Saturday, November 29, 2014


[* This is a review of the article "The Dravidian Kingdoms" in the Tamilian Antiquary No. 8. – Ed. L. T.]

    We have much pleasure in perusing the article above mentioned written by the well known authors whose opinions on any subject will be gratefully received by the Tamil public. They have evidently taken the greatest pains in distilling facts from fiction. The masterly way in which they have handled the subject in its epigraphical and archaeological points of view is indeed admirable and in it we get a glimpse of our ancient kings in the most critical and scientific light.

    The learned authors have made some conjectures regarding the origin of Pandiyans and their capital, but we regret that we are not given any clue as to the origin of the other two Tamilian kingdoms. We are furnished with the derivation of the words Pandiya and Madura which, with due deference to them, we have to dissent from. And nothing is suggested to us regarding the names of the other Tamilian kings and their capitals. The Chera country is practically left out. The Cheras are referred to in our standard works as independent kings, and Kamban is said to have regarded them as having been superior even to Chola in some respects. And it is an obvious fact that, during the age of Kamban, the three Tamilian monarchies were quite independent, none of them accepting any suzerain.

    The records that are available in our literature from which we can roughly infer the history of our ancient and medieval Tamil kingdoms may be classed under three arbitrary divisions viz., those that relate to the Pandiyans, those that deal with Cholas and those that refer to Cheras. The first category is pretty large whereas under the second we possess only a sufficient number, and the third thought we have only a few, has some good points for comparison. The cause of such a disparity is due to the physical and economic conditions of the countries. The Chera kingdom consists mainly of mountainous tracts wherein there was a better scope for physical culture than for the intellectual. Unlike the Chola and the Pandiyan, there was ever in Chera country a sort of struggle against nature. The power exercised by Cheras over their hilly tribes seems quite weak, and warfare with them was a matter of daily occurrence. Hence the Chera Patrons of Literature were few and far between. So there is neither a regular chronicle nor any continuous tradition of literature in this Tamil kingdom. Yet we can gather here and there certain facts concerning Cheras.

    The earliest Buddhists reference to Cheras is available in Manimekhalai. There we hear something of the once renowned city of Vanji and the popular Chera King Senkuttuvan. Whatever may be the date of Manimekhalai, and whether we are at one with Dr. Pope or not in that controversial matter, it is certain that at least in the first century B.C., Buddhism had considerable influence in the Chera country. Again some decades after Tiruvacagam we find there are predominance of Vaishnavitism. The traditions relating to the life "சேரலர்கோன்" Kulasekara Alvar, show that his courtiers and advisers unsuccessfully attempted to get rid of the Vaishnavites. Again two centuries later during the time of Sundaramurti Nayanar we hear of a Saivite Chera. These facts suggest that there was a conflict of religions even in this Tamilian Switzerland and Cheras, as a race, had no settles creed throughout.

    Regarding the literature of the Chera country we have not much which can be said to occupy an eminent position in the poetic sphere. Simplicity and straightforwardness seem to be the distinct characteristics of the whole Chera Kingdom. If Alvars are the true representatives of their land of birth, certainly the characteristics of Kulasekarar apply to the whole Chera country. Contrast his poetry in Nalayira Prabandham with the musical and rhetorical devices of Tirumalisai Alvar, the philosophical poetry of Nammalvar and Tondaradippodi, and the aesthetic disquisitions of Andal and Periyalvar, and you will find his poetry standing aloof from the rest by its simplicity of thought and sincerity of feeling.

    The Chera kingdom seems to be the earliest Tamilian kingdom in Southern India. There is some meaning in the compound word "சேர
," wherein Chera happens to be the first word. In our language a certain method is always exhibited in the building of any compound word. Unlike European languages, we have not so much freedom of choice in Tamil. A definite purpose always underlies any such action. In compound proper nouns of the Masculine gender in Tamil, the first word represent the senior the succeeding words being juniors in order. The order is thus the only permutation permitted in literary use. For instance, we say ராமலட்சுமணர்
and not
. And a permutation like சோழ
, produces a jarring sensation in our ears.

    It is probable that the earliest race of the Dravidian invaders from the South is Cheras who gave up sea faring if any and preferred to lead a jungle life. Perhaps the whole race was found of Palmyra trees either on account of its juice or fruit being agreeable to the warriors throughout the Indian summer. In determining the origin and the unknown history of any royal race, the flag, the garland and other emblems handed down from generation to generation, are not factors that can be neglected.

