, no doubt, the hapta hendu of the Avesta, and in the form Harahvaiti, the Arachotus of the Greeks, we again find the Sarasvati in the east of the table-land of Iran. As the Yamuna and the Ganges are only mentioned in passing (p. 11), and the Vindhya mountains and Narmadas are not mentioned at all, the conclusion is certain that, at the time when the songs of the Aryas were composed, the nation was confined to the land of the Panjab, though they may have already begun to move eastward beyond the valley of the Sarasvati.[58]

We gather from the songs of the Rigveda that the Aryas on the Indus were not one civic community. They were governed by a number of princes (raja). Some of these ruled on the bank of the Indus, others in the neighbourhood of the Sarasvati.[59] They some[Pg 34]times combined; they also fought not against the Dasyus only, but against each other. They ruled over villages (grama), and fortified walled places (pura), of which overseers are mentioned (gramani, purpati).[60] We find minstrels and priests in their retinue. "Glorious songs of praise," says one of them, "did I frame by my skill for Svanaya, the son of Bavya, who dwells on the Indus, the unconquerable prince." Other poems in the Veda tell us that the princes make presents to the minstrels and priests of cows, chariots, robes, slave-women, and bars of gold. Whatever we may have to deduct from these statements on the score of poetical exaggeration, they still show that the court and possessions of the princes cannot have been utterly insignificant. The descriptions of the ornaments and weapons of the gods in the Rigveda are without a doubt merely enlarged copies of the style and habit of the princes. The gods travel in golden coats of mail, on splendid chariots, yoked with horses; they have palaces with a thousand pillars and a thousand gates; they linger among the lights of the sky, like a king among his wives.[61] From these pictures, by reducing the scale, we may represent to ourselves the life and customs of the princes in the land of the Indus.

From the numerous invocations for victory and booty, it follows that the life of the Aryas in the Panjab was disturbed by wars, that raids and feuds must have been frequent. War-chariots, and infantry, standard-bearers, bows, spears, swords, axes, and trumpets are mentioned.[62] We learn that those who fought in chariots were superior to the foot-soldiers.[Pg 35] "There appears like the lustre of a cloud when the mailed warrior stalks into the heart of the combat. Conquer with an unscathed body; let the might of thine armour protect thee. With the bow may we conquer cattle; with the bow may we conquer in the struggle for the mastery, and in the sharp conflicts. The bow frustrates the desire of our enemy; with the bow may we conquer all the regions round. The bow-string approaches close to the bowman's ear, as if to speak to or embrace a dear friend; strung upon the bow, it twangs like the scream of a woman, and carries the warrior safely through the battle. Standing on the chariot, the skilful charioteer directs the horses whithersoever he wills. Laud the power of the reins, which far behind control the impulse of the horses. The strong-hoofed steeds, rushing on with the chariots, utter shrill neighings; trampling the foe with their hoofs, they crush them, never receding." Again and again are the gods invoked that the bow-strings of the enemy may be snapped.[63]

The poems of the Veda distinguish the rich from the poor. The cultivation of the land is practised and recommended. Corn (dhana), barley, beans, and sesame were sown, but the rice of the Ganges valley is unknown. Channels also are mentioned for leading water on the land.

Healing herbs are not unknown to the poems, nor the person who is skilled in applying them, the physician. We find in them the desire for health and a long life,[64] blessed with abundance, with sons and daughters. Beautiful garments, precious stones, adorned women with four knots of hair, dancers,[Pg 36] wine-houses, and dice are repeatedly mentioned. Weaving and leather-work are known, and also the crafts of the smith, the carpenter, the wheelwright, and the shipbuilder.[65]

Among the Aryas of those days more attention must have been given to the breeding of cattle than to the cultivation of the field. A great number of similes and metaphors in the hymns of the Veda show that the Aryas must have lived long with their flocks, and that they stood to them in relations of the closest familiarity. The daughter is the milkmaid (duhitar), the consort of the prince is even in later poems the buffalo-cow (mahishî), the prince is at times the cow-herd, or protector of cows (gôpa), the assembly of the tribe and the fold which encloses the cows are called by the same name (gôshtha), and the word expressing a feud (gavisshthi) denotes in the first instance the desire for cows. Similes are taken especially from cows and horses. Beside cattle and horses, buffaloes, sheep, and goats are mentioned. The gods are invoked to protect and feed the cows, to increase the herds, to make the cows full of milk, and satisfy the horses, to lead the herds to good pastures, and protect them from misfortune on the way. At the sacrifices parched corn was sprinkled for the horses of the gods.[66]

In regard to the ethical feeling and attitude of the nation, we learn from the hymns of the Rigveda that it was filled at that time with a courageous and warlike spirit, with freshness and enjoyment of life. Liberality and fidelity were highly praised; theft and plunder held in contempt; faithlessness and lying severely condemned. The friend of the gods could look forward to horses, chariots, and cows. Beautiful to look upon, and filled with vigorous strength, he will shine in the[Pg 37] assembly of the people. There is a lively feeling that the gods feel themselves injured by untruth and falsehood, by neglect and improper offering of the sacrifice, and the conscience is awake. The gods are earnestly entreated to forgive the sins of the fathers, and those committed by the suppliants, in wine, play, or heedlessness, to soften their anger, and spare the transgressor from punishment or death. If princes and nobles did not content themselves with one wife, monogamy was nevertheless the rule, so far as we can see. The beautiful maiden is accounted happy because she can choose her husband in the nation. Many a one certainly would be content with the wealth of him who seeks her.

In the beneficent forces and phenomena of nature, which are friendly and helpful to men, the religious conceptions of the Aryas see the power of kindly deities; and in all the influences and phenomena which injure the prosperity and possessions of men they see the rule of evil deities. To the Aryas light was joy and life, darkness fear and death; the night and the gloom filled them with alarm, the light cheered them. With gladsome hearts they greeted the returning glow of morning, the beams of the sun, which awaken us to life. The obscuring of the sun by dark clouds raised the apprehension that the heavenly light might be taken from them. In the heat of the summer the springs and streams were dried up, the pastures were withered, the herds suffered from want, and therefore the more fervent were the thanks of the Aryas to the spirits who poured down fructifying water from heaven, and caused the springs, streams, and rivers again to flow full in their banks.

The basis of these views the Aryas brought with them into the valley of the Indus. Their name for the deity of light—deva, from div, to shine—is found[Pg 38] among the Greek, Italian, Lettish, and Celtic nations in the forms ϑεοί, dii, diewas, and dia; it recurs in the Zeus (dyaus) of the Greeks, and the Jupiter (dyauspitar) of the Romans. The god of the upper air is with the Aryas Varuna, the Uranos of the Greeks. And these were not the only ideas possessed by the Aryas before their immigration. When they had broken off from the original stem of the Indo-European tribes, they must for a time have lived in union with another branch of the same stem, which inhabited the table-land of Iran, and only after a long period of union did they become a nation, and emigrate to the East. The nucleus of the view of the nature and action of the gods is identical in the Aryas and the tribes of Iran to such a degree that it can only have grown up in a common life. In both it lies in the struggle and opposition in which the spirits of light stand to the spirits of darkness, the spirits who give water to the spirits who parch up all things—in the contest of good and evil gods. It is assistance and protection against the evil spirits, the boon of light and water, which is sought for in the worship of both nations. The names of the deities of light, which the Indians and the Iranians serve, are the same. Mitra, Aryaman, Bhaga, Ushas are invoked on the Indus and Sarasvati as well as on the Hilmend, in Bactria and Media. Here, as there, the beneficent morning wind which drives away the clouds of night is called Vayu; the same drink offerings were offered under the same names in both nations to the good gods. With the Indians Atharvan lights the sacrificial fire;[67] among the Iranians the fire priests are called Athravas. The chief of the evil spirits, against which the good spirits have to contend, is called Veretra among the Iranians, and Vritra among[Pg 39] the Indians; another evil spirit is called Azhi (Aji) in one nation, Ahi in the other. Such was the development given to the common inheritance from the parent stock, attained while the Airyas and Aryas lived together; and after the community was broken up, and the two nations became separated, those views received a peculiar shape in each. The point in this special development reached by the Aryas while yet in the Panjab we know from the poems of the Rigveda.

To the Iranians, as to the Aryas, the brightness of fire was a friendly spirit which gave light in darkness. To it, among both nations, almost the first place was allotted. By far the greatest number of invocations in the Rigveda are addressed to this spirit, Agni (ignis). When the darkness of evening came on, the glowing fire scared the beasts of prey from the encampment of men and the herds, and so far as the flame shone it drove back the evil spirits of the night.[68] Then the demons were seen from a distance hovering round the kindled fire, and the changing outlines of their forms were seen on the skirts of the darkness. Thus in the Rigveda, the fire-god is a bringer of light, who overpowers the night with red hues, who drives away the Rakshasas, or evil spirits; he is the conqueror and slayer of demons, with sharp teeth and keen weapons, a beautiful youth of mighty power. But the fire of the hearth also unites the family, and provides them with nourishment. As such Agni is the gleaming guest of men, the dear friend and companion of men, the far-seeing house-lord, who dwells in every house, and despises none; a god, giving food and wealth;[69] the protector, leader, and guide of his nation. As his power carries the sacrificial gifts to the gods, he is also the[Pg 40] priest of the house; to the sensuous conception of the Aryas he is the messenger of men to the gods; his gleam leads the eye of the gods to the sacrifice of men; hence he is himself a priest, the first of priests, the true offerer of sacrifice, the mediator between heaven and earth, the lord of all religious duties, the protector and supporter of the worship. With his far-reaching tongue, the smoke of the kindled fire of sacrifice, he announces to the gods the gifts offered, the prayers which accompany the sacrifice, and brings the gods to the place of offering. Through Agni they consume their food. He is to the gods what the goblet is to the mouth of men.[70] With a thousand eyes Agni watches over him who brings him food, i. e. wood, and pours fat and clarified butter into his mouth; he rejects not the gifts of him who possesses neither cow nor axe, and brings but small pieces of wood; he protects him from hunger, and sends him all kinds of good; in the battle he fights among the foremost, and consumes the enemy like dry underwood. When he yokes to his chariot the red, wind-driven horses, he roars like a bull; the birds are terror-stricken when his sparks come consuming the grass; when, like a lion, he blackens the forest with his tongue, and seizes it with his flames, which sound like the waves of the sea; when he shears off the hair of the earth, as a man shaves his beard, and marks his path with blackness. Nothing can withstand the lightning of the sky, the sounding winds, and Agni; by his power the gods Varuna, Mitra, and Aryaman are victorious.[71]

In the conception of the Indians Agni was born from the double wood; in this he lay concealed. They kindled fire by friction. A short staff was fixed in a[Pg 41] round disc of wood, and whirled quickly round till fire was kindled.[72] This process was the birth of Agni. The disc was compared to the mother, the staff to the father; the disc was impregnated by friction, and soon a living creature springs forth from the dry wood. At the moment of birth this golden-haired child begins to consume his parents; he grows up in marvellous wise, like the offspring of serpents, without a mother to give suck. Eagerly he stretches forth his sharp tongue to the wood of the sacrifices; with gnashing and neighing he springs up like a horse on high, when the priests sprinkle melted butter; streaming brightly forth, he rolls up the sacred smoke, and touches the sky with his hair, uniting with the sun.[73] Yet not on earth only is Agni born; he is born in the air and the sky by the lightning; in the lightning he descends to earth, and he is thus the twice-born. But as the lightning descends in the torrents of the storm, Agni is also born from the water of the sky, and is thus the triple-born; he is also named the bull begotten in the bed of water.[74] "We call on Agni, who gives food, with solemn songs," we are told in a hymn. "We choose thee as a messenger to the all-knowing; thy rising gleam shines far into the sky. To thee, rich youth, is every sacrifice offered; be gracious to us to-day, and for the future. Sacrifice thyself to the mightiest gods; bring our sacrifice to the gods. Mighty as a horse, who neighs in the battle, give rich gifts, O Agni, to the suppliant. Bring thyself to us, O mighty one; shine, most beloved of the gods; let the winged smoke ascend. Bring thyself to us, thou whom[Pg 42] the gods once gave to man upon the earth. Give us treasures; gladden us. Come, ascending at once to help us, like Savitar; shine and protect us from sin by knowledge; make us strong for action and life; destroy our enemies; protect us, Agni, from the Rakshasas; protect us from the murderer and cruel bird of prey, and from the enemy who plans our destruction, thou shining youth. Strike down the enemies who bring no gifts, who sharpen their arrows against us, thou who art armed with a gleaming beam as with a club, that our enemies may never rule over us. No one can approach thy darting, strong, fearful flames; burn the evil spirits, and every enemy."[75]

If Agni scared away the spirits of the night for the Aryas, they greeted with the liveliest joy the earliest light, the approach of breaking day, the first white rays of the dawn, which assured them that the night had not been victorious over the light, that the daylight was returning. These rays are for them a beautiful pair of twins, the brothers of Ushas, the morning glow, the sons of the sky.[76] They are named the two Açvins, i. e. the swift, the horsemen; and also Nasatyas, i. e. apparently, the trustworthy, or guileless. Swift spirits, they hasten on before the dawn. As they pass onward victorious against the spirits of the night, and each morning assist the earth against the darkness, they are the helpers and protectors of men. That this conception of the Açvins springs from the common possession of the parent-stock of the Indo-Europeans, is proved by the Dioscuri of the Greeks. Dioskouroi means, "the young sons of the sky," and in the myth of the Greeks they are the brothers of Helena, i. e. of the Bright one, the Light; and if, in this myth, they[Pg 43] live alternately in heaven and in the gloom of the under-world, this fact is no doubt founded in the idea that the first beams which break forth from the night belong to the darkness as much as to the light. In the Rigveda, the Açvins are compared to two swans, two falcons, two deer, two buffaloes, two watchful hounds. They are invoked to harness their light cars, drawn by swan-like, falcon-like, golden-winged horses, to descend and drink the morning offering with Ushas (the Αὔως, Ἤως of the Greeks.) They heal the sick, the blind, the lame, and make the old young again, and strong; they give wealth and nourishment, they accompany ships over the wide sea, and protect them. In invocations in the Rigveda to the Açvins, in which the benefits done by them to the forefathers are extolled and enumerated, we find: "Açvins, come on your chariot which is yoked with the good horses, which flies like the falcon, and is swifter than the wind, or the thoughts of men, on which ye visit the houses of pious men; come to our dwelling. On the chariot, whose triple wheel hastens through the triple world (the Indians distinguish the heaven of light, the region of the atmosphere and the clouds, and the earth as three worlds) approach us. Make the cows full of milk, and feed our horses, and give us goodly progeny. Approach in swift, fair-coursing chariots; listen, ye bounteous, to my prayer; ye Açvins, whom the men of old extol as driving away want. The falcons, the swift-winged ones, who fly like the vultures in the sky, may they bring you, ye Nasatyas, like water streaming from heaven, to the sacrifice. In old days ye gave nourishment to Manu; ye speedily brought food to Atri in the dark dungeon, and freed him from his bonds; ye restored light to the blind Kanva, ye bounteous ones, whom we love to praise. With your[Pg 44] onward flying horses ye brought Bhujyu without harm from the wide pathless sea; for Çayu, when he prayed to you, ye filled the cow with milk, and gave to Pedu the white horse, clear-neighing, fearful, who is victorious over enemies, and defeats them. Even as ye were of old, we invoke you, beautiful-born, to come to our help; come with the swift flight of the falcons to us, for I summon you to a sacrifice prepared at the first light of the eternal dawn."[77]

This dawn is in the hymns of the Veda a ruddy cow, a tawny mare, a beautiful maiden, who is born anew every day, when the Açvins yoke their chariot.[78] Many are the generations of men that she has seen, yet she grows not old. Like a maiden robed for the dance, like a daughter adorned by her mother, as a loving wife approaches her husband, as a woman rising in beauty from the bath, smiling and trusting to her irresistible charms, unveils her bosom to the eye of the beholder, so does Ushas divide the darkness and unveil the wealth hidden therein. From the far east she travels on her gleaming car, which the ruddy horses and ruddy cows bring swiftly over thirty Yojanas, and illumines the world to the uttermost end. She looses the cows (i. e. the bright clouds) from the stall, and causes the birds to fly from their nests; she awakes the five tribes (p. 30), as an active housewife wakes her household, and sets each to his work; she passes by no house, but everywhere kindles the sacrificial fire, and gives breath and life to all. Occasionally the hymns call upon her to accelerate her awakening, to linger no longer, to hasten that the sun may not wither her away.[79] "Come, Ushas," we find in[Pg 45] invocations, "descend from the light of the sky on gracious paths: let the red cows lead thee into the house of the sacrificer. The light cows bring in the gleaming Ushas; her beams appear in the east. As bold warriors flash their swords, the ruddy cows press on; already they are shining clear. The bright beam of Ushas breaks through the dark veil of black night at the edge of heaven. We are beyond the darkness. Rise up. The light is there. Thou hast opened the path for the sun; rise up, awakening glad voices. Listen to our prayer, O giver of all good; increase our progeny."[80]

The god of the sun was invoked under the names Surya and Savitar (Savitri), i. e. "the impeller." The first name seems to belong specially to the rising, the second to the sinking, sun. "Already," the hymn tells us, "the beams raise up Surya, so that all see him. With the night, the stars retire like thieves before Surya, the all-seeing. His beams shine clear over the nations, like glowing flames. Before gods and men thou risest up, Surya. With thy glance thou lookest over the nations, wanderest through heaven, the broad clouds, measuring the day and the night. Thy chariot, bright Surya, far-seeing one with the gleaming hair, seven yellow horses draw. Looking on thee after the darkness, we invoke thee, the highest light. Banish the pain and fear of my heart; pale fear we give to the thrushes and parrots. The sun of Aditi has arisen with all his victorious power;[81] he bows down the enemy[Pg 46] before me."[82] A hymn says to Savitar: "I summon Savitar to help, who calls all gods and men to their place, when he returns to the dark heaven. He goes on the ascending path, and on the sinking one; shining from far, he removes transgression. The god ascends the great gold-adorned chariot, armed with the golden goad. The yellow horses with the white feet bring on the light, drawing the golden yoke. With golden hands Savitar advances between heaven and earth. Golden-handed, Renewer, rich one, come to us; beat off from us the Rakshasas; come, thou who art invoked every night on thine old firm paths through the air, which are free from dust; protect us to-day also."[83] In an evening song to Savitar we find: "With the swift horses which Savitar unyokes, he brings even the course of the swift one to a stand: the weaving woman rolls up her web; the workman stops in the middle of his work; where men dwell, the glimmer of the house fire is spread here and there; the mother puts the best piece before the son; he who has gone abroad for gain returns, and every wanderer yearns for home; the bird seeks the nest, the herd the stall. From the sky, from the water, and the earth, Savitar caused gifts to come to us, to bless the suppliant as well as thy friend, the minstrel, whose words sound far."[84] A third god of light, who seems to stand in some relation to the sun, especially the setting sun, is[Pg 47] Pushan, i. e. "the nourisher." He pastures the cows of the sky, the bright clouds, and leads them back into the stall; he never loses one; he is the protector and increaser of cattle; he weaves a garment for the sheep; he protects the horses; he is also lord and keeper of the path of heaven and earth; he protects and guides the wanderers in their paths; he brings the bride to the bridegroom, and leads the souls of the dead into the other world.[85]

Above the spirits of fire, of the first streaks of light, of the dawn, and the sun, are those gods of the clear sky, with which we have already made acquaintance, as belonging partly to the undivided possessions of the Indo-Europeans, and partly to the undivided possessions of the Aryas in Iran and on the Indus. Though still enthroned in the highest light and the highest sky, these spirits are nevertheless, in the minds of the Aryas, expelled from the central position in their religious conceptions and worship, by a form which, though it did not spring up in the land of the Indus, first attained this pre-eminent position among the Aryas there. With the tribes of Iran, the god of the clear sky, the god of light, is Mitra, the victorious champion against darkness and demons. It is he who has overcome Veretra, the prince of the evil ones, the demon of darkness; as a warrior-god, he is for the Iranians the god of battles, the giver of victory. The nature of the land of the Panjab was calculated to give a special development and peculiar traits to the ancient conception of the struggle of the god of light against the demon of darkness. There the pastures were parched in the height of summer, the fields burnt, the springs and streams dried up, until at length, long[Pg 48] awaited and desired, the storms bring the rain. Phenomena of so violent a nature as the tropical storms were unknown to the Aryas before they entered this region. The deluge of water in storm and tempest, the return of the clear sky and sunlight after the dense blackness of the storm, could not be without influence on the existing conceptions of the struggle with the spirits. In the heavy black clouds which came before the storm, the Aryas saw the dark spirits, Vritra and Ahi, who would change the light of the sky into night, quench the sun, and carry off the water of the sky. The tempest which preceded the outbreak of the storm, the lightning which parted the heavy clouds, and caused the rain to stream down, the returning light of the sun in the sky, these must be the beneficent saving acts of a victorious god, who rendered vain the object of the demons, wrested from them the waters they had carried off, rekindled the light of the sun, sent the waters on the earth, caused streams and rivers to flow with renewed vigour, and gave fresh life to the withered pastures and parched fields. These conceptions underlie the mighty form into which the struggle of the demons grew up among the Aryas on the Indus, the god of storm and tempest—Indra. The army of the winds fights at his side, just as the wild army surrounds the storm-god of the Germans. Indra is a warrior, who bears the spear; heaven and earth tremble at the sound of his spear. This sound is the thunder, his good spear is the lightning; with this he smites the black clouds, the black bodies of the demons which have sucked up the water of the sky; with it he rekindles the sun.[86] With it he milks the cows, i. e. the clouds; shatters the towers of the demons, i. e. the[Pg 49] tempests which gather round the mountain top; and hurls back the demons when they would ascend heaven.[87] "I will sing of the victories of Indra, which the god with the spear carried off," so we read in the hymns of the Veda. "On the mountain he smote Ahi; he poured out the waters, and let the river flow from the mountains; like calves to cows, so do the waters hasten to the sea. Like a bull, Indra dashed upon the sacrifice, and drank thrice of the prepared drink, then he smote the first-born of the evil one. When thou, Indra, didst smite them, thou didst overcome the craft of the guileful: thou didst beget the sun, the day, and the dawn. With a mighty cast Indra smote the dark Vritra, so that he broke his shoulders; like a tree felled with an axe Ahi sank to the earth. The waters now run over the corpse of Ahi, and the enemy of Indra sleeps there in the long darkness."[88] "Thou hast opened the cave of Vritra rich in cattle; the fetters of the streams thou hast burnt asunder."[89]

On a golden chariot, drawn by horses, yellow or ruddy, cream-coloured or chestnut, Indra approaches;[90] his skilful driver is Vayu, i. e. "the blowing," the spirit of the morning wind,[91] which, hastening before the morning glow, frees the nocturnal sky from dark clouds. Indra is followed by Rudra, i. e. the terrible, the spirit of the mighty wind, the destroying, but also beneficent storm, and the whistling winds, the swift, strong[Pg 50] Maruts, who fight with Indra against the demons. These are twenty-seven, or thirty-six in number, the sons of Rudra. Their chariots are drawn by dappled horses; they wear golden helmets, and greaves, and spears on their shoulders. They dwell in the mountains, open the path for the sun, break down the branches of the trees like wild elephants, and when Indra has overpowered Vritra, they tear him to pieces. To Indra, as to Mitra, horses were sacrificed, and bulls also, and the libation of soma was offered.[92] Indra is the deity addressed in the greater part of the poems of the Rigveda. Himself a king, hero, and conqueror, he is invoked by minstrels to give victory to their princes. They entreat him "to harness the shrill-neighing, peacock-tailed pair of cream-coloured horses;" to come into the ranks of the warriors, like a wild, terrible lion from the mountains; to approach with sharp spear and knotty club; to give the hosts of the enemy to the vultures for food. The warriors are urged to follow Indra's victorious chariot, to vie with Indra: he who does not flinch in the battle will fight before them; he will strike back the arrows of the enemies. Indra destroys the towers and fortresses of the enemies; he casts down twenty kings; he smites the opponents by fifties and sixties of thousands.[93] The prayer has already been mentioned in which Indra is invoked to give the Aryas victory against the Dasyus. "Lead us, O Indra," we read in an invocation of the Samaveda; "let the troop of the Maruts go before the overpowering, victorious arms of the god. Raise up the weapons, O wealthy god; raise up the souls of our warriors; strengthen the vigour of the strong;[Pg 51] let the cry of victory rise from the chariots. Be with us, Indra, when the banners wave; let our arrows be victorious; give our warriors the supremacy; protect us, ye gods, in the battle. Fear, seize the hearts of our enemies, and take possession of their limbs."[94]

The old Arian conception of Mitra as the highest god of light, may still be recognised in the Rigveda; the hymns declare that his stature transcends the sky, and his glory spreads beyond the earth. He sustains heaven and earth; with never-closing eyes he looks down on all creatures. He whom Mitra, the mighty helper, protects, no evil will touch, from far or from near; he will not be conquered or slain. A mighty, strong, and wise king, Mitra summons men to activity.[95] Driven back by the predominance of Indra, the functions of Mitra in the Rigveda are found amalgamated with those of Varuna, but even in this amalgamation the nature of light is completely victorious. In the conception of the Arians light is not only the power that awakens and gives health and prosperity, it is also the pure and the good, not merely in the natural, but also in the moral sense, the true, the honourable, just and faithful. Thus Mitra, removed from immediate conflict with the evil spirits, is combined with Varuna, the god of the highest heaven, and the life-giving water which springs from the heaven; and becomes the guardian of truth, fidelity, justice, and the duties of men to the gods. The sun is the eye of Mitra and Varuna; they have placed him in the sky; at their command the sky is bright; they send down the rain. Even the gods cannot withstand their will. They are the guardians of the world; they look down on men as[Pg 52] on herds of cattle.[96] The light sees all, illuminates all: hence Mitra and Varuna know what takes place on earth; the most secret thing escapes them not. They are angry, terrible deities; they punish those who do not honour the gods; they avenge falsehood and sin. But to those who serve them, they forgive their transgressions. Varuna, whose special duty it is to punish the offences of men, is entreated in the hymns, with the greatest earnestness, to pardon transgression and sin. In the conception of the hymns of the Rigveda, he is the highest lord of heaven and earth. In the waters of heaven he dwells in a golden coat of mail, in his spacious golden house with a thousand doors. He has shown to the sun his path; he has excavated their beds for the rivers, and causes them to flow into the sea; his breath sounds with invigorating force through the breezes. He knows the way of the winds, and the flight of birds, and the course of ships on the sea. He knows all things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. Even he who would fly further than the sky extends is not beyond his power. He numbers the glances of the eyes of men; where two men sit together and converse, king Varuna is a third among them.[97] He knows the truth and falsehood of men; he knows their thoughts, and watches them as a herdman his herd. His coils, threefold and sevenfold, embrace them who speak lies. "May he remain unscathed by them who speak truth," is the prayer of the invocations. "Was it for an old sin, Varuna," we read in a prayer, "that thou wishest to destroy thy friend, who praises thee? Absolve us from the sins of our[Pg 53] fathers, and from those which we committed with our own bodies. Release Vasishtha, O king, like a thief who has feasted on stolen oxen; release him like a calf from the rope. It was not our own doing that led us astray, O Varuna, it was necessity (or temptation), an intoxicating draught, passion, dice, thoughtlessness. The old is there to mislead the young; even sleep brings unrighteousness. Through want of strength, thou strong and bright god, have I gone wrong: have mercy, almighty, have mercy. I go along trembling, like a cloud driven before the wind; let not us guilty ones reap the fruit of our sin. Let me not yet enter into the house of clay, king Varuna. Protect, O wise god, him who praises thee. Whenever we men, O Varuna, commit an offence before the heavenly host, whenever we break the law through thoughtlessness, have mercy, almighty, have mercy."[98]

The chief offering which the Aryas made to the spirits of the sky, was of ancient origin; even before they entered the land of the Indus, at the time when they were one nation with their fellow-tribesmen of Iran—this libation had been established. It was a drink-offering, the juice of a mountain plant, the soma, or haoma of the Irans, which they offered. The expressed sap of this plant, which is the asclepias acida of our botanists, mixed with milk, narcotic and intoxicating, was to the Arya the strongest, most exhilarating liquor, a drink fit for their gods. According to the Rigveda, a tamed falcon brought the soma from the summit of the sky, or from the tops of the mountains, where Varuna had placed it. The drink of the soma inspires the songs of the poet, heals the[Pg 54] sick, prolongs life, and makes the poor believe themselves rich. The rites of preparing the soma were already widely developed when the songs of the Rigveda over the offering were composed. The sacrificial vessels were washed out with kuça-grass, and with "the sacred word," i. e. with traditional forms of words. The plants of the soma—according to the rubrics of later times, they are to be collected by moonlight on the hills,[99]—were crushed between stones. In the Veda we are told that the suppliants "squeeze the soma with stones." The liquor thus obtained was then strained through a sieve, with songs and incantations. The sieve appears to have been made out of the hairs of a ram's tail, and the juice is pressed through it with the ten sisters, i. e. with the fingers; "it rushes to the milk as fiercely as the bull to the cow." The sound of the drops of the golden fluid falling into the metal vessels is the roaring of the bulls, the neighing of the horses of Indra, "the hymn of praise, which the song of the minstrel accompanies."[100] The drink thus prepared was then placed in the sacrificial vessel, on outspread, delicate grass, over which was laid a cloth. Then the Açvins, Vayu, the Maruts, Indra were invoked to descend, to place themselves at the sacrificial cloth, and drink the draught prepared for them. According to the faith of the Aryas, Indra fights on the side of the tribe whose soma offering he has drunk, and gives the victory to them. The invocations to Indra, to the Maruts, and the Açvins, who were considered mightiest and most influential in inviting and bringing down the gods to the sacrifice, are preserved in the Rigveda.

It would be futile to attempt to distinguish in detail[Pg 55] the exuberant abundance of conceptions and pictures which the young and vigorous fancy of the Indians has embodied in the songs of the Veda. One poetical idea presses on another; scarcely a single image is retained for any length of time, so that we not unfrequently receive the impression of a restless variety, of uncertain effort, of flux and confusion. On the other hand, it is impossible to deny that in these poems there is a freshness and vigour of thought, a wide sympathy and moral earnestness. Beside the most lively conceptions of the phenomena of the heavens, the formation of clouds and storms; besides deep delight in nature, and a sensuous view of natural life, we find attempts to form a comprehensive, exhaustive idea of the nature of God, the beginnings of reflection and abstraction. If this contrast proves that the poems of the Veda were divided in their origin by intervals of time, we can hardly be wrong if we look upon the naïve, coarse and sensuous conceptions as the older, and the attempts at combination and abstraction as of later origin. Yet the basis of that conception of moral purity, of the just avenging power of the high deities of light, Mitra and Varuna, cannot be regarded as of later date, since it occurs also in the Mitra of the Iranians. We can hardly find a more naïve conception than the view expressed in the poems of the Veda that the sacrifice not only gives food and drink to the hungry deities, but also gives them the power to fulfil their duties. The offering of soma strengthens Indra in the battles which he has to fight against the evil spirits; it invigorates him for the struggle against the enemies of the tribe whose offering he drinks. The god requires strength for the contest; and this, according to the peculiar view of the Indians, is increased by the offering of soma made to him. And[Pg 56] not only does the offering give strength, it inspires the god for battle. Just as men sought courage in drinking, so does Indra drink courage from the sacrificial goblet. If Indra is to give wealth and blessing, if he is to fight victoriously his ever-recurring struggle against Vritra and Ahi, to win the fructifying moisture, and contend in the ranks of the tribe, the "honey-sweet" soma must be prepared for him without ceasing, he must be invoked to harness his horses, and place himself at the meal of the sacrifice, and exhilarate himself with the drink prepared for him; in his exhilaration, victory over the demons is certain; he will fight invincibly before the ranks of his friends. His enemies, we are told of Indra, he overcomes in the inspiration of the soma. "Drink, Indra, of the soma like a wise man, delighting thyself in the mead; it is good for exhilaration. Come down, Indra, who art truly a bull, and drink thyself full; drink the most inspiring of drinks. The intoxicating drink of the rich gives bulls."[101] By the side of conceptions such as this, the invocation praises the lofty power, the sublime nature of the gods, in moving images, which attempt, to the utmost degree, to glorify the power of the god to whom they are addressed. They elevate him and his power above the other gods, and concentrate the divine action in the deity to whom the prayer or thanksgiving is made, at the expense of his divine compeers. The object was to win by prayer and sacrifice the grace of the deity who was invoked. In this manner Agni, Surya, Indra, Mitra, and Varuna are celebrated as the highest deities. Of Indra we are told that none of the gods is like him; that none can contend with him; that before him, the thunderer, all worlds tremble. He is the lord of all; the king of the[Pg 57] firm land and flowing water; his power has set up the ancient hills, and causes the streams to flow; he sustains the earth, the nourisher of all; he has created the sky, the sun, the dawn; he has fixed the lights of the sky; should he desire to take up both worlds—the heaven and earth—it would be but a handful for him. Who of the seers of old has seen the limits of his power?[102] As we have observed, the form of the mighty storm-god which grew up in the land of the Indus, had driven back the ancient forms of Mitra and Varuna, and thus the minstrels found a strong tendency to unite in the mighty warrior, the thunderer, the sum total of divine power. But Mitra and Varuna were not forgotten; and as the warlike life fell into the back-ground, and the impulse to seize the unity of the divine nature became stronger, these ancient forms were in their turn more easily idealized, and framed into a higher ethical conception than was possible with the peculiarly warlike nature of Indra. In the songs of praise addressed to Varuna, which have been quoted, it is impossible not to see the effort to concentrate in him as the highest god the highest divine power.

If in the conception of the gods in the Veda we find besides sensuous views important ethical elements, and traits transcending sense, we also find in the worship of the Aryas, in the relation of man to the gods, a certain simplicity coexisting with sharply defined ethical perception. Men pray to the gods for protection against the evil spirits, for the preservation and increase of the herd, for help in sickness, and long life, for victory in battle. It is allowed that sacrifices are offered in order to obtain treasures and wealth. Indra is to "give gift for gift;" he is to send wealth "so that one may wade therein to the knee." From this[Pg 58] the god will obtain his advantage in turn; if Indra gives horses, chariots and bulls, sacrifices will be offered without ceasing.[103] Like flies round a jar of honey, we are told in another place, do the suppliants sit round the bowl of the offering; as a man sets his foot in the chariot, so does the host of minstrels longing for treasure place their confidence in Indra.[104] In a hymn, the minstrel says to Indra: "If I were the lord of cattle, master of such wealth as thou art, Indra, then would I assist the minstrel; I would not leave him in need."[105] But, on the other hand, it is emphatically stated that Indra rejects the wicked, as a man spurns a toadstool with his foot;[106] that no evil is concealed from Mitra and Varuna. It is left to Indra to give to the sacrificer whatever he considers best and most valuable; he is entreated to instruct the sacrificer, to give him wisdom, as a father to his child.[107] Stress is laid on the fact that sacrifice can remove a multitude of sins, and purify him who offers it, and we saw how earnestly Varuna was invoked to forgive the guilt that had been incurred.

The naïve conception that the god drank vigour and courage out of the sacrificial bowl is developed among the Aryas in a very peculiar manner. From this fact they derived the idea that the sacrifice gave power to the gods generally to increase their strength; that the gods "grew" by prayer and sacrifice. Thus we read: "The suppliants, extolling Indra by their songs of praise, have strengthened him, to slay Ahi. Increase, O hero Indra, in thy body, praised with piety, and impelled by our prayers. The hymns whet thy great strength, thy courage, thy power, thy glorious thunder-club."[108] As it is men who offer sacrifice to the gods,[Pg 59] this conception gives mankind a certain power over the deities; it lies with them to strengthen the gods by sacrifice and gifts; they can compel the gods to be helpful to them, if only they understand how to invoke them rightly. The holy words, i. e. the invocations, are, in the conception of the Veda, "a voyage which leads to heaven." Hence those who are acquainted with the correct mode of prayer and offering become magicians, who are in a position to exercise force over the gods. The idea that man has power to compel the gods is very naïve, childlike, and childish; in its most elementary form it lies at the root of fetishism. In other nations also great weight is laid on the correct mode of offering sacrifices, as the essential condition of winning the grace of the gods; but the conception that a hearing must attend a sacrifice and prayer correctly made is far more strongly present in the Indians, than in any other civilised people. Yet the hymns of the Veda are far above fetishism, which attempts to exercise direct external compulsion upon the gods. The Indian faith is rather that this effect is obtained not merely by the custom of sacrifice, but by the intensity of invocation, by the power of meditation, by elevation of spirit, by the passionate force of prayer, which will not leave the god till he has given his blessing. It is inward, not outward compulsion that they would exercise. Developed in a peculiar direction, this mode of conception is of deep and decisive importance for the religious and civic views of the Indians.

The power ascribed to the sacrificial prayers of bringing down the gods from heaven; the eager desire of every man to invite the gods effectually to his own sacrifice, in order that he may scorn the sacrifice of his enemy; the notion that it was possible by the correct and pleasing invocation to disturb the sacrifice[Pg 60] of the enemy and make it inoperative, had their natural effect. The singers of these prayers, who knew the strongest forms of invocation, or could "weave" them—the priests—early obtained a position of importance. It has been already remarked what rich presents they boast to have received from the princes. The minstrel Kakshivat tells us that king Svanaya had presented him with one hundred bars of gold, ten chariots with four horses each, a hundred bulls and a thousand cows.[109] Other songs advise the princes to place before them a pious suppliant at the sacrifice, and to reward him liberally. These suppliants or priests were called purohita, i. e. "men placed before." "He dwells happily in his house," we are told; "to him the earth brings fruit at all times; to that king all families willingly give way, who is preceded by the suppliant; that king is protected by the gods, who liberally rewards the suppliant who seeks food."[110] The invocations which have drawn down the gods and have obtained an answer to the prayer of the sacrificer, are repeatedly used, and handed down by the minstrel to his descendants. This explains the fact that even in the Veda we find these families of minstrels; that some of the hymns are said to spring from the ancestors of these races, while others are mentioned as the new compositions of members of these families; that the supposed ancestors are considered the first and oldest minstrels and suppliants, and have already become mythical and half-divine forms, of whom some kindled the first sacrificial fire, and offered the first sacrifice with Manu, the progenitor of the Aryas.[Pg 61]

The hymns of the Veda make frequent mention of the dead. They are invited to the sacrificial meal; they are said to sit at the fire; to eat and drink the gifts set before them on the grass. Those who have attained "life," are entreated to protect the invocations of their descendants, to ward off the evil spirits, to give wealth to their descendants. We know from a later period that daily libations were offered "to the fathers," and special gifts were given at the new moon; that a banquet of the dead was kept. In Iran also similar honours were given to the spirits of the dead. Yama, who first experienced death, who ascended from the depths of the earth to the summit of heaven, has discovered the path for mortals (p. 31). He dwells with Varuna in the third heaven, the heaven of light. To him, in this heaven of light, come the heroes who are slain in battle, the pious who are distinguished by sacrifices and knowledge, who have trodden the path of virtue, who have observed justice and have been liberal, i. e. all those who have lived a holy and pure life, and have thus purified their own bodies. In this body of light they walk in the heaven of Yama. According to the Mahabharata, the heroes and saints of ancient days shine in heaven in a light of their own (chapter viii.). In the heaven of Yama is milk, butter, honey, and soma, the drink of the gods, in large vats.[111] Here the weak no longer pay tribute to the strong;[112] here those whom death has separated are again united; here they live with Yama in feasting and rejoicing. The souls of the wicked, on the other hand, fall into[Pg 62] darkness.[113] According to an old commentary on the Rigveda, the heaven of Yama is in the South-east, one thousand days journey on horse from the earth.[114]

The Aryas buried their dead, a custom which was also observed in old time among the Arians of Iran. A form of words, to be spoken at the burial, which is preserved among the more recent hymns of the Veda, shows that even at this period burial was practised. The bow was taken from the hand of the dead; a sacrifice was offered, in which the widow of the dead and the wives of the family took part, and during the ceremony a stone was set up as a symbol between the dead and the living. "Get thee gone, death, on thy way,"—such is this form of words—"which lies apart from the way of the gods. Thou seest, thou canst hear what I say to thee; injure not the children nor the men. I set this wall of separation (the stone) for those that live, that no one may hasten to that goal; they must cover death with this rock, and live a hundred autumns. He comes to a length of years, free from the weakness of age. The women here, who are wives not widows, glad in their husbands, advance with sacrificial fat and butter, and without tears; cheerful, and beautifully adorned, they climb the steps of the altar. Exalt thyself, O woman, to the world of life. The breath of him, by whom thou art sitting, is gone; the marriage with him who once took thy hand, and desired thee, is completed. I take the bow out of the hand of the dead—the symbol of honour, of courage, of lordship. We here and thou there, we would with force and vigour drive[Pg 63] back every enemy and every onset. Approach to mother earth; she opens to receive thee kindly; may she protect thee henceforth from destruction. Open, O earth; be not too narrow for him; cover him like the mother who folds her son in her garment. Henceforth thou hast thy house and thy prosperity here; may Yama procure thee an abode there."[115]

The Arians in Iran gave up the burial of their corpses, and exposed them on the mountains; the Arians on the Indus burnt them. For some time burial and cremation went on side by side in the valley of the Indus. "May the fathers," we are told in an invocation, "have joy in our offering whether they have undergone cremation or not."[116] In other prayers Agni is entreated to do no harm to the dead, to make the body ripe, to carry the "unborn" part into heaven where the righteous keep festival with the gods; where Yama says: "I will give this home to the man who comes hither if he is mine."[117] "Warm, O Agni," so we are told in one of these prayers, "warm with thy glance and thy glow the immortal part of him; bear it gently away to the world of the righteous. Let him rejoin the fathers, for he drew near to thee with the libation of sacrifice. May the Maruts carry thee upwards and bedew thee with rain. May the wise Pushan (p. 47) lead thee hence, the shepherd of the world, who never lost one of his flock. Pushan alone knows all those spaces; he will lead us on a secure path. He will carefully go before as a lamp, a complete hero, a giver of rich blessing. Enter, therefore, on the old path on which our fathers have gone. Thou shalt see[Pg 64] Varuna and Yama, the two kings, the drinkers of libations. Go to the fathers; there abide with Yama in the highest heaven, even as thou well deservest. On the right path escape the two hounds—the brood of Sarama—of the four eyes. Then proceed onward to the wise fathers who take delight in happy union with Yama. Thou wilt find a home among the fathers; prosper among the people of Yama. Surround him, Yama, with thy protection against the hounds who watch for thee, the guardians of thy path, and give him health and painless life. With wide nostrils, eager for men, with blood-brown hair, Yama's two messengers go round among men. O that they may again grant us the pleasant breath of life to-day, and that we may see the sun!"[118] In other invocations of the Rigveda the object of the prayer is "to reach to the imperishable, unchangeable world, where is eternal light and splendour; to become immortal, where king Vaivasvata (Yama) dwells, where is the sanctuary of heaven, where the great waters flow, where is ambrosia (amrita) and peacefulness, joy and delight, where wishes and desires are fulfilled."[119]


[49] Max Müller, "Hist. of Sanskrit Liter." p. 481 ff. Kaegi, "Rigveda," 1, 9 ff.

[50] Roth, "Literatur des Veda," s. 120.

[51] In the later hymns of the Rigveda, Angiras and Bhrigu are combined with other sages and minstrels of old time into a septad of saints (10, 109, 4), and designated the great saints. They are, beside Bhrigu and Angiras, Viçvamitra, Vasishtha, Kaçyapa, Atri, Agastya. The eight saints from whom the eight tribes of the Brahman priests now in existence are derived are: Jamadagni, Gautama, Bharadvaja, Viçvamitra, Vasishtha, Kaçyapa, Atri, Agastya. Jamadagni is said to have sprung from Bhrigu; Gautama and Bharadvaja from Angiras.

[52] Muir, "Sanskrit texts," 3, 117 ff.; 121 ff.

[53] A. Weber, "Ind. Studien," 1. 88.

[54] Muir, "Sanskrit texts," 12, 160 ff.

[55] Kuhn in Weber, "Ind. Stud." 1. 202. The Çatapatha-Brahmana (Weber, "Ind. Stud." 1. 161) tells us that Manu, when washing his hands in the morning, took a fish in his hands, which said to him—"Spare me, and I will save thee; a flood will wash away all creatures." The fish grew to a monstrous size, and Manu brought him to the ocean; and it bid Manu build a ship, and embark on the ocean. When the flood rose, the fish swam beside the ship, and Manu attached it by a rope to the horn of the fish. Thus the ship passed over the northern mountains. And the fish told Manu that he had saved him, and bade him fasten the ship to a tree. So Manu went up as the waters sank from the northern hills. The flood carried away all creatures; Manu alone remained. Eager for posterity, Manu offered sacrifice, and threw clarified butter, curdled milk, and whey into the water. After a year a woman rose out of the water, with clarified butter under her feet. Mitra and Varuna asked her whether she was their daughter, but she replied that she was the daughter of Manu, who had begotten her, and she went to Manu and told him that he had begotten her by the sacrifice which he had thrown into the water. He was to conduct her to the sacrifice, and he would then receive posterity and herds. And Manu did so, and lived with her with sacrifice and strict meditation, and through her began the posterity of Manu. Cf. M. Müller, "Hist. of Sanskrit Liter." p. 425 ff. The later form of the Indian legend of the flood is found in an episode of the Maha-bharata. Here the fish appears to Manu when he is performing some expiatory rites on the shore of a river. The fish grew so mighty that Manu was compelled to bring it into the Ganges, and when it became too large for this into the ocean. When swimming in the ocean the fish announced the flood, and bade Manu and the seven saints (Rishis) ascend the ship, and take with them all kinds of seeds. Then the fish drew the ship attached to his horn through the ocean, and there was no more land to be seen; for several years all was water and sky. At last the fish drew the ship to the highest part of the Himavat, and with a smile bade the rishis bind the ship to this, which to this day bears the name of Naubandhana (ship-binding). Then the fish revealed himself to the seven saints as Brahman, and commanded Manu to create all living creatures, gods, Asuras, and men, and all things movable and immovable; which command Manu performed. The legend overlooks the fact that the new creation was unnecessary, as we have already been told that Manu brought seeds of everything on board ship. The poems of the Rigveda present no trace of the legend of the flood. It may have arisen in the land of the Ganges, from the experience of the floods there, unless it is simply borrowed from external sources. In any case it is of later date; the Çatapatha-Brahmana is one of the later Brahmanas. Weber, "Ind. Stud." 9, 423; Kuhn, "Beiträge," 4, 288. I cannot follow De Gubernatis, "Letture," p. 228, ff, seqq.

[56] Kaegi, "Rigveda," 2, 58.

[57] On the Bhrigus see A. Weber, "Z. D. M. G." 9, 240. Kuhn, "Herabkunft," s. 21 ff.

[58] On the Sarayu, which is mentioned, "Rigveda," 4, 30, 14, and 10, 64, 9, cf. Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 644.

[59] "Rigveda," 1, 126, 1; 8, 21, 18.

[60] Muir, loc. cit. 5, 451, 456.

[61] "Rigveda," 7, 18, 2; in Muir, loc. cit. 5, 455.

[62] "Rigveda," 1, 28, 5; 6, 47, 29.

[63] "Rigveda." 6, 75, in Muir, loc. cit. 5, 469, 471.

[64] Roth, "Das lied des Arztes," "Rigveda," 10, 97. "Z. D. M. G." 1871, 645.

[65] Muir, loc. cit. 5, 457, 461, 465.

[66] Muir, loc. cit. 5, 463.

[67] "Rigveda," 10, 21, 5. Above, p. 29.

[68] "Rigveda," 1, 94, 7; 1, 140, 1.

[69] "Samaveda," by Benfey, 2, 7, 2, 1.

[70] "Samaveda," by Benfey, 1, 1, 2, 2; 1, 1, 1, 9.

[71] Muir, loc. cit. 5, 212 ff.

[72] Kuhn, "Herabkunft des Feuers," s. 23 ff., 36 ff., 70 ff.

[73] Kaegi, "Rigveda," 1, 23.

[74] The triple birth is explained differently in the poems of the Rigveda and in the Brahmanas.

[75] "Rigveda," 1, 36; cf. 1, 27, 58, 76.

[76] Divo napata: "Rigveda," 1, 182, 1, 4.

[77] "Rigveda," 1, 112, 116, 117, 118, 119, according to Roth's rendering; cf. Benfey's translation, "Orient," 3, 147 ff.

[78] "Rigveda," 1, 92; 1, 30; 4, 52; 10, 39, 12.

[79] Muir, loc. cit. 5, 193 ff.

[80] "Rigveda," 1, 49; 1, 92; 1, 2, 5; 1, 113, 19 in Benfey's rendering, "Orient," 1, 404; 2, 257; 3, 155. The three skilful Ribhus, who are frequently mentioned in the Rigveda, are assistants of the spirits of light. They assist the gods to liberate the cows, which the spirits of the night have fastened in the rock-stable, i. e. the bright clouds.

[81] The spirits of light are called sons of Aditi, i. e. of the Eternal, Unlimited, Infinite; seven or eight sons are ascribed to her; Hillebrandt, "Die Göttin Aditi." Originally Aditi meant, in mythology, merely the non-ending, the imperishable, in opposition to the perishable world, and the gods are called the sons of immortality because they cannot die. Darmesteter, "Haurvatat," p. 83.

[82] "Rigveda," 1, 50, according to Sonne's translation in Kuhn, "Z. V. Spr." 12, 267 ff.; cf. Benfey's rendering, "Orient," 1, 405.

[83] "Rigveda," 1, 35, according to Roth's translation; cf. Benfey, "Orient," 1, 53.

[84] "Rigveda," 2, 38, according to Roth's translation, "Z. D. M. G." 1870, 306 ff.

[85] Muir, loc. cit. 5, 171 ff. Kaegi, "Rigveda," 2, 43.

[86] Kuhn, "Herabkunft des Feuers," s. 66.

[87] "Rigveda," 1, 51, 5; 2, 12, 12.

[88] "Rigveda," 1, 32, according to Roth's translation; cf. Benfey, "Orient," 1, 46.

[89] "Rigveda," 1, 11; 1, 121.

[90] Indra is derived by Benfey from syand, "to flow," "to drop," in which case we shall have to refer it to the rain-bringing power of the god. Others have proposed a derivation from idh, indh, "to kindle;" others from indra, "blue." In any case, Andra, the corresponding name in the Rigveda, must not be left out of consideration.

[91] Muir, loc. cit. 5, 144.

[92] Roth, "Zwei Lieder des Rigveda, Z. D. M. G.," 1870, 301 ff. Muir, loc. cit. 5, 147 ff.

[93] "Rigveda," 4, 30; "Samaveda," Benfey, 1, 3, 2, 1. 1, 4, 1, 1.

[94] "Samaveda," Benfey, loc. cit.

[95] "Rigveda," 3, 59, in Muir, loc. cit. 5, 69.

[96] "Rigveda," 1, 115, 1 in Benfey; "Orient," 3, 157; "Rigveda," 6, 51, 2; 7, 61, 1; 7, 63, 4; in Muir, loc. cit. 5, 157.

[97] "Atharvaveda," 4, 16, according to M. Müller's translation "Essays," 1, 40, 41. Cf. Roth, "Atharvaveda," 8. 19.

[98] "Rigveda," 7, 86, 89, according to Müller's rendering, "Essays," 1, 38, 39; cf. Muir's translation, loc. cit. 5, 63 ff. [who reads "like an inflated skin" for "like a cloud," etc.]

[99] Windischmann, "Abh. der Münch. Akademie," 1847, s. 129.

[100] "Samaveda," 1, 6, 2, 2; "Rigveda," 1, 2, 2; 1, 5, 5, and elsewhere.

[101] "Samaveda," Benfey, 1, 4, 1, 1; 5, 2, 4, 1, 15, and elsewhere.

[102] Muir, loc. cit. 5, 98, ff.

[103] "Samaveda," Benfey, 1, 3, 2, 4.

[104] "Samaveda," 2, 8, 2, 6.

[105] "Samaveda," 1, 4, 1, 2; 2, 9, 2, 9.

[106] "Samaveda," 1, 6, 2, 1.

[107] "Rigveda," 1, 32; "Samaveda," 1, 3, 2, 4.

[108] "Rigveda," 5, 31, 10; 1, 63, 2; 2, 20, 8; 1, 54, 8.

[109] "Rigveda," 1, 126, 2, 3.

[110] "Rigveda," 4, 50, 8, 9. Roth, "Z. D. M. G.," 1, 77. Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 951.

[111] M. Müller, "Z. D. M. G.," 9, 16. These bright bodies of the fathers led to the idea that the souls of the fathers had adorned the heaven with stars, and that they were these stars. "Rigveda," 10, 68, 11.

[112] "Atharvaveda," 3, 29, 3; in Muir, loc. cit. 5, 310.

[113] Muir, loc. cit. 5, 308, 309, 311. In the later portion of the Rigveda, 10, 15, the old conception of the fathers is already changed. Three classes of fathers are distinguished, and burning and non-burning are mentioned side by side.

[114] "Aitareya-Brahmana," 2, 17; in Muir, loc. cit. 5, 322.

[115] "Rigveda," 10, 18; according to Roth's rendering, "Z. D. M. G.," 8, 468 ff.

[116] "Rigveda," 10, 15, 14; in Muir, loc. cit. 5, 297.

[117] "Atharvaveda," 18, 2, 37; in Muir, loc. cit. 5, 294.

[118] M. Müller, "Die Todtenbestattung der Brahmanen," s. 14 ff.

[119] "Rigveda," 9, 113, 7 ff.



[Pg 65]



The life of the Aryas in the Panjab was manly and warlike. From the songs of the Rigveda we saw how familiar they were with the bow and the chariot, how frequent were the feuds between the princes, and the prayers offered to the gods for victory. Such a life could, no doubt, increase the pleasure in martial achievements, and lead to further enterprises, even if the plains and pastures of the Panjab had not been too narrow for the inhabitants. We remember the prayer in which the war-god was invoked to grant the Arian tribes room against the black-skins (p. 8). As a fact the Aryas extended their settlements to the East beyond the Sarasvati; and as on the lower Indus the broad deserts checked any progress towards the region of the Yamuna and the Ganges, the advance from the Sarasvati to the Yamuna must have taken place in the North along the spurs of the Himalayas.

From the hymns of the Rigveda we can ascertain that the Arian tribes pressed on each other, and that the tribes settled in the East were pushed forward in that direction by tribes in the West. Ten tribes of the Panjab, who appear to have occupied the region of the Iravati,[120]—the Bharatas, Matsyas, Anus, and[Pg 66] Druhyus, are specially mentioned among them—united for a campaign against king Sudas, the son of Divodasa, the descendant of Pijavana, who ruled over the Tritsus on the Sarasvati. On the side of the united tribes was the priest Viçvamitra of the race of the Kuçikas; on the side of the Tritsus the family of Vasishtha.[121] The Bharatas, Matsyas, Anus, and Druhyus, must have crossed the Vipaça and the Çatadru in order to attack the Tritsus. The Rigveda mentions a prayer addressed by Viçvamitra to these two streams. "Forth from the slopes of the mountains; full of desire, like horses loosed in the course, like bright-coloured cows to their calves, Vipaça and Çatadru hasten with their waves. Impelled by Indra, seeking an outlet to the sea, ye roll onward like warriors in chariots of war: in united course with swelling waves ye roll into each other, ye clear ones. Listen joyfully to my pleasant speech, for a moment. O abounding in waters, halt on your steps to the sea. With strong earnestness, crying for help, I entreat you, I, the son of Kuçika. Listen to the minstrel, ye sisters; he has come from far with horse and chariot. Incline yourselves, that ye may be[Pg 67] crossed; your waves, ye streams, must not reach the axles. When the Bharatas have crossed you, the mounted host, goaded by Indra, then run on in your renewed course." After the two rivers were crossed a battle took place. Viçvamitra uttered the prayer for the Bharatas: "Indra, approach us with manifold choice help; great hero, be friendly. May he who hates us fall at our feet; may he whom we hate, be deserted by the breath of life. As the tree falls beneath the axe, as a man breaks asunder a husk, as a boiling kettle throws off the foam, so deal thou, O Indra, with them. These sons of Bharata, O Indra, know the battle. They spur their horses; they carry the strong bow like an eternal enemy, looking round in the battle."[122]

In spite of the prayer of Viçvamitra the Bharatas and their confederates were defeated; Sudas was even able to invade their land, to capture and plunder several places. The song of victory of the Tritsus, which a minstrel of Sudas may have composed after their success, runs thus: "Two hundred cows, two chariots with women, allotted as booty to Sudas, I step round with praises, as the priests step round the place of sacrifice. To Sudas Indra gave the flourishing race of his enemies, the vain boasters among men. Even with poor men Indra has done marvellous deeds; by the weak he has struck down the lion-like. With a needle Indra has broken spears; all kinds of good things he has given to Sudas. Ten kings, holding themselves invincible in battle, could not strive against Sudas, Indra, and Varuna; the song of them who brought food-offerings was effectual. Where men meet with raised banner in the battle-field, where evil of every kind happens, where all creatures are afraid, there [Pg 68]have ye, Indra and Varuna, spoken (words of) courage above us, as we looked upwards. The Tritsus in whose ranks Indra entered went onward like downward streaming water: their enemies, like hucksters when dealing, leave all their goods to Sudas. As Sudas laid low twenty-one enemies in glorious strife, as the sacrificer strews holy grass on the place of sacrifice, so did Indra the hero pour out the winds. Sixty hundred of the mounted Anus and Druhyus perished; sixty and six heroes fell before the righteous Sudas. These are the heroic deeds, all of which Indra has done. Without delay, Indra destroyed all the fortresses of the enemy, and divided the goods of the Anus in battle to the Tritsus. The four horses of Sudas, the coursers worthy of praise, richly adorned, stamping the ground, will bring race against race to glory. Ye strong Maruts, be gracious to him as to his father Divodasa, preserve to him the house of Pijavana, and let the power of the righteous king continue uninjured." In another song of the Rigveda the glory of this victory of king Sudas is especially ascribed to Vasishtha and his sons "in white robes with the knot on the right side" (p. 29). They were seen surrounded in the battle of the ten kings, then Indra heard Vasishtha's song of praise, and the Bharatas were broken like the staffs of the ox-driver. The Vasishthas had brought the mighty Indra from far by their soma-offering, by the power of their prayer; then had Indra given glory to the Tritsus, and their tribes had extended.[123]

The extension of the Aryas in the rich plains of the Yamuna and the Ganges must in the first place have followed the course of the former river towards the south, and then reached over the land between the[Pg 69] two rivers, until the immigrants arrived further and further to the east on the banks of the Ganges. We have no historical information about the facts of these migrations and conquests, of the occupation of the valleys of the Yamuna, the upper and middle Ganges; we can only ascertain that the valley of the Yamuna, and the doab of the two rivers were first occupied and most thickly colonised. It is not till we come lower down the course of the Ganges, that we find a large number of the old population in a position of subjection to the Arian settlers. Lastly, as we learn from the Indian Epos, the Aryas had not merely to contend against the old population at the time of their settlement; nor did they merely press upon one another, while those who came last sought to push forward the early immigrants, as we concluded to be the case from the hymns quoted from the Rigveda; they also engaged in conflicts among themselves for the possession of the best land between the Yamuna and the Ganges. In these struggles the tribes of the immigrants became amalgamated into large communities or nations, and the successful leaders found themselves at the head of important states. The conquest and colonisation of such large regions, the limitation and arrangement of the new states founded in them, could only be accomplished in a long space of time. According to the Epos and the Puranas, i. e. the very late and untrustworthy collections of Indian legends and traditions, it was after a great war among the Aryas in the doab of the Yamuna and Ganges, in which the family of Pandu obtained the crown of the Bharatas on the upper Ganges, that the commotion ceased, and the newly founded states enjoyed a state of peace. In the Rigveda, the Bharatas are to the west of the Vipaça, in the Epos we find them dwelling on the[Pg 70] upper Ganges; on the Yamuna are settled the nations of the Matsyas, and the Yadavas; between the upper Yamuna and the Ganges are the Panchalas, i. e. the five tribes; eastward of the Bharatas on the Sarayu, down to the Ganges, are the Koçalas. Still further to the east and north of the Ganges are the Videhas; on the Ganges itself are the Kaçis and the Angas, and to the south of the Ganges the Magadhas.

Are we in a position to fix even approximately the period at which the settlement of the Aryas in the valley of the Ganges took place, and the struggles connected with this movement came to an end? The law-book of the Indians tells us that the world has gone through four ages; the age of perfection, Kritayuga; the age of the three fires of sacrifice, i. e. of the complete observance of all sacred duties, Tritayuga; the age of doubt, Dvaparayuga, in which the knowledge of divine things became obscured; and lastly the age of sin, the present age of the world, Kaliyuga. Between the end of one period and the beginning of the next there came in each case a period of dimness and twilight. If this period is reckoned in, the first age lasted 4800 divine years, or 1,728,000 human years; the life of men in this age reached 400 years. The second age lasted 3600 divine years, or 1,296,000 human years, and life reached 300 years. The third age lasted 2400 divine years, or 864,000 human years, and men only lived to the age of 200 years. The present age will last 1200 divine years, or 432,000 human years, and men will never live beyond the age of 100 years.[124] This scheme is obviously an invention intended to represent the decline of the better world and the increase of evil, in proportion to the distance from the divine origin. In the matter of[Pg 71] numbers the Indians are always inclined to reckon with large figures, and nothing is gained by setting forth the calculations in greater detail. From the Rigveda it is clear that the year of the Indians contained 360 days in twelve months of 30 days. In order to bring this year into accordance with the natural time, a month of thirty days was inserted in each fifth year as a thirteenth month although the actual excess in five years only amounted to 26¼ days. Twelve of these cycles of five years were then united into a period of 60 years, i. e. 12 x 5, and both the smaller and the larger periods were called Yuga.[125] On this analogy the world-periods were formed. By multiplying the age of sin by ten we get the whole duration of the world; the perfect age is four times as long as the age of sin.[126] A year with the gods is as long as a day with men; hence a divine year contains 360 years of men, and the world-period, i. e. the great world-year, is completed in 12 cycles each of 1000 divine years, i. e. 360,000 human years. In the first age, the age of perfection, Yama and Manu walked and lived on earth with their half-divine companions (p. 30); in the age of the three fires of sacrifice, i. e. of the strict fulfilment of sacred duties, lived Pururavas, who kindled the triple sacrificial fire,[127] and the great sacrificers or minstrels, the seven or ten Rishis (p. 29 n. 2); the period of darkness and doubt was the age of the great heroes. With the priests who invented[Pg 72] this system of ages the period of the great heroes was naturally placed lower than that of the great sacrificers and saints. The historical value attaching to this scheme lies in the fact that the Epos places the great war of the Pandus and Kurus in the period of transition between the age of doubt and the age of evil, in the twilight of the Kaliyuga, and the Puranas in consequence make the beginning of the reign of the first Pandu over the Bharatas after the great war, the accession of Parikshit, coincide with the commencement of the Kaliyuga.[128] Now according to the date of the Puranas the Kaliyuga begins in the year 3102 B.C. On this calculation the great movement towards the east and in the east came to an end about this time.

That the Indians once contented themselves with smaller numbers in fixing the ages than those which we find in the book of the law and the Puranas, we may conclude from the statements of the Greek Megasthenes, who drew up his account at the court of Chandragupta (Sandrakottos) of Magadha at the end of the fourth century B.C. This author tells us that in ancient times the Indians were nomads, clothed in the skins of animals, and eating raw flesh, till Dionysus came to them and taught them the tillage of the field, the care of vines, and the worship of the gods. On leaving India he made Spatembas king, who reigned 52 years; after him his son Budyas reigned for 20 years, who was in turn succeeded by his son Kradeuas, and so the sceptre descended from father to son; but if a king died without children the Indians selected the best man to be king. From Dionysus to Sandrakottos the Indians calculated 153 kings, and 6402 years. In this period the line had been broken three times; the second interruption lasted 300 years, the third 120[Pg 73] years.[129] What particular rite among the Indians caused the Greeks to represent Dionysus as visiting India and to make him the founder of Indian civilisation, will become clear further on. Putting this aside, the account of Megasthenes of the triple break in the series of kings shows that the system of the four ages was in vogue among the Indians even at that time. If Megasthenes speaks of a single line of Indian kings ruling over the whole of India from the very beginning, the reason is obviously that he transfers to the past the condition in which India was at the time when he abode on the Ganges. Chandragupta did what had never been done before; he united under his dominion all the regions of India from the Panjab to the mouth of the Ganges, from the Himalayas to the Vindhyas. But the close of this series of kings at which Sandrakottos is himself placed shows us plainly that the royal line of Megasthenes is no other than the royal line of Magadha. The Puranas of the Indians also carry back the line of Magadha to the ancient heroes, and through them to the progenitors of the nation. Spatembas, with whom the series of Indian kings commences in Megasthenes, may be the Manu Svayambhuva whom the cosmogonic systems of the priests had meanwhile placed before Manu Vaivasvata, the son of Vivasvat. Budyas the successor of Spatembas may have been the Budha of the Indians who is with them the father of Pururavas, the kindler of the triple fire of sacrifice: and Pururavas himself may be concealed under the Kradeuas of the manuscripts,[Pg 74] which is possibly Prareuas, the Grecised form of the Indian name. However this may be, the statements of Megasthenes present us with far smaller and more intelligible numbers for the periods of Indian history than those obtained from Manu's book of the law and the Puranas.[130]

The year in which Chandragupta conquered Palibothra, and so ascended the throne of Magadha, can be fixed with accuracy from the accounts of western writers. It was the year 315 B.C. As 6042 years are supposed to elapse between Spatembas and the accession of Sandrakottos, Spatembas must have begun to reign over the Indians in the year 6717 B.C. But this date it is impossible to maintain. In the first place it is impossible that 153 reigns should have filled up a space of 6400 years. This would allow each king a reign of 42 years, or of about 38 years if we deduct 600 years for the three interruptions in the series. Moreover, the Indian lists of kings, at any rate as we now find them in the Epos and in the Puranas, present a smaller total of kings than 153, whether they come down to Chandragupta himself, or to his age. From Chandragupta to Brihadratha, the supposed founder of the race, the lists of the kings of Magadha give 53 kings according to the lesser total and 64 according to the larger. If to these lists we add the rulers who unite the kings of Magadha to the family of Kuru, and those who carry back the family of Kuru to Manu, we are still able to add no more than 28 or 38 kings according as we take the shorter or longer lists. Hence in these lists, instead of 153 kings, we get at most only 100, as reigning before Chandragupta.[Pg 75] The list given in the Vishnu Purana for the kings of the Koçalas is somewhat longer; it enumerates 116 kings from Manu to Prasenajit, whose reign fills the interval between 600 and 550 B.C. If we add 10 or 14 reigns for the period between Prasenajit and the accession of Chandragupta, the longest of the lists preserved by the Indians would still only present 130 reigns before the time of Chandragupta.[131]

It is not clear from the account of Megasthenes, or at any rate from the excerpts which have come down to us, what was the extent of the period which elapsed between the last interruption in the list of kings and Sandrakottos. Hence we are not in a position to ascertain the duration of the fourth age, or Kaliyuga, as it was fixed among the Indians in his time; we must therefore have recourse to other proofs in order to discover whether the year given in the Puranas, 3102 B.C., may be taken for the commencement of a new period, i. e. the post-epic, or historic, in the valley of the Ganges. The fixed point from which we must start is the year of the accession of Sandrakottos, a date rendered certain by the accounts of the Greeks. In the period before this date, the lists of the Brahmans taken together with the lists of Buddhists carry back the series of the kings of Magadha, which was the most important kingdom on the Ganges long before Sandrakottos, with tolerable certainty as far as the year 803[Pg 76] B.C., i. e. to the beginning of the sway of the dynasty of the Pradyotas over Magadha.[132]

Can we ascend beyond this point? According to the Puranas, the race of the Barhadrathas had ruled over Magadha before the Pradyotas, from Somapi to Ripunjaya, the last of the family, and their sway had continued 1000 years. Of this family the Vayu-Purana enumerates 21 kings, and the Matsya-Purana 32 kings. This domination of a thousand years is obviously a round, cyclic sum: and both in the Vayu-Purana and the Matsya-Purana the total of the reigns given for the several rulers of this dynasty falls below the sum of 1000 years. If we take 25 years, the highest possible average for each reign, 21 reigns or 525 years will only bring us to the year 1328 B.C. (803 + 525). At this date, then, the Barhadrathas may have begun to reign over Magadha. If, on the other hand, we keep 32 as the number of these kings, and an average of only 15 years is allotted to the several reigns—an average usually correct in long lists of reigns in the East—we arrive at 1283 B.C. as the date of the beginning of the reign of the Barhadrathas (803 + 480). To this date, or near it, we come, if we test the lists of kings supplied by the Puranas for the series of the kings of the Koçalas and the Bharatas in the land of the Ganges. The time at which Prasenajit was king of the Koçalas can be fixed at the first half of the sixth century B.C. (see below). Before him the Vishnu-Purana gives a series of 23 kings down to the close of the great war. Twenty-three reigns, allowing an average of 25 years for each, carry us 575 years beyond the commencement of Prasenajit, i. e. up to 1175 B.C. (600 + 575). In the list of the rulers of Hastinapura, for which throne the great war was waged, Çatanika[Pg 77] appears as the twenty-fourth successor of Parikshit, to whom, as we found, this throne fell, after the conclusion of the great war. As Çatanika died about the year 600 B.C. (cf. Book VI. chap, i.), 24 reigns of 25 years before him would bring us to the year 1200 B.C. as the beginning of the year of Parikshit. The statement of the Puranas that he ascended the throne in the year 3102 B.C. and that the Kaliyuga began with that year cannot therefore be maintained. And this date is contradicted not only by the results of an examination of the lists of the kings of Magadha, of the Koçalas and Bharatas, but also by a statement in the Vishnu-Purana. This tells us that, from the beginning of the Kaliyuga to the date when the first Nanda ascended the throne of Magadha, a period of 1015 years elapsed.[133] The accession of this king we can place with tolerable certainty in the year 403 B.C.; and thus, even on the evidence of the Vishnu-Purana, the Kaliyuga began in the year 1418 B.C., and Parikshit ascended the throne of the Bharatas in that year. It is not impossible, therefore, that the 32 reigns which the Matsya-Purana gives to the Barhadrathas may have filled up the time from the year 1418 to the year 803 B.C. (615 years).[134] Before the first Barhadrathas, Sahadeva, Jarasandha, and Brihadratha are said to have reigned over Magadha. Hence the foundation of the kingdom of Magadha would have to be placed, at the earliest, in the year 1480 B.C., and not earlier; but rather, if we follow the comparison of the parallel reigns as above, a century later. If the great movement towards the east and in the east was brought to an end at the accession of Parikshit and the commencement of the Kaliyuga in the year 1418 B.C., and thus in the course of the fifteenth or fourteenth century the foundation could be[Pg 78] laid for the kingdom of Magadha, i. e. for a great civic community far to the east, the migration into the regions of the Yamuna and the upper Ganges must have commenced at the least about the year 1500 B.C. We have already referred to the fact that the colonisation of such extensive districts, the foundation and fortification of large kingdoms in them, which was moreover rendered still more difficult by severe contests among the immigrants, could not have been the work of a few decades of years.

If the immigration of the Aryas into the land of the Ganges took place about 1500 B.C. we should have a point whereby to fix the time at which the hymns of the Veda were composed, for in them, as has been already remarked, the Ganges is rarely mentioned. The great number of the hymns must therefore have received the form in which they were retained and handed down by the families of minstrels before the year 1500 B.C. The period of migration brought with it more serious and earnest tasks than had occupied the Aryas in the Panjab. The struggles against the old population, the wars of the newly-established states with one another, claimed the whole power of the emigrants. Hence the duties of the sacrificial songs or of hymns of thanksgiving were thrown into the background by the imperative necessities of the moment. Men were contented with the invocations of the gods which lived in the memory of the minstrel-families, and had been brought from the ancient home. The minstrels also, who led the emigrant princes and tribes, naturally gave their attention to songs of war and victory—songs of which the fragment preserved from the wars of the Bharatas against the Tritsus is an example (p. 67). When at length the period of emigration, of settlement, and struggle[Pg 79] was over, with the advent of more peaceful times, the excitement of the moment gave place to reflection and to the remembrance of the great deeds of the ancestors. The inspired flights, the pressure of immediate feeling which had prompted the songs before the battle and after the victory, were followed by a more peaceful and narrative tone. Hence grew up a series of songs of the marvels and deeds of the heroes who had conquered the land in the Yamuna and Ganges, and had founded states and cities there. As the heroes and events thus celebrated passed into the background, as the intervening periods became wider, the greater was the tendency of this mass of song to gather round a few great names and incidents. The less prominent forms and struggles disappeared, and in the centuries which followed the strain of settlement and establishment an artificial culture of this warlike minstrelsy united the whole recollections of the heroic times into the narrative of the great war, the Mahabharata.

If we could present to ourselves this Epos of the Indians in the form which it may have assumed two or three centuries after the close of the great migrations and struggles, i. e. about the eleventh century B.C., it would still be a valuable source of historical knowledge. We could not indeed have taken the occurrences described in it as historical facts, without criticism, but we should have possessed a tradition of which the outline would have been approximately correct, and a description of manners historically true for the period when the poems arose and were thrown into shape—though untrue for the period depicted in the poem—after deducting what was due to the idealism of the poet. Unfortunately, repeated revisions and alterations have almost effaced the original lines; each new stage of civilisation[Pg 80] attained by the Indians has eagerly sought to infuse its ideas and conceptions into the national tradition; older and later elements lie side by side often without any attempt at reconciliation, sometimes in direct opposition. The original warlike character of the poetry is forced into the background by the priestly point of view of a later age. In the poems in their present form there is none of that freshness of feeling and impression which is so vividly expressed in the prayers of the priests of the Bharatas, and the songs of the Tritsus; there is no immediate recollection at work. The effort to comprise all the stories and legends of the nation into a whole, to bring forward in these poems, as in a pattern and mirror of virtue, every lesson of religion and morals, and unite them into one great body of doctrine, has swelled the Indian Epos into a heavy and enormous mass, an encyclopædia, in which it is not possible without great labour to discover the connecting links of the narrative in the endless chaos of interpolations and episodes, the varying accounts of one and the same event. The Epos has thus become a tangle in which we cannot discover the original threads. It received its present form in the last centuries B.C.[135][Pg 81]

In the poem of the great war once waged by the kings of the Aryas on the Yamuna and the upper Ganges the Tritsus are no longer found on the Sarasvati or the Yamuna. The enemies at this period are the Matsyas and the Bharatas, the former on the Yamuna, the latter further to the east on the upper Ganges. The Tritsus have been forced further to the east, and have become lost among the Koçalas, who are situated on the Sarayu, or have taken that name; at any rate, the name of Sudas appears in the genealogical table of the rulers of the Koçalas, and in the Ramayana, as in other traditions, Vasishtha, who (or whose family) then gained victory by his prayers for Sudas, is the wisest priest among the Koçalas.[136] Hence we may conclude that at a later time the Bharatas were more fortunate in their advance to the east. The struggle for their country and throne is the central point in the[Pg 82] poem. According to the Mahabharata the rulers of the Bharatas spring from Manu. With Ila, the daughter of Manu, Budha the son of the moon, begot the 'pious' Pururavas, i. e. the far-famed. Pururavas is succeeded by Ayus, Nahusha, and Yayati. From Yayati's elder sons, Anu, Druhyu, Yadu, spring the Anus, the Drahyus, and the Yadavas,[137] of whom we already have the two first as confederates of the Bharatas.[138] Yayati was followed on the throne by his youngest son Puru. Dushyanta, one of the successors of Puru, married Çakuntala, the daughter of the priest Viçvamitra. To him she bore Bharata, who reduced all nations, and was lord of the whole earth. After Bharata, Bhumanyu, Suhotra, Ajamidha, and Samvarana, occupied the throne of Hastinapura, the chief city of the kingdom on the upper Ganges.[139] In Samvarana's reign the kingdom was attacked by droughts, famine, and pestilence; and the king of the Panchalas advanced with a mighty host, and conquered Samvarana in the battle, who fled with his wife Tapati, his children and dependants, to the west, and took up his abode in a forest hut in the neighbourhood of the Indus. There the Bharatas lived for a long time, protected by the impenetrable country. Afterwards Samvarana reconquered the glorious city which he had previously inhabited, and Tapati bore him Kuru, whom the nation chose to be king. Kuru was succeeded on the throne of Hastinapura by Viduratha, Anaçvan, Parikshit, Pratiçravas, Pratipa and Çantanu.

The names which the poem places at the head of the genealogical tree of the rulers of the Bharatas are taken from the Veda. Yayati, like Pururavas, is com[Pg 83]mended in the Rigveda as a sacrificer. The name of Yayati's son, Puru, is borrowed from a name which in the Veda designates the Bharatas, who in these poems are variously called Purus and Bharatas.[140] The tribes of the Anus, and the Druhyus, whom the Rigveda presented to us as confederates of the Bharatas, are in the Epos united with them by their ancestors. We have become acquainted with Viçvamitra as a priest and minstrel of the Bharatas, when they crossed the Vipaça against the Tritsus. In the Epos a descendant of Puru begets Bharata, i. e. the second eponymous hero of the tribe, with the daughter of Viçvamitra. In order to glorify the position of this priest, and secure his blessing for the royal race of the Puru-Bharatas, he becomes, in the Epos, by his daughter, the progenitor of king Bharata, to whom at the same time is ascribed the dominion over the whole earth. Thus far, it is obvious, the Epos goes to work upon the names of the tribes, and changes them into the names of heroes or kings. Apart from any poetical exaggeration, the wide dominion of the mythical king Bharata is, no doubt, an anticipation of the predominance to which the Bharatas attained at a later time on the upper Ganges. At any rate, according to the Epos, Samvarana, the descendant of Bharata, was compelled to return once more to the Indus, and there take up his abode for a long time. The statement that it is the Panchalas who conquer Samvarana is no doubt an invention based on the attitude of the Panchalas towards the Bharatas in the great war (p. 88). With Kuru, the successor of Samvarana, it is obvious that a new dynasty begins to reign over the Bharatas. This is obviously the first dynasty, whose achievements were widely felt, to which the Epic poetry could attach itself. Owing to his justice, Kuru is chosen[Pg 84] by the nation of the Bharatas to be their king; this, of itself, is evidence of a new beginning. But Kuru is also said to be of divine origin, like Pururavas, the progenitor of his supposed ancestors. Pururavas is the child of the son of the moon and the daughter of Manu; Kuru is the child of Samvarana and the sister of Manu, the daughter of the god of light. Manu was the son of Vivasvat (p. 30); Tapati, the mother of Kuru, is the daughter of Vivasvat.[141] The name Kurukshetra, i. e. land or kingdom of Kuru, which adheres to the region between the Drishadvati and the Yamuna, is evidence that the Bharatas, under the guidance of the kings descended from Kuru, first conquered this region and settled in it. When they had been there long enough to give to the country as a lasting name a title derived from their kings, they extended their settlements from the Yamuna further to the north-east. Here, on the upper Ganges, Hastinapura became the abode of their kings of the stock of Kuru, whose name now passed over to the people, so that the Bharatas, who, in the Veda, are called Purus and Bharatas, are now called Kurus after their royal family. With the Bharatas, or soon after them, other Arian tribes advance to the Yamuna; here we meet in the Epos the tribes which, according to the Rigveda, once fought with the Bharatas against the Tritsus, the Matsyas, and the Yadavas, the latter lower down on the Yamuna. Hence we may conclude with tolerable certainty that the Bharatas, under the guidance of the Kurus, succeeded in driving further to the east the tribes which had previously emigrated in that direc[Pg 85]tion—the Tritsus (i. e. the Koçalas), Angas, Videhas, and Magadhas (as they were afterwards called), and that it was the family of the Kurus who established the first extensive dominion among the Indians on the upper Ganges. It is the struggles of the tribes, who once in part united with the Bharatas, and followed them into the valley of Yamuna, against the kingdom of the Kurus which are described in the Mahabharata.

Çantanu, the descendant of Kuru, had a son Bhishma, so we are told in this poem. When Çantanu was old he wished to marry a young wife, Satyavati; but her parents refused their consent, because the sons of their daughter could not inherit the throne. Then Bhishma vowed never to marry, and to give up his claim to the throne. Satyavati became the wife of Çantanu, and bore him two sons. The oldest of these Bhishma placed, after Çantanu's death, on the throne, and, when he fell in war, he placed the younger son, Vijitravirya, to whom he married two daughters of the king of the Kaçis, a people situated on the Ganges (in the neighbourhood of Varanasi or Benares). But the king died without children. Anxious that the race of Kuru should not die out, Satyavati bade the wise priest Vyasa, the son of her love, whom she had borne before her marriage with Çantanu, raise up children to the two widows of Vijitravirya. When the first widow saw the holy man approach by the light of the lamp, with knots in his hair, with flashing eyes, and bushy brows, she trembled and closed her eyes. The second widow became pale with fear; and so it befell that the son of the first, Dhritarashtra, was born blind, and the son of the second, Pandu, was a pale man. Bhishma took both under his care. He married Dhritarashtra to Gandhari, the daughter of the king of the Gandharas,[Pg 86] on the Indus; for Pandu he chose the daughter of a prince of the Bodshas, Kunti; and with gold and precious stones, Bhishma also purchased for him a second wife, Madri, the sister of the prince of the Madras. As Dhritarashtra was blind, Bhishma made Pandu king of Hastinapura, and he became a mighty warrior; under him the kingdom was as powerful as under Bharata. But he loved hunting even more than war. He went with his wives to the Himalayas in order to hunt, and there he died at an early age. The blind Dhritarashtra now reigned over the Bharatas. His wife Gandhari had first borne him Duryodhana and then ninety-nine sons; but on the same day on which Duryodhana saw the light Kunti had borne Yudhishthira to Pandu, and after him Arjuna and Bhima. Madri bore twins to Pandu, Nakula and Sahadeva. With these five sons Kunti returned to Hastinapura after Pandu's death. Dhritarashtra received them into the palace, and they became strong and brave, and showed their power and skill in arms at a great tournament, which Dhritarashtra caused to be held at Hastinapura. The martial skill exhibited in this tournament by the sons of Pandu, and a victory which they obtained against the Panchalas, who had defeated Duryodhana, induced Dhritarashtra to fix on Yudhishthira as his successor. But Duryodhana would not allow the throne to be taken from him. At his instigation Dhritarashtra removed the sons of Pandu from Hastinapura to Varanavata at the confluence of the Yamuna and the Ganges. Even here Duryodhana's hatred pursued them; he caused their house to be set on fire, so that they with difficulty escaped from the flames. They fled into the wilderness. As they wandered up and down, they heard that Drupada, the king of the Panchalas, against whom they had fought for Dhri[Pg 87]tarashtra, had made proclamation, that whosoever could bend his great bow and hit the mark, should win his daughter. In vain did all kings and heroes try their strength on this bow, till Arjuna came. He strung the bow, hit the mark, and so won the king's daughter to wife—whom he shared with his four brothers. When the Kurus discovered that the sons of Pandu were alive and had become the sons-in-law of the king of the Panchalas, they were afraid, and in order to avoid a war between the Panchalas and Bharatas, Dhritarashtra divided his kingdom with the sons of Pandu. As Dhritarashtra's royal abode was at Hastinapura, on the Ganges, the sons of Pandu founded the city of Indraprashtha in their portion of the kingdom (it lay to the south-west of Hastinapura on the Yamuna), conquered the surrounding people, and amassed great wealth in their new city, so that Yudhishthira offered the great royal sacrifice. This aroused the envy and anxiety of Duryodhana. He caused the sons of Pandu to be invited to Hastinapura to a game of dice. As Çakuni, the brother of his mother Gandhari, was very skilful in throwing the dice and always won, Duryodhana hoped to be able to gain back his kingdom from Yudishthira. The sons of Pandu came. Yudishthira lost his kingdom and his goods, his slaves, himself, and finally he lost Draupadi. Duryodhana bade the latter, as a slave, sweep the room; and when she refused, Dushana, one of his brothers, dragged her by her long black hair. Then the blind Dhritarashtra came, and said that his sons had done wrong; the Pandus should return into their kingdom and forget what had happened on this day. When they returned home, Duryodhana induced his father to allow a second game of dice against the Pandus, as he and his brothers were not allowed to take up arms against them; the defeated[Pg 88] party was to go into banishment for twelve years. This was done, and Çakuni, who again threw the dice for Duryodhana, was once more victorious. For twelve years the Pandus wandered with Draupadi into the desert, and lived by the chase. In the thirteenth they went in disguise to Virata the king of the Matsyas, and became his servants. Yudishthira was his instructor in the game of dice; Arjuna, clothed as a eunuch, taught dancing and music in the women's apartment; Bhima was cook; Nakula and Sahadeva were overseers of the horses and cattle; Draupadi was the queen's maid. When Duryodhana invaded the land of the Matsyas and lifted their cattle, Arjuna recovered the booty, and in reward, when the Pandus had made themselves known, he received the king's daughter as a wife for his son Abhimanyu. On the day after the marriage a consultation was held how the Pandus could recover their sovereignty, as the time of exile was now over. An embassy was sent to Hastinapura to demand the part of the kingdom possessed by the Pandus. Through Duryodhana's efforts the request was refused. The Pandus and Kurus prepared for war.

The armies met in the plain of Kurukshetra, in the ancient territory of the Kuru-Bharatas, between the Drishadvati and the Yamuna. The Bharatas were led by the aged Bhishma, Çantanu's eldest son, with whom was associated his grand-nephew Duryodhana, the oldest son of Dhritarashtra and the bitter foe of his cousins. With the Bharatas were the Çurasenas, whom we afterwards find on the Yamuna, the Madras, the Koçalas, the Videhas and the Angas—who were situated on the eastern affluents of the Ganges, and the northern bank of the river. The Pandus were supported by the Matsyas, the king of the Panchalas, Drupada, with his young son Çikhandin, and his people, the Kaçis from[Pg 89] the Ganges, and Krishna, a hero of the Yadavas, with a part of his people; the remainder fought for the Kurus. In front of the army of the Pandus were seen the five brothers on their chariots of war, from which waved their standards. Before the banner of Yudishthira, who stood upon his chariot, slim of shape, in garments of yellow and gold, with a nose like the flower of Prachandala, the two drums sounded; beside him was the long-armed Bhima, holding in his hand his iron club adorned with gold, with dark glance and knitted brows. The third was the bearer of the great bow, Arjuna, with an ape on his banner, the steadfast hero of men, who reverenced the men of old, the destroyer of the troops of the enemy, who banished the fears of the fearful. Last were seen Nakula who fought with the sword, and Sahadeva. Opposite them Bhishma's banner waved from his chariot on a golden palm-stem; it displayed five silver stars. When the armies approached each other Bhishma cried with a voice of thunder to his warriors: "To-day the gates of heaven are opened for the brave; go ye the way which your fathers and ancestors have gone to heaven, by falling gloriously. Would ye rather end life on a sick-bed in pain? Only in the field may the Kshatriya (warrior) fall." Then he seized the great gold-adorned shell and blew for onset. As the sea surges to and fro in a storm when driven by roaring winds, the armies dashed upon each other; from afar the ravens screamed and the wolves howled, announcing a great slaughter, and heaps of carcasses. The heroes fight against the hostile heroes; rarely do they spring down from their chariots, and scatter the "heads of the foot soldiers like seed." The princes mutually cover each other with clouds of arrows; they shoot down the hostile charioteers, so that the horses rage uncontrolled hither and thither[Pg 90] in the battle; if the elephants are driven against the chariots in order to overthrow them, the riders shoot them like "peacocks from trees," or they seize the great swords and hew off their trunks, at the root, close by the tusks, so that "the harnessed elephants" raise a great roar. In their turn they tear the warriors from their chariots; they press on irresistibly through the ranks of the warriors, like streams "leaping from rock to rock;" they check the advance of the enemy "as rocks beat back the waves of the sea." Covered with arrows they drop blood, till, deeply wounded in the head and neck, they fall to the ground, or turn raging on their own army. When the heroes have shot forth their arrows, their bows broken, the missiles driven through their coats of mail, so that the warriors "blossom like rose-trees," they leap down from their chariots, seize their great painted shields of hide, raise aloft their war-clubs and rush like buffalo-bulls upon each other. At one time in attack, at another in defence, they circle round each other, and spy out a moment to give a deadly blow. If the shields are destroyed and the clubs broken, they rush like "maddened tigers" to wrestle and fight hand to hand, till one sinks to earth pouring out blood, like a tree of which the root has been hewn through.

Thus, for nine days, the contest went on between the two armies. The army of the Kurus had the advantage; no one ventured to meet the aged Bhishma. Then Krishna, the driver of Arjuna, advised him to mount the chariot of Çikhandin, the young son of Drupada, the prince of the Panchalas, on the following morning and to put on his armour. The aged Bhishma would not fight against Çikhandin; he held it beneath him to fight against children. When he saw Arjuna approach him with the ensigns of Çikhandin, and in his[Pg 91] armour, he cried out, "Attack me as you will, I will not fight with you." Then Arjuna laid the smooth arrows of reed, furnished with feathers from the heron and points of iron, on the string of the bow, and covered Bhishma with arrows as a cloud in summer pours its rain on the mountain. The invincible old man looked up with astonishment, and cried: "Like a row of swarming bees, arrow hisses after arrow through the air. As the lightning of Indra travels to earth, so do these arrows fly. They are not the arrows of Çikhandin. Like thunder-bolts shattering all they pierce through my mail and shield into my limbs. Like poisonous snakes darting their tongues in anger, their arrows bite me and drink my heart's blood. They are not the arrows of Çikhandin; they are Yama's messengers (p. 63); they bring the death I have long desired; they are the arrows of Arjuna." Head foremost, streaming with blood, Bhishma fell from the chariot. Delighted at this victory, Arjuna cried aloud with a clear lion's cry, and the army of the Pandus shouted for joy and blew their shells. Duryodhana's warriors were seized with panic; their tower and defence was gone. Drona, whom the sons of Pandu had once instructed in the use of arms, now led the army of the Kurus; and a second time they gained the advantage. Bhima sought in vain to overcome Drona; then the brother of Draupadi attacked him, and at Krishna's advice, Yudishthira and Bhima called to Drona that his son Açvatthaman had fallen. Deceived by this craft, Drona allowed his arms to drop, and Draupadi's brother smote off his head. After his fall, the Kurus were led by Karna, the prince of the Angas. He passed as the son of a waggoner; his real father, the sun-god Surya, appeared to him in the night, and warned him against Arjuna; he would meet his death. Glory was sweet to the living, when parents,[Pg 92] children, and friends surrounded him with pride, and kings celebrated his courage; but what was honour and glory to the withered man who had become ashes?—it was only the flowers and the chaplets placed on his corpse to adorn it. Karna answered: He had no friend, no wife nor child; he feared not death, and would gladly sacrifice his body in the battle; but Arjuna would not conquer him. On the next morning he prudently besought Çalya, the prince of the Madyas, to guide his horses, since Krishna, the best of charioteers, guided the horses of Arjuna. At the instance of Duryodhana, Çalya undertook to do this, but his heart was angered at the degrading thought that he was guiding the horses of a waggoner, and he guided them so that while Karna was fighting against Arjuna, and had wounded him with his arrows, the chariot sank in a marsh. As Karna sprang down in order to draw the chariot out, Arjuna, at Krishna's instigation, shot a deadly arrow into the hero's back. Then one hero of the Kurus fell after the other. On the eighteenth day of the struggle, Duryodhana and Bhima met. As two raging elephants goad each other for the possession of a female elephant, so did these princes meet with their battle-clubs, whirling round sometimes to the right and sometimes to the left, each seeking the unprotected part of his opponent, and brandishing his club in the air. Duryodhana has the advantage. He has retired before a stroke of Bhima's club, which has thus spent itself on the ground; seeing the unprotected state of his opponent, he has dealt him a mighty blow on the breast. Then, on Krishna's advice, Bhima dealt a blow at Duryodhana's thigh, broke the bone, and the two fell to the earth. The army of the Pandus shouted for joy, but Duryodhana spoke with his dying voice: "We have always fought honourably, and, there[Pg 93]fore, the honour remains with us. You have won by craft and dishonour, and dishonour attends your victory. In honourable fight you would never have conquered us. In the garments of Çikhandin, Arjuna slew Bhishma when defenceless. To Drona ye cried in subtlety that his son was dead, and slew him as he dropped his arms. Karna, Arjuna slew by a shameful blow from behind; by dishonour Bhima brings me to the ground, for it is said, 'In battle with the club it is dishonourable to strike below the navel.'" Red with rage, Bhima stepped up to the king-lion who lay outstretched, with his club beside him, beat in his skull with his foot, and said: "We have not laid fire to burn our enemies, nor cheated them in the game, nor outraged their wives; by the strength of our arms alone we destroy our enemies." On the evening of the eighteenth day of the battle, all the brothers of Duryodhana, all the princes who fought for the Kurus, and all the warriors of the Kurus were dead. The victors blew their shells, called Yudishthira to the king, and obtained as booty numberless treasures in gold and silver, in precious stones, in cloths, skins, and slave-women. Then all is sunk in deep slumber. But three warriors of the army of the Kurus have escaped into the forest; Açvatthaman, the son of the slain Drona, Kritavarman and Kripa. Sorrow for his father made rest impossible for Açvatthaman; on the branches of the fig-tree under which he lay he saw a troop of crows asleep; an owl softly flew up and slew one crow after the other. Açvatthaman set out with his companions and penetrated into the camp of the Pandus. First he slays the brother of Draupadi who had killed his father; then he throws fire into the camp, and slays the five sons of Draupadi, and all the Matsyas and Panchalas. Then he hastens to the place where Duryodhana lies. "Thou art still[Pg 94] living," he says to Duryodhana; "listen, then, to a word which will be pleasing to thine ear: all the Panchalas, all the Matsyas, all the sons of Draupadi are dead." Only the four brothers, the sons of Pandu, Krishna and his charioteer, escaped this nocturnal massacre.

Then the dead were buried on the field of Kurukshetra: the sons of Pandu knelt before Dhritarashtra, and Vyasa reconciled the old king with the sons of his step-brother; but Gandhari cursed Krishna, who by his devices had brought her sons to death. Then the Pandus made their entrance into Hastinapura, and Yudishthira was consecrated king under the guidance of Krishna. He treated the old king as a son treats his father, but the latter could not forget the death of Duryodhana and his other sons: he went with Gandhari into the jungles on the Ganges, and with her he perished, when the jungle was set on fire. At Vyasa's command Yudishthira offered a sacrifice of horses, and then obtained the dominion over the whole earth. Following the course of the sacrificial horse (chap. VIII.) Arjuna conquered for him the Magadhas on the south bank of the Ganges, the Chedis, the Nishadas, the Saindhavas, i. e. the inhabitants of the Indus, and the Gandharas, beyond the Indus.[142] Afterwards all the conquered kings presented themselves at this sacrifice of the horse in Hastinapura, and acknowledged Yudishthira as their lord. He sat on the throne of Hastinapura for 36 years, and then heard that the curse which Gandhari had pronounced upon Krishna was fulfilled. At a great festival of the Yadavas the reproach was made against Açvatthaman that he had basely slain the heroes in their sleep, after the great battle. Then there arose a strife among the princes of the Yadavas. They seized their weapons and mutually slaughtered each[Pg 95] other. Distressed at the loss of his people Krishna retired into the wilderness, and there he was slain by the arrow of a hunter who took him for an antelope. The death of the hero to whom he owed his victory filled Yudishthira and his brothers with deep sorrow. On Vyasa's advice they determined to withdraw with Draupadi into the forest. All her sons had fallen in the great battle; but the wife of one (Abhimanyu), who was the daughter of the king of the Matsyas, had borne a son, Parikshit, after the death of her husband. When he had been consecrated at Hastinapura, the sons of Pandu went on a pilgrimage to the east, to the Himalayas, and beyond this to the holy mountain, Meru. Draupadi was the first to succumb, then Nakula and Sahadeva; last of all Arjuna and Bhima fell exhausted. Yudishthira climbed on, till Indra met him with his chariot, and carried him with his body to the imperishable world, the heaven of the heroes; there he would again behold his brothers and his wife, when their souls had been freed from the earthly impurity still adhering to them. For Bhima had trusted too much to his bodily power, and had eaten too much. Arjuna had loved battle too well, and had been too harsh against his enemies; Sahadeva was too proud of his wisdom, Nakula of his beauty; and Draupadi had loved Arjuna too dearly. But Parikshit reigned in Hastinapura 60 years. He died from the bite of a snake. Hence his son, Janamejaya, caused all the snakes to be burned in one great fire of sacrifice. On this occasion he asked Vyasa how the strife had arisen in old times between the Kurus and the Pandus, for Vyasa had been a witness: "I would hear from thee, Brahman, the story of the fortunes of the Kurus and Pandus." So the king concludes. Then Vyasa bids Vaiçampayana repeat the[Pg 96] great poem which he had taught him. Janamejaya was succeeded by Çatanika, Açvamedhadatta, Asimakrishna, and Nichakra, in his sway over the Bharatas, Nichakra changed the place of residence from Hastinapura to Kauçambi lower down the Ganges. And after Nichakra 24 kings of the race of Pandu reigned over the Bharatas.

No words are needed to point out the absurdity and recent origin of an arrangement which not only ascribes to Vyasa the reconciliation of the last Kurus with the Pandus, but also makes him the father of the progenitors of the two hostile houses of Dhritarashtra and Pandu, and the author of the great poem. The name Vyasa means collector, arranger; and if the arranger of the poem is also the father of the ancestors of the contending tribes, this expression can only mean, that poetry has invented the whole legend. But a more minute examination limits this interpretation to a naïve confession on the part of poetry, that she and not tradition has transferred the origin of the Pandus to the race of the Kurus, and has represented the progenitors of the hostile races as brothers.

We can do no more than make hypotheses about the original contents of the poem on the great war. Against the Kurus, who, at the head of the Bharatas, maintained their supremacy on the upper course of the Yamuna and the Ganges, there rises in rebellion a younger race, the Pandus, who have risen into note among the Panchalas. The sons of Pandu receive in marriage the daughter of the king of the Panchalas, who are situated to the south of the Bharatas on the confluence of the Yamuna and the Ganges; and they are aided by the king of the Matsyas. It is Krishna, a hero of the Yadavas, to whom the Pandus owe their success in council and action. The Epos represents the Pandus[Pg 97] as growing up in their childhood in the forest, and afterwards again making their home in the wilderness; they receive half of the kingdom of the Bharatas, and then lose it; and in their half they found Indraprastha to the west of Hastinapura on the Yamuna. From this we may conclude that the supremacy of the Bharatas established by the Kurus was resisted by the Panchalas and Matsyas and a part of the Yadavas—the Yadavas fight in the Epos partly for the Kurus and partly against them—and that a family among these nations, apparently a family of the Panchalas, succeeded in combining this resistance and establishing another kingdom, with Indraprastha as a centre, beside the kingdom of Hastinapura, from which they finally conquered the Bharatas. This struggle of the Panchalas and Matsyas against the Bharatas is the nucleus of the Epos. A tradition may lie at the base of the statement in the poems, that the nations of the East, the Madras, Koçalas, Videhas and Angas (in north-western Bengal), fight beside the Kurus against the Panchalas and Matsyas: at any rate it would be to the interest of the previous settlers on the Ganges to repel the advance of later immigrants. On the other hand, the Kaçis, in the region of the later Benares, may have fought against the Bharatas. However this may be, the race of the Kurus disappeared in a great war, and kings of the race of Pandu ascended the throne of Hastinapura. If, as we have assumed, the Bharatas had previously forced the Tritsus from the Sarasvati to the Yamuna, and from the Yamuna to the upper Ganges, and from the upper Ganges further east to the Sarayu, they were now, in turn, not indeed expelled, but over-mastered, by the tribes which had followed them and settled on the Yamuna. The metropolis of the kingdom which arose out of these struggles was Hastinapura, the chief city[Pg 98] of the Bharatas; under the rule of the race of Pandu it comprised the Bharatas and the Panchalas; in the old ritual of consecration we find the formula: "This is your king, ye Kurus, ye Panchalas."[143]

The original poem no doubt took the part of the Kurus against the Pandus, of the Bharatas against the Panchalas. In some passages of the old poem, which have remained intact, Duryodhana, i. e. Bad-fighter, is called Suyodhana, i. e. Good-fighter. It is not by their bravery but by their cunning that the Pandus were victorious. The words of the dying Duryodhana: "The Pandus have fought with subtlety and shame, and by shame have obtained the victory," are an invention made from this point of view. The vengeance which follows close after the victory of the Pandus, the massacre of their army in the following night, through which the life of the dying Duryodhana is prolonged; the fulfilment of the curse which the mother of Duryodhana pronounces upon Krishna and the Yadavas—at a later time the tribes of the Yadavas disappeared, at any rate in these regions—all enable us to detect the original form and object of the poem. It was the lament over the fall of the famous race of the Kurus, which had founded the oldest kingdom in India, over the death of Bhishma and his hundred sons, and the narration of the vengeance which overtook the crime of Krishna and the Pandus.

In any case certain traits which reappear in the Epic poetry of the Greeks and the Germans—the contest with the bow for Draupadi, the death of the young hero of half-divine descent by an arrow shot in secret, the fall of an ancient hero with his hundred sons, the destruction even of the victors in the great battle—are evidence that old Indo-Germanic conceptions must[Pg 99] have formed the basis of the original poem. Even in the form in which we now have them they remind us of the grand, mighty, rude style of the oldest Epic poetry. In other respects also traits of antiquity are not wanting—the marriage of five brothers with one wife, the hazard of goods, kingdom, wife, and even personal liberty, on a single throw of the dice, which is an outcome of the passionate nature already known to us through the songs of the Vedas. In the songs of the conquests and struggles on the Yamuna and Ganges, sung by the minstrels to the princes and nobles of these new states, these elements became amalgamated with the praises of the deeds achieved by their ancestors at their first foundation. This is proved by the tone of the poem, which penetrates even the description of the great war. It was only before princes who made war and battle their noblest occupation, before assemblies of a warlike nobility, and in the spirit of such circles, that songs could be recited, telling of the contests in all knightly accomplishments—the wooing of the king's daughter by the bow, the choice of a husband by the princess, who gives her hand to the noblest knight. Only there could such lively and detailed descriptions of single contests and battles be given, and the laws of knightly honour and warfare be extolled with such enthusiasm. These must have penetrated deeply into the minds of the hearers, when the decision in the great battle could be brought about by a breach of these laws, and the destruction of the Yadavas accounted for by a quarrel arising out of a question of this kind. Even the law-book which bears the name of Manu places great value on the laws of honourable contest.[144] Hence we may with certainty assume that the songs of the princes who[Pg 100] conquered the land on the Yamuna and the Ganges, were sung at the courts of their descendants, at the time when the latter, surrounded by an armed nobility, ruled on the Ganges. There, after the tumult of the first period of the settlement had subsided, these songs of the marvels and achievements of ancient heroes, coloured with mythical conceptions, were united into a great poem, the original Epos of the great war, and in this the living heroic song came to an end. In the German Epos, the Nibelungen, we find a foundation of mythical elements, together with historical reminiscences of the wars of Dietrich of Bern, overgrown by the conflicts and destruction of the Burgundians.

At a much later time the Epos of the great war passed from the tradition of the minstrels into the hands of the priests, by whom it was recorded and revised from a priestly point of view. Descendants of the Pandus who had overthrown the ancient famous race of the Kurus, and had gained in their place the kingdom of Hastinapura, are said to have remained on the throne for 30 generations in that city, and afterwards at Kauçambi. From other sources we can establish the fact, that at least in the sixth century B.C. the sovereignty among the Kuru-Panchalas belonged to kings who traced their descent from Pandu; and even in the fourth century we have mention of families of Nakula, and Sahadeva, and among the Eastern Bharatas, of descendants of Yudhishthira and Arjuna.[145] Hence the rulers of the tribe of Pandu must have thought it of much importance not to appear as evil-doers and rebels, and to invent some justification of their attack on the Kurus, and the throne of Hastinapura. In this way they would appear both to the[Pg 101] Panchalas and the Bharatas as legitimate princes sprung from noble ancestors, and would share wherever possible in the ancient glory of the kings of the Bharatas, who were sprung from the race of Kuru. This end it was attempted to gain by revision and interpolation; and the views of the priests, which were of later origin, have no doubt supported the subsequent justification of the usurpation of the race of the Pandus. The priestly order might think it desirable to win the favour of the Pandu-kings of Kauçambi. Of this they were secure if they united the ancestors of the race with the family of the Kurus, while at the same time they brought the kings of the Bharatas and Panchalas into connection with priestly views of life by representing their ancestors as patterns of piety, virtue, and respect for priests. In the old poem, Bhishma, the descendant of Kuru on the throne of the Bharatas, perished, at an advanced age, with his son Suyodhana, and his ninety-nine brothers, in stout conflict against the Pandus, who were at the head of the Panchalas; but his fall was due to the craft of the latter. On the other hand, the revision maintains that king Çantanu was the last legitimate Kuru; that his son Bhishma renounced the throne, marriage, and children; that Çantanu's younger son died childless; and represents the Dritarashtras and the Pandus as his illegitimate descendants. Thus the Pandus are brought into the race of Kuru, and the claims of the descendants of Dhritarashtra and Pandu are placed on an equality. It was an old custom among the Indians, not wholly removed by the law-book of the priests, even in the later form of the regulation, that if a father remained without a son his brother or some other relation might raise up a son to him by his wife or widow.[146] According to the poem,[Pg 102] the wife of Çantanu charged her nearest relation, her natural son, to raise up children to the two childless widows of her son born in marriage. Agreeably to the tendency of the revision, this son is a very sacred and wise person; and thus it is proved that it was within the power of the priests to summon into life the most famous royal families. But great as the freedom of the revision is, it does not venture to deny the right of birth of the Kurus. Dhritarashtra is the older, Pandu is the younger, of the two sons. In order to clear the younger brother, Dhritarashtra is afflicted with blindness, because his mother could not endure the sight of the great Brahman. Even the son of Dhritarashtra, Duryodhana, is allowed to have the right of birth; it is only maintained that Yudhishthira, Pandu's elder son, was born on the same day. That this insertion of the Pandus into the race of the Kurus in the Epic poem was completed in the fourth century B.C. we can prove.[147] The revision then represents Dhritarashtra as voluntarily surrendering half his kingdom to the sons of Pandu, and this is a great help towards their legitimacy. When the Pandus are resolved on war, Krishna removes Yudhishthira's scruples by asserting "that even in times gone by it has not always been the eldest son who has sat on the throne of Hastinapura." These traits are all tolerably transparent. How weak the position of the Pandus was in the legend, how little could be told of their ancestors and of Pandu himself, is shown in the poem by the fact that the want of ancestors can only be supplemented by inserting the family in the race of the Kurus, and that no definite achievement of Pandu is mentioned. He is allowed to die early, and his sons grow up in the forest. So transparent is the veil[Pg 103] thrown over the fact that an unknown family rose to be the leaders of the Panchalas. The insertion of Dhritarashtra is caused by the insertion of Pandu. The Indian poetry of the later period is not troubled by the fact that Bhishma, Çantanu's eldest son, renounces the throne in order to allow a blind nephew to reign in his place; that even as a great-uncle he is the mightiest hero of the Kurus, and can only be slain on the battle-field by treachery.

Thus, rightly or wrongly, the Pandus were brought into the family of the Kurus. But why should the elder branch make way for the younger? To explain this circumstance, the blind king, the honourable Dhritarashtra, i. e. "firmly holding to the kingdom," must first fix on Yudhishthira as his successor, to the exclusion of his own sons, and then, even in his own lifetime, divide the kingdom with Yudhishthira. Hence the Pandus could advance claims, and the more fiercely Duryodhana opposed the surrender of his legitimate right, the more does he lose ground from a moral standard against the Pandus. His persecutions and villainies provide the revision with the means to bring the Pandus repeatedly into banishment, and into the forest, from which in the old poem they had been brought to stand at the head of the Panchalas. It is Duryodhana who causes the house of Pandu to be set on fire, who by false play wins Draupadi from Yudhishthira, and treats her despitefully, and takes from him the half of the kingdom. On the other hand, the sons of the Pandus, so far as the lines of the old poem allow, are changed into persecuted innocents, patterns of piety, virtue, and obedience to the Brahmans. It is naturally the form of Yudhishthira which undergoes the main change from these points of view, since he twice succumbs to the passion for the game. By these[Pg 104] interpolations his brother Bhima is fortunately put in a position to answer the reproach of the dying Duryodhana—that the Pandus had conquered by treachery and shame—by asserting that they had not laid fire for their enemies as he had, or cheated them in the game, or outraged their women.

The revision carries the justification and legitimisation of the Pandus even beyond the destruction of Duryodhana and the Kurus. Owing to his blindness the king Dhritarashtra could not be brought into the battle and slain there. Where the old poem represents the mother of the slain Kurus as cursing Krishna, the revision interpolates a reconciliation between the aged Dhritarashtra and the destroyers of his race, a reconciliation naturally accomplished through the instrumentality of a Brahman. Hence Yudhishthira is allowed to ascend the throne of Hastinapura with the consent of the legitimate king, and reign in his name. Lastly, in order to remove every stain from the Pandus, they are represented as renouncing the world, and dying on a pious pilgrimage to the divine mountain.

A second revision of the poem—which, as will become clear below, cannot, in any case, have been made before the seventh century B.C.—represents the Pandus as becoming the sons of gods, and thus makes still easier the task of their justification. It was not by Pandu that Kunti became the mother of Yudhishthira, Arjuna, and Bhima, but the first and most just of all rulers she bore to the very god of justice. Hence his claim to the throne and his righteous life were established from the first. The second brother, the great warrior Arjuna, owed his birth to Indra; the third, Bhima, to the strong wind-god, Vayu; the twin-sons of Madri are then naturally the children of the twins in heaven,[Pg 105] the two Açvins. More serious is the change of Krishna, i. e. the black, into the god Vishnu, assumed in a third revision, which was completed in the course of the fourth century B.C. (Book VI. chap. viii.). Krishna, after whom the city of Krishnapura on the Yamuna is said to have been named,[148] belongs to the tribe of the Yadavas, who were settled on the Yamuna, in the district of Mathura. He is the son of the cow-herd Nanda and his wife Yaçoda; he is himself a cow-herd, drives off herds of cows, carries away the clothes of the daughters of the herdsmen while they are bathing, and engages in many other exploits of a similar kind. He rebels against the king of Mathura, and slays him. His crafty and treacherous plans then bring the heroes of the Kurus to destruction; at length, with his whole nation, he succumbs to the curse hurled against him by the mother of Duryodhana. Out of this form of the ancient poem the later revision has made an incarnation of Vishnu, the beneficent, sustaining god. The child of Vasudeva and Devaki, who bears all the marks of Vishnu, is no other than Vishnu, who permits himself to be born from Devaki; he is changed with the child of Yaçoda, which was born in the same night. But these new points of view are not thoroughly carried out; the Mahabharata is not consistent about the origin of Krishna or his divine nature. At one time he is a human warrior, at another the highest of the gods, and the original position both of Krishna and the Pandus is still perceptible.[149]

The second great Epic of the Indians—the Ramayana—is essentially distinguished from the poems of[Pg 106] the great war. Here also a legend, or ancient ballads, may have formed the basis; here, too, it is clear that a later redaction has changed the hero of the poem into an incarnation of a god. But the legend is already changed into the fairy tale, of which the scene is principally the Deccan, the banks of the Godavari, the island of Lanka (Ceylon) where the Aryas first arrived about the year 500 B.C. The cast of the poem as a whole is essentially different from that of the Mahabharata. The old legend may have related the story of a prince who wins his wife by his power to string the great bow of her father, and who, when banished from the banks of the Sarayu, contends in the Himavat, or in the south of the Ganges, against the giants dwelling there. These giants carried off his wife from the forest hut, and he is only able to regain her after severe struggles. Rama, the banished prince, is supposed to be a son of a king of the Koçalas (the Tritsus of the Rigveda), who had taken up their abode on the Sarayu. Daçaratha, the father of Rama, had apparently reigned a long time before the great war; he was descended from Ikshvaku, the son of Manu. According to the Vishnu-Purana, Daçaratha is the sixtieth king of this family, the eleventh after Sudas, who repelled the attack of the Bharatas.[150] In their[Pg 107] battle the Tritsus were aided by the priest Vasishtha, to whom in the poem of Rama the same place is allotted which in the Mahabharata is first allotted to Viçvamitra and then to Vyasa. Without regard to the ancient poems and their strongly-marked traits of great battles and mighty contests, the priests entirely transformed the legend of Rama from their point of view into the form in which it now lies before us; and this took place at a period of Indian life, when the warlike impulse had long given way to peaceful institutions, and the requirements of the priests had driven out the military code of honour and martial glory—a time when the weaker sides of the Aryan disposition, submission and sacrifice, had won the victory over the hard and masculine qualities of activity and self-assertion. The Ramayana gives expression to the feeling of calm subjection, virtuous renunciation, passionless performance of duties, patient obedience, unbroken reticence. Throughout, prominence is given to the system of priestly asceticism, of the eremite's life in the forest, of voluntary suicide. Here we can scarcely find any echoes of that desire of honour, that jealousy, that lust of battle, and eagerness for revenge, which occur unmistakably in the Mahabharata; nothing remains of the knightly pride which scorns to give a blow forbidden by the rules of the battle. The hero of the Ramayana is a hero of virtue, not of the battle. He commends without ceasing renunciation and the fulfilment of duties; he abandons throne and kingdom; he gives up his right out of obedience to his father, and respect for a promise made by him; his wife leads him against his will into the desert, because she also knows her duties.[Pg 108] Respect, devotion, and sacrifice in the relation of children to their parents, of younger brothers to the elder, of the wife to her husband, of subjects to their lords, are described with great poetical beauty and power, but often with the weakest sentimentality. The mission of the hero in his banishment is the defence of the settlements of holy penitents against the giants. But his battles are no merely human struggle; he not only strings the bow of Çiva, he breaks it, so that it sounds like the fall of a mountain or like Indra's thunder. He fights with the bow of Indra and the arrows of Brahman, and at length even with the chariot of Indra against the giants. These battles are no less legendary than are his confederates' against the giants of Lanka, the vulture Jatayu, the apes and bears, which build him a bridge into that island. These are all described with an exaggeration and monstrous unreality into which Indian poetry only strayed after traversing many stages. We do indeed once hear, even in the Ramayana, of heroes "who never turned in the battle, and fell struck in front." Even here, in isolated passages, the old manly independence breaks forth, which, conscious of its strength, beats down injustice instead of enduring it, and makes a path for itself, but only in order to place in a still clearer light a quick compliance, a patient fulfilment of duties, and thus allow to the latter a greater advantage.

At this day Epic poetry lives in India in full force, just as it left the hands of the priests. At the close of the Mahabharata we are told: "What the Brahman is to the rest of mankind, the cow to all quadrupeds, the ocean to the pool, such is the Mahabharata in comparison with all other histories." To the readers and hearers of the Mahabharata and Ramayana the best[Pg 109] rewards in this life and the next are promised: wealth, forgiveness of sins, entrance into heaven. At all festivals and fairs, at the marriages of the wealthy, episodes from one of the two poems are recited to the eager crowd of assembled hearers; the audience accompany the acts and sufferings of the heroes with cries of joy or signs of sorrow, with laughter or tears. In the village, the Brahman, sitting beneath a fig-tree, recites the great poems, in the order of the events no doubt, to the community. The interest of the audience never flags. If the piece recited touches on happy incidents—on victory, triumph, happy return home, the marriage or consecration of the heroes, the village is adorned with crowns as at a festival. The Indians live with the forms of their Epos; they know the fortunes of these heroes, and look on them as a pattern or a warning. The priests have fully realised their intention of setting before the nation in these poems a mirror of manners and virtue.


[120] This follows from the fact that the army of the confederates had to cross the Vipaça and Çatadru in order to reach the Tritsus.

[121] In the Rigveda king Sudas is at once a son of Divodasa and a scion of the house of the Pijavanas, possibly because Pijavana was the father or some ancestor of Divodasa. In the Samaveda (2, 5, 1, 5) Divodasa is called the noble. In the book of Manu (7, 41; 8, 110) Sudasa is the son of Pijavana. In the genealogy of the kings of the Koçalas, by whom the Tritsus were destroyed, the Vishnu-Purana mentions in the fiftieth generation after Ikshvaku, the founder of the race, a king Sudasa, the son of Sarvakama, grandson of Rituparna. So also the Harivança, and in the Vishnu-Purana (ed. Wilson, p. 381) Vasishtha is the priest of king Sudas as well as of Nimi, the son of Ikshvaku. On the other hand the Vishnu-Purana (p. 454, 455) is aware of a second Sudas, the grandson of Divodasa, in the race of the moon. Viçvamitra is himself called a Bharata; we shall see below that the Mahabharata connects Viçvamitra with the genealogy of the kings of the Bharata. Cp. Roth, "Zur Literatur," S. 142 ff. [On the names of Indian rivers, see Muir, loc. cit. 2, 345 ff.]

[122] Cf. Muir, loc. cit. 12, 339, where the hymn is translated.

[123] Roth, "Zur Literatur," S. 87, 91 ff. [Rigveda, 3, 33; 7, 83. Muir, loc. cit. 322, 323.]

[124] Manu, 1, 67 ff. [Muir, 1, 43 ff.]

[125] Weber, "Jyotisham, Abh. d. Berl. Akad." 1862, s. 23 ff. and below.

[126] With similar exaggeration "Duty" tells king Parikshit at the close of the Mahabharata that her four feet measured 20 yodhanas in the first age, 16 in the second, 12 in the third, whereas now in the Kaliyuga they only measure four yodhanas. The whole narrative is intended to point out that in the Kaliyuga even Çudras could become kings. The Vishnu-Purana (ed. Wilson, p. 467) calls the first Nanda who ascended the throne of Magadha in 403 B.C. the son of a Çudra woman.

[127] "Bhagavata-Purana," 9, 14.

[128] Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 12, 600.

[129] Arrian, "Ind." 7, 8, 9. Plin. 6, 21, 4. Solin. 52, 5. As to the numbers, Bunsen, "Ægypt." 5, 156; Von Gutschmid, "Beiträge," s. 64. The duration of the first interruption is lost; but it was less than the second, for Arrian says that the second continued as much as 300 years. Perhaps the number of the first and third interruptions taken together are as long as the second. Diodorus (2, 38, 39) allots the 52 years to Dionysus, which Arrian gives to Spatembas.

[130] That the Kalpa—i. e. the great world-period—was a current conception in the third century B.C. is proved by the inscriptions of Açoka at Girnar. Lassen, loc. cit. 22, 238.

[131] Not more than nine names can be given to the dynasty of the Nandas, which reigned for 88 years before Chandragupta; seventeen for the dynasty of the Çaiçunagas, even if Kalaçoka's sons are all counted as independent regents; and five for the Pradyotas. For the Barhadrathas the Vayu and Vishnu-Puranas give 21 kings after Sahadeva, the Bhagavata-Purana 20, the Matsya-Purana 32. Hence, taking the highest figures, the united dynasties number 64 reigns. To these are to be added the seven names which connect Brihadratha with Kuru, and the 31 or 21 names given in the longer and shorter lists of the Mahabharata between Kuru and Manu.

[132] Von Gutschmid, "Beiträge," s. 76 ff. See below.

[133] P. 484, ed. Wilson.

[134] Von Gutschmid, loc. cit. s. 85 ff.

[135] That the main portions of the Epos in their present form cannot be older, is clear from the views of the worship of Vishnu and Çiva which prevail in the poem. These forms of worship first obtained currency in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. (see below). It is also clear from the identification of Vishnu and Krishna, of Rama and Vishnu; the deeply felt Brahmanic anti-Buddhist tendencies, seen in such a marked manner in the Ramayana; the form of philosophic speculation, and the application of astrology, which are characteristic of the Epos in its present state; and finally from the mention of the Yavanas as the allies of the Kurus, and Dattamira, i. e. Demetrius, the king of the Yavanas. This king reigned in Bactria in the first half of the second century B.C. (Lassen, loc. cit. 1, 557). Another king of the Yavanas who is mentioned is Bhagadatta, i. e. apparently, Apollodotus, the founder of the Græco-Indian kingdom in the second half of the first century B.C. (Von Gutschmid, "Beiträge," s. 75). We are led to the same result by the descriptions of Indian buildings, of paved roads and lofty temples, which were first built by the Brahmans in opposition to the stupas of the Buddhists. Lassen places the important pieces of the Mahabharata, in their present form, between Kalaçoka and Chandragupta, i. e. between 425-315 B.C. (loc. cit. 12, 589 ff.) Benfey places them in the third century B.C., A. Weber in the first century. The Mahabharata, which according to the statement found in the poem (1, 81) originally had only 8,800 double-verses, now numbers 100,000: A. Weber, "Acad. Vorlesungen," s. 176. The old form of the Mahabharata is much anterior to the fifth century B.C.; certain passages of the present poem are much later: A. Weber, "Indische Skizzen," s. 37, 38. When Dion Chrysostom remarks (2, 253, ed. Reiske) that the Homeric poems were sung by the Indians in their own language—the sorrows of Priam, the lamentation of Hecuba and Andromache, the bravery of Achilles and Hector—Lassen is undoubtedly right in referring this statement to the Mahabharata, and putting Dhritarashtra in the place of Priam, Gandhari and Draupadi in the place of Andromache and Hecuba, Arjuna and Suyodhana or Karna in the place of Achilles and Hector ("Alterth." 22, 409). It is doubtful whether the remark of Chrysostom is taken from Megasthenes. That the Ramayana is later in style than the Mahabharata will become clear below.

[136] "Vishnu-Purana," ed. Wilson, p. 380, seqq.

[137] Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 12, Anhang xviii. n. 4.

[138] In the Rigveda we find: "If you, Indra and Agni, are among the Druhyus, Anus or Purus, come forth."

[139] Lassen, loc. cit. 1, xxii. n. 15.

[140] "Rigveda," 1, 31, 4; 1, 31, 17; 7, 18, 13.

[141] According to the Brahmanic recension of the poem which we now possess, Samvarana is able to obtain the daughter of the god only by the mediation of a sacred priest. The king therefore bethinks him of Vasishtha, who ascends to the god of light and obtains his daughter for the king. Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 12, Anhang xxvi.

[142] Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 12 656, n. and 12 850.

[143] A. Weber, "Ind. Literaturgesch." s. 1262.

[144] Manu, 7, 90, 93. Yajnavalkya, 1, 323-325.

[145] Panini in M. Müller, "Hist. of anc. Sanskrit Literature," p. 44, n. 2.

[146] Manu, 9, 59.

[147] M. Müller, loc. cit.

[148] "Vishnu-Purana," ed. Wilson, p. 440. Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 12, 68 ff.

[149] In Panini Krishna is called a god, but also a hero. M. Müller, "Hist. of anc. Sanskrit Lit." p. 45 n.

[150] On the form of the Rama legend in the Daçaratha-Jataka, cf. A. Weber, "Abh. Berl Akad." 1870. The Vishnu-Purana enumerates 33 kings of the Koçalas from Daçaratha to Brihadbala, who falls in the great battle on the side of the Kurus. Including these this Purana makes 60 kings between Manu and Daçaratha. For the same interval the Ramayana has only 34 names, of which some, like Yagati, Nahusha, Bharata, are taken from the genealogical table of the kings of the Bharata, others, like Pritha and Triçanku, belong to the Veda. We have already seen that the series of the Bharata kings give about ten generations between the time when they gained the upper hand on the Yamuna and upper Ganges, i. e. the time of Kuru and Duryodhana. The Koçalas forced eastward by the Bharatas would thus have existed on the Sarayu from 23 generations before Kuru. Wilson, "Vishnu-Purana," p. 386.



[Pg 110]



The Aryas had now advanced far beyond the borders of their ancient territory; from the land of the Panjab they had conquered and occupied the valley of the Ganges. The plundering raids and feuds which had occupied the tribes on the Indus had passed away, and in their place came the migration, conquest, settlement, the conflict for the conquered districts, and a warlike life of considerable duration. It was only when attempted in large masses that attack or defence could be successful. By this means the tribes grew up into larger communities; the small unions of tribes became nations, which divided the land of the Ganges among them. The tribal princes were changed into leaders of great armies. The serious and important nature of the tasks imposed upon them by the conquest and the settlement, by the need of security against the ancient inhabitants or the pressure of their own countrymen, placed in the hands of these princes a military dictatorship; so that in the new districts which were won and maintained under their guidance, the princes had a much greater weight, and a far wider power, than the heads of the tribes on the Indus, surrounded by the warriors of their nations, had ever ventured to exercise. Thus arose a number of[Pg 111] monarchies in the conquered land. Beside the Matsyas on the western bank of the Yamuna, and the Çurasenas, who lay to the south in the cities of Mathura and Krishnapura (in the place of the Yadavas), stood the kingdom of the Bharatas and Panchalas on the upper course of the Yamuna and Ganges. These nations were governed by the dynasty of Pandu, at first from Hastinapura on the upper Ganges, and afterwards, apparently after the accession of the eighth successor of Parikshit, from Kauçambi, which lies on the lower Yamuna, about 30 miles above the confluence of the Yamuna and the Ganges.[151] Further to the east, and to the north of the Ganges, the Koçalas were situated on the Sarayu; the seat of their kingdom was Ayodhya. Still further to the east were the Videhas, whose rulers resided at Mithila (Tirhat). On the Ganges, below the confluence with the Yamuna, were the kings of the Kaçis at Varanasi (Benares), and farther to the east still, the kings of the Angas at Champa, also on the Ganges. To the south of the river the Magadhas had won a large district; their kings resided at Rajagriha (king's house) on the Sumagadhi.[152] Thus in the east there was a complex of tolerably extensive states, under a monarchy which owed its origin to military leadership in the war, and its permanence to the success of the settlement; a state of things forming a complete contrast to the old life of the tribes of the Aryas in the land of the Panjab.

Such a powerful, extensive, and complete alteration of the forms of the civic community, combined with the new conditions of life rendered necessary on the Ganges, must have exercised a deeply-felt influence on the Aryas. The conquest, establishment, and arrangement of extensive dominions had created the[Pg 112] monarchy, but at the same time a warlike nobility had sprung up beside the princes in these contests. The land of the Ganges had been won by the sword and divided among the victors. No doubt those who had achieved most in the battles, and stood nearest to the princes, received the best reward in land and slaves, in captives or dependants among the old population. In this way a number of families with larger possessions became distinguished from the mass of the population. In these the delight in arms and war became hereditary; the feeling of the father passed to his son along with his booty, his horses, and his weapons. He could apply himself to the chase, or to the exercise of arms; he was raised above all care for his maintenance, or the necessity of work. He possessed land and slaves to tend his herds or till his fields. From the later position of this order, we might assume that a nobility practised in the use of arms, the Rajnayas, i. e. the princely, the Kshatriyas, i. e. the wealthy or powerful, surrounded the princes in the Ganges in greater numbers and with greater importance than the warriors of pre-eminent position, who in the land of the Indus had aided the tribal princes in battle, in council, and in giving judgment.

The battles for the possession of the new territory were over, and the mutual pressure of the Arian tribes had come to an end. War was no longer a constant occupation, or carried on for existence; it was only at a distance, on the borders of the new states, that battles took place, either to check the incursions of the old inhabitants from the mountains or to extend the territory already possessed. Hence the majority of the settlers preferred to till their lands in peace, and left it to those for whom booty or glory had a charm, to follow their kings in beating back the[Pg 113] enemy at the borders, or making an attack on foreign tribes and countries. Those who had to work the soil with their own hands gladly gave up the precedence to this military nobility; the king might fight out his wars with their help, if under such protection the herds could pasture in peace, or the fields be tilled without interruption. It was time enough for the peasants to take arms when the nobles who surrounded the princes were no longer able to keep off the attacks of the enemy. No doubt the Kshatriyas formed a still more favourable estimate of themselves and their position. Busied with their arms, their horses, or the chase, they became proud, and despised the work of the peasant, paying little respect to that laborious occupation in comparison with their own free and adventurous life.

Owing to their close relation to the king, to their weapons, and their possessions, the Kshatriyas took the first place in the new states on the Ganges. This they maintained beyond a doubt for centuries in the kingdom of the Bharatas, among the Matsyas and Çurasenas, the Koçalas, Kaçis, Videhas, Magadhas. In the royal houses and the families of the Kshatriyas the achievements of the forefathers continued to live; they preserved the recollection of the wars of conquest, the struggles for the possession of the lands, which they now held. At their festivals and banquets the minstrels sang to them the songs of the ancient heroes, their ancestors, their mighty deeds, their sufferings and death; they extolled the delight in battle and the martial spirit, the knightly temper and mode of combat, and thus at length arose the poem of the great war. If our assumption, that the conquest of the land on the Ganges may have been completed about the year 1400 B.C., is tenable, we might ascribe[Pg 114] to the two following centuries the rise of the Kshatriyas, the establishment of their prominent position in the newly-conquered territory, and to the next century the composition of the songs of the great war in their oldest form.

In the development of other nations the periods of wide expansion, the rise of the military element, and protracted war, usually repress the influence and importance of the priesthood, but among the emigrant Aryas this could not have been the case. We have already seen that among them the contest of sacrifices preceded the contest of arms. The victory fell to the side whose sacrificial bowl Indra had drained. As the correct offering and correct invocation compelled the gods to come down and fight for the nation whose sacrifice they received, the priests were naturally most indispensable in the time of war. The singers of the sacrificial hymns which caused the gods to come down were identical among the Indians with the priests, and were in fact the priests in the stricter sense. With them, minstrel and priest had one name—Brahmana, i. e. one who prays. The hymns of the Vedas showed us how the princes were commanded to set before them at the sacrifice a holy minstrel to offer prayer, and to be liberal to him. The minstrels who accompanied the emigrant tribes to the Yamuna and Ganges had, in those turbulent times, to sing songs of war and victory, as well as to offer prayers at sacrifice, and afterwards to compose the poems on the deeds of the heroes. If the result was that no more new invocations were composed in the period of heroic song, the minstrels nevertheless preserved the old invocations which they had brought with them from the land of the Indus very faithfully. They had imported the ancient worship of their native[Pg 115] deities into the new land; they had to preserve the old faith and the old rites at a distance from their ancient home, to offer sacrifice in the old fashion, and thus to win and retain the favour of the gods for the emigrants in their new abode. In the families which claimed to spring from Atri and Agastya, from Bhrigu and Gautama, from Kaçyapa and Vasishtha, one generation handed down by tradition to another the prayers which they had preserved as effectual, and which had been composed, or were thought to have been composed, by these celebrated minstrels, the rites which were considered requisite for the efficacy of the sacrifice, for winning the favour and help of heaven. It is obvious that these families did not consist exclusively of the actual descendants of the supposed tribal ancestor. In ancient times the family is the only form, as yet known, of community and instruction. As the prayers pleasing to the gods and the form of sacrifice could only be learnt from a minstrel and priest, those who had this object in view must seek for admittance into a priestly family, and must be adopted as disciples by a priest in the place of sons.[153] Such admittance was naturally most sought after in the case of that race which bore the most famous name, which was supposed to spring from the most celebrated sacrificer of early times, and claimed to possess his songs. Among the "sons of Vasishtha," who, according to the hymn of the Veda (p. 67), sacrificed for the Tritsus, in the race of the Kuçikas to which Viçvamitra belonged, and the other priestly races mentioned in the Veda, we must consider that we have just as much disciples claiming to be descended, or being actually descended, from these supposed ancestors, as relations connected by blood. The importance of these families who preserved[Pg 116] the ancient customs and prayers, and worshipped the ancient gods, must have risen in the new territory in proportion to the length of the period between the emigration from the Indus and the present. In different districts the kings regarded the sacrifice and supplication of different races as the most pleasing to the gods. Among the Koçalas, according to the Ramayana and the Puranas, Vasishtha was the priest of the kings; among the Bharatas, the Kuçikas; among the Videhas and Angas, the Gautamas.[154] The amalgamation of the various tribes into larger nations had the effect of bringing the priestly families into combination and union, and thus they had the opportunity of exchanging the knowledge of their possession of hymns and ritual. This union taught them to regard themselves as a peculiar order. Princes and nations are always inclined to recognise the merit of those who know how to win for them the favour of the gods, good fortune and health by prayer and sacrifice.

The ancient population of the new states on the Ganges was not entirely extirpated, expelled, or enslaved. Life and freedom were allowed to those who submitted and conformed to the law of the conqueror; they might pass their lives as servants on the farms of the Aryas.[155] But though this remnant of the population was spared, the whole body of the immigrants looked down on them with the pride of conquerors—of superiority in arms, blood, and character—and in contrast to them they called themselves Vaiçyas, i. e. tribesmen, comrades—in other words, those who belong to the community or body of rulers.[156] Whether the Vaiçya belonged to the order of the nobles, the minstrels and priests, or peasants, was a matter of[Pg 117] indifference; he regarded the old inhabitants as an inferior species of mankind. In the land of the Ganges down to the lower course of the river this class of inhabitants bears the common name of Çudras, and as this word is unknown to Sanskrit we must assume that it was the original name of the ancient population of the Ganges, just as the tribes of the Vindhyas bear to this day the common name of Gondas. In the new states on the Ganges, therefore, the population was separated into two sharply-divided masses. How could the conquerors mix with the conquered?—how could their pride stoop to any union with the despised servants? And even if they had been willing to unite, would not the language and character of the immigrants be lost and destroyed in this mixture with tribes of rude customs and manners? As the conquered territory became more extensive, and the old inhabitants more numerous—for many were spared by the numerically weaker immigrants and continued to live among them as slaves or free out-door servants, while others hung upon the borders of the conquered regions—the more pressing was the danger that the noble blood and superior character of the immigrants, and the worship of the ancient gods, might be lost in mingling with this mass of servants. This danger co-operated with the natural pride of the conqueror, and his feeling of superiority, to place a strongly-marked separation between the Çudras and the Aryas.

In every nation which has gone beyond the primitive stages of life, wealth and occupation form the basis of a division into more or less fixed forms, more or less close orders. The states on the Ganges were no exception. Here, beside the Kshatriyas, beside the minstrels and priests, or Brahmans, stood the bulk of[Pg 118] the immigrant Aryas, whose land required the personal labour of the owner, to whom the name Vaiçya, at first common to all, gradually passed as a special name. Below these three orders were the Çudras. The name given by the Indians to their orders, varna, i. e. colour, proves that the difference between the light skin of the immigrants and the dark colour of the native population was of considerable influence, and if a doubt were raised whether or not another population is concealed in the fourth order or Çudras, it would be removed by the close union of the three orders against the fourth, the uncompromising exclusion of the latter in all matters of religion, and the fact that the law of East Iran (the Avesta) as well as that of the Ganges, recognises warriors, priests, and peasants, but no fourth order. The sharp distinction between the Aryas and Çudras may subsequently have had an influence on the orders of the Aryas, so as to mark the divisions more strongly; resting on such a foundation, the division of orders might strike deeper roots on the Ganges than elsewhere.

The higher and more favoured strata of society will seldom be free from the desire to bequeath to posterity the advantages they possess; and this feeling makes itself felt with greater force in earlier stages of civilisation than in later. As the possessions and occupation of the father descend to the son who grows up in them, the favoured orders are inclined to maintain this natural relation, and elevate it into a legal rule; they believe that the qualification for their special calling depends on birth in it, or better blood, and make it so to depend. In the states on the Ganges these tendencies must have been the more strongly marked, as in this case the Aryas saw beneath them, in the Çudras, a class of men less capable and[Pg 119] less cultivated than themselves; to descend to this class and mingle with it, seemed to them as disgraceful as it was dangerous to the maintenance of their empire over these men. Here it was more natural than elsewhere to pursue this analogy further—to regard even the classes of their own tribe, according to their more or less honourable occupation, as separate circles, as races having different characters and higher or lower gifts, and to transform these distinctions of occupation and social position into rigid castes. Thus the Kshatriyas, in the full consciousness of their aristocratic life, proud of their brave deeds and noble feeling, must have rendered difficult or impossible all approach to their occupation and order; they regarded the minstrels and the priests, and the Vaiçyas, as classes of inferior birth. When the minstrels had sung the praises of the ancient heroic age in the poem of the marvels of the heroes, in the Epos in its earliest form, and so arrived at more peaceful times in which everything no longer depended on the sword, a feeling of their importance and dignity must have grown up among the priests. Without them, without the accurate knowledge of the old songs and customs of sacrifice, as given by Manu and Pururavas,—without precise acquaintance with the prayers in which efficacy rested, efficient sacrifices could not be offered. We have already remarked that the amalgamation of the emigrant tribes, and the formation of the new kingdoms, brought the priests, who had hitherto belonged to the separate tribes, into closer connection and combination, and made them into a separate order. At the same time, their importance as preserving the old rites and the old faith tended to increase. The community thus arising between the priestly families led of necessity to an interchange of forms of[Pg 120] prayer and invocations, of songs, and poems, and customs of sacrifice, the exclusive possession of which had hitherto belonged to each of these families or schools. Thus in each of the new states the priestly families attained a larger collection of songs, and a ritual which was the natural product of the liturgies of the various families, the observances regarded by one or other of these as traditional and indispensable. The traditional prayers and songs of praise were regarded as magical spells, of which even the gods could not escape the power. This exchange and combination of spells and rubrics of sacrifice no doubt made the ritual more complicated. The strictly-preserved and now extended possession of these prayers, invocations, and customs, which were known to the priests, separated that order from the Kshatriyas, and the Vaiçyas; they stood in opposition to the other orders, as the exclusive possessors of the knowledge of the customs of sacrifice, and efficient invocations. It was only among the members of this order that the correct observances and invocations were known; how could the Kshatriya or the Vaiçya avoid errors in his offering or invocation, such as would remove their efficacy and change them into their opposite? The constant increase of the prayers and forms accompanying every step in the sacrifice occupied more priests: the Hotar offered the invitation to the god to come down and receive the sacrifice; the Udgatar accompanied the preparation of the offering with the solemn forms and prayers; the Adhvaryu performed the actual rite.

Thus an equality of knowledge, advantage, and interests united the priests against the Kshatriyas, Vaiçyas, and Çudras. By the consciousness that they were in possession of the means to win the favour of[Pg 121] the gods for the king, the nobles, and the people, the pious feeling aroused among them was greatly assisted towards gaining the recognition of the other orders. Like the Kshatriyas, they must have scorned to descend to the occupations of the Vaiçyas; they must have felt that only the priest born a priest could perform the priestly service, or offer pleasing sacrifice to the gods. They must have maintained that birth alone in the order could confer the capacity for so important and lofty a calling as theirs. If nobles and priests debarred the Vaiçyas from entrance into their order, their occupations, and modes of life, they must have been no less careful to maintain the advantages of their birth against the Çudras.

If the separation of the orders was the result of a natural progress, if the effort of the favoured classes to close their circles was essentially promoted by the common contrast of the immigrants to the remnant of the old population, the natural conditions in which the Aryas were placed on the Ganges were not without an influence on the maintenance of the separation when once introduced. In the land of the Indus the Aryas had not learned to endure such a climate and such heat as they found on the Ganges. The atmosphere began by degrees to undermine the active and vigorous feeling of the Aryas, to lead them to a life of greater calm and rest, which inclined them to retain the conditions and circumstances once introduced.

The orders attain complete exclusiveness and become castes when not only the change from one to another is forbidden, but when even marriage between the members of different orders is either impossible, or if allowed entails the loss of order, and other disadvantages. We do not exactly know to what extent the mutual exclusiveness of the Kshatriyas, the[Pg 122] Brahmans, and the Vaiçyas was carried; we only know that these distinctions existed, and that marriages between the orders took place at the time when the priests succeeded in wresting the first place on the throne and in the state from the Kshatriyas, who had maintained it for centuries.

The priests would never have succeeded in raising themselves above the Kshatriyas and repressing the ancient pre-eminence of the armed nobility so closely connected with the kings, who belonged to their order, and were their born chiefs, had they not succeeded in convincing the people on the Ganges, that the effectual sacrifice was the most important and all-decisive act; that the position in which men stood to the gods was a matter far transcending all other relations. They must have transformed the old religious conceptions by a new doctrine, and by means of this transformation given to themselves a special position, with a peculiar sanction from above. This rise of the priesthood, and their elevation to the first order, is the decisive point in the development of the Arians in India. It was a revolution of Indian life, of the Indian state, of Indian history, of which the effects still continue. It has been observed that the peculiar relations of the tribes on the Ganges, and the nature of the land, tended to fix more strongly there than elsewhere the separation between the orders. But that this division is the sharpest known in history; that the orders became castes, sub-divided in turn into a number of hereditary under-castes; that this unnatural social system has continued in spite of the severest attacks and most violent shocks, and still does continue in unbroken force—this is due to a development of the religious views supplied by the priests, and to the position of the priest[Pg 123]hood which was founded on this transformation. The victory over the Kshatriyas was the first step on this path. It was won by means of a new conception of the idea of God, and a scheme of the origin of the world, and the stages of created beings established thereon. On this foundation it was that the priests obtained the highest position.

When the priestly families on the Ganges passed beyond the borders of their several states in their contact with each other, they perceived the extent of the whole treasure of sacrificial song and forms of prayer, which the races had brought over in separate portions from the Indus. The confusing multitude of deities and their attributes, which now forced themselves upon the priests, led to the attempt to discover some unity in the mass. The astonishing abundance of conceptions and the number of the supreme deities in the old prayers were essentially due, as has already been pointed out, to the fact that the Indians desired to render to every god whom they invoked the proper and the highest honour. With this object the number of attributes was increased, and the god in question endowed to a greater or less degree with the power and peculiarities of other deities; and in order to win the favour of the deity to whom the sacrifice was offered, men were inclined to praise him as the highest and mightiest of all gods. This inclination was supported by the circumstance that the quick and lively fancy of the Indians never fixed the outlines of their deities or separated them as individuals, and further, by the blind impulse already noticed, to concentrate the power of the gods in one highest god, and seize the unity of the divine nature. Thus we saw that Indra and Agni, Mitra and Varuna, were in turns extolled as the highest deity. The task now before the[Pg 124] priests was to understand the meaning of these old prayers, to grasp the point of agreement in these various invocations, the unity in these wide attributes, ascribed sometimes to one god and sometimes to another. This gave a strong impulse to the reflective mind of the Brahmans, and no sooner did the Indians begin to meditate than their fancy became powerful. The form of Indra, and the conception lying at the base of his divinity—the struggle against the black spirits of darkness—faded away in the land of the Ganges. In that region tempests do not come on with the same violence as in the Panjab; the hot season is followed by the rainy season and the inundation without any convulsions of the atmosphere. Again, as the life of war fell into the background, the position of Indra as a god of war and victory became less prominent. Least of all could the priests in a time of peace recognise the god of their order in the god of war, and in any case the national, warlike, heroic character of Indra could offer few points of contact with priestly meditation. If in consequence of the new circumstances and relations of life, Indra passed into the background—the old gods of light, the common possession of the Aryas in Iran and India, Mitra, Aryaman, Varuna, beside and above whom Indra had risen, were again allowed to come into prominence. The effort to grasp the unity of the divine power seemed to find a satisfactory basis in the form of Varuna, who from his lofty watch-tower beholds all things, is present everywhere, and sits throned in unapproachable light on the waters of heaven, and in the ethical conceptions embodied in the nature of this deity. The Brahmans struck out another path: they set aside altogether Aditi, i. e. the imperishable, who in the old poems of the Veda is the mother of the gods of light, i. e. of "the im[Pg 125]mortal" (p. 45, n. 2), and in other poems is extolled as the heaven and the firmament, as procreation and birth, as well as other attempts to conceive this unity. The effort to grasp the unity of the divine Being, the attempt to comprehend its nature, took quite another direction—highly significant and important for the character and development of the Indians.

The soma was offered most frequently to Indra, the Açvins, and the Maruts, and by it they are strengthened and nourished. The drink which gave strength to men and intoxicated them nourished and inspired the gods also in the faith of the Indians; it gave them strength, and thus won for men the blessing of the gods. To the Indians it appeared that a potency so effectual must itself be divine—a deity. Hence the soma itself is invoked as a god, and by consistently following out the conception, the Indians see in it the nourisher and even the creator of the gods. "The soma streams forth," we are told in some songs of the Rigveda, "the creator of heaven and the creator of earth, of Agni and of the sun, the creator of Indra and of thoughts." The soma-plants are now the "udders of the sky;" the god is pressed for the gods, and he is offered as drink, who in his liquor contains the universe.[157] The sacrificial drink which nourishes the gods, or the spirit of it, is thus exalted to be the most bountiful giver of blessings, the bravest warrior, the conqueror of darkness, the slayer of Vritra, the lord of created things, and even to be the supreme power over the gods, the creator of the sun, the creator and father of Indra and the gods;[158] and so the highest power could be ascribed with greater justice to the correct invocations, the efficacious[Pg 126] prayers which, according to the ancient faith of the Indians, compelled the gods to come down to the sacrificial meal, and hear the prayers of men. If man could induce or compel the gods to obey the will of men, the means by which this operation was attained must of itself be obviously of a divine and supernatural character. Only a divine power can exercise force over the mighty gods. We saw above how the spirit of fire, which carried the offerings to the sky, was to the Indian the mediator between earth and heaven. But the gifts were accompanied by prayers, and these, according to the idealistic tendencies of the Indians and the opinion of their priests, were the most efficacious part of the sacrifice; in them was contained the elevation of the mind to heaven; and therefore to the Indian the priest was one who offered prayer; and the songs of the Veda lay the greatest weight on "the holy word," i. e. on the prayer, which with them "was the chariot which leads to heaven." Thus a second spirit was placed beside Agni, the bearer of gifts, and this spirit carried prayer into heaven, and was the means by which the priests influenced the gods, the power which compelled the gods to listen to them. This spirit is the personification of the cultus, the power of meditation. It lives in the acts of worship, in the prayers; it is the spirit which in these prayers is the constraining power upon the gods. In the faith of the Indians the gods grow by invocations and prayers; this spirit, therefore, gives them vigour and strength, and as he is able to compel the gods, he must himself be a mighty god.

This spirit of prayer is a creation of the priestly families, a reflected expression of that power and compulsion which from all antiquity the Indians believed could be exercised upon spirits, and which they attri[Pg 127]bute to the power of meditation. The name of this deity no less than his abstract nature is a proof of his later origin. He is called Brahmanaspati, i. e. lord of prayer. "Brahmanaspati," we are told in the Vedas, "pronounces the potent form of prayer, where Indra, Varuna, Mitra, and the gods have made their dwellings."[159] The lord of prayer, the leader of songs, the creator of the songs by which the gods grow, and who gives them power, the "bright, gold-coloured," has in reality done the deeds of Indra. "He has cleft the clouds with his lightning, opened the rich hollow of the mountains (the hidden streams), driven the cows from the mountains, poured forth streams of water, chased away the darkness with his rays, has brought into being the dawn, the clear sky, and fire."[160] Thus did the priests transfer the achievements of the old god of storm and battle to their new god, their own especial protector, whom they now make the possessor of all divine attributes, and the father of gods. As this spirit was concealed, and lived in the acts of sacrifice, in the priests who offered it, in their prayers and meditations, and, on the other hand, had a power over the gods, guiding them and compelling them, Brahmanaspati, the spirit of the cultus, the mysterious force, the magic power of the rite, became with the priests the Holy, an impersonal essence, which at last was looked on by the priests as "Brahman."[161] It was not with the lightning, but with the Brahman, i. e. with[Pg 128] the power of the Holy, that Indra burst asunder the cave of Vritra.[162]

In Brahmanaspati the priests found a special god for their order and vocation; they were also at the same time carried beyond the circle of the ancient gods, whose forms had sprung up on a basis of natural powers; they had arrived at a transcendental deity emanating from the mysterious secret of their worship. It was a step further on the same path to resolve Brahmanaspati into Brahman, the Sacred Being. Nevertheless, even in the latest poems of the Veda, Brahman still coincides with Brahmanaspati, with the power of meditation and prayer.[163] But by degrees, in the eager desire to detach the unity of the divine power from the plurality of divine shapes, and find the one in the other, Brahman is elevated far above this signification; it becomes the ideal union of all that is sacred and divine, and is elevated into the highest divine power. If the Holy nourishes, leads, and constrains the gods, it is mightier than the gods, the mightiest deity, and therefore the most divine. If the Holy constrains the gods, and at the same time gives them power, in it alone the special power of the gods can rest, in so far as it is in them: the greater the portion they have in it, the mightier are they. The self-concentrated Holy is the mightiest power, the essence of all gods, the deity itself. Thus the oneness of nature in the gods, their unity and the connection between them, was discovered. Yet, this Holy, or Brahman, was not in heaven only, but also existed on earth; it lived in the holy acts and in those who performed them; in the ritual and prayer, in meditation and heaven-ward elevation of spirit, in the priests. Thus there stood upon the earth a holy and[Pg 129] an unholy world in opposition to each other; the world of the priests and of the laity, the holy order of the priests and the unholy orders of the Kshatriyas, Vaiçyas, and Çudras.

It was the power of meditation and prayer, of the holy word, which with the priests had shaped itself into the divine power, the essence of the divine, and had thus driven out the more ancient gods. From another side this change was aided by ideas which the nature of the land of the Ganges forced upon the Aryas. It was not merely that the climate compelled them to rest, and thus won, for the priests more especially, leisure for contemplation, reflection, and minute investigation—all tendencies natural to the Aryas. Little care for his maintenance was required from the man who went into the forest to pursue his thoughts and dreams. There, instead of the hot sun which ripened the sugar-cane and shone on the fields of rice, was cool shade under the vast bananas and fig-trees; in the fruits growing wild in the forest, he found sufficient food. The gods invoked in the land of the Indus had been the spirits of light, of the clear sky, of the winds, the helpful force of fire, the rain-giving power of the storm-god. It was the bright, friendly, beneficial phenomena and gifts of the heavens and nature which were honoured in Indra and Mitra, in Varuna, Surya, and Agni. On the Ganges the Aryas found themselves surrounded by a far more vigorous natural life. They were in the midst of magnificent forms of landscape, the loftiest mountains, the mightiest rivers; around them was a vegetation unwearied in the luxuriance of its ceaseless growth, throwing up gigantic leaves and stems, and creepers immeasurable. They saw on every side a bright-coloured and marvellous animal world; glittering[Pg 130] birds, hissing serpents, the colossal shapes of the elephant and rhinoceros. The multifarious forms of their gods had impelled them to seek for a single source, a point of unity among them, and the same impulse was roused by the wealth, variety, and bewildering abundance of this natural life, which in quick alternation of blossom and decay, went on creating without rest, under shapes the most various. The more variegated the pictures formed by this rich nature in the lively fancy of the Indians, the more confusing this change and multitude, the stronger was the effort required of the mind in order to grasp the unity, the single source, of all this mighty stream of life. To the old gods the phenomena and operations of a wholly different region and climate had been ascribed, but here life was far more varied and luxuriant; here there was no contest of fruitful land with desert, of the spirits of drought with the god of the storm. On the contrary, the inundations of the Ganges displayed a fixed and regular revolution, and in every kind of growth and decay there was a constant unalterable order. Who, then, was the author and lord of these mighty pulses of life, and this order, which seemed to exist of themselves? What was the element of existence and continuance in this alternation of growth and decay? When once men had come to regard the wonderful life of the Ganges as a whole picture, as one, that life was naturally ascribed to some one comprehensive form of deity, to one great god. The meditation of the priests finally brought them to the result that the dust, earth, and ashes, into which men, animals, and plants fell and disappeared could be neither the cause and seat of their own life, nor of the general life. Behind the material and the phenomenon, which could be grasped and seen by the senses, must lie the[Pg 131] dim and secret source of existence; behind the external side must be another, inward, immaterial, and invisible. Thus not man only, but all nature, fell into two parts, body and soul. As behind the body of men, so also behind the perishable outward side of nature, there seemed to live a great soul, penetrating through all phenomena, the source and fountain of their being. The priests discovered that behind all the changing phenomena there must exist a single breath, a soul, Atman—it is also called Mahanatma, Paramatman, i. e. "the great soul"[164]—and this must be the creative, sustaining, divine power, the source and seat of the life which we behold at one time rising in gladness, at another sinking in exhaustion.