    It seems that in ancient days there were large tracts of land some hundreds of miles of Cape Comorin, the ancient abode of the Tamilians which we miss in our modern geography. We hear of at least three deluges before the fire of Madura spoken of in "the Chapter of the Anklet" (சிலப்பதிகாரம்). When they occurred and how much of the tracts was washed away and what still remains, remain yet to be discovered. But it is certain that three Tamilian races invaded the Southern India one after another. Cheras seemed to have occupied at first some portion of Tinnevelly and then, either owing to further inroads, or for love of adventures in more fertile regions, they seem to have traced their way safe into the hilly and forest regions of the Western Ghats, and subsequently kept themselves aloof, joining neither Cholas nor Pandiyas. Perhaps this neutral nature brought them the name Cherar, a corruption of the Tamil word சேரர் (Literally those that will not join). The main root of the word Cherar seems to be சேர்
(a pure Tamil word) though the latter half அர், is capable of being interpreted in many ways. Whether it is a nickname or not, it is not unusual among the ancient tribes to declare their policy openly and assume names consistent with it for fear of their being attacked by their more powerful neighboring tribes.

    The literary lethargy of the Chera Kingdom is perhaps due mainly to the fact that, unlike the Pandiyan, it had not civilized environments. Yet it was not wanting in its love for our literature. Poets like Kamban are alleged to have sought refuge in Chera court during their exile. But great poets preferred richer plains of Chola or Pandiya. The reason seems to be that Cheras were not rich enough to bestow much wealth on poets and poetry. But deserving men were not neglected. Hence we find only a minor order of Pandit congregation in the Chera Durbar, whose ambition was limited, caring more to learn what was created in the adjacent Nadus, than to create anything worth preserving. Owing to this we are disappointed even in the works that refer to Cheras to know that we are not able to trace any consistent history of their past.

    The learned article now reviewed has given us an interesting account of Cholas only from the tenth century A.D., and after. Their history before the tenth century A.D., is not one totally unknown. Taking the reliable elements in our Puranic accounts, we find that Cholas were thorns in the side of Pandiyans from time immemorial [i.e., from the time of puranic accounts, ever since the time Madura had been founded]. There were constant excursions from the north to the South into the Pandiyan territory. Again and again Cholas were driven out. Yet it had been the chief object in the life of a Chola King to conquer Madura. This is very similar to, and reminds us of, the fact in English history that every powerful English King in the middle ages wanted to recover his lost possessions in France. It is highly probable that the name Chola (சோழன்) means "the untiring", symbolized by the Tiger-flag. The sound ழா
peculiar only to the Tamilian is but a corrupted form of ரா as we find such instances in the English pronunciation of the letter R in words fastly repeated. So it is probable that the name (சோழர்) might have originally been (சோரார்) the indefatigables. Even when the Pandiyan power was at its zenith, Chola inroads were dreaded at Madura.

    Cholas appear to have invaded Southern India by the South and pushed their way onwards to the North into the plains of the Eastern Ghats. The change of their capital from one place to another especially from the South to the North implies that there were necessities for shifting the centre for concentrating the forces of their country. They were practically hemmed in one both sides – the Aryans from the North and Pandiyans from the South. This race was progressing in spite of the two counter currents that had tried to engulf it. In spite of the very powerful Aryan influence, Cholas preserved to some extent their individuality, for they had less affinity with the Aryans than their neighbors the Pandiyans.    

    In the Chola country, we find purer Tamilian characteristics in arts and literature than in the Pandiyan. Even in architecture the Pandiyan is different from the Chola. In the one, we find the richness of beauty par excellence, and in the other, strength combined with moral tone. In the Chola country, we have the most beautiful varieties of the different classes of land. For it was neither purely inland nor purely hilly. In Devaram we find excellent tropical sceneries incidentally described. Of such, those that often invited the observation of our Tamil saints and stirred up their enthusiasm are generally parts of the Chola country. The nature poetry therein, besides proposing complex, archaeological problems, instruct us at the present day as to the state of the Chola country during the 5th and the 6th century A.D. For instance, there are some hints in Devaram that Cholas encouraged ship-building. Perhaps they had to protect themselves even in the sea. The Bay of Bengal, now a quiet water, was turbulent once and some sea-coast towns had to float in water for days together.

    Leaving aside all traditions and Puranas, and confining ourselves to the internal evidence furnished by Tirunavukkarasu Nayanar Devaram, we find that "Saint Appar" was a true representative of the Chola kingdom. During his time the Chola country was something like a neuron irregular in shape, and capable of contracting and projecting its branches. But in the whole country, we find certain uniform characteristics that stand in contradistinction with those of the Pandiyan. Though in this country, Buddhism and Samanam had great influence, it was yet the stronghold of the Saivaites. Herein Sivam with stood the attacks of other religionists. In one of its sea-port towns was born the sage Jnana Sambandhar. Many a saint was born, and brought up here, and even now here are innumerable Hindu shrines by no means less important than any in other parts of the Tamilian work.