This world-soul was amalgamated with Brahman and denoted by that name. In and behind the prayers and sacred acts an invisible spirit had been discovered, which gave them their power and efficacy, and this holy spirit ruled over the deities, inasmuch as it compelled them to listen to the prayers of men. Behind, above, and in the gods, the nature of the Holy was all-powerful; and it was the divine, the highest form of deity. The same spirit must be sought for behind the great and various phenomena of the life of nature. There must be the same spirit ruling in both spheres, a spirit which existed at once in heaven and on earth, which gave force to the prayers of the Brahmans, and summoned into life the phenomena of nature, and caused the latter to move in definite cycles, which was also the highest god and the lord of the gods. Thus the sacred spirit ruling over the gods became extended into a world-soul, penetrating through all the phenomena of nature, inspiring and sustaining life.[Pg 132]

From prayer and meditation, which are mightier than the power of the gods, from this inward concentration, which, according to the faith of the Indians, reaches even unto heaven, the priests arrived at the idea of a deity which no longer rested on any basis in the phenomena of nature, but was ultimately regarded as the Holy in the general sense of the word. To them this Holy was the soul of the world, and the creator of it, or rather, not so much the creator as the cause and basis. From it the world emanated as the stream from the spring. The Brahman, the 'That' (tat), does not stand to the world in the contrast of genus and species; it has developed into the world. In the latest hymns of the Veda we read: "Let us set forth the births of the gods in songs of praise and thanksgiving. Brahmanaspati blew forth these births like a smith. In the first age of the gods being sprang out of not-being. There was neither being nor not-being, neither air nor heaven overhead, neither death nor immortality, no division of day or night, darkness existed, and this universe was indistinguishable waters. But the 'That' (from which was nothing different, and nothing was above it), breathed without respiration, but self-supported. Then rose desire (kama) in it; this was the germ which by their wisdom the wise discovered in their hearts as the link uniting not-being and being; this was the original creative seed. Who knows, who can declare, whence has sprung this creation?—the gods are subsequent to this, who then knows whence it arose?"[165] We see how, in spite of consistency, Brahman is retained beside the purely spiritual potency, the fructifying water of heaven beside not-being, as the material in existence from the first.[Pg 133]

From the point of view which the priests gained by this conception of Brahman, a new idea of the world lay open to them. Behind and above the gods stood an invisible, pure, and holy spirit, which was at once the germ and source of the whole world, the life of nature's life; in Brahman the world and all that was in it had their origin; there was no difference between the nature of Brahman and the world. Brahman was the efficient and material cause of the world, but while Brahman streamed forth into the world and became at every step further removed from itself, its products became less clear and pure, less like the perfection of its nature. Beginning from a spiritual being, suprasensual, transcendental, and yet existing in the world, the Indians ended in discovering a theory of creation, according to which all creatures proceeded from this highest being in such a manner, that the most spiritual forms were the nearest to him, while the most material, sensual, and rude were the most remote. There was a graduated scale of beings from Brahman down to the stones, and from these again to the holy and pure, the only true and real, self-existent, eternal being of this world-soul. In the first instance the gods had sprung from Brahman. From Brahman the impersonal world-soul, the self-existent Holy, a personal Brahman, first streamed forth, who was the highest deity. The personal Brahman was followed by the origin of the old gods. After the gods the spirits of the air are said to have flowed from Brahman, and after them the holy and pure men, the castes in their order, according as they are nearer to the sanctity of Brahman or more remote. Men were succeeded by the beasts according to their various kinds, by trees, plants, herbs, stones, and the lifeless matter.

In this way all created things emanated from[Pg 134] Brahman, and to each class and kind a definite occupation was appointed, to perform which was the duty of the class in the universal system. Thus the life of all creatures was defined, and their vocation assigned to them in such a manner that they must fulfil it even in subsequent births.[166] The orders of priests, Kshatriyas, Vaiçyas, and Çudras, were a part in the divine order of the world; the distinction between them, the nature and relative position of each, emanated from Brahman. They are, therefore, distinct steps in the development of Brahman, and, for this reason, distinct occupations are apportioned to them. Thus there now stood, side by side, among the Indians, four classes or varieties of men, separated by God, and each provided by him with a different function. Henceforth no change was possible for one class into another, no mixture of one with another could be endured. The limits drawn by God were not to be broken through. The Brahmans are nearest to Brahman; in them the essence of Brahman, the holy spirit, the power of sanctification, lives in greater force than in the rest; they emanated from Brahman before the others; they are the first-born order. In one of the latest songs of the Rigveda, the Purusha-suktas, we are told of the world-spirit: "The Brahman was his mouth, the Rajnaya (Kshatriya) his arm, the Vaiçya his thigh, the Çudra his foot." This is a parable: the Brahman was his mouth, because the Brahmans are in possession of the prayers and holy hymns; whether the arm or the mouth, strength or speech, was preferable, is a question which remains unanswered. More distinctly and with special insistance that the mouth of Brahman is the best part of him, the law book of the priests tells us: Brahman first allowed the Brahmans to proceed from[Pg 135] his mouth; then the Kshatriyas from his arms; next the Vaiçyas from his thigh; and lastly, the Çudras from his foot.[167] The duties fixed by Brahman for the Brahmans were sacrifice, the study and teaching of the Veda, to give justice and receive it. The duty of the Kshatriyas is to protect the people; of the Vaiçyas to tend the herds, till the fields, and carry on trade; the Çudras were only pledged to serve the three other orders.[168] It is a duty for the Kshatriyas and Vaiçyas to be reverent, submissive, and liberal to the Brahmans or first-born caste. The vocation of man is to adapt himself to the existing order of the world, to fulfil the particular mission assigned to him at birth. Any rebellion against the order of the castes is a rebellion against the divine order of the world.

This new view of the world, at which, beginning from the conception of the Holy and the world-soul, the meditation of the priests had arrived, was at variance with the old faith. The new idea of God and the doctrine of the world-soul, in its abstract and speculative form, could have but little influence on the kings, the nobles, the peasants, and the people. As a fact, it shattered almost too violently the belief of the Aryas in the ancient gods. With the people Indra continued to be the highest god, and still, as before, the spirits of light, of the wind, of fire were invoked. But even without the new doctrine the forms of the ancient gods were fainter in the minds of the nobles and people, partly in consequence of the change in climate and country, and partly because the old impulses which had given the first place in heaven to the gods of battle no longer moved the heart so[Pg 136] strongly, when the Aryas lived in larger states and under more peaceful relations. The atmosphere of the valley of the Ganges also required a more passive life, and the ideas of the people, no less than the fancy of the priests, must have received from the gigantic forms of the landscape, and the rich and marvellous animal world of the new region, a direction and elevation quite different from that felt in the land of the Indus. More especially, the reasons noticed above—the contrast between the Aryas on the one hand and the Çudras on the other—facilitated the reception of the doctrine maintained by the priests of the division of castes. The pious feeling which penetrated the Indians would, moreover, have found it difficult to resist the conviction that the first place must invariably belong to the relation to the gods. Hence ready credence was given to the priests when they spoke of their order as the first-born and nearest to the gods.

It was not in the sphere of religion or worship, but in ethics, that the doctrine of the priests attained to a thorough practical influence on the state and life of the Indians, and this complete victory was due to the consequences which the priests derived from it for the life of the soul after death. We are acquainted with the ancient ideas cherished by the Aryas in the Panjab on the future of the soul after death; the spirits of the brave and pious passed into the bright heaven of Yama, where they lived in happiness and joy on soma, milk, and honey; those who had done evil passed into thickest darkness. Yama allowed or refused entrance into his heaven; his two hounds kept watch (p. 64). The descendants duly sprinkled water for the spirits of their ancestors, and their families brought libations at the new moon,[Pg 137] when the souls of the fathers came in troops and enjoyed food and drink. In the oldest Brahmanas, Yama holds a formal judgment on the souls. The actions of the dead were weighed in a balance; the good deeds allowed the scale to rise; the evil deeds were threatened with definite punishments and torments in the place of darkness. The body of light which the pious souls are said to have received in heaven, required, according to this new conception, a less amount of food, or no food at all. But the deeper change rests in the fact that the heaven of Yama, the son of the deity of light, can now no longer be the reward of those who have lived a purer life, and approached to the sanctity and perfection of Brahman. They had raised themselves in the scale of existence, and must therefore return into the bosom of the pure being from which they had emanated. The souls which have attained to complete purity pass after death into Brahman. Thus the heaven of Yama was rendered unnecessary, and was, in fact, set aside. The sinner who has not lived according to the vocation which he received at birth, has neither offered sacrifice nor purified himself, must be severely punished, and it is Yama—now transformed from a judge of the dead into a prince of darkness, and having his abode in hell—who imposes on sinners the torments which they must endure after death for their guilt. The fancy of the Indians depicted, in great detail, according to the various torments, the place of darkness, the hell, situated deep below the earth. As among the Egyptians, and all nations living in a hot climate, so in the hell of the Indians fierce heat is the chief means of punishment. In one place is the region of darkness, and the place of tears, the forest where the leaves are swords. In another the souls are torn by owls and ravens; in[Pg 138] another their heads are struck every day by the guardians of hell with great hammers. In another and yet worse hell they are broiled in pans; here they have to eat hot coals; there they walk on burning sand and glowing iron; in another place hot copper is poured into their necks.[169] For the kings and warriors, on the other hand, the heaven of Indra takes the place of the heaven of Yama; and into this the brave warriors enter. In the Epos, Indra laments that "none of the beloved guests come, who dedicate their lives to the battle, and find death without an averted countenance." We have already seen how Indra meets Yudhishthira in order to conduct him into the heaven of the heroes, the imperishable world, where he will see his brothers and his wife, when they are freed from the earthly impurity still clinging to them.

The torments provided in hell for the sinners could not satisfy the system which the priests had established in the doctrine of the world-soul. In this the holy and pure being had allowed the world to emanate from itself; the further this world was removed from its origin and source, the more melancholy and gloomy it became. If the gods, the holy and pious men in the past, and the heaven of light of Indra, were nearest to the purity of Brahman, the pure nature of this being became seriously adulterated in the lower stages of removal. In the present world, purity and impurity, virtue and passion, wisdom and[Pg 139] folly, were at least in equipoise. The worlds of animals, plants, and dead matter were obviously still further removed from the pure Brahman. If, according to this view, the world was an adulterated, broken, impure Brahman, it received, along with this corruption, the duty of regaining its original purity. All beings had received their origin from Brahman, and to him all must return. From this point of view, and the requirement that every being must work out its way to perfection, in order to be adapted to its perfect origin, the priests arrived at the idea that every creature must go through all the gradations of being as they emanated from Brahman, before it could attain to rest. The Çudra must become a Vaiçya, the Vaiçya a Kshatriya, the Kshatriya a Brahman, and the Brahman a wholly sinless and sacred man, a pure spirit, before he can pass into Brahman. From the necessity that every one should work up to Brahman, arose the monstrous doctrine of regenerations. The Çudra who had lived a virtuous life, was, it was thought, by the power of this virtue and the practice of it, changed in his nature, and born anew in the higher existence of a Vaiçya; the Kshatriya became a Brahman, and so on.[170] In this manner the pure and holy life, according as it was freed from all sensuality and corporeality, from the whole material world, succeeded in winning a return to supersensual and incorporeal Brahman. Conversely, the impure, spotted, and sinful were born again in a lower order, and in the worst shape according to the measure of the offence—sometimes they did not even become men at all, but animals—in order to struggle back again through unutterable torments, and innumerable regenerations, to their former condition, and finally[Pg 140] to Brahman. Thus a wide field was opened to the fancy of the Indians, on which it soon erected a complete system of regenerations; and into this the theory of hell was adopted. The man who had committed grievous sins, sinks after death into hell, and for long periods is tortured in the various departments there, that thus, after expiation of his sins, he may begin again the scale of migration from the lowest and worst form of existence. One who was guilty of less serious offences was born again according to their measure as a Çudra or an elephant, a lion or a tiger, a bird or a dancer.[171] One who had committed acts of cruelty was re-born as a beast of prey.[172] One who had attempted the murder of a Brahman was punished in hell one hundred or a thousand years, according to the progress of the attempt, and then saw the light of the world in twenty-one births, each time proceeding from the body of some common animal. He who had shed the blood of a Brahman, was torn in hell by beasts of prey for so many years as the flowing blood had touched grains of sand; and if any one had slain a Brahman his soul was born again in the bodies of the animals held in greatest contempt on the Ganges, the dog and the goat.[173] If any one had stolen a cow he was born again as a crocodile, or a lizard; if corn, as a rat;[174] if fruits and roots, as an ape.[175] He who defiled his father's bed was to be born a hundred times as a herb, or a liana—the creepers embracing the trees;[176] the Brahman who is guilty of a fault in the sacrifice is born again for a hundred years as a crow or kite, and those who eat forbidden food will again see light as worms. He who reproaches a free man with being the son of a slave-woman, will himself be[Pg 141] born five times from the body of a slave.[177] In this manner, partly fanciful, partly pedantic, the priests built up the system of regenerations. According to the law-book of the priests, inorganic matter, worms, insects, frogs, rats, crows, swine, dogs, and asses, were on the lowest stage in the scale of creation; above them came first, elephants, horses, lions, boars, the Çudras and the Mlechhas; i. e. the nations who did not speak Sanskrit. Above these were rogues, players, demons (Raksheras), Piçachas, i. e. blood-suckers, vampyres; above these wrestlers and boxers, dancers, armour-smiths, drunkards, and Vaiçyas; above them the Kshatriyas and the kings, the men eminent in battle and speech, the genii of heaven, the Gandharvas and Apsarasas. Above these were the Brahmans, the pious penitents, the gods, the great saints, and finally, Brahman.

Thus the new system effaced the specific distinctions between plants and beasts, men and gods. Everywhere it saw nothing but spirits, which have to work their way in a similar manner from greater or less impurity to purity, from incompleteness to completeness and the original source of their existence. The souls, when they had once been created and had emanated from Brahman, found no rest or end till they had returned once more to this their starting-point; and this they were unable to do till they had been raised to the purity and sanctity of Brahman.

However indifferent the kings, nobles, and peasants may have been to this doctrine of the world-soul and Brahman, these new, severe, and terrible consequences, derived from it by the priests for the life[Pg 142] after death, could not be without a deep impression. They operated with immense force on the spirit of the Indians. To endure the torments of hell in continuous heat, while even on earth the warmth of the climate was so hard to bear, was a terrible prospect. But even this appeared only as the lesser evil. Along with and after the torments of hell those who committed grievous sins had to expect a ceaseless regeneration in the bodies of men and animals until they had worked their way up to Brahman. At the same time the priests took care to impress upon the hearts of the people the fate which awaited those who did not follow their ordinances. They reminded them perpetually of "the casting of the soul into hell and hell-torments." The sinner was to think, "what migrations the soul would have to undergo owing to his sin; of the regeneration through ten thousand millions of mothers."[178] These endless terrors and torments now in prospect for the man who did not fulfil the vocation assigned to him by the creator at birth, or the prescripts of the priests, were only too well adapted to win respect for their requirements. Who would venture to trespass on the divine arrangement of the world, according to which the first place was secured on earth to the Brahman in preference to the wealthy armed noble, the peasant, and the miserable Çudra, who was only on a level with the higher order of animals? Who would not look up with reverence to the purer incarnation of the world-soul, the holier spirit, which dwelt in the Brahmans? Even though the theory of the world-soul remained unintelligible to the many, they understood that the Brahmans, who busied themselves with sacrifice, prayers, and sacred things, stood nearer to the deity[Pg 143] than they did; they understood that if they misconducted themselves towards the sacred race or disregarded the vocation of birth, they must expect endless torments in hell, and endless regenerations in the most loathsome worms and insects, or in the despised class of the Çudras—"those animals in human form."

The priesthood cannot have succeeded in making good their claims to superiority over the Kshatriyas, their new doctrine and ethics, without long-continued struggles and contests. If the two first centuries after the foundation of the states—the period between 1400 and 1200 B.C.—were occupied, as we assumed above, with the arrangement and consolidation of the new kingdom, the establishment of the position of the nobles, and the composition of songs of heroism and victory, we may assign to the next two centuries—from 1200 to 1000 B.C.—the sharper distinction of the Kshatriyas and Vaiçyas, the amalgamation of the families of minstrels and priests into an order; the rise of this order in the states on the Ganges as the preserver of the ancient faith and ancient mode of worship; the combination of the customs, formulæ, and invocations hitherto handed down separately in the separate states. If in the first period the immigrant Aryas separated themselves as a common race from the Çudras, in the next the three orders of the Aryas became distinguished. Only the man who was born a Kshatriya could partake in the honour of this order; only one who sprung from a family of priests could be allowed to assist in the holy acts of sacrifice; and he who was born a Vaiçya must continue to till the field.

At the beginning of the ensuing century—i. e. in the period from 1000 B.C. downwards—the priests,[Pg 144] now in possession of all the ancient invocations and formulæ, may have begun their meditations with the comparison of the invocations, the attempt to find out the right meaning of them, and to grasp the unity of the divine nature. The hymns of the latest portion of the Vedas, which are obviously a product of these meditations, may perhaps have arisen in the first half of this period. From the mysterious secret of the worship, the spirit of prayer, and the idea of the mighty, ever-recurring stream of birth and decay in the land of the Ganges, the Brahmans arrived at the idea of Brahman, the world-soul, and from this deduced its consequences. We may with certainty presuppose a long and severe struggle of the nobles against the dominion of the priests—a struggle which went on for several generations. Even the Vaiçyas can hardly have submitted without resistance to all the requirements of the Brahmans. The impassable gulf between the orders, the exclusion of intermarriage, was only carried out, as we can show, with difficulty; and even the ethics of the new doctrine must have met with resistance.

We have already referred to the circumstances which rendered victory easier to the Brahmans, to the changed conditions of life, and the nature of the land of the Ganges. Another fact in their favour was that the new doctrines of the Brahmans did not attack the monarchy. This continued to remain in the order of the Kshatriyas, and no essential limitation of their powers was required by the new doctrine from the princes on the Ganges. It is true that it demanded recognition of the superiority of the Brahmans to the other orders, and acknowledgment of the special sanctity of the order even from the kings; it required reverence, respect, and liberality, towards the Brah[Pg 145]mans; yet in all other respects the new system was calculated to increase rather than diminish the power of the kings. The rule of unconditional submission to the existing order must have strengthened considerably the authority of the kings, and assisted them in removing the limitations hitherto, without doubt, imposed upon them by the importance of the Kshatriyas; and we can hardly avoid the conclusion that the kingdom on the Ganges was first raised by the new doctrine to absolute power; on this foundation it became a despotism.

We may feel confident in assuming that the victory of the Brahmans in the land of the Ganges was completed about the time when the dynasty of the Pradyotas ascended the throne of Magadha, i. e. about the year 800 B.C.[179] The districts from the Sarasvati eastward as far as the upper Ganges are after that time a sacred land to the Indians. The country between the Sarasvati and the Drishadvati is called[Pg 146] Brahmavarta, i. e. Brahma-land. Kurukshetra (between the Drishadvati and the Yamuna), the districts of the Bharatas and Panchalas, of the Matsyas and Çurasenas, i. e. the entire doab of the Yamuna and the Ganges, are comprised under the name Brahmarshideça, i. e. the land of the holy sages. Here were situated the famous residences of the Kurus and Pandus, Hastinapura, Indraprastha, Kauçambi, and on the confluence of the Yamuna and Ganges, Pratishthana; here, finally, was the city of Krishna, Krishnapura, and the sacred Mathura on the Yamuna; and elsewhere also in this district we find consecrated places and shrines of pilgrimage. It is maintained that the bravest Kshatriyas and the holiest priests are to be found in this district; the customs and observances here are regarded as the best, and as giving the rule to the remainder. The law-book of the priests requires that every Arya shall learn the right walk in life from a Brahman born in Brahmarshideça, and that, properly, all Aryas should live there.[180] It cannot have been any reminiscence of the great war which caused the priests to set such a value on these regions, and make these demands, nor even the fact that these districts were the first occupied by the emigrants from the Indus, so that here first in the new country were consecrated places set up for the worship of the immigrants, and the least intermixture took place with the ancient population. It is due rather to the fact that in these regions the civilisation and culture of the Indians were consolidated in an especial degree; here the priestly reform of the religion, if it did not receive the first impulse, yet acquired the victory and became supreme, owing perhaps to the support of the princes of the dynasty of Pandu, who reigned at[Pg 147] Kauçambi. As these were the regions in which the priests first regulated the ancient customs of worship, morals, and justice according to the new doctrine, they could afterwards serve as a pattern for all the rest. If the Brahmans, soon after they had succeeded in carrying through their demands here, revised the Epos of the great war in the light of their new system, they could claim the thanks of the kings of the Bharatas for their support, they could show that the kings who in ancient times had won the dominion in these lands, the ancestors of the race then on the throne, had even in early times obediently followed the commands of the priests, and they could set up the conquerors in that struggle as patterns of the proper conduct of kings to Brahmans (p. 101).

Hence we may perhaps assume that it was in the districts on the upper Yamuna and the upper Ganges that the priesthood first got the upper hand, and the same change followed in the lands still further to the east, after the great priestly families, with more or less difficulty, delay and completeness, established themselves among the Kshatriyas of these districts—the Vasishthas with the kings of the Koçalas, the Gautamas with the kings of the Videhas, to whom no doubt they made very clear the services their forefathers had rendered to the predecessors on the throne. According as the previous circumstances offered more resistance in one place, and less in another, the new system was sometimes carried out more rapidly and thoroughly, and at others more slowly and with less severity.

No historical tradition has come down to us of the resistance made by the nobles to the priestly order in defence of their possession, or by the kings in questions affecting their power. It was the interest of the Brahmans to establish and describe the position[Pg 148] they had won by conquest as occupied by them from the first. No nation has gone so far as the Indians in their eagerness to forget the old condition of affairs in every succeeding evolution, and to establish the new point of view as one existing from the first. The liveliness and force of their fancy must have unconsciously led them to regard the new and the present as the old and the original after comparatively short intervals of time.

In some episodes of the Epos and narratives of the Puranas we find legends of kings and warriors who because they did not show the proper respect for the Brahmans, or opposed them, were severely punished, and of saintly heroes who slew the Kshatriyas. We cannot, however, assume, that in the one or the other there is concealed any historic reminiscence. They are merely intended to set up terrifying examples of the lot which awaited kings and Kshatriyas who ventured to disregard the Brahmans. The book of the law tells us that the wise king Vena became infirm in mind owing to sensuality, and in this condition he brought about the mixture of the orders.[181] King Nahusha, Sudas, the son of Pijavana, and Nimi perished through want of humility, but Viçvamitra by his humility was raised to the rank of a Brahman.[182] All these names are taken from the legend as it existed previously to the great war.

In the Rigveda, Vena is mentioned as the father of Prithu;[183] the Ramayana enumerates Vena and his son Prithu among the first successors of Ikshvaku, the progenitor of the kings of the Koçalas (p. 106). The Vishnu-Purana, which assigns the same position to Vena, tells us that he took upon himself to arrange[Pg 149] the duties of men, and forbade the Brahmans to sacrifice to the gods; no one might be worshipped but himself. Then the holy Brahmans slew the sinner with swords of the sacred sacrificial grass, which had been purified by invocations. And when, on the death of the king, robbers sprung up on every side, the Brahmans rubbed the right arm of the dead king, and from it sprung the pious and wise Prithu, who shone like Agni; he ruled between the Yamuna and Ganges, and subdued the earth, and by this noble son Vena's soul was freed from hell. The Mahabharata tells us that Prithu inquired with folded hands of the great saints about his duties, and that they bade him maintain the Veda, abstain from punishing Brahmans, and protect society from the intermixture of the castes.[184]

King Nahusha belongs to the royal race of the Bharatas; he is mentioned as the second successor of Pururavas (p. 82). The Mahabharata tells us that he was a mighty king, but he laid tribute on the saints, and forced them to carry him. Once he caused his palanquin to be carried by a thousand great sages, and because they did not go fast enough, he struck with his foot the holy Agastya who was among them. Then Agastya cursed him and he was changed into a serpent.[185]

Nimi, according to the Ramayana, is a son of Ikshvaku, the progenitor of the Koçalas. He bade Vasishtha his priest offer a sacrifice for him, and Vasishtha undertook to perform the second half of it. But the king caused the sacrifice to be offered by another saint, by Gautama. When Vasishtha heard this he pronounced a curse on Nimi that he should lose his body, and Nimi forthwith died. He was not[Pg 150] punished for rebellion against a Brahman, but because he had not submitted himself with absolute obedience to his own priest.

Lastly Viçvamitra is said to have obtained the rank of a Brahman by humility. Viçvamitra is known to us from the hymns of the seventh book of the Rigveda as offering sacrifice for the Bharatas, while Vasishtha or his race offer prayer and sacrifice for their opponent, Sudas, the king of the Tritsus, who afterwards settle on the Sarayu and bear the name of Koçalas (p. 66). But the Ramayana and the Puranas also place Vasishtha at the side of the kings of the Koçalas, not at the time of Nimi only, as we have seen, who is the son of the tribal ancestor Ikshvaku, but at the side of Ikshvaku's descendants in the fifth century, like Vena, and even in the twentieth and fiftieth generations. The imagination of the Indians was not disturbed by such things in the case of a great priest of the old time. Yet in other parts of the Rigveda besides those quoted above, in the third book, we find prayers offered by Viçvamitra for Sudas, and some obscure expressions may be regarded as curses directed by Vasishtha against Viçvamitra. From the circumstance that Viçvamitra at one time offers prayers for the king of the Tritsus, and at another for the king of the Bharatas, we may draw the conclusion, that the family of the Kuçikas to which Viçvamitra belonged was driven out among the Tritsus by another family—that of Vasishtha, and that afterwards the Kuçikas offered their services to the kings of the Bharatas, and were allowed to perform them. Out of the opposition of Viçvamitra and Vasishtha, indicated in the Rigveda, the priestly literature of the Indians has invented a great contest between Viçvamitra and the Kshatriyas, in order to bring to light the superiority of the Brah[Pg 151]mans. Even with the aid of his weapons, Viçvamitra the Kshatriya cannot prevail against the Brahman Vasishtha. At length he recognises the majesty of the Brahman, submits to Brahmanic ordinances, and distinguishes himself by sanctity to such a degree "that he became like a Brahman, and possessed all the qualifications of one."[186]

In the Vishnu-Purana Sudas is the fiftieth successor of Ikshvaku on the throne of the Koçalas. His priest was Vasishtha; and Viçvamitra, the son of a great Kshatriya, the king of Kanyakubja (Kanoja), wished to drive him out. One day, while hunting, Sudas met a Brahman, who would not move out of the way for him, and he struck him with his whip. The Brahman was Çakti, the eldest of Vasishtha's hundred sons. Çakti pronounced on the king the curse that he should become a cannibal, and the curse was fulfilled. But by the help of an evil spirit Viçvamitra was able to bring the consequences of the curse on the sons of Vasishtha; Çakti himself and all his brothers were eaten by the king. In despair at the death of his sons, Vasishtha sought to put an end to his own life, but in vain. When at length he returned to his settlement, he found that the widow of his eldest son was pregnant; and when she brought forth Paraçara the hope of progeny revived in him. But Sudas desired to eat Paraçara also. Then the holy Vasishtha blew on Sudas, sprinkled him with holy water, and took the curse from him, and in return the king promised never to despise Brahmans, to obey their commands, and show them all honour. And when Paraçara grew up, and wished to avenge the death of his father, Vasishtha told him that under the rule of Kritavirya (he is said to have reigned over a tribe of the Yadavas) the Bhrigus,[Pg 152] the priests of the king, had become rich in corn and gold by his liberality. Arjuna, the successor of Kritavirya, had fallen into distress, and sought aid from the Bhrigus. Then some of them buried their possessions out of fear of the Kshatriyas, and when by accident a Kshatriya discovered the treasure hidden in the house of a Bhrigu they slew all the Bhrigus. But their widows fled to the Himalayas, and there one of them brought forth Aurva, who desired to avenge the death of the Bhrigus by the slaughter of the Kshatriyas. But the spirits of the holy Bhrigus warned him to give up his passion, and curb his anger; by concealment they had roused the anger of the Kshatriyas, in order to arrive the sooner in heaven. In like manner Paraçara abandoned the idea of avenging his father.

No greater historical value is to be attached to a legend of the destruction of the Kshatriyas by a Brahman. Gadhi, the father of Viçvamitra, had given his daughter to wife to a saint, Richika, the son of Aurva, of the race of the Bhrigus. She bore Jamadagni to Richika, who lived as an eremite after the example of his father. One day Arjuna came to the abode of Jamadagni, and though he received the king with honour, Arjuna caused the calf of his cow to be carried away. Then Paraçurama, i. e. Rama with the axe, the youngest son of Jamadagni, slew the king, and the king's sons slew Jamadagni. To avenge the death of his father, Paraçurama swore to destroy all the Kshatriyas from the earth. Thrice seven times with his irresistible axe he cut down the Kshatriyas, and appeased the manes of Jamadagni and the Bhrigus with the blood of the slain. Then he offered a great sacrifice to Indra, and presented the earth to the saint Kaçyapa. But Kaçyapa gave it to the Brahmans, and[Pg 153] went into the forest. Then the stronger oppressed the weaker, and the Vaiçyas and Çudras behaved themselves wickedly towards the wives of the Brahmans, and the earth besought Kaçyapa for a protector and a king; a few Kshatriyas were still left among the women; and Paraçara had brought up Sarvakarma, the son of Sudas. And Kaçyapa did as the earth entreated him, and made the son of Sudas and the other Kshatriyas to be kings. This was long before the great war.[187] In the Ramayana, Paraçurama rebels when Rama has broken Çiva's great bow. All were in terror lest he should again destroy the Kshatriyas. But Rama also strings Paraçurama's great bow, shoots the arrow to the sky, not towards Paraçurama, "because he was a Brahman," and Paraçurama returned to Mount Mahendra.


[151] Cunningham, "Survey," 1. 301 ff.

[152] Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 168 n.

[153] Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 12, 168.

[154] Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 671, 951.

[155] Manu, 1. 91.

[156] Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 966 n.

[157] "Samaveda," 1, 6, 1, 4, 5, in Benfey's translation.

[158] Muir, "Sanskrit Texts," 5, 266 ff.

[159] "Rigveda," 1, 40, 5, in Muir, loc. cit. 5, 272 ff.

[160] "Rigveda," 10, 68, 8 ff. Roth, "Z. D. M. G." 1. 75.

[161] Brahmán, from the root barh, connected with the root vardh (to become, to grow), means to raise, to elevate. The masc. brahmán means "he who elevates, makes to increase;" the neuter bráhman means first, "growth," the "creative power," and then, "the elevating and elevated mood," the prayer and sacred form of words, the creative, reproducing power. A. Weber, "Ind. Studien," 2, 303; 9, 305.

[162] Roth, loc. cit. 1. 73.

[163]Muir, loc. cit. 5, 382.

[164] So in Manu, e. g. 6. 65. Atman means "breathing;" paramatman "the highest breathing."

[165] "Rigveda," 10, 72, 1-3; 10, 129, 1-6, in Muir, loc. cit. 5, 48 ff. 356.

[166] Manu, 1, 28, 29.

[167] "Rigveda," 10, 90; Manu, 1, 31 and in the Puranas; Muir, "Sanskrit Texts," 5, 371. A. Weber, "Ind. Studien," 9, 7.

[168] Manu, 1, 88-91, and in many other places.

[169] In Manu, 4, 88-90 (cf. 12, 75, 76) eight hells are mentioned and described, in each of which the torments grow worse as the offences are more serious. The Buddhists retain these eight hot hells, and add eight cold; Burnouf, "Introduction à l'histoire du Bouddhisme," p. 320, 366, 367, 201. The Singhalese have increased the number to 136, the Siamese to 462. Koppen, "Relig. des Buddha," s. 244. Cf. A. Weber, in "Z. D. M. G." 9, 237.

[170] e. g. Manu, 9, 335.

[171] Manu, 12, 43, 44.

[172] Manu, 12, 59.

[173] Manu, 12, 55.

[174] Manu, 12, 62, 64.

[175] Manu, 12, 67.

[176] Manu, 12, 58.

[177] Manu, 12, 59. Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 274. Bohlen has already observed that many of these regenerations are merely fanciful, "Indien," 24.

[178] Manu, 6, 61-63.

[179] In the sixth century B.C. the Brahmanic arrangement of the state was in full force in the cities on the Ganges, and carried out most strictly. Hence it must have obtained the upper hand about 800 B.C. at the latest. It was not only established by law about the year 600 B.C., but the doctrine of the Brahmans had already created scholastic and heterodox systems of philosophy. Before this system could become current, the idea of Brahman must have been discovered; the strong elements of resistance in the ancient life and faith must have been overcome. This would occupy a space of about two centuries, and may therefore have filled the period from 1000 to 800 B.C., as assumed in the text. Buddhism required a space of three centuries in order to become the recognised religion in the kingdom of Magadha. Before the idea of the world-soul could be discovered, the hymns of the Veda must have reached a certain point of combination and synopsis, and the confusing multitude of divine forms must have been sufficiently felt to call forth the opposite idea of unity. From the book of the law it is clear that the three Vedas were in existence before it was drawn up. It refers perpetually to the triple Veda. The evidence of the Sutras proves that four Vedas existed at the time of the appearance of Buddha. If these were in existence in the sixth century the three which are acknowledged to be older must have existed as early as the seventh century B.C.

[180] Manu, 2, 6, 12, 18, 20.

[181] Manu, 9, 67.

[182] Manu, 7, 38-42, 8, 110.

[183] Muir, "Sanskrit Texts," 1, 268, 305.

[184] Muir, loc. cit. 1, 297 ff.

[185] Muir, loc. cit. 1, 307 ff.

[186] Muir, loc. cit. 1, 157.

[187] Muir, loc. cit. 1, 151, 200.



[Pg 154]



In the land of the Ganges the Brahmans had gained a great victory and carried out a great reform. A new god had thrown the old gods into the background, and with the conception of this new god was connected a new view of the world, at once abstract and fantastic. From this in turn followed a new arrangement of the state, and of the orders, which were now of divine origin, as direct products of creation, and thus became irrevocably fixed. The monarchy itself was of humbler descent than the Brahmans, the first of the earth; to them the warlike nobles were made inferior, while the doctrines of hell and regeneration, which the Brahmans put in the place of the old ideas of life after death, must gradually have brought about the subjugation of the national mind and heart to the new religion.

When the Brahmans succeeded in establishing their claims in the land of the Ganges about the year 800 B.C. (as we ventured to assume), the old sacrificial songs and invocations, which they had imported with them from the land of the Indus, were no doubt to a great extent already written down. When the various families of minstrels and priests had first exchanged with each other their special treasures of ancient prayers;[Pg 155] when the Brahmans, passing beyond the borders of the separate states, had become amalgamated into one order, and had thus consolidated the existing stock of traditional formulæ and ritual—it must have been felt necessary to preserve this valuable treasure in its greatest possible extent, and, considering the belief of the Aryas in the magical power of these forms, as securely as possible from any change. Whatever might be the assistance which the compact form of these invocations lent to the memory, the body of songs which had now passed from tradition and the possession of the separate families into the general possession of the orders, was too various and comprehensive,—minute and verbal accuracy was too important,—for the resources of even the most careful oral teaching, the strongest and most practised memory. But the process of writing them down was not accomplished at once. In the first case, no doubt, each family added to its own possessions the store of the family most closely connected with it.[188] Beginning from different points, after manifold delays, extensions, and enlargements from the invocations first composed in the land of the Ganges, which allow us to trace the change from the old views to the new system, the collection must at last have comprised all that was essential in the forms and prayers used at offerings and sacrifices.

We do not know how far back the use of writing extends with the Indians. According to the account of Nearchus, they wrote on cotton, beaten hard; other Greeks speak of the bark of trees, while native[Pg 156] evidence teaches us that the leaves of the umbrella palm were used for the purpose. Modern enquirers are of opinion that the Indian alphabet is not an invention of the people, but borrowed from the Phenician.[189] As we have shown, the Phenicians reached the mouth of the Indus in the tenth century. But about this time, or perhaps before it, there existed a marine trade between the Indians and Sabæans, on the coasts of south Arabia. Granting the origin of the Indian alphabet from the Phenician, it is thus rendered more probable that it was taken from the south Arabian alphabet, which in its turn rose out of the Aramaic alphabet, than that it was borrowed directly from the Phenician. In the latter case we should have to presuppose a trade between Babylonia and India by means of the Persian Gulf (in Babylonia the Aramaic alphabet was in use beside the cuneiform in the eighth century B.C. at the latest) as a more probable means of communication than the voyages of the Phenicians to Elath, which had already been given up. But from whatever branch of the Semitic races the Indian letters may have been taken, the general use of them cannot be put much earlier than 800 B.C. The oldest inscriptions of the Indians which have come down to us, are those of Açoka, king of Magadha, and belong to the middle of the third century B.C. They exhibit a complete alphabetic use of writing, and the forms of the letters are not very different from those employed at a later time.[190][Pg 157]

Among the Indians the collection of their old songs and forms is known as the Veda, i. e. knowledge: it forms the knowledge of the priest. We possess these songs in three groups. The oldest, and no doubt the original group, the Rigveda, i. e. the knowledge of thanksgiving, comprises in ten books more than a thousand of the traditional poems and sacrificial songs. For the most part they are arranged according to a certain recurring order in the deities invoked; and, as we have seen, some poems are included which could never have been sung at sacrifices at all. Besides this collection there are two collections of the liturgic prayers which ought to accompany the performance of sacrifice. The Samaveda comprises the prayers sung at the offering of the soma; they are verses taken from the Rigveda, and the collection is a book of songs or hymns.[191] The Yajur-veda contains the formulæ and ritual which must be chanted at the dedication of the altar, the kindling of the fire, and every act of every[Pg 158] sacrifice. Thus the Samaveda supplied the knowledge of the Udgatar, the prayers during the sacrifice of soma, the Yajur-veda supplied the knowledge of the Adhvaryu, who had to perform the material part of the sacrificial service, the ritual for the separate acts of the ceremony. Compared with these two books the Rigveda was the book of the Hotar, i. e. of the chief priest, who had to conduct the sacrifice, and invoke the gods to come down to it.[192] If in the parts of the hymns of praise and invitations, which are repeated from the Rigveda in the Samaveda, the style and tone is often more archaic than in the Rigveda, the explanation is that the prayer at the sacrifice was no doubt preserved with more liturgic accuracy, than the invitation to the god, which preceded the sacrifice. The Yajur-veda is preserved in a double form; of which one, the black Yajus, is shown to be the older by its want of systematic sequence; but even in this older form we find, as in the tenth book of the Rigveda,[193] pieces of later origin, the outcome of priestly meditation.

The writing down of these invocations and the possession of the sacred books formed a new bond to unite the Brahmans into an order distinct from the others. The superior knowledge of the priestly families became of still greater importance. By appealing to these writings, which in the first instance were only accessible to the members of their order, they were enabled to find a considerable support in asserting their claims against the kings, Ksha[Pg 159]triyas and Vaiçyas, though their contents told against rather than for the new doctrine. Strong though the impulse might be, which the variety of these invocations had supplied to advance the new conception of god, this body of ritual, with the exception of a few later pieces, was strongly opposed to the new doctrine. It was filled with praise of those very gods, which, in the view of the Brahmans, had given way to their new god. The way in which the Brahmans harmonised the songs of the Veda, where Varuna, Mitra, Agni, and Indra are each praised in turn as the highest deity, with their new idea of god, was a matter for their modes of interpretation and their schools. For the nation the chief object was to remove or conceal the striking discord between the doctrine of the new god and the old faith, a task all the more difficult, as the nation clung more closely to the old forms of the gods, though some, as has been remarked, were almost obliterated by the natural characteristics of the land of the Ganges, and the novel conditions of life in the new states. Small as the space was which the battles of Indra could claim in the eyes of the Brahmans beside their own Brahman, they could not resist the Veda, which testified to his existence in every part of the work, nor the belief of the nation, so far as to set aside either this deity or the rest. On the other hand, it was easy to subordinate the old gods to Brahman on the system of the emanation of everything in the world from Brahman. They were degraded into a class of higher beings, which had emanated from Brahman before men, i. e. immediately before the Brahmans. From Brahman the Brahmans first allowed a personal Brahman to emanate, unless indeed this personification had already proceeded from Brahmanaspati (p. 128), and was in existence beside the sacred world-soul, the[Pg 160] impersonal Brahman. The personal Brahman was a deity like the old gods, but far more full of life. To him neither shrines were dedicated nor sacrifices offered,[194] yet before meals corns of rice were to be scattered for him as for the rest of the gods, and spirits. The personal Brahman, like the impersonal, was the result of theory and meditation; in both Brahman was a product of reflection, without life and ethical force, without participation in the fortunes of men and states, without love and anger, without sympathy and pity: a colourless, abstract, super-personal and therefore impersonal being, the strictest opposite of that mighty personality into which the Jehovah of the Hebrews grew, owing to the historical, practical, and ethical development of the conception. Brahman was not so much above the natural world which he has created by his command, as its lord and master. Brahman was within it and inwoven in it, and yet at the same time outside it, the hollow form of a being, at once self-originating and returning into itself; or as a personal Brahman he was the president of a meaningless council of heavenly spirits. The old deities, the beings who stood first in the scale of emanations from Brahman, surrounded this personal Brahman as a court surrounds a king. Like other beings, they also have their duties assigned to them; some of the old deities are raised into prominence, and to them is given the old mission of conflict against the evil spirits. They are to defend the eight regions of the earth entrusted to their care against the attacks of the Asuras, or evil spirits. At the head of these eight protectors Indra is naturally placed. To his keeping is assigned the most sacred district, the north-east, where beyond the Himalayas is the divine mountain[Pg 161] Meru, which illuminates the northern region, and round which move the sun, moon, and constellations. On this mountain, according to the oldest conceptions of the Aryas, Indra has his abode with the spirits of light. Yama is now king of the south-east, where in the old religion his heaven of light lay with the kingdom of the blessed spirits. Varuna, who previously was throned in the height of heaven on the great waters, and sent sickness and death on sinners, is now the deity of the distant ocean. Of the old gods of light, Surya, the sun-god, found a place among the eight protectors of the world, and at his side was Chandra, the moon-god. The remaining regions belong to Vayu the wind-god, and Kuvera, the god of the inundation. Attempts to localise the highest deities, though first carried out in the law book of the priests, are found in the Yajur-veda.[195] Another classification of the gods mentions Indra in the first series, and afterwards the eight Vasus, the "givers of good;" among whom are Agni and Soma, whose apotheosis has been already mentioned—then Rudra, the father of the winds, with the ten Maruts, and after them the spirits of light, the Adityas (the sons of Aditi), of which in the older period seven or eight are enumerated. The hymns of the Veda sometimes mention a total of thirty-three gods, eleven in heaven, eleven in the clouds, and eleven on earth,[196] a total found also among the Aryas in Iran, and afterwards retained by the Buddhists.[197] But the Indians could not remain contented with such a moderate number of gods; the more each deity was deprived of honour, the higher[Pg 162] became the total. Even in the Rigveda we find: "Three hundred, three thousand, thirty and nine gods honoured Agni." In the older commentaries this number of 3339 is regarded as the total sum of gods; but in later writings it is raised to 33,000.[198] The people troubled themselves little about Brahman or the positions which the Brahmans assigned to the gods, their classes or their number. They continued to invoke Indra and Agni, Surya and Aryaman, as their helpers and protectors.

The removal of sacrifice was less to be thought of by the Brahmans than the removal of the ancient gods, even if they had maintained the strictest consistency in their conception of Brahman. The Rigveda was mainly a collection of sacrificial chants and ritual. Brahmans no less then Kshatriyas and Vaiçyas were accustomed to invoke the spirits of light in the early dawn, to offer gifts at morning, mid-day, and evening to Agni; to lay wood on the fire, or throw milk and butter into it; above all, to celebrate sacrifices at the changes of the moon or the seasons. It was not these sacrifices only, or the offering of the soma-juice, which the Brahmans retained, but the whole service of sacrifice, for which instructions were found in the sentences of the Veda. The idea that every sacrifice when offered correctly was efficacious, that a magic power resided in it, that the assistance and therefore a part of the divine power or nature was gained by the sacrifice, could not fail to retain the service of sacrifice in full force in the new doctrines. According to this the divine nature was present, and existed in the world in different degrees of purity or dimness, of power or weakness, and owing to the direction[Pg 163] taken in the development of the new idea of god, it was especially alive in the sentences and acts of sacrifice; so that the efficacy of the correct sacrifice must apply a portion of the divine nature to the person sacrificing. Hence the invocation of the old gods was allowed to remain; sacrifice to them was still meritorious, and necessary for this world as well as the other.

We know from the Rigveda the old sentences used at burial, which were supposed to avert death from the living, the prayers that the soul of the dead might be taken up into Yama's heaven of light (p. 62 ff.). We saw with what reverence the living thought of the spirits of their forefathers; how careful the Aryas were to offer gifts to them, so that their food and clothing might never fail. It was customary to sprinkle water for the spirits of the forefathers, and in the land of the Ganges to scatter grains of rice; at the funeral feast of the dead, kept by the families on each new moon, three furrows were made, in which every member of the family placed three cakes, for the father, the grandfather, and great-grandfather; the cakes were then covered with locks of wool, and the ancestors invoked to clothe themselves with it. On the death-day of any member of the family, or a certain time after, the family assembled, in order to offer fruits and flesh to his spirit. There was now no longer any light heaven of Yama; he was the prince of the hot hell (p. 137), where souls are tormented after death, and then born again to a new life in plants, animals, and men: the chief object now was to attain the end of all life and regeneration by a return into Brahman. So far as they could, the Brahmans reconciled the old and new conceptions. The heaven of Indra (p. 138) was substituted for the old heaven of Yama. It was not the pure heaven of[Pg 164] Brahman, but a higher, brighter world. The soul of the virtuous passes into this outer heaven; the soul of the sinner sinks into hell. But the merit of good works is consumed, as the guilt of sin is expiated, by the lapse of time, by a shorter or longer participation in the joys of the heaven of Indra, a shorter or longer torment in hell. Then begins for the souls who have thus received only the first reward of their lives a series of regenerations. The old chants of burial could only be rendered in the sense of the new system by the most violent interpretations. The belief in the spirits of the ancestors, and the pious worship of them, had struck roots far too deep and ancient into the heart of the nation for the Brahmans to think of removing these services, the libations to the spirits, or the funeral feast of the families, at which they invoked their ancestors to come down and enjoy themselves at the banquet with their descendants. Libation and feast continued to exist without molestation. The Brahmans contented themselves with ordaining that at the sacrifice to the dead, the fire Dakshina, i. e. the fire to the right, was indispensable. When Yama's abode had been removed to the hot south, the sacrificial fires for his kingdom must burn to the right, i. e. towards the south. The theory of the priests then declared these sacrifices to the dead to be indispensable in order to liberate the souls out of certain spaces in hell; they also laid down the rule that a Brahman should always be present at the funeral feast. The book of the law gives very definite warnings of the evil consequences resulting from funeral feasts celebrated without Brahmans, i. e. in the old traditional manner. The elder of the family is to conduct the requisite three Brahmans to his abode; the first Brahman after the necessary prayers throws[Pg 165] rice for the dead into the sacrificial fire; he then makes funeral cakes of rice and butter, of which each member of the family sacrifices three for his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Then food is set forth, of which the Brahmans first eat, with uncovered heads and feet, and in silence, in order that the spirits may participate in the meal; after the Brahmans the rest partake. According to the book of the law, cows' milk, and food made from it, if set forth at the funeral feast, liberated the spirits of the ancestors for a whole year; the flesh of horses and tortoises for eleven months; of buffaloes for ten; of rams for nine; of antelopes for eight; of deer for seven; of goats for six; of the permitted birds for five; of wethers for four; game for three; fish for two—while water, rice, barley, sesame were efficacious for one month only.[199] Though the Brahmans changed the funeral feasts into banquets for the members of their own order, yet the fact that they were retained, and with them the connection of the families, the maintenance of this old form of worship, though in reality at variance with the new arrangement of these unions of the families and forms of ancient life, brought other and very important advantages to the new system.

The old religion rested on the contrast between the friendly spirits who gave light and water, and the demons of darkness and drought. From this arose the conception that certain objects belonged to the gloomy spirits and were pleasing to them; that by contact or defilement with them a man gave the evil spirits power over him. Contact with corpses, dead hair, skin, or bones, defilement with the impurities of the body, spittle, urine, excrement, &c., gave the[Pg 166] evil powers authority over the person so defiled. This faith we find in full force and the widest extent among the Arians of Iran; but it must have existed in a degree hardly less among the Aryas on the Indus and the Ganges. According to the new views of the Brahmans, the two sides of nature—the bright, pure, and clear side belonging to good spirits, and the foul and dark side belonging to evil spirits—existed no longer; all nature had become dark and defiled; even the Brahmans, the best part of creation, participated, like the other orders, though in a less degree, in this defilement and gloom. In the new doctrine the world fell into two halves, a supersensual and a sensual. The first was indeed supposed to be present in the second, but only in a corrupt and adulterated form; the sensual side had, at bottom, no right to exist; it must be utterly removed and elevated into Brahman. As corrupted Brahman the whole sensual world was imperfect and transitory, wavering between growth and destruction, and filled with evil because through its own nature it was impure. The new system required, therefore, in order to be consistent, that man should not only keep himself removed from all impurity, but should also free himself from all the vileness of nature which clung to him; that he should liberate himself from nature herself, and the whole realm of sense. As the whole existing world was more or less impure, consistency required that all ancient customs of purification, all usages intended to remove defilements when incurred, must be allowed to drop in order to proclaim the elevation and destruction of sensual nature as the only duty of man. Nevertheless the Brahmans allowed the old rites of purification to exist beside the old sacrifice. As the latter is efficacious for salvation and[Pg 167] increase of power in the person sacrificing, so is the old purification meritorious, not because it keeps the evil at a distance, but because it removes the grossest defilement; and from this point of view it is developed by the Brahmans to a far wider extent. He who could not attain to the highest must be content with something less. The performance of these duties of purification is, according to the doctrine of the Brahmans, an act of merit for this world and the next, and saving for the soul. Sacrifice and purity form the circle of the good works, which, according to the measure of completeness, lead souls for a longer or shorter time into the heaven of Indra, while disregard of them brings men into hell for long periods and severe torments.

All the objects which a man touches, even the earth, can be impure, i. e. defiled by spittle, blood, skin, bones, &c.; everything must therefore be purified before it is taken into use. The earth is purified by allowing a cow to lie on it for the night, the floors of houses by throwing cow-dung upon them, clothes and woven-stuffs by sprinkling them with the urine of a cow. To the Indians the cow was so sacred and highly-revered an animal, that the same things, which in men and beasts were considered most unclean, were regarded as means of purification when coming from a cow. We have already seen how highly cows were prized by the Aryas in the Panjab. The cow, the "highest of all animals," as she is styled in the Mahabharata, was to them not only an emblem of fruitfulness and bounteous nourishment; they compared her to the nourishing earth, which is often spoken of as a cow. Moreover, the cow provided food even for the gods, inasmuch as milk and especially butter were[Pg 168] offered to them. The patient, quiet existence of the cow is also the pattern of the obedient and patient life now recommended by the Brahmans.

Any contact with a corpse causes defilement. A death in a family makes it unclean for ten days, during which the relatives of the dead must sleep on the earth, each by himself, and eat uncooked rice only. The Brahman then purifies himself by touching water; the Kshatriya, by taking hold of his weapons, his horse, or elephant; the Vaiçya, by seizing the reins of his oxen, &c.

The old customs of purity were considerably extended by the ordinances of food, the rules about clean eating, laid down by the Brahmans. According to their belief the whole world of animals was peopled with the souls of the dead. In every tiger, elephant, ox, antelope, locust, and ant, might be living the soul of a man, perhaps the soul of a friend, relation, or ancestor. It was with aversion that any one brought himself to make an attack on any creature, or any living animal. From this point of view the Brahmans had to forbid entirely the eating of flesh, whether of wild or domestic animals. They repressed hunting as strictly as they could: "The man who slew animals for his pleasure would not increase his happiness in life or death. He who slew an animal had a share in its death no less than the man who dismembered it, or sold it, or ate it." Above all, a Brahman himself was not to slay any animal except for the purpose of sacrifice; and the sacrifice of animals never prevailed to any great extent among the Indians. The Brahman who offended against this law would in his regenerations die by a violent death as many times as there were hairs on the skin of the slain animal. But the Brahmans could not carry out[Pg 169] the prohibition either of hunting or eating flesh. They contented themselves with laying stress on the advantages of nourishment by milk and vegetables; they limited themselves to insisting that no ox-flesh should be eaten; birds of prey, some kinds of the fish and the animals already mentioned, could be used. The flesh of the rhinoceros also and the crocodile was not forbidden. But even the flesh of the permitted kinds could only be eaten after it had been offered to the gods or the ancestors, and the man who ate no flesh at all would acquire a merit equal to a hundred festival sacrifices.[200] Here, again, we see that the book of the law seeks to bring the new doctrine into force, without having the courage entirely to remove the old ways of life. At a later time the prohibition of flesh was more strict. Of vegetables, leeks, garlic, and onions were forbidden, and also all plants which had grown up among impure matter. Drink of any kind must be purified before use by being cleared with the stalks of kuça grass. Food could only be eaten at morning and evening; always in moderation and with complete repose of mind. The sight of food must give pleasure, and man must regard it with veneration; then it will give muscular power and manly energy. Before each meal grains of rice are to be sprinkled by the Dvija before the door, with the words: "I greet you, ye Maruts;" and other grains must be thrown into the water with the words: "I greet you, ye water-gods." On the pestle and mortar grains of rice must be strewn with the words: "I greet you, ye deities of the great trees." Grains of rice are also to be thrown into the air for all the gods; into the middle of the house for the protecting deity of the house, and Brahman; on the top of the house or[Pg 170] behind it for all living creatures; and the remainder must be strewn for the ancestors with the face turned to the south. Any one who omits these offerings before eating is a sinner.[201] At sunrise and sunset the Dvija is to pronounce the prayer Gayatri on pain of losing caste;[202] and every day he must pour libations to the saints, the gods, the spirits, the ancestors, and strangers.

The forms of purification underwent further change and important extension. The new system, unlike the old custom, was not contented to remove defilement, when incurred, by the use of rules of purification, in which, in certain cases, traditional prayers and formulæ had to be pronounced in order to obviate the evil consequences, or drive away the bad spirits. In a large number of defilements the Brahmans saw something more than mere impurity; they were sins which must be removed by expiation. Their desire was not to expel the black spirits, but to eradicated and quench the false and sinful feelings in men, which gave rise to impurity. From the same point of view, and following the same path, they required that a man who had committed an offence, should not wait for the penalty of the court, but should punish himself, do penance of his own will, and by this voluntary punishment and expiation remove the consequences of his offence, not in this world only but in the next. The forms of expiation instituted by the Brahmans for the removal of impurity and offences consist of prayers, which at times have to be repeated a thousand times daily, of fasts more or less severe, and occupying more or less time, of corporal punishments, and in the case of grievous offences, of voluntary death or suicide. Any one who by misadventure has eaten forbidden food must perform the expiation of the[Pg 171] moon, or the Santapana. The expiation of the moon consists in eating nothing but rice for a whole month; on the first day of the waning moon fifteen mouthfuls are to be taken, and a mouthful less each day till the sixteenth, when a total fast is to be kept; from this time for each day of the increase of the moon a mouthful more is to be taken till the fifteenth day.[203] The Santapana requires that the penitent should live for a day on the urine and dung of cows mingled with milk, and drink water boiled with kuça-grass; the day following he is to fast.[204] To atone for the forbidden food eaten unintentionally by an Arya in the course of a year, it was necessary to perform the penance of Prajapatya for twelve days.[205] On the first three days he eats in the morning only; on the next three, in the evening only; on the seventh, eighth, and ninth day he eats only what strangers give him, without asking; on the last three days he keeps a strict fast. Any one who intentionally eats what is forbidden is expelled by the members of his family from the family and caste. The Brahmans punished indulgence in intoxicating drinks with severe penalties; we saw how much inclined the Aryas were to excess in this respect. The excited and passionate state, induced by such liquors, was diametrically opposed to the quiet, patient existence, which was now the ideal of the Brahmans. Any one who wilfully became intoxicated was to go on drinking boiling rice-water till his body was entirely consumed; then only was he free from his sin. This offence could also be expiated by drinking the boiling urine of a cow, or boiling liquid of cow-dung, till death ensued. Drunkenness was not the only sin on which the Brahmans imposed a penalty of voluntary death. Any one who[Pg 172] unintentionally killed a cow, was to shave his head, put on as a garment the skin of the dead cow, repair to the pasture, salute the cows and wait upon them, and then perform his ablutions with the urine of cows instead of water. He must follow the cows step by step, swallow the dust which they raise, bring them into shelter in bad weather and guard them. If a cow is attacked by a beast of prey he must defend it with his life. If he does not perish in the service, cow-keeping of this nature continued for three months atones for his offence.[206] If a Vaiçya or a Kshatriya unintentionally kills a Brahman, he must wander over a hundred yodhanas, constantly reciting one of the three Vedas. If a Kshatriya intentionally slays a Brahman, he must allow himself to be shot down by arrows, or throw himself head-foremost three times into the fire till death ensues. Any one who has defiled the bed of his father or teacher must lie on a red-hot bed of iron, or expiate his offence by self-mutilation, and death.[207]

The purity and daily duties which the Brahmans imposed on themselves, partly from custom, partly as a part of their new doctrine, were more strict than those required from the other orders. The Brahman must rise before the dawn, and repeat the Gayatri; i. e. the following words of the Veda: "We have received the glorious splendour from the divine Savitar (p. 46); may he strengthen our understanding;"[208] and purify himself by a bath. Long prayers in[Pg 173] the morning and the evening ensure long life. He must never omit to perform the five daily duties—the offering to the saints, the gods, the spirits, the ancestors, and the strange guests. Each day he must bring gifts to Agni, the sun, Prajapati, Dyaus, and Prithivi (the spirits of the heaven and the earth), the fire of the good sacrifice, Indra, Yama, Varuna, and Soma.[209] Each day he must repeat the mystical name of Brahman, Om (in the older form am, i. e. "yes," "certainly"), and the other three sacred words, Bhar, Bhuva, and Svar, which, according to the commentators, are to be regarded as the spirits of the earth, the air, and the heaven.[210] Fire he must always consider as sacred. He may not fan it with his breath, or step over it. He may not warm his feet at it, or place it in a brazier under his bed or under his feet. He must not throw any refuse into it. Offal, the remains of food, and water which has been used for a bath or the feet, must be removed far away from the fire. Nor was the Brahman allowed to throw refuse into water, or pour blood or any drink into it, still less to vomit into it; he might not look at the reflection of his body in water, or drink water in the hollow of his hand. The clothes of a Brahman must be always clean and white, and never worn by another. His hair, nails, beard, must be cut; but he may not cut them himself (for so he would be defiled), nor gnaw his nails with his teeth. In his ears he must wear very bright gold rings. He must wear a wreath on his head, and in one hand carry a staff of bamboo, in the other kuça-grass and a pitcher for his ablutions. He may not play at dice, or dance or sing except at the sacrifice, when required to do so by the ritual: he may not[Pg 174] grind his teeth, or scratch his head with his hands, or beat himself on the head, or take the wreath from his head with his own hands. He must always so place himself that on his right hand there may be an elevation of the earth, a cow, a jar of butter, a crossroad, or a sacred tree. He may not tread on ashes, hair, bones, cotton-stems, or sprouting corn. He may never step over a rope to which a cow is tethered, or disturb a cow when drinking. At morning, evening, and midday, he may not look at the sun. Before an altar of Agni, in a fold of cows, when with Brahmans, or reading the sacred scriptures, or eating, he must leave the right arm uncovered. He may not wash his feet in a brazen vessel, or bathe naked, or sleep naked on the earth, or run when it rains.

If the use of flesh as food could not be entirely forbidden to the Kshatriyas and Vaiçyas, the Brahman must live on milk and vegetables. But he might not drink the milk of a cow when in heat, or that has lately calved, or of a cow which had lost her calf, the milk of a camel, the red gum which exudes from trees, or anything from which oil has been pressed, or with which sesame has been mixed, or anything that from sweet has become sour. He might not eat anything kept over night, or any food into which lice have fallen, or which a cow has smelt, or anything touched by a dog. He might not take the food of a criminal, or prisoner, or usurer, or rogue, or hunter, or dog-trainer, or Çudra, or dancer, or washer-woman; or of a man who is submissive to his wife, or allows her infidelity, or into whose house the wife's paramour comes. All such food is unclean for the Brahman; and so also is food offered to him in anger, and that touched by a madman. Any one eating such things feeds on "bones, hair, and skin."[Pg 175]

With the same minute exactness, regulations are laid down for the Brahman as to the mode and position in which he is to take the permitted kinds of food; with what parts of the hand or finger he is to perform his ablutions, how he is to demean himself on all the occasions of life, when travelling, etc., in order to preserve his purity and sanctity. With equal detail we are told how the Brahman is to perform the natural requirements of the body, and the purifications thereby rendered necessary.[211] The least neglect in the fulfilment of these endless duties, which it was impossible to keep in view at once, and more impossible still to bear in mind at every moment, even with the most devoted attention, might bring on centuries of punishment and endless regenerations, unless it was expiated.

The prescripts of the Brahmans have been thoroughly carried out, and even the other orders to this time fulfil their daily duties. The Brahman utters his morning prayer, bathes in the stream, the fountain, the pool, or in his house, performs the invocations to the gods, spirits, and ancestors, and then with his wife and child, who also have bathed, offers prayers and[Pg 176] gifts to the protecting deities of the house.[212] Among wealthy families of the Kshatriyas and Vaiçyas the morning prayers after the bath are performed under the guidance of the priest of the house. No one eats the morning meal till the grains of rice have been scattered for the Maruts, the gods of water and trees, and the special deity of the house. No Hindoo proceeds to his work till he has purified himself and performed his devotions. The Brahman does not open his book, neither smith nor carpenter takes in hand his tool, till he has uttered prayers. They neither stand up nor sit down, nor leave the room, nor sneeze, nor vomit, without the prescribed formula.

Thus the new doctrine of the Brahmans removed the old gods and sacrifices, and gave to the old customs of purification a further extension, and in part a new meaning, inasmuch as it developed them into a wide system of expiation; but the change wrought in the sphere of morals was far more radical. The moral law of the Brahmans is distinctly in opposition to the requirements of the old time. War and heroism are no longer the highest aim of life, but patience, obedience, sanctification. As all animals have their origin from Brahman, and to each, at creation, is allotted a special mission, as Brahman is this order of the world, it is man's task to adapt himself obediently to this arrangement of gods, and fulfil the duties laid upon him at birth. At the same time, no one is to disturb another in the fulfilment of his duties. He must injure neither man nor beast; he must spare even the plants and trees. No one must go beyond the limits allotted to him, but lead a quiet and peaceful life within them. Without ceasing, the Çudras[Pg 177] must serve the three higher orders; the Vaiçyas must till the field, and tend the herds, and carry on trade, and bestow gifts; the Kshatriyas must protect the people, give alms, and sacrifice; the Brahman must read the Veda, and teach it, offer sacrifice for himself and others, and receive gifts, if poor. It is the duty of each of the lower orders to reverence the higher; the Vaiçyas and Kshatriyas must bow before the Brahmans, and heap gifts upon them.[213]

In opposition to the Çudras, who, as we saw, ranged with beasts (p. 142), Brahmans, Kshatriyas, and Vaiçyas were united by community of blood and common superiority of caste. The three upper orders are distinguished from the Çudras as the "Dvijas," the twice-born, in the phrase of the Brahmans. This second birth is performed by investiture with the holy girdle. In old times this ceremony was no doubt the symbol of the reception of boys and youths into the union of the family; at present the girdle is not only the distinguishing sign of the three upper orders, but from the Brahman point of view the pledge of higher illumination. It is put on with solemn consecration, accompanied by the most sacred prayer, and the second, higher birth consists in the mystical operation of this ceremony. But the upper orders were not merely united by origin, by superiority in rank, and this symbol of superiority; the Dvijas alone had access to the worship, the sacrifice, and the Veda.

The care of the doctrine and worship belongs especially to the Brahmans. They have not only to attend to a special, higher purity; they must above all things acquire a knowledge of the positive basis of doctrine and worship, of revelation. For in the teaching of the Brahmans the Veda was revealed: the[Pg 178] hymns and prayers in it are created and given by the gods; they are the divine word.[214] The study of the Veda is the first and foremost duty of the Brahman. He must never omit to read the book at the appointed day, at the appointed hour. He is not old, we are told in the book of the law, whose hair is gray, but he who when young has studied the holy scriptures will be regarded by the gods as full of years and honour. The Brahman who does not study the Veda is like an elephant of wood, or a deer of leather. Hence among the Brahmans those who are learned in the scriptures take the first rank. The book of the law ordains that every young Brahman must be attached as a pupil to a learned Brahman. This "spiritual father" he is to love and reverence above all beside, above his natural father, "for the spiritual birth is not for this world only but for the next." The strictest ceremonial of reverence and respect for the teacher, the careful observance of these duties, and the accurate knowledge of the Veda, is intended to train the young Brahmans to become worthy representatives of their order. A peculiar garb and special reserve are prescribed for the novice. He must first learn the rules for purity, for keeping up the sacred fire, and then the religious duties of morning, mid-day, and evening. After this begin the readings in the Veda. Before each reading the pupil must purify himself with water, rub his hands with kuça-grass, and then perform obeisance to the holy text. Next he prostrates himself before his tutor, and touches his feet with his hands. Clad in a pure garment, with kuça-grass in his hands, he then sits down on kuça-grass with his face to the east. Before beginning to read he draws in his breath three times, and then pronounces[Pg 179] the mysterious name of Brahman, Om. The lesson then begins. Even the wife of his teacher must be saluted by the pupil on his knees; and these customs are still to a great extent preserved in the schools of the Brahmans.[215] The time of instruction begins immediately after the ceremony of investing with the sacred girdle; it must continue nine, eighteen, or thirty-six years, in each case until the pupil knows the Veda by heart. Then he may take a wife, and set up his house.[216] Not only the young Brahmans—though the main object was to educate them as representatives and teachers of the new doctrine—were expected to go through the period of instruction and the school of the learned Brahmans; even the sons of the Kshatriyas and Vaiçyas were instructed in the religious duties and the Veda: in fact religious instruction was to include all the Dvijas. Every young Dvija must become a pupil of a Brahman (Brahmacharin) after being invested with the girdle. But the Brahmans alone enjoyed the privilege of teaching and interpreting the Veda. Without this interpretation it was probable that a result would be attained the opposite of that which this general instruction and catechising of every Dvija was intended to effect: the pupils would have quickly learnt other things from the hymns of the Veda besides the tenets of the Brahmans.

No doubt the pious performance of the daily customs, the offering of sacrifice, the observance of the rules of purity, the voluntary performance of expiations and penalties, the practice of duties im[Pg 180]posed on every caste and every being by the order of the universe, a respect for the obligations and life of fellow-men, the peaceful conduct, the regard for plants and animals, the eager study of the Veda,—the "holiness of works" might lead a man into the heaven of Indra and the gods, while the opposite conduct would plunge him into hell. But the merit of works no less than the punishment of sins was exhausted in time: it was no protection against new regenerations; it could indeed shorten the process through which the soul must pass in order to attain complete purity, but it did not cancel regeneration. That was only excluded by attaining perfect purity and holiness, for then the process of purification was complete, and with the return to Brahman, its divine source, the existence of the soul ended. To bring about this return is of all duties the highest; it is above the sanctity of works. Brahman was an incorporeal, immaterial being. When changed into the world, Brahman becomes ever more adulterated, dark, and impure, in these successive emanations; it descends from the pure sanctity of itself, of its undisturbed being. In this state of removal and alienation, the world and mankind do not correspond to their origin, the nature of Brahman, and in this condition man cannot return to Brahman. The better side of men, the immaterial side closely akin to Brahman, the divine elements, must become the ruling power; the impurity of matter, of the sensual world, and the body must be done away. The rules of purification only removed the grosser forms of defilement. The more that men succeeded in doing away with the whole impurity of nature, the shorter was the path of the soul after death to Brahman. It is, therefore, a universal requirement of the Brahmanic system—a re[Pg 181]quirement laid upon all, but more especially on the Brahmans—that the soul is not to be over-grown, bound, and imprisoned by the body, the mind by the senses. The sensual needs must be held in restraint; no great space must be allowed to them. Men must be on their guard against the charms of sense; sensual excesses are not to be indulged; to be lord of the senses is the chief commandment. Even the affections and passions, which, in the opinion of the Brahmans, sprang from the charm of the senses, must be held in check. Every man must preserve a quiet calm, and dominion over his passions, and the impressions which come from without and stir the senses. But as it is the mission of every creature to return to his divine origin, as no living being can find rest till it is purified for this return, as Brahman is pure spirit—spirit, that is, and not nature—it follows that no one can enter into Brahman who has not been able entirely to free his soul from sensuality, to get rid utterly of his body, and transform himself entirely into pure soul. From this point of view all relations to the sensual world must appear as fetters of the spirit, and the body as the prison of the soul.

The Brahmans did not hesitate to draw these last conclusions from their doctrine of Brahman. "This habitation of men," they said, "of which the framework is the bones, the bands the muscles; this vessel filled with flesh and blood, and covered with skin; this impure dwelling, which contains its own defilement, and is subject to age, sickness, and trouble, to sorrows of every kind, and passions; this habitation, destined to decay, must be abandoned with joy by him who assumes it." But the main point was not to await with calmness and yearning the breaking of these fetters of the soul, it was the manner in which[Pg 182] they were broken in order that the soul might go forth free to Brahman, to eternal rest, to union with the highest spirit. For this it was necessary, when a man had learned to live obediently, and to govern his senses and passions, to put aside the world altogether, and direct the eye to heaven alone. This duty is completed when the Brahman, the Dvija, leaves house and home, in order to become an eremite in the forest (Vanaprastha). He clothes himself in a garment of bark, or in the skin of the black gazelle; his bed must be the earth; he lives on fruits which have fallen from the trees, or on the roots found in the forest, and on water, which he previously pours through a woollen cloth, in order to avoid killing the little insects which may happen to be in the water. He performs the service of the sacred fire, and the five daily offerings; bathes three times each day, reads the Veda, and devotes himself to the contemplation of the highest being. By this means he will purify his body, increase his knowledge, and bring his spirit nearer to perfection. His hair, beard, and nails must be allowed to grow; he must fast frequently, live aloof from all desires, and be complete master of his sensual impulses; he must not allow himself to be disturbed in any way by the world, or by any accident which overtakes him. From this condition he will advance still further towards perfection, if he proceeds to reduce his body by mortification. He should roll on the ground; or stand all day long on his toes, or be continually getting up and sitting down. By degrees the eremite ought to increase the severity of these penances. In the cold season of the year he should always wear a wet garment; in the rainy season he should expose himself naked to the tempest of rain. In the warm season he must sit between four fires in[Pg 183] the hot rays of the sun.[217] By the eagerness and fervour of devotion which leads the ascetic to these self-tortures, and enables him to endure them, by these mortifications (tapas, i. e. heat) he must show that the pain of the body cannot trouble the soul, that nothing which befalls the one can influence the other, that he is liberated from his body.

When the eremite had reduced his body by mortifications gradually increasing in severity, and attained complete mastery of the soul over the flesh, he enters into the last stage, that of the Sannyasin, who attempts by thought to be absorbed into the world-soul, to die while yet alive in the body, by completing his return to Brahman. For this stage the regulation is that the penitent is to wish for nothing, and expect nothing, to observe silence, to live absolutely alone, in ceaseless repose, in the society of his own soul. He must think of the misery of the body, the migrations of the soul, which result from sin, and the existence of the world-soul in the highest and lowest things; he must suppress all qualities in himself which are opposed to the divine nature of Brahman, and think of Brahman only. Brahman must be contemplated in "the slumber of the most inward meditation, as being finer than an atom, and more brilliant than gold!" By thus plunging in the deepest reflection the penitent will succeed in carrying back his soul to its original source: he will attain to union with Brahman, and will himself become Brahman, from which he has emanated.[218]

With such consistency did the Brahmans develop their system; such was the ideal which they put before the Indians of the holy life, leading to union with[Pg 184] Brahman. When the Dvija had set up his house, and married and begot a son, when he had fulfilled his duties as Grihastha (house master), when he was old and saw "the posterity of his posterity," he must go into the forest—so the law of the priests bade,—in order to become a Vanaprastha and Sannyasin. Indeed the importance which the system ascribed to the spiritual as opposed to the sensual, to super-sensual holiness as opposed to the unholy world of sense, even led them to declare marriage and the family as unnecessary, disturbing, and unholy; and with strict consistency they gave command to repair to the forest at once, and forswear the world from the first. Even in the law-book of the priests this was permitted; but as an exception. The Brahmacharin could, when he had finished his long period of instruction, go at once into the forest as an eremite and penitent.[219] The large majority neither could nor did observe such commands, but, so far as we can see, the number of penitents was not inconsiderable soon after 600 B.C.—and the ordinary people recognised the peculiar merit of those who went into the forest. They looked on the penitents with respect. And even to this day it is observed, that in the later years of life, when the time approaches for receiving the reward or punishment of their deeds, the Hindoos devote themselves with redoubled eagerness to their religious duties.

The Ramayana describes the abodes in the forest and the life of the penitents. There are some who live constantly in the open air; others who dwell on the tops of the mountains; others who sleep on the places of sacrifice, or on the naked earth, or who do[Pg 185] not sleep at all; some only eat during one month in the year; others eat rice with the husks; others feed only on uncooked nutriment, leaves, or water; others do not eat at all, but live on the air and the beams of the sun and the moon. Some constantly repeat the name of the same deity; others read the Vedas without ceasing; the greater part wear clothes of bark; others wear wet garments perpetually; other stand up to the neck in water; others have fire on every side and the sun overhead; others stand perpetually on one leg; others on the tips of their great toes; others on their heads; others hang by their heels on the branches of trees.[220] When this passage of the Ramayana was composed or altered, the practices of the ascetics had already gone beyond the rules prescribed in the book of the law.

Beginning with the idea of a holy spirit, without admixture of anything material, and forming the abstract opposite of nature, the Brahmans had discovered that it is the duty of man to raise the spiritual above the corporeal. The more excitable the nerves, the more receptive the senses, the warmer the passions in that climate and nation, the more energetic was the reaction of the spirit against the flesh, the more stringent the command to become master of the senses and the body, to annihilate the senses. It is true that the material world also had emanated from Brahman; even matter had come from him. But this was an adulteration of the pure Brahman; it was the non-sensual, not the material side of the world which was the pure Brahman. Hence for the Brahmans these two factors, the material and spiritual side, were again completely separated. Hence the ethical problem was not to arrange the world of sense for the[Pg 186] objects of the spirit, to raise the soul to the mastery over the body, and purify the sensual action by the spirit, but the annihilation of the sensual elements by the soul, the removal and destruction of the body—in a word, asceticism. Out of the absolute annihilation of the material existence of man, his true intellectual being—his real nature, i. e. Brahman—is to arise; it is only after the complete destruction of the life of sense and the body that man can plunge into the pure spirit. As this pure spirit could only be looked upon as a negation of nature and the world, and was only regarded in that light, and as it had no other quality but that of being non-material, the command to think of Brahman and nothing but Brahman, amounted to nothing less than this: on the one hand, every distinct individual intuition was to be rejected and avoided; on the other, it was a duty to develop the conception of an indefinite and indefinable unity, in opposition to the multitudinous variety of the world and nature. A conception of unity which altogether disregards the plurality comprising it is nothing more than persistence in vacuity. Thus the negation of the spiritual life was demanded beside that of the bodily life; and this command was equivalent to bodily and spiritual self-annihilation.

The doctrine of Brahman, with the practical and ethical requirements included in it, along with the command of obedience to the existing order of the world, of subjugation of the senses and renouncement, of severe treatment of self, and tender feeling for plants and cows, finally of annihilation of the body by asceticism, were in sharp contrast to the earlier motives which governed the life of the Indians of the heroic age. Nothing was to be left of the old[Pg 187] vigour in action, the old warrior life, and heroic deeds; and as a fact, in spite of earnest attempts in other directions, nothing did remain beyond the courage for lingering suicide by mortification, the reckless asceticism in which the Indians are not surpassed by any nation, and which increased as the centuries went on, and ever assumed more fantastic forms.


[188] The participation of all the Gotras of the Brahmans, who claim to be derived from the Rishis, in the composition of the Rigveda, has been acutely and convincingly proved by M. Müller. "Hist. of Sansk. Lit." p. 461 ff.

[189] A. Weber, "Z. D. M. G." 10, 389 ff.

[190] Strabo, p. 717. Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 1, 840; 2, 215-223. M. Müller considers that the use of writing was known to the Indians before 600 B.C., but nevertheless is of opinion that the Veda was written down later, and allows no written work to the Indians before 350 B.C., the date at which he fixes Panini: "Hist. of Sansk. Lit." p. 311, p. 477 ff. Since, however, the Brahmanas date from between 800 and 600 B.C., which is M. Müller's opinion, it is hardly credible that controversies, and discussions, and examples, such as we find largely in the Brahmanas, could have received a fixed form if they merely referred to groups of poems retained in the memory only, though of considerable extent. That the Brahmanas existed in memory only seems to me to be quite impossible, considering their form. How could Çaunaka, about the year 400 B.C. as M. Müller supposes, write sutras to facilitate the understanding of the Brahmanas, if the latter were not in existence in writing? A. Weber has observed that in Panini the 60 pathas of the first nine books of the Çatapatha-Brahmana are quoted, and the 30 and 40 Adhyayas of the Aitareya and Kaushitaki-Brahmanas. In my opinion, the fact so acutely and convincingly proved by M. Müller—that the Rigveda is allotted to all the Gotras of the Brahmans, is strongly in favour of the composition of the Vedas in a written form; the tradition of the Gotras and the schools would never have given equal attention to all. If the Brahmanas, which cite the Vedas accurately in their present arrangement, and speak not only of syllables but of letters, arose between 800 and 600 B.C., it appears to me an inevitable conclusion that the Vedas must have existed in writing about the year 800 B.C.

[191] Kaegi, "Rigveda," s. 3.

[192] Madhusudana, in M. Müller, "Hist. of Sansk. Lit." p. 122; cf. p. 173, 467.

[193] Roth, "Zur Literatur des Veda," s. 11. A. Weber, "Vorlesungen," s. 83, 84. Westergaard, "Aeltester Zeitraum der Ind. Gesch." s. 11. For the legends of the Puranas on the origin of the black and white Yajus, which allow the superior antiquity of the first, see M. Müller, loc. cit. p. 174, 349 ff.

[194] Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 1, 776.

[195] A. Weber, "Vajasaneya-Sanhitæ specimen," p. 33.

[196] "Rigveda," 1, 33, "Ye Açvins, come with the three and thirty gods."

[197] Burnouf, "Commentaire sur le Yaçna," p. 34 ff., and below.

[198] "Rigveda," 3, 9, 9; A. Weber, "Ind. Studien," 9, 265. Yajnavalkya gives 33,000 gods; later we find 330 millions.

[199] Manu, 3, 69-74, 141-148, 158, 187-238, 266-274, 282, 283. 4, 25, 26. 11, 7. Of. Roth in "Z. D. M. G." 8, 471 ff.

[200] Manu, 5, 26-28; 54-56.

[201] Manu, 3, 94-118.

[202] Manu, 2, 101-103.

[203] Manu, 11, 216.

[204] Manu, 11, 212.

[205] Manu, 11, 211.

[206] Manu, 11, 108-116. Even to this day it is a custom in Bengal for a man whose cow has died to wander from house to house with a rope round his neck, to imitate the lowing of a cow, and without uttering a word go on begging until he has collected enough to buy a substitute.

[207] Oder sich selbst entmannen, und seine Scham in der Hand südostwärts (d. h. dem Reiche Jama's zu) wandern, bis er todt hinstürzt. [Cf. Manu, 11, 104, 105.]

[208] "Rigveda," 3, 62.

[209] Manu, 3, 84 ff.

[210] Manu, 2, 76-78; A. Weber, "Ind. Studien," 2, 188, 305.

[211] Der, welcher im Angesicht des Feuers, der Sonne, des Mondes, einer Cisterne, einer Kuh, eines Dvidscha, oder gegen den Wind urinirt, wird seiner ganzen Schriftgelehrsamkeit beraubt werden. Der Brahmane darf seinen Urin nicht lassen, und seine Excremente nicht niederlegen, weder auf den Weg noch auf Asche, noch auf eine Kuhweide, noch auf einen Ameisenhügel, noch auf den Gipfel eines Berges, noch in ein Loch, welches lebende Wesen bewohnen können, weder gehend noch stehend. Nachdem er die Erde mit Holz und Blättern und trockenen Kraütern bedeckt hat, kann er seine Bedürfnisse schweigend, in sein Gewand gehüllt und verhüllten Hauptes, verrichten. Bei Tage muss er dabei sein Gesicht nach Norden wenden, bei Nacht gegen Süden. Lassen sich die Himmelsgegenden in der Dunkelheit gar nicht unterscheiden, oder hat der Brahmane einen Ueberfall durch Räuber oder wilde Thiere zu befürchten, so kann er sein Angesicht dahin richten, wohin es ihm beliebt. Niemals aber darf er Excremente ansehen, weder seine eigenen noch fremde. [Manu, 4, 45 ff.]

[212] The daily duties which the Brahmans have now to perform, are given in Belnos, "Daily Prayers of the Brahmins."

[213] Manu, 1. 87-91; 2, 31, 32.

[214] Muir, "Sanskrit Texts," 3, 149, 150.

[215] Manu, 2, 69-76; 164-168; 173-181. On the reading of the Veda in the schools cf. Roth, "Zur Literatur und Geschichte des Veda," s. 36.

[216] Manu, 2, 66, 67; 3, 1.

[217] Manu, 6, 1-8, 22, 23, 76, 77.

[218] Manu, 6, 69, 79-85, 96.

[219] Manu, 6, 38.

[220] Talboys Wheeler, "Hist. of India," 2, 247.



[Pg 188]



The requirements of the new doctrine extended throughout the whole circle of life. The establishment of the arrangement into castes struck deep into the sphere of the family, of civic society, and the state; the old rules for purification were enlarged to suit the new system, and changed into rubrics for expiation and penance, touching almost at every step upon daily life. The ethical notions of the old time had to make room for a new ideal of the life pleasing to God. How could the ancient customs of the tribes, which hitherto had been the rule and standard of family and inheritance, of meum and tuum, resist such a sweeping alteration of the social, religious, and moral basis of life? How could the traditional punishments of transgressions and offences continue in existence? Marriage and inheritance must be arranged so as to suit the system of the castes; punishment must be dealt out according to the rank of the castes, and the religious sin involved in each offence; the administration of justice must take account of the new religious system in which actions, hitherto regarded as permissible, were looked on as offences. The monarchy had new duties to fulfil towards the Brahmans and the new faith; the authority of the state, the power of[Pg 189] inflicting punishment, must side with the true faith, with the interests of the priests, and the maintenance of the orders established by God. In the circles of the Brahmans there must have been a lively desire to establish the legal arrangement of the state on the basis of the divine arrangement of the world; to regulate the state in all its departments in a manner suitable to the nature of Brahman. The traditional observances and legal customs, the usages of the families, races, and districts, must be brought into harmony with the new doctrine; as an almost inevitable consequence, a rule was set up for correct morals, usages, and life, corresponding to the divine nature and will; a pattern was drawn of the manner in which individual family and state might act in every matter in accordance with the nature of Brahman. The commands resulting from the system of the divine order of the world were combined into one standard, set forth in a scheme universally accepted, and thus elevated above all doubt and contradiction, and in this way the Brahmans passed beyond the differences which could not but remain among them in respect to this or that point, and did actually remain in the schools of the priests, as the Brahmanas show. Moreover, unanimous prescripts, a comprehensive and revered canon of law and morals, were naturally an advantage to the position of the Brahmans; their status was thus rendered more secure and distinctive; and success was more certain.

The priesthoods of the various districts must have made a beginning by influencing and modifying in the spirit of the new doctrine the customs and usages of the land; they then proceeded to draw up the customs of family law, of marriage and inheritance, the rights and duties of the castes. In this compilation it was inevitable that the hereditary customs[Pg 190] should be revised in the spirit of the priesthood. Collections of this kind serving as rules for certain departments of life have been preserved in certain Grihya-Sutras, i. e. books of household customs, and Dharma-Sutras, i. e. catalogues or tables of laws.[221] Out of the oldest records of household customs and legal usages, altered and systematised in the spirit of the priests, out of the collections and revisions of the customs of law and morals made in various schools of priests, a book of law at last grew up for the Brahmans, which comprised both the civic and religious life, and in all relations set forth the ideal scheme, according to which they should be arranged in the spirit of the priesthood, i. e. in a manner suitable to the divine will. This book of the law bears the name of Manu, the first man, the progenitor of the race.

It has been shown above that the victory of the Brahmans, the new faith and code of morals, was first won in the regions between the Yamuna and the Ganges, in the land of the Bharatas, Panchalas, Matsyas, and Çurasenas. As it was there that the pre-eminence of the Brahmans was first completely acknowledged, it was there that they were first able to exercise an influence on the customs and ordinances of law; there also that the need of a comprehensive regulation of life upon the Brahman view was most strongly felt. "The land between the Sarasvati and the Drishadvati was created by the gods (devata); and therefore the sages give it the name of Brahmavarta"—so we are told in the book of the law. The custom of Brahmavarta (achara), preserved unbroken in this land, is for the book of the law the right custom, the correct law. Hence it follows that[Pg 191] the rules given in that book rest on the observances which grew up in this region under the predominating influence of the Brahmans. The book further tells us that on the borders of Brahmavarta is Brahmarshideça, i. e. the land of the Brahmanic saints; this includes the land of the Kurus (Kurukshetra) and that of the Panchalas, Matsyas, and Çurasenas. From a Brahman born in this land all men are to learn their right conduct upon earth. The "land of the middle" (Madhyadeça), according to the book, extends from Vinaçana in the west to Prayaga, i. e. to the confluence of the Yamuna and the Ganges; but the law is to prevail from the Vindhyas to the Himalayas, from the western to the eastern sea, over the whole of Aryavarta (i. e. the land of the Aryas): "wherever the black gazelle is found, an efficacious sacrifice can always be offered." In that land the Dvijas are to dwell; "but the Çudra who cannot obtain sustenance there may dwell elsewhere."[222]

The book of the law naturally declares the revelation (Çruti), the threefold Veda, to be the main source of law. The second source is immemorial tradition or the custom (Smriti) of the good, which is found in its typical form in Brahmavarta; in the third degree are the utterances of the old priests and sages, who are in part quoted by name and cited—Vasishtha, Atri, Gautama, Bhrigu, and Çaunaka.[223] But the book of the law is also not inclined utterly to reject the ancient observances and customs; on the contrary, all usages of families, races, and districts remain[Pg 192] in force, provided that they are not contradictory to this code.[224] The Brahmans were wisely prepared to content themselves with this looser form of unity; by thus sparing local life, they might hope to gain the ascendant more easily and readily in the points of chief importance. This regard for local law is counterbalanced by the fact that the book includes in its sphere religious duties, morals, and worship, and the entire arrangement of the state; in all these departments it lays down the scheme on which they are to be regulated in the spirit of the priesthood. The book is as copious on the doctrine as on the practice; it contains the punishments of heaven as well as those on earth; the arrangement of expiations and penalties as well as of regulations for the trade of the market; the principles of a vigorous management of the state, and the description of hell; the rules for living the Brahman's life and conducting war successfully; the decision of the judge on earth and beneath it. It is not content with establishing rules of law, or commands of moral duty, it includes among its ordinances moral maxims, a number of proverbs and rules of wisdom; it not only shows how heaven is gained but also the proper demeanour in society; a compendium of diplomacy follows the system of regenerations. Hence this book gives striking evidence of the mixture characteristic of the Indian nature, a mixture of superstitious fancy and keen distinction, of vague cloudiness and punctilious systematising, of soaring theory and subtle craft, of sound sense and over-refinement in reflection.

If from these indications about the customs of Brahmavarta and the Brahmans of Brahmarshideça we can determine with tolerable certainty the region in[Pg 193] which the book of the law has grown up, it follows from the introduction in which the holy Bhrigu recites the law as "Manu had revealed it to him at his prayer," and from the close where we are again told that this is "the law announced by Bhrigu,"[225] that the collection of Brahmanic rules contained in this book have been preserved in the form and revision received in the school derived from Bhrigu, and connected with the old minstrel race of the Bhrigus.[226] It is more difficult to find the date at which the germ of this collection of law may have been brought to completion. Even if we set aside the introduction and the close which are in no connection with the body of the work, the book is still wanting in unity: it contains longer and shorter rules on the same subject, is sometimes milder, sometimes more severe; a fact in favour of the gradual origin of the book, which indeed, as has been observed, is necessitated by the nature of the case.

The Indians possess a series of books of law, which, like that called after Manu, bear the name of a saint or seer of antiquity, or of a god. One is named after Gautama, another after Vasishtha, a third after Apastamba, a fourth after Yajnavalkya; others after Bandhayana and Vishnu. According to the tradition of the Indians the law of Manu is the oldest and most honourable, and this statement is confirmed by a comparison of the contents and system of the rules[Pg 194] contained in it with those of the other books.[227] Not to mention the fact that a considerable number of the rules in the book of Manu are repeated verbally in the other collections, the legal doctrine of the Indians is seen even in the older of these collections, in the book of Vishnu, which belongs to the Brahman school of the Kathakas, in that of Gautama, and finally in that of Yajnavalkya, which with the book of Gautama is nearest in point of date to the book of Manu—in a far more developed state, and with much more straw-splitting refinement. The book which is named after Yajnavalkya of the race of Vajasani belongs to the eastern regions of the Ganges, the kingdom of Mithila. It is based on a doctrine which, unknown to Manu's law, came into existence in the fourth century B.C.; the system of mixed castes and trade law is far more developed in it than in Manu. We shall see below that this doctrine cannot be placed much further back than the year 300 B.C.,[228] and it is assumed that the laws of Yajnavalkya in their present form may date from the third century of our era. If Manu's law is older than Yajnavalkya's, and the latter rests on a doctrine, the rise of which we can fix about the year 300 B.C., while Manu's doctrine is older, there are other indications to be gathered from Manu's work which enable us to fix the date more clearly. Manu's law, as we have seen, limits the habitations of the Aryas to the land north of the Vindhyas—from which we may conclude that this view belongs to a period when the Aryas had not yet set a firm foot on the coast of the Deccan. This extension of the Aryas to the south of the Vindhyas began, as will be seen below,[Pg 195] after the year 600 B.C. Soon after this year we find the states on the Ganges completely arranged according to the Brahmanic law, and the prescripts of the laws of Manu; even in the first half of the sixth century we find a stricter practice in regard to marriages outside the order, and a severer asceticism than the law-book requires. The conclusion is therefore inevitable that the decisive precepts, which we find in the collection, must have been put together and written down about the year 600.[229][Pg 196]

The introduction belongs undoubtedly to a later period. Manu is seated in solitary meditation, and there come to him the ten great saints—the book mentions Marichi, Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha,[Pg 197] Kratu, Daksha, Vasishtha, Bhrigu, Narada[230]—and say: "Thou alone, lord, knowest the distinction of the pure and impure castes, the true meaning of this universal order, which is self-existent; deign to explain it to us with clearness and in order." Manu then first narrates to the saints the story of creation. The highest being first created the water, and cast into it procreative seed, which became an egg, bright as gold and gleaming like the sun, and in this egg the highest being was born in the shape of Brahman. Then Brahman caused the egg to divide and formed from it the heaven and the earth and the great waters. He then divided himself into a man and a woman, and the male half (Brahman Viraj) produced him, Manu, who fashioned all things and created the ten Rishis, and the seven Manus, who in turn created animals and plants. Then the highest being caused him (Manu) to learn the book of the law by heart: he imparted it to the great saints and taught it to Bhrigu, who would recite it. Then Bhrigu takes up the word and says: "Learn from me the law as Manu has revealed it at my prayer." Bhrigu then narrates how the seven Manus had created various beings each in his age, and recites the doctrine of the four great[Pg 198] periods of the world (p. 70), of the origin of the four castes and the majesty of the Brahmans.[231]

It is no doubt a somewhat late form of Brahmanic cosmogony which is recited in this introduction. We hear no more of the Manu of the Rigveda, the progenitor of the Aryas; he is elevated in the priestly system to be the first being beside Brahman, and made the creator of the world. He is now called Manu Svayambhu, i. e. the self-existent Manu, and creates from himself the ten Rishis, the seven other Manus, who in their turn create living creatures and plants. The seven Manus are all denoted by special epithets—the seventh is known as the ancient Manu; he is called the son of Vivasvat, Vivasvata (p. 30). If Manu Svayambhu had already imparted the law to the great saints, to whose number Bhrigu belongs, and taught it especially to Bhrigu, it was unnecessary for the great saints to ask it from Manu once more. This difficulty is as little felt in the book as the still more striking contradiction that the collection, though emanating from the first Manu or Brahman, is based upon and even expressly appeals to the utterances of Vasishtha, Atri, Gautama, Bhrigu. This is further explained by the fact that the introduction is completely ignored in the text of the book.

In the text we see the civic polity on the Ganges at an advanced stage. The monarchy which rose up from the leadership of the immigrant hordes, in conflict partly against the old inhabitants and partly against the newly-founded states, has maintained this supreme position, and extended it to absolute domination. It is in full possession of despotic power. The Brahmanic theory, so far from destroying it, has, on the[Pg 199] contrary, extended and strengthened it. The Brahmans, it is true, demanded that the king should regulate worship, law, and morals according to their views and requirements; they imposed upon him duties in reference to their own order, but, on the other hand, they were much in need of the civic power to help them in carrying through their demands against the other orders. This doctrine of submission to the fortune of birth, of patient obedience, of a quiet and passive life, in connection with the reference to the punishments after death, and the evils to come, were highly calculated to elevate the power of the kings, and lull to sleep energy, independence of feeling and attitude, boldness and enterprise, in the castes of the Kshatriyas and Vaiçyas. The interest in another world and occupation with the future must thus have become more prominent than the participation in this world or care for the present. In such circumstances the world was gladly left to those who had once taken in hand the government of it. When the nation had gradually become unnerved by such doctrines and cares, the monarchy had an easy game to play. Its rule might be as capricious as it chose. In weaker nations, unaccustomed to action, the need of order and protection is so great that not only acts of violence against individuals but even the oppression felt by the whole is gladly endured for the sake of the security enjoyed in other respects by the entire population.

The book compares the kings with the gods. "He who by his beneficence spreads abroad the blessings of prosperity, and by his anger gives death, by his bravery decides the victory, without doubt unites in himself the whole majesty of the protectors of the world."[232] Brahman created the king, the book tells us,[Pg 200] by taking portions from the substance of the eight protectors of the world, and these the king now unites in his person.[233] "As Indra is the bright firmament, so does the king surpass in splendour all mortal beings; as Indra pours water from heaven for four months (the Indians on the Ganges reckoned the rainy season at four months), so must he heap benefits on his people. Like Surya (the sun-god) the king beams into the eyes and hearts of all; no one can look into his countenance. As Surya by his rays draws the moisture out of the earth for eight months, so may the king draw the legal taxes from his subjects. As Vayu flies round the earth and all creatures and penetrates them, so should the power of the king penetrate through all. Like Yama in the under world, the king is lord of justice; as Yama when the time is come judges friends and enemies, those who honour him and those who despise him, so shall the king hold captive the transgressors. As Varuna fetters and binds the guilty, so must the king imprison criminals. Like Agni, the king is the holy fire: with the flame of his anger he must annihilate all transgressors, their families and all that they have, their flocks, and herds, and he must be inexorable towards his ministers. As men rejoice at the sight of the moon-god (Chandra), so do they take pleasure in the sight of the good ruler; as Kuvera spreads abundance, so does the gracious look of the king give blessing and prosperity.[234] The sovereign is never to be despised, not even when he is a child; for a great divinity dwells in this human form."[235] The king also represents, according to Manu, the four ages of the world. On his sleeping and waking and action depends the condition of the land. "If the king does what is good, it is Kritayuga (the age of perfection); if he acts with[Pg 201] energy, it is Tritayaga (the age of the sacrificial fires); if he is awake, it is Dvaparayuga (the period of doubt); if he sleeps it is Kaliyuga (the period of sin)."[236] We have already become acquainted with the deification of kings in a still more pronounced form in the inscriptions on the temples and palaces of Egypt. It will always be found where there is nothing to oppose the authority of the king but the impotence of subjects who possess no rights, when life and death depend on his nod, and above all where a divine order supposed to be gathered from the commands of heaven is realised on earth in the state, and there are no institutions to carry it out, but only the person of the king as the single incarnation of power.

However high the Brahmans placed the sanctity and dignity of their own order above that of the Kshatriyas, the book makes no attempt to bring the monarchy into the hands of the Brahmans. It lays down the rule that the kings must belong to the order of the Kshatriyas;[237] and leaves the throne to them, without feeling the contradiction that by this means a member of a subordinate caste receives dominion over the first-born of Brahman. It was part of the conception of the Brahmans that each order had a definite obligation. The Kshatriyas must protect the other orders; and therefore the chief protector must belong to this caste. But the book does not even aim at confining the royal power of the Kshatriyas in narrower limits for the benefit of the Brahmans. The kings are merely commanded to be obedient to the law of the priests; the order of Brahmans is declared to be especially adapted for public offices, without excluding the rest of the Dvija from them. The king is further recommended to advise chiefly with Brahmans on affairs of state, and to allow Brahmans to[Pg 202] pronounce sentence in his place.[238] For the great sacrifices he must have a Brahman to represent him (Purohita); and for household devotion and daily ritual he must keep a chaplain (Ritvij).

Agreeably to the Brahmanic conception of the world, the maintenance of the established order is the especial duty of the king. He must take care that all creatures do what is required of them and perform their duties. He must also protect his subjects, their persons, property, and rights. He must reward the good and punish the bad. Justice is the first duty of the king. By justice the book understands chiefly the maintenance of authority and order by terror, by sharp repression and severe punishment. The power of inflicting punishment is regarded as the best part of the kingly office; the king must especially occupy himself with pronouncing judgment, and punish without respect of persons. The terror spread by punishment, and the apportionment of it in particular cases, are the principles of the law of penalties. The Brahmans had gained recognition for their doctrine mainly by the fear of the penalties of hell, and the regenerations; they thought that nothing but fear governs the world, and by that means only could order be maintained in the state. The more the Brahmanic doctrine drained the marrow out of the bones and the force out of the souls of the people, the more dependent and incapable of self-help the subjects were made by the severe oppression and tutelage of the kings, the more necessary it became, as no one could now defend or help himself, to have an effectual protection for persons and property, and this the book finds only in the power of punishment exercised by the king.

We find a complete theory of the preservative[Pg 203] power of punishment, before which all distinctions of criminal and civil process disappear, and it becomes a matter of indifference whether an offence has taken place from a doubtful claim, from error, carelessness, or evil intention. "A man who does good by nature," so we are told in the book, "is rarely found. Even the gods, the Gandharvas, the giants, the serpents perform their functions only from fear of punishment. It is this which prevents all creatures from abandoning their duties, and puts them in a position to enjoy what is properly their own. Punishment is justice, as the sages say; punishment governs the world; it is a mighty power, a strong king, a wise expounder of law. When all things sleep, punishment is awake. If the king did not ceaselessly punish those who deserve it, the stronger would eat up the weak; property would cease to exist; the crow would pick up the rice of the sacrifice, and the dog lick the clarified butter. Only when black punishment with red eyes annihilates the transgressors, do men feel no anxiety."

The services rendered by the king in the exercise of justice and the maintenance of order and the system of caste thus attained, are naturally rated very highly by the book of law, in accordance with its general tendency. "By the suppression of the evil and protection of the good, the king purifies himself like a Brahman by sacrifice." "Then his kingdom flourishes like a tree that is watered continually;" through the protection which the king secures for the good by punishment, he acquires a portion of the merits of the good. The portion of these merits thus allotted to the king is determined by arithmetical calculations. "The king who collects the sixth part of the harvest and protects his people by punishment, obtains a sixth[Pg 204] part of the merit of all pious actions, and the sixth part of all rewards allotted by the heavenly beings to the nation for their sacrifices and gifts to the gods, and for the reading of the holy scriptures. But the king who does not protect his people, and yet takes the sixth, goes into hell; as does also the king who punishes the innocent and not the transgressors. Even if the king has not himself pronounced the unjust sentence, a part of the guilt falls upon him. The fourth part of the injustice of the sentence falls on him who began the suit, a fourth on the false witnesses, a fourth on the judge, a fourth on the king. A pure prince, who is truthful, who knows the holy scriptures, and does not disregard the laws, which he has himself given, is regarded by the sages as capable of regulating punishment, of imposing it evenly, and thus he increases the virtue, the wealth, and prosperity of his subjects (the three means of happiness)." "To the prince who decides a case righteously, the people will flock like the rivers to the ocean, and when he has thus obtained the good-will of the nation"—so the book continues—"he must attempt to subjugate the lands which do not obey him."[239]

Accompanied by Brahmans and experienced councillors, the king is to repair without magnificence to the court of justice. After invoking the protectors of the world, he begins, standing or seated, with the right hand raised, and his attention fixed, to examine the case according to the rank of the castes. Like Yama, the judge of the under world, the king must renounce all thoughts of what is pleasing to him; he must follow the example of the judge of all men, suppress his anger, and put a bridle on his senses. If right wounded by wrong enters the court and the[Pg 205] king does not draw out the arrow he is himself wounded. From the attitude of the litigants, the colour of their faces, and the tone of their voices, their appearance and gestures, the king must ascertain their thoughts and attain to truth, as the hunter reaches the lair of the wild beast which he has wounded by following up the traces of its blood. Beside these indications, witnesses are required for proof; and if these are not forthcoming, oaths or the "divine declaration." Respectable men of all the orders are allowed as witnesses, especially the fathers of families; if these are not to be obtained, the friends or enemies of the accused, his servants, or such as are in need and poverty, and are afflicted with sickness. In cases of necessity the evidence of a woman, a child, and a slave can be taken.[240]

The book repeatedly and with great urgency exhorts the witnesses to speak the truth, and threatens false witnesses with hell and a terrible series of regenerations. In the presence of the accuser and accused the king calls on the witness to tell the truth: to the Brahman he says, "speak;" to the Kshatriya, "tell the truth;" to the Vaiçya, he points out that false witness is as great a crime as theft of corn, cattle, and gold.[241] "The wicked think," says Manu, "no one sees us if we give false witness. But the protectors of the world know the actions of all living creatures, and the gods see all men. The soul also is its own witness; a severe judge and unbending avenger dwells in thine heart. The soul is a part of the highest spirit, the attentive and silent observer of all that is good and evil." The false witness will not only come to misfortune in his life, so that, deprived of his sight, with a potsherd in his hand he will beg for morsels in the[Pg 206] house of his enemy—for all the good that a man has done in his life at once departs into dogs by false witness—in a hundred migrations he will fall into the toils of Varuna, and at last will be thrown head foremost into the darkest abyss of hell. Even his family and kindred are brought into hell by the false witness. For further elucidation the book provides a scale; by false witness about oxen five, about cows ten, about horses a hundred, and about men a thousand members of the family of the false witness are thrown into hell.[242]

If no witnesses are forthcoming the king must endeavour to find out the truth by the oaths of the accuser or the accused, which in cases of special importance he may test and confirm by the "divine declaration." Even the Brahmans could not refuse the oath; for Vasishtha had sworn to the son of Pijavana (Sudas). The Brahman swore by his truthfulness; the Kshatriya by his weapons, his horses, and elephants; the Vaiçya by his cows, his corn, his grass; the Çudra, when taking an oath, must invoke all sins on his own head.[243] If the king desires the "divine revelation" on the truth of the oath, the person taking it must lay his hand, while swearing, on the head of his wife, or the heads of his children; or after taking it, he must undergo the test of fire and water or fire; i. e. he is thrown into water and he must touch fire with his hand. If in the second case no immediate harm follows, if in the first the witness sinks like any other person, if in the third he is not injured by the fire, the oath is correct. Fire, so the book proceeds, is to be the test of guilt or innocence for all men; the holy Vatsa once demonstrated his innocence by walking through[Pg 207] fire without a hair of his head being consumed.[244] When we consider the inclination of the Indians to the marvellous, and their belief in the perpetual interference of the gods, it cannot surprise us that these regulations about the divine declaration—which are all that are found in the book of the law—became at a later time much more extended and complicated; it is also possible that the book has omitted certain hereditary forms of the divine sentence, such as the carrying of hot iron, though they continue to exist.[245]

When the king had thus come to a conclusion about the matter and its position by means of indications, evidence, oaths, and "divine declaration," when he had considered the extenuating or aggravating circumstances, e. g. special qualities in the criminal, or repeated convictions, and reflected on the prescriptions given by the law, he is to cause punishment to be[Pg 208] inflicted on the guilty. The book acknowledges that the king alone is not sufficient for the burden of pronouncing justice; it is open to him to name a representative, and the necessary judges from the number of the twice-born; no exclusive right in this respect is reserved for the Brahmans, but they are especially recommended. "A court of law, assembled by the king, and consisting of a very learned Brahman and three Brahmans acquainted with writing, is called by the sages the court of Brahman with four faces." A Çudra can never be named by the king as his representative in a court of law. If such a thing were to happen, the kingdom would be in the unfortunate position of a cow which had fallen into a morass.[246]

The doctrine of the Brahmans that no living creature is to be killed is little attended to in respect of human life either in their penal code or in their asceticism. The punishment of death is perhaps less frequently imposed than elsewhere in the East, but mutilations are only the more common, and at times they are employed to aggravate the sentence of death, which is inflicted by beheading and impalement.[247] The legends of the Buddhists show that cruel mutilations were not uncommon. Men of the despised classes, especially Chandalas, served as executioners.[248] The Brahmans are to be free from all bodily punishment; the other castes could be punished either by loss of life, or of the sexual organs, or in the belly, the tongue, feet and hands, eyes and nose, and were distinguished by different brands on the forehead.[249] But the book of the law adds a rule of some importance intended to win respect and legal[Pg 209] value for the priestly arrangements of penances: all criminals, who perform the religious expiations prescribed for their offence, are not to be punished in the body, but only condemned to pay a fine. Next to corporal punishments, fines are the most frequent; but imprisonment is mentioned; this was carried out in gaols, which were to be erected on the highways "to spread terror."

The book allows the kings absolute power to punish with capricious severity and with death any attempt and even "any hostile feeling" against themselves. This is necessitated by the position of the despotic ruler whose throne depends on keeping alive the sense of fear in his subjects. "He who in the confusion of his mind betrays hatred against his king must die; the king must at once occupy himself with the means to bring about his destruction." Any one who has refused obedience to the king or robbed the king's treasury must be put to death with tortures.[250] He who forges royal orders, puts strife between the ministers of the king, appropriates the royal property, has any understanding with the enemies of the king, and inspires them with courage, must die. So also must the man who has killed a Brahman, a woman, or a child,[251] who has broken down a dyke, so that the water in the reservoir is lost.[252] Adultery under certain circumstances is punished with death. Robbery, arson, attacks with violence on persons or property, are punished very severely, for such crimes "spread alarm among all creatures."[253] The punishments prescribed by the law for the protection of property are, comparatively, the most severe; it seems that the Brahmanic view, which allots to each creature his sphere[Pg 210] of rights, regarded property, the extended circle of the person, as an appurtenance deserving the strictest respect, and that the Brahmans looked on the protection of property as an essential part of a good arrangement of the state, which must secure his own to every man and maintain him in the possession of it. The king is to suppress theft with the greatest vigour. In order to discover the thief, no less than the gambler and cheat, the law recommends him to avail himself of the espionage of those who apparently pursue the same occupation. These spies are to be taken from all orders, and must watch especially the open places, wells, and houses of courtesans in the cities, and in the country the sacred trees, the crossways, the public gardens, and parks of the princes. The king must cause every one to be executed who is caught on the spot with the property upon him, and the concealers of the thief must be punished as severely as the thief himself.[254] Any one who steals more than ten kumbhas worth of corn is to be punished with death; theft of a less value is followed by loss of hand or foot. Petty stealing, e. g. of flowers, or of as much corn as a man can carry, is to be punished by fines, in which the Vaiçya has to pay twice as much as the Çudra, the Kshatriya four times, the Brahman eight or a hundred times. Burglary is a capital offence; the sentence is carried out by impalement, after the hands of the victim have been cut off.[255] A cut-purse loses two fingers; on a second offence a hand and a foot; if the offence is repeated he must die.[256] In regard to property, Manu's laws are so severe that they not only put the sale of another's goods, but even the loosing of a tied ox, or the tying of one which is loose, the use of the slave, horse, or carriage[Pg 211] of another on the same level as theft. On the other hand, it is permissible to take roots, and fruits, and even wood for sacrifice out of any unfenced field; the hungry traveller, if a Dvija, may break two sugarcanes, but not more.[257] Gamblers are punished like thieves, and any one who keeps a gambling house must undergo corporal punishment; drunkards are branded in the forehead. The law of contract and debt, the breach of covenants, the non-payment of wages when due, the annulling of a purchase or sale, the law of deposits, the collection of outstanding accounts, gambling debts and wages, are discussed at some length.

The views and regulations in the book of law about the unlimited power of the king and the exercise of the right of punishment might appear to be of a later date than has been assumed, if the sutras of the Buddhists and the accounts of the Greeks from the end of the fourth century B.C. did not exhibit the monarchy of India in the full possession of unlimited power; the latter also mention the careful regard paid by the kings to the administration of justice. Hence we can hardly be wrong in assuming that the Arians in India were not later than their kindred in Iran in reaching this form of constitution.

Along with the absolute power of punishment the law allows the kings a very liberal right of imposing taxes. The taxes were regarded as the recompense which the subjects have to pay for the protection which the king extends to them. However high the quota of taxes may be which the king has the right to raise, the law calls attention to the fact that it is not good "to exhaust the realm by taxes." The impositions are to be arranged in such a way that the subjects may confess that king and nation find "the just reward[Pg 212] of their labour." The king is never to cut off his own roots by raising no taxes at all on a super-abundance of possessions, nor may he from covetousness demand too heavy a tribute, and so cut off the roots of his subjects. As the exhaustion of the body destroys the life of the animated creature, so does the exhaustion of the kingdom destroy the life of the king. As a rule, he may only demand the twelfth part of the harvest, i. e. above eight per cent., and the fiftieth, i. e. two per cent., of animals and incomes in gold and silver.[258] Yet the eighth or sixth corn could be demanded according to the quality of the soil and the amount of labour required upon it, and the fifth part of the increase in cattle and in gold and silver. In cases of necessity the fourth part of the harvest could be demanded, "when the king is protecting his people with all his power." Of the gain on fruit-trees, herbs, flowers, perfumes and honey the king can take the sixth part. From the wares of the merchant which come to be sold, the king may take the twentieth;[259] and those who live by retail trade may be compelled to pay a moderate tax. Artisans, day-labourers, and Çudras who earn too little to be able to pay taxes, the king compels to work for him one day in each month.[260]

From this it is clear how extensive was the circle from which taxes were paid; all incomes, whether from the soil and under it, even to flowers and honey, or from the breeding of cattle, all purchases and sales were taxed, and the rates at which the taxes were levied were high. There were besides presents in kind. If we add to these the exactions of the tax-gatherer, which in the East have rarely been wanting, the burdens prescribed and imposed by the laws must have been[Pg 213] very considerable. It would afford little protection to those who had to pay that Manu's laws required that the taxes should be collected by men of good family whose characters were free from avarice.[261] Yet these and other rules in the book show that an attempt was made to introduce order, and, at any rate, a certain moderation into the taxation. The good advice given in conclusion to the king, that he should collect his yearly tribute in small portions, even as the bee and the leech suck in their nourishment gradually,[262] is rather evidence of Machiavellian policy than of good feeling towards the taxpayers, while the open reference to the leech as a pattern of moderation is equivalent to an acknowledgment of the draining process of which we find evidence elsewhere. From the general duty of paying taxes the "learned Brahman" is alone exempted; from him the king is never to take tribute even though he were dying of hunger;[263] the Brahmans, as we shall see, paid their sixth in intercessions.[264]

The rules given in the law for taxation are not of recent date. The sixth part of the harvest is there prescribed as the rule. From the accounts of the Greeks about the year 300 B.C. the fourth part of the harvest was collected, and a tenth from trade.[265] According to the sutras of the Buddhists the pressure of taxes in some states on the Ganges became exhausting. Subsequently, the princes of the Mahrattas took a fifth of the harvest, which seems to have become the rule in later times, and occasionally a fourth, in corn or coin. The Sultan Akhbar caused the whole land to be measured and the value of the produce to be calculated on an average of the harvests of nineteen years, and the size[Pg 214] of the farm; then he took the third part of the produce thus estimated in gold, with entire release from all other taxes. Lands in the possession of the Brahmans partially enjoy even to this day the traditional freedom from taxation.

As it is difficult for one man to govern a great kingdom the book advises the king to choose seven or eight ministers from men whose fathers have already been in the service of the crown, persons of good family, of knowledge of the law, bold and skilful in the use of weapons.[266] He is to secure their fidelity by an oath. With them he is to consider all affairs, first with each singly, then with all together; after this he may do what seems to him best. On matters of great importance the king must always ask the advice of one Brahman of eminence, and consider the affair with him as his first minister.[267] The sutras of the Buddhists as well as the epic poems show us the court of the king arranged according to these rules; in the Ramayana, king Daçaratha of Ayodhya has eight ministers together with his Parohita and Ritvij.[268]

The plan presented by the law for the management of the state is very simple. The king is to place officers (pati, lords) over every village, and again over every ten or twenty villages (grama), so that these places with their acreage formed together a district. Five or ten such districts form a canton, which contains a hundred communities, and over this in turn the king places a higher magistrate. Ten of these cantons form a region, which thus comprised a thousand villages, and this is administered by a governor.[269] The overseers of districts are to have divisions of soldiers at their disposal to maintain order in their[Pg 215] districts. Thefts and robbery which they are unable to prevent with their own forces they must report to the overseers of cantons.[270] Thus the states of India were governed by a complicated series of royal magistrates subordinated to each other, which is of itself evidence of an advanced stage of administration. Whether the kings of India adopted this or some other plan for the management of their states, which in the first instance were of no great extent, experience must have taught, before Manu's laws received their present form, that these magistrates did not always discharge their duties faithfully, but were guilty of caprice and oppression. The subordination of the magistrates is intended to supply a means of control; but the law also requires regular payment of officers. "Those whom the king employs for the security of the land," we are told, "are as a rule knaves, who gladly appropriate the property of the subjects."[271] In order to prevent this as far as possible regular payment is absolutely necessary. The fourth class (the overseers of the villages) is to receive what the village has to contribute to the king in rice, wood, and drink; the third class (the overseers of districts) must receive as pay the produce of an estate, which requires twelve steers to cultivate it; the second class must receive the produce of a plot five times as large, &c.[272] Moreover, in every great city the king must nominate a head overseer, and must from time to time cause reports to be made by special commissaries of the manner in which the magistrates perform their duties; and those who take money from the people with whom they have to do, the king must drive out of the land and confiscate their property.[273][Pg 216]

The advice which the book imparts to the kings on the duties they have to fulfil beside the protection of the subjects, the maintenance of order, and the supervision of their magistrates; the art of government sketched for them, the regulations for personal security put into their hand, are the result of an unfettered reflection on all these relations for which no limitations and principles are in existence, except the interest of uncontrolled dominion, and the respect due to the Brahmans.

The king is to take up his abode in a healthy and rich district, inhabited by loyal people, who get their living easily, and surrounded by peaceful neighbours. In such a district he is to choose a place difficult of access owing to deserts or forest. If these are not to be found the king must build his citadel on a mountain, or he must make it inaccessible by specially strong walls of stone or brick, or by trenches filled with water. As a man can do nothing to a wild animal when in its hole, so the king has nothing to fear in an inaccessible place. In the midst of such a fortress the king must build his palace with the necessary spaces properly divided in such a manner that it can be inhabited at any period of the year. The palace must be provided with water and surrounded with trees, the entire dwelling must then be enclosed by trenches and walls. The citadel, in which the palace lies, must be well provided with arms, supplies, beasts of burden, fodder, machines, and Brahmans. One archer behind the breast of the wall easily holds a hundred enemies in check.[274] The guard in the interior of the palace is to be trusted only to men of little spirit, for brave men, seeing the king frequently alone or surrounded by women, could easily slay him[Pg 217] at the instigation of his enemies. It is best to pay regularly the servants of the palace; the chief servants are to receive six panas a day, six dronas of corn a month, and six suits of clothes in the year; the lowest receive one pana a day, one drona of corn a month, and an upper and under garment twice in the year.[275]

The king, his council, his treasure, his metropolis, his land, army, and confederates—these are, according to the book of the law, the seven parts of the kingdom, which ought mutually to support each other. The king is the most important part, "because through him all the other parts are set in motion;" his destruction brings with it the ruin of the rest. Hence the king must take thought for his preservation. For this object the book advises him—besides securing the metropolis, the citadel, and the people in it—to pay attention to a good arrangement of the day. With early dawn he is to rise and purify himself, in deep meditation to offer his sacrifice to Agni, and show his respect for the Brahmans who know the three holy books.[276] Then he must go to the magnificent hall of reception, and there delight his subjects by gracious words and looks. After administering justice he is to consult with his ministers in some secret place where he cannot be overheard, on a lonely terrace or on the top of a mountain. In the middle of the day, if he is free from disquiet and weariness (or in the middle of the night), he must reflect on virtue, content, and riches, on war and peace,[Pg 218] on the prospect of success in his undertakings. Then he must bathe, take such exercise as becomes a king, and then repair to the meal in his inner chambers. There he must take food prepared for him by old, faithful, and trustworthy servants, but previously tested with the help of a partridge, whose eyes become red if there is poison in the dish. He must consecrate the food by prayers, which will destroy the poison contained in it. He must at all times carry precious stones with him, to counteract the effect of poison, and must mix antidotes with his food.[277] After dinner the women make their appearance to fan him, and sprinkle him with water and perfumes, but not till their ornaments and dress have been carefully searched to see that neither weapons nor poison are hidden in them. When the king has passed the suitable time with his wives, he occupies himself anew with public business. He puts on his armour, and reviews his warriors, elephants, horses, chariots, and arms.[278] In the evening, after sacrifice, he repairs in his armour to a remote part of the palace, in order to receive the accounts of his spies. Then he takes his evening meal in his innermost chambers, at which his wives attend him. After a light repast and some music, he lies down to rest at the proper time, and rises refreshed in the morning.[279]

The book advises the king to make conquests, and gives him counsel on the conduct of war. This may be explained as a survival of the old warlike feeling of the people, or as the result of the duty imposed on the Kshatriyas, or from the encyclopædic nature of the book, which includes all sides of civic life. The ideal of the Brahmans lay no doubt in a quiet and peaceful life, but like other priesthoods they were inclined to[Pg 219] leave the state a free course in its desire for extension of power so long as it satisfied the requirements they laid upon it. Conquests, the book tells us, cannot be made till a treasure has been collected and the troops carefully exercised.[280] Every neighbour is to be regarded as an enemy, but the neighbour of a neighbour as a friend. While the king must carefully conceal the weaknesses of his own kingdom, he must spy out the weakness of the enemy; he must send spies into the enemy's land, just as he uses them to detect gambling, theft, and cheating in his own. The persons best suited for this purpose are fictitious penitents, degraded eremites, broken merchants, starving peasants, and finally young men of bold and acute spirit; these must collect accurate information concerning the ministers, treasures, and army of the hostile state.[281] The choice of the ambassador sent to the enemy's coast is of the first importance both for knowing the country, and ascertaining the views of the prince. He must be a man of high birth, of acuteness and honesty, friendly in his manners. In negotiations with the hostile prince, this envoy must be able to judge of his intentions from his conduct, tone, attitude, and demeanour; he must detect his plans by secretly bribing a covetous minister.[282] When acquainted with the strength and designs of the enemy, the king must attempt to weaken their power and strengthen his own. For this purpose he must by all possible means create dissension in the enemy's country, or foster a dissension already existing; he must gain over relatives of the prince who prefer a claim to the throne, or discontented and displaced ministers; and make presents to the subjects of the hostile prince. Finally, he must conclude[Pg 220] treaties with the ambitious neighbours of the hostile state, and attempt to break off his alliances, by creating personal dissensions between the princes.[283]

The issue of all things in this world, the book says, depends on the laws of fate, which are regulated according to the acts of men in their former existence. These laws are concealed from us; we must therefore hold to things which are accessible. It is enough if the king keeps three things before him in these undertakings; himself, the object he has in view, the means of attaining it. Starting from the experience of the past and the present situation of affairs, he must attempt to discover the probable issue. He who can foresee the use or harm of any resolution, who decides quickly at a given moment, and can see the consequences of any event, will never be overcome. A prince who is firm in his views, liberal and grateful to all who serve him, bold, skilful, and fearless, will, in the opinion of the sages, hardly be overcome. Fortune attends the enterprising and enduring prince, and he who keeps his counsels secret will extend his power over the whole earth.[284]

If the king is attacked unexpectedly he must take refuge in negotiations; in such a case he must also make up his mind to endure some slight injury, and even sacrifice a part of his kingdom. But if he has made all his preparations and concealed them, if he has drawn all the parts of his kingdom into himself like a tortoise; if the fortresses are armed and garrisoned, if the six divisions of the army—the elephants, chariots, cavalry, foot-soldiers, generals, and baggage—are ready, and he has made arrangements for his absence, he must consider like a hawk the best mode of attack, the object of which must be the[Pg 221] metropolis of the enemy, and make it suddenly at a favourable time of the year. If the strength of his army consists in chariots, elephants, and cavalry, he must set out in November (Margaçirsha) or in February (Phalguna) in order to find the autumn or spring harvest in the fields, in case some special misfortune has befallen the enemy, or the victory is for general reasons beyond a doubt. The march must be secured by making roads, by spies, and good advanced troops who know the signals, for which purpose daring men, of whom it is known that they will not desert, must be sought out.

Battles must be avoided as much as possible if the object can be attained by other means, for the issue of a battle can never be foreseen. But if it is found impossible to compel the enemy to make peace by devastating his land, by taking up strong positions and an entrenched camp, or by blockading him in his camp, and cutting him off from supplies—water, and wood for firing, by provoking him by day, and attacking him by night—if a battle is unavoidable, it is best in a plain to fight with cavalry and chariots, in a well watered region with elephants, in a woodland district with archers, on open ground with sword and shield. The Kshatriyas of Brahmavarta and Brahmarshideça, from the lands of the Matsyas, Panchalas, and Çurasenas were to be placed in the front ranks, or if these were not forthcoming, tall and skilful men of other regions. Poisoned arrows and fire arrows are not to be used. A man on a chariot or a horse is not to attack a foot-soldier; an enemy is not to be attacked who is already engaged with an opponent, or has lost his arms, or is wounded. These rules, like the precept that the king is never to turn his back when the army has been set in array, are results of the[Pg 222] old warlike and knightly feeling united with the view of the Brahmans, that each order should fulfil its proper office. It is the duty of the Kshatriyas not to fly, says the book, but much more of the king; kings who fight with great courage in the battle, eager to overcome each other, and do not turn aside their heads, go straight into heaven when they fall. Those who pray for life with folded hands, the severely wounded, and those who fly, are not to be slain.[285] According to these regulations the regions of Brahmavarta and Brahmarshideça produce not only the best Brahmans but the best Kshatriyas. The accounts of the Greeks from the fourth century B.C. prove that at any rate the princes of the land of the Indus knew how to fight bravely. Megasthenes tells us that they rarely came to close conflict, but generally carried on the contest with large bows at a distance.

When victory has been won, the law advises the king, however weary he may be, to follow it up quickly. According to the regulations of the Veda, gold and silver found in the booty belong to the king, everything else to the man who has taken it. If the enemy's land is conquered an attempt must be made to secure the possession of it. The king must issue a proclamation to relieve all the inhabitants from alarm; he must worship the deities worshipped by the conquered land, and pay respect to the virtuous Brahmans in it. Under certain circumstances it is good to make distributions to the people; to carry off treasures arouses hatred, to distribute them excites love; each is worthy of praise or blame according to circumstances. Finally, the book utterly disregards the possible result of the excellent advice given by laying down the rule that the king may hand over the conquered district to[Pg 223] a prince of the royal blood, and prescribe certain conditions with which he is to rule there as a vassal king. It is obvious that such relations must soon end in revolts. The position of the vassal king is too strong for obedience, and his strength is a temptation to acquire complete freedom and independence. Manu's doctrines are intended for these vassal kings also; they may apply them like the chief kings for their own benefit.

No regulations are given in the book for the succession to the throne. It only requires that a consecration shall take place on the accession of a new king. If the king feels that his end is near, he must distribute his treasures to the Brahmans; hand over the kingdom to his son, and seek death in battle; if there is no war, the old king must end his life by starvation. The precept that the king should seek death in battle is again a remnant of the old feeling; he must live and die like a Kshatriya.

The Epos and legends of the Brahmans are in complete agreement with the book of the law as to the necessity of monarchy, its objects and duties. It has been mentioned already how the Brahmans created a new king out of the body of the dead king Vena (p. 149), as a protection against the robbers who rose up on all hands. A land without a king, we are told in the Ramayana, is like a cow without a bull, a herd without a herdsman, a night without a moon, a woman who has lost her husband. There is then no property; men consume each other as one fish eats another. When there is no king Indra does not water the plains, the fields are not sown, the son does not obey the father, No rich man builds houses and lays out parks; no priest skilled in sacrifice brings offerings to the gods. The people do not[Pg 224] dance at the festival, the minstrels are not surrounded by an audience. No maiden adorned with gold walks in the evening in the gardens, no elephant sixty years old stands in the ways with tusks adorned with bells. The peasant and the herdman cannot sleep securely with open doors; the traders are not safe in the streets. When there is no king the ceaseless sound of archers practising for battle is never heard.[286] In the Mahabharata we are told of Yudhishthira's reign at Indraprastha that he ruled with great justice, protected his subjects as his sons, and conquered his enemies round about, so that every one in the land was without fear or distress, and could apply his whole mind to the fulfilment of religious duties. The kingdom received an abundance of rain at the proper time; all the inhabitants were rich, and testified to the virtues of the king in the abundance of the harvests, in the increase of the flocks, and in the great growth of trade. There was neither drought nor inundation; the parrots did not eat the corn; there were no swindlers, liars, or thieves in the land.

In the Epos also we find the kings dwelling in fortified cities and citadels. According to the Ramayana, Ayodhya is a city surrounded by high walls, with broad and deep trenches and strong gates; the gateways and the towers on the walls are occupied with archers; in the midst of the city was the royal citadel surrounded by walls, so lofty that no bird could fly over it, watched by a thousand warriors strong and courageous as lions. In the three first of the five courts of this citadel, young soldiers kept watch; in the two last, where the king and his wives dwelt, were old men. In the Epos the kings when old lay aside their crowns, as the book commands, and[Pg 225] resign them to their sons. The aged Dhritarashtra of Hastinapura resigns the throne to Yudhishthira; Daçratba of Ayodhya wishes to give it up to Rama. Dhritarashtha and Yudhishthira end their days in the wilderness as Vanaprasthas, or penitents, in the manner prescribed in the book for every Dvija in his old age (p. 184). The ceremonial of consecration required by the book is described at great length in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Rice, white flowers, clods of earth, pieces of silver and gold, and precious stones are brought to Yudhishthira; he touches them in the traditional manner. Then fire, milk, honey, curdled milk, purified butter, the holy goblets, leaves and twigs of the sacred trees, and vessels with consecrated water are placed before the king. When the sacrificial fire has been kindled, Yudhishthira with Draupadi seats himself before it on a tiger's skin; the consecrating Brahman pours the libations into the sacrificial fire—cow's milk, sweet and curdled, and melted butter—and in order to purify the king and queen he pours the urine of cows on their heads and then lays cowdung upon them. Then the consecrated water is poured over them, and after this the music begins to sound, and the minstrels sing the praises of Yudhishthira and his ancestors. At the consecration of Rama the golden throne is set up, the yellow parasol and the two flappers of buffalo-tails, the tiger-skin, bow and sword are brought forward. The four-yoked chariots, the elephants, the great white buffalo, the lion with strong mane, the cows with golden ornaments on their horns, the flowers and the jars filled with water from the Ganges and the holy springs and pools, are made ready.[287] Rama and Sita place themselves in[Pg 226] beautiful garments in the portico of the palace, their faces to the east, and the people cry aloud: Long live the Maharaja (great-king) Rama; may his reign be prosperous and continue for ever! Then the Rishis come with jars full of consecrated water, say the solemn words, and pour the water upon the heads of Rama and Sita. Then the Brahmans do the same, the Kshatriyas, Vaiçyas, and Çudras, and all the remaining classes of the people. When Rama and Sita have changed their garments they return to their place in the portico; the yellow parasol is spread over Rama, and he is fanned with the two flappers. And the Brahmans and the people of Ayodhya came to bless Rama, and scattered rice in the husk and kuça-grass on his head, and Rama sent away the Brahmans with rich gifts, and the minstrels and dancers and dancing-girls were rewarded. The sutras of the Buddhists mention as the symbols of monarchy the turban and tiara, the sword, the yellow parasol, the flappers of buffalo-tails, and the parti-coloured shoes.[288] In the Ramayana, Bharata, the younger brother, will not accept the throne in the place of his elder brother Rama, though commanded to do so by his father. Then Rama takes off the gilded shoes and hands them to Bharata, a symbol of his renunciation of the throne, which was in use even among the Germans.[289] The virtuous Bharata is now compelled to reign; but he places the shoes on the throne, holds the yellow parasol over them, and causes them to be fanned by the first ministers, and before these shoes of his brother he takes counsel and administers justice.[Pg 227]

The lecture which Rama gives his brother on the art of government is in complete harmony with the doctrines of the book of the law. He asks Bharata whether he is protecting the city of Ayodhya and all the cantons of his kingdom in a proper manner; whether he pays due respect to householders and proprietors, whether his judges give them justice? Is an accused chief set at liberty through bribery? Are the judges in any matter of law between rich and poor raised above the desire of gain? O Bharata, the tears shed by those who have been condemned unjustly, destroy the children and the flocks of him who governs with partiality. He asks further whether Bharata despises the Brahmans who are so given up to the satisfaction of the senses and the enjoyment of the world that they do not trouble themselves about the things of heaven—whether he despises men eminent in useless knowledge, and those who profess to be wise without having learned anything: whether he prefers one learned man to a thousand of the unlearned; ten thousand of the ignorant multitude will not be able to render him any service in his government. Does he employ distinguished servants in great matters, men of lower degree in smaller affairs, and the lowest in the least important? In affairs of great moment he must employ only those who have served his father and grandfather, who have not opened their hand to bribes; heroic and learned men, who are masters of their senses, and able to untie a knot. Dost thou despise the counsel of women, and conceal from them thy secrets? Or do thine own counsellors contemn thee, and the people, oppressed by excessive punishments? Dost thou honour those who are bold and skilful? Do thy servants and troops receive pay at the proper time? Are thy fortresses well provided[Pg 228] with corn, water, weapons, and archers? Is the forest, where the royal elephants are kept, well chosen? Art thou well equipped with horses and female elephants? Hast thou store of young milch-cows? Is thy expenditure less than thy income? Dost thou bestow thy wealth on Brahmans, Kshatriyas, needy strangers? or lavish it on thy friends? Dost thou wake at the right time? Canst thou overcome sleep? Dost thou divide thy time properly between recreation, state business, and religious duties? Dost thou think at the end of the night on the way to become prosperous? Dost thou take counsel with thyself and with others also? Are thy resolutions kept secret? Do other princes know thy aims? Art thou acquainted with that which they would undertake? Are the plans formed in the councils of other princes known to thee and thy counsellors? The concealment of his counsels by his ministers is the source of success for a prince. He who does not remove an ambitious and covetous minister, who maligns others, will be himself removed. Is thine envoy a well-instructed, active man, able to answer any question on the moment? Is he a man of judgment who knows how to deliver a message in the words in which it is given to him? Art thou certain that thy officers are on thy side, if sent into foreign lands, and if none knows the commission given to another? Dost thou think lightly of enemies who, though weak and expelled from their country, may easily return? Dost thou seek to obtain land and wealth by all honest means? Dost thou bow down before thy spiritual leaders; before the aged, the penitent, the gods, strangers; before the holy groves and all instructed Brahmans? Dost thou sacrifice wealth to virtue, or virtue to wealth, or both to favouritism, covetousness, and sensuality? The[Pg 229] prince who rules a kingdom with justice, when surrounded with difficulties, wins heaven when he leaves this world.

We can only fix in a very general way the date at which these prescripts of the book on the art of government, and the doctrines of the Epos so completely in agreement with them, came into existence. The sutras of the Buddhists and the accounts of the Greeks from the end of the fourth century B.C. exhibit to us the kingdom of India occupied with efforts which correspond in some degree to the views of the book and the descriptions of the Epos. If however we were to conclude from the despotic power to which the monarchy attained in the states on the Ganges, that the subject populations at that time or later were disconnected and reduced, without independent movement in any sphere of life—our conclusion would be completely wrong. As traditions, modes of worship and customs of the ancient time maintained themselves beside and in spite of the new doctrine of the Brahmans, so did remains of the old communities, of the old social and political life, maintain themselves against the omnipotence of the kings. These were the clans of the minstrels, formed naturally or by the adoption of pupils—which brought the old invocations from the Indus and preserved them—which on the Ganges sang the heroic songs, the Epos in its earliest form, and afterwards became combined into the priestly order, out of whose meditations rose the new system. These clans continued in the new states. The names represent in part different traditions of the doctrine, various schools and views. But even the clans of the Kshatriyas and Vaiçyas, united by the common worship of ancestors, existed on the Ganges. Only in them or in close local communities could[Pg 230] those customs of law grow up and perpetuate themselves, to which reference is so frequently made in the book of the law. The spread of the system of castes, the accompanying tendency to perpetuate what has once come into existence, was not likely to injure the continuance of these clans. They exercised a very important supervision over the members; and by bringing the Brahmans to the funeral meals of the families, as prescribed in the book (p. 163), this supervision became an advantage to the new doctrine, and in any case assisted the Brahmans essentially in carrying out their system, just as to this day it helps in a higher degree to maintain that system. The book of the law lays down detailed regulations who is to be invited to the funeral feasts and the festivals for the souls of the departed, and who is to be excluded. Those are to be excluded who are not true to the mission of their caste, and neglect its obligations, who do not fulfil their religious duties, who pursue forbidden and impure occupations, e. g. the burying of the dead for hire, dancing as a trade, dog-breaking, buffalo-catching, etc.; those who suffer from certain bodily infirmities, and finally those who lead an immoral life; usurers, drunkards, gamblers, keepers of gambling and drinking houses, adulterers and burglars, thieves and incendiaries, every one of bad reputation and character.[290] In this way the clans under the guidance of the Brahman assessors possessed the most complete censorship over the lives of the members, and a power of punishment from which there was no escape. The families could impose expiations and fines on any member who transgressed or failed to fulfil his religious, moral, or caste duties; if he refused to submit to these they could at a certain time expel him for[Pg 231] ever out of the community, by excluding him from the funeral feast. The latter resolution of the family deprived the person on whom it fell of his entire social position; in fact, of his economical existence. It implied exclusion from the caste. No one could have any dealings with a person so expelled, otherwise he became infected by communion with him. He could not get his children married; after his decease no sacrifice for the dead assuaged the punishments which awaited him in the other world. Now as ever, the clans perform the ceremony of adopting the young Dvija into the caste and family by investiture with the sacred girdle; they still exercise this jurisdiction, and as a penalty for breach of the arrangement of castes, neglect of religious duties, drunkenness, slander, and other moral errors, they impose exclusion from the family and caste by overturning the water-jar and exclusion from the funeral feast. A sentence of social extinction is thus pronounced upon the expelled person. He is civically dead and despised. No one associates with him in any one relation; no one holds any communion with him. The members of his own family will not give him a draught of water after his expulsion; no member even of the lowest order shelters him, for by doing so he would break the law of caste. It is only by this self-government, this censorship of the clans, that the system of caste has been able to strike such deep roots, to resist every new doctrine, and the severest attacks of foreign tyranny; that the religion, character, and civilisation of the Indians continue to exist after centuries of oppression.

The corporate form of the village communities were not of a much later date than the authority of the clans over their members. Its early stages must go[Pg 232] back at least as far as the settlement of the Aryas in the land of the Ganges, for we find it in the same form in the districts which were not occupied by the Aryas till later, in Malava (Malva), Surashtra (Guzerat), and to a considerable extent in the provinces of the Deccan. The village community possesses a definite property (mark) consisting of arable land, pasture, forest, and uncultivated soil. The book of the law orders the overseers of districts to take care that the boundaries of the properties are marked out by the planting of trees, by wells and altars. If a contention arises between two villages about the borders, they must be marked out afresh, according to the traces which can be discovered, and the declaration of witnesses taken in the presence of inhabitants of the village. These witnesses must take their oaths in red garments, with crowns of red flowers on their heads. If witnesses cannot be found in the contending neighbouring villages, the people who dwell in the open land, or the forest, must be taken; the cowherds, fishermen, hunters, bird-catchers, snake-hunters; and on their declaration the borders must be fixed and set down in writing.[291] The community has its overseers, and the office is hereditary. He divides the quotas among the villagers, according to the measure and productiveness of the land; he also divides the uncultivated land and fixes the share in water allotted to each. He settles differences between the villagers, and manages the police, having even the power of imprisonment. As a reward for the labours of the office the overseer is in possession of a larger share in land, and receives taxes from the villagers, one or two handfuls, as a rule, from every measure of corn or rice in the harvest. But the overseer does not govern the community by[Pg 233] his own power; he exercises all his functions surrounded by the community, who assemble under the great tree, and provide him with assessors, or deputies for settling quarrels. Beside the overseer the community has its Brahman, who has to point out the proper time for beginning every business—without such certainty the Hindu undertakes nothing—who narrates stories to the peasants from the Epos and legends, and in modern times at any rate is the school-master of the village. There are also other officers, the smith, and guardian of the soil, and even a dancing-girl, to whom, along with the overseer, land and taxes are allotted.[292] In the sutras of the Buddhists we also hear of resolutions of the communities in cities, and corporations of merchants, who compel the members to pay respect to their rules by imposing fines;[293] and Megasthenes tells us that the cities in the kingdom of Magadha were governed by six independent colleges. From this we may assume that the impulse to form associations and corporations was not unknown to the cities on the Ganges: we are however without any information as to the extent of these corporations, or the length of time during which they were able to maintain themselves against the power of the kings. The advice of the book that the king should place chief overseers over the cities has been mentioned above (p. 215). On the other hand, the village communities remain intact in their old form till this day, and they with the clans form the principal entrenchment behind which the old Indian character has maintained itself against native and foreign despotism. The change of princes or government has little influence on the village com[Pg 234]munities; they manage their own affairs independently: the business rarely amounts to more than an increase or diminution in taxes. The violence of the princes fell on the surrounding districts, not on quiet humble villages; it was only the tax-gatherer and the overseer of the districts that they had to fear. But even if specially bad times came, if invasion reached and devastated the village, and the inhabitants were slaughtered or driven out, all who survived the sword and famine returned, or their children returned, to the land they had left, rebuilt their huts, and began again to cultivate the fields which their fathers had cultivated from immemorial antiquity.

In spite of the violence and barbarity of native kings and foreign conquerors, and the severe claims made upon them here and there, the Indians in their clans and village communities possessed a considerable share of freedom and self-government in the personal relations of life; this was the case with the majority of the cultivators of the soil, and the householders of all the upper castes. From the worship of the ancestors, the combination of families, there grew up within the castes of the Brahmans, the Kshatriyas, and the Vaiçyas a pre-eminence and favoured position for those families which claimed to be not only of purer, but also of older and nobler origin than the rest. In the circles of the separate castes this aristocracy took the place of the ancient aristocracy of the Kshatriyas. However little weight might be attributed to it by the kings, the example and pattern of these families had great influence on the lower members of the caste. In later centuries the importance of this aristocratic element was strengthened by the fact, that in the land of the Ganges the office became hereditary to which the princes had to transfer the collection of land-taxes or taxes generally in the[Pg 235] various districts of the land. Thus the tax-gatherers were enabled to perpetuate their functions in these families; they oppressed the village communities, from which they took the taxes till they became their serfs, and thus in course of time they reached an influential and important position, which they were able to maintain with success, and have maintained in all essentials to this day.


[221] Müller, "Hist. of anc. Sansk. Lit." 133 ff; 200 ff. Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 2, 80; Johaentgen, "Gesetzbuch des Manu," s. 108, 163.

[222] Manu, 2, 17, 18, 21-23, 24.

[223] Manu, 3, 16; 8, 140. If Vasishtha and Çaunaka, as lawgivers, did not mean the old Rishis and, apparently, some traditional statements of theirs, but the first name referred to the Vasishtha-dharma-çastra, and thus to the teacher of Açvalayana, these quotations like many passages would be interpolations; and those of Çaunaka would not be very late, for M. Müller places this Çaunaka about 400 B.C. "Hist. of Sansk. Lit." p. 242 ff.

[224] Manu, 8, 41, 46.

[225] Manu, 1, 119; 12, 126.

[226] There was a school of Brahmans, the Manavas, belonging to the Madhyandinas, whose text-book was the black Yajus. From the name Manava, Johaentgen concludes that it is the redaction of the Manava-school in which we have these laws, and that Manu's book is really the book of the Manavas. According to the tradition of the Indians, there ought to be three redactions of Manu, of which one numbers 4000 verses. The copies known as yet, and accessible to us, have only 2285 verses.

[227] Jolly, "Z. Vgl. Richtsw., Die Systematik des indischen Rechts."

[228] Cf. Stenzler, "Indische Studien," 1, 236, 246. Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 999.

[229] Buddha's active life falls, as we shall see, in the period from 585 to 543 B.C. According to the sutras of the Buddhists, the Brahmanic law was then in full force; in fact in the districts mentioned in the text stricter rules were in force than those of the laws of Manu. The law is cited in the legends of the Buddhists, e. g. Burnouf, "Introduct. à l'histoire du Boud." p. 133; cf. Manu, 2, 233. It is true we possess the old sutras of the Buddhists in the form which they received in the third century B.C.; but Buddha's appearance presupposes the prevalence of the Brahmanic system, the supremacy of the doctrine and practice of it. In opposition to Buddhism the system of castes has not been softened by the Brahmans, but demonstrably strengthened. Moreover, the description of the legal and social conditions given in the sutras cannot be suspected to be mere inventions. The book of the law knows three Vedas only (cf. Manu, 4, 124); the sutras always quote four. In Manu the sentence of the Atharvan is mentioned once only (11, 33); hence the Atharva-veda seems to be later than Manu's law. In the Buddhist sutras the worship of Çiva is mentioned very frequently as in common use (Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 131); but the book of the law knows neither the name nor the god. From the accounts of the Greeks it is further clear that the worship of Vishnu was widely spread towards the end of the fourth century. This name the book contains only once, in the concluding part (12, 107-126), which has very little connection with the body of the book; and even here the word is used in the same sense as in the Rigveda (12, 121). While Ceylon was occupied by the Aryas about the year 500 B.C. and the southern Mathura was founded even earlier, the knowledge of places in Manu's law does not really go beyond the Vindhyas towards the south: the Odras and Dravidas are merely mentioned in a general enumeration of nations (10, 44), and the Andhras as an impure caste (10, 36, 49). The kingdoms of Mathura and Kerala would certainly have been mentioned if they had been in existence. The book of the law mentions the Nyaya (logic), the system of Mimansa, though only in the suspected conclusion (12, 109, 111), but not the Buddhists. It is true expressions occur, like liars (Nastika, 2, 11), revilers of the Veda (Vedanindaka), but we know that before Buddha the Sankhya doctrine denied both the gods and the Veda. I can, therefore, concede to Johaentgen (who places the book between 500 and 350 B.C.) that germs and analogies from the Sankhya doctrine occur in it, especially in the doctrine given in the introduction of the elements and properties (1, 74-78); this requires no alteration in the date. It ought to be observed that in the book of the law the kings and heroes of the Epos are not mentioned at all, but names of kings are found which occur in the Vedas: Vena, Nahusha, Pijavana, Sumukha, Nimi, Prithu (Manu, 7, 41, 42; 9, 44, 66); hence we may conclude that the book was brought to a close before the revision of the Epos from a priestly point of view was accomplished, or at any rate became a common possession of all. M. Müller's position, that the anushtubh çlòka was first used in the last centuries B.C., would affect only the form of the book, not the rules themselves; and Goldstücker is of opinion that this metre is of a far older date. However this may be, the metrical redaction of the Manava-dharma-çastra is not its original form: it is based upon a non-metrical Dharma-sutram. That the oldest Grihya-sutras and Çrauta-sutras are older than the first Dharma-sutra is allowed; but this does not prove the modern origin of the latter. A complete civilisation like that exhibited to us in the philosophy and grammar of the Indians before Buddha, by the sutras of the Buddhists and the accounts of the Greek, was certainly not without a systematic canon to answer the questions in life for the Brahmans. They required the power of the state, and could not leave it without a guide. It would be inconceivable how the condition of India, which Buddha finds, could have grown up without such a guide for princes and judges. Müller himself maintains that the distinction of Çruti and Smriti existed before Buddha; that it was the Çruti already containing Mantras and Brahmanas, which gave the impulse to his reforms. "Hist. of Sansk. Lit." p. 78 ff,; p. 86, 107, 135. If Çaunaka wrote, as Müller concludes, about the year 400 b.c., his sutras for the elucidation of the understanding of the Brahmanas, and Açvalayana wrote the sutras of ritual about the year 350, and Panini his grammar, far more important Dharma-sutras must have been written for the Brahmans before this time, and thus the grounds given above and taken for the contents of the book are in my judgment supported. From these contents, and these essential precepts, two or three prohibitions might be made to count for a later origin (Manu, 4, 102, 114; 8, 363), precepts aimed at Buddhism, but which may also have had other heterodoxy in view. There is also the mention of the name of Yavana. The Yavanas are mentioned among the nations who have sunk owing to omission of the sacred customs, along with the Odras, Dravidas, Kambojas, Duradas, Çakas and Pahlavas (10, 44). Supposing that this list came from an older time, the Yavanas Çakas and Pahlavas may easily have been interpolated at a later period for the sake of completeness. In any case it is clear that the laws of Manu are the oldest book of law in India in their contents and theory of law, and that the material in it is in part older than the material in the Dharma-sutras which have come down to us; Jolly, loc. cit. It is only in regard to the law of debt that Jolly seems to find older regulations in the book of Gautama than in that of Manu. "Abh. M. A." 1877, s. 322.

[230] Manu, 1, 35.

[231] Manu, 1, 1-78, 119; 12, 126. The four periods of the world are mentioned in Kaushitaki-Brahmana, in M. Müller, "Hist. of Sansk. Lit." p. 412.

[232] Manu, 7, 4-11.

[233] Manu, 5, 96.

[234] Manu, 9, 304-309.

[235] Manu, 7, 8.

[236] Manu, 9, 301, 302.

[237] e. g. Manu, 7, 2.

[238] Manu, 7, 82-86.

[239] Manu, 7, 26, 27, 31; 8, 175; 9, 251.

[240] Manu, 8, 1-3, 23-26; 61-70.

[241] Manu, 8, 88.

[242] Manu, 8, 75, 82, 89-99.

[243] Manu, 8, 113.

[244] Manu, 8, 110, 114-116. A. Weber, "Ind. Stud." 9, 44, 45.

[245] In Yajnavalka, 2, 95, we find: "The balance, fire, water, poison, and lustral water are the judgment of the gods for purification; these are applied in great charges, if the accuser is prepared for a fine." The later law knows nine divine judgments; it adds the corns of rice, the hot piece of gold, the ploughshare, and the lot. Brahmans, women, children, old men, sick persons, and the weak are to be tested by the balance; the Kshatriya by the fire, the Vaiçya by water, the Çudra by poison. In the test of the balance (Yama weighed the souls on scales, supr. p. 137), the point was that the person to be tested should be found lighter on the second weighing than on the first; in the test of fire, a piece of red-hot iron, covered with leaves, must be carried seven paces forward; each burn was a mark of guilt. The red-hot ploughshare must be licked by the accused person; if his tongue was not burnt he was acquitted; a piece of gold must be picked out of boiling oil and the hand must show no marks. The taking of a particular poison which ought to have no evil effects on the accused, and the drinking of lustral water poured over the images of the gods, which was not to be followed by any evil effects, and the piece of gold in the boiling oil are later additions. According to an Upanishad to the Samaveda, guilt or innocence is proved by the grasping a red-hot axe; a burn is a proof of guilt. Stenzler, in "Z. D. M. G." 9, 662 ff. A. Weber, "Vorles." s. 792.

[246] Manu, 8, 11, 21.

[247] Manu, 9, 276. Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 413.

[248] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 408. Yet Aryas are found also, Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 365.

[249] Manu, 9, 237, 239-242.

[250] Manu, 9, 275.

[251] Manu, 9, 232.

[252] Manu, 9, 279.

[253] Manu, 8, 344-347.

[254] Manu, 9, 261-268, 278.

[255] Manu, 9, 276.

[256] Manu, 9, 277.

[257] Manu, 8, 341, 342.

[258] Manu, 7, 130.

[259] Manu, 8, 398; 7, 131.

[260] Manu, 7, 118, 138.

[261] Manu, 7, 62.

[262] Manu, 7, 129.

[263] Manu, 7, 133.

[264] Bohlen, "Indien," 2, 46.

[265] Megasthenes, in Strabo, p. 708 and below.

[266] Manu, 7, 54.

[267] Manu, 7, 58, 59.

[268] Ramayana, ed. Schlegel, 1, 7.

[269] Manu, 7, 114.

[270] Manu, 7, 116-118.

[271] Manu, 7, 123.

[272] Manu, 7, 118-120.

[273] Manu, 7, 124.

[274] Manu, 6, 69-75.

[275] Manu, 7, 126. The Indians learned to coin money from the Greeks after the year 300 B.C.; till that time their coinage consisted of weighed pieces of copper, silver, and gold, with the mark of the weight as a stamp. The pana is a copper weight of this kind; to this day the name denotes copper money in India. The drona is a weight of about 30 pounds. Cf. Lassen, 2, 574.

[276] Manu, 7, 37.

[277] Manu, 7, 218.

[278] Manu, 7, 222.

[279] Manu, 7, 224-226.

[280] Manu, 7, 101-103.

[281] Manu, 7, 154-158.

[282] Manu, 7, 63-68.

[283] Manu, 7, 107, 158-163, 198.

[284] Manu, 7, 205, 210.

[285] Manu, 7, 90-93.

[286] Ramayana, 2, 52.

[287] Ramayana, 2, 1-17.

[288] Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 166, 416, 417. The ritual for the consecration of kings, according to the Aitareya-Brahmana, is given in Colebrooke, "Asiatic Researches," 8, 408 ff. Cf. Schlegel, "Ind. Bibliothek," 1, 431, and Lassen, "Alterth." 2, 246, 427.

[289] Grimm, "Rechtsalterthümer," s. 156 ff.

[290] Manu, 3, 150 ff.

[291] Manu, 8, 229-260.

[292] Mill, "History of British India," 2, 66. Montgom. Martin, "Political Constitution of the Anglo-Eastern Empire," p. 271.

[293] Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 242, 245, 247.



[Pg 236]



The book of the law was the canon of pure conduct, and the holy order of the state and society, which the Brahmans held up before the princes and nations on the Ganges. They made no attempt to get the throne into their own hands; they had no thought of giving an effective political organisation to their caste; they did not seek to set up a hierarchy which should take its place by the side of the state, or rise superior to it, and thus secure such obedience for their demands among clergy and laity as would ensure the carrying out of the commands of the book. For this the Brahmans had not sufficient practical or political capacity; they were too deeply plunged in their hair-splitting and fanciful speculations, in their ceremonial and their penances. They were content with demanding the place of assessor or president at the funeral feasts in the families of the Kshatriyas and Vaiçyas, the influence of which position went far beyond their expectations; with recommending members of their order as ministers, judges, and magistrates to the king; with requiring that he should protect the Brahmans as his sons, provide for their support, be greatly liberal to them, abstain from imposing taxes on learned Brahmans, and maintain their advantages and rights[Pg 237] against the other classes. If a Brahman had no heirs, the king must not take his property, but present it to the members of the order, and give to a Brahman any treasure which he may happen to find. In the epic poetry an exaggerated attempt is made to bring this liberality plainly before the mind: the Brahmans acquire hundreds of thousands of cows, treasures without end, and the whole earth.[294] But all these commands are only wishes; as a fact the Brahmans had no other status as against the kings than the respect which their educational knowledge of the doctrine, their acquaintance with the forms and ritual of sacrifice, gave them: they had only the moral influence which their dogma and their exhortations could exercise on the heart of the king, the power of the faith which they could excite in their disciples. Their power, as we have seen, they knew how to support by their views on the merit acquired by the king in this and the next world by reason of his good works towards the Brahmans, by the fear of the punishments in hell and the regenerations, with which the book of the law so liberally threatens all who despise Brahmans. But they had no external means for enforcing obedience to their law, respect for their purifications, expiations, and penances, in case it was not rendered willingly. They did not extend their power beyond the limits of the conscience of the king and the people. They were as absolutely the subjects of the king as the other orders; no political limitations, no institutions, checked the authority of the king in its operations on the Brahmans; and the knowledge of the Veda and the law was accessible to him. The princes held up in the Epos as patterns are praised for their knowledge of the holy Scriptures and the law. The kings, not[Pg 238] the Brahmans, offer the great sacrifices; but they cannot offer them without the Brahmans, the Purohita (p. 202), and other priests. This position of the Brahmans at the side of the king, and that which they subsequently obtained by the side of the people in the clans, enabled them by moral means, by conviction and faith, to shape the life and politics of the Indians according to their system, and establish a lasting dominion over them.