    Even during the Sangam ages, the Chola country was in no way illiterate. In learning as in other respects, it was a worthy rival of the Pandiyan. In the story of Tamil-Ariyum Perumal (தமிழறியும்
), Narkirar's success was by no means fairly won. Rejecting the unrealistic elements in the story, what can safely be extracted from it, is that the Pandit-standard in the Chola Durbar was as efficient as, if not better than, that of Madura Sangam-board. Tiruvalluvar and his sister the grand old lady may be said to have imbued with the Chola spirit.

    For at least four centuries after the abolition of the last Tamil Sangam at Madura, there is a dark gap in our literature. Nothing but unrest in both the Chola and Pandiyan kingdom could have been its primary cause. The conflict of religions and their interference in politics had much to do with it. Though we have strong grounds for presuming that many works were then brought out, it is indeed deplorable that not even a single work can, with any amount of certainty, be pointed out as belonging to the first four centuries A.D. (after the death of Tiruvalluvar). From the past we open our eyes as if awakened from a dream like the China wood-cutter enchanted in the demon-cave and are puzzled with a future which cannot logically be linked with the past. The dying distinctions between the Aryan and the Dravidian were buried and forgotten. And even the races were completely mixed up and coalesced with one another. It is to this coalescence we have to trace the folly of our myths in the wrong identification of our Tamilian kings with Kshatriyas, Velalas with Vaisyas or Sudras and their eighteen servant castes with Sudras and so forth.

    In determination the age, history or chronology of any ancient Tamil king, it is extremely dangerous to rely upon the accounts given either in the Sanskrit or in the Tamil Puranas. For their origin is comparatively late and they embody only certain fantastic flights of imagination in matters unknown. They were produced at a time when facts were not critically examined. It is an admitted fact that the Tamilian was earlier than Aryan in Southern India. Yet its literary growth was very much facilitated by the Aryan from the very beginning of our literature. The first (known) Tamil grammarian and the president of the first academy of Madura was one of the Sapta Rishis (seven immortal Aryan Sages). The Aryan or rather the Brahmanic influence in Southern India was all-absorbing. Their slow and steady pouring into the credulous ears of the Tamil kings that they are descendants of the famous Kshatriya races, lunar or solar, according to their temperaments, flattered them to the highest pitch. Thus arose various traditions which were multiplied in infinite varieties and were subsequently absorbed in the Aryan and Tamil Puranas. Yet there are small facts inseparable from the ancestry of our Tamil kings which negative the assumption of Puranas that the Tamil kings belonged either to the lunar or to the solar race.

    In discussing this question we are sorry we have to differ from the views expressed in the learned article as to derivation of the words Pandiya and Madura. The derivation of such old words is always puzzling, and many suggestions* may be made as to the origin of those words, but the correctness of any cannot be guaranteed. [* Panars (பாணர்) or the abbreviated பாண் caste seem to be a Tamilian tribe. In Malabar we find a caste known by the name Tiyars who by their complexion and their rank below Brahmans and Nayars (the descendants of Brahmans) seem to be a Tamilian race put down by the Brahmanic influence. Perhaps Pandiyan may be a combination of பாண்+தியன். But this is a matter that demands considerable research before expressing any definite opinion on the point.] The name Pandiya has no doubt a sound similar to that of the Sanskrit Pandavas. But similarity of sound is often misleading especially in our Etymology. Even in Mahabharata, Arjuna is alleged to have married a Pandiyan princess which presupposes that even if she were a relative she was beyond the prohibited degrees of consanguinity to him. The Puranic accounts only point out that Pandiyans were as ancient a race as that which ruled over Hastinapura. Marco Polo's reference of Sundar Bandi gives us no idea of anything pre-Aryan as the word Sundar itself is a Sanskrit word and the five brothers might have been named after the Pandavars long after the introduction of the Aryan civilization and religion. Our scholars contend that the word Pandiya is of a pure Tamil origin like the names of the other Tamil kings and the other names of Pandiyan.