If the Brahmans had no rights upward, they had at any rate forced the Kshatriyas out of the first place; and they did not intend that the aristocratic position which they had obtained over the other orders, their privileges and advantages in regard to those beneath them, should rest on moral authority merely. The book of the law is never weary of impressing in every direction the pre-eminence of the Brahmans, the subjection of the other orders. But as the wisdom of the Brahmans was throughout unacquainted with the foundations and supports used by aristocracies elsewhere to acquire and maintain their position—as they were unable to create institutions of this kind—only one real and effective means remained for legalising and securing their importance, position, and privileges—and this was the exercise of penal jurisdiction. In the division of penances and punishments, according to the various orders, they attempted to bring the pre-eminence of their own order into a position recognised and established by law. This fact no doubt helped in causing the Brahmans to estimate the power of punishment so highly. "Punishment alone," says the book, "guarantees the fulfilment of duties according to the four castes; without punishment a man out of the lower caste could take the place of the highest." But here again there[Pg 239] was a difficulty; it was not the Brahmans but the kings who in the first instance had to dispense justice; the application of the law depended on the princes.

Though, in general, it is a supreme principle of law that it shall be administered without respect of persons, that the same punishment for the same offence shall overtake every offender, be his rank and position what it may, the system of caste leads to an arrangement diametrically opposite. Throughout, the book of the law measures out punishment unequally, according to the rank of the castes, so that in an equal offence the highest order has as a rule to undergo the least punishment. This apportionment of punishment according to the castes is most striking in the case of injuries and outrages inflicted by members of the lower orders on the members of the higher. The Brahmans, and in a less degree the Kshatriyas and Vaiçyas, are protected by threats of barbarous punishments. The Çudra who has been guilty of injuring a Dvija by dangerous language, is to have his tongue clipped; if he has spoken disrespectfully of him, a hot iron is to be thrust into his mouth, and boiling oil poured into his mouth and ears. If a Çudra ventures to sit on a seat with a "twice-born," he is to be branded; if he lays hold of a Brahman, both hands are to be amputated; if he spits at a Brahman, his lips are cut off, etc. In actual injuries done to members of the higher castes by the lower, the members of the latter are doomed in each case to lose the offending member: he who has lifted up his hand, or a stick, loses his hand; he who has lifted up his foot, loses the foot. For slighter offences of language against a Brahman the Çudra is whipped, the Vaiçya is fined 200 panas, the Kshatriya, 100. If, on the contrary, a Brahman injures one of the lower castes he pays 50 panas to[Pg 240] the Kshatriya, 25 to the Vaiçya, and 12 to the Çudra. If members of the same caste injure each other in word, small fines of 12 or at most 24 panas are sufficient. More unfair still are other privileges secured by the law to the Brahmans,—that in suits for debt they are never to be given up as slaves to the creditors; that no crime or transgression on the part of a Brahman is to be punished by confiscation of his property, or by corporal punishment. He is never, even for the worst crime, to be condemned to death; at the utmost he can only be banished.[295] On the other hand, as has been remarked in the case of theft, the fine increases according to the caste of the offender, so that here we have a gradation in the opposite direction: the Brahman is fined eight-fold the sum paid by the Çudra in a similar case; and in loans the Brahman is allowed to receive only the lowest rate of interest—two per cent. In courts of law the Brahman was addressed differently, and asked to give his evidence differently, from the other orders; his oath is given in different terms. With Brahmans, who naturally come to maturity sooner than the other orders, the consecration by investiture takes place in the eighth year, with the Kshatriyas in the eleventh, with the Vaiçyas not till the twelfth. The holy girdle, the common symbol of the Dvija as opposed to the Çudra, must consist with the Brahmans of three threads of cotton, with the Kshatriyas of three threads of hemp, with the Vaiçyas of three threads of sheep's wool. The Brahman wears a belt of sugar-cane, and carries a bamboo staff; the Kshatriya has a belt of bow-strings, and a staff of banana-wood; the Vaiçya a girdle of hemp, and a staff of fig-wood. The staff of the Brahman reaches to his hair, that of the Kshatriya to the brow, that of the Vaiçya to the tip[Pg 241] of his nose. This staff must be covered with the bark, must be straight, pleasing to the eye, and have nothing terrifying about it. The Brahman wears a shirt of fine hemp, and as a mantle the skin of the gazelle; the Kshatriya a shirt of linen, and the skin of a deer as a cloak; the Vaiçya a woollen shirt, and a goat-skin. Any one who is inclined to do a civility, must, says the book, ask the Brahman whether he is advancing in sanctity, the Kshatriya whether he suffers in his wounds, the Vaiçya whether his property is thriving, the Çudra whether he is in health.[296]

We cannot exactly ascertain what position the old nobility, the Kshatriyas, took up after the establishment of the new system. The increased power of the kings, the elevation of the priesthood, the change in the whole view of life, diminished their importance to a considerable degree. If in some small tribes the warlike nobility on the Ganges maintained its old position so far as to prevent the establishment of the monarchy, or removed it altogether, this was an exception.[297] In the Panjab, which did not completely follow the development achieved in the regions on the Ganges, it was more generally the case that the nobility overpowered the monarchy, and drove out the old princes. This took place, no doubt, when the latter showed a desire to take up a despotic position. In the fourth century we find among "the free Indians," as the Greeks call them, numerous noble families in a prominent position. The book of the law allows that the Brahmans cannot exist without the Kshatriyas, but neither could the Kshatriyas without the Brahmans; salvation is only to be obtained by a union of the two orders: by this were Brahmans and Kshatriyas[Pg 242] exalted in this world and the next.[298] We have already remarked, that within their own caste the old families of the Kshatriyas occupy a prominent place.

According to the book, the members of all the castes, like every created being, fulfil duties imposed upon them, i. e. carry on the occupations allotted to them. The life of the Brahmans is to be devoted to the Holy Scriptures, the sacred services, the teaching of the Veda and the law (the latter could be taught by none but Brahmans), and, finally, to contemplation and penance in the forest. But how was it possible to keep the whole order of the Brahmans to the study of the Veda, to sacrifice and worship, when it was also necessary for them to find support? How could the whole order disregard the care of their maintenance, especially when it was a duty to bring up a numerous family, or give up every desire to amass property? True it is, that liberality to the Brahmans was impressed on the kings and the other castes as a supreme duty; the pupils of the Brahmans were bidden to support their teachers by gifts; and the law permitted the Brahmans to live by gifts, to beg, to gather corn or ears of rice. From the Buddhist sutras we know that the kings followed the commands of the law, and that a multitude of Brahmans lived at the royal courts. We also know from the Greeks that every house was open to the wandering Brahman, and in the market they were overburdened with presents of the necessaries of life. Greek and Indian accounts inform us that troops of Brahmans wandered through the land—a mode of life which in India is not the most unpleasant; and it is certain that a considerable number lived as anchorites in the forests. But these habits required that a man should give up all thoughts of wife and child,[Pg 243] house and home; and this all could not undertake to do. On what, then, were the Brahman householders to live, who possessed nothing, and were without land sufficient for their support? There were only two means for keeping the whole order to the study of the Veda and the performance of sacrifice; either they must be provided with sufficient land, or they must be maintained at the cost of the state. Among the Egyptians the priesthood lived on the land of the temples; among the Phenicians and Hebrews, on the tithes of the harvest, paid to the temples; in the middle ages our hierarchy lived on its own land and people, on tithes and other taxes: but all these were political institutions, and the Brahman lawgivers had neither the capacity to discover them, nor had their states the power to establish and maintain them. Still less could refuge be taken in a law forbidding to marry; all Brahmans could not be allowed to live from youth up as anchorites in the forest, if the Brahmans were to continue to exist as a caste by birth, and it was on superiority of blood that their whole position rested.

Practical life bid complete defiance to doctrine. The law must be content to moderate in part, and in part to give up entirely the ideal demands, the principles and results of system in favour of the necessity for maintenance. It must allow that the Brahman householders, who possessed no property, might lead the life of the Kshatriya. This permission has been and is still used; at this time a great part of the native Anglo-Indian army consists of born Brahmans. If a Brahman could not earn a livelihood by service in war, he might lead the life of a Vaiçya, and attempt to maintain himself by tilling the land and keeping flocks. But if possible the Brahman must[Pg 244] avoid tilling the field himself; "the work of the field depends on the help of cattle; the ploughshare cleaves the soil and kills the living creatures contained in it." If the Brahman cannot live as a farmer, or a herdman, he may live even by the "truth and falsehood of trade." But in regard to certain articles of trade, the book is inexorable, and though it cannot threaten trade in these with punishments from the state, it holds up the melancholy consequences of such an occupation as a terror. Trade in intoxicating drinks, juices of plants, perfumes, butter, honey, linen and woollen cloths, turns the Brahman in seven nights into a Vaiçya: trade in milk makes him a Çudra in three days. The Brahman who sells sesame-seeds will be born again as a worm in the excrement of dogs; and the punishment will even come upon his ancestors. The Brahman merchant, like the Vaiçya, must never lend money on interest—in other places, as has been mentioned, the law allows a low rate of interest (p. 240)—no Brahman must attempt to gain a living by seductive arts, singing and music, and he must never live by "the work of the slave—the life of the dog."[299] The same exceptions are allowed by the law for the Kshatriya as for the Brahman, if he possesses no property and cannot acquire anything by the profession of arms. The Vaiçya, who cannot live by agriculture, or trade, or handicraft, is allowed to live the life of a Çudra. Hence there are the Brahmans of the Holy Scriptures and Brahmans by birth,[300] and also Kshatriyas and Vaiçyas who belong to these orders by birth only, not by occupation. Thus new distinctions arose which must soon have become fixed and current.

If the law is compelled to make these large conces[Pg 245]sions, so contradictory to the system, it seeks in the opposite direction to maintain the distinctions of the castes as strongly as possible; the higher castes may descend to the lower, but no lower caste can ever engage in the occupation of the higher. Such interference is punished with confiscation of property and banishment. Still, even here, the law allows an exception, and that in favour of the lowest caste, the Çudras, whom the law rigidly keeps in the servitude imposed upon them by force of arms. The Çudra is meant for a servant; he who is not born a slave is to serve voluntarily for hire; he must first seek service with a Brahman, then with Kshatriyas, then with Vaiçyas. Blind submission to the command of his master is the duty of the Çudra. Yet if he cannot find service anywhere, he may support himself by handicraft; but the law adds, "it is not good for a Çudra to acquire wealth, for he will use it in order to raise himself to an equality with the other orders." The impure castes among the Çudras are not, for this very reason, to be employed among the Dvijas for labour in the house and field.

In the law the four castes are races divided from each other by creation. As in all distinctions of orders, so in India, the separation first applied to the men. The final point was not reached, the rigidity of the order was not complete, the caste did not exist, till the women also were included in the division, till the marriages between the orders ceased and were forbidden, till the free circulation of blood among the people was thus checked, and the classes stood towards each other as distinct races and tribes of alien blood. In the book of Manu we find two views on the connubium of the orders existing side by side, one more strict than the other. From the nature of the[Pg 246] case, and the position which it occupies in the book of the law, the milder view is the older, the more strict the later. According to the older view caste is determined by descent from the father; a man belonging to the three upper castes, i. e. a Dvija, may take a wife from the Brahmans, Kshatriyas, or Vaiçyas, as he pleases; Çudra women only are excluded. In this sense the law lays down that Çudra wives are not suitable for men of the three upper classes, and wives of the three upper castes are not suitable for Çudra husbands. In order to transform this, the current custom, into a more severe practice, the law does not indeed forbid marriage with women from any other of the three higher castes, but it recommends that a maid of a man's own caste should be taken as his first wife; and after this he may proceed according to the rank of the castes. This recommendation met with more favour, it would seem, because a Çudra woman could be taken as a second wife. It is obvious that only a wife of equal birth could perform the sacrifices of the house with the lord.[301] A Çudra woman could not be the first, i. e. the legitimate wife; the Brahman who married a woman of that caste would be expelled from his own.[302] The essential rule, by which the later and stricter view seeks to remove the connubium existing among the three castes of the Dvijas is this: in all orders, without exception, the children born of women of that order remain participators in the order of the father. When this rule was carried out, the castes were finally closed. The law supported it by the doctrine that the children of mixed marriages, according as the father or mother belonged to this or that order, formed new divisions of the people. These [Pg 247]divisions are impure because arising out of a sinful union, and they perpetuate the stain of their origin.[303] The law mentions by name a whole series of impure castes of this kind, which must have been already in existence; it shows from what combinations they have arisen, and sets them up as a warning example against mixed marriages.

These impure castes, which are said to have arisen from the mutual connubium of the orders, were really, in part, tribes of the ancient population, who did not submit, like the majority of the Çudras, to the Aryas, and accept their law and mode of life, but either amalgamated with them and lived on in poverty after the manner of their fathers, or preserved a certain independence in inaccessible regions; in part they were Aryan tribes, which did not follow the development on the Ganges, and never adapted their mode of life to the Brahmanic system. These tribes are commanded by the law to carry on occupations which did not become the Dvijas,[304] for some it prescribes that they must only make nets and catch fish; for others, that they must occupy themselves with hunting;[305] from which it is clear that these were the original occupations of such branches of the population. From the marriage of a Brahman with a Vaiçya wife spring, according to the law, the Ambashthas,[306] who in the Epos are spoken of as nations fighting in the ancient manner with clubs.[307] From the marriage of a Brahman with a Çudra woman spring the Nishadas, whose vocation, according to the law, it is to catch fish.[308] From the marriage of a Kshatriya with Çudra wives come the Ugras, who are to catch and kill animals living in holes;[309] from[Pg 248] the marriage of a Brahman with an Ambashtha, the Abhiras, whom we have already mentioned as cowherds at the mouths of the Indus;[310] from the marriage of a Çudra with a Brahman woman comes the Chandala, "the most contemptible mortal." The Chandalas are a numerous non-Aryan tribe on the Ganges. The book lays down the rule that they are not to live in villages or cities, or to have any settled habitation at all. A Brahman is polluted by meeting them; they are distinguished by marks fixed for them by the king; and must not come into the towns except in the daytime, in order that they may be avoided. They cannot possess any but the most contemptible animals, dogs and asses, nor any harness that is not broken; they can only marry with each other. No one can have any dealings with them. If a Dvija wishes to give food to a Chandala beggar, he may not do it with his own hand, but must send it by a servant on a potsherd. Executions—which in the minds of the Aryans and the Brahmans were impure actions—were to be carried out by Chandalas, and the clothes of the persons executed are to be given to them; these and the clothes of the dead are the only garments which they may wear.[311]

We can easily see that the rank, allotted by the law to the so-called mixed castes, is taken from the degree of impurity assigned by the Brahmans to the mode of life followed by them. By excluding them from the other orders they compelled them to pursue these occupations for ever, and so kept them in their despised condition. As they were all branded with the stain of sinful intercourse between the castes, men shrank from marriages outside their own caste, and if such connections did take place, the children were[Pg 249] thrust into the ranks of these despised orders, they were compelled to adopt their modes of life and occupations, and transmit them to their descendants. According to the theory lying at the base of these regulations on the mixed castes, the mixture is comparatively less impure in which men of higher castes are connected with women of lower, and that mixture is the worst and most impure in which women of the highest castes are united with men of the lowest. The children of a Brahman by a wife of the Kshatriya caste stand on the highest level, those of a Çudra by a Brahman on the lowest.[312] The mixed castes, in their disposition and character, correspond to the better or worse combination, just as in their duties the vocation of the paternal caste is to be preserved in a descending line, and lower degree, e. g. the Ugra—the son of a Kshatriya by a Çudra—is to live by hunting, which is the vocation of a Kshatriya, but he is only to hunt animals which live in holes, etc. The mixture of the impure castes with the pure and other impure castes produces in turn new classes of men with special duties and special dispositions, such as the Abhiras. The system of mixed and consequently impure origin could not be very well applied to nations which, though notoriously of Arian origin, or forming independent states, led a life unsuited to the Brahmanic law; these the law allows to be of a pure stock, but considers that they are corrupted by neglect of their sacred duties. Among the degraded families of the Kshatriyas the law-book reckons the Cambojas, the Daradas, and the Khaças.[313] The Cambojas were settled in the west, the Daradas to the north of Cashmere; the Khaças must be sought to the east of Cashmere in the Himalayas.[314][Pg 250]

With these views and fictions, with the actual and legal consequences assigned to them, the system of castes was consistently developed and extended over the whole population. All modes of life, classes, and occupations were brought into its sphere; the remnant of the natives, the refractory tribes of the Aryas, received their position in the Brahman state; and the Çudras were followed by a long list of orders in a yet more degraded position.

From the contradictory views of the book on the connubium of the orders it follows clearly that the castes were not completely closed at the time when the book was finished; but they were closed, and, it would seem, not long after. When the advantage of blood has been once brought into such striking significance it must go on making further divisions; new circles, distinguished by descent or vocation, must be marked off from others as superior, and form an order; similar vocations, when the occupation has once been connected with the caste, and the vocation with descent, combine within the castes into new hereditary corporations. This tendency to make new separations is supported by the law when it arranges those tribes as new castes beside the four orders, and allots to them on a certain system the descendants of mixed marriages, thus creating a number of new castes by origin and descent. This was further increased by a division of vocations within the chief orders. The Brahmans, who also clung to the Veda and the worship, naturally regarded themselves as in a better and higher position than those who descended to the occupations of the Kshatriyas and Vaiçyas, and kept themselves apart. The opposition between the schools which inevitably grew up among the priestly Brahmans in course of time, gradually caused the adherents of one[Pg 251] school to close their ranks against the adherents of another. The Kshatriyas, who remained warriors, stood apart from those who became husbandmen; among the Vaiçyas, the merchants, the handicraftsmen, and the husbandmen formed separate classes. Hence the different professions and schools of the Brahmans and the Kshatriyas: the merchants, smiths, carpenters, weavers, potters, etc. separated themselves each from the other as hereditary societies, and as they only married within the society, they became in turn subordinate castes, in reference to each other. And as in spite of all commands marriages took place outside the castes, those who were rejected in consequence of such marriages, and the children of them, could only rank with others in a similar position, and must form a new caste. If the marriage took place outside the main caste the descendants of the person thus excluded from his old caste must join the impure castes, which were, or were supposed to be, of similar origin. The hereditary professional societies within the four castes remained members of them in so far as they carried on occupations approved by the book of the law; but such members as pursued forbidden and impure trades and transmitted them to their descendants, stood outside and far below the main castes, like the castes arising out of mixtures, partly real and partly fictitious. At present the Brahmans are divided into twenty-five different societies, which do not intermarry, and in part refuse to eat with each other; the Kshatriyas are divided into thirty-six societies similarly closed; the pure and impure Vaiçyas, the better and worse Çudras, are divided into some hundred groups.[315] On a rough calculation it is assumed that now only about a tenth of the Brahmanic population of India carries on the occupation[Pg 252] assigned in the law to the four great orders; the great majority in these castes has descended to the permitted vocations, and the greater part of the whole population belongs to the classes below the four chief orders.

We have already stated how closely the clans held together. The weight given by the caste system to pure blood did not suppress even among the Brahmans the pride in ancient and distinguished family descent. In the fourth century B.C. the Brahmans who continued to be occupied with the Veda and the sacred worship fell into forty-nine clans, which claimed to be derived from the saints of old time: Jamadagni, Gautama, Bharadvaja, Viçvamitra, Vasishtha, Kaçyapa, Atri, and Agastya. They were arranged in eight large tribes (gotra) named after these progenitors. At the consecration of the sacrificial fire the members of these clans invoked the series of their ancestors.[316] We may assume the same pride in descent among the Kshatriyas. We shall see how definitely the book of the law and the forms of ritual require that the ancestors should be mentioned up to the great-great-grandfather in the suit for any maiden, and at this day the wealthy families in all the castes are desirous to conclude alliances with houses of ancient origin for their children.

According to the law every man ought to marry; he must have a son who may one day pour for him the libations for the dead. Without sacrifice for the dead performed by a son, the soul of the father can never be liberated from a certain place in hell—from Put. The law distinguishes various kinds of marriage, and promises greater or less blessings to the descendants according as the marriage celebrated is of a more[Pg 253] or less holy kind. The son born of the better kinds of marriage can purify a larger number of the members of the family upwards and downwards, i. e. of those already dead and those still to be born. If a father gives his daughter, bathed and adorned, to a husband learned in writing whom he has honourably invited and received into his house, the marriage is a Brahman-marriage. The son born of such a wife purifies ten members upwards and downwards both on the father's and the mother's side. When the father gives his daughter to the priest at the sacrifice it is a divine marriage; the son purifies seven members upwards and downwards on either side. If the father gives the daughter to the bridegroom with the words: "Fulfil ye all duties which devolve on you;" it is a prajapati marriage, and the son purifies six members upwards and downwards. If the bridegroom has given a pair of cattle (a bull and cow) for religious objects, the marriage of the Rishis is celebrated; the son purifies three members upwards and downwards. These are the good forms of marriage, the four which follow are bad. Marriage from mutual inclination on either side is the marriage of the heavenly musicians, the Gandharvas. If the father has sold his daughter or taken gifts for her, it is the marriage of the Asuras, or evil spirits. Still worse is the marriage by abduction—the marriage of the Rakshasas; and the worst form of all is when the bride is previously intoxicated by drugs. This is the marriage of the blood-suckers (Piçacha). These kinds of marriages have no expiatory power for the ancestors or descendants; none but cruel, lying, and Veda-despising sons can spring from them.[317] To these rules on the form of marriage[Pg 254] the law adds that the younger sister is not to be married before the elder—nor can the younger brother marry before the elder—and advises that a wife be not taken from families too nearly related, such as those belonging to the same tribe (gotra); or from those which neglect the sacred rites, or those in which diseases prevail. A girl of eight years old is suitable for a husband of twenty-four; a girl of twelve for a husband of thirty. The later collections of laws repeat the rule that marriages are not to be celebrated with families which invoke the same ancestors.[318]

The views lying at the base of these regulations of the law about the various forms of marriage were transparent. Here, as everywhere, the Brahmans are, above all, to be favoured. The learned Brahman is to receive the girl from her father "adorned," i. e., no doubt, well equipped. The Brahman, who officiates at the sacrifice, receives her as a gift; in this way the father and the daughter have the happy prospect of obtaining a blessing for ten or seven members of the family upwards and downwards. But other forms of marriage—by purchase, inclination, abduction—the law wishes to prevent, from which we may conclude that these forms of marriage were in existence, a fact sufficiently established by other evidence. The time, it is true, was long gone by when the Aryan brothers had only one wife; in the Epos only do we find traces of this custom. Draupadi is the wife of the five sons of Pandu; and in the Ramayana the brothers Rama and Lakshmana are attacked with the reproach—fictitious, it is true—that they have only one wife between them. The abduction of maidens and wives is more frequent in the Epos. In the Mahabharata, Bhishma[Pg 255] carries off the three daughters of the king of the Kaçis and marries the two younger to his step-brother Vijatravirya; Jayadaratha, the prince of the Indus, lifts Draupadi into his chariot and drives away with her, though her guardian cries out to him, that according to the custom of the Kshatriyas he cannot carry her off till he has conquered her husband in battle. It is skill in arms and strength which gains their wives for the heroes of the Epos. Arjuna wins Draupadi because he can bend the bow of her father, the king of the Panchalas (p. 87). Rama wins Sita by mastering the bow of Çiva. We also see in the Epos that princes allow their daughters the free choice of a husband, and the suitors appear on a definite day. Thus Kunti chooses Pandu for her husband; Damayanti, in her father's hall, places the garland of flowers on Nala's neck, and declares that he is her husband. The Greeks tell us that among the Cathæans, a tribe of the Panjab, young men and maidens chose each other for marriage. The purchase of brides is also mentioned in the Epos. Bhishma purchases the daughter of the prince of the Madras for Pandu with gold and precious stones. In ancient times, we can hardly doubt, purchase of the bride was the rule, except in the case of princes, and those who carried off their wives or gained them in battle.[319] The children, according to the conceptions peculiar to primitive conditions, belong to the father; he must be recompensed for the loss, and receive some return for the services which his daughter can no longer render him. If the law declares that form of marriage to be permissible in which a pair of cattle (a bull and a cow) are given—it is true with the addition, "for religious objects"—we may conclude that this was the customary price,[Pg 256] and the law attempts to embody the custom into its system by the additional proviso, that the price is to be given "for religious objects." But the turn thus given in the law to the purchase of the bride was slow in being carried out, and was never carried out thoroughly. The Greeks at one time maintain that among the Indians the bridegroom gave the father a yoke of oxen; at another, that in contracting a marriage nothing was given or taken.[320] The custom of giving a pair of oxen for the bride follows from the rites of marriage still in existence,[321] and even now it is found in some regions of India. Marriage from inclination is also not regarded with favour in the law; such marriages might easily endanger the order of the castes, and introduce mixed connections. Still as the law allows the purchase of the bride under a very slight cover, so it allows the girl the free choice of a husband in exceptional cases. It is a father's duty to have his daughter married, for in the order of things she is intended to be a mother. If in three years after the daughter is of age for marriage the father makes no provision for giving her to a proper husband, she may choose a husband for herself out of the men of her caste; neither she nor the husband thus chosen are guilty in this matter. But the ornaments which she has received from her father, mother, and brothers she may not, in this case, carry into her new home; in doing so she would commit a theft. On the other hand, the husband whom she chooses has not to make any presents; the father has lost his right over his daughter by keeping her back beyond the time at which she could be a mother.[322][Pg 257]

It was precisely in this sphere that the old customs and poetry, the worship of the old gods, the old delight in life, were retained under the law and the Brahmanic system, or even in spite of it. Not the least proof of this is found in the prayers, formulas, and blessings in use at marriages. These occur for the most part in the Atharvaveda. The Grihya-sutras of Açvalayana from the middle of the fourth century B.C. give the ritual which must be observed on these occasions.[323] The playmates of a girl, who desire a husband for her, must, according to the Atharvaveda, speak thus: "O Agni, may the suitor come to this maid to our delight; may happiness come to her quickly by a husband; may Savitar bring to you the man who answers to your wishes! There comes the bridegroom, with hair-knot loosed in front. She was weary, O bridegroom, of going to the marriage of other maidens."[324] According to the sutras the man who desired a woman in marriage sent two of his friends to her father to ask for her. Then the family assembles and sits down opposite the two envoys, with their faces to the east. The envoys extol the family of the suitor, enumerate his forefathers, and ask for the bride. If the request is granted, "a bowl filled with fruits and gold is placed on the head of the bride, and the envoys say: 'We honour Aryaman, the kind friend, who brings the husband. I set thee (the bride) free from this place (the house of her father) as the gourd from the stem, not from thence.'" Then the bride is prepared for the arrival of the bridegroom by consecration and the bath. Marriage ought to take place[Pg 258] in the autumn or the winter, but never when the moon is waning. At the bathing of the bride, the water is drawn with blessings; after it she is clad in the bridal garments with the following words: "May the goddesses, who spun and wove it, stretched it and folded the ends round about, clothe thee even to old age. Put on this garment, and long be thy years. Whatever charm there is in dice or wine, whatever charm in oxen, whatever charm in beauty—with this, ye Açvins, adorn her. So do we deck this wife for her husband; Indra, Agni, Varuna, Bhaga, Soma, may they enrich her with children." Then the bridegroom, accompanied by his friends, comes to the house of the bride, where he is courteously received by the father, and entertained with a draught of milk and honey. The bridegroom hands over the bridal gift (at this day garments and mantles are indispensable for this purpose), and when the family of the bride have placed a dark-red neck-band adorned with three precious stones on her, the Brahman unlooses two locks of hair and says: "I loose thee now from the bands of Varuna, with which the sublime Savitar bound thee. I loose thee from this place (the house of her father), not from thence, that she may, O Indra, giver of blessings, be rich in sons and prosperity." When the bands, which connect the bride with the house of her father, have thus been loosed, the father with his face turned to the north, with kuça-grass, water, and grain in his hand, hands over the maid to the bridegroom with these words: "To thee, the son, grandson, and great-grandson, of such and such a man, I give this maiden of this family and this race," and then he places her hand on the right hand of the bridegroom. The bridegroom has previously placed a stone on the ground, not far from the sacrificial fire; when receiv[Pg 259]ing the hand of the bride he says: "For health and prosperity I take thy hand here. Bhaga, Aryaman, Pushan, Savitar, the gods give thee to me to govern my house." When the father has sprinkled the bride with melted butter, the bridegroom leads her to the stone, causes her to place the tip of her right foot on it, and says: "This sure and faithful stone I lay down for thy children on the lap of the divine earth; step on it with joy and looks of gladness. As Agni has taken the right hand of this earth, so did I take thy right hand. Fail not, united with me, in prosperity and progeny. Bhaga took thy right hand here, and Savitar. Thou art now my lawful wife; I am thy lord. Rich in children, live with me as thy husband for the space of a hundred autumns."[325] When the bride has thrown corn into the fire, the marriage contract is sealed by the "seven steps" which she makes, led by the bridegroom, towards the right, round the fire. At each step he recites the proper sentence. With the seventh the marriage is completed; and the Brahman sprinkles the youthful pair with lustral water.[326] After a festival, at which young men and girls dance and sing for three days, the husband conducts his wife to the car yoked with a pair of oxen, which is to carry her to her new house.[327] When ascending the chariot, the bride is thus addressed: "Ascend the gay, well-furnished car, the place of delight, and make the journey a glad one for thy husband. Viçvavasa (the spirit of virginity) depart from hence, for she has now a husband; let the husband and wife unite. May Pushan (p. 47) lead thee hence by the hand; may the Açvins conduct thee with the chariot; go hence to[Pg 260] the house, to be the lady therein. Lift her up (upon the chariot); beat away the Rakshasas; let king Bhaga advance. Whatever diseases follow after the glad bridal procession, may the holy gods send them back whence they came; may the robbers who lie in wait for the wedded pair fail to find them; may they go on a secure path and escape danger. This wife is here beautifully adorned. Come all, and look on her. Give her your blessing, and then disperse to your homes."[328] In the house of the bridegroom his family awaited the youthful pair, and then prayed: "Kind to the brother, the cattle, and her husband, O Indra, bring her rich in sons to us here, O Savitar. Stay not the maid on her way, O divinely-planted pair of pillars (the posts of the door of the house). May this wife enter the house for good, for the good of all two-footed and four-footed creatures. Look with no evil eye, slay not the husband, be gracious, powerful, gentle with the people of the house and propitious. Harm not thy relations by marriage, nor thy husband. Be bright, and of cheerful spirit; bring forth sons that are heroes; love the gods, and with friendly spirit tend the fire of this house. Make her, Indra, rich in sons; place ten sons in her. May ye never separate; enjoy your whole lives playing with sons and grandsons, rejoicing in your house." When the young wife has entered the house, her husband leads her to the dung-heap in the court, then round the fire of the new hearth, which is either kindled by friction, or taken from a fire which has last been used for sacrifice, and there causes her to offer the first sacrifice, at which she receives the courteous greeting of the assembled[Pg 261] family of her husband. When ascending the marriage bed, the bride is thus addressed: "Ascend the bridal bed with joy. Wise and prudent as Indrani (Indra's wife) and careful, wake with the first beams of morning." On the following morning the married pair give away their bridal garments; the bridegroom's friend puts on a woollen garment, saying: "Whatever evil deed, whatever thing requiring expiation, has been done at this marriage, or on the journey, we cast it on the robe of the bridegroom's friend." When dressing himself the young husband says: "Freshly clad, I rise up to the beaming day; as the bird leaves the egg, so I slip from all guilt of sin." Then both husband and wife are thus addressed: "Waking up from happy union, rich in cows, sons, and gear, may ye live through many beaming dawns."

The law impresses on wives the greatest devotion and subjection to their husbands. Never, we are told, is the woman independent. In her childhood she depends on her father, then on her husband, and if he dies, on her sons. The sister is in the tutelage and power of the brother. So long as the husband lives, the wife is in a condition of subjection to him day and night; neither in his life nor after his death must she do anything displeasing to him, even though he is not irreproachable in his life, and gives himself to other loves; she must be good-tempered, careful and thrifty for house and home. She must honour her husband as a god; if she honours him on earth, she will herself be honoured in heaven; if she has kept her body, thoughts, and life pure, she receives one abode with him in heaven. The Epos presents beautiful and touching pictures of Indian wives, who follow their husbands into the wilderness, and when in the power of the enemy keep their faith to[Pg 262] their husbands, and without doubt possess the qualities of devotion and self-sacrifice, which, inherent in the disposition of the Aryas, were so greatly developed in the Brahmanic system, and found in India their most beautiful realisation in the character of women, to which indeed they chiefly belong. Though in the law the husband is beyond question the master in the house,—in case of resistance on the part of the wife, she may be punished even with blows of the bamboo,—he is nevertheless bound on his part to reverence and honour his wife; he must make her presents that she may adorn herself; and he must not vex her, for where the wife is vexed, the fire on the hearth soon goes out (it was quenched at the death of the wife), and when the wife curses a house it will soon fall to ruin.[329]

Adultery is in some cases threatened with very heavy penalties by the law. But here also the Brahman, when guilty, escapes with the least punishment, and the severest threats are directed against the members of the lower castes who have seduced a Brahman wife. If a Brahman commits adultery of the kind, which in the members of other castes is punished with death, he is to be shaven as a mark of disgrace, and the king must banish him out of the land; but his property is not to be taken from him; he may depart unharmed beyond the borders. But if Kshatriyas and Vaiçyas commit adultery with a Brahman woman of good family, they are to be burnt, and the woman is to be torn to pieces by dogs in a public place. As in these rules for punishment two views are intermixed, we can only ascertain that the later conception permits milder punishment in the case of wives who are not watched. If a Brahman has a[Pg 263] criminal connection with a wife that is watched with her consent he must pay 500 panas, if against her consent, 1000 panas. If a Kshatriya has a similar connection with a Brahman woman who is watched, he is to be drenched with the urine of asses and pay 1000 panas. A Vaiçya is to be imprisoned for a year, and lose his whole property. If the wife was not watched, the Kshatriya pays 1000 panas, the Vaiçya 500 panas.[330] The Çudra who is guilty of adultery with the wife of a Dvija must die, if she was watched; if not, he loses his sexual organs.

Every approach to the wife of another man is looked on as equivalent to an adulterous inclination. Secret conversations in pleasure-gardens or in the forest, the sending of flowers and perfumes, and still more any touching of a married woman, or suffering oneself to be touched by her, or joking or playing with her, are proofs of adulterous love. Even the man who speaks with the wife of another, if a beggar, minstrel, sacrificer, cook, or artisan, is to be fined. The violation of a virgin, and the attempt on the part of a man of lower caste to seduce a virgin belonging to a higher caste are to be punished with death.

It has been already remarked that the hymns of the Rigveda speak of more than one wife among the princes of the Aryas. In one of these poems we find that Svanaya, who reigned on the bank of the Indus (p. 34), gave his ten daughters in marriage to the minstrel Kakshivat. But in the hymns of burial we hear of one wife only. In the Epos, Daçaratha, king of Ayodhya, has three wives, Pandu has two, and Vijitravirya has also two. In Manu's law also, as the rules already quoted show (p. 245), husbands are allowed to marry more than one wife. Still, not to[Pg 264] mention the fact that this was only possible for men of fortune, the book states very distinctly that one only is the proper legitimate wife, that she alone can offer the sacrifice of the house with her husband; more plainly still does the law require that the king shall marry a wife from his own caste; his other wives are merely concubines.[331] The ritual observed at marriage recognises one wife only. If monogamy is not so strictly insisted on in the law, the reason is that the attempted removal of connubium between the three upper orders was made more possible by allowing several wives; for in this way it became more possible to insist that the first or legitimate wife, at any rate, should be taken from a similar caste, even by those whose obedience could not otherwise be gained. But the chief reason was that a son must necessarily be born to the father to offer libations for the dead to him. If the legitimate wife was barren, or brought forth daughters only, the defect must be remedied by a second wife. Even now, Hindoo wives, in a similar case, are urgent with their husbands to associate a second wife with them, in order that they may not die without male issue. How strongly the necessity was felt in ancient times is shown by an indication of the Rigveda, where the childless widow summons her brother-in-law to her bed,[332] and by the narrative in the Epos of the widows of the king who died without a son, for whom children are raised up by a relation, and these children pass for the issue of the dead king (p. 85, 101). The law shows that such a custom did exist, and is not a poetic invention. It permits a son to be begotten by the brother of the husband, or the nearest of kin after him; in any case[Pg 265] by a man of the same race (gotra), even in the lifetime of the husband with his consent. After the death of the husband this can be done by his younger brother, but at all times it must be without carnal desire and only in the sacred wish to raise up a male descendant for his relation. When a son is born any further commerce is forbidden under pain of losing caste. It is remarked, however, that learned Brahmans disapproved of this custom. It might be omitted when there was a daughter's son in existence, who could offer the funeral cakes for his maternal grandfather; the younger son of another father could also be adopted, but he must be entirely separated from his own family. At present the old custom only exists among the Çudras and the classes below these; among the Dvijas adoption takes place.[333]

In the burial hymns in the Rigveda the marriage is declared to be at an end, when the widow has accompanied the corpse of her dead husband to the place of rest; after the funeral was over, the widow was required to "elevate herself to the world of life." The law ordains that the widow shall not marry again after the death of her husband, even though she has had no children by him. If she does marry, she falls into contempt in this world, and in the next will be excluded from the abode of her husband. The widow is to remain alone, and not to utter the name of another man. She is to starve herself, living only on flowers, roots, and fruits; if in addition to this she avoids all sensual pleasure to the end of her life, pardons every injustice, and performs pious works and expiations, she ascends after death to heaven, even though she has never borne a child.[334] These are the[Pg 266] simple rules of the law concerning widowhood. The Dvija, whose wife dies before him, is to bury her, if she has lived virtuously according to rule, with sacred fire and suitable sacrifice. When the funeral is over he is permitted by the law to marry again and kindle the marriage fire.[335]

On children the law impresses the greatest reverence towards parents; and this respect is carried to a great extent in the Epos, where it appears in that exaggerated and caricatured form into which the good elements in the Indian character were driven by the victory of the Brahmans. Rama, "who conquers his parents by obedience, and turns them in the right way," greets his father and mother by falling down before them, and kissing their feet; he then places himself with folded hands at their side, in order to listen to what they have to say.[336] He practises obedience with the utmost punctiliousness, as well as the renunciation in which Brahmans saw the summit of all virtue. Even in the law the pupil kneels before the Brahman and his wife; and the Buddhist legends show us the sons lying at the feet of their fathers in order to greet them. The younger brother must kneel before the elder if he would give him a solemn salutation.[337]

The old legal customs of the Aryas knew only of the family property as undivided and in the possession of the father. Wife, sons, daughters, and slaves have no property; they are in fact themselves pieces of property.[338] If the father dies, his place is taken by the eldest son, at the head of the house; and if the mother is alive, she is in his tutelage. That the right of the[Pg 267] person to share in the property was already felt against this old custom is shown in the book of the law by the regulation that the sons, after the death of the father, are not to share during the lifetime of the mother. Even when both parents are dead it is best for the sons not to divide the property, but to live together under the eldest as the head of the family. The doctrines of the law in favour of maintaining the old custom of a family property were not, as it seems, without results. In the sutras of the Buddhists the fathers urge their sons not to divide the property after their decease. That when a division did take place, custom gave a pre-eminence to the eldest son[339] is clear from the rule given in the law: the eldest son can only demand the best piece when he is more learned and virtuous than the rest; otherwise it must not be divided. Another view expressed in the law, which militated against the connubium of the three orders, attempts in this case also to bring in the division of castes: if the father has several wives of different castes, the sons of those who belong to the higher castes have the advantage. If, for instance, a Brahman has wives from all the four castes the inheritance is to be divided into ten parts: the son of the Brahman woman receives four parts, the son of the Kshatriya three, the son of the Vaiçya two, of the Çudra only one.[340] Landed property in India is inherited and always has been by males only; but if there are no sons, a daughter may be put in as heir. In other cases women have only a claim to maintenance out[Pg 268] of the family property. The distinction between inherited and acquired property is first recognised in the later law of India, but even now the father has only the right of disposal over the latter when he divides it in his own lifetime among his children. At present the unmarried daughters, and quite recently widows, have a right to a son's portion instead of maintenance out of the family property.[341]

In India, family life has in all essentials healthily developed and maintained itself on the basis which we can detect in the sentences of the marriage ceremony. The fortunate birth of a child, purification after child-bed, and naming of the child—according to the law the name of a boy ought to express among the Brahmans some helpful greeting, among the Kshatriyas power, among the Vaiçyas wealth, among the Çudras subjection[342]—the first cutting of the hair, the investiture of the sons with the sacred girdle, the birthdays, betrothals, and marriages are great festivals among the families, kept with considerable expense. The Indians love their children; their maintenance and marriage form at present the chief care of wealthy parents. The law allows a man to give his daughter even to the poorest husband of his own caste; but now the main effort of the family is not indeed to obtain the wealthiest husband for a daughter, but to obtain one of at least equal wealth with their own, and whenever possible of better descent. The claims of the priestly Brahmans belonging to those eight tribes which carried back their origin to the great saints, tribes existing in the fourth century B.C., are in existence still;[343] but the number of the clans has increased. The ceremonies at marriages are still essentially those of the old ritual.[Pg 269] Before walking round the fire the hands of the bride and bridegroom are united with kuça-grass, and the points of their garments tied together. It has long been a custom and a rule that the bride should be equipped by her father, and the splendour with which marriages are celebrated makes the wedding of a daughter a heavy burden on families that are not wealthy. The Kshatriyas more especially suffer in this respect, since they are peculiarly apt to seek after connections with ancient families. In families of this caste it sometimes happens that daughters are exposed or otherwise put out of the way in order to escape the cost of their future equipment and marriage.[344]


[294] e. g. "Ramayana," 1, 13, 72, ed. Schlegel.

[295] Manu, 8, 380, 381.

[296] Manu, 2, 127.

[297] Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 2, 80.

[298] Manu, 9, 322.

[299] Manu, 10, 80-117.

[300] Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 139.

[301] Manu, 3, 12-15, 44; 9, 22-24, 85-87.

[302] Manu, 3, 16-19; 10, 5, 6.

[303] Manu, 10, 15.

[304] Manu, 10, 46.

[305] Manu, 10, 48.

[306] Manu, 10, 8.

[307] Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 1, 820, n. 2.

[308] Manu, 10, 49.

[309] Manu, 10, 48.

[310] Manu, 10, 15; (above, p. 15).

[311] Manu, 10, 51-56; (above, p. 168).

[312] Manu, 10, 67.

[313] Manu, 10, 43-45.

[314] Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 1, 396, 439, 534.

[315] Sherring, "Hindu Castes and Tribes," 7-9; 120, 247.

[316] "Açvalayana Çrauta-Sutra," book 12, in M. Müller, "Hist. of Sanskrit Lit." p. 381.

[317] Manu, 3, 27-38, 160, 171; 9, 100, 127 ff. The analogous series in the Açvalayana in A. Weber, "Indische Studien," 5, 284.

[318] Açvalayana, Yajnavalkya, Apastamba in M. Müller, loc. cit. p. 378 ff.

[319] A. Weber, "Indische Studien," 5, 343, 400, 407.

[320] Strabo, p. 709. Arrian, "Ind." 17.

[321] "Açvalayana," 1, 63, in A. Weber, loc. cit.

[322] Manu, 9, 88-96.

[323] Açvalayana says: "There are many different customs in different districts and towns; we only give what is common." Haas and A. Weber in the "Indische Studien," 5, 281.

[324] Weber, loc. cit. 5, 219, 236.

[325] A. Weber, loc. cit. 5, 201.

[326] Haas, loc. cit. 5, 322, cp. however, p. 358.

[327] A. Weber, loc. cit. 5, 214.

[328] The first part of the sentence is from the latest part of the Rigveda (10, 184), the second from the Atharvaveda, 2, 30; 5, 25. in A. Weber, "Ind. Studien," 5, 218, 227, 234.

[329] Manu, 9, 147-149; 3, 6-11; 55-62; 9, 2-7, 77-83.

[330] Manu, 8, 371-376.

[331] Manu, 7, 77, 78.

[332] Rigveda, 10, 40 in Aurel Mayr, "Indisches Erbrecht," s. 79.

[333] Manu, 9, 59-69, 144-146. Aurel Mayr, loc. cit. 3, 104.

[334] Manu, 5, 157-162.

[335] Manu, 5, 167-169.

[336] e. g. "Ramayana," ed. Schlegel, 2, 3, 31.

[337] Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 238.

[338] Aurel Mayr, "Indisches Erbrecht," s. 160 ff.

[339] Aurel Mayr, loc. cit. s. 56.

[340] Manu, 9, 104-220. Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 239. In the sutras we are told of a division in a merchant's family, after the brothers have united; in this the oldest retains the house and lands, the other the shops, the third the stock, beside land. Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 242.

[341] Aurel Mayr, loc. cit. 3, 167, ff.

[342] Manu, 2, 29-34.

[343] Above, p. 252. M. Müller, "Hist. of Anc. Sanskrit Lit." p. 380, ff.

[344] Sherring, loc. cit. p. 122.



[Pg 270]



The unity in regard to law and morals, which the book of the law sought to establish throughout all the regions of India, between the Vindhyas and Himalayas, was never carried out to this extent. Indeed, the book itself is wanting in unity owing to the gradual accumulation of different strata in it, and the various rules which it contains for the same circle of life. Nor did it even attempt to remove the usages of Brahmavarta, or the customs of "the good" in general. In other points its requirements were pitched much too high, and were too ideal for princes and judges to feel bound by them, directly and immediately, or to guide their conduct by such rules, though on the whole they regarded the book as a standard. Even on the Ganges some districts resisted the law of the Brahmans, and took their law from their old customs,[345] while on the other hand, in the land of the Indus, only a few regions followed the development attained in the life of the emigrants on the Yamuna and the Ganges; in these the elevation of the priestly order, the reform of religion, and the exclusiveness of the castes were very fitfully carried out. They clung obstinately to the older forms of Indian life, and submitted but partially[Pg 271] to the reaction which the land of the Ganges exercised on the ancient home of the race.

In other nations and ages the priests have turned their attention to the past history of their states, and have recorded their fortunes, but on the Ganges the victory of the priests threw the past entirely aside, and established the Brahmanic system as the religion existing from the beginning. Why should the Brahmans trouble themselves with the deeds of ancient kings and heroes? These could only attract their attention in so far as the action of the gods was seen in them, or when they could be asked to prove that the power of the Brahmans had been from the first greater than the power of the kings and the Kshatriyas. Or need the Brahmans write the history of their own order? From this point of view that order had always been what it now was; it formed no organised corporation, no centralised system; the only points that could come into question were the acts of the great saints, the ancestors of the Brahman class, or the claim and advantage of being descended from this or that priest of the old time. Ought the Brahmans to inquire into the laws of nature? In their view the life of nature was as little independent, as little founded on laws of its own, as the life and actions of men. Nature was absorbed into the world-soul; the efficacy of sacrifices and penalties could, in the opinion of the Brahmans, remove the laws of nature at any moment. Where the order of the moral and physical world is broken and subdued at will by the supernatural, no account can be made of the actions of men, or the facts of nature, of history or natural science; theology and things divine are the only possible subjects of study.

The Brahmans occupied themselves very earnestly with the study of revelation, with the Veda, and with[Pg 272] meditation on the highest being. If the first was the peculiar task of the schools of the Brahmans, the second was the essential duty of the anchorites in the forest. Moreover, it was advantageous for the teaching of the people to interpolate the new religion into the old Epos, and there also to exalt the acts of the great saints above the acts of the ancient heroes. We have already referred to the contradiction existing between the new doctrine and the Veda, on which it was founded, and which it set forth as a divine revelation. The invocations and prayers of the Veda arose out of the circle of different tribes, and from different dates; in their origin and tradition they proceeded from distinct races of priests. They were due to a conception wholly at variance with that of the Brahmans. How could these contradictions be removed? The contradiction between old and new was aggravated by numerous differences in the ritual. Along with the Veda the Brahmans regarded the sayings and conduct of the holy men of old, the great saints, as sufficient authorities. But the ritual was not the same in all the races of the Brahmans; and even customs and tradition had, as we have seen, a claim in the eyes of the Brahmans. Every priestly school, or family, appealed in its ritual to the custom or word of the supposed progenitor, or to some other great saint. In order to fix the correct ceremonial of the sacrifice, the true ritual for purification, expiation, and penance, amid such varieties of practice, it was necessary to go back to the Veda. But in the Veda nothing was found on the greater part of the questions at issue, and only contradictory statements on others. Which was the true ritual, the form pleasing to the gods and therefore efficacious? Which were the decisive passages in the Veda, and what was their true explanation?[Pg 273] To the difficult task of bringing the Veda into harmony with the idea of Brahman, and the system of castes, and finding a proof for both in the Veda, in which castes and Brahman as the world-soul were unknown, was added the further difficulty of establishing the ritual so securely, as to leave no doubt about the practice of it, and to make it quite certain what liturgy was to be applied in each case, at every act. Owing to the Indian belief in the mystic power of the sacrifice and each single operation in it, this question was of very great importance. The sacrifice was invalid unless the ritual given by revelation or by the great priests of ancient times was used in it. From these questions and investigations rose commentaries on the Vedas;—the Brahmanas, which in part are still preserved to our times, the first compositions of the Indians in prose. They are reflections and rules of a liturgical and theological nature, and proceed on a plan somewhat of the following kind. After mentioning the rite and the sacrifice in question, the meaning of the words in the Veda which are supposed to refer to it is given, generally in a singular form; the various modes of performing the sacrifice are then mentioned, the sayings of the ancient saints in favour of this or that form are quoted; and then follows a regular solution, supported by legends from the history of the saints. We see from the rules of the Brahmanas that offerings, consecrations, and sacrifices were not diminished but rather increased by the idea of Brahman, and the number of the sacrificing priests was greater; a fourth priest was added to the Hotar, Udgatar, and Adhvaryu of the older period, whose duty it was to superintend the whole sacrifice, to guard against mistakes, and remedy them when made; at the greater sacrifices[Pg 274] sixteen or seventeen priests officiated, besides those who were required for the supplementary duties; and beside the three daily sacrifices at morning, midday, and evening, the sacrifices of the new moon and full moon, the sacrifices to the ancestors, to fire, and the Soma, there were rites which lasted from two to eleven days, and others which occupied fourteen to one hundred days.[346] The Brahmanas fix the object and operation of every sacrifice; they show how the place of sacrifice is to be prepared and measured; how the altar is to be erected; how the vessels and instruments of sacrifice were to be prepared; what sort of wood and water is required, and the length of the pieces of wood which are to be placed on the fire. Then follow the invocations and the sentences at the use of the instruments of sacrifice, the paces and functions incumbent on the four classes of priests, what one has to say and another to answer. Not only each word but even the tone and gesture is given formally at great length. An incorrect word, a false intonation may destroy the efficacy of the entire sacrifice. For this reason the rules for the great sacrifice, especially for the sacrifice of horses, fill up whole books of the Brahmanas.

Like the Arians of Iran, and the Germans, the Arians on the Indus sacrificed horses to the gods. "May Mitra, Aryaman, Indra and the Maruts," so we read in the Rigveda, "not rebuke us because we shall proclaim at the sacrifice the virtues of the swift horse, sprung from the gods, when the spotted goat is led before the horse adorned with ornaments of pure gold. If thrice at the proper seasons men lead around the sacrificial horse, which goes to the gods,—the goat, Pushan's share, goes first (p. 47). She goes[Pg 275] along the path which Indra and Pushan love, and announces the sacrifice to the gods. May ye, O Hotar, Adhvaryu—the names of the remaining officiating priests follow—fill the streams (round the altar) with a well-prepared and well-accomplished sacrifice! They who cut the sacrificial post, and they who make the ring for the post of the horse, may their work be with us. My prayer has been well performed: the bright-backed horse goes to the regions of the gods, where poets celebrate him, and we have won a good friend among the gods. The halter of the swift one, the heel-ropes of the horse, the girdle, the bridle, and even the grass that has been put into his mouth, may all these which belong to thee be with the gods. The ordure that runs from the belly, and the smallest particle of raw flesh, may the immolators well prepare all this, and dress the sacrifice till it is well cooked. The juice that flows from thy roasted limb on the spit after thou hast been killed, may it not run on the earth or the grass; may it be given to the gods who desire it. They who examine the horse when it is roasted, they who say 'It smells well, take it away;' they who serve the distribution of the meat, may their work also be with us. The ladle of the pot where the meat is cooked, and the vessels for sprinkling the juice, the covers of the vessels, the shears, and the knives, they adorn the horse. Where he walks, where he stands, where he lies, what he drinks, and what he eats, may all these which belong to thee, be with the gods. May not the fire with smoky smell make thee hiss, may not the glowing cauldron swell and burst. The gods accept the horse if it is offered to them in due form. The cover which they stretch over the horse and the golden ornaments, the head-ropes of the horse, and the foot-ropes, all these which are dear to the gods,[Pg 276] they offer to them. If some one strike thee with the heel or the whip that thou mayest lie down, and thou art shouting with all thy might, then I purify all this with my prayer, as with a spoon of clarified butter at the sacrifices. The axe approaches the thirty-four ribs of the quick horse, beloved of the gods. Do you wisely keep the limbs whole; find out each joint and ligament. One strikes the horse, two hold it; this is the custom. May the axe not stick to thy body; may no greedy and unskilful immolator, missing with the sword, throw thy mangled limbs together. May not thy dear soul burn thee while thou art coming near. Indeed thou diest not, thou sufferest not, thou goest to the gods on easy paths. May this horse give us cattle and horses, men, progeny, and all-sustaining wealth. May the horse of this sacrifice give us strength."[347] This was the foundation on which the Brahmanas construct an endless ritual for the sacrifice of horses, "the king of sacrifices," as the book of the law calls it. At the sacrifice of the horse, so we are told in the Çatapatha-Brahmana, the Adhvaryu on the first day calls on the players on the flute to celebrate the king who offers the sacrifice, and with him the virtuous princes of ancient days. The priest narrates the history begun by Manu Vaivasvata. On the second day he narrates the history begun by Yama Vaivasvata, and on the third day that begun by Varuna Aditya (p. 124); on the fourth day he narrates that begun by Soma Vaishnava, etc.; on the tenth day that begun by Dharma Indra, and sings the Soma, i. e. the hymns of the Samaveda.[348] In the Mahabharata, Yudhishthira, after ascending the throne of Hastinapura,[Pg 277] offers a sacrifice of horses, in order to assuage his grief at the loss of his heroes, and to extend his dominion. The Brahman Vyasa tells the king that this sacrifice is very difficult; that he must sleep the whole year through on the ground, with his wife at his side, and a naked sword between them; if he does not keep his desires in subjection during the whole of this time, the entire efficacy of the sacrifice is lost. The horse with the necessary marks is found and brought forward. According to the poem it must be as white as the moon, with a yellow tail, and the right ear must be black; the horse can also be entirely black. On a certain day, determined by the moon, the horse is let loose. It bears a gold plate on its forehead with the name of the king to whom it belongs, and the announcement that an army is following it, and any one who detains the horse, or leads it astray, will be compelled by force of arms to set it at liberty, and after the end of the year to appear at the sacrifice of the horse. Arjuna overcomes all the princes who would retain the horse. Then the princes who have submitted or been conquered assemble at Hastinapura; Yudhishthira and Draupadi take a bath for purification; the king ploughs the place of sacrifice with a golden plough; Draupadi sows it to the accompaniment of the prayers of the Brahmans; then the midst of the space is covered with four hundred golden tiles, and round about these are set up eight posts, eight trenches for the preparation of the curdled milk, clarified butter, and soma, and provided with eight great spoons, in order to bring the sacrificial gifts into the fire. Yudhishthira takes his place on the throne of gold and sandal-wood; twenty-four princes and rishis go to the Ganges in order to bring water for the sacrifice in pitchers on their heads. When the king has been purified by this[Pg 278] water, the horse is brought, and it also is purified by having the water poured upon it. Then the priests pressed the ear of the horse, and as milk ran out from it, it was proved that the horse was pure; so Bhima smote off the head with his sword. Then the priest held the flesh in the spoon over the fire, and made Homa out of it, and the flesh smelt of camphor, and he cried, "Indra, receive this flesh which has become camphor." To each of the Brahmans who had officiated at the sacrifice Yudhishthira gave a chariot, an elephant, ten horses, one hundred milch-cows, and slaves and gold and pearls, and had them entertained. In the Ramayana, king Daçaratha of Ayodhya offers a sacrifice of horses to obtain a son. At the appointed time the horse was set at liberty for a year; and a Brahman accompanied it. All the preparatory sacrifices were offered; the place was made ready on the northern banks of the Sarayu; twenty-one sacrificial posts were set up, and decked with flowers and ornaments, and twenty-one trenches were dug when the horse returned. The Brahmans kindle the sacred fire, the horse is led round it, and slain with the consecrated sword, while the Udgatar recites the sentences. The Hotar and the Ritvij bring the pieces of the horse according to the custom to the fire, and the Ritvij pronounces the sentences while placing the flesh in the fire. Then the first and second wives of the king are brought to the horse and pass the night near it.[349] Rama offers a horse sacrifice for another reason; he wishes to make atonement for the offence which he has committed by the slaughter of the great giant Ravana of Lanka, who was a descendant of the holy Agastya, and consequently a Brahman. According to the narratives of the Vishnu-Purana, king Pushpamitra,[Pg 279] who sat on the throne of Magadha in the first half of the second century B.C., offered a horse sacrifice. The horse when set at liberty was carried off on the right bank of the Indus by an army of the Yavanas (Greeks), but was again liberated by the attendants. As a fact the land of the Indus as well as the Panjab was at that time under the dominion of the Greek princes of Bactria. From the period of the dynasty of the Guptas, who acquired the throne of Magadha about the year 140 B.C., a coin has been preserved to our time, relating to the efficacy of the horse sacrifice; it depicts an unsaddled horse before an altar.[350]

Not long after the time when the commentaries on the Vedas, or Brahmanas, arose in the schools of the Brahmans, a fourth Veda was added to the three collections of sacred songs and prayers already in existence. Ancient poems were preserved which had not been received into the Rigveda. These were not songs of praise or thanksgiving, prayers or sentences intended to accompany the sacrificial acts, but charms to avert evil, danger, sickness, or death, formulæ relating to life in the house and family, bringing blessing or a curse. When the fourth superintending priest was added to the three already officiating, and the latter was charged with the office of avoiding the mistakes which might be committed in it, and atoning for those which had been committed by counter-charms and acts of expiation—a collection of the sentences required, a book of prayers, seems to have been given to this priest also, just as the Hotar had his Rigveda, the Udgatar his Samaveda, the Adhvaryu his Yajurveda. Thus the sentences of this kind already living in tradition may have been[Pg 280] collected together, so as to form a fourth Veda. That some of the exorcisms and incantations belonging to this collection are also found in the Rigveda, that meditative hymns of later date are received into the fourth Veda together with pieces of very great antiquity, may count rather for than against this mode of origin. The new collection was called the Atharvaveda after the ancient priest Atharvan, who is said first to have enticed the fire from the pieces of wood.[351] The Atharvaveda contains a number of ancient charms against sickness and death. It is the healing powers of waters and plants which are first invoked for assistance. In the Rigveda also all remedies are found in waters and plants, both of which come from the sky.[352] "May the waters of Himavat be blessed for thee," so we are told in the Atharvaveda; "the waters of the springs, the waters of the rain, the waters of the steppe, the waters of the cisterns, the waters of the pitchers. We bless the best healers, the waters. The waters should heal thee when pain overcomes thee; they should drive out thy sickness."[353] Plants are not less efficacious. They pass into the limbs of the sick, they expel the sickness victoriously from the body, they unite with their king Soma in order to fight against the sickness; they obey the voice of the priest, rescue the sick person from pain, and set free the foot[Pg 281] of man from the toils of Yama.[354] The Atharvaveda emphasises the peculiar healing power of a plant against the Rakshasas (the evil spirits); with this Kaçiapa, Kanva, Agastya, and the son of Atharvan had defeated the Rakshasas. "Liberate," so the priest says to it, "liberate this man from the spirits of the Rakshasas; lead him back into the company of the living."[355] In other sentences of this Veda we are told: "With this sacrificial butter I liberate thee, so that thou mayest live; when the captor has seized him, do ye set him free, Indra and Agni. If his life is failing I draw him back from the brink of destruction unharmed for a hundred autumns" (p. 62). If the sickness is a punishment from the gods, the offence must be wiped out by sacrifice, prayer, and expiations; if it is the result of a charm, it must be driven into another creature by a counter-charm. The Atharvaveda gives us the following sentence against the demon Takman, who brings fever: "May refusal meet Takman, who has glowing weapons. O Takman, go to the Mujavant or further. Attack the Çudra woman, the teeming one; shake her, O Takman. The Gandharas, the Angas, the Magadhas, we give over to Takman as servants, or a treasure."[356] The ague is banished into the frog, the jaundice into yellow birds. In the Rigveda the jaundice is put away into parrots and thrushes; consumption is to fly away with the blue jay. The custom of supporting the exorcism by laying down a leaf or a herb, which is taught in the Atharvaveda, is not[Pg 282] unknown to the Rigveda.[357] The Atharva-veda also supplies charms against sprains, worms, and other evils.[358]

The Brahmanas of the various schools of priests were not merely rules for ritual, but also exegetical and dogmatic commentaries on the separate Vedas, each destined for one of the three classes of priests who were allotted to the Rigveda, Samaveda, and Yajurveda. Of these commentaries on the Rigveda, two, differing in their arrangement, have been preserved to us; the Aitareya-Brahmana, and the Kaushitaki-Brahmana, i. e. the commentaries of the schools of Aitareya and Kaushitaka: for the Samaveda we have the Chandoga-Brahmana, and the Tandya-Brahmana; for the Yajurveda the Taittiriya-Brahmana and the Çatapatha-Brahmana, i. e. the commentaries of the schools of Tittiri and Vajasaneya. In one or two of these Brahmanas we have additions at the end of a speculative character. The compressed and difficult language of these books, the abstruse dogmatism, the abundance of examples and legends, made the Brahmanas so difficult to understand that explanations of them were soon written in a more synoptical arrangement, an easier style, and shorter form. These explanations were called sutras, i. e. clues. If they were intended to explain the Veda, i. e. revelation, they were known as Çrauta-sutras; if they collected in a synoptical form the rules for the ritual given in the Brahmanas, they were known as Kalpa-sutras. The oldest sutras of this kind, which have come down to us, are supposed to have been written about the year 400 B.C.[359] From the duty of properly intoning and[Pg 283] pronouncing the prescribed words of the Veda, marking the metre, correctly understanding the ancient Vedic language which had subsequently taken the form of Sanskrit, and gone through other changes in the mouth of the people, and fixing the correct time for the sacrifice, there grew up among the schools of the Brahmans the beginnings of metrical, grammatical, etymological, and astronomical inquiries. As the people in the land of the Ganges had ceased to understand Sanskrit in the sixth century B.C., while the Brahmans were compelled to preserve it for the Vedas and the Brahmanas, and as a learned and theological language, it became necessary to learn it from teachers. The sutras of the Buddhists speak of a grammar of Indra, which is also mentioned by the Chinese Hiuan-Thsang as the earliest Indian grammar; from the fourth century B.C. we have the grammatical rules of Panini remaining, which, based on the previous Çrauta-sutras, present us with a complete grammatical system, provided with an artificial terminology.[360]

The desire to offer sacrifices to the gods at the correct and acceptable time did not permit the Brahmans entirely to neglect the observation of the heavens. Their attention was directed principally to the moon, to the courses of the planets they paid no particular regard. According to the advance of the moon in the heavens they distinguished twenty-seven, and at a later period twenty-eight stations in the sky (nakshatra). "The moon," we are told, "follows the course of the Nakshatras." The year of the Indians was divided into twelve months of thirty days; the month was divided into two halves of fifteen days each, and the day into 30 hours (muhurta). In order to bring this[Pg 284] year of 360 days into harmony with the natural time, the Brahmans established a quinquennial cycle of 1860 lunar days. Three years had 12 months of 30 lunar days; the third and fifth year of the cycle had thirteen months of the same number of days. The Brahmans do not seem to have perceived that by this arrangement the cycle contained almost four days in excess of the astronomical time; and indeed they were not very skilful astronomers. Twelve quinquennial cycles were united into a greater period (yuga) of sixty years.[361] It was an old belief of the Indians that sacrifices and important affairs in domestic and family life should only be engaged in when the position of the sky was favourable—when the moon was waxing,[Pg 285] or the sun moving to the north. At a later time it was also believed that the constellation, under which a child saw the light, was of good or evil influence on his fortunes. Charms are preserved, which are supposed to avert evil influences of this kind.[362] Some time after the seventh century the Brahmans began to foretell the fortunes of children from the position of the stars of their parents, to look for the marks of good and bad fortune on the human body as well as in the sky, and to question the stars about the favourable hours for the transactions or festivals of the house, and the labours of the field, voyages and travels. Though the book of the law declares astrology to be a wicked occupation,[363] it was carried on to a considerable extent in the fifth and fourth centuries. But this astrological superstition has nevertheless remained without effect in advancing the astronomy of the Brahmans; further advance was due to the foreign help gained by closer contact with the kingdom of the Seleucids, and the influence of the Græco-Bactrian kingdom, which extended its power to the east beyond the Indus, and the Græco-Indian kingdom which succeeded it in the second century.[364] The result of their grammatical and astronomical[Pg 286] studies were collected by the Brahmans as auxiliary sciences to the explanation and interpretation of the Veda; and they termed them the members of the Veda (Vedanga). They enumerated six of such members; the doctrine of pronunciation and intonation, the doctrine of metres, grammar, etymology, the ritual, and astronomy. The two first were declared to be indispensable for the reading of the Veda, the third and fourth for understanding the Veda, the fifth and sixth for the performance of sacrifice.[365]

From all antiquity, as has been already observed, the Indians were greatly given to magic. It was the mysterious secret of the worship, the power of the rightly-offered prayer, which exercised compulsion on the gods. Out of this power grew their Brahmanaspati, and then Brahman. Consequently, the Brahmans ascribed the greatest efficacy to the severities of asceticism, the annihilation of the body. The sacrifice of sensual enjoyment was more meritorious and powerful than all other sacrifices. Was it not this devotion, this mortification, this concentration, which annihilated the unholy part in men? Did not a man by these means approach the holy nature of Brahman—did he not thus draw into himself Brahman and its power? The Brahmans were convinced that great penances and absorption into Brahman conferred a supernatural power and a command over nature; and imparted to the penitent a superhuman and even superdivine power, like that of Brahman. The Indians invariably transferred the new point of view to the past. The past was with them a mirror of the present, and therefore the ancient priests who were supposed to have sung the hymns of the Veda, the mythical ancestors of the leading priestly families,[Pg 287] were not only patterns of Brahmanic wisdom, but also great ascetics, examples of energetic penances. By such penances these ancient saints, the Maharshis, i. e. the great sages as they were now called, had obtained power over men and gods, and even creative force. Hence in the order of beings the seven or ten great saints received the place nearest to Brahman, above the gods—a change which was rendered easier to the Brahmans because passages in the Rigveda spoke of the "ancient-born sages" as illuminated, as seers and friends of the gods.[366] With the Brahmans the force of asceticism was so preponderant, and absorbed the divine nature to such a degree, that it was soon regarded by them as the highest divine potency; in their view the gods and Brahman itself exercised creative power only by virtue of ascetic concentration on self, and severe penances. The theory of creation was modified from this point of view. Creation was not any longer the act of the ancient gods, though they are praised as creators in the Veda; it no longer took place by the emanation of being out of Brahman. According to the analogy of the asceticism of the Brahmans, the gods and the personal Brahman who proceeded out of the impersonal Brahman must have rendered themselves capable of creation by penance, and gained their peculiar power in this way. In the black Yajurveda we are told: "This world was at first water; in this moved the lord of creation, who had become air. Then he formed the earth and created the gods. The gods said: How can we form creatures? He replied: As I formed you by the glow of my meditation (tapas), so do ye seek in deep meditation the means of bringing forth creatures."[367] The introduction to the book[Pg 288] of the law goes further still in the theory of creation given above. When Brahman had proceeded from the egg (p. 197), he subjects himself to severe penance and so creates Manu. Then Manu begins the most severe exercises, and by them creates the ten great sages, and seven new Manus. The ten great saints, the lords of creatures, on their part bring all created things into being. By the force of their penances they create the gods and their different heavens, then the other saints who possess unbounded power, the spirits of the earth (Yakshas), the giants (Rakshasas), and the evil spirits (Asuras), the blood-suckers (Piçachas), the serpent spirits (Nagas), the heavenly genii (the Gandharvas and Apsarasas), and the spirits of the ancestors; after them the thunder, the lightning, and the clouds, the wild animals, and last of all the whole mass of creatures living and lifeless.[368] According to this theory, Brahman has only given the impulse to creation; it is completed by the penances of Manu and the other saints. The gods are deposed, and the Brahmans, through their forefathers, the great saints, become the authors of the gods and the world, the sovereign lords of creation. The Brahman, learned or not, such is the teaching of the book of the law, is always a mighty deity, just as fire, whether consecrated or not, is always a mighty deity. Creation belongs to the Brahman, and consequently all property is his; it is by his magnanimity that the rest of the orders enjoy the goods of this world. Who would venture to injure a Brahman, by whose sacrifice the gods live and the world exists? Any one who harms a Brahman will be at once annihilated by the power of his curse; even a king who ventures[Pg 289] on such a thing will perish with his army and their armour by the word of a Brahman.[369]

The schools of the Brahmans sought to establish their ritual beyond the power of doubt, to understand the Veda in its interpretation, as well as in its etymology and grammar; they raised the centre of their ethics, their asceticism, high above the gods of the Veda, and they also attempted to embody their views and their whole system in the poems of their Epos. The pre-eminence of their order must have been established even in the ancient times; even then the Brahmans must have stood far above the Kshatriyas; and the princes and heroes, of whom the Epos told us, must have been patterns of reverence towards the Brahmans; they must have walked in the paths which the theory of the Brahmans subsequently prescribed. In this feeling the Brahmans proceeded to revise the Epos. In contradiction to the ancient poem the princes of the Pandus were placed in the best light, and, so far as was possible, were made eager worshippers or obedient pupils of the Brahmans.

We have already pointed out what an opposition the Brahmans had invented between Vasishtha and Viçvamitra from a few hints given by the Rigveda; how from this point of view, Viçvamitra is made into a Kshatriya, in order to be able to point out from the example of his ruin as a Kshatriya in opposition to Vasishtha the superiority of the Brahmans over the Kshatriyas. But the Veda contains hymns by Viçvamitra; he belonged, like Vasishtha, to the great saints; the one no less than the other was the progenitor of an ancient and eminent branch of the Brahmans. Hence the Kshatriya Viçvamitra must be changed[Pg 290] again into a Brahman, and this could only be done by penances of the most severe kind. As the most powerful effects were attributed to these penances, the Kuçikas and the other races derived from Viçvamitra were indemnified for the previous defeat of Viçvamitra when he was still a Kshatriya. The description of the feeble conflict of the Kshatriya against the Brahman, of the prince against the Rishi, the marvellous exaltation of the Kshatriya and the prince by submission to the Brahman law and severe penances, are here set forth in the utmost detail and inserted in the Epos. King Viçvamitra had ruled over the earth for several thousand years. On one occasion he came with his warriors to the abode of Vasishtha in the forest, who hospitably received and entertained him and his army. Vasishtha possessed a marvellous cow—a wishing cow—which brought forth whatever Vasishtha desired; she produced food and drink for Viçvamitra and his army. This cow Viçvamitra wished to possess, and offered 100,000 ordinary cows in exchange. It was a jewel, he said, and the king has a right to all jewels found in his country; hence the cow belonged of right to him, a deduction which is not contrary to certain rules in the book of the law. Vasishtha refuses to part with the cow; and Viçvamitra resolves to take her by force from the saint. The cow urges her master to resist; wide and powerful as Viçvamitra's rule may be, he is not more mighty than Vasishtha is; the wise praise not the might of the warriors, the power of the Brahmans is greater. Instead of the means of subsistence, with the production of which she has hitherto been contented, she now brings forth different armies from the different parts of her body; and when these are conquered by the warriors of Viçvamitra, she goes on producing[Pg 291] new armies till the host of the king is destroyed. Then the hundred sons of Viçvamitra filled with rage rush on Vasishtha; but the saint consumes them by the flame of meditation which proceeds from his mouth. Viçvamitra acknowledges with shame the superiority of the Brahman over the Kshatriya; he resolves to overcome Vasishtha by penances. He goes into the forest, stands on his toes for one hundred years, lives on air only, and in this way acquires the possession of heavenly arms. With these he hastens to the settlement of Vasishtha; sets it on fire by the heavenly arrows, and then hurls a fiery weapon at the Brahman. Vasishtha cries aloud: "Vile Kshatriya, now will I show thee what the strength of a warrior is!" and with his staff easily wards off even the arms of the gods. With no better success Viçvamitra throws the toils of Varuna, and even Brahman's dreadful weapons against Vasishtha, who beats them away with his staff, "which burned like a second sceptre of Yama." With sighs Viçvamitra acknowledges that the might of kings and warriors is nothing, that only the Brahmans possess true power, and now attempts by severe penances to elevate himself to be a Brahman. He proceeds to the south, and undergoes the severest mortifications. After a thousand years of penance Brahman allows him the rank of a wise king. But he wishes to be a Brahman, and therefore begins his penances over again. Triçanku, the son of Prithu, the pious king of the Koçalas (p. 149), had bidden his priest Vasishtha exalt him with his living body to heaven by a great sacrifice. Vasishtha declares that this is impossible. Triçanku repairs to Viçvamitra, who offers the sacrifice. But the gods do not descend to the sacrificial meal. Then Viçvamitra in anger seizes the ladle, and says to Triçanku: "By my own power I will exalt you[Pg 292] to heaven. Receive the power of sanctity which I have gained by my penances. I have certainly earned some reward for them." Triçanku at once rose to heaven; but Indra refused him admittance, and Triçanku began to sink again. In anger Viçvamitra begins to found another heaven in the south, new gods and new stars. Then the gods humbly entreat the saint to desist from conveying Triçanku into heaven, but Viçvamitra had given his promise to Triçanku; he must keep his word, and the gods must receive Triçanku. Then Viçvamitra repairs to the west in order to begin further penances. After a thousand years Brahman hails him as a sage. But Viçvamitra is resolved to be a Brahman. He begins his penances once more, but is disturbed by the sight of an Apsarasa, whom he sees bathing in the lake of Pushkara, and for ten years he lies in her toils. Disgusted at his weakness Viçvamitra repairs to the northern mountain, and there again undergoes yet severer penances for a thousand years. Brahman now greets him as a great sage; but Viçvamitra wishes to have the incomparable title of a wise Brahman. This Brahman refuses because he has not yet fully mastered his sensual desires. New penances begin; Viçvamitra raises his arms aloft, stands on one leg, remains immovable as a post, feeds on nothing but air, is surrounded in the hot season by four fires, and in the cold by water, etc.—all which goes on for a thousand years. The gods are alarmed at the power which Viçvamitra obtains by such penances, and Indra sends the Apsarasa Rambha to seduce the penitent. Viçvamitra resists, but allows himself to be transported with rage, and turns the nymph into a stone. But anger also belongs to the sensual man, and must be subdued. He leaves the Himalayas, repairs to the east, and there[Pg 293] resolves to perform the most severe penance; he will not speak a word, and this penance he performs for a thousand years, standing on one leg like a statue. The gods now beseech Brahman to make Viçvamitra a Brahman, otherwise by the power of his penances he will bring the three worlds to destruction; soon would the sun be quenched before the majesty of the penitent. Brahman consents; all the gods go to Viçvamitra, pay him homage and salute him: "Hail, wise Brahman!" Vasishtha hears of this new dignity of Viçvamitra, and both now stand on the same footing. This narrative teaches us not only that the power of the gods was nothing as against the Brahmans, but also that it was easier to exercise compulsion upon the gods, to create new gods and new stars, than for any one to attain the rank of a Brahman who had been born as a Kshatriya.[370]

Like Viçvamitra the heroes of antiquity were thought to have obtained divine power by their penances. An episode, inserted by the Brahmans into the Mahabharata, tells us how Arjuna, when the Pandus had been banished into the forest after the second game of dice at Hastinapura, practises severe penances on the Himavat, in order to obtain the weapons of the gods for the conflict against the Kurus. Indra sends his chariot in order to convey him to heaven, and there, in the heaven of Indra, everything shines with a[Pg 294] peculiar splendour. Here are the gods, the heroes fallen in battle, sages and penitents by hundreds, who have attained to the height of Indra, but not, as yet, to Brahman. Instead of the blowing winds, his old companions in the fight, Indra is now surrounded by troops of the Gandharvas, the heavenly musicians, and by the Apsarasas. The gods and saints greet Arjuna to the sound of shells and drums, and, as servants, wash his feet and mouth. Indra sits like the king of the Indians under the yellow umbrella, with a golden staff in his hands; he gives his bow to Arjuna; Yama, Varuna, and Kuvera (p. 160) also give him their weapons. Thus armed, Arjuna subdues in the first place the Danavas, the sons of Danu (the evil spirits of darkness and drought), whom Indra himself cannot overcome. For this object Indra gives him his chariot, which is now yoked with ten thousand yellow horses, and harness impenetrable as the air. Beyond the sea Arjuna comes upon the hosts of the Danavas. They cover him with missiles, and then contend with magic arts, with rain of stones and water and storms, and shroud everything in darkness. Arjuna is victorious, though the Danavas, at last changed into mountains, throw themselves upon him; and thus, as is expressly said, he surpasses the achievements of Indra. Indra's conflicts with the demons are transferred to Arjuna. We see to what an extent the soaring fancy of the Brahmans has crushed and distorted by these extravagances the simple and beautiful conception of Indra in conflict with Vritra and Atri, the poetry of the ancient myth of Indra's battle in the storm[371] (p. 48).

It was a marvellous world which the imagination of the Brahmans had created. The gay pictures, excited and nourished in the mind of the Indians by the[Pg 295] nature of the Ganges valley, became reflected in more and more distorted and peculiar forms in the legends and wonders of the great saints and heroes of the ancient time. The gods and spirits are perpetually interfering in the life and actions of men. The saints without intermission convulsed the sky, and played at will with the laws of nature. The more the desire for the marvellous was satisfied, the stronger it became. In order to go beyond what had been already achieved brighter colours must be laid on; the power of the imagination must be excited more vigorously, so as to enchain once more the over-excited and wearied spirit. Thus, for the Indians, the boundaries of heaven and earth gradually disappeared; the world of gods and that of men became confounded in a formless chaos. The arrangement of the orders was of divine origin; the gradations of being reached from the world-soul, through the saints, the gods and spirits, down to plants and animals. The earth was peopled with wandering souls; sacrifice, asceticism, and meditation set man free not only from the impurity of sin, but also from the laws of nature. They gave him powers transcending nature, which raised him above the earth and the gods, secured divine power for him, and carried him back to the origin and essence of all things.

However fantastic this structure, the positive basis of it was supposed to be revelation or the Veda. Extensive as the commentaries became owing to the rivalry of the schools, vast as were the accumulations of ritual and legends, of verbal explanations and sentences of the saints—the main questions became only the more obscure. What saint was qualified to decide? Which school taught the correct doctrine? By whom and in what way was the Veda revealed? Were the words or the sense of the poems decisive? How were[Pg 296] the undeniable contradictions, the opposition between various passages, to be removed? In order to obtain a firm footing the Brahmans found themselves invariably driven back to the idea of the world-soul. If in the interpretation of the words and the meaning of the Veda, in the effort to smoothe down the contradictions between them, and the necessity of finding a consistent mode of explanation and proof, the Indian acuteness and delicate power of distinction grew into a hair-splitting division of words and ideas, into the most minute and complicated logic, the conception of the world-soul, the theories of the creation, impelled them, on the other hand, to explain the whole life of the world from one source, and to compass it with one measure.

Forced as they were in these two directions, they were unavoidably brought at last to attempt to establish the theory independently, to construct Brahman and the world out of their nature and ideas. In all advanced stages of rational thought, fancy, or its reverse-side, abstraction, has seldom omitted to reflect the whole world as an organised unity in the brain of man, and to bring the oppressive multitude of things under some general conceptions and points of view. In the schools of the Brahmans it was the formal side of these philosophical efforts, the method of inquiry and investigation, in connection with the sacred scriptures, religious traditions, and the attempts to fix the interpretation of them, which was specially developed. On the other hand, the anchorites in the forest opposed these efforts from the opposite direction with the combined body of religious conceptions, with their views of Brahman. The highest object of the eremite was meditation, absorption in Brahman. The more uniform their own lives, the stiller the life around[Pg 297] them, the greater the ferment in their minds. When these penitents were weary of the world of gods and marvels which occupied their dreams, when the endless multitude of bright pictures confounded their senses, they turned to the central conception of the world-soul, and attempted to think of this more deeply, acutely, comprehensively, to see the connection of Brahman and the world more clearly, and explain it more distinctly. As the fancy, and consequently the abstracting power of the Indians, was always superior to the power of division, and remained the basis of their view of the world, their constructive speculation, which was occupied with the contents of their religious conceptions, surpasses their powers of formal thought. The latter had indeed no other office than to arrange and organise the pictures supplied by the former.

The attempt to construct a world on general principles was neither peculiarly bold nor peculiarly new. The way was prepared by the idea of the world-soul as the origin and essence of the gods and the world, and the path was opened for a constructive philosophy, developing the world out of ideas and thoughts by this abstract single deity existing beside and above the plurality of mythological forms, the exaltation of the saints above the gods, and the consequent degradation of the latter, the perpetual suspension of the natural order of things by the transcendental and mystical world of the gods and saints, the removal of the boundaries between heaven and earth, and the constant confusion of the two worlds. After this, there was nothing remarkable in putting abstract ideas in the place of the gods, and removing entirely the distinction between the transcendental world and the world of sense. In fact, the philosophy of the Indians is, in the first instance, nothing but[Pg 298] the dogmatism of the Brahmans translated into abstractions—nothing but scholasticism, and their philosophical ethics no less than their religious require the liberation from the body.

Like all the productions of the Indian mind, with the exception of the Veda, the philosophical systems of the Indians, which arose in the seventh and sixth century B.C., are no longer before us in their original shape. We only possess them in a pointed compendious form which could not have been obtained without long labours, many revisions and reconstructions—and which is in reality of quite recent date. We are not in a position to ascertain the previous or intermediate stages through which the Brahmans passed before they brought their system to a close; here, as everywhere in India, the later forms have completely absorbed their predecessors, the fathers are lost in the children. Hence we can only guess at the original form of these philosophical systems. Still the order of succession, and the essential contents, are fixed not only on internal evidence—by the unalterable progress of development, which cannot be passed over—but also by the fragments of genuine old Indian philosophy contained in the system of Buddha, and in their turn presupposing the existence of certain ideas and points of view.[372]

The oldest system of the Indians contains much more theology than philosophy. In part proceeding from the sacred scriptures and the traditional side of[Pg 299] religion, it is an explanation of the Veda; in part it is an attempt to found a dogma on a basis of its own, on philosophical construction. In this sense, regarded as exegetical theology brought to a close by philosophical proof of dogma, this system is denoted by the name Vedanta, i. e. end or object of the Veda. Combined with the portion explanatory of the Veda, it is also called Mimansa, i. e. inquiry; and the section which expounds the ceremonial side of religion bears the name of the first or work-investigation—Karma-mimansa; the speculative part is called Uttara-mimansa (metaphysics), or Brahma-mimansa, i. e. investigation of Brahman. The method of the first part, the investigation of works, is obviously taken from the requirements of the situation at the moment, and the process common in the schools of the Brahmans; the object was to establish a definite kind of interpretation for explanation and exegesis, and the development of dogma from the passages in the Veda. On the consideration of a subject follows the doubt or the contradiction, which has been or can be raised on the other side. The contradiction is met by refutation on counter-grounds. This negative proof is followed by positive proof, that the view of the opponents is in itself untenable and worthless, and last comes the final proof of the thesis maintained by demonstration that it agrees with the whole system. In this manner we find philosophy treating first the authority of revealed scriptures, the Veda, then the relation of tradition to it, the statements of the sages, the commentary on the revelation. Then the variations and coincidences of revelation and their inner connection are developed, and so the system passes on to the explanation of the Veda. It is shown that all passages in the Veda point directly or indirectly to[Pg 300] the one Brahman. At certain passages it is shown how a part of these plainly and another part obscurely refer to Brahman, though even the latter refer to it as a being worthy of divine reverence; another part of the passages in the Veda point to Brahman as something beyond our knowledge. The contradictions between the passages in the Veda are proved to be only apparent. These explanations of the passages in the Veda are followed by the doctrine of good works, as the means of salvation, which are either external, like the observation of the ceremonial, the laws of purification, or internal like the quieting and taming of the senses, the hearing and understanding of revelation, and the acknowledgment of Brahman.[373]

The other part of the system, the Vedanta, leaves out of sight the difficult task of proving the idea of Brahman from the Veda, and bringing the two into harmony; it attempts to derive the existence and nature of Brahman from the idea. Brahman—such is the line of argument in the Vedanta—is the one eternal, self-existent essence, unalterable and unchangeable. It developes into the world, and is thus creative and created. As milk curdles, as water becomes snow and ice, Brahman congeals into matter. It becomes first ether, then air, then fire, then water, and then from water it becomes earth. From these elements arise the finer and coarser bodies, with which the souls of the gods, spirits, men and animals are clothed. These souls go forth from Brahman like sparks from a crackling fire—a metaphor common in the book of the law—they are of one essence with[Pg 301] Brahman, and parts of the great world-soul. This soul is in the world, but also outside and above it; to it must everything return, for all that is not Brahman is impure, without foundation, and perishable.

In this view there lies a contradiction which could not escape the keen penetration of a reflective spirit. Brahman is intended to be not only the intellectual but also the material basis of the world. It is regarded as absolutely non-material, eternal, and unchangeable, and yet the material, changeable world is to rise out of it; the sensible out of the non-sensible and the material out of the immaterial. In order to remove this dualism and contradiction which the orthodox doctrine introduced into Brahman, the speculation of the Brahmans seized upon a means which if simple was certainly bold: they denied the whole sensible world; they allowed matter to be lost in Brahman. There is only one Being; this is the highest soul (paramatman, p. 131), and besides this there is nothing: what seems to exist beyond this is mere illusion. The world, i. e. matter, does not exist, but only seems to exist, and the cause of this illusion is Maya or deception. Of this the sensible world is a product, like the reflection of the moon in water, and the mirage in the desert. Nature is nothing but the play of illusion, appearing in splendour and then disappearing. It is deception and nothing else which presents various forms to men, where there is only unity without distinction. The movement and action of living beings is not caused by the sparks of Brahman dwelling in them—for Brahman is consistently regarded as single and at rest—but by the bodies and senses, which being of themselves appearance and deception, adopt and reflect the deception of Maya. By this appearance the soul of man is kept in darkness, i. e. in the belief that the external world exists,[Pg 302] and the man is subject to the emotions of pain and joy. In his actions man is determined by appearance and by the perception arising out of appearance. In truth Brahman alone exists. It is only deception which allows the soul to believe that it has a separate existence, or that the perceptible world exists, or that there is an existent manifold world. This deceptive appearance of the world, which seems to darken the pure Brahman as the clouds darken the brightness of the sun, must be removed by the investigation which teaches us the truth, that the only existing being is the highest being, the world-soul. In this way the delusion of a multiform world disappears. As the sunlight dispels mists, true knowledge dispels ignorance, and destroys the glamour of Maya. This knowledge is the way to liberation and the highest salvation. The liberation of men from appearance, from the senses and the world of the sense, from the emotions arising from these, is the knowledge that this world of the senses does not exist, that the soul of a man is not separated from the highest soul. Thus man finds the direct path from the sensible world, the body and separate existence, to Brahman, by active thought which penetrates deception. The sage declares: "It is not so, it is not so;" he knows that the highest soul is all, and that he himself is Brahman. Recognising himself as the eternal, changeless Brahman, he passes into the world-soul; he who knows Brahman reposes in it beyond reach of error. As the rivers flowing to the ocean disappear in it, losing their names and form, so the man of knowledge liberated from his name and his form passes into the highest eternal spirit. He who knows this highest Brahman is freed from trouble and sin; from the bonds of the body and the[Pg 303] eye; he is lost in Brahman, and becomes himself Brahman.[374]

We cannot but acknowledge the capacity of the Indians for philosophic speculations, and the vigour of thought which for the first time in history maintained the thesis that our senses deceive us; that all which surrounds us is appearance and deception—which denies the whole world of things, and in opposition to the evidence of the tangible and actual world, boldly sets up the inward capacity of knowledge, as a criterion against which the evidence of the senses is not to be taken into consideration. For a long time the actual world had been resolved into the transcendental world of gods and saints; this is now contracted into a simple substance, beyond and besides which nothing exists but appearance. Instead of the appearance of the sensible world, in which there is no being, there exists one real being, the one invisible world-soul, which allows the corporeal world to arise into appearance from it like airy bladders, and then again to sink back whence it came. This universal deity is conceived as a being at rest; its activity and development into a sensible world is only apparent. It is a Pantheism which annihilates the world; matter and nature are completely absorbed by the world-soul, are plunged and buried in it; the soul of a man is a being only apparently separated from the world-soul. From these notions the mission of a man becomes clear. He must turn from appearance; he must unite with the world-soul by recognising the fact that all perceptions and emotions come from the world of[Pg 304] phenomena, and therefore do not really exist; he must rise to the conception that only Brahman exists, and that man is Brahman. If from an ancient period the Indians were of opinion that they could draw down the gods to men by the holy spirit ruling in their prayers and sacrifices—if the mortification of the flesh in penances can give divine power and force to men—their philosophy is no more than consistent, when by recognising the worthlessness of sensible existence it allows Brahman to wake in the human spirit, and thus re-establishes the unity of man with Brahman.

The system of the Vedanta carried out the idea of Brahman so consistently that the entire actual existence of the world is thus annihilated. When once interest in speculation had been aroused, the reaction against positions of this kind was inevitable. The reality of actual things, the existence of matter, the certainty of the individual existence, must be defended against such a doctrine. On these factors was founded a new system, of which the founder in the tradition of the Brahmans is called the Rishi Kapila. The name Sankhya given to this system means "enumeration," "consideration." It maintains that reason alone is in a position to lead man to a right view, to truth and liberation.[375] It also exhibits the boldness arising from the fanciful nature of the Indians; and as the Vedanta took up a position on the idea of Brahman in order to wrest the world from its foundations, the Sankhya system stands on the idea of the[Pg 305] soul (purusha) and of nature or matter (prakriti, pradhana). These two alone have existed from the beginning, uncreated and eternal. Nature is uncreated and eternal, creative and without cognition; the soul is also uncreated and eternal; it is not creative but has cognition. All that exists is the effect of a cause. The effect is limited in time and extension, subject to change, and can be resolved into its origin, i. e. into its cause. As every effect supposes a cause, every product supposes a producing force, every limited an unlimited. If the limited or product is pursued from cause to cause, there results the unlimited, eternal, creative, i. e. producing, nature as the first cause of all that is produced and limited. But beside nature there exists a second first cause. Nature is blind, i. e. without cognition; "light cannot arise out of darkness," intelligence cannot be the effect of nature. The cause of intelligence is the soul, which though completely distinct from nature exists beside it. Nature is eternal and one; the soul is also eternal, but manifold. Were the soul one, it could not feel pain in one man at the same time that it feels joy in another. The soul exists as the plurality of individual souls; these existed from the beginning, and are eternal beside nature. But they also entered into nature from the beginning. Their first case is the primeval body (linga), which consists essentially of "I-making" (ahankara), i. e. individualisation, and the primeval elements; the second material body consists of the five coarse elements of ether, air, light, water, earth. Neither the soul nor the primeval body dies, but only the material body.[376] The primeval body accompanies the soul through all its migrations; the material body is created anew at the regenerations,[Pg 306] i. e. the soul and the primeval body are constantly clothed anew with new materials. The soul itself is uncreated, unchangeable amidst all mutations, and eternal, but it does not carry the consciousness of itself from one body to another. The soul is not creative; it exercises no influence on nature; it is only perceptive, observant, cognising, only a witness of nature. Nature is illumined by the proximity of the soul, and the soul gives witness of nature; nature takes its light from the soul, just as a white crystal appears red in the proximity of a red substance.[377]

The object of human life is to obtain liberation from the fetters of the body which bind the soul. The office of true knowledge is to set the soul free from the body, from nature. Man must grasp the difference of the soul and the body; he must understand that beside the body and nature, the soul is a completely self-existent being. The union of the soul and the body is nothing but deception, error, appearance. "In truth, the soul is neither bound nor free, nor a wanderer; nature alone is bound or free or migratory."[378] The soul seems to be bound to nature, but is not so. This appearance must be removed; the soul must recognise that it is not nature. When the soul has once penetrated nature it turns from it, and nature turns from the soul. The "unveiling of the spirit" from the case of nature is the liberation of the soul; by knowledge "release is brought about; by its opposite bondage."[379] By conceiving the absolute independence of the soul, man sets himself free from nature and his body; the idea of this independence is release. With this idea the man of know[Pg 307]ledge surrenders his body; he is no longer affected or disturbed by it; even though his natural life continues, he looks on the body only "as on the movement of the wheel by virtue of the impulse once communicated to it."[380]

In spite of the sharp contrast in which the doctrine of Kapila stands to the system of the Vedanta, it works, in the last resort, with analogous factors, only it applies them differently. The soul and nature were put in the place of Brahman and Maya. Instead of the one intelligent principle, which the Vedanta establishes in the world-soul, Kapila maintains the plurality of individual spirits. In the Vedanta, it is true, nature exists as an illusion only: still it is a factor, which though it is also appearance, is nevertheless an existence, and in the last resort exists in Brahman; it has ever to be overcome anew, and thus in this system of unity, the basis is really a dualism. In the Sankhya doctrine nature is actually and materially existent; but the intelligent principle has to discover that this actually existent matter is, in truth, not existent for it, and cannot fetter the soul. If in the orthodox system the illusion of nature is to be annihilated by the free passage of the individual into Brahman, the doctrine of Kapila requires in the same way that man should rise to the idea that he is not nature, that the body is not his being, that he is not matter; it requires that man should be conscious[Pg 308] of his freedom from nature, that he should return to his independence, in the same way as the Vedanta requires the absorption into Brahman. Then in the one case, as in the other, the individual escapes the restless movement of the world. In both systems the connection of the spirits and nature is only apparent, and the power of this deception in the spirit is removed by knowledge. Both proceed from the idea of an eternal being, self-contained, at rest, unmoved, self-sufficient; this the Vedanta ascribes to Brahman, while the Sankhya explains it as the nature of the soul. Nevertheless there is an important difference. In the Sankhya the intellectual principle is not the divine world-soul, which permits everything to emanate from itself and return to itself; it is the individual self, and besides this and material nature there is no real being, no real essence. If in the Vedanta liberation is the identification with the world-soul or the Godhead, liberation in the Sankhya is the retirement of the soul into itself. According to the Vedanta the liberated man says, I am Brahman; according to the Sankhya, I am not body nor nature.[381]

In the certainty of conviction which the Sankhya doctrine opposed to the orthodox system, in the clearness with which it drew out the consequences of its point of view, in the boldness of scepticism concerning the gods and revelation, in the courage with which it protested against the regulations of the priests, and the whole religious tradition of the people, lies its importance. By following the rules of the Veda, so said the adherents of this philosophy, no peace can be obtained; the means prescribed by the Veda are neither pure nor of sufficient efficacy. How could it be a pure act to shed blood?—how could sacrifices and cere[Pg 309]monies be of sufficient force? If they really conferred the blessing of heaven, it could only be for a short time; the blessing would merely last till the soul assumed a new body. Temporal means could not give any eternal liberation from evil. The adherents of Kapila explained the gods, including Brahman, to be souls, not much distinguished from the souls of men; the more advanced denied their existence altogether. There was no supreme soul, they said, and no god. Even if there were a god, he must either be free from the world, or connected with it. He cannot be free, for in that case nothing would move him to creation, and if he were connected with the world he would be limited by it, and could not be omniscient.[382] Thus not only were the whole doctrine of Brahman and the whole system of gods overthrown, but the authority of the Veda was annihilated on which the Brahmans founded their belief no less than the worship by sacrifice, and with it all revelation, all the positive basis of religious life. The doctrine of Kapila found adherents. From orthodox scholasticism the Indian philosophy very rapidly arrived at rationalism and scepticism, though the latter, like the correct system, moved in scholastic forms and ended with an unsolved dualism.

While in this manner one constructive system superseded the other, the formal side of knowledge did not remain without a keen and penetrating examination. The objects and means of knowledge were tested; men occupied themselves with fixing the categories of the idea, of doubt, of contradiction, of fallacies, of false generalisation, and conversion; and[Pg 310] at last inquiries were made into the syllogism and the members of it, and more especially into the categories of cause and effect. Researches of this kind quickly grew into a system, the Nyaya or logic, which chiefly used the results of the theory of knowledge to establish the authority of the Veda, and overthrow the arguments brought against the revelation of it.[383] In themselves, at any rate in the late form in which we have them, the logical researches of the Indians are scarcely behind the similar works of modern times in the acuteness and subtilty of their categories.

In the period between the years 800 and 600 B.C. the valley of the Ganges must have been filled with the stir of intellectual life. No doubt the times were long past when the ancient hymns of the Veda were sung at the place of sacrifice, when the poems of victory and the heroic deeds of men—the Epos in its original form—were recited at the courts of princes or the banquets of the military nobility—the Kshatriyas. The contest of the Brahmans and the Kshatriyas was also over; the Brahmans had not only gained currency for their teaching in the sphere of religion and the state, but had already developed it to its consequences. They put before the princes and the people the canon of correct life, of purity, of sins and penalties, of punishments beyond the grave and regenerations, and held up the true law to the state. They revised the Epos from their point of view; they established the ritual, they justified every declaration and every ordinance in it from the Veda, the sacred history; they explained the words and the sense of the Veda; they went beyond the opposition of schools and authorities to independent examination of the idea of Brahman, of the causes and connection of the world, and to speculative philosophy.[Pg 311] They have so far succeeded that no nation has devoted its interest and power to religion to the same degree as the Indians. The longer they lingered in the magic world of gods and spirits, into which they were plunged by the sacrifices, legends, and doctrines of the Brahmans, the more familiar they became with these dreams, the more passive must they have grown to the actual and prosaic connection of things, the more indifferent to the processes going on in the world of reality. Hence in the end the Indians knew more of the world of the gods than of the things of the earth; they lived in the next world rather than in this. The world of fancy became their fatherland, and heaven was their home. The more immutable the limits of the castes, the heavier the taxation of the state, the greater the caprice of the officers, the less the space left for the will or act of the individual, the more uniform the life,—the more did the people become accustomed to seek their fears and hopes in the kingdom of fancies and dreams, in the world to come. Excluded from action in the state, the Indians turned the more eagerly to the questions of worship and dogma; for that was the only sphere in which movement found nothing to check it, and the separation of the people into a number of tribes, the mutual exclusiveness of the castes and local communities limited the common feeling of the nation on the Ganges to the faith which they all acknowledged.


[345] Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 2, 80.

[346] M. Müller, "Hist. Anc. Skt. Lit." p. 469 ff.

[347] "Rigveda," 1, 162, according to M. Müller's translation, loc. cit. p. 553 ff.

[348] "Çatapatha-Brahmana," 13, 3, 1, 1, in M. Müller, loc. cit. p. 37 ff.

[349] "Ramayana," ed. Schlegel, 1, 11 ff. A. Weber, "Vorles." s. 1262.

[350] "Vishnu-Purana," ed. Wilson, p. 470, 471. Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 22, 319, 346, 963, 1001.

[351] M. Müller has placed the period of the origin of the Brahmanas in the period from 800 to 600 B.C.—very successfully, so far as I can see. The collection of the Atharvan will belong to the end of this period, but not merely on the internal ground of the increase in the ceremonial brought about with and through the Brahmanas. The book of the law consistently cites the triple Veda; the sutras of the Buddhists and the Epos as consistently cite four. That the magic formulas of Atharvan and Angiras are quoted in Manu 11, 33, and not those of the Atharvaveda, seems also to prove that the latter collection was not made when the citations were written. Cp. A. Weber, "Vorl." s. 1652.

[352] "Rigveda," 10, 9, 5-7.

[353] "Atharvaveda," 5, 19, 2, 1-5.

[354] Darmesteter, "Haurvatat," p. 74.

[355] "Atharvaveda," 2, 9.

[356] "Atharvaveda," 1, 25, 2, 8, quoted by Grohmann in Weber's "Ind. Stud." 9, 391, 403, 406 ff. If Takman is called Deva, this is due to the connection in which he is placed with Varuna. Varuna sends diseases as punishments, dropsy, as a water-god, but fever also, and thus Takman can be called the son of Varuna.

[357] "Rigveda," 1, 50, 11, 12; 10, 97.

[358] Kuhn in his "Zeitschrift f. v. s." 13, 140 ff., where the coincidence of the German language is pointed out.

[359] M. Müller, "Hist. Anc. Skt. Lit." p. 230 ff.; 245 ff. A. Weber, "Vorles." s. 482.

[360] Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 456. M. Müller, loc. cit. p. 305. Lassen, loc. cit. 22, 474.

[361] In the Brahmanas we only find traces of a quinquennial or sexennial cycle. A. Weber, in "Z. D. M. G." 15, 132. The worship of the Nakshatras, or houses of the moon, i. e. the division of the sky into 27 (later 28) parts by means of certain constellations as marks, is first found in a developed form in Buddha's time, as is proved by Burnouf and A. Weber ("Abh. d. Berl. Akad.," 1861, s. 320). Weber does not believe in the Indian origin of these stations of the moon; he regards them as Semitic, and borrowed from Babylonia, loc. cit. s. 363. The inquiry at what time these marks for the course of the moon according to the position of the stars were made astronomical has led to various results. Biot regards the year 2357 B.C. as the earliest point (the original number of 24 stations was increased to 28 about the year 1100 B.C.). A. Weber thinks that the period between 1472 and 536 B.C. is the space within which the observation of the Jyotisha was fixed ("Studien," 2, 240, 413, 414. "Abh. d. Berl. Akad." 1860, s. 284; 1861, s. 354, 364), and shows that the use of these houses of the moon in China, in the order usual there, cannot be proved before 250 B.C. The Chinese order corresponds to the latest Indian arrangement of the Nakshatras, cf. "Ind. Stud." 9, 424 ff., whereas the length given in the Jyotisha for the longest and shortest day, suits the position of Babylon, loc. cit. 1861, s. 361. The Veda knows the Nakshatras as stars but not as stations of the moon, though they are known as the latter in the Brahmanas. The Vedic names of several of the gods who preside over the stations (Aryaman, Bhaga, etc.) prove a tolerably ancient origin for the Nakshatras. The civic computation of time among the Buddhists is founded on them. Hence we may assume that this division of the sky was perhaps current among the Indians in the tenth century B.C.

[362] A. Weber, in "Abh. d. Berl. Akad." 1861, s. 291.

[363] Manu, 3, 162; 6, 50.

[364] A. Weber, "Vorl." s. 224 ff. The first traces of astrology in the strict sense besides the mention in the book of the law are found in the sutras of the Buddhists, e. g. in Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 140, 141, if we do not prefer the accounts of the Greeks to those legends which were written in Magadhi (Pali) the native language of Magadha, and the central Ganges in general, and have come down in the form which they received in the middle of the third century B.C., but also contain fragments of far greater antiquity. In any case, preference must be given to the simple sutras (Burn. loc. cit. p. 232), and these lay great stress on the astrology and soothsaying of the Brahmans. After this we meet with numerous traces of astrology in the Epos; but the law-book of Yajnavalkya is the first to command the worship of planets.

[365] M. Müller, loc. cit. p. 109 ff.

[366] Muir, "Sanskrit Texts," 3, 245 ff.

[367] A. Weber, "Indische Studien," 9, 2, 72, 74.

[368] Manu, 1, 33-40, 61, ff.

[369] Manu, 9, 31-34; 313-322.

[370] "Ramayana," ed. Schlegel, 1, 51-65. In this extended form this episode may, it is true, have first arisen at a much later time, as is shown by the mention of Vishnu and Çiva, and the Yavanas (Greeks). If in spite of these additions which are not important, I confidently place it at this date, I do so because the importance of the penitent and his power over the gods, the creation of beings by the penance of saints, i. e. the degradation of the gods, must be placed before the appearance of Buddha. This is the essential hypothesis for the religion which the doctrine of Buddha found in existence. In the Mahabharata this legend is told more briefly. Muir, "Sanskrit Texts," 196 ff.

[371] A. Weber, "Ind. Stud." 1, 414.

[372] The Sankhya system, which Buddha found in existence, presupposes the Vedanta system. The latter system must therefore have been in existence before Buddha; Roer, "Lecture on the Sankhya Philosophy," Calcutta, 1854, p. 19. The Vedanta is expressly mentioned in Manu, 2, 160, as belonging to the study of the Veda. The names Mimansa and Nyaya are also mentioned in Manu, but only in the final part, which is very loosely connected with the whole (12, 109, 111).

[373] Colebrooke, "Miscellaneous Essays," 1, 325 ff. M. Müller, "Beiträge zur Kenntniss der indischen Philosophie" in Z. D. M. G. 6, 6, 7.

[374] Colebrooke, "Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society," II, 1. Vans Kennedy, "Asiatic Journal," 1839, p. 441 ff. Köppen, "Religion des Buddha," s. 57 ff. Wuttke, "Geschichte des Heidenthums," 2, 257, 281, 399

[375] It is in the later Upanishads that we first find the doctrine of Kapila called by the name Sankhya, Weber, "Vorles." s. 212; "Ind. Stud." 9, 17. As with the Vedanta system, so also with the Sankhya: in the Sankhya-Karika we have only a very late and compressed exposition in 72 çlokas; but as Buddhism is founded on this system we are more certain about the earlier form of it than in the case of the Vedanta.

[376] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 511.

[377] Roer, "Lecture," p. 15; Köppen, "Religion des Buddha," s. 65.

[378] "Sankhya-Karika," çl. 63.

[379] "Sankhya-Karika," çl. 44. Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 520, 522.

[380] "Sankhya-Karika," çl. 67. By the side of this keen scepticism the system of the Sankhya allows the gradation of creatures as fixed by the Brahmans to remain, and the migration of souls with some slight modifications. The lowest stage is formed by the minerals; above these are the plants, reptiles, birds, wild animals, domestic animals. These are followed by men in the order of the castes; and then come the regenerations in the form of demons, Piçachas, Rakshasas, Yakshas and Gandharvas; and last in the form of Indra, Soma, Prajapati, Brahman. Barthelemy St. Hilaire, "sur le Sankhya," p. 286.

[381] Köppen, loc. cit. s. 69.

[382] Roer, "Lecture on the Sankhya Phil." p. 14; "Introduction to the Çvetaçvatara-upanishad," p. 36; cf. "Sankhya-Karika," çl. 53-55. Muir, "Sanskrit Texts," 3, 133 ff.

[383] Muir, loc. cit. 3, 108 ff.

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The list of the kings of Magadha, preserved not only among the Brahmans, but from the seventh century B.C. downwards among the Buddhists who then came forward to oppose them, allow us to assert with tolerable accuracy that the dynasty of the Pradyotas, which ascended the throne of Magadha in the year 803 B.C., was succeeded in 665 B.C. by another family, known to the Brahmans as the Çaiçunagas.[384] The first two kings of this house were Kshemadharman and Bhattya (the Kshatraujas of the Brahmans). In 603 B.C. Bhattya was succeeded by his son Bimbisara. In the reign of this king, according to the ancient sutras of the Buddhists, justice, morals, and religion were regulated in Magadha and the neighbouring states according to the wishes of the Brahmans. In these narratives we find the rules of the law-book generally recognised and carried out in all essential points, and in some respects they are even transcended. The system of exclusive castes is complete. The stricter marriage law, forbidding union with a woman of another caste, is victorious over the[Pg 316] more liberal view that the husband fixed the caste. "Brahmans marry Brahmans only, nobles only nobles; a man takes a wife only from an equal family."[385] Within the castes those of equal position are divided into separate corporations. Among the Vaiçyas and Çudras, merchants, artisans, barbers, form special castes, in which the occupation of the father descends to the son; the son of a merchant is a merchant, and the son of a butcher a butcher.[386] The laws on the order of the castes and forbidden food were strictly observed. The lower and impure castes thoroughly believe in their vocation. The Kshatriya, though sick to death, refuses to take even as a remedy the forbidden onion (p. 169), which the physician hands to him.[387] The Chandalas give notice of their approach that the higher castes may not be rendered impure by contact with them; they eat dog's flesh as the law requires, and carry the dead out beyond the gates of the city.[388] Invested with the holy girdle, the Brahmans, as the law directs (p. 173), bear continually in their hands the staff of bamboo and the pitcher of water for purification. The learned among them are occupied with the study of the Veda; they recite the hymns, instruct pupils, and hold discussions on theology and philosophy. Occasionally the princes take an interest in these learned contests, and cause the disputations to go on at their courts in their presence; one king favours this system, another that; one protects this school, the other a different school. The penitent Brahmans live as anchorites in the forest, in the mountains, on the holy lakes Ravanahadra and Manasa, under[Pg 317] Kailasa, the lofty peak of the Himalayas. Some live in complete solitude, others dwell in such a manner that a whole circle of settlements lie close together.[389] The neighbours now and then combine for disputation, others give themselves up in deep solitude to meditation and mortification. At that time hundreds of these penitents are said to have lived on the holy lakes, and the severity of their exercises appears already to have exceeded the requirements of the book of the law. Some fast, others sit between four fires, others perpetually hold their hands above their heads, others lie on hot ashes, others on a wooden bed covered with sharp points.[390] Other Brahmans, and it would appear a considerable number, wander as mendicants through the land; others pursue the newly-discovered avocations of astrology and sooth-saying;[391] others avail themselves of the permission of the book of the law to drive the plough, and carry on the business of a merchant.[392] Others think that they will find an easier path to maintenance and money if they present the kings with poems written in their praise, or give their daughters to be received into the harem of princes. Not all Brahmans could read and write: many confounded Om and Bhur.[393]

The life of the opulent classes, had become, it is said, easy and luxurious. In such circles no one went without a servant to carry the parasol and keep off the flies. The physician was sent for in every case of sickness, and poor men entreated him not to order too costly remedies. The lot of the beggar was considered miserable, because he could not have a physician[Pg 318] in sickness, or obtain medicine.[394] Industry and trade flourished in spite of the hindrances thrown in the way by the system of caste, or the taxation, which, as is shown by many indications beside the directions in the book of the law, was severe. That Magadha, even before the sixth century, was the seat of a lively trade, we may conclude from the fact that the merchants are called simply "Magadhas" in the book of the law. Caravans under the guidance of a chief convey the wares from one city to another on camels, elephants, oxen, and asses, or on the shoulders of bearers, till the sea-coast is reached. Stuffs and woven cloths, especially silk of Varanasi, sandal-wood, saffron and camphor, horses from the north, "noble Sindhu horses," are mentioned as the commonest articles of traffic.[395] As the most important the book of the law enumerates precious stones, pearls, corals, iron, woven cloths, perfumes and spices, and advises the man who wishes to amass money quickly to go to sea; "he who will obtain wealth most quickly must not despise the dangers and misery of the great ocean." According to the statements of the sutras the merchants go by hundreds over the sea. The costly sandal-woods of the Malabar coasts are embarked at Çurparaka (which must no doubt be looked for at the mouth of the Krishna); from thence men sailed past Tamraparni (Ceylon) in order to buy precious stones on a distant island.[396] In the larger cities the merchants formed corporations, the chiefs of which treat with the kings in the names of the whole;[397] some especially-favoured merchants obtained the privilege of receiving their[Pg 319] wares free of toll. The great merchants in the cities did not find it necessary to pay at once for the wares which came from a distance. They printed their seal on the bales which they would buy, and paid a small deposit.[398] The members of the family work at their occupation in common; while one brother stays at home and attends to the sale, the others go with the caravans or are at sea.[399] In these circles no one marries till he has amassed a certain sum of money. The profits of the merchants appear to have been easy and large, though their journeys were attended with danger. They were not only threatened with the exactions of tax-gatherers and attacks of robbers, but were exposed to great temptations in the cities. Mistresses could be found there, "whose bodies were soft as the lotus flower, and shone in gay attire." These, no doubt, gave themselves up to the young travellers at no inconsiderable price.[400]

The kings of Magadha resided at Rajagriha, i. e. the king's house, a city which lay to the south of the Ganges and the east of the Çona. The sutras mention Prasenajit, king of the Koçalas, who, as already remarked, lay on the Sarayu, and Vatsa, the son of Çatanika, king of the Bharatas, as contemporaries of Bimbisara, king of Magadha, and his son Ajataçatru. Hence the reigns of Prasenajit and Vatsa may be placed in the first half and about the middle of the sixth century B.C. Both princes are mentioned in the tradition of the Brahmans. In the Vishnu-Purana, Prasenajit is the twenty-third ruler of the Koçalas after the great war. Vatsa is the twenty-fifth successor of Parikshit, who is said to have ascended the throne of Hastinapura after the victory and abdication of the[Pg 320] sons of Pandu.[401] The kings of the Koçalas had built a new city, Çravasti, to the north of their ancient[Pg 321] capital Ayodhya; the kings of the Bharatas resided at Kauçambi on the Ganges. To the north of the[Pg 322] kingdom of Magadha, on the other bank of the Ganges, lay the commonwealth of the Vrijis on the Gogari, and the kingdom of Mithila; to the east on both shores of the Ganges were the Angas, whose capital appears to have been Champa (in the neighbourhood of the modern Bhagalpur); to the west of Magadha on the Ganges were the Kaçis, whose capital was Varanasi (Benares). The colonies of the Arians had advanced and their territory had been extended to the south both on the east and west. This is not merely proved by the mention of Çurparaka, for the sutras of the Buddhists tell us of a great Arian kingdom on the northern spur of the Vindhyas, the metropolis of which was Ujjayini (Ozene in western writers) on the Sipra, and adjoining this on the coast was the kingdom of Surashtra (Guzerat).[402]

The life of the kings on the Ganges is described by our authorities in glowing colours. Their palaces are spacious, provided with gardens and terraces for promenading. Besides the women and servants, the bodyguard and the executioners clothed in blue are domiciled in the royal citadels. The princes eat off silver and gold, and are clothed in silk of Varanasi. Friendly princes make handsome presents to each other, e. g. suits of armour adorned with precious stones.[403] Their edicts and commands are composed in writing and stamped with the seal of ivory.[404] The labours of government are relieved by the pleasures of the chase. In sickness the princes are served with the most select remedies. When Bimbisari's son and successor fell down one day in a swoon, he was placed in six[Pg 323] tubs full of fresh butter, and afterwards in a seventh filled with the most costly sandal-wood.[405] The harem of the king was numerous, and the women had great influence; the children which they bore were suckled by nurses, of whom one child had at times eight.[406] Any one who ventured to cast a look upon one of the wives of the king forfeited his life. When one of the wives of Prasenajit, king of the Koçalas, was walking in the evening on the terrace of the palace she saw the handsome brother of the king, and threw him a bouquet; when this came to the ears of Prasenajit, he caused the feet and hands of his brother to be cut off.[407] The same cruel and barbarous character marks all the punishments inflicted by the king. On the order of a king whose mildness and justice are commended, all the inhabitants of the city are said to have been put to death on account of an error committed by one of them.[408] If any one had to make a communication to the king, or lay any matter before him, he first besought that he might not be punished for his words. No one approached the king without a present; least of all merchants. Happy events were announced by princes to their cities by the sound of bells. Stones, gravel, and dirt were then removed from the streets, which were sprinkled with sandal-water and strewed with flowers and garlands, and silken stuffs were hung along them. At certain distances jars filled with frankincense were placed; and if a guest of distinction was to be received the ways were cleansed for a considerable space before the gates, smoothed, and perfumed, and furnished with standards, parasols, and resting-places of flowers.[409][Pg 324]

We have already remarked how unfamiliar the abstract god which the Brahmans had placed at the head of their theory remained to the people, both in his impersonal and personal form. They had been more deeply influenced by the degradation of the old gods, introduced by the Brahmans in consequence of their religious system (p. 287). Yet it was not so much these doctrines which caused the old gods to lose their primitive power, and complete charm over the hearts of men, as the fact that the motives which now governed the life of the Aryas were wholly different from those which had filled them in old days on the Indus. Indra, the hurler of the thunder-bolt, had fought with the tribes whose offering of Soma he had drunk. The storm of the elements characteristic of the Panjab was unknown on the Ganges; and in the civilised conditions of a peaceful, obedient, quiet life the old slayer of the demons could no longer excite the lively feelings of the people. The Brahmans might recede ever further from nature; the people, the peasants and herdmen, remained in constant contact with her, and with the phenomena of the sky and the vegetative life of the earth; they felt themselves continually surrounded by the mighty operations of nature. The feeling and faith of the people required a more personal, present, living power, which assured them of help and protection. While the Brahmans wearied themselves with abstractions and philosophic systems, the needs of the multitude, the poetical vein of the Indian nation, its realism as opposed to the spiritualism of the priests and Brahmans, struck out new paths. So it came about that as the supreme deities of the most ancient and the early periods faded away more and more, as Mitra and Varuna, Indra and Ushas passed into the background, forms hitherto little regarded rose up out[Pg 325] of the circle of these spirits, which were akin to the present instincts and needs of the nation, the immediate modes of feeling, and in closer relation to them. This movement was not confined to the people; within the circles of the Brahmans, who were not wholly given up to abstractions, the want of a living power, governing the world, could not but be felt.[410]

In the hymns of the Rigveda a god Vishnu is invoked, though but little prominence is given to him. He is called a friend and comrade of Indra; it said of him that he walks over the seven parts of the earth; that he plants his foot in three places. The "far-stepping" Vishnu is invited with Mitra, Varuna, and Aryaman to give salvation. He dwells in the height; his exalted habitation, where honey flows, beams with clear light. He sustains trebly the sky, the earth, and all worlds; he walks with three steps through the wide firmament. He walks through the worlds to secure long life for men. Not even the soaring winged birds could reach up to his third step. He hastens on to ally himself with the beneficent Indra; he favours and protects the Aryas. Fired by hymns of praise Vishnu himself yokes the mighty mares, and dashes into the battle in his youth and strength, accompanied by the Maruts. "Friend Vishnu," said Indra, when planning the death of Vritra, "step out wide; thou heaven, give room, that the thunder-club may descend; let us smite Vritra and set the waters free. O strong god (Indra), in concert with Vishnu thou hast smitten Vritra; thou hast smitten Ahi who held back the waters." "Ye two heroes, who bring to nought the magic powers of the[Pg 326] hostile spirits, to you I bring songs of praise and sacrifice. Ye have always conquered, ye have never been overcome. Come ye, Indra and Vishnu, to the draught of Soma, bring treasures with you; may your mares, which overpower the foe, sharing in your victories, bring you hither; may our songs anoint you with the ointment of prayer. Rejoiced by the draught of Soma, take ye your wide steps; make wide the atmosphere and spread out the earth. Grant us rich sustenance in our houses." "No mortal, O Vishnu, knows the uttermost limits of thy greatness; thou hast surrounded the earth on both sides with beams of light. Never does the man repent it, who serves the far-stepping Vishnu with all his heart, and makes the mighty one favourable. Grant us, O swift god, thy favour graciously, which includes all men; thy favouring glance, that abundance, treasures, and horses may be ours. Thrice the swift god stepped through the earth that he might make it to be a dwelling for men."[411]

Hence we must regard Vishnu, whose dwelling is in the height of heaven, as a swift spirit of light. Invoked in the hymns of the Veda beside the Adityas or spirits of light, he is not definitely named as such, though we cannot refuse to him a close connection with the sun when we consider the further development of the conception formed of him. As he supports Indra in the battle against the demons, he must be regarded, like him, as a protector against the evil ones, a giver of water and wealth. His kindly feeling towards men, his beneficent acts are brought into prominence. Hence from the early point of view he was a god bringing blessing and help. The three steps are explained by the Mahabharata as the earth, the air, and[Pg 327] the heavens;[412] other explanations refer them to the light of the sun at morning, noon, and evening. The Brahmanas reckon Vishnu among their twelve Adityas (instead of the seven or eight of the Rigveda), and give a myth of Vishnu. The Aitareya-Brahmana calls him the gate-keeper, but also the highest deity, as Agni is the lowest; the rest of the gods are between them. Leaning on his bow Vishnu stood, as the Çatapatha-Brahmana relates, while the rest of the gods sacrificed to Kurukshetra; the ants ate through the string, the bow sprung back and tore off Vishnu's head, which now flew through heaven and earth. The body was divided by the gods into three parts; Agni took the morning sacrifice, Indra that at mid-day, and all the rest the third sacrifice. But they received no blessing from their headless sacrifice, till the Açvins, who were skilled in the art of healing, put back the head on the sacrifice. Further, by sacrifice and penance Vishnu became the first of the gods; in order to wrest this place from him the other gods caused the ants to eat through the string and then divided Vishnu, the sacrifice, into three parts.[413] Here the gods are found sacrificing a god, but the self-sacrifice of the gods is common in the Brahmanas. Mystical conceptions of this kind naturally remained outside the national religion. The view of the Aitareya-Brahmana is nearer the popular mind—that Vishnu took away from the Asuras the world of which they had possessed themselves, and gave it back to the gods. This idea is carried out in the Epos: Bali, a great Asura, had gained the dominion over the earth, and conquered the gods; in order to help the gods out of their distress Vishnu assumes the form of a dwarf, and entreats Bali to allow him space[Pg 328] for three steps of his dwarfish feet. Having obtained his request he takes possession of earth, air, and heaven in three great steps, hurls the Asura into hell, and thus, by the liberation of the world and the gods, he became the younger brother of Indra.[414]

This mighty god, the ruler of earth and heaven, this swift, bright, friendly helper of gods and men, was invoked by the nation on the Ganges as their best protecting deity. It was no doubt the helpful nature of Vishnu, the characteristic celebrated in the songs of the Veda and in the legends, which permitted this change. In the plains of the Ganges fruit and increase naturally depended on the period of rain, on the regular rise and overflow of the river, not on violent crises in the sky, or the tempestuous storm in which Indra was still the ruling deity; in this district the blessing of the land, the life-giving, fructifying power of nature, could be ascribed to a deity who worked his beneficial will in a ceaseless persistent course. In the book of the law Vishnu is hardly mentioned; only once, in the addition at the close, is reference made to his swift approach;[415] on the other hand, in the ancient sutras of the Buddhists, Vishnu appears under the names Hari and Janardana as a widely-honoured deity.[416]

Rudra, the god of the storm, is repeatedly invoked in the Rigveda. Derived from the tumult of the tempest, the name signifies "the roarer," "the howler." He is the father of the Maruts, or winds, the god whom no other surpasses in strength, terrible as a wild beast, as the boar of the sky. Red or brown in colour,[Pg 329] he wears his hair closely braided (an idea no doubt taken from the clouds gathered together by the storm-wind); the swift strong arrows from his mighty bow force their way from heaven to earth; he is the lord of the heroes, the slayer of men. "Bring to the venerable Rudra the draught of the Soma; I have praised him with the heroes of the sky,"—so we are told in some prayers of the Rigveda. "Submissively we call on the red boar of the sky; be gracious to us, to our children and descendants! Smite neither the great nor the small among us, neither father nor mother, neither our cattle nor our horses. Listen to our prayers, father of the Maruts." "May Rudra's arrow pass by us; may the spear which travels over the earth touch us not. May the weapons which slay men and cows remain far from us! Grant us refuge and protection; take thou our side. Remove from us sickness and want, thou who art easily entreated. Thou bearest in thy hand a thousand remedies; these I desire with the favour of Rudra. Be gracious to the wandering sources of our nourishment; let our cows eat strengthening plants, and drink abundant life-giving water. For our men and women, for our horses, rams, sheep and cows, Rudra secures health and prosperity".[417] It is the wild injurious force of the storm, the force that carries off men and animals, which these prayers would avert, and the beneficial consequences of this storm, the filling of springs and streams, the refreshment of the meadows, the cooling and purification of the air, are the blessings which these prayers would win from the double nature of the easily entreated god. By the remedies which Rudra carries in his hand along with the mighty bow the beneficial consequences of the storm are no doubt to be understood. In the Atharvaveda, Rudra with[Pg 330] Bhava is invoked under the name of Çarva as a mighty, darkly-glancing archer, with black hair, a thrower of the spear, who dashes on with a thousand eyes, and slays the Andhakas. Here also he is entreated not to be angry, not to smite men nor cattle, to hurl his heavenly weapons against others and not against his suppliant.[418] He is more highly exalted still in the Çatapatha-Brahmana, which unites in him the attributes and functions of various gods, of Vayu, Chandra, Bhava, Parjanya, i. e. the rain-god, and of Agni, represents the gods as afraid of his power, and denotes him by the name Mahadeva (great god). A long and extraordinary prayer which this Brahmana prescribes for appeasing him, ascribes to him the most extensive power: it calls him the inhabitant, the lord of the mountains, forests, and fields, of the wild beasts, of the streets and hosts, who slays from before and from behind, red in colour, with a blue neck. If the anger of the mighty deity is appeased, he brings rain and blessing, and then he is the gracious one, Çiva. The fruitfulness of this deity and the necessity of propitiating him appear to have brought it about that this name, which is found as an epithet of other gods, became his peculiar title. In the old sutras of the Buddhists he is thus called, though he more frequently bears the name Çankara, i. e. bringer of happiness.

We see that the deity whose strong power drove up the rain-clouds to the coast of Surashtra (Guzerat) and the heights of the Himalayas was victorious over the ancient god of tempest. In this god there was a destroying power, but his anger and rage were followed by the fructifying showers of rain, causing[Pg 331] vegetation to revive and the springs to flow, cooling the air and refreshing man and beast. So the nation looked up with thankful eyes to the god of storm who had now, in reality, become a god of increase and prosperity, a healer of wounds and sickness, as was already indicated in the poems of the Rigveda. Among his retinue is a being of the name of Nandin, who appears later as a bull, and is without doubt nothing more than an indication of the wild force of the storm, and its fruitful operation.[419] As he is more especially a lord of the mountains, and is said to be throned on Kailasa, and the Ganges flows down over his head, as the Epos represents the heroes as going to the Himalayas to worship Çiva, and the storm rages fiercest in the hills, we may assume that it was the inhabitants of the Western Himalayas who elevated Rudra-Çiva to be their protecting deity, just as Vishnu became the god of the nations on the Ganges.[420]


[384] Cp. p. 76, 145, 321.

[385] Burnouf, "Introduction à l'histoire du Bouddhisme," p. 208, 209, 151.

[386] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 152.

[387] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 150.

[388] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 138, 205, 208.

[389] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 157, 172. Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 1, 581-585.

[390] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 138, 415.

[391] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 141, 149, 343.

[392] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 141.

[393] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 139, 140, 149. Supra, p. 173.

[394] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 236, 420.

[395] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 241, 244 ff. "Dhammapadam," translated by A. Weber, 322.

[396] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 223, 238.

[397] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 247.

[398] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 245, 246.

[399] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 240.

[400] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 146, 187.

[401] Above, p. 95. Our chronology for the epochs of Indian history depends essentially on fixing two points. The first is the accession of Chandragupta in Magadha, already mentioned, from which the year 315 B.C. is certain (cp. infra); the second point is the year of Buddha's death. The Bhagavata-Purana puts Buddha's death 2000 years after the beginning of the Kaliyuga (supra, p. 77); such a round number and so general a date cannot lay claim to credibility. Besides this we have a number of other Brahmanic statements about the date of Buddha's life, varying more or less, but equally untrustworthy. More weight would naturally be ascribed to the statements of the Buddhists; yet even these differ widely from each other. The Thibetans have fourteen different statements about the year of Buddha's death, which cover the interval from 2422 to 546 or 544 B.C. The Chinese Buddhists as a rule assign Buddha's death to the year 950 B.C., but Buddhism did not reach the Chinese till after the birth of Christ. The most trustworthy statement seems to be that of the Singhalese. Buddhism reached them soon after the year 250 B.C.; from the year 161 B.C. their chronology agrees with existing inscriptions: their chronological system and their era is based on the year of Buddha's death, which they place in 543 B.C. If this date is compared with the Brahmanic list of kings of Magadha we get the following results: Before Chandragupta the dynasty of the Nandas reigned for 88 years according to the Brahmanic accounts, and 22 according to the Singhalese. On this point I agree with Lassen and Gutschmid in preferring the statement of the Brahmans, because the error of the Singhalese may very easily have arisen from the fact that the reign of 22 years, which they give to the sons of Kalaçoka, was incorrectly repeated for the following dynasty. According to this the first Nanda ascended the throne of Magadha in the year 403 (315+88). From this year the items on the Singhalese list carry us up to the year 665 B.C. for the accession of Kshemadharman (Çiçunaga), and the year 603 B.C. for the commencement of the reign of Bimbisara (Gutschmid, "Beiträge," s. 79 ff.), who is succeeded by Ajataçatru eight years before Buddha's Nirvana ("Mahavança," 2, 32, p. 10, ed. Turnour), which thus falls in the year 543 B.C. If we keep to the Singhalese date for the Nanda dynasty, we arrive at the year 477 B.C. for Buddha's death. Bimbisara ascended the throne 198 years according to the Matsya-Purana, and 193 years according to the Vayu-Purana, before the first Nanda. If the year 403 B.C. marks the accession of the Nandas, Bimbisara according to the Matsya-Purana began to reign in 601 B.C., and according to the Vayu-Purana in 590 B.C. Between Bimbisara's accession in 603 B.C. and the end of Açoka of Magadha there intervene, according to the statements of the Buddhists, 375 years. If with this we compare the dates of the reigns in the list of kings in the Vayu-Purana from Bimbisara to Açoka, we get 378 years from the first year of Bimbisara to the last year of Açoka. There is also another fact which agrees with the era 543 B.C. According to the statements of the Singhalese the second synod of the Buddhists was held 100 or 110 years after Buddha's death, in the reign of Kalaçoka, i. e. in 443 or 433 B.C. ("Mahavança," ed. Turnour, p. 15). Of these two statements it is obvious that the more definite, 110 years, is more deserving of credit. According to the detailed statements of the Singhalese for the time of the separate reigns, Kalaçoka's reign begins 90 years after Buddha's death, i. e. 453; he reigns 28 years according to the Singhalese, i. e. if we reckon up the single items from Chandragupta (the Nandas 80, and Kalaçoka's sons 22 years) from 453 to 425 B.C. In this way the era of the Singhalese and the year of Buddha's death are completely justified. Still the year is not wholly beyond a doubt. According to the statement of the native Singhalese, Chandragupta ascended the throne 162 years (and the various items agree with this total) after Buddha's death, i. e. 162 years after the year 543 B.C., and therefore in the year 381 B.C., but we know that his accession took place in 315 B.C. Here we find an error of 66 years, which however we have already removed by adopting the Brahmanic statement of 88 years for the dynasty of the Nandas instead of the 22 years of the Singhalese. Further, it does not agree with the era of 543 B.C., when we are told by the Singhalese that the third Buddhist synod was held 118 years after the second, i. e. 228 years after Buddha's death. We know from inscriptions that this synod met in the seventeenth year of Açoka, Chandragupta's second successor. Açoka reigned from 265 to 228, or from 263 to 226 B.C.: his seventeenth year reckoned from 265 would be 249 B.C.; if we add to this 228 years we get 477 B.C. for the year of Buddha's death; thus we have here again the same error of 66 years. Lastly, it does not agree with the era of 543 B.C. when we are told that the fourth Buddhist synod was held 400 years after the death of Buddha, under Kanishka, king of Cashmere. Kanishka is a contemporary of Augustus and Antonius (Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 2, 412, 413); and according to this statement, therefore, Buddha would have died about the year 400 B.C. As the number of 400 years given for the fourth synod is nevertheless designedly a round number, little weight is to be placed upon it, and the year 543 can be kept as the year of Buddha's death. Before the dynasty of the Nandas in Magadha (403-315 B.C.) the throne was occupied by the Kshatrabandhus or Çaiçunagas for 262 years (665-403 B.C.); before these came the Pradyotas with 138 years (803-665 B.C.), who were again preceded (as is shown above, p. 77) by the Barhadrathas with 615 years, i. e. from 1418 to 803 B.C. (Cf. Gutschmid in "Beiträge zur Geschichte des alten Orients," s. 76, 87, and in "Zeitschrift d. D. M. G." 18, 372 ff.)

[402] As the Arian colonists go from Surashtra to Ceylon about the year 500 B.C., this kingdom must have been in existence in the sixth century B.C. Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 166 ff.

[403] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 427.

[404] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 407.

[405] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 245.

[406] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 237, 432.

[407] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 146, 514.

[408] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 423.

[409] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 175, 261, 380.

[410] If I ascribe the rise of Vishnu and Çiva primarily to the people, this is done because the need pointed out must have been felt most deeply by them; two rival deities would never have been elevated to supreme positions if the movement had not begun from beneath, and the life in two different districts had not formed the starting-point.

[411] Muir, "Sanskrit Texts," 4, 67 ff.

[412] "Vanaparvan," 484 ff. in Muir, loc. cit. 4, 136.

[413] Muir, loc. cit. 4, 124 ff., 127.

[414] Muir, loc. cit. 4, 131, 252 ff. The epithet of Vishnu, Upendra, i. e. Beside-Indra, points to this position.

[415] Manu, 12, 121.

[416] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 137; A. Weber, "Ind. Studien," 2, 20; Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 12, 918.

[417] Muir, loc. cit. 4, 300-320.

[418] Muir, loc. cit. 4, 184, 230, 269. Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 922. On the seats of the worship of Çiva on the coasts of the Deccan in the Mahabharata, cp. Muir, loc. cit. 44, 28, 285.

[419] Nandin means having delight, delighted.

[420] In the book of the law Vishnu is mentioned once only (12, 121), and Çiva not at all. The old sutras of the Buddhists, on the other hand, as has been stated, mentioned Çiva frequently under the name Çankara, and Vishnu under the names Hari and Janardana. Lassen has rightly perceived that the Narayana of the ancient sutras and of the law-book was not yet Vishnu, but Brahman, and Narayana was not transferred to Vishnu till later ("Alterth." 12, 918; 22, 464). The Mahavança (7, 47, ed. Turnour) mentions Vishnu as the tutelary deity of the earliest settlers in Ceylon. This settlement took place about 500 B.C., while Çiva appears as the tutelary deity of the somewhat more ancient Mathura in the south. The rise of the worship of Çiva and Vishnu according to these indications must be placed between 600 and 500 B.C. Panini is acquainted with Avataras of Vishnu (Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 921); in the accounts of the Greeks Krishna is already identified with Vishnu, and is widely worshipped both in the valley of the Ganges and in the extreme south of India, while Çiva is worshipped in the mountains. The development of this worship must therefore have taken place between 500 and 300 B.C., and no doubt chiefly in the second part of this period.



[Pg 332]



So far as we can ascertain the conditions of the states on the Ganges in the sixth century B.C. the population suffered under grievous oppression. To the capricious nature of the sentences pronounced by the kings and the cruelty of their punishments were added taxes and exactions, which must have been severely felt over wide circles. The sutras tell us that a king who required money received this answer from his two first ministers: "It is with the land as with grains of sesame; it produces no oil unless it is pressed, cut, burnt, or pounded."[421] The arrangement of castes now stamped in all its completeness on the population of the Ganges; the irrevocable mission apportioned to each person at his birth; the regulations for expiation and penance, which the Brahmans had introduced; the enormous amount of daily offerings and duties; the laws of purification and food, the neglect or breach of which involved the most serious consequences, unless averted by the most painful expiations, were serious burdens in addition to the oppression exercised by the state. If the expiation of offences often unavoidable was difficult, the most carefully-regulated life, the most pious fulfilment of all offerings and penances, did[Pg 333] not protect men from evil regenerations. For time consumed the merit of good works, and man was born again to a new life, i. e. to new misery. Thus not even death brought the end of sorrow; it was not enough to bring to a close a laborious life; even if after this life a man were not tormented in hell for unexpiated transgressions, he was born again to ever new sorrows and pains. One way only was known to the Brahmans by which a man might possibly escape this fate;—flight from the world; the voluntary acceptance of the most severe unbroken torture imposed upon the body; the annihilation of the body and finally of the soul by absorption through meditation into Brahman. Did a man really arrive at the goal by this rough way?—did he by inexorable persecution of himself to the extremest limits become elevated above a new birth, and so above a new torture of life?

The conception of such endless torment must have pressed the more heavily upon the people as the hot climate in which they lived naturally awaked in them the desire for repose, a desire which increased with the increasing oppression of the state and religious duties, and was strengthened by the fact that these causes at the same time allowed the resistance which every healthy and strong nation can make to such oppressions and demands to slumber. But complaint was inadmissible. All the misfortune which a man had to bear now and expect in the future was not an unmerited disaster, but a just ordinance of the righteous arrangement of the world, the verdict and expression of divine justice itself. Whether any one was born as a man or an animal, his position and caste, and the conditions of his birth, the fortune he experienced, were consequences, the reward or punishment, of actions done in a previous state of existence; they were the sentences of a[Pg 334] justice which none could escape, of the divine order of the world, to which a man must submit without murmurs. The Brahmans were right, the world was full of evils; life was a chain of miseries, and the earth a vale of misery. Pity and grace were nowhere to be found, only justice and punishment, only righteous retribution. In past days, indeed, the Aryas had cried to Varuna to be gracious, to pardon and blot out the offences which men had committed against the gods, intentionally or involuntarily, from an evil heart or from weakness and seduction (p. 53). But the theory which the Brahmans had subsequently elevated to be the highest duty was without sympathy or pity; it could only allot to every man, in the alternation of birth and decay, the fruits of his deeds. No doubt the people, impelled by the necessity to have above them conceivable, comprehensible, helpful spirits, elevated Vishnu and Çiva from among the faded and dishonoured forms of the ancient deities to be the protecting powers of their life in opposition to the god of the Brahmans; but though these gave rain and increase to the pastures and the fields, though they cherished kindly feelings towards men, they were powerless against the punishments after death, against regenerations, or the existing order of the world, against the merciless justice of the gods, which recompensed every one inexorably according to his works, and caused every one to be born again without end to new torments. The old healthy pleasure in life which would live for a hundred autumns, and then looked forward to an entrance into the heaven of Yama, and participation in the joys of that heaven with the company of the fathers, was past. While all other nations almost without exception regarded death as the worst of evils, and painfully sought to secure continuance after[Pg 335] death, the Indians were now tortured by the apprehension that they could not die, that they must live for ever, they filled with terrors their conception of life after death, of the endless series of regenerations to a perpetually new life.

Was there really no mercy on earth or in heaven, no grace, no means of release from these never-ending torments? Was the long series of sacrifices with their endless prescripts for every step, the multitude of rules of purification, the performance of penance for every stain, absolutely indispensable if the Brahmans themselves allowed that this whole sanctity of works merely bestowed merits of a second rank, and that the treasure even of good works could be exhausted by time? Was this arrangement of castes and the observance of their duties absolutely irrevocable? The Brahmans required the study of the Veda not only from their own order but also from the Kshatriyas and the Vaiçyas. Did not the book of the law contain the requirement (p. 184) that every Dvija, after satisfying the duties of his order, and of the father of a family (Grihastha) should become an eremite (Vanaprastha) and penitent (Sannyasin)? Had not the Sankhya, the doctrine of Kapila, called in question the merit of the sacrifice and the customs of purification? Asceticism, it is true, again removed the distinctions of the orders; the power of penance, the mortification of the pleasures of sense and the body, carried back the members of the three upper orders in a similar way by sanctification, through a greater or less application of penance, into Brahman; the legends and the Epos showed by the example of Viçvamitra that a man could rise by the power of penance from a Kshatriya to a Brahman. Hence all Dvijas, in strictly logical sequence, could reach supreme salvation by mortification of the body;[Pg 336] and it was easy from these premisses to draw the conclusion that little or nothing depended on descent; that the degree of asceticism and the depth of meditation was everything. If this was the case with sanctification by works; if birth in any one of the three higher orders did not prevent a man from attaining the highest sanctification by asceticism, could the castes be really different races, different emanations from Brahman, and distinct forms of his being? Was the nucleus of the system, the doctrine of the world-soul, so firmly established as the Brahmans maintained? Had not the philosophy of the Brahmans already passed from scholasticism to heterodoxy? Did it not deny, in the Sankhya doctrine, the authority of the Veda, the existence of the gods, and the Brahmanic world-soul? As we have seen, the teaching of Kapila left only two existences; nature and the individual spirit.

In the north-east of the land of the Koçalas, on the spurs of the Himalayas, by the river Rohini, which falls into the Çaravati (Rapti), a tributary of the Sarayu, in the neighbourhood of the modern Gorakhpur, lay a small principality named Kapilavastu, after the metropolis.[422] It was the kingdom of the race of the Çakyas, who are said to have migrated from Potala in the delta of the Indus into the land of the Koçalas. Like the kings of the Koçalas the race traced its descent to Ikshvaku, the son of Manu. And just as great priests of the ancient times were woven into the list of the ancestors of the kings of the Bharatas, so the Çakyas of Kapilavastu are said to have reckoned Gautama, one of the great saints (p. 28), among their forefathers; they called themselves Gautamas after[Pg 337] the family derived from this priest. At the present time a Rajaputra family in the district, in which the Çakyas reigned, call themselves Gautamiyas.[423] To the house of the Çakyas belonged king Çuddhodana, who sat on the throne of Kapilavastu in the second half of the seventh century B.C.

Of the son born to this prince in 623 B.C. the legend tells us that he received the name Sarvathasiddha (Siddhartha), i. e. perfect in all things, and that Asita, a penitent from the Himalayas, announced to the parents that a very high vocation lay before the boy. The young prince was brought up to succeed to the throne; he was instructed in the use of arms, and in all that it became one of his rank to know. After overcoming all the youths of the family of the Çakyas in the contest in his sixteenth year, his father chose Yaçodhara as his wife, and beside her he had two other wives and a number of concubines, with whom he lived in luxury and delight in his palaces. Thus he lived till his 29th year, when he saw, while on a journey to a pleasure-garden, an old man with bald head, bent body, and trembling limbs. On a second journey he met one incurably diseased, covered with leprosy and sores, shattered by fever, without any guide or assistance; on a third he saw by the wayside a corpse eaten by worms and decaying. He asked himself what was the value of pleasure, youth, and joy if they were subject to sickness, age, and death? He fell into reflection on the evils which fill the world, and resolved to abandon his palace, his wives, and the son who had just been born to him, and retire into solitude, that he might inquire into the cause[Pg 338] of the evils which torment mankind, and meditate on their alleviation.

The legends tell us that Çuddhodana opposed this design; he would not allow his son, the Kshatriya and successor to his throne, to depart, and commanded festivals to be held to retain him. Siddhartha is surrounded by song, dance, and play, which are to enliven and change his mood. But in the night he mounted his horse and left the palace secretly, accompanied by one servant. After riding all night towards the east, he reached the land of the Mallas (on the spurs of the Himalayas, upon the Hiranyavati); there, in the neighbourhood of Kuçinagara, the metropolis of the Mallas (some 150 miles to the north-east of Patna), he gave in the morning his attire to his servant and sent him back with the horses. He retained only the yellow garment which he was wearing (yellow is the royal colour in India), and cut his hair short, in order to live henceforth as a mendicant. After concealing himself for seven days he passed on, begging his way to Vaiçali (to the south of Kuçinagara) and from Vaiçali down the Hiranyavati to the Ganges; beyond the Ganges he turned his course to the metropolis of Magadha, Rajagriha, near which were the settlements and schools of the most famous Brahmans.[424] Here he quickly learned all that the chiefs of the schools, Arada Kalama, Rudraka, and others could teach him, and understood their doctrines; but they could not adequately explain to him the origin of the sorrows of men, nor give him any assistance.

Dissatisfied with their instruction and doctrines Siddhartha resolved to retire wholly from the world, and live in the forest without fire, in order to penetrate to the truth by the most severe penances, the most pro[Pg 339]found meditations. He now called himself Çakyamuni, i. e. anchorite of the family of the Çakyas, went to the southern Magadha, and there, near the village of Uruvilva on the Nairanjana (an affluent of the Phalgu) he devoted himself to the most severe exercises. Seated without motion he endures heat and cold, storm and rain, hunger and thirst; he eats each day no more than a grain of rice or sesame. For six years he continues these mortifications, and still the ultimate truths refuse to disclose themselves to his reflections; at length he seemed to himself to observe that hunger weakened the power of his mind, and resolved to take moderate nourishment, honey, milk, and rice, which were brought to him by the maidens of Uruvilva.[425] Then he went to Gaya in the neighbourhood of Uruvilva, and there sank under a fig-tree into the deepest meditation. About the last watch in the night, when he had once more in spirit overcome all the temptations of the world, fear, and desire, when he had found that longing could never be laid to rest, only increased with satisfaction, as thirst that is quenched by drinking salt water—when he had called to mind his earlier births, and gathered up the whole world in one survey, revelation and complete illumination were vouchsafed to him.

For forty-nine or fifty days, as the legends assure us, Siddartha considered in his own mind whether he should publish this revelation, since it was difficult to understand, and men were in the bonds of ignorance and sin. At last he determined to proclaim to the world the law of salvation. When he had explained it to two merchants, travelling with their caravans through the forest of Gaya, he took his way first to Varanasi (Benares) on the Ganges (588 B.C.). In the[Pg 340] deer-park near this city he preached for the first time, and though several of the hearers were astonished and said, "The king's son has lost his reason," he won over the first five disciples for his doctrine.[426] From this time the 'Enlightened' (Buddha), as the legends call him after the complete revelation was vouchsafed to him,[427] wandered as a mendicant, with a jar in his hand for collecting alms, through the districts of India, from Ujjayini (Ozene) at the foot of the Western Vindhyas[428] as far as Champa on the Ganges, the metropolis of the Angas, in order to proclaim everywhere the truth and the law of salvation. "Many," so Buddha preached, "impelled by distress, seek refuge in the mountains and forests, in settlements and under sacred trees. This is not the refuge which liberates from pain. He that comes to me for refuge will learn the four highest truths: pain, the origin of pain, the annihilation of pain, and the way that leads to the annihilation of pain. Whoever knows these truths is in possession of the highest refuge."[429]

Twelve years had elapsed since Buddha left his paternal city Kapilavastu, when at his father's invitation he returned thither; and his father, his kindred, the whole family of the Çakyas and many of his countrymen became converts to his doctrine. Surrounded by the most eager of his disciples, he proceeded onward, and was among them, as the legends say, "like the bull among the cows, like the elephant among his young ones, like the moon in the lunar houses, the physician among his patients."[430] Varanasi[Pg 341] in the land of the Kaçis, Mithila in the land of the Videhas, Çravasti (to the north of Ayodhya) in the land of the Koçalas, Mathura in the land of the Çurasenas, Kauçambi in the land of the Bharatas, were the chief scenes of his activity.

Buddha was deeply penetrated by the conviction that the earth was a vale of misery, and the world nothing but a "mass of pain."[431] The sorrows which torture mankind excited his deepest compassion; he would fain help men in their distress. Above all he was oppressed with the thought that sorrows do not end with this life; that man is ever born again to new misery, driven without rest through an eternal alternation of birth and death, in order to find new sorrows without end, but no repose. He was tortured by this "restless revolution of the wheel of the world," by the torments of resurrection from another womb to new and greater pains; more eagerly than any other, Buddha sought repose, peace, and death without any resurrection. With the utmost eagerness he plunged into the Brahmanic theory and speculation; it did not satisfy him; in it, and by it, he found no alleviation, no end of the evil; he submitted to the severest asceticism of the Brahmans; it crushed his spirit without giving him rest. He therefore turned from the orthodox systems to the heterodox doctrine of Kapila. Even that failed to satisfy him; but he followed still further the path which it pointed out, in order to discover the liberation from evil which he sought so earnestly. At last he believed himself to be possessed of the delivering truth.

With the adherents of the Sankhya doctrine Buddha believed himself to have ascertained that neither the gods nor a supreme all-pervading world-soul exists. He also, in opposition to the orthodox doctrine,[Pg 342] makes the individual soul his starting-point, and the multitude of individual spirits, which alone have true existence and reality. But if the doctrine of Kapila found the liberation from nature and the body in the fact that the soul attains the consciousness of her independent existence in opposition to nature, discovers her own absolute position as opposed to the body, and merely contemplates the latter, Buddha struck out a far more radical way for the liberation from evil and the freedom of the soul.

Buddha first establishes the fact that evil exists; then he inquires why it exists and must always exist; he attempts to prove that it can and ought to be annihilated, and finally he occupies himself with the means of this annihilation.[432] He who will ascertain truth and acquire freedom from evil, has first to convince himself that evil exists. Evil is birth, sickness, the weakness of age, the restlessness and torment of our projects and efforts, the inability to attain what we strive for, the separation from that which we love, the contact with that which we do not love. In this world of existence all is vanity. Happiness is followed by misfortune; even the happiness and power of kings flows away more rapidly than running water.[433] Mutability is the last and worst evil; it is the fire which consumes the three worlds.[434] Birth is changeable and worthless, for it leads to death; youth, for it becomes age; health, for it is subject to sickness. All that exists, passes away. This ceaseless change is bound up with pain and sorrow. Childhood suffers the pain of weakness; youth is impelled by desires which cannot be[Pg 343] fulfilled, and which cause pain if unfulfilled. Age suffers the pain of decay and sickness, and of death; with death begins a new life through regeneration to the same or even greater torments. To this evil of mutability, and consequently to pain, all living creatures without exception are subject. Evil and pain are universal; men are destined to lose what is dearest to them; and animals are destined to be eaten by each other. From the knowledge that evil exists, that all living creatures are subject to evil, follows the truth that men must strive to liberate themselves from evil.

After setting forth his problem in this formal and minutely systematic manner, Buddha goes still further. If man will free himself from pain, pain must be annihilated. In order to attain this end the cause of it must be discovered. This cause is desire (trishna). Desire is the passion which man feels to attain content and satisfaction, the ever-renewed impulse to have pleasant sensations and avoid the unpleasant, which is sometimes satisfied, but more frequently the reverse.[435] If pain is to be annihilated, desire must be annihilated. The cause of desire is sensation, and if we inquire into sensation we find on reflection that it is something transitory. When we have the sensation of what is pleasant, the sensation of what is unpleasant does not exist any longer, and vice versâ; sensation therefore is subject to annihilation, and in consequence is not permanent, nor has it any real existence. Sensation is, as the Buddhists say, "empty and without substance."[436] It does not belong to the nature of the soul. As soon as we can say of sensation or of any other object, "I am not this, this is not my soul," we are free from it; and when we have attained this knowledge, no sensation[Pg 344] whatever, nor conception, nor perception, exercises any charm over man.[437] If this knowledge is acquired, man is in a position to "unbind" himself from sensation, and as soon as he has unbound himself from sensation he has liberated himself from it; he feels neither inclination nor disinclination; neither restlessness nor pain, nor despair;[438] his heart no longer clings to the "causes of content, which were at the same time the causes of discontent, more closely than drops of rain to the leaf of the lotus."[439] If we go further in this direction and instruct ourselves by meditation that even the senses, eyes, ears, etc., are perishable,[440] that the body is subject to birth and death, and consequently that it is something transitory and without permanence, we are freed from the body and henceforth merely contemplate it. From this point of view we perceive that the body of a man is his executioner; and in the senses we recognise desolated villages, in the things of the external world, the enemies and plunderers which perpetually attack men, disquiet and ravage them.[441] Whatever a man has hitherto felt of dependence and inclination, of care and submissiveness to the body; whatever content and satisfaction he has felt through the body in the body,—is now annihilated by the knowledge that the body is nothing real, that it is not the soul. When we have reached this point, pain is removed, because the cause of it is removed; man is no longer dazzled by desire, and therefore no longer distressed; he is now lord of his senses and lord of himself. Freed from all bonds, from all inclinations to, and dependence on, the world, he feels the happiness and joy of repose.[442][Pg 345]

Thus far Buddha has agreed with the doctrine of Kapila that the soul must be separated and set free from the body, in his results, if the mode of development be different; he now proceeds in his speculations far beyond the Sankhya system. He was not content to have discovered the path of liberation from the torments of sensuality, of the body, and the external world; he asked further, How can man be raised above the necessity of perpetually renewing this process of the liberation of the soul from the body after new regenerations? If the Sankhya doctrine established nature and matter as an eternal potency beside the plurality of individual souls, and derived all existence from the creative power of matter, Buddha rather saw the creative power, the basis of all existence, in the individual souls, in the "breathing beings," and from this view arrived at a different, more thorough means of liberation.

According to the legends the way to this liberation was revealed to Buddha in the night under the fig-tree of Gaya, when in the deepest meditation he represented to himself the web of regenerations, how many and what dwellings he had inhabited previously, and how many had been the dwellings of other creatures; how he and the rest of the world lived through a hundred thousand millions of existences—when he called to mind the periods of destruction and the periods of regeneration. "There," he said, "was I, in that place; I bore this name; I was of this tribe and that family, and this caste; I lived so many years; I experienced this happiness and that misfortune.[443] After my death I was born again; I lived through these fortunes, and here, at last, I have again come to the light. Is there then no means of escaping this world, which is born,[Pg 346] changes, and dies, and again grows up? Are there no limits to this accumulation of sorrows?" At last, attaining to immobility in thought about the last watch, just before the break of day, he once more collected his powers and asked himself:[444] What is the cause of age, death, and all pain? Birth. What is the cause of birth? Existence. What is the cause of existence? Attachment to existence. What is the cause of this attachment? Desire. What is the cause of desire? Sensation. Of sensation what is the cause? The contact of a man with things excites in him this or that sensation, sensation generally.[445] What is the cause of contact? The senses. What is the cause of the senses? Name and shape, i. e. the individual existence. What is the cause of this? Consciousness. And of consciousness, what? The existing not-knowledge,[446] i. e. the intellectual capacity; this is no other than the soul itself. In order to annihilate pain, birth must be annihilated; the annihilation of birth requires the annihilation of existence; this requires the destruction of attachment to existence; and to accomplish this destruction desire and sensation must be annihilated; and this again requires the annihilation of contact with the world. But as contact with the world rests on the receptivity of the senses, which in turn rests on the individual existence, this existence rests on consciousness, and consciousness on the not-knowledge, i. e. on the possibility of not-knowledge in the individual spirit, on the intellectual state; not-knowledge must in the end be annihilated. This takes place by the true knowledge, which shows that the sensations[Pg 347] of men are only of a transitory nature, illusions, not belonging to his true being; thus it is that the individual is loosed from pain and the body, or merely contemplates it as it contemplates all existence; and thus dependence on existence and desire are softened or removed. The same result is also attained by the annihilation of not-knowledge as the basis of individual existence, by the quenching of the individual, by Nirvana, i. e. the extinction, the "blowing away" by which the individual "falls into the void," and cannot be born again. From the annihilation of the basis of existence follows the annihilation of existence; it cannot arise again when the basis is destroyed.

Though this series of causes and effects may first have received the form in which we have it in the schools of the adherents of Buddha, the nucleus belongs beyond a doubt to the founder of the doctrine. It shows sufficiently with what dialectical consistency—though proceeding like all the products of the Indian mind from fantastic hypotheses, and coloured with fantastic elements, so that sequence of time is often taken for the relation of cause and effect—Buddha attempted to penetrate to final causes and ultimate aims. Evil is existence generally. If evil is to be removed, existence must be removed, and not existence only but the roots of it. This proposition is the leading motive in his reasoning. He keeps steadily to the logical formula that all existence is the operation of a cause, and consequently existence can only be destroyed when the cause of it is destroyed. The nucleus of his argument is: Whence do men come? They arise out of their nature, which is the existing not-knowing, or, as we should say, the substratum of knowing, the intellectual capacity. Where do men go in death? This intellectual basis is compelled by its own nature[Pg 348] to assume ever new forms, to put on a new robe from the material of nature or the elements. How can the soul, the intellectual capacity, be checked in this? By self-annihilation.

Here Buddha found himself at the most difficult problem of Indian speculation, which failed to find an internal transition from not-being to being, from being to not-being, so that in it the principles always remain the same, and cause and effect are equally eternal. Hence in order to be consistent, he must seek the solution of his problem, the cessation of the regenerations, in the annihilation of the cause of these regenerations; and this cause was in his view the intellectual capacity. As the soul is first set free from sensation, and then from the body, so man must finally be set free from the soul, the self, the Ego, by destroying the basis and possibility of this; while the adherents of the Sankhya doctrine merely separated the soul from the body, merely looked on at the revolution of the wheel of nature; and the Brahmans would plunge the soul in Brahman. At a later time a great deal of controversy arose as to what Buddha meant by Nirvana, and persons of great eminence in the Buddhist church have had recourse to the explanation that he alone knows what Nirvana is who finds himself in that state. Yet from the process and tendency of Buddha's philosophy, as well as from the most ancient definitions, it is sufficiently clear what condition, what results, were meant to be attained by Nirvana. The most ancient explanations term it, "the cessation of thought, when its causes are suppressed:" they denote it as a condition, "in which nothing remains of that which constitutes existence."[447] With the impossibility of feeling impressions, of knowing anything, and therefore of[Pg 349] desiring anything, the being of the individual also ceases, according to Buddha's view, and it was the extinction of this at which he aimed. In Nirvana, according to the older legends, nothing remains but "emptiness;" it is frequently compared with "the exhaustion of a lamp when it goes out."[448] But how this condition is brought about we are not told; we only know that all contact, external or internal, with the world must be removed.[449] When every distinct conception, and even everything that may give rise to such a conception, had been avoided; when a man had put aside every thought, and every excitement of the spirit, he ought to succeed in destroying the thinking principle within him. The man of knowledge has discovered that all which is, is worthless; that nothing exists really and essentially; he has broken through the shells of deception and ignorance. He has diverted and liberated his feeling from these frivolities, and now passes into the condition in which he has nothing more to think of, nothing more to feel, and consequently nothing more to desire; that is, he has attained a state in which feeling and thoughts are extinguished, and continue extinguished. If any feeling or conception remains in this condition, the Ego in Nirvana would feel peace and joy at the thought that nothing any longer existed, that itself ceased to exist. Thus it becomes clear what was the object sought in Nirvana, and we cannot have any doubt that this attempt at annihilation, if made in earnest, must practically lead to the same results as the absorption of the Brahmans in Brahman—that it caused men to become dull, stupid, and brutalised.[450]

Buddha was of opinion that through this series of[Pg 350] thoughts he had discovered the final causes, the absolute truth as well as absolute liberation. When he has arrived at the final ground of existence, the man of meditation can say to himself, according to the legends: "The dreadful night of error is taken from the soul, the sun of knowledge has risen,[451] the gates of the false path which lead to existences filled with misery are closed.[452] I am on the further shore; the pure way to heaven is opened; I have entered upon the way of Nirvana.[453] On this way are dried up the ocean of blood and of tears, the mountains of human bones are broken through, and the army of death is annihilated, as an elephant throws down a hut of reeds.[454] He who follows this path without faltering, escapes from pain, from mutability, from the changes of the world, and the wheel of revolution, the regenerations. He can boast: 'I have done my duty; I have annihilated existence for myself. I cannot be born again; I am free; I shall see no other existence after this.'"[455] An old formula of faith, which is often found under pictures of Buddha, runs thus: "The beings which proceed from a cause, their cause he who pointed out the way (Tathagata) has explained, and what prevents their operation the great Çramana has also explained."[456]

Had Buddha contented himself with the results of his speculation, the only consequence of his doctrine would have been this; he would have added one more to the philosophical systems of the Indians; he would have founded a new philosophical system, a subdivision of the heterodox Sankhya doctrine. The question was really the same, whether the soul was destroyed when in the one case it was plunged in Brahman, and in[Pg 351] the other annihilated by Nirvana; whether those who sought after liberation had to become masters of their senses like the Brahmans, or to release themselves from sensation and the body and existence like Buddha. For both methods the profoundest meditation was necessary as a means; the final manipulations and results were mystical on both sides; the only difference was that the logical consistency of Buddha was more simple and acute, the dialectics of the orthodox system more varied and fantastic; the penances of the Brahmans were severe and painful, while Buddha contented himself with a moderate asceticism. From his disciples who would attain the highest liberation he demanded nothing more than that they should renounce the world, i. e. should devote themselves to a life of chastity and poverty. Then like their master they must shave head and chin, while the Brahman penitents wore a tail of hair, put on a robe of yellow colour, such as Buddha wore,—a garment of sewn rags was best—take a jar in their hands for the collection of alms, and go round the country begging, after the example of Buddha, in order to point out to people the way of salvation. Only the rainy season might be spent in retirement, in common discussion on the highest truths, or in lonely meditation on the way of Nirvana.

This new mode of asceticism would not have gone beyond the limits of the school, had not Buddha added a moral for the whole world to his philosophy for the initiated. As we have in the Sankhya system a kind of rationalistic reaction, after the Indian measure it is true, against the flighty theorems of the Brahmans, so in the practice of Buddha the prominent features are more simple, healthy, and sensible. The Sankhya system places liberation essentially in the release of the spirit from nature by the power of knowledge;[Pg 352] according to Buddha's doctrine liberation must be sought not only in the path of knowledge but also in the will and temper. When the temper is rendered peaceful; when desire ceases, and the withering of the soul comes to an end, then knowledge can begin.[457] In this repose of the passions, which arise from egoism, there is a very definite practical and moral feature, of great importance for development and edification. Buddha allowed that every one could not attain the highest liberation by the mode of asceticism and meditation which he taught; but he did not therefore leave the people to their fate, like those who preceded him in philosophy; he did not, like these, point to the sacrifices, customs, purifications, and penances. Even for those who were not in a position to liberate themselves wholly from the misery of the earth and the torments of regenerations, by entering into the way of illumination, were to have their pains and sorrows alleviated as far as possible. The desire to do away with the passions, and with selfishness, the lively sympathy, the earnest effort to alleviate the sorrows of men, from which Buddha's philosophy starts, are also the source of his ethics, which are to be preached to the whole nation. As contact with the world is the chief cause of desire, and therefore of the pain and distress which come upon men, the main object is to come into contact with the world as little as possible, to live as far as may be in peace and quietness. The requirement of a still and quiet life is the first principle of the ethics of Buddha. Even the layman must bring repose into his senses. He must moderate his impulses and passions, his wishes and his desires, if he cannot annihilate them. He must guard against the excitement of passions, for these are the chief cause of the pains which torment[Pg 353] mankind. He must be chaste and continent within the limits of reason; he must drink no intoxicating liquor; at the accustomed hours he must take the necessary food (otherwise the belly causes a multitude of sins[458]); he must clothe himself simply. He must not attempt to amass much silver and gold, or waste the property which he has, in order to procure enjoyment. In a word, "he must turn his back on pain, ambition, and satisfaction."[459] The evils which are unavoidable in spite of a simple, moderate, and passionless life, he must bear with patience, for in this way they become most tolerable. Injustice coming from others must also be received with patience; ill-treatment, even mutilation and death, must be borne quietly, without hatred towards those who inflict them: "mutilation liberates a man from members which are perishable, execution from this filthy body, which dies." Those who treat us in this manner are not to be hated, because all that comes upon a man is a punishment or reward for actions done in this or a previous life.[460]

Though Buddha adheres to the conception of the Brahmans, which had long been the common property of the nation, that a man's lot in this world is the consequence of actions done in an earlier existence, he could nevertheless point to further alleviations of the evils of life than those attained by moderation and patience. All men without regard to caste, birth, and nation, form in Buddha's view a great society of suffering in the earthly vale of misery; it is their duty not mutually to add other sorrows to those already imposed upon them by their existence; on the contrary, they ought mutually to alleviate the burden of unavoid[Pg 354]able misery. As every man ought to attempt to lessen the pains of existence for himself, so it is also his duty to lessen those of his fellows. In Buddha's doctrine not our own sorrows but the sorrows of our fellow-men are a cause for distress.[461] From this principle Buddha derived the commands of regard, assistance, sympathy, mercy, love, brotherly kindness towards all men. If, according to the doctrine of the Brahmans, and of Buddha also, there was no love, no grace, and no pity in heaven, they are henceforth to exist on earth. The love which Buddha preaches is essentially sympathy; it arises from another source than the love of Christianity. It is not in Buddhism the highest commandment for its own sake alone: it is not the liberating, active, creative, ethical power, which not only removes selfishness from the negative side, but also positively transforms the natural into the moral man, and exalts the family, community, and state into moral communities. In Buddhism love wishes above all things to lament with others, and by helpful communion to make life more endurable; it is simply the means to alleviate the sorrows of the world. Hence Buddha commands us to be without selfishness towards all men, to spend nothing on ourselves that is intended for another. To speak hard words to a fellow-man is a great sin; no one is to be injured by scornful speeches.[462] What can be done must be done for the amelioration of a fellow-man and the promotion of his prosperity. A man must be liberal towards his relations and friends; gentle towards his servants; he must give alms without any intermission, and practise works of mercy;[463] he must provide nourishment for the poor; and must take care of the sick and[Pg 355] alleviate their sorrows. He must plant wholesome herbs, trees, and groves, especially on the roads, that the poor and the pilgrims may find nourishment and shade; he must dig wells for them, receive travellers hospitably, for that is a sacred duty, and erect inns for them.[464] If the Brahmans are cautioned against the killing of animals, and the eating of flesh is restricted among them as much as possible (p. 168), Buddha is still more strict in this respect. Nothing that has life is to be put to death, neither man nor animal; pain is not to be inflicted on any living creature; a man must have sympathy with the sufferings even of animals, and tend such as are old and weak.

Consistent in his attempt to discover the alleviation of pain in the heart and mind of man, Buddha remits even the sins of commission by internal change and improvement of mind. If a man has committed a sin of thought, word, or act,[465] he must repent and acknowledge it before his co-religionists, and those who have attained a higher degree of liberation. Repentance and confession diminish or blot out the sin, according to the degree of their depth and sincerity, and not painful penances and expiations, which only increase the torments of the body, the thing which we desire to diminish.[466] No one is to make a parade of good works; these he should conceal, and publish his failings.[467]

Thus the ethics of Buddha are comprehended in the three principles of chastity, patience, and mercy, i. e. of a moderate and passionless life, of ready and willing submission to any annoyance or unavoidable evil, and finally of sympathy and active assistance for our fellow-men. An old formula tells us: "The eschewing[Pg 356] of evil, the doing of good, the taming of our own thoughts, this is the doctrine of Buddha."[468]

The legends tell us of a great disputation held at Çravasti (the metropolis of the Koçalas), in which Buddha was victorious over six holy penitents of the Brahmans; the leading Brahman even took his own life in disgust and disappointment. As the legends relate, the Brahmans were afraid that Buddha's doctrine would diminish their honour and importance, that they would receive fewer gifts and presents; they were distressed that Buddha allowed even the lowest and impure castes to enter the order of penitents. According to the statement of the sutras the Brahmans caused the communities to inflict fines on such persons as listened to Buddha's words, and from the kings of certain districts they procured edicts forbidding his doctrine. Though the Brahmans may have succeeded in prejudicing one or two princes against Buddha and his doctrine, in other regions of India, not to mention his own home, he did not miss the effectual protection of the secular arm. From the very first year of the public appearance of Buddha, Bimbisara king of Magadha is said to have given him his protection and support, and to have assigned to his disciples the Bamboo-garden, near the metropolis Rajagriha, for their residence. The king of the Koçalas also, Prasenajit, supported Buddha, and his metropolis, Çravasti, became a favourite residence of Buddha in the rainy season, a centre of the new doctrine, to the north of the Ganges, as Rajagriha was on the south of the river. Lastly, the legends speak of Vatsa, the king of the Bharatas, who resided at Kauçambi, and Pradyota of Ujjayini, and Rudrayana of Roruka, a region which apparently lay to the east of Magadha, among the[Pg 357] protectors of Buddha. Towards the princes Buddha's conduct was prudent and circumspect; he did not impart to any of their magistrates or servants the initiation of the beggar; he adopted none of them into the community of the initiated without the express sanction of the king.[469]

On the people his appearance and disputations with the Brahmans could hardly make any other impression than that he also was one of the philosophising penitents who wandered through the lands of the Ganges, teaching and begging, with or without disciples.[470] If the Brahmans persecuted Buddha, they called out to them: What would ye have?—he is a mendicant like yourselves! Buddha is said to have suffered the most severe persecution, when past his seventieth year, from Devadatta, a near relation. Even in youth the eager rival of Siddartha in martial exercises, Devadatta is said to have been filled with cruel envy by the success of Buddha's teaching. So he determined to appear as a teacher in Buddha's place, and for this object he united himself with Ajataçatru, the son of Bimbisara of Magadha. The latter was to murder his father, the protector of Buddha; Devadatta desired to assassinate Buddha himself, and then the two, by mutual support, would hold the first place. Devadatta assembled 500 disciples; Ajataçatru, in the year 551 B.C., dethroned his father, and according to the legends of the Buddhists caused him to die of starvation in a dungeon. After the death of his protector the Enlightened was to perish also. From the top of the vulture mountain near Rajagriha, Devadatta hurls a stone on Buddha as he passes by underneath; but he merely wounded him slightly on the toes; in vain is an elephant[Pg 358] maddened with palm wine let loose upon Buddha, the raging animal kneels down before him. To escape these persecutions Buddha leaves Magadha and turns to Çravasti. Devadatta pursues him, in order to attack him afresh there, and destroy him by the poisoned nails of his fingers; but when he approaches Buddha he sinks into hell, while king Ajataçatru is converted, and from a persecutor of Buddha becomes a zealous protector of his doctrine.[471]

This legend is obviously told in order to glorify the victorious sanctity of Buddha, nevertheless it contains a certain nucleus of history. At a very early time there was a division among the adherents of Buddha; the author and leader of this division was called Devadatta. Even in the seventh century A.D. there were monasteries in India which followed the doctrine and rules of Devadatta. Among the eight disciples of Buddha, according to the legends, Çariputra and Maudgalyayana, young Brahmans of the village of Nalanda near Rajagriha, took the first place. After these the sutras mention Kaçyapa a Brahman, Upali a Çudra, who had been a barber, i. e. who had carried on one of the lowest, most impure, and contemptible occupations before he followed Buddha, and two nephews of Buddha of the race of Çakya, Anuruddha and Ananda. Ananda is said to have accompanied Buddha for twenty-five years without interruption; to "have heard the most, and kept the best what he heard." After these, Nanda, a step-brother of Buddha, and Buddha's own son, Rahula, are mentioned in the first rank.

It was not the favour or dislike of princes, nor the speculative power of his doctrine, nor the devotion of his nearest scholars, which procured a reception for[Pg 359] Buddha's doctrine. On the contrary, the success of Buddha rests precisely on the fact that his teaching is not restricted to doctrine, nor to a school. He ventured to step out of the circle of the Brahmans, and the learned in the Veda, beyond the lonely life in the forest; he was bold enough to break through the limitations imposed upon instruction by tradition and law. He did not, like the Brahmanic teacher, hold sittings with his pupils, at which they alone were present; he spoke in the open market place, and addressed his words not only to the Dvijas, but to the Çudras and Chandalas also—an unheard-of event: for this purpose he speaks the language of the people, not Sanskrit, the language of the Brahmanas and the learned; he preached in a popular style, while the doctrines of the Brahmans, set forth in the formulas of the schools, must have remained unintelligible to the people, even if repeated in their language. With the people Buddha dwelt far more on his ethics than on his metaphysics, though he did not exclude the latter, and his ethical lectures in each case developed the principle in application to the particular instance.[472] In other respects his method of teaching must have been the most effective which could be applied in India, unless we are deceived by the legends. By means of the complete illumination vouchsafed to Buddha, he saw through the web of regenerations. For every man he deduced the circumstances of his present life, his good or evil fortune, from the virtues and sins of a previous existence. To a man whose eyes had been put out by the order of a king he revealed the fact that in a previous existence he had torn out the eyes of many gazelles; but as he had also done good deeds in that life he had been born again in a[Pg 360] good family, with a handsome exterior.[473] He told another that in a previous existence he had killed an anchorite, and for this he had already suffered punishment in hell for several thousand years; he would also lose his head in this life, and would suffer the same misfortune for four hundred successive existences.[474]

However effective Buddha's method may have been, it was the tendency of his doctrine which could not fail sooner or later to open the hearts of the people. The lower castes were subject to the ill treatment and exactions of the state, to the haughty pride of the Brahmans; they were pressed into the unalterable arrangement of the castes, and thus branded by law and custom, they were exposed to the severest oppression. The doctrine of morals was resolved into the observance of the duties of caste, into the endless series of offerings and sacrifice, purifications and expiations; thus it became degraded into an artificial and painful sanctification by works, which no one could ever satisfy. Religion was lost in a confused medley of gods and magic on the one hand, and of obscure and unintelligible speculation on the other. In opposition to these circumstances, requirements, and doctrines, Buddha declared that no one, not even the lowest and most contemptible castes, were excluded from hearing and finding the truth; that alleviation of pain and rest, salvation and liberation, could be acquired by any one. Instead of the observance of the duties of caste he required the brotherly love of all men; in opposition to distorted ethics he restores its due rights to natural feeling. The sacrifice and sanctification by works of the Brahmans is replaced by the taming of the passions, and sympathy, by the[Pg 361] fulfilment of simple duties, painful penances by easy asceticism, by the plain morality of patience and quietism; the Veda and gods of the Brahmans by a theory at any rate more intelligible, accompanied by the doctrine that even without this theory every one of his own heart and will could enter upon the way of salvation, and by such conduct alleviate his fortune in this and the following courses of life, while the initiated could at once force their way to death without regeneration. Any man could assume the yellow robe if he vowed to live in poverty and chastity, and wander through the land as a mendicant, a mode of obtaining a livelihood which is not difficult in India.

If the doctrine of the Brahmans had banished mercy out of heaven, it had reappeared on earth in the "Enlightened," the "pointer of the way," who met the pride and haughtiness of the Brahmans with gentleness and humility; who showed sympathetic pity for the lowest and poorest, for all the weary and heavy-laden;[475] who in the midst of oppressed nations taught how unavoidable evils could be borne most easily; how they could be alleviated by mutual help; who called on all to ameliorate their lot by their own power, and considered it the highest duty to obtain this amelioration for ourselves and provide it for others.

According to Buddha's view the castes must fall to the ground. There was no world-soul from which all creatures emanated, and therefore the distinctions which rested on the succession of these emanations did not exist. In the first instance, however, he attacked the castes from the point of view that the body can only have a subordinate value. "He who looks closely at the body," he said, "will find no difference between the body of the slave and the body of the prince.[Pg 362] The best soul can dwell in the worst body." "The body must be valued or despised in respect of the spirit which is in it. The virtues do not inquire after the castes."[476] But he also applied the distinction of castes to show that in fact they give a higher or lower position to men; that the arrangement brings external advantages or disadvantages. It was the conception of the more or less favourable regenerations which caused him to assume these distinctions and bring them into the series of regenerations. He allowed that there was a gradation leading from the Chandalas to the Brahmans, that birth in a higher or lower position was a consequence of the virtues or failings of earlier existences; but the distinctions were not of such a kind that they limited the spirit; that they could in any way prevent even the least and lowest from hearing the true doctrine and understanding it, and attaining salvation and liberation. Hence while the castes do indeed form distinctions among men, these distinctions are not essential, but in reality indifferent.

If the Brahmans reproached Buddha that he preached to the impure, he replied: "My law is a law of grace for all."[477] He received Çudras and Chandalas, barbers and street-sweepers, slaves and remorseful criminals, among his disciples and initiated.[478] Nor did he exclude women; even to them he imparted the initiation of the mendicant.[479] On one occasion Ananda, the scholar of Buddha, met a Chandala maiden drawing water at a fountain, and asked to drink. She replied that she was a Chandala and might not touch him. Ananda answered: "My sister, I do not ask about[Pg 363] your caste, nor about your family; I ask you for water if you can give it me." Buddha is then said to have received the maiden among his initiated.[480]

For twenty-four years, we are told, Buddha wandered from one place to another, to preach his doctrine, to strengthen his disciples in their faith, to arrange their condition, and in the rainy season to show to the initiated the way to the highest liberation, to death without regeneration. According to the legends of the Northern Buddhists, he saw towards the end of his days the overthrow of his ancestral city, and the defeat of his adherents. The Çakyas of Kapilavastu are said to have become odious to Virudhaka (Kshudraka in the Vishnu-Purana), the successor of king Prasenajit on the throne of the Koçalas. He marched against them with his army; obtained possession of the city of Kapilavastu, and caused the inhabitants to be massacred. Buddha is said to have heard the noise of the conquest, and the cry of the dying. When the king of the Koçalas had marched away with his army, Buddha, we are told, wandered in the night through the ruined corpse-strewn streets of his home. In the pleasure-garden of his father's palace, where he had played as a boy, lay maidens with hands and feet cut off, of whom some were still alive; Buddha gave them his sympathy and comforted them. The massacre of Kapilavastu, the slaughter of the Çakyas, if it took place at all, cannot have been complete, for at a later time the race is mentioned as existing and active.

In the eightieth year of his life Buddha is said to have visited Rajagriha and Nalanda in the land of Magadha; afterwards he crossed the Ganges, and announced to his disciples in Vaiçali, the metropolis[Pg 364] of the tribe of the Vrijis (p. 338), that he should die in three months. He exhorted them to redoubled zeal, begged them, when he was no more, to collect his commands, and preach them to the world. Accompanied by his pupils Ananda and Anuruddha he then set out to the north, to the land of the Mallas, and Kuçinagara, where in former days he had laid aside the royal dress and assumed the condition of a mendicant. Falling sick on the way, he came exhausted into the neighbourhood of Kuçinagara, where Ananda prepared a bed for him in a grove. Here he said farewell, sank into meditation, and died with the words "Nothing continues," never to be born again. At Ananda's suggestion the Mallas buried the dead Enlightened with the burial of a king. After preparations lasting through seven days the corpse was placed in a golden coffin, carried in solemn procession before the eastern gate of Kuçinagara, and laid on a wooden pyre. The ashes were placed in a golden urn, and for seven days festivals were held in honour of the "compassionate Buddha, the man free from stain" (543 B.C.).[481]


[421] Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 146.

[422] Köppen, "Religion des Buddha," s. 84. Kapilavastu means habitation of Kapila. It was the philosophy of Kapila which lay at the base of the teaching of Buddha.

[423] The Gautamas were the most important priestly family among the Videhas. Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 1, 557; 2, 67; Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 155; A. Weber, "Ind. Studien," 1, 180.

[424] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 154.

[425] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 77, 154, 157.

[426] Köppen, loc. cit. s. 94.

[427] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 70.

[428] Köppen, on the ground that Ujjayini is not mentioned among the southern Buddhists, limits the sphere of the activity of Buddha to the triangle formed by Champa, Kanyakubja, and Çravasti.

[429] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 186. Köppen, loc. cit. s. 220.

[430] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 167.

[431] e. g. Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 487.

[432] These are the four sublime truths (aryani satyani) of Buddhism; pain, the creation of pain, the annihilation of pain, and the way which leads to the annihilation of pain.

[433] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 410, 430.

[434] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 418, 428, 629.

[435] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 498, 508.

[436] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 459, 462.

[437] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 509, 510.

[438] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 460.

[439] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 418.

[440] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 405.

[441] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 418, 420.

[442] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 251, 327, 460.

[443] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 389, 393, 486.

[444] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 486 ff.

[445] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 460.

[446]3 Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 488-509. For further information about the series of the causes of being (nidana), which is not very intelligible, see Köppen, s. 609. My object is merely to indicate the line of argument.

[447] Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 73, 83, 589 ff.

[448] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 252.

[449] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 326.

[450] Schlagintweit, "Buddhism in Tibet," p. 91 ff.

[451] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 369.

[452] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 265.

[453] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 271.

[454] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 203, 342.

[455] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 462, 510.

[456] Köppen, s. 223.

[457] Köppen, s. 125.

[458] Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 254.

[459] Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 327.

[460] Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 253, 410.

[461] Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 429.

[462] Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 274.

[463] Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 325.

[464] Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 2, 258.

[465] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 300.

[466] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 299.

[467] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 261.

[468] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 126, 153. Köppen, s. 224.

[469] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 163, 189, 145, 190, 211.

[470] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 101.

[471] Köppen, s. 111.

[472] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 126.

[473] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 414.

[474] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 195, 274, 381, 382.

[475] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 174, 183.

[476] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 375, 376.

[477] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 198.

[478] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 162, 197, 205, 212, 277.

[479] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 206.

[480] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 205 ff.

[481] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 351; Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 22, 80.



[Pg 365]



King Ajataçatru of Magadha, who is said to have dethroned his father Bimbisara in the the year 551 B.C. and put him to death, to have persecuted the "Enlightened," and then, from a persecutor to have changed into a zealous follower, demanded, according to the legends of the Buddhists, that the Mallas should give up to him the remains of Buddha (the ashes and the bones of his corpse) for preservation. But the Mallas refused to do this. The Çakyas also laid claim to them because Buddha sprang from their family; the warrior families of the Vrijis of Vaiçali because Buddha was a Kshatriya; and finally the Koçalas of Ramagrama demanded them. Ajataçatru intended to possess himself of them by force. Then a learned Brahman succeeded in preventing the decision by an appeal to arms; the remains were divided into eight portions, and distributed among the different claimants, of whom each erected a memorial for his portion. Ajataçatru buried his portion under a stupa, i. e. a tower with a cupola, near his metropolis Rajagriha.[482]

Of the further deeds of Ajataçatru we only learn that he subjugated to his dominion the Vrijis, who[Pg 366] were governed by a council formed of the elders of their families.[483] Of the immediate successors of Ajataçatru in Magadha, Udayabhadra (519-503 B.C.), Anuruddhaka (503-495 B.C.), and Nagadasaka (495-471 B.C.), nothing further is known than that each murdered his father.[484] Nagadasaka, the great-grandson of Ajataçatru, is said to have been dethroned by the people, who set up in his place Çiçunaga a son of Ajataçatru, who seems to have previously ruled as a vassal king in the city of the Vrijis, the conquered Vaiçali.[485] This Çiçunaga, who ruled over Magadha from the year 471 to 453 B.C., was succeeded on the throne by his son, Kalaçoka.[486]

From this subjugation and conquest of the territory of the Vrijis, from a statement of the legend of the Buddhists, according to which Kalaçoka inflicts punishments in Mathura on the Yamuna,[487]—and further from the fact that the lists of the Brahmans for the kingdoms of the Bharatas and the Koçalas, and the territories of Varanasi and Mithila, end with the third or fourth successor of the princes who reigned, according to the legend of the Buddhists, at the time of the Enlightened—we may assume that after the reign of Ajataçatru the power of the kings of Magadha increased, and continued to extend till the neighbouring states on the north and west of Magadha were gradually embodied in this kingdom. Kalaçoka provided a new metropolis; he left Rajagriha and took up his abode in a city of his own building, Pataliputra. The name means son of the trumpet-flower. It lay to the north-west of Rajagriha on the confluence of the Çona and the Ganges, on the bank of the great river,[Pg 367] a little above the modern Patna. Megasthenes, who spent some time in this city a century and a half after it was built, tells us that Palibothra (such is the form he gives to the name) was the greatest and most famous city of India. In shape it was a long rectangle, with a circuit of about 25 miles. The longer sides were 80, the shorter sides 15, stades in length. Sixty-four gates allowed entrance through the wooden wall, pierced by windows for archers, and was surrounded by a wonderful trench, 600 feet broad, and 30 cubits deep, which was filled by the waters of the Ganges and the Çona; the wall was in addition flanked by 570 towers. The royal palace in the city was splendid, and the inhabitants very numerous.[488] We have already learnt from the sutras the circuit, equipment, and wealth of the royal citadels. That Palibothra, at the time when it was the metropolis not only of the whole land of the Ganges but also of the valley of the Indus, was only protected by a wooden wall, provided, it is true, with many towers, i. e. by a palisade, is remarkable, for it is sufficiently proved that the cities and citadels of the Panjab in the fourth century B.C. were surrounded by walls of bricks or masonry.

In the sutras of the Buddhists we have already seen that the Arian life and civilisation extended in the first half of the sixth century from the Panjab to the mouth of the Ganges, and also that the north-western spurs of the Vindhyas, no less than the coast of Guzerat (Surashtra) were occupied by Arian states. The ancient inhabitants of these regions, the Bhillas and Kolas (Kulis), occupied here the same contemptible and degraded position which the Chandalas occupied on the Ganges. In the course of the sixth and in the fifth century B.C. the colonisation and conquests of the Arian Indians made[Pg 368] even more important advances. The southern regions of the Deccan were appropriated, and the island of Ceylon conquered. It has been observed that at an early time a trade existed by sea between the land of the Indus and the Malabar coast; in this way alone could the sandal-wood, which flourishes nowhere but this coast, have reached the mouth of the Indus as early as 1000 B.C. (p. 15). The tradition of the Brahmans assigns the colonisation of the Malabar coast, not of the northern part only, but even of Kerala, in the south, to the twelfth century B.C. We shall be more secure if we assume that the Arian settlements were not pushed further to the south till Arian states arose on the coast of Surashtra. The first settlements on the west coast are said to have been founded by Brahmans: an expedition of Brahmans is said to have reached far to the south, and to have founded settlements there; to have converted the inhabitants to Brahmanism, and in this way to have founded the kingdom of Kerala (on the sources of the Kaveri).[489] On the eastern shore of the Deccan the Arian civilisation passed from the mouths of the Ganges to the south. We do not know in what manner the Odras, who dwelt in the valley and on the mouths of the Mahanadi, were gained over by the Brahmans. In the book of the law they are reckoned among the degenerate warriors.[490] But in this region the change to the Arian life must have been very complete; there are no remains of an older language in the dialect of Orissa. The language exhibits the stamp of Sanskrit, and the Brahmanic system was afterwards carried out even more strictly here than in the valley of the Ganges. Even on the Coromandel coast the southern parts are said to have been colonised earlier than the centre.[Pg 369] The first Arian settlers are said to have landed on the island of Rameçvara, which lies off the mouth of the Vaigaru, in the sixth century B.C., and then to have passed over to the mainland, which was occupied by the tribes of the Tamilas, to have eradicated the forests, and cultivated the land.[491] One of these settlers, Pandya by name, is said to have obtained the dominion, and to have given his name to the land, Sampanna-Pandya, i. e. the fortunate Pandya; one of the successors of this Pandya built a palace further up the Vaigaru, and called the new city Mathura. From this name we may conclude that at least a part of the settlers who colonised the south coast of the Deccan sprang from the banks of the Yamuna, and named the new habitation after the sacred city of the ancient fatherland, just as the name of the ruling family points to the Pandus, the ancient dynasty, which for four generations after Buddha, i. e. down to the time of Kalaçoka, ruled over the Bharatas between the Yamuna and the upper Ganges.

Hither also, to the distant south of the Deccan, the Arian settlers brought the system of castes and the Brahmanic arrangements of the state, which were carried out with greater strictness, as is invariably the case when an arrangement already developed into a complete and close system is authoritatively applied to new conditions. The immigrants were Brahmans and Kshatriyas; they took possession of considerable portions of land. The ancient inhabitants, who did not adapt themselves to the Brahmanic law, occupied on the south of the Coromandel coast, where the Tamil[Pg 370] language is spoken, as the colonies spread, a position even worse than the Chandalas on the Ganges; even to this day, under the name of Pariahs, they are more utterly despised, more harshly oppressed, than the Chandalas. Even now the Brahman is allowed without penalty to strike down the Pariah who has the impudence to enter his house;[492] and contact of a member of the higher castes with a Pariah involves the expulsion of the person thus rendered impure.

The books of the Singhalese, the oldest, and consequently the most trustworthy, among all the historical sources of India, preserve the following tradition about the arrival of the Arians on the island of Ceylon. Vijaya was the son of the king of Sinhapura (lion city) in Surashtra.[493] As the king was guilty of many violent actions, the nation required him to put his son to death. The king instead placed him on board a ship with seven hundred companions, and the ship was sent to sea. These exiles called themselves Sinhalas, i. e. lions, after their home, the lion city. The ship arrived at the island of Lanka. Vijaya with his comrades overcame the original inhabitants, who are described as strong beings (Yakshas); on the western coast of the island, at the place where his ship touched the shore, he founded the city of Tamraparni, and named the island, which now belonged to the victorious lions of Surashtra, Sinhaladvipa, i. e. lion island. But Vijaya and his companions had been banished from home without wives, and they would not mingle their pure blood with the bad on the island. So he sent to the opposite coast of the mainland, to Mathura on the Vaigaru, where Pandava was king at that time, and[Pg 371] besought his daughter in marriage, and Pandava gave him his daughter with seven hundred other women for his companions, and he in return sent to his father-in-law each year 200,000 mussels and pearls. The marriage of Vijaya was childless, and when he felt himself near his end, he sent to his brother Sumitra, who meanwhile had succeeded his father on the throne of Sinhapura, to come to Lanka, in order to govern the new kingdom. Sumitra preferred to keep his ancestral throne, but sent his youngest son, Panduvançadeva, who reigned over the island for 30 years, and founded the new metropolis of Anuradhapura in the interior of the island. Pandukabhya, the second successor of Panduvançadeva, arranged the constitution of the kingdom. He set up a Brahman as high priest, and had the boundaries of the villages measured. When enlarging the metropolis, he caused dwellings to be erected for the Brahmans, before the city, as the law requires, and made a place for corpses, and near it built a special village for the impure persons who tend the dead. Settlements were also erected for the penitents. The immigrants formed the castes of the Brahmans and the Kshatriyas; the original inhabitants, who submitted to the Brahman law, formed the castes of the Vaiçyas and Çudras; a special caste, the Paravas, we find, at any rate at a later time, entrusted with the pearl fisheries. But Pandukabhya is said not to have confined himself to the Arians in conferring offices; tradition expressly informs us that chiefs of the ancient inhabitants received prominent posts in the new constitution.[494][Pg 372]

We should deceive ourselves if we found in this tradition a credible and certain narrative of the colonisation of Ceylon. The name of the discoverer Vijaya, means victory and conquest; that of his successor, Panduvançadeva, means god of the race of Pandu. In this tradition we can only maintain the fact that the first settlers came from the west of India, the coast of Guzerat; that a family from this region, which claimed descent from the celebrated Pandu, acquired the dominion over the island (the Greeks are acquainted with a kingdom of Pandus on the peninsula of Guzerat, and the kingdom of Pandæa on the southern apex of India); that the settlers in Ceylon entered into combination with the older colony on the south coast of the Deccan, and, in contrast to these, their fellow-tribesmen, formed a friendly relation with the whole of the ancient inhabitants. Nor can we repose absolute faith in the tradition of the Singhalese, which places the arrival of the first settlers in the year 543 B.C. This year, which is the year of Buddha's death, is obviously chosen because Ceylon from the middle of the third century B.C. was a chief seat of Buddhism, and continued to be so when their doctrine had been repressed and annihilated by the Brahmans in the land of the Ganges, and on the whole mainland of India. Down to the period of the introduction of Buddhism into Ceylon, and even for fully a hundred years afterwards, the chronology of Singhalese authorities abounds with impossibilities, contradictions, and demonstrable mistakes.[495] We must therefore content ourselves with the assumption that the first Arian immigrants landed in Ceylon about the year 500 B.C.

Though the life, manners, and religion of the Indians[Pg 373] became firmly rooted on both coasts of the Deccan, and beyond it, the centre of the peninsula remained for the time untouched by Arian colonisation. Here the wild pathless ranges of the Vindhyas opposed insuperable obstacles to the advance of the Arian colonisation from the north, running as they do right across the middle of the land from sea to sea. Thus even to this day the tribes of the black Gondas (p. 9) inhabit the almost inaccessible valleys and gorges of the broad mountain region, in their original barbarism, with their old language and old worship of the earth-god, to whom the tribes bordering on Orissa offered human sacrifice even in our times. Among other tribes on the Narmada, the custom which Herodotus ascribes to certain Indian tribes (p. 19) is still in use: they slay old and weak members of the family, and eat them.[496] On the other hand, Brahmanic manners and civilisation penetrated gradually from the Coromandel coast to the Godavari, the Krishna, the Palaru, and the Kaveri. Supported by the arms and weight of the increasing power of Magadha, the influence of the Arian nation became powerful enough to subjugate the Kalingas, the Telingas, and the Tamilas, to the religious doctrine and life of the Brahmans. Yet even here the Telingas and the Tamilas, like the Karnatas, the Tuluvas, and the Malabars on the western side, maintained their languages, though transformed, it is true, and intermingled with Sanskrit. The southern apex of the Deccan has remained entirely untouched by Arian colonisation. The sunken plateau, running from the western Ghats to the east coast, which fills up the entire peninsula of the Deccan, here ends in a lofty[Pg 374] group of mountains, the Niligiris (Neelgherries), i. e. the blue mountains. Through a deep depression filled with marsh and jungle, which is limited and intersected to the north, this mountain-range rises far above the plateau to a height of 6-8000 feet. The proximity of the equator, combined with the cooling influence of the surrounding ocean, assures at such an elevation the clearest sky, an eternal spring, and a completely European vegetation, in the midst of which a handsome and vigorous race of men, the Tudas, still live and flourish in complete isolation.

The settlements on the coast of the Deccan and on the island of Ceylon must have given a new impulse to the trade of India. The pearls, which are found only on the north-west coast and in the straits of Ceylon, on the numerous coral-banks of that region—the book of the law quotes them, together with coral, among the most important articles of trade of which the merchant ought to know the price—were not only an ordinary ornament at the courts of Indian princes in the fourth century B.C., but were even brought to the West about this period. The companions of Alexander of Macedon tell us that the Persians and Medes weighed pearls with gold, and valued pearl ornaments more than gold ornaments. Onesicritus, the pilot of Alexander, tells us that the island of Taprobane (Tamraparni) was 15,000 stades in the circuit; that there were many elephants there, which were the bravest and strongest in India, and amphibious animals, some like cows, others like horses. Taprobane was twenty days' journey from the southern shore of India in the main sea; but the ships of the Indians sailed badly, for they were ill built and without decks.[497] Megasthenes tells us that Taprobane is richer in gold and[Pg 375] pearls even than India. The pearl oysters, which lay close together, were brought up out of the sea with nets; the fleshy part was thrown away, but the bones of the animals were the pearls, and the price was three times as much as the price of gold.[498]

The death of the Enlightened had not checked the adoption of his doctrine in the land of the Ganges. The legend, mentioned above, of the contest of princes, nations, and families on the middle Ganges for the relics of Buddha, may have owed its origin to the worship of relics, which became current among the Buddhists some considerable time after their master's death. On the other hand, the further narrative, that after Buddha's death, a number of his disciples met to establish the main doctrines of their master, cannot be brought into doubt. As has been already remarked, Buddha is said to have commanded his disciples to collect his doctrines after his death. Obedient to this injunction, Kaçyapa, to whom Buddha formerly gave up the half of his possessions and whom he clothed with his mendicant's garb, caused five hundred believers (Sthavira) in the Enlightened to be gathered together. Ajataçatru of Magadha had caused a special hall to be built for their discussions at Rajagriha, at the entrance of the Niagrodha cave. Here the assembly charged Upali (p. 358) with the duty of drawing up the prescripts of the discipline (vinaya), "the soul of the law," of which Buddha had declared Upali to have the best knowledge. Ananda was to collect the law (dharma). i. e. the words of the master; he knew them all by heart. Kaçyapa was to undertake the philosophical system (abhidharma); and each was to place his collection before the assembly for criticism and[Pg 376] approval. These works are said to have occupied seven months.[499]

In the doctrine of Buddha a comparatively simple meaning prevailed, which by its contrast to the fancifulness of the Brahmans must have excited the desire to collect and retain what was in existence. Moreover, the faith and conduct of the Buddhists had their starting-points and centre so eminently in the life, example, and doctrine of the master, that a meeting of disciples at the very moment when their living centre was lost appears thoroughly probable. The need of possessing the pure and entire doctrine of the master for support and guidance, now that he was present in person no more, must have been very deeply felt. But the tradition is obviously wrong in ascribing to the earliest council the compilation of the entire canon of the Buddhist scriptures as they were known at a later period, in the three divisions of discipline, commands, and speculation. This assembly could do no more than collect the speeches, doctrine, and rules of the master from memory, and establish a correct copy of them by mutual control. It is the words and commands, the sutras of Buddha, which were established and collected at this meeting. Unfortunately we do not possess them in their oldest and simplest form, since at a later time the occasion and situation and place at which the master had spoken this or that sentence, had uttered this or that doctrine, were added to the words of Buddha. But in part at least it is possible to distinguish the old simple nucleus from these additions.[500][Pg 377]

Buddha had imparted to all who wished to tread the path of liberation, who undertook vows of poverty and chastity, the initiation of the Bhikshu, i. e. of the mendicant, of the Çramana, i. e. the ascetic, the priest of his new religion. These Çramanas he had recommended to withdraw themselves from the world, and live after his own example in solitary meditation on the four truths: pain, the origin of pain, the annihilation of pain, and the way which leads to this. But his eremites were not to live the life of the eremite continuously any more than himself. Even the mere fact that they had to make a livelihood by begging excluded any long-continued isolation and settled residence; and along with renunciation Buddha's doctrine taught sympathy and help to all creatures. This sympathy the Bhikshus were to carry out in act; more especially they were bound to impart to the brethren who received initiation and to the people the healing truths, which had disclosed themselves to their meditation, in the same way as Buddha had done. According to the command of the master, they might not, like the Brahman penitents, spend the rainy season in the forest; they must pass it together in protected places, in caves, villages or cities, at friendly houses: in this season they must mutually instruct each other and confess their sins. Complete isolation of the initiated would have been opposed to the whole tendency of the doctrine and the pattern of the master. The Bhikshus, who came from various circles of life, and different castes, and had abandoned the hereditary and customary law of the castes, could not but feel the need of assuring themselves mutually of the new law now governing their life, of observing and developing it in common. The adherents, and above all the representatives, of any new doctrine always feel it[Pg 378] incumbent on them to keep alive and nourish the sense of their fellowship and mutual support as against existing authority. These motives early led to a monastic life among the adherents of Buddha who had received the initiation of the mendicant, and wished to advance to complete liberation from regeneration. The places of refuge and shelter in which they passed the rainy season were regularly visited. There they resided; but in the finer season of the year they left them in order to beg in the country and to preach, or to meditate in the forest; and at the beginning of the rains (which in the Buddhist calendar extended from the full moon of July to the full moon of November) they again returned to the accustomed shelter. These retreats were partly rocky caves, partly detached buildings, of which a hall of assembly (vihara) must form part.

At the time when king Kalaçoka sat on the throne of Magadha (453 B.C.-425 B.C.) the initiated in a monastery in the city of Vaiçali are said not to have strictly kept the rules and commands of the Enlightened, and to have abandoned the correct mode of conduct. They permitted themselves to sit on carpets, to drink intoxicating liquors, and to receive gold and precious things as alms. Relying on the protection of king Kalaçoka, they disregarded the exhortations of pious men. To put an end to this scandal, Revata, who surpassed all the Buddhists in the depth of his knowledge and the purity of his conduct, warned, as it is said, by a dream, declared himself against these deviations, and summoned a great council of Bhikshus to Vaiçali. With the usual exaggeration of the Indians the legends maintain that more than a million of the initiated met together. Revata chose four of the wisest Sthaviras of the west and four of the east, and with these he[Pg 379] retired into the Balukarama-Vihara, a sequestered monastery at Vaiçali, in order to ascertain whether the conduct of the monastery could be maintained in the face of the teaching of Buddha or not. The result of the investigation was, that the teaching of Buddha did not permit such proceedings, and that the monastery must be expelled from the community of the faithful. In order to establish this decision, to revise the discipline, and "maintain the good law," seven hundred initiated were selected from the great assembly and met in the Vihara under the presidency of Sarvakami. This more limited council is said to have ordered the exclusion of 10,000 ecclesiastics of Vaiçali as heterodox and sinners from the community of the believers in Buddha, and to have established the general rule that everything which agreed with the prescripts of the ethics and spirit of the doctrine of Buddha, must be recognised as legal, whether it dates from an ancient period or comes into existence in the future; all that contradicts this, even though already in existence, is to be rejected.

Whatever be the case with the separate facts in this tradition, we may regard it as certain that when the first assembly of Sthaviras after Buddha's death had collected his sayings, this second council undertook the first statement in detail of the rules of discipline (vinaya). The council was held one hundred and ten years after the death of the Enlightened, in the year 433 B.C., in Vaiçali, i. e. in the territory of Magadha, and consequently under the protection of king Kalaçoka; their labours are said to have lasted eight months.[501] Owing to the protection which Kalaçoka extended to Buddhism he is called among the Brahmans, Kakavarna, i. e. Raven-black.[502][Pg 380]

Kalaçoka was succeeded on the throne of Magadha by his sons Bhadrasena, Nandivardhana, and Pinjamakha.[503] Pinjamakha, according to the statements of the Buddhists, was deposed by a robber of the name of Nanda. The band to which Nanda belonged is said to have attacked and plundered villages after Kalaçoka's time. When the chief was killed in an attack, Nanda became the leader, and set before his companions a higher aim in the acquisition of the throne. Strengthened by reinforcements, he formed an army, conquered a city, and there caused himself to be proclaimed king. Advancing further, and favoured by success, he finally took Palibothra, and with the city he gained the kingdom. This Nanda, who ascended the throne of Magadha in the year 403 B.C., is called by the Brahmans Ugrasena, i. e. leader of the terrible army, or Mahapadmapati, i. e. lord of the innumerable army, and they maintain that he was the son of the last king of Kalaçoka's tribe, who had begotten him with a Çudra woman.[504] This statement and the epithets quoted at any rate confirm the usurpation and the fact that it was accomplished by force.

Nanda's successors did not maintain themselves on the throne of Magadha beyond the middle of the fourth century. We are without definite information about their achievements, and can only conclude from the renown of the kingdom at this time, that the supreme power which Magadha had acquired in the[Pg 381] land of the Ganges, under Ajataçatru and Kalaçoka, was not lost under their dominion; and from the confusion in the statements of the Buddhists about this dynasty we may gather that they favoured the Brahmans. The last genuine Nanda was Daçasiddhika. He was deposed and murdered by the paramour of his wife, Sunanda, a barber, who is sometimes called Indradatta, and sometimes Kaivarta after his despised caste. Indradatta bequeathed the crown thus obtained to his son, whom the Buddhists called Dhanananda, i. e. the rich Nanda, or Dhanapala, i. e. the rich ruler, and the Brahmans Hiranyagupta, i. e. the man protected by gold. His reign lasted from the year 340 B.C. to 315 B.C., and he is said to have amassed great treasures. Western writers called this king Xandrames or Agrames, and his kingdom the kingdom of the Prasians, i. e. of the Prachyas (the Easterns) or the Gangarides. They tell that Xandrames was of such a low and contemptible origin that he was said to be the son of a barber. But his father had been a man of extraordinary beauty, and by this means had won the heart of the queen, who by craft killed her husband, the king. In this way the father of Xandrames acquired the throne of the Prasians, and he bequeathed it to his son, who nevertheless was detested and despised for his low origin and his wickedness. At the same time the Greeks tell us that Xandrames could put into the field an army of 200,000 foot soldiers, 20,000 horses, 4000 elephants, and more than 2000 chariots of war; others raise the number of the horse to 80,000, of the elephants to 6000, and put the chariots at 8000.[505] From these statements of the Greeks and what they tell us elsewhere of the kingdom of the Prasians or Gangarides, the western border of[Pg 382] which is the Yamuna, it follows that neither the change in the dynasty owing to the accession of the first Nanda, nor the usurpation of Indradatta, interrupted the rise of the power of Magadha, which had begun under Ajataçatru, and attained greater dimensions under Kalaçoka. Not the army only but the gold of Dhanapala-Xandrames, the son of Indradatta, is evidence of the splendour and extent of the kingdom, which must have comprised the whole valley of the Ganges to the east of the Yamuna.


[482] Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 351, 372. Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 2, 80 ff. Köppen, "Rel. d. Buddha," s. 117.

[483] Lassen, loc. cit. 22, 86 ff.

[484] Lassen, loc. cit. 22, 89.

[485] Von Gutschmid, "Beiträge," s. 81.

[486] Lassen, loc. cit. 22, 91. n. 1.

[487] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 147, 435.

[488] Diod. 2, 39. Strabo, p. 702. Arrian, "Ind." 10, 6, 7.

[489] Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 12, 649, 650.

[490] Manu, 10, 45.

[491] The date follows from the fact that the settlers who are said to have landed in Ceylon in 543 B.C. according to the era of the Singhalese, find the kingdom of the Pandus and the city of Mathura in existence. Lassen, loc. cit. 22, 23 ff; 99 ff; cp. infr. p. 372.

[492] Benfey, "Indien," s. 221. Neither the book of the law nor the sutras of the Buddhists mention the Pariahs, often as they speak of the Chandalas.

[493] Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 22, 99 ff., 108 ff.

[494] Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 137, n. 4, 22, 99 ff. The island then received from the city of Tamraparni the name which is still in use among the natives; Tamraparni is in Pali, Tambapanni; and from this is formed the Taprobane of the Greeks. Lanka is no doubt the older name, but like Sinhala it is still in use.

[495] Westergaard, "Ueber Buddha's Todesjahr," s. 100 ff. Lassen, loc. cit. 22, 100 ff.

[496] Ritter, "Geographie," 4, 2, 519-542. Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 1. 377. These are, no doubt, the Padæans and Calatians of Herodotus (3, 98, ff.). Lassen explains this name by padya, bad, and kala, black.

[497] Strabo, p. 72, 690.

[498] Arrian, "Ind." 8; Plin. "Hist. Nat." 6, 24.

[499] Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 351, 372. Köppen, "Religion des Buddha," s. 117. On the forms of the Sanskrit in which the old sutras were written, Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 106 ff. Lassen, loc. cit. 22, 493.

[500] Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 217, 232. Lassen, loc. cit. 2, 79, 80. Köppen, loc. cit. s. 143.

[501] Lassen, loc. cit. 22, 93. Köppen, loc. cit. s. 149.

[502] Lassen, loc. cit. 22, 90.

[503] According to the Mahavança, Kalaçoka is succeeded by his ten sons, who are followed by the nine Nandas. But as the commentary only allows twelve rulers between Kalaçoka and Açoka it will suffice to mention the eldest son, and the two last in the list of the brothers, whose names are given by the scholia of the Mahavança, as these correspond to Nandivardhana and Mahanandi among the Brahmans. "Vishnu-Purana," ed. Wilson, p. 466; cf. Von Gutschmid, "Beiträge," s. 71, 77 ff.

[504] Lassen, "Ind, Alterth." 22, 97. Von Gutschmid, loc. cit.

[505] Diod. 17, 93. Plut. "Alex." 62. Curt. 9, 2.



[Pg 383]



The examination of the accounts of exploits said to have been performed by Cyrus (Kuru), the founder of the Persian kingdom, in the region of the Indus, showed us above (p. 16) that it was the Gandarians, the neighbours of the Arachoti, whom Cyrus subjugated. Hence the spies of Darius could travel from Caspapyrus, i. e. from the city of Cabul (Kabura) down the Cabul and the Indus; from the mouth of the latter they sailed round Arabia and returned home by the Arabian Gulf. Not quite thirty years after the death of the Enlightened, towards the year 515 B.C., Darius subjugated the tribes dwelling to the north of Cabul on the right bank of the Indus, the "northern Indians," as Herodotus calls them, as far as the upper course of the Indus. His inscriptions at Persepolis add the "Idhus" to the Gandarians and Arachoti, who are mentioned in previous inscriptions as subjugated.[506] The Gandarians were united with the Arachoti and Sattagydæ into a[Pg 384] satrapy of the Persian kingdom; the Açvakas, who dwell on the left bank of the Cabul, formed with the tribes who dwell further north up the course of the Indus a separate satrapy, the satrapy of the Indians. By the successor of Darius the soldiers in both satrapies were summoned to take part in the campaign against Hellas. Herodotus, who wrote at the time when Kalaçoka sat on the throne of Magadha, tells us that the Gandarians, who were commanded by Artyphius, the son of Artabanes, were armed like the Bactrians; the Indians, led by Pharnazathres, were clothed in garments of cotton or bark, and armed with bows of reed, and arrows of reed tipped with iron points. The horsemen among the Indians were clothed and armed like the foot-soldiers, their chariots of war were equipped partly by horses and partly by wild asses.[507] They marched over the bridges of the Hellespont, and sixty years after the death of the Enlightened they trod the soil of Hellas. They saw the temple of Athens in flames; the infantry, horse, and chariots of the Indians wintered in Thessaly, and were then defeated on the Asopus.[508]

According to Herodotus the satrapy of the Indians paid the highest tribute in the whole Persian kingdom; each year it had to deliver 360 talents of gold to the king. The gold for this payment was obtained, as Herodotus tells us, from a great desert, which lay to the east beyond the Indus. Of that region no one could give any account. Where the desert began there were ants, smaller than dogs and larger than foxes, which dug up gold sand, when after the manner of ants they excavated their nests in the ground. This sand the Indians took, put in sacks, and carried it off as quickly as possible on the swiftest camels;[Pg 385] for should the ants overtake them, neither man nor beast could escape; occasionally ants of the kind were captured and brought to the Persian king.[509] This marvellous story is repeated by Megasthenes with even more definite statements; the Indians who dwelt in the mountains of that region are called Derdæ; the mountain plain, in which the ants are found, is three thousand stades (about 400 miles) in circuit; the sand thrown up by these animals requires but little smelting; and Nearchus assures us that the skins of the ants are like those of panthers.[510] That the Greeks are not relating a fable of their own invention is proved by the Mahabharata, according to which the tribes which dwell in the mountains of the north bring "ant gold" to Yudhishthira as a tribute.[511] The Derdæ of Megasthenes must be the Daradas, whom the book of the law counts among the degenerate races of warriors.[512] Even at this day the Dardus dwell on the upper course of the Indus to the north of Cashmere, in the valley of the Nagar, which flows into the Indus from the north, to the east of the highest summits as far as Iskardu, on the Darda-Himalayas (so called after the tribe), and speak a dialect of Sanskrit.[513] Adjacent to this almost inaccessible mountain-land are table-lands, where the sandy soil contains gold-dust. Numerous marmot-like animals with spotted skins, of which the largest are about two feet long,[514] burrow in this soil. The traveller who first penetrated this region in our times informs us: "The red soil was pierced by these[Pg 386] animals, which sat on their hind legs before their holes, and seemed to protect them."[515] We may assume that the Daradas carried away the loose sand which these animals threw up in making their winter holes, in order to extract the gold from it; and the Aryas on the lower Indus and the Ganges, who did not know the marmot, compared them with the ants, which, among them, built and dug holes in the earth, and assuming that they were a large species of ant, called the gold of the north after them (pipilika). What the Greeks tell us of the swiftness and dangerous nature of these animals is fabulous.

What effect the subjugation of the Aryas on the right bank of the Indus, and their dependence on the Persian kingdom, exercised upon them, we cannot ascertain. That they were not greatly alienated from the community of their own nation may be concluded from the fact that in the Aitareya-Brahmana and in the Mahabharata, a king of the Gandharas is mentioned, Nagnajit by name;[516] that in the Epos the daughter of the king of the Gandharas is married to the king of the Bharatas, and Krishna relates that he has overcome all the sons of Nagnajit,[517] the king of the Gandharas. A Rishi and Brahmans of the Gandharas are also mentioned, the latter with the addition that they are the lowest of all the Brahmans.[518] Of the tribes to the north of the Cabul, the Açvakas, the Assacanes of the Greeks, are merely alluded to by name. Whether the Persian kings maintained their dominion on the western bank of the Indus down to the fall of the kingdom, is not certain. The products and animals[Pg 387] of India which Ctesias saw at the Persian court are described as gifts of the king of the Indians. According to Arrian, the Indians "from this side of the Indus" fought with some fifteen elephants in the army of the last Persian king at Arbela; according to Megasthenes these were the Oxydrakes (Kshudrakas), soldiers raised on the other side of the stream.[519]

From the time that the hymns of the Veda were sung in the land of the Panjab we are without any information about the life in these regions. From the Brahmans of the land of the Ganges and the writings of the Buddhists we hardly learn more about the nations of the Panjab and their fortunes than about the Aryas of the right bank of the Indus. The Çatapatha-Brahmana and the Ramayana mention the nation of the Kaikeyas, whose abodes are to be sought on the upper course of the Iravati and the Vipaça. Both authorities denote the king of the Kaikeyas by the title Açvapati, i. e. lord of horses.[520] The horses of the land of the Indus were considered the best in India (p. 318). The metropolis of the Kaikeyas is called in the Ramayana Girivraja, and the daughter of Açvapati is given to wife to king Daçaratha of Ayodhya. The distance from Girivraja to Ayodhya is fixed in the poem at seven days' journey in a chariot on a paved road.[521] The sutras of the Buddhists mention a region lying still further to the west. Not very far from the left bank of the Indus was the city of Takshaçila. In this, according to the sutras, the law of the Brahmans was current; Chandalas are said to have performed the duties of executioners and buriers of the dead. According to the Mahavança, Brahmans march in the fourth century B.C. from Palibothra to Takshaçila, and[Pg 388] from thence to Palibothra.[522] The chronicle in this work, which it is true was not completed till the twelfth century A.D., tells us that king Gopaditya, who must be placed in the fourth century B.C., presented Brahmans from Aryadeça with lands, that he observed the castes, and introduced the worship of Çiva.[523]

The Brahmans of the Ganges looked down with scorn on the ancient home, and the region of the seven streams, where the arrangement of the castes and the Brahmanic law had not been brought into full recognition and currency, where there were tribes and even whole nations, who lived not only without Brahmans, but even without kings. We know the views of the Brahmans concerning the necessity of the power of punishment, the royal power, "since it is only from fear that all creatures fulfil their duties." In regard to the fact that the Brahmanic arrangement, which with them is the original arrangement given by God, was not entirely observed in the Panjab, the inhabitants of the land are for the most part called Vratyas, i. e. heretics; Bahikas, i. e. excluded; and the tribes without kings Arattas, i. e. kingless. Of the Vratyas the Tandya-Brahmana tells us: "They come on in uncovered chariots of war, armed with bows and lances; they wear turbans and garments with a red hem, fluttering points, and double sheepskins. Their leaders are distinguished by a brown robe and silver ornaments for the neck. They neither till the field nor carry on trade. In regard to law, they live in perpetual confusion; they do indeed speak the same language with the Brahmanic initiated; but what is easily spoken they call hard to be spoken."[524] According to the[Pg 389] evidence of Panini, the Bahikas dwelt in villages, were without kings and Brahmans, and lived by war; the Kshudrakas and Malavas were the mightiest among those who had no king.[525] In the Mahabharata we are told that they are excluded from the Himavat, the Yamuna and the Sarasvati; impure in manners and character, they must be avoided. Their sacred fig-tree is called cow-slaughter, and their market-place is full of drinking-vessels. The wicked drink the intoxicating liquor of rice and sugar; they eat the flesh of oxen with garlic, and other flesh with forbidden herbs. The women wander through the streets and fields adorned with garlands, intoxicated and without garments. With cries like the noise of horses and asses they run to the bathing-places. They shout and curse, intoxicated with wine. What is taught by those acquainted with the sacred books passes elsewhere for law, but here, he who is born a Brahman passes into the rank of the Kshatriya or Vaiçya and Çudra, and the priest may become a barber, the barber a Kshatriya. Nowhere can the priest live according to his pleasure; only among the Gandharas, Kshudrakas and Bahikas is this reversal of everything a custom.[526]

The path of their development had carried the Brahmans on the Ganges so far from the original basis and motives of the old Arian life, that now they hardly could or would find any common link between themselves and these tribes. But even from their own point of view their attacks are exaggerated. The accounts of western writers from the last third of the fourth century B.C. show us that in the larger states and monarchies on the Indus and in the Panjab the[Pg 390] doctrines of the Brahmans were known and practised. They were honoured and influential, though their rules were not entirely observed, least of all, it would seem, in the arrangement and closeness of the castes. From the same accounts we perceive what form of life and civilisation had been attained in the region of the Panjab since the time when the hymns of the Veda were sung there. A considerable number of smaller and larger principalities had arisen on the upper and lower Indus, and on the heights in the Panjab. Between these, on the spurs of the Himalayas, on the middle and lower course of the five streams, lay nations governed by overseers of cantons, chiefs of cities and districts, among which, with the exception of some pastoral tribes, the noble families were numerous and warlike. The territory of the princes no less than that of the free nations was thickly inhabited; even the latter possessed a considerable number of fortified towns. Not only the great principalities but even the free nations could put in the field armies of 50,000 men; and there were cities among them where 70,000 men could be made captive. In the monarchies between the Indus and the Vitasta Brahmans are found busied with penitential exercises, and they are of influence in the councils of the princes on the lower Indus. But even in one of the free nations a city of Brahmans is mentioned. The princes kept without exception a number of elephants for use in war; the ancient chariots were employed in their armies. The free nations were without elephants, but had hundreds and even thousands of chariots, in which, we cannot doubt, the noble families went to battle. There was no lack of martial vigour and spirit in the region of the Indus. With the exception of some minor princes and tribes and one or two larger states who asked for[Pg 391] favour and help, the nations knew how to defend themselves with the utmost stubbornness. When defeated in the field, they maintained their cities, which were surrounded by walls and towers, chiefly, it appears, built of bricks, but also of masonry, and containing no doubt a citadel within them. Yet the walls of the cities cannot have been very strong, nor the citadels very high; if they forced the enemy to a regular siege, the walls did not long withstand the missiles and powerful besieging engines, and when the walls were surmounted it was possible to leap down without injury from the rampart to the ground.

The dominion of the Persians cannot have exercised any deep influence on the life of the Aryas on the right bank of the Indus, and still less on the nations beyond the river. A new enemy, a dangerous neighbour, came upon the Indians from the distant west, who brought upon their states the first serious disaster from without. The extensive Persian kingdom was broken before the mighty arm of Alexander of Macedon. His expedition came from a greater distance than the armies of the kings of Asshur, of Cyrus, and Darius; it penetrated further to the east than the Assyrians and Persians had ever done, and brought with it important consequences, which extended over the whole land of the Indus.

What essentially tended to make the attack of these enemies easier was the discord among the states and tribes of the land of the Indus. The mightiest kingdom on this side of the Indus was the kingdom of Cashmere, whose princes had extended their territory over the mountains in the south, and the land of Abhisara. They were in excellent relations with the princely race of the Pauravas, which reigned between the upper course of the Vitasta and the Asikni. In common both states[Pg 392] had sought to subjugate the free nations between their territories and on the borders of the Pauravas. They marched out with a great army, but they were unable to accomplish anything.[527] In the land of the Panjab the Pauravas possessed the most important warlike power; a neighbouring family of the same name ruled between the upper Asikni and the Iravati. Such a power was dangerous to the kingdom of Takshaçila, which lay to the west between the upper Iravati and the Indus; the princes of this state had long been at enmity with their neighbours, the Pauravas. A similar feud on the lower Indus separated the princes of the Mushikas and those of the region of Sindimana, which lay opposite, on the right bank of the Indus. Of the free nations the Kshudrakas and Malavas could together put 100,000 warriors in the field, but they were in a state of feud and hostility.

Alexander assembled his army for the march against the Indians at Bactra, whither, according to the Epos of the Persians, Semiramis had once summoned her troops against the Indian king Stabrobates. In the spring of the year 327 B.C. he crossed the Hindu Kush with 120,000 foot soldiers and 15,000 horse,[528] and when he arrived at Cabul he began the reduction of the Aryas, who dwelt on the right bank of the Indus.[529] At the confluence of the Cabul and the Indus lay the city of Pushkala, of which the territory was called among the Greeks Penkelaotis (Pushkalavati), and the prince Astes.[530] This city could not be reduced without a siege of 30 days. To the north of the Cabul the Açvakas,[Pg 393] to the south the Gandarians had to be overpowered. Of the war against the Gandarians we know very little; the Açvakas made such a stubborn resistance that they were not completely subjugated till the winter. The Greeks call the Açvakas Assacanes, Aspasians, and Hippasians. They were under a king, who resided in the city of Maçaka (Massaga) on the Maçakavati,[531] no doubt an affluent of the Suvastu; lived in fruitful valleys, and kept horses and numerous herds of cattle on the high mountain pastures.[532] Beside the metropolis there were other walled cities and rocky citadels in the land of the Açvakas. At the approach of Alexander they fled to the mountains and to their fortified cities. When the Macedonians had taken the outer walls of the first city which they attacked, and the assault on the second seemed likely to succeed, the besieged sallied forth from the gates, and the majority escaped to the nearest mountains. Retiring with his army to the mountains from the open field before the Macedonians, the king of the Açvakas (western writers call him like his people Assacanus) fell in single combat; his people made the most violent efforts to recover his corpse from the enemies, but in vain.[533] Then, by means of a surprise at night, Alexander succeeded after a severe battle in dispersing the army of the Açvakas; forty thousand Indians are said to have been made prisoners, and above 230,000 cattle were taken as booty.[534] Before Maçaka, where the mother of the fallen king (the Greeks call her Cleophis) had[Pg 394] assumed the conduct of affairs,[535] Alexander found an army of 30,000 foot soldiers, 2000 horse, 30 elephants, and 7000 men raised in the further part of India. By pretending to retire Alexander induced the Açvakas to advance further from the walls of the city, but though he made the movement he had prepared with all speed, he did not succeed in slaying more then 200 men. The walls of the city, it is true, gave way before his battering-rams on the very first day, yet he could not take the place, though the assault was carried on with the utmost vigour for four successive days. Then a shot from an engine killed the commander of the besieged; and they began to negociate. Alexander merely required that the mercenaries from the interior of India should leave the city and take service with him. The condition was accepted; the mercenaries marched out of the city and encamped on a hill opposite the Macedonian camp. Then, according to the Greek account, they intended to return to their homes in the night, to avoid bearing arms against their own nation. This intention was made known to Alexander, who caused the hill to be surrounded by his whole army, cut down the Indians to the last man, and then took the city by storm; the mother and daughter of Assacanus were captured. Whatever may have been the case with the supposed intention of the Indian mercenaries, and the intelligence which Alexander is said to have received of this intention—the city had fulfilled the condition imposed upon it, and had given up the mercenaries, why then was it attacked in this unexpected and unmerited manner against the terms of the capitulation? Alexander hoped that the fall of the metropolis would terrify the remaining cities into submission. But Ora had in turn to be regularly[Pg 395] invested, and when this had been done Alexander in person took the city by storm. Lines were constructed against Bazira during the siege of Ora in order to cut off the supplies of the inhabitants. But on receiving the intelligence that Ora had fallen the inhabitants of Bazira left their city, and with many of their people sought refuge in the citadel of Aornus (no doubt avarana, protection), which is said to have been situated close to the Indus not far from its confluence with the Cabul, on an isolated hill, above 5000 feet in height, and above twenty miles in circuit at the foot. What is meant is apparently the steep height on the Indus, on which the citadel of Ranigat now lies.[536] Though Indians were found to point out to the Macedonians a hidden path to the summit of the hill, and select Macedonian troops thus reached a rock opposite the citadel, concealed themselves there during the night by a barricade of trees, and occupied the defenders by their unexpected attack, Alexander on the other side of the mountain could not force his way up. When the Indians had driven him back, they attempted to overpower the troops on the rock. To save these, Alexander had to take the same path which they had taken; after a severe struggle, which lasted from early dawn to night, he succeeded in joining his troops on this side. Then he caused his army to labour incessantly for four days in constructing a dam of wood-work and stones across the gorge which separated the ridge of rock from the citadel. As the work rapidly extended to a second eminence, which the Macedonians could now occupy, close to the citadel, the Indians abandoned the latter. But even so the war against the Açvakas was not[Pg 396] ended. The brother of the fallen king (Diodorus calls him Aphricus, and Curtius Eryx) had taken the government into his hands, and got together a new force of 20,000 men and 15 elephants in the north of the land. Alexander marched against it to Dyrta. He found the city abandoned; even the population of the surrounding country had fled. Prisoners declared that the king, and the whole nation with him, had sought refuge beyond the Indus with Abhisares, i. e. in the region of Cashmere.[537] Alexander was pursuing him, when the king's head and armour were brought in by some of his people. When a few of his elephants had been captured, Alexander returned in sixteen marches to Pushkala on the bank of the Indus, and his army wintered in the land of the Açvakas.[538]

Early in the year 326 B.C. Alexander prepared to cross the Indus in order finally to measure himself against the fellow-tribesmen of the nations who had so long detained his arms on the right bank of the river. Even when he was in Sogdiana, Mophis the son of the prince of the Indians, who ruled between the Indus and the Vitasta (the Greeks call his territory the kingdom of Taxiles after the metropolis Takshaçila), sent envoys requesting that he would take his part and receive him as a vassal.[539] Mophis was moved to this step by the ancient feud between the kingdom of[Pg 397] Takshaçila and the greater empire of the Pauravas between the Vitasta and the Asikni (the Greeks call this the empire of Porus). In the meantime the father of Mophis had died, and Alexander now received as the sign of submission on the part of the new prince, 3000 bulls, 10,000 sheep, 25 elephants, and about 200 talents of silver. He directed his march against the city of Takshaçila which lay half way between the Indus and Vitasta.[540] Mophis came to meet him with his warriors and elephants, and led him into his metropolis.[541] This city, the Greeks tell us, was large (the largest between the Indus and the Vitasta) and flourishing, and its constitution well arranged. The land, which sank gradually to the plain, was cultivated and very fruitful.[542] The king of Cashmere had sent his brother to Takshaçila to announce his submission; some smaller princes, neighbours of the territory of Takshaçila, came in person to pay homage to Alexander.

At Takshaçila the Greeks found "wise men" of the Indians. Aristobulus tells that he had there seen two Brahmans, one older and shaven, the other younger and wearing his hair. Both had been accompanied by their pupils. In the market-place they could take what pleased them, so that they had abundant food of honey and sesame without any cost, and everyone whom they approached drenched them so plentifully with sesame oil that it ran down into their eyes. Not far from the city they had given an example of endurance; the older, lying on the earth, exposed himself to the heat of the sun and then to torrents of rain; the younger went even further, for he stood on one leg[Pg 398] and with both hands supported a log of wood three cubits in length, and when one limb was tired, he stood on the other, and continued standing the whole day long. Alexander desired to have one of these sages, who were in the greatest repute there,[543] about him, that he might learn their doctrine.[544] The younger one accompanied him a short time, but soon returned to his home; the older one remained with Alexander, and changed his clothing and mode of life; to those who reproached him on this account he replied that the forty years for which he had vowed asceticism (p. 179) were past.[545] Onesicritus relates that he had found fifteen of these sages to the south of the city, each in a different position, one sitting, another standing, a third naked and lying immovable on the ground till evening. The severest trial was the endurance of the heat, which at midday was so great that no one else could touch the ground with the naked foot. Among these sages, lying on stones, was the Calanus who afterwards followed Alexander, and subsequently ended his life in Persia. But Mandanis,[546] who was the first among them in age and wisdom, had said: That doctrine was the best which removed pleasure and pain from the soul; pain and effort were different things; effort was the friend, pain the enemy of the soul; they exercised the body by toil and nakedness and scanty nourishment, in order to stablish the spirit, that so the division between them might be ended, and they might give the best counsel to everyone. That house was the best which required the least furniture.[547] Megasthenes assures[Pg 399] us that the sages of the Indians reproached Calanus because he renounced the blessedness which he might have enjoyed among them, in order to serve another master than God.[548] These accounts of the Greeks fully confirm the statements of the Buddhists given above (p. 387), that the law and order of the Brahmans were current in Takshaçila.

Beyond the Vitasta (Hydaspes) was the kingdom of Porus, as the Greeks called the ruler of it. He derived his race, as Plutarch says, from Gegasius, by whom may be meant the Yayati of the Rigveda and the Mahabharata (p. 82). The name Porus has been taken by the Greeks from the dynasty; the Mahabharata speaks of a kingdom of the Pauravas or Pauras, in the neighbourhood of Cashmere.[549] The territory of Porus extended to the east as far as the Asikni. Spittakes the nephew of Porus ruled over a small region on the west bank of the Vitasta; his cousin reigned in the east between the Asikni and Iravati. In the north the territory of Porus was separated from that of the king of Cashmere by a few small tribes. According to the Greeks the kingdom of Porus was superior to that of Cashmere; three hundred cities are enumerated in it. Porus could bring into the field 200 elephants, 400 chariots of war, 4000 horse, and about 50,000 foot soldiers.

Alexander encamped opposite the army of Porus, who held the left bank of the Vitasta; though far superior in numbers—his army was twice as strong and had been yet further increased by 5000 Indians from Mophis and some smaller princes—Alexander for a long time hesitated to cross the river in the face of Porus. At last he was decided by the information[Pg 400] that the king of Cashmere, notwithstanding his embassy, was marching to join Porus, with an army not much weaker than his own, and was only 50 miles distant. Alexander divided his troops, left half opposite the camp of Porus, and with the other half hastened to cross the river higher up in order to defeat Porus before the army of Cashmere arrived. The crossing was accomplished in the neighbourhood of the modern Jalam.[550] Porus also divided his army; with all his elephants, chariots, and cavalry, and the greater part of his infantry, he marched against Alexander. Two hundred elephants in a long row with intervals of a hundred feet, as Arrian states, formed his first rank; the infantry formed the second rank, the cavalry and chariots were on the wings. After a fluctuating and desperate conflict the Macedonians were victorious. Porus, wounded in the right shoulder, was among the last to retire on his elephant. When his old enemy the prince of Takshaçila called on him to desist from the battle,[551] he answered by raising his javelin. The other retired hastily on his horse. Requested a second time by an Indian, a friend of old days, and afterwards at the command of Alexander, to lay down his weapons, he checked his elephants, quenched his thirst, and then allowed himself to be brought before Alexander, from whom his indomitable bearing and lofty form won respect. To Alexander's question how he wished to be treated, he replied: Like a king. His two sons and his nephew Spittakes had fallen; of his army, according to the Greeks, 12,000 in some accounts and 20,000 in others were slain (end of April or beginning of May, 326 B.C.).[552]

The defeat of Porus terrified the king of Cashmere. He did not venture to oppose Alexander unaided; at[Pg 401] any rate he sought to avert the threatening storm for the moment; he sent his brother with forty elephants and other presents to appease Alexander by these tokens of submission. Alexander required that he should pay homage in person; otherwise he would visit him in his own land. He kept his word. The cousin of Porus, whose territory lay between the upper course of the Asikni and the Iravati—he had rendered no assistance to his kinsman against Alexander—fled out of his land with a part of his army at Alexander's approach,[553] and the Glaukas (Glausai, Glaukanikai among the Greeks,) who inhabited thirty-seven considerable towns and many villages on the heights to the north of the kingdom of the conquered Porus, submitted. Beyond the Indus the Açvakas were again in open revolt, and after crossing the Asikni, marching through the land of the fugitive prince, and advancing beyond the Iravati, Alexander found the most stubborn resistance among the Khattias (the Kathaioi of the Greeks),[554] who dwelt to the south of the Kaikeyas between the Iravati and Vipaça, and like the Glaukas obeyed no king. The Kshudrakas and Malavas, dwelling in the lower land on the Asikni and the Çatadru, had sent assistance to them. Hence the Khattias awaited the attack of the foreigners at their chief city Çakala (Sangala), the modern Amritsir. Near this spacious city, which abutted on a lake and was surrounded by a wall of bricks, they were encamped on a gentle eminence behind a triple row of packed waggons. After a bloody battle they were driven into the city, and Alexander then began the regular investment of the city by throwing up a double trench round it so far as the lake did not prevent him. An attempt[Pg 402] on the part of the besieged to break through, of which Alexander received timely information by deserters, was abandoned after a loss of 500 men. The engines were set up, the battering-rams and wooden towers were prepared, when breaches appeared in the wall, which had been already undermined. The army of Alexander made the assault, the ladders were placed, the city taken. At this capture 17,000 Indians are said to have been slain; the remainder of the army and the entire population of the city, amounting together to 70,000 men, were made prisoners. Among the captive soldiers were 500 horsemen; and 300 chariots were taken. The city was levelled to the ground. This siege is said to have cost the Macedonians 100 slain and 12,000 wounded.[555] As the fate of Çakala did not terrify the remaining cities of the Khattias into submission, Alexander caused the inhabitants of two other cities, who fled at his approach, to be vigorously pursued; some hundreds who failed to escape were overtaken and cut down. The remaining places then submitted without opposition.

Alexander had not merely restored Porus to his throne after the battle on the Vitasta, but had even increased his power; he assigned to him the territory of the Glaukas, and of his fugitive cousin, together with the recently-conquered land of the Khattias, so that Porus, according to the Greeks, now reigned over seven nations, and more than two thousand considerable towns beside many villages.[556] The northern neighbours of the Khattias were the Kaikeyas, whose prince—the Açvapati of the time (p. 387), but the Greeks call him Sopeithes—welcomed Alexander, and thus as well[Pg 403] as by presents gave evidence of his submission. The Greeks extol the good laws of this nation, and their vigorous dogs, a cross breed between tigers and dogs, as some thought. The Ramayana mentions among the Kaikeyas, "the dogs bred in the palace, gifted with the strength of the tiger, and of huge body." Alexander received 150 of these animals as a present from Açvapati.[557]

From the land of the Kaikeyas the Macedonians reached the eastern stream of the Panjab, which the Greeks call Hyphasis (it is the Vipaça of the Indians), above the confluence with the Çatadru. When Alexander had received here a further embassy from the king of Cashmere, which was accompanied by a fresh present of 50 elephants, and the homage of the prince of Uraça, whose territory lay to the west of Cashmere on the Himalayas,[558] he returned in the autumn of the year 326 B.C. to the Vitasta (Hydaspes); from hence he descended, sending part of his army on board ship down the river, and taking the remainder along the banks, in order to come to and along the Asikni, and from this to the Indus. Before he reached the Asikni his army, on the right bank of the lower Vitasta, came upon the nation of the Çibis; east of these, on the confluence of the Vitasta and the Asikni, were the Kshudrakas (the Greeks call them Oxydrakes), and still further to the east between the Asikni and the Iravati the Agalassians, while beyond the Iravati as far as the Çatadru were the Malavas, who like the Kshudrakas had already sent help to the Khattias against Alexander. The Çibis, a pastoral people, who carried the skins of animals and used clubs as weapons, were overcome with little resistance, or submitted[Pg 404] without a struggle.[559] the Agalassians, who had put in the field some thousands of infantry and 3000 horse, were severely defeated by Alexander, and their cities conquered. The Kshudrakas and Malavas forgetting their ancient hostility had now combined against the foe, and together could bring into the field 80,000 foot soldiers, 10,000 cavalry, and 7000 chariots of war.[560] But the leaders whom the Kshudrakas put at the head of their forces were not true to the Malavas; they retired into their cities. These, unexpectedly attacked by Alexander, were taken one after the other; one of them is mentioned expressly as a Brahman city.[561] The largest city was found to be deserted; but on the banks of the Iravati 50,000 Malavas, it is said, had collected. They were put to flight, and sought protection in a neighbouring fortified place on the western bank of the Iravati. Alexander followed them. The attack on the city began. The Indians retired into the citadel from the walls of the city; this also Alexander at once attacked, and with his own hands seized on a scaling-ladder and ascended; Peukestes the shield-bearer of the king, Abreas and Leonnatus follow him; he gains the parapet and stands on the gangway when the ladder breaks. As in that position he was too prominent a mark, owing to the splendour of his armour, for the shots of the Indians, especially from the two nearest towers, he leaps from the gangway down into the citadel. The Indians press upon him; he beats down some of the assailants. Peukestes, Abreas and Leonnatus follow his example, and fight at his side, when an arrow pierces Alexander's mail and penetrates his breast. The king falls; Abreas falls also, struck in the face. With extreme effort[Pg 405] Peukestes covers Alexander with the shield of Athene of Ilium, Leonnatus assisting on the other side, till at length the Macedonians force their way in, and put to death every living creature in the citadel, men, women, and children.[562] Then envoys came from the Malavas and promised the submission of the whole people. They were followed by the overseers of the cities and cantons of the Kshudrakas, accompanied by 150 chiefs of note, who pledged absolute obedience. Alexander required 1000 nobles as hostages. They were sent with 500 yoked and manned chariots of war, which the Kshudrakas added. The chariots Alexander retained in his army, the hostages he sent back.

These contests against the free Indians had occupied the autumn and winter. Not till the second month in the year 325 B.C.[563] did Alexander set out from his camp at the mouth of the Iravati to the Asikni, and sail up the latter to the Indus. The tribes on the Panjab and the Indus, the Abastanes, the Vasatyas, who lived according to Brahmanic laws (the Greeks call them the Ossadians[564]), and the Kshatris were easily reduced or submitted without a struggle. Arrived in the valley of the lower Indus the Macedonians again came upon principalities. There the nearest inhabitants on both sides of the river were the Çudras, whom the Greeks call the Sodroi or Sogdoi, governed by a king; then on the western shore followed the kingdom of Sambus, who at first submitted, and then at the instigation of the Brahmans seized his weapons, but soon fled over the Indus with 30 elephants. His metropolis, Sindimana, opened its gates; the other cities[Pg 406] had to be taken by storm. In one of these Brahmans were captured, and those of them who had advised the king to revolt were executed. The whole land was laid waste; above 80,000 men are said to have been slain, and the rest sold as slaves.[565] Opposite the principality of Sambus, on the eastern bank, dwelt the Mushikas, whose king the Greeks call Musikanos, after his people; he abandoned every thought of resistance, as the Macedonians appeared on his borders earlier than he expected. When he had submitted, he also, on the instigation of the Brahmans, attempted to liberate himself by arms. He was defeated and crucified along with his Brahmans. To the south of the Mushikas lay the Prasthas,[566] on the eastern bank. The city, into which the prince had retired, was taken on the third day; the walls of the citadel soon collapsed, the prince fell in battle, the city was sacked. At the point where the Indus divides into two great arms on its course towards the sea, lay the great city of Potala, i. e. ship-station, the Pattala of the Greeks.[567] At Alexander's approach the prince of this region fled, the city was abandoned by the inhabitants, the surrounding country by the husbandmen.

It was Alexander's intention to maintain his conquests in India. On the Vitasta he had built Bucephala and Nicæa, on the Asikni a third fortress of the name of Alexandria, on the confluence of the Panjab and the Indus a fourth of the same name. Pattala was transformed into a well-fortified harbour; he ordered a citadel to be erected there, a harbour and docks. As satrap of the district of the Panjab he appointed Philippus; as satrap of the region on the lower[Pg 407] course of the Indus Peithon, the son of Agenor. Garrisons were placed in the most important cities. Alexander moreover counted on the fidelity and the interest of the princes, Mophis and Porus, whose territories he had enlarged. When he had navigated the two mighty arms of the Indus, and examined their outlets, he set out towards the end of August, 325 B.C.[568], with the greater part of his army, 80,000 men strong, to march through Gedrosia to Persia. In September Nearchus left the Indus with the fleet, carrying the rest of the army, in order to explore the unknown sea and return to the Persian Gulf.


[506] The inscription of Behistun speaks of Harauvatis and Gandara as subjugated; the inscription of Persepolis of Harauvatis, Idhus, and Gandara. Hence Harauvatis and Gandhara belong to the hereditary part of the kingdom; Idhus (Indun in the Balylonian form) was an addition. As Herodotus speaks of Caspapyrus along with Pactyike, and Hecatæus gives Caspapyrus to the Gandarians, the place may be identified with Cabul.

[507] Herod. 7, 65, 66, 86.

[508] Herod. 8, 113.

[509] Herod. 4, 40; 3, 102.

[510] Strabo, p. 705, 706. Cf. Arrian, "Anab." 5, 4; Plin. "Hist. Nat." 6, 22; 11, 36.

[511] Lassen, "Ind. Alterth." 12, 1020.

[512] Above, p. 249. Manu, 10, 43-45.

[513] Ritter, "Asien," 2, 653. Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 499, 500.

[514] Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 1022.

[515] Moorcroft, "Asiatic Researches," 12, 435 ff.

[516] Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 769; 22, 151, n. 5.

[517] Muir, "Sanskrit Texts," 4, 249.

[518] Muir, loc. cit. 3, 350. "Mahavança," p. 47.

[519] "Anab." 3, 8. Strabo, p. 678.

[520] A. Weber, "Vorles." s. 1472.

[521] Lassen, loc. cit. 2, 522 ff.

[522] Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 408. "Mahavança," ed. Turnour, p. 39 ff.

[523] Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 861; cf. 22, 163.

[524] A. Weber, "Vorlesungen," 742, 852.

[525] Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 794; 22, 181.

[526] Lassen, "De Pentapotamia Indica," p. 22, 63: "Alterthumskunde," 1, 822.

[527] Arrian, "Anab." 5, 22; Curt. 8, 12, 13.

[528] Droysen, "Alexander," s. 302.

[529] The Kophaios of the Greeks is obviously the prince who reigns at Kophen, i. e. at Cabul.

[530] Droysen explains this name, no doubt correctly, from the name of the river Astacenus; loc. cit. s. 374.

[531] Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 502.

[532] Aristobulus in Strabo, p. 691, tells us that the army wintered in the mountain land of the Hippasians and the Assacanus (so we must read here for Μουσικανός). The Guræans must be considered a tribe of the Açvakas.

[533] Arrian, "Anab." 4, 24.

[534] Arrian, "Anab." 4, 25.

[535] Curt. 8, 10; Justin, 12, 7; Arrian, "Anab." 4, 27.

[536] Cunningham, "Survey," 2, 103 ff. The accompanying sketch gives a clear idea of the gorge over which Alexander laid the dam, in order to reach the walls of the citadel.

[537] The Abissareans of Arrian ("Ind." 4, 12), from whose mountains the Soanas flows into the Indus, can only be the inhabitants of the district called Abhisara, which comprises the ranges of the Himalayas in the region of the sources of the Vitasta; Ritter, "Erdkunde," 3, 1085 ff. According to Droysen ("Alexander," s. 373), Lassen ("Alterth." 22, 163), and the statements of Onesicritus (in Strabo, p. 598) on the serpents of Abisares, we must assume that Abhisara belonged to Cashmere, and was at that time the seat of the king of Cashmere, and the Greeks took the name of the prince from the name of the land.

[538] Arrian, "Anab." 4, 22, 30. Strabo, p. 691, 698.

[539] Diod. 17, 86.

[540] Cunningham, "Geogr." p. 111, considers the ruins near the modern Shahderi to mark the site of the ancient Takshaçila.

[541] Diod. 17, 86.

[542] Arrian. "Anab." 5, 8. Strabo, p. 698.

[543] Onesicritus in Strabo, p. 715

[544] Arrian, "Anab." 7, 2.

[545] Aristobulus in Strabo, p. 714.

[546] In Arrian ("Anab." 7, 2) and Plutarch ("Alex." 65) Dandamis.

[547] Onesicritus in Strabo, p. 715.

[548] Arrian, "Anab." 7, 2.

[549] Plutarch, "De Fluviis," 1. Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 721; 22, 154.

[550] Droysen, loc. cit. s. 388.

[551] Arrian, "Anab." 5, 18.

[552] Droysen, loc. cit. s. 400.

[553] Arrian, "Anab." 5, 21

[554] Lassen, 12, 127; 782, 22, 167.

[555] Arrian, "Anab." 5, 21.

[556] Arrian, "Anab." 6, 2. According to Plutarch ("Alex." 60) there were 15 nations and 5000 cities.

[557] Diod. 17, 92. "Ramayana," 2, 70, 21.

[558] Lassen, loc. cit. 22, 175.

[559] Arrian, "Ind." 5, 12. Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 792.

[560] Diod. 17, 98. Curt. 9, 4.

[561] Arrian, "Anab." 6, 7.

[562] Arrian, "Anab." 6, 9, 10; Droysen, loc. cit. s. 438 ff.

[563] Droysen, loc. cit. s. 445.

[564] "Brahma-Vasatya" in the Mahabharata; Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 973.

[565] Diod. 17, 102.

[566] Praesti; Curt. 9, 8. Lassen, loc. cit. 22, 187.

[567] Lassen, loc. cit. 12, 125.

[568] Droysen, loc. cit. 464, 469.



[Pg 408]



The Arians on the Indus and in the Panjab had remained more true to the old tendencies of life than their tribesmen who had turned towards the east. In the variety of the forms of their political life and their stimulating influence on each other, in healthy simple feeling, in warlike energy and martial spirit they were in advance of the land of the Ganges. Great as was the number of the tribes and states which filled the region of the Indus, and thickly as the land was populated, wide and many-sided as was the civilisation, in the development of religious and intellectual life, in industrial and mercantile activity, in civilisation of external life, in comfort and wealth, the land of the Ganges was undoubtedly in advance of the Indus.

After Alexander's army trod the soil of the Panjab, the eastern district also became better known to the Greeks. Megasthenes tells us that India was inhabited by 118 nations; the cities were so numerous that it was impossible to know and enumerate them.[569] Beyond the desert which extends from the Vipaça and Çatadru to the lands of the east,—the breadth is put by the Greeks at twelve days' journey—on the navigable[Pg 409] Yamuna (Yomanes) dwelt the Çurasenas, whose cities were Mathura and Krishnapura;[570] further to the east were the Panchalas. At the head of this tribe, as we have seen, the Pandus once deposed the Kurus, the dominant family of the Bharatas, and took their place. Hence the name Panchalas was used instead of the name Bharatas for the tribes governed by the Pandus, first from Hastinapura and then from Kauçambi, as we assumed from native accounts (p. 96).[571] It has been remarked above (p. 366) that the dynasty of the Pandus came to an end about the middle of the fifth century, and the Çurasenas and Panchalas became subject to the kings of Magadha. In the south-west, on the hill and mountain territory, which gradually rises to the spurs of the Vindhyas, lay the Mavellas, according to the account of the Greeks, whose prince possessed five hundred elephants;[572] on the gulf of Cambay reigned kings, who resided in the city of Automela, which must have been a considerable place of trade. Lastly, in the peninsula of Surashtra (Guzerat) was a kingdom where the ruling family according to the Greeks bore the name of Pandus, and who therefore were connected by their lineage with Pandu, the father of Yudhishthira and Arjuna. The Pandus of Surashtra are said to have reigned over 300 cities and to have possessed 500 elephants of war.[573] If a branch of the house of Pandu, which ruled over the Panchalas and Bharatas, had founded the second Mathura on the south side of the Deccan, it was colonists from Surashtra who made Ceylon subject to the Brahmanic law (p. 369, 370).[Pg 410] We have already stated what was known to Alexander and his companions of the inhabitants of the Ganges, the kingdom of the Gangarides, the Prasians (Prachyas), i. e. the men of the east, as they call themselves, obviously after the name common in the land of the Indus. The ample resources and powerful army which were ascribed in the land of the Indus to the ruler of this kingdom, the well-known Magadha, may have contributed in no small measure to the fact that Alexander's campaign came to an end on the Vipaça. In any case the accounts which the Greeks received in the land of the Indus about Magadha, confirm the predominant position which our inferences from native authorities compel us to ascribe to this kingdom after the time of king Kalaçoka, in the land of the Ganges. However exaggerated the statement of the Greeks about the power of the king of the Prasians may be, they give us the further proof that the consequence and power of Magadha under the Nandas in the first half of the fourth century B.C. had rather increased than diminished; they show us, finally, that even the usurper who overthrew the Nandas, and the Dhanapala who sat on the throne of Magadha at the time when Alexander marched through the Indus—the Greeks call him Xandrames—maintained the ruling position of Magadha on the Ganges.

Of the nations which lay to the west of the Gangarides, i. e. to the east of Magadha, the Greeks can mention few. First come the Kalingas who dwelt on "the other sea," below the mouths of the Ganges. The kings of this nation were masters of 60,000 foot soldiers and 700 elephants. Next to them dwelt the Andhras in numerous villages and thirty cities with walls and towers; these were followed by the[Pg 411] most southern realm in India, the land of Pandæa[574]—the kingdom of the southern Mathura, the southern Pandus (p. 369) is meant—and the great island of Taprobane, which lay off the southern shore of India. The mention of the Kalingas and Andhras shows that the Arian colonisation must have made considerable advances in the course of the fourth century in the region between Orissa (p. 368) and the southern Mathura.

To grasp clearly the picture which the contemporaries of Alexander received of the life and pursuits of the Indians in its essential lines, in order to compare it with the native traditions and to supplement them, is of great importance owing to the peculiar nature of the latter. The splendour of the Indian princes is described by the Greeks in glowing colours. Gold and silver, elephants, herds of cattle and flocks of sheep were possessed by them in abundance. Their robes were adorned with gold and purple, even the soles of their shoes glittered with precious stones.[575] In their ears they carried precious stones of peculiar size and brilliance; the upper and lower arm no less than the neck were surrounded by pearls, and a golden staff was the symbol of their rank.[576] Every one showed them the greatest reverence; men not only prostrated themselves before them but even prayed to them.[577] Nevertheless conspiracies against them were common. For this reason the kings were waited upon by women only, who had been purchased from their parents. These had to prepare the food, bring the wine, and accompany them to the bed-chamber, which for the[Pg 412] sake of security was frequently changed. In the daytime the kings of the Indians did not venture to sleep.[578] Even when hunting the king was accompanied by his wives, who were in turn surrounded by his bodyguards. Any one who ventured to advance as far as the women lost his life. If the king hunted in a park, he shot from a framework, on which stood also two or three women, equipped for hunting; if in the open, he was still followed by the women, partly in chariots, partly like the king himself on elephants. In the same way women accompanied the Indian kings to war.[579] Except for hunting and war the kings only left the palace to offer sacrifice. Then they appeared in a beautifully-flowered robe.[580] Drum-beaters and bell-players preceded them; then came elephants adorned with gold and silver, four-yoked chariots, and others yoked with pairs of oxen. The soldiers marched out in the best armour; gold utensils, great kettles and dishes quite a fathom in diameter—tables, seats, and water-basins of Indian copper, set with precious stones, emeralds, beryls, and carbuncles, and gay robes adorned with gold were carried in procession. After these wild animals were brought out—buffaloes, panthers, and bound lions and tigers.[581] On waggons of four wheels stood trees with large leaves, on which were various kinds of tame birds, some distinguished by their gorgeous plumage, others by their fine voices.[582]

The splendour of the princes, the hundreds of "lotus-eyed" women who surrounded and waited on them, no less than their anxious cares for their own safety are well-known to us from the native authorities; and the change in the succession, which we have so frequently[Pg 413] met with, proves that these precautions were not superfluous.[583] The sutras describe how the kings at festivals march out on elephants to the sound of all kinds of instruments, amid the scent of perfumes and clouds of frankincense, accompanied by their ministers and multitudes of people. An inscription of Açoka of Magadha ordains processions of elephants and festal chariots, "announced by trumpets;"[584] and the Epos goes to great length in the description of the processions of the princes for the consecration of the king (p. 225), and on other occasions of a similar kind.

According to the Greeks the kings of the Indians gave great attention to justice; they occupied themselves with it almost the whole day. The other judges were also conscientious, and the guilty were severely punished.[585] We remember how urgently the book of the law impressed on the princes the duty of dispensing justice, the protection of persons and property, the awarding of punishment (p. 203). The Indians were, the Greeks assure us, honest in trade, and had few lawsuits. Personal assaults were forbidden; no one might offer or receive them; and so the Indians were accustomed to bring charges merely for wounding and murder. Theft was rare, though little was locked up in the houses. Any one who mutilated another was mutilated in the same manner and lost a hand in addition; but any one who deprived an artisan of a hand or an eye must be put to death. False witness was punished with loss of the hand or foot; the worst criminals were punished at the king's order by flaying.[586]

The Indian nation was divided, we are told, into[Pg 414] seven tribes. The first was formed by the sages; in numbers it was the weakest, but in importance and honour the most considerable. The second by the magistrates, who "distinguished themselves by wisdom and justice." Out of this order the kings, no less than the free nations of India, took their supreme council; from them the kings also selected the overseers of the cantons, the judges and leaders in war. The third was the order of spies, whose business it was to find out everything that took place in the cities and in the country; the kings maintained them for their own safety, and the spies were assisted by the public women, both those in the cities and those who in time of war went out in the camps. The fourth order, that of the warriors, was numerous. It enjoyed great liberty, and was the most prosperous, inasmuch as it had no other duty but to practise the use of arms. The warriors were paid out of the treasury of the king, and so liberally that they could even support others on their pay. The armour, horses and elephants which they required they received from the king, together with the necessary servants, so that others forged their weapons for them, tended and led their horses, adorned and drove their chariots and guided their elephants. In time of war the soldiers fought; in time of peace they lived in idleness and enjoyment, in pleasure and festivity. Those also who practised arts and handicraft, or carried on trade, formed in India a separate order (the fifth). Of these some made what the husbandmen required, others were makers of armour and builders of ships. Most of them were subject to taxes and had to give service beside; only the artisans who manufactured implements of war, and the carpenters who built ships were free not only from service and taxes but even received maintenance from[Pg 415] the king, for whom alone they were permitted to work.[587] The most numerous order by far was that of the husbandmen (the sixth). These never went to war, nor possessed weapons, nor were employed in other public services; they even withdrew from dealings with the cities. The Indian peasant lived undisturbed with his wife and children on his farm, occupied only with the tillage of the field. Even the outbreak of a war did not disturb his employment; under the protection of the kings he carried on his labours quietly.[588] Some accounts of the Greeks go so far as to assure us that the farms were sacred and inviolable; that even the soldiers of the enemy were not permitted to lay them waste, to burn trees and houses and lay hand on the people, so that the peasants fearlessly followed the plough amid the arrangements of battle and warfare, got in their harvest, and gathered the fruits of the field.[589] The seventh and last class of the Indians consisted of the hunters and herdmen. The herdmen led a wandering life in the mountain regions and lived on their cattle, from which they had to pay tribute to the king; the hunters were bound to cleanse the land of wild animals, and protect the crops of the husbandmen against them.[590] These seven orders of the Indians might not contract marriage with each other, nor was it permitted to pass from one order into another, or to carry on the occupation of two orders at once. Only those who belonged to the first order could carry on the occupation of any other, just as any one in any order could enter the order of the sages.

This conception of the Indian castes is idealized in some points, and in others falls into errors, of which[Pg 416] the causes are easily detected and pardonable. The happy, careless, and free life of the Kshatriyas is obviously exaggerated for all the states in which they had not maintained the position of a landed warlike nobility, as they did in the free nations,[591] unless indeed among the monarchies a king sat on the throne who especially favoured the Kshatriyas, and was in a position to treat handsomely the soldiers in service, or registered for service. It has already been mentioned that all Kshatriyas did not serve (p. 244); and it would not occur to any prince to pay men who were not in service. Still less do the idyllic descriptions of the honoured and inviolable life of the husbandmen agree with the taxes and exactions and miserable position of the villagers, to which we find such frequent references in the native authorities. It is true that the Brahmanic law laid emphasis on settled life, and gave the preference to agriculture over trade and handicraft (p. 244), but of such a respect for husbandry as the Greeks describe we often find the opposite. These and similar traits in the Greek accounts owe in part their origin to the exaggerated picture of this distant land, which the fame of Indian marvels, of the wisdom and justice of the Indian nation, had produced among the Greeks. Yet we must not overlook the fact that agriculture was carried on with industry and care, that these accounts are essentially based on the impression which Megasthenes received of the condition of India circumstances in the period soon after Alexander, when a great prince on the throne of Magadha maintained peace and order in his wide dominions with a powerful hand. Even the sutras of the Buddhists dwell on the flourishing condition of agriculture at this period.[Pg 417]

If the Greeks give seven orders instead of four, if they speak of the magistrates, spies, handicraftsmen, and finally of the hunters and herdmen, as separate tribes beside the priests, warriors, and husbandmen, the error is founded in the fact that they had a tendency to find the distinction of castes everywhere. Beside the chief castes were the castes of mixed origin, and it has been observed above how strong was the tendency of persons engaged in similar occupations to form into separate bodies within the castes. It was natural for an observant foreigner to think that the retired life of the sages was separated from the busy occupation of the magistrates by a sharper line, and to make the special calling of the magistrates into a caste, though on the other hand it did not escape the Greeks that the sages also were counsellors of the kings. Manu's law had wisely prescribed that kings should diligently avail themselves of the help of spies, whom they must select out of all the orders; these spies were more especially to watch the courtesans,[592] and the Ramayana extols the ministers of king Daçaratha of Ayodhya for their skill in giving information of everything that went on in the land.[593] If the Greeks could regard these spies as a special caste, many persons must have been employed by the system of secret police in the fourth century B.C. in India. That the unity of the caste, which comprised agriculturists, merchants, and handicraftsmen, and on the other hand the distinction between the Vaiçyas and the Çudras, was overlooked, is easily to be explained, for even Manu's law permitted the Çudras to be handicraftsmen, and the Brahmans and Kshatriyas to descend to the occupation of the other castes (p. 243), a permission which, in[Pg 418] the case of the Brahmans, did not escape the Greeks. That the handicraftsmen and others had to perform tax-labour for the king, is an arrangement fixed by the book of the law (p. 212). Lastly, the Greeks apparently included among the hunters and the herdmen the impure and despised castes; the book of the law had also fixed what castes, i. e. what tribes of the pre-Arian or Arian population, were to occupy themselves with hunting and the capture of wild animals.[594]

Of the order of the sages the Greeks tell us that it assisted the king in the conduct of sacred worship, as the Magians assisted the Persians. Nor was it kings only, but communities and individuals who employed the services of these sages at sacrifices, because they stood nearest the gods, to whom a sacrifice offered by others could not be acceptable. Together with the sacrifice the sages conducted the burial and worship of the dead, as they were acquainted with the under world. They even occupied themselves with prediction, and soothsaying was in their hands. They rarely told individual persons their fate, for this was too insignificant and beneath the dignity of prophecy, but they foretold the fortunes of the state. At the new year the kings annually summoned the sages and a great assembly, when they announced whether the year would be good or bad, dry or wet; whether there would be sickness or not. At this assembly any sage also stated what he had observed that was of use in the affairs of the community, to promote the prosperity of the fruits and animals, etc. If any one prophesied falsely, no punishment awaited him; but[Pg 419] any one who for the third time announced what did not take place was bound to keep silence for ever, a penalty so strictly observed by those on whom it was imposed, that nothing in the world could move them to utter another word.[595]

The life of these sages was no easy one; on the contrary, it was the most burdensome of all. From their earliest childhood they were brought up to wisdom; nay, even before their birth guardians from among the sages were allotted to them, who visited the mothers in order to ensure them a happy delivery by magic arts; so at least it was believed; as a fact they gave them wise exhortations. After birth other sages undertook the education of the children, and with advancing years the boys ever received better instructors. When grown up they lived for the most part in groves, in solitary isolation from the cities, lay on the earth, clothed themselves with the skins of animals, ate nothing that had life, refrained from sexual intercourse, and exercised great firmness both in bearing pain and in endurance, inasmuch as they sometimes remained in one position for the whole day, or stood for a long time on one leg, and carried on conversations on important matters. These could be listened to even by the common people; but such listeners must sit in profound silence; they must neither speak nor cough nor spit. Any sage who had lived in this manner for thirty-six or forty years, which they call the years of practice (p. 398), departs to his possessions and henceforth lives a less severe life. He wears garments of cotton, and rings of gold of moderate size on his hands and in his ears; he may eat the flesh of animals which are useless, but he may not eat acid food. The sages then take several wives,[Pg 420] because it is important to have many children, in order to propagate wisdom the better. Others, clad in cotton garments, wander through the cities and teach, and are accompanied by pupils. The greater part of the time they spend in the market-place, where they are visited by many persons for advice. Others again live in the forest under the huge trees and eat nothing but bark and ripe herbs. In summer they endured without clothing the burning heat of the midday sun, and the winter also they passed in the open air, amid torrents of rain. The sages who live in the forest do not go to the kings, even though requested to do so; but the kings from time to time ask questions of them by messengers, and entreat them to call upon and worship the gods on their behalf. Others of the sages, however, manage the business of the state, and accompany the kings as counsellors; others are physicians, who live simply on rice and barley, and heal sickness by diet more than by any other means;[596] others again are soothsayers and magicians, and acquainted with the sacrifices to the dead and the ritual, and go about begging among the villages and cities. These were the least cultivated of the sages, but even the others did not contradict the fables of the under-world, "because they advanced piety and sanctity."[597]

The sages were one and all highly honoured by the kings and the nation. They paid no taxes, they had no duties and services to perform, but on the contrary received valuable presents. Those who lived in the cities and gave advice in the market-place could take whatever and as much as they pleased of the food exposed for sale there, especially of oil and sesame;[Pg 421] any one who is carrying figs or grapes gives to them of his store without payment. All whom they visit feel themselves honoured, and every house is open to them, except the apartments of the women; they enter when they choose, and take part in the conversation and the meal. Even the physicians among the sages are hospitably entertained in all the houses, and receive rice and barley wherever they lodge.[598]

Megasthenes tells us that the sages were divided into two sects, of which the one was called Brahmans, the other Sarmans. There was also a third sect, wrangling and quarrelsome men, whom the Brahmans regarded as vain boasters and fools.[599] The Brahmans were held in higher estimation than the Sarmans, because there was more agreement in their doctrines. They occupied themselves with researches into nature, and the knowledge of the stars, and taught everything like the Hellenes; maintaining that the world was created, and globular, and perishable, permeated by the Deity who created and governed it. The earth was the centre of the universe. In addition to the four elements of the Hellenes the sages of the Indians assumed a fifth, out of which arose the sky and the stars. About the nature of the soul, also, the Indians had the same notions as the Hellenes; but like Plato they interspersed many fables on the imperishable nature of the soul, on the judgment which will be held in the under-world on the souls, and other things of the kind. As a rule their acts were better than their words; their proofs were generally supported by the narration of extraordinary stories. They maintained that in itself[Pg 422] there was nothing good or bad; otherwise it would be impossible that some persons should be in trouble about an event while others felt delighted at it; that even the same persons should be distressed and then in turn delighted at the selfsame occurrence.[600] According to the account of Onesicritus quoted above (p. 398), the Brahmans of Takshaçila considered that doctrine the best which removed joy and sadness utterly from the soul. In order to attain this the body must be accustomed to pain that the power of the soul may thus be strengthened. That man is the best who has the fewest needs; he is the most free who needs neither presents nor anything else from another; who has to fear no threats; he who equally disregarded pleasure and toil and life and death will be second to no other. The Brahmans spoke a good deal of death, which they regarded as a deliverance from the flesh when rendered useless by age. Life on earth they regarded merely as the completion of birth in the flesh, death as the birth to true life, and to happiness for the wise. Diseases of the body appeared to them dishonourable; and if a man fell into sickness, he anointed himself, caused a pyre to be erected, placed himself on it, gave orders that it should be kindled, and was burnt, without moving. Others put an end to their lives by throwing themselves into water, or over precipices; others by hanging or by the sword. Yet Megasthenes maintains that suicide was no article in the Indian creed.[601]

In all essential points these accounts agree with the native authorities, though the view taken is here and there too favourable, in some points too advanced, in[Pg 423] others not sufficiently discriminating. It is true that the Brahmans and the initiated of the Enlightened, the Çramanas, are confounded in the order of the sages; this is shown by the statement that any one could enter into this order.[602] It would have required peculiar acuteness on the part of a stranger to distinguish matters so closely resembling each other in their external appearances; and the one were mendicants no less than the others. It is evidence of clear observation that the Brahmans like the Bhikshus were regarded by the Greeks as philosophers rather than priests; they give prominence to their position as advisers of the king and soothsayers as well as their philosophical inquiries and conduct of sacrifices. The custom of advising the princes agrees with the rules which are known to us from the book of the law, the statements of the sutras, the Epos, the Puranas, and the incidents in the land of the Indus which have been mentioned above (p. 405); and with regard to soothsaying we have already seen from the sutras how much the Brahmans were given to astrology after the year 600 B.C.; how they suggested fortunate names to parents for their children, and favourable times for investiture with the sacred girdle, for cutting the hair, and for marriage. The assemblies at the new year, of which the Greeks tell us, have reference no doubt to the establishment of the calendar, i. e. to the fixing of the proper and fortunate days for sacrifice and festivity, for seedtime, etc., as is done at this day in every village by the Brahmans, and for the court and kingdom by the Brahmans of the king. Even now nothing of importance is undertaken in the state or in the house, before the Brahmans have declared the signs of heaven to be favourable. As to the sacrifices to the departed, we are acquainted with[Pg 424] the meals for the dead, and their importance, which the Brahmans retained, while the Bhikshus, as we shall see, had meanwhile gone so far as to worship the manes of Buddha and his chief disciples. The sutras have already informed us of the frequent use of physicians; they were Brahmans who carried on the art of healing on the basis of the Atharvaveda. The care of the young Brahmans and their instruction is correctly stated; the time of teaching which the book of the law fixes at thirty-six years (p. 179) is not forgotten; even among the Bhikshus a noviciate was customary. In the description of the life of the ascetics and wandering sages, the Brahmans and Bhikshus are again confounded, and if the Greeks tell us that the severe sages of the forest were too proud to go to the court at the request of the king, the statement holds good according to the evidence of the Epos of the Brahmanic saints, and the sutras of the great teachers among the Buddhists.[603]

In the examination of the doctrines of the Indian sages Megasthenes distinguished the Brahmans and the Buddhists, inasmuch as he opposes the less honoured sects to the first, and declares the Brahmans to be the most important. From his whole account it is clear that at his date, i. e. about the year 300 B.C., the Brahmans had distinctly the upper hand. But, according to him, the Çramanas took the next place to the Brahmans, among the less honoured sects. Among the Buddhists Çramana is the ordinary name for their clergy (p. 377). The doctrines of the Brahmans of the world-soul and the five elements (by the fifth, with which the Greeks were not acquainted, the æther or Akaça of the Brahmans is meant), the dogmas of liberation from sensuality and the body, are rightly[Pg 425] stated by Megasthenes in all essentials, and his assertion that the Brahmans for the most part narrated fabulous stories in support of their doctrines is based very correctly on the numerous Brahman legends about the great saints. Megasthenes takes too favourable a view of the object of Brahmanic asceticism, but he brings out with sufficient prominence the mortification of the flesh, and remarks the diversity of the views on voluntary death or suicide, which, as we have seen, the book of the law, in case of incapacity, regards as a meritorious end to the later years of life, while the Buddhists condemned it altogether.

Of the religion of the Indians the Greeks ascertained that they worshipped Zeus, who brought the rain, and other native, i. e. peculiar, deities, and the Ganges. Of the gods of the Greeks Dionysus was the first to come to India; he instructed the Indians in the culture of the field and the vine, founded the monarchy, and taught them how to wear the mitra and to dance the cordax (a Bacchic dance).[604] Heracles also had been in India, but fifteen generations later than Dionysus. The Indians called Heracles one of the earth-born, who had attained divine honours after his death, because he surpassed all men in power and boldness. This Indian Heracles had cleared land and sea from wild and hurtful animals, and, like the Theban Heracles, had carried the lion's skin and club. He had many sons, among whom India was equally divided, and these had bequeathed their dominions to many descendants, from generation to generation; some of these kingdoms existed even when Alexander came to India. Beside these sons Heracles had one daughter, Pandæa, whom he had also made a queen, and had[Pg 426] given her for a kingdom the land in which she was born, the most southern part of India;[605] and when on one of his voyages Heracles had discovered pearls he gathered together all that could be found in the Indian sea in order to adorn his daughter with them. As he had never seen a man worthy of her, when in old age he made her though but seven years old of full age for marriage in order that he might beget with her a successor for her land. After this time, all the women in the land named after her were of marriageable age in their seventh year.[606] The Indians on the mountains worshipped Dionysus, those in the plains Heracles;[607] the latter was chiefly worshipped among the Çurasenas on the Yamuna,[608] and the Çibis (p. 403), who wore the skins of animals and carried clubs like Heracles, and branded their oxen and mules with the mark of a club.[609] The Indians did not slaughter the animals for sacrifice, but strangled them.[610]

The rain-bringing Zeus is the ancient sky-god of the Indians, Indra, who cleaves the clouds with the lightning, and sends down the fructifying water, even as he causes the springs imprisoned in the rocks to bubble forth in freedom. Concerning the sacredness of the Ganges we are sufficiently instructed in Indian authorities. With regard to Dionysus, the Greeks tell us that when Alexander was in the land of the Açvakas, an[Pg 427] embassy came from the Nysæans with the message that Dionysus had founded their city, had given it the name of Nysa, and had called the neighbouring hill Meron. In the valleys and on the hills of the Açvakas the Greeks saw the vine growing wild, the thick creepers of a plant not unlike ivy, myrtles, bay, box-trees, and other evergreens, along with luxuriant orchards,[611] a vegetation which reminded them of their own homes and the sacred places of Dionysus. When in the Hindu Kush they heard the name of the tribe of the Nishadas and of the divine mountain Meru, which with the Indians lay beyond the Himalayas (the highest ranges were with them the southern slopes of the divine mountain), there was no longer any doubt that the god of Nysa, who had grown up in the Nysæan cave, and on the Nysæan mountain, had marched to India, just as he had reduced the nations of Asia Minor as far as the Euphrates.[612] In this way the Nysæan mountain, which the Greeks first placed in B[oe]otia and Thrace, was then removed to the borders of Egypt, afterwards to Arabia and Ethiopia,[613] and even to India. To the Greeks the Nishadas were Nysæans and their city Nysa; they were at once convinced that Meru received the name from Dionysus or in honour of Dionysus, whom his divine father had[Pg 428] once carried in his thigh (μηρός).[614] Diodorus, after his manner, gives this pragmatic explanation of the story: Dionysus was compelled to refresh his wearied army on a mountain, which was then called Meros after him. Further, the processions of the Indian princes to sacrifices and the chase reminded the Greeks of the Dionysiac processions at home. They caught the sound of cymbals and drums; they saw the number of the royal women with their female servants in these trains; the king and his company in their long gay and flowered robes, with turbans on their heads,[615] which reminded them of the fillet of Dionysus; they saw great cups and goblets, the treasures of the king's palace, and finally, lions and panthers, the animals of Dionysus, brought forth in these processions; coloured masks and beards, just as the Greeks were accustomed to paint the face at the festival of Dionysus.[616]

Among the Indians, as we saw, in the course of the sixth century, the worship of Rudra-Çiva grew up first and chiefly in the high mountains and valleys, where the storms were the most violent. He was a wild deity like Dionysus; like him he was invoked as "lord of the hills" (p. 330), a god of increase and fertility, of nature creating through moisture, of reproduction. And if ecstasy and frenzy were peculiar to the worship[Pg 429] of Dionysus, there was also a certain wildness in the nature of Çiva-Rudra, a trait which gradually became more strongly marked among the Indians in contrast to the form of Vishnu.

The culture of the vine on the Indus, the green mountain valleys, the sound of the names Nishada and Meru, the procession of the Indian kings, and the worship of Çiva, convinced the Greeks that they had found the worship of their god. That they restricted this to the inhabitants of the mountains is due, no doubt, to the fact that they were more closely acquainted with the mountain land of the west, that the vine-clad valleys and the names Nysa and Meru belonged to the region of the high mountains, that even in the land of the Ganges the Himalayas passed as the abode of Çiva (p. 330). Moreover, the plains of India did not produce the vine, which indeed does not nourish in India, with the exception of some districts on the Indus, and the inhabitants of the Ganges valley did not drink wine.

As the Indians of the mountains, according to the account of the Greeks, worshipped Dionysus, so were the Indians of the plains worshippers of Heracles. According to the statement of Megasthenes, he was worshipped especially among the Çurasenas on the Yamuna and in the cities of Mathura and Krishnapura, and therefore Krishna must be meant (p. 105). Among the Indians Vishnu-Krishna carries the club, which Varuna once gave to him, and is called the club-bearer (gadadhara); with the club Krishna smote the wild tribes, the heroes, and the monsters. The weapon carried by Krishna's nation, the extinct Yadavas, was the club. The Greeks tell us that the Indian Heracles begot many sons; in the Mahabharata Krishna entreats Mahadeva, i. e. Çiva, the god of fertility, for[Pg 430] hundreds of sons; the Vishnu-Purana ascribes to Krishna 16,100 wives and 180,000 sons.[617] According to the Greeks, Krishna was first placed among the gods after his death; in the ancient conception of the Indians, Krishna, as we know, was a strong herdman, who overcame bulls, kings, and giants, gave crafty counsel in the great wars, and at length died, wounded by the arrows of a hunter (p. 95); he becomes a deity by amalgamation with Vishnu. That the Greeks overlook the peaceful side of the deity in the incarnations of Vishnu as Paraçurama, Rama, and Krishna, and their heroic achievements, is easily explained from their tendency to find their native gods in India. The derivation of the royal races of India from Heracles has reference only to the dynasties which claimed to be derived from the Pandus, the extinct royal houses of the Bharatas and Panchalas, the Pandus in Guzerat and southern Mathura, whose ancestors the Epos places in such close connection with Vishnu-Krishna. This derivation might easily be extended to the families which carried their lineage beyond the Pandus to Kuru, Puru, and Pururavas, like the Pauravas on the Panjab (p. 399), and the oldest dynasty of the kings of Magadha (p. 74). The most southern part of India is said to have fallen to Pandæa, the daughter of Heracles, and to have received its name from her; the pearls were procured from the sea for her adornment. We know that a Pandu family ruled there; among the heroic achievements of Krishna, the Mahabharata mentions the conquest of the giant Panchajana;[618] Vishnu is the bearer of the mussel, the lord of the jewel, and the pearl fishery can only be carried on in the gulf[Pg 431] between Mathura and Ceylon. That a daughter and not a son of Heracles founded the kingdom here, is perhaps due to an Indian legend, woven into the history of this kingdom of Mathura. Sampanna-Pandya, the king mentioned above, worshipped the protecting goddess of the city so zealously that in order to reward him she caused herself to be born as his daughter. She succeeds her father on the throne, marches through India performing great deeds as far as the lake of Kailasa, the lofty Himalayas, where she overcomes even Çiva by her beauty, so that he follows her to Mathura, and there reigns at Sundara-Pandya (i. e. the beautiful Pandya), and gives prosperity to the land.[619] Hence it is possible that the protecting deity of Mathura and her warlike achievements are the basis underlying the story of the daughter of Heracles. If Heracles begets a son with this daughter in her seventh year, and all the women of the land became henceforth marriageable at that age, the latter part of the statement is correct; the fact is due to the position of the country under the equator. Even the law of Manu, which is adapted to the land on the central Ganges, permits marriage in the twelfth and even in the eighth year (p. 254).

Whatever may be the case with regard to the several items of the statements of the Greeks about the worship of Dionysus and Heracles, they make it certain that in the fourth century B.C. the worship of Indra was indeed in existence, but not prominent, while the worship of Rudra-Çiva and Vishnu was in the foremost position. The worship of Vishnu was the chief worship of the Indians of the plains, i. e. of the land of the Ganges, and Krishna and Rama, the[Pg 432] figures in the Epos, were already transformed into incarnations of Vishnu.

Of the justice of the Indians, their contempt of death, and reverence towards the kings, Ctesias has much to tell.[620] The companions of Alexander extol their love of truth; no Indian was ever accused of a lie. Megasthenes adds that the Indians lent money without witnesses or seals; a man ought to know whom he could trust; if he made a mistake he must bear the loss with equanimity. Wives were generally bought of their parents for a yoke of oxen; but Megasthenes assures us that in Magadha marriages were made without giving or receiving.[621] In that case the rule of the book of the law (p. 255), had become current here. The Indian wives were faithful and chaste, though it was the custom to have more than one. The Greeks also extol the moderation of the Indians in eating and drinking. The majority ate nothing but a little rice and fruits of the field; the mountaineers alone lived on the flesh of the wild animals which they caught in the chase. So little importance did they ascribe to eating that they had no fixed hour for meals. Nor did the inhabitants of the plains drink wine except at sacrifices, and this was not prepared from the grape but from rice.[622] At the banquets of the rich a separate table was set apart for each guest, with a golden cup; in this first rice and then other vegetables were brought, which the Indians were very skilful in cooking.[623] They were partial to singing and dancing, and paid great attention to beauty and the care of the body. They anointed themselves and had their bodies frequently rubbed; even when the king was dispensing justice[Pg 433] four men frequently rubbed him with strigils. The hair of the Indians was plaited, and a band worn like the Persian mitre. They preferred white garments, which among them seemed brighter than with other nations, either because cotton was whiter than linen or because they appeared brighter owing to the dark colour of the Indians.[624] Over the cotton shirt, reaching half way down the thigh, many threw a mantle, which was fastened under the right shoulder. Many also wore linen clothes instead of cotton, and gay garments embroidered with flowers. Their shoes were of white leather, delicate in workmanship, and provided with high parti-coloured heels, that the figure might appear taller. They allowed the beard to grow, and tended it carefully; some tribes even stained the beard with various lively hues—white, green, dark-blue, and purple-red—and the country provided excellent colours for this purpose. The richer men had rings of gold and ivory in their ears and on their hands; they had beautiful parasols held over them, and did everything that could enhance the beauty of their appearance.[625] Persons of importance rode only in chariots with four horses; it was thought mean to make a journey on horseback without a retinue.[626]

We remember with what emphasis the hymns of the Veda inculcated honour, fidelity, truth, and the eschewal of lying; and without doubt in the ancient period the Aryas on the Indus laid as much weight on truthfulness as the Airyas of Iran. But some observations in the book of the law showed us that this virtue no longer entirely prevailed in the land of the Ganges. Buddhism earnestly reiterates the precept not to lie,[Pg 434] and in spite of the conduct of the king of Cashmere and other princes on the Indus towards Alexander, as related to us by the Greeks, we can believe their assertions that at that time these virtues prevailed through far larger circles than at present. The moderation of the Indians in eating and drinking is due primarily, no doubt, to the climate of the Ganges; in a less degree the laws of the Brahmans respecting food, and the moderation preached by Buddha, must have operated to the same end, and above all must have tended to remove the old love of drinking among the Aryas. The love of the Aryas for dress and adornment we know from the sutras; they showed us that the richer men wore costly ear-rings of diamonds, and the poorer wore ornaments of wood or lead.[627] Of Ayodhya the Ramayana boasts that no one was seen there without ear-rings and a necklace, without a chaplet on the head and perfumes.[628] The dress of the women was naturally still more costly and stately. The Epos is acquainted with the custom of colouring the hands and feet with sandal or lac;[629] in the later poems of the Indians we have endless praises of the jingling of the anklets, the shrill-sounding girdles, glittering with precious stones; the adornments of the neck, the eye-brows and forehead coloured with musk, antimony, and lac, the locks of hair and crowns of flowers. In all these matters the Hindus have not changed. Even now they love to wear snow-white garments, and next to these such as are of a brilliant colour; they carry gracefully the ample garment in which they wrap themselves; they dress their hair, and anoint it with palm oil, and though they no longer stain their beards[Pg 435] blue and red, they paint on the forehead the symbol of the deity which each person specially worships. The turban, for which in some districts material interwoven with gold is preferred, is still picturesquely coiled round the head; by the different modes of wrapping may be distinguished the inhabitants of different districts. A poor man would rather give up anything than the silver ornaments of his girdle, and the poorest porter is rarely without a gold ear-ring. Weavers of garlands and silversmiths are still to be found in the most wretched villages, and any one would rather go without a dinner than without perfumes.

According to the Greeks the rites of burial were plain and simple. It was the custom of the Indians to burn the dead on pyres. As we have seen, cremation was for a long time the universal practice. It took place before the gates of the cities, where there were special places for the purpose; the corpses were wrapped in linen, and carried out on cushions amid hymns and prayers, some of the oldest of which we know (p. 62).[630] The bones and anything else which remained unburnt were thrown into the water. Aristobulus says that he had heard that among some Indians the widows burned themselves voluntarily with the corpses of their husbands, and those who refused to do so were held in less estimation.[631] The Greeks also observe, quite correctly, that it was not the custom among the Indians to erect mounds. In the fourth century, it is true, the followers of Buddha had erected stupas for his relics (p. 365), and possibly for those of his greatest disciples;[Pg 436] but in any case these were so rare and so unimportant that they would hardly strike the eye; one Greek authority nevertheless asserts that there were small tumuli in India. The reason given for this omission which seemed so strange to the Greeks, is that the Indians were of opinion that the remembrance of the virtues of a man together with the hymns sung in his honour (by which can only be meant the ritual of the burial and the funeral feast) were sufficient to preserve his memory.[632]

The industrial skill of the Indians was not unknown to the Greeks. As early as the fifth century fine Indian clothes, silken garments called sindones or Tyrian robes, were brought by the trade of the Phenicians to Hellas. Ctesias praises the swords of Indian steel of special excellence and rare quality, which were worn at the Persian court. Other evidence also shows that the Indians at an early time understood the preparation and working of steel.[633] Mining, on the other hand, according to the Greeks, they understood but ill, and their copper vessels, which were cast, not beaten, were fragile and brittle. At the sources of a river which flowed through lofty mountains into the Indus there grew, as Ctesias tells us, a kind of tree, called Siptachora, on the leaves of which lived small creatures like beetles, with long legs, and soft like caterpillars. They spoiled the fruit of the trees just as the woodlice spoiled the vines in Hellas, but from the insects when pounded came a purple colour, which gave a more beautiful and brilliant dye than the purple of the Hellenes.[634] These insects of Ctesias are the beetles of the lac-tree, which suck the juice of the bark and[Pg 437] leaves, and so provide the lac-dye. The home of this tree is the north, more especially the mountain-range on the upper Indus above Cashmere. Ctesias' statement proves that the Indians knew how to prepare the lac-dye in the fifth century B.C. The same authority mentions an ointment of the Indians, which gave the most excellent perfume; it might be perceived at a distance of four stades. This ointment, which they prepared from the resin of a kind of cedar with leaves like a palm, the Indians called Karpion. Possibly cinnamon-oil is meant, which is obtained from the outer-bark of the cinnamon tree.[635]

Of the military affairs of the Indians, besides what has been already quoted about the order of soldiers, the Greeks tell us that the bow was their favourite weapon. In the Veda and the Epos we found this to be the chief arm (p. 35, 89), and the good management of it was the first qualification of a hero. The Greeks tell us that the Indian bow, made of reed, was as tall as the man who carried it. In stringing it the Indians placed the lower end of the bow against the earth, and drew the string back while pressing with the left foot against the bow; their arrows were almost three cubits long. Nothing withstood these arrows; they penetrated shield and cuirass.[636] Others were armed with javelins instead of the bow, and with shields of untanned ox-hide, somewhat narrower than a man but not less tall. When it came to a hand-to-hand contest, which was rarely the case among the Indians, they drew the broad-sword three cubits in length, which every one carried, and which must have been wielded with both hands. The Indians rode without a saddle; the horses were held in with bits, which[Pg 438] took the form of a lance. To these the reins were fastened, but along with them a curb of leather, in which occasionally iron, and among the wealthier people ivory points, were placed, so as to pierce the lips of the horse when the rein was drawn.[637] The Indian horsemen carried two lances and a shield smaller than that of the foot soldier. In every chariot of war besides the driver were two combatants, and on the elephants three besides the driver. On the march the chariots were drawn by oxen, and the horses led in halters, so that they came into the battle-field with vigour undiminished.[638] The beating of drums and the sound of cymbals and shells, which were blown, gave the signal of attack to the army.[639] The Epos exhibits to us the kings for the most part in their chariots, and in these and on the elephants it places but one combatant beside the driver. The oldest trace of the use of elephants in war is not to be found in the battle-pieces of the Epos, into which the elephants were introduced at a later time. We hear nothing of elephants in the single contests of the heroes, but it is said that in the year 529 B.C. an Indian nation put elephants in the field against Cyrus (p. 16). At a later time Ctesias is our first authority for this practice; he describes it, about the year 400 B.C., as the fixed custom of the Indians.


[569] Arrian, "Ind." 7. Plin. "Hist. Nat." 6, 22, 23.

[570] Μεθορὰ τε καὶ Κλεισόβορα. Arrian, "Ind." 8, 5.

[571] Παζάλαι in Arrian, "Ind." 4, 5. Ptolem. 7, 1. Passalæ in Plin. "Hist. Nat." 6, 22.

[572] Plin. "Hist. Nat." 6, 22, "gentes montanæ inter oppidum Potala et Jomanem." Lassen, "Alterthum." 1, 657, n.2.

[573] Lassen, loc cit. Pliny, loc. cit.

[574] Megasthenes in Pliny, "Hist. Nat." 6, 22, 23. Arrian, "Ind." 8. Lassen, loc. cit. 1, 156, 618; 2, 111.

[575] Strabo, p. 710, 718.

[576] Curtius, 8, 9; 9, 1.

[577] Strabo, p. 717.

[578] Strabo, p. 710. Curtius, 8, 9.

[579] Strabo, p. 710. Cf. Curt. 8, 9.

[580] Strabo, p. 688.

[581] Megasthenes in Strabo, p. 703.

[582] Strabo, p. 710, 718.

[583] Supra, p. 216, etc. Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 417.

[584] Lassen, "Alterth." 2, 227.

[585] Strabo, p. 710. Diod. 2, 42.

[586] Megasthenes, fragm. 37, ed. Schwanbeck.

[587] Arrian, "Ind." 12, 1-5. Strabo, p. 707-709. Diod. 2, 41.

[588] Strabo, p. 704.

[589] Diod. 2, 36, 40. Arrian, "Ind." 11, 10.

[590] Arrian, "Ind." 11, 11. Diod. 2, 40. Strabo, p. 704.

[591] Like the warriors among the Vrijis, Glaukas, Khattias, Malavas Kshudrakas, etc. cf. supra, p. 401 ff.

[592] Manu, 7, 154; supra, p. 210.

[593] Supra, p. 219, 228. "Ramayana," ed. Schlegel, 1, 7.

[594] The following are the castes who ought to hunt wild animals according to the book of the law: the Medas, Andhras, Chunchus, Kshattars, Ugras, and Pukkasas. Manu, 10, 48-50; cf. supra, p. 247.

[595] Strabo, p. 703. Arrian, "Ind." 11. Diod. 2, 40.

[596] Strabo, p. 712-716. Arrian, "Ind." 11, 7, 8; 15, 11, 12.

[597] Strabo, p. 714.

[598] Strabo, p. 716. Diod. 2, 40.

[599] In Strabo, p. 712 (cf. 718, 719), as in Clem. Alex. "Strom." p. 305, we must obviously read Σαρμᾶναι for Γαρμᾶναι. The third sect is called by Strabo Πράμναι; perhaps with Lassen we ought to explain it by pramana, i. e. logicians.

[600] Megasthenis fragm. ed. Schwanbeck, p. 46; cf. Manu, 1, 75. Strabo, p. 713.

[601] Strabo, p. 712, 713, 716, 718. Arrian, "Anab." 7, 23.

[602] Strabo, p. 707. Arrian, "Ind." 12, 8, 9. Curt. 8, 9.

[603] E. g. Burnouf, "Introd." p. 379.

[604] Arrian, "Ind." 7; Diod. 2, 38, 39; Polyæn. "Strateg." 1, 1; supra, p. 73.

[605] Arrian, "Ind." 8, 4, 7, 8; 9, 1-9.

[606] Arrian, "Ind." loc. cit. The remark in Pliny that among the Pandas (in Guzerat) women ruled, owing to the daughter of Heracles, obviously refers to this story: "Hist. Nat." 6, 22.

[607] Megasthenes in Strabo, p. 712. But others derived even the Oxydrakes from Dionysus, simply for the reason that wine was produced in this district; Strabo, p. 687, 688.

[608] Arrian, "Ind." 8, 5.

[609] Strabo, p. 688. Curtius, 9, 4. Arrian, "Ind." 5, 12. Diod. 17, 96.

[610] Strabo, p. 718.

[611] Strabo, p. 687, 711. Plin, "H. N." 6, 23. If Strabo observes that wine is never brought to maturity in this district (i. e. North Cabulistan) the observation only holds good for the more elevated valleys.

[612] Arrian, "Anab." 5, 1; Curt. 8, 10; Plut. "Alex." c. 58; Diod. 3, 62, 64. Here Diodorus also mentions the names of the Indian kings whom Dionysus has conquered, Myrrhanus and Desiades, while in 2, 38 he has stated that the Indians before Dionysus had no kings at all.

[613] "Il." 2, 508; 6, 133. Homeric hymn in Diod. 1, 15; 4, 2. Cf. Strabo, p. 405; Herod. 5, 7; Diod. 3, 63, 64; Herod. 2, 146; 3, 97, and Steph. Byz. Νῦσα. Euripides is the first to speak of Dionysus' march to Persia and Bactria. Strabo, p. 687.

[614] Lassen, as already remarked, opposes Nishada and Parapanishada as the upper and lower mountain range. Nearly in the same region, but apparently in the range between Cashmere and the kingdom of Paurava (supra, p. 391), i. e. to the east of the Indus, legend speaks of the Utsavasanketa, who, as their name implies, passed their lives in feasting and conviviality (utsava, festival; sanketa, meeting). Lassen, 2, 135; Wilson, Vishnu-Purana, p. 167 ff.; and the places in the Mahabharata, in Lassen, loc. cit. Modern travellers maintain that some tribes in the Hindu Kush are very partial to the wine which is produced abundantly in the mountains, and lead a life of joviality. Ritter, "Asien," Th. 4. Bd. 1, 450, 451.

[615] Strabo, p. 689. Arrian, "Ind." 5, 9.

[616] Strabo, p. 688, 699, 710.

[617] Muir, "Sanskrit Texts," 4, 195. "Vishnu-Purana," ed. Wilson, p. 591.

[618] Infra, chap. viii.

[619] Lassen, loc. cit. 2, 110.

[620] Ctesias, "Ind. ecl." 8.

[621] Strabo, p. 709. Arrian, "Ind." 17, 4.

[622] Strabo, p. 709.

[623] Megasthenes in Athen. p. 153, ed. Schweigh.

[624] Arrian, "Ind." 16, 1-5.

[625] Strabo, p. 688, 699, 709, 710, 712. Arrian, "Ind." 7, 9.

[626] Arrian, loc. cit. 17, 1, 2.

[627] Burnouf, "Introd." p. 238.

[628] "Ramayana," ed. Schlegel, 1, 6.

[629] "Ramayana," ed. Schlegel, 2, 47.

[630] Burnouf, "Introd." p. 240.

[631] It is clear that this statement cannot refer to the inhabitants of Takshaçila, for Aristobulus rather ascribes to them the custom of the Iranians, who exposed corpses for vultures to eat them. Aristobulus in Strabo, p. 714.

[632] Strabo, p. 709. Arrian, "Ind." 10. Manu, 3, 232.

[633] Ctes. "Ind. ecl." 4. Ritter, "Erdkunde," 3, 2, 1187. Humboldt, "Kosmos," 2, 417.

[634] Ctesias, loc. cit. "ecl." 19-21. Aelian, "Hist. Anim." 4, 46.

[635] Ctesias, loc. cit. "ecl." 28. Lassen, loc. cit. 2, 560.

[636] Strabo. p. 717. Arrian, "Ind." 16, 6; supra, p. 404.

[637] Arrian, "Ind." 16, 11. Strabo, p. 717. Aelian, "Hist. Anim." 3, 16.

[638] Strabo, p. 709.

[639] Strabo, p. 714, 708. Arrian, "Ind." 7, 9. Curtius, 8, 14, supra, p. 89.



[Pg 439]



The life of the Indians had developed without interference from without, following the nature of the country and the impulse of their own dispositions. Neither Cyrus nor Darius had crossed the Indus. The arms of the Macedonians were the first to reach and subjugate the land of the Panjab. The character and manners of another nation, whose skill in war, power, and importance only made themselves felt too plainly, and to whom civilisation and success could not be denied, were not only suddenly brought into immediate proximity to the Indians, but had the most direct influence upon them.

We saw how earnestly Alexander's views were directed to the lasting maintenance of his conquests, even in the distant east. Far-seeing as were his arrangements for this purpose, strong and compact as they appeared to be, they were not able long to resist the national aversion of the Indians to foreign rule, after Alexander's untimely death. Philippus, whom he had nominated satrap of the Panjab, was attacked and slain by mutinous mercenaries, soon after Alexander's departure from India. These soldiers had been defeated by the Macedonians of Philippus, in whose place Eudemus together, with Mophis the prince of[Pg 440] Takshaçila was charged with the temporary government of this satrapy.[640] After Alexander's death (June 11, 323 B.C.), Perdiccas, the administrator of the empire, published an edict from Babylon, that "Mophis and Porus," so Diodorus tells us, "should continue to be sovereigns of these lands in the same manner as Alexander had arranged." According to Justin also the satraps already in existence were retained in India; Peithon, whom Alexander had made satrap of the lower Indus, received the command of the colonies founded there.[641] In the division of the satrapies made by Antipater at Triparadeisus in the year 321 B.C., Peithon is said to have received the satrapy of upper India, while the lower region of the Indus and the city of Pattala were allotted to Porus, whose kingdom was thus largely extended. The land of Mophis, in the Vitasta, was also considerably increased. "They could not be overcome without a large army and an eminent general," says Diodorus; "it would not have been easy to remove them," Arrian tells us, "for they had considerable power."[642] Porus, at any rate, was removed in another manner. Eudemus, whom Alexander had made temporary governor of the satrapy of the Panjab, must have maintained his position; he caused Porus to be murdered, and seized his elephants for himself.[643]

Sandrakottos, an Indian of humble origin, so Justin relates, had offended king Nandrus by his impudence,[644] and the king gave orders for his execution. But his swiftness of foot saved him. Wearied with[Pg 441] the exertion he fell asleep; a great lion approached and licked the sweat from him, and when Sandrakottos awoke the lion left him, fawning as he went. This miracle convinced Sandrakottos that he was destined for the throne. He collected a troop of robbers, called on the Indians to join him, and became the author of their liberation. When he prepared for war with the viceroy of Alexander, a wild elephant of monstrous size came up, took him on his back, and bore him on fighting bravely in the war and the battle. But the liberation which Sandrakottos obtained for the Indians was soon changed into slavery; he subjugated to his own power the nation he had set free from the dominion of strangers. At the time when Seleucus was laying the foundation of his future greatness, Sandrakottos was already in possession of India.[645] Plutarch observes that Sandrakottos had seen Alexander in his early years, and afterwards used to say that the latter could have easily subdued the Prasians, i. e. the kingdom of Magadha, as the king, owing to his wickedness and low origin, was hated and despised. Not long after Sandrakottos conquered the whole of India with an army of 600,000 men.[646]

According to this, Sandrakottos, while still a youth, must have been in the Panjab and the land of the Indus in the years 326 and 325 B.C. when, as we have seen, Alexander marched through them. He may therefore be regarded as a native of those regions. Soon afterwards he must have entered the service of king Nandrus, who cannot be any other than the Dhanananda of Magadha, already known to us, whom the Greeks call Xandrames, and at a later time he must have escaped from his master to his own home, the land of the Indus. Here he found adherents[Pg 442] and summoned his countrymen to their liberation. They followed him; he fought with success against the viceroys, including, no doubt, Mophis of Takshaçila, and after expelling them he gained the dominion over the whole land of the Indus. The miracles recorded by Justin point to native tradition; we have seen how readily the warriors of India compared themselves with lions. And when Sandrakottos called out his people against the Greeks, it is the beast of India, the elephant, which takes him on his back and carries him on the way to victory. Chandragupta's martial achievements and successes surpassed all that had previously taken place in India; it is sufficiently intelligible that the tradition of the Indians should represent his rapid elevation as indicated by marvels, and surround it with such.

We can fix with tolerable exactness the date at which Sandrakottos destroyed the satrapies established in the land of the Indus by Alexander. In the year 317 B.C. Eudemus is in Susiana, in the camp of Eumenes, who at that time was fighting against Antigonus for the integrity of the kingdom. The three or four thousand Macedonians, with 120 elephants, which Eudemus brings to Eumenes, appear to be the remains of the Macedonian power on the eastern bank of the Indus. Peithon, Agenor's son (p. 407), we find in the year 316 B.C. as the satrap of Antigonus in Babylon.[647] Hence the power of the Greeks in the Panjab must have come to an end in the year 317 B.C. Eudemus could not have removed Porus before the year 320 B.C., for, as has been observed, Porus is mentioned in 321 as the reigning prince. Hence we may assume that in the period between 325 and 320 B.C. Sandrakottos was in the service of the[Pg 443] king of Magadha, Dhanananda-Nandrus, that in or immediately after the year 320 he fled to the Indus, and there, possibly availing himself of the murder of Porus, summoned the Indians to fight against the Greeks, and became the sovereign of them and of Mophis by the year 317 B.C.

When master of the land of the Indus, Sandrakottos turned with the forces he had gained against the kingdom of Magadha. The weakness of the rule of Dhanananda was no doubt well known to him from personal experience; here also he was victorious. With a very large army he then proceeded to carry his conquests beyond the borders of Magadha. Justin tells us that he was in possession of the whole of India when Seleucus laid the foundations of his power. Seleucus, formerly in the troop of the 'companions' of Alexander, the son of Antiochus, founded his power when he gained Babylon, fighting with Ptolemy against Antigonus in 312 B.C., which city Peithon was unable to retain, and afterwards, in the same year, conquered the satraps of Iran. Hence in the year 315 B.C. Sandrakottos must have conquered Magadha and ascended the throne of Palibothra, since as early as 312 he could undertake further conquests, and by that time, according to Justin, had brought the whole of India, i. e. the entire land of the Ganges, under his dominion.

According to the accounts of the Buddhists, Chandragupta (Sandrakottos) sprang from the house of the Mauryas. At the time when Viradhaka, the king of the Koçalas, destroyed Kapilavastu, the home of the Enlightened (p. 363), a branch of the royal race of the Çakyas had fled to the Himalayas, and there founded a small kingdom in a mountain valley. The valley was named after the numerous peacocks (mayura) found in it; and the family who migrated there[Pg 444] took the name of Maurya from the land. When Chandragupta's father reigned in this valley, powerful enemies invaded it; the father was killed, the mother escaped to Palibothra with her unborn child. When she had brought forth a boy there, she exposed him in the neighbourhood of a solitary fold. A bull, called Chandra (moon) from a white spot in his forehead, protected the child till the herdman found it, and gave it the name of Chandragupta, i. e. protected by the moon. The herdman reared the boy, but when no longer a child he handed him over to a hunter. While with the latter he played with the boys of the village, and held a court of justice like a king; the accused were brought forward, and one lost a hand, another a foot. Chanakya, a Brahman of Takshaçila, observed the conduct of the boy, and concluded that he was destined for great achievements. He bought Chandragupta from the herdman, discovered that he was a Maurya, and determined to make him the instrument of his revenge on king Dhanananda who had done him a great injury. In the hall of the king's palace Chanakya had once taken the seat set apart for the chief Brahman, but the king had driven him out of it. When Chandragupta had grown up, Chanakya placed him at the head of an armed troop, which he had formed by the help of money hoarded for the purpose, and raised a rebellion in Magadha. Chandragupta was defeated, and compelled to fly with Chanakya into the wilderness. Not discouraged by this failure the rebels struck out another plan. Chandragupta began a new attack from the borders, conquered one city after another, and at last Palibothra. Dhanananda was slain; and Chandragupta ascended the throne of Magadha.[648][Pg 445]

Besides the greatness of Chandragupta, the Buddhists had a special reason for glorifying the descent and origin of the founder of a dynasty which afterwards did so much to advance their creed. From this point of view it was very natural for the followers of Buddha to bring a ruler, whose grandson adopted Buddha's doctrines, into direct relation with the founder of their faith, to represent him as springing from the same family to which Buddha had belonged. Chandragupta's family was called the Mauryas; the Buddhists transformed the Çakyas into Mauryas. We shall be on much more certain ground if we adhere to Justin's statement that Chandragupta was sprung from a humble family until then unknown. The marvels with which the Buddhists surrounded his youth are easily explained from the effort to bring into prominence the lofty vocation of the founder of the dominion of the Mauryas. His mother escapes destruction. A bull protects the infant, guards the days of the child who is to be mightier than any ruler of India before him. In the game of the boys, Chandragupta shows the vocation for which he is intended. Though the Buddhist tradition puts the birth of the future king of Palibothra in that city, it allows us nevertheless to discover that Chandragupta belongs to the land of the Indus by making him the slave and instrument of a man of the Indus, Chanakya of Takshaçila. And as Justin represents Chandragupta as injuring the king of Magadha, and escaping death only by the most rapid flight, so does the tradition of the Buddhists represent him as having excited a rebellion in Magadha, the utter failure of which compels him to take refuge in flight.

In all that is essential to the story there is scarcely any contradiction between the narration of Justin and[Pg 446] the Buddhists. We may grant to the latter that Sandrakottos, relying too much on the weakness of the throne of Magadha, raised a rebellion there, which failed of success. He flies for refuge into the land of the Indus. Successful there, and finally master of the whole, he is encouraged by his great triumphs to attack Magadha from the borders, i. e. from the land of the Indus, and now he captures one city after the other, until at length he takes Palibothra. This means that when he had become lord of the land of the Indus by the conquest of the Greeks and their vassals, he accomplishes, with the help of the forces of this region, what he had failed to carry out with his adherents in Magadha. We may certainly believe the tradition of the Buddhists that Dhanananda was slain at or after the capture of Palibothra.[649]

In ancient times the tribes of the Aryas had migrated from the Panjab into the valley of the Ganges; advancing by degrees they had colonised it as far as the mouth of the river. These colonists had now been conquered from their ancient home. For the first time the land of the Indus stood under one prince, for the first time the Indus and the Ganges were united into one state. After Sandrakottos had summoned the nations of the west against the Greeks, he conquered the nations of the east with their assistance. It was an empire such as no Indian king had possessed before, extending from the Indus to the mouth of the Ganges, over the whole of Aryavarta from the Himalayas to the Vindhyas. In the south-west it reached beyond the kingdom of the western Pandus to the peninsula of Guzerat, beyond the city of Automela (p. 409), and[Pg 447] the kingdom of Ujjayini; in the south-east it went beyond Orissa to the borders of the Kalingas (p. 410). In regard to the management of this wide empire founded by Chandragupta, Megasthenes tells us that the king was surrounded by supreme counsellors, treasurers, and overseers of the army. Besides these there were numerous officers. The management of the army was carried on in divisions, which cannot surprise us after the statements of the Greeks about the strength of the army which Chandragupta maintained; Megasthenes puts it at 400,000, and Plutarch at 600,000.[650] One division attended to the elephants, another to the horses, which like the former were kept in the royal stables; the third to the chariots of war. The fourth was charged with the arming of the infantry and the care of the armoury; at the end of each campaign the soldiers had to return their weapons. The fifth division undertook the supervision of the army, the baggage, the drummers, the cymbal-bearers, the oxen for drawing the provision-waggons;[651] and the sixth was charged with the care of the fleet. Manu's law has mentioned to us six branches of the army, beside the four divisions of the battle array; elephants, horsemen, chariots of war, and foot soldiers, the baggage as the fifth, and the officers as the sixth member (p. 220). The land was divided into districts, which were governed by head officers and their subordinates; we remember that the book of the law advised the kings to divide their states into smaller and larger districts of ten, twenty, a hundred, or a thousand places (p. 214). Besides the officers of the districts, the judges and tax-gatherers, there were,[Pg 448] according to Megasthenes, overseers of the mines, the woodcutters, and the tillers of the land. Other officers had the care of the rivers and the roads. These caused the highways to be made or improved, measured them, and at each ten stades, i. e. at each yodhana (1¼ mile) set up a pillar to show the distances and the direction. The great road from the Indus to Palibothra was measured by the chain; in length it was ten thousand stades, i. e. 1250 miles, a statement which will not be far wrong if this road left the Indus near the height of Takshaçila, as we may assume that it did.[652] The book of the priests is acquainted with royal highways, and forbids their defilement; as we have seen, trade was vigorous in the land of the Ganges as early as the sixth century B.C.; the sutras of the Buddhists, no less than the Epos, often mention good roads extending for long distances.[653] The magistrates who had care of the rivers had to provide that the canals and conduits were in good order, so that every one might have the water necessary for irrigation.

The cities in turn had other officers, who superintended the handicrafts, fixed the measures, and collected the taxes in them. Of these officers there were thirty in every city, and they were divided into six distinct colleges of five members each. The first superintended the handicraftsmen, the second the aliens, who were carefully watched, but supported even in cases of sickness, buried when dead, and their property conveyed to their heirs. The third college kept the list of taxes and the register of births and deaths, in order that the taxes might be properly raised. The fourth managed the inns, and trade, in order that correct measures might be used, and fruits sold by stamped weights. The same tradesman could not sell different wares[Pg 449] without paying a double tax. The fifth college superintended the products of the handicraftsmen and their sale, and marked the old and new goods; the sixth collected the tenth on all buying and selling.[654] According to the book of the priests the king was to fix the measures and weights, and have them examined every six months; the same is to be done with the value of the precious metals. It ordains penalties for those who use false weights, conceal deficiencies in their wares, or sell what is adulterated. The market price for necessaries is to be settled and published every five or at any rate every fourteen days. After a computation of the cost of production and transport, and consultation with those who are skilled in the matter, the king is to fix the price of their wares for merchants, for purchase and sale; trade in certain things he can reserve for himself and declare to belong to the king, just as in some passages of the book of the law mining is reserved for the king, and in others he receives the half of all produce from mines of gold, silver, and precious stones. The king can take a twentieth of the profit of the merchant for a tax. In order to facilitate navigation in the great rivers certain rates were fixed, which differed according to the distance and the time of the year. The waggon filled with merchandise had to pay for the use of the roads according to the value of the goods; an empty waggon paid only the small sum of a pana, a porter half a pana, an animal a quarter, a man without any burden an eighth, etc. Any one who undertook to deliver wares in a definite time at a definite place, and failed to do so, was not to receive the freight. The price of transport by sea could not be fixed by law; when differences arose the decisions of men who[Pg 450] were acquainted with navigation were to be valid. The book of the law requires from the merchants a knowledge of the measures and weights, of the price of precious stones, pearls, corals, iron, stuffs, perfumes, and spices. They must know how the goods are to be kept, and what wages to pay the servants. Lastly, they must have a knowledge of various languages.[655] Megasthenes' account of the management of the cities shows that these precepts were carried out to a considerable extent; that trade was under superintendence, and taxed with a tenth instead of a twentieth, and that a strict supervision was maintained over the market.

We have already heard the Greeks commending the severity and wisdom of the administration of justice. Megasthenes assures us that in the camp of Chandragupta, in which 400,000 men were gathered together,