    There is some peculiarity about the Margossa garland of Pandiyas. It is neither noted for its smell nor for beauty nor is it invested with any sacred quality by the Sastras. It is sacred only to one deity which is, in all probability, pre-Aryan. It is popularly known in our parts as Mari-Atta (மாரியாத்தா). In our parts we find even now the reminiscence of this deity-worship. She is a sort of Diana (Artemis) or a Kali wielding influence over epidemics like cholera, small pox etc., and protecting her devotees and doing a good lot of functions imposed upon her by the whims of superstition. A பாண்டம் (or a mid pot) is the vehicle with which she is worshipped and perhaps the worshippers of this deity were styled Pandiyas. This suggestion is not only strengthened by the peculiar garland but also by the Pandiyan fish-flag. Among the Dravidians the pictures in the flag were not drawn at random and we generally find some meaning and purpose in them. As for instance, the flag of Velalas contains representation of the implements of husbandry indicating their occupation. The original occupation of Pandiyas might have been fishing in the seas, for even in later days Pandiyas had control over several fisheries which were their main source of income. The virgin of the seas (worshipped by the Hindu fisherman) to whom Margossa is sacred, is undoubtedly a pre-Aryan deity worshipped even now by the fishermen of the Coromandal coast. So, whatever may be the origin of the word Pandiyan, it may be stated with a greater amount of probability that it has nothing to do with Pandu or Pandavas. It is doubtful whether any Aryan royal race had anything to do with the industries connected with the sea or its production.

    The learned authors deduce the word Madura form Muttra. Whether Muttra was named after the Pandiyan Capital which was very flourishing in ancient days, or the latter was named after the former, is not an easy matter to conjecture. Arguments are not wanting on both sides. Perhaps the coincidence is accidental. The word may be derived even from Tamil roots as the formation of the word itself is so very plastic, that it may be cast into different moulds.

    The historic Ugra Pandiyan, the contemporary of Tiruvalluvar, ought not to be confused with the mythical Ugra of our Puranas. The mother of this Romulus Tadatagai Piratti, is alleged to have ruled the whole of India and waged war with God Siva in the Mount Kailas. Her rule over the Pandiyan Kingdom is symbolic of the sway of the virgin goddess referred to (to whom Margossa was sacred), and her subsequent union with Siva represents the adoption in the Tamil land of the Aryan Saiva Religion. The blending of the two religions represents the marriage of Siva with Tadatagai Pirattiyar. Beyond this inference, we have only extremely dangerous grounds to tread upon. How many Ugras ruled after the mythical Ugra is one which cannot be determined for want of any reliable source. What we now possess are bits of historical information collected around the leading Tamil poets. We know something of Pandiya a little before the Christian era (the final stage of the third Sangam). Again for four centuries till the rise of Manikkavacagar, we have a big gap in the history of our literature itself. Again for a century till the rise of "Muvar" or the three saints, we have a small gap and after them till the tenth century A.D., we have no history. These gaps demand further research in the field of Tamilian Archaeology.

    The inscription taken notice of by the learned authors of the article supplement certain facts that we had already learnt about the triad of the golden age of our literature. Ottakuttan, Kamban and Pugazbendhi, the bards of the Chola court, have left us permanent monuments in our literature during the twelfth century A.D. The history of their lives is closely connected with the history of the Tamil kings. One of them at least was not a mere Court bard but virtually a minister or the ruler of the Chola state. Allowing a certain margin for the omnipresent hyperbole in all the writings of that period in prose or in poetry, the inscriptions corroborate certain results achieved with great difficulty by our scholars regarding the date etc., of Kamban and his contemporaries. When we survey the state of southern India during the period, we shall understand how these inscriptions help us in our researches.

    The beginning of the ninth century A.D., marks the commencement of a new era in the history of Saivaitism in Southern India. It marks the complete annihilation of Buddhism and Samanam in the Tamil countries. Even in Sundaramurti Nayanar's Devaram, we breathe the calm atmosphere of religious peace. There, we do not find the volleys of Sambandar or his pungent criticisms of other faiths nor the mild but biting sarcasms of Appar on Samanam and the Atheistic Buddhism. If we pass thence to Sekkizhar we suspect a tendency in his age for a revival of an imperfect Samanam which found no toleration. Hence we find a caricature of that religion even in Peria Puranam. The compilation of Tirumurai (திருமுறை) shows the peace of mind in the Tamil kingdoms and an ardent desire to know something about the past when our religion passed through the greatest ordeals. On the whole, we have almost a continuous period of literature from Sekkizhar to Kamban which implies that there were not long and continuous wars between the Chola and the Pandiyan kingdom.

    Among the industrial arts that found patronage in the Tamil kingdoms and obtained distinct individually, is the art of Sculpture. Though Sculpture seems to have flourished in India some centuries before Christ, it had been one in the hands of a select few who undertook works form kings. During the time of our early Tamil Saints, it was chiefly in the hands of the Samanas and Buddhists. The unrest of our country referred to hindered its progress. When Hinduism was permanently established, the long desired peace was obtained. During the tenth century A.D., Sculpture became less costly and different classes of sculptors arose who undertook works in various departments of their art for moderate changes. It found field side by side with Architecture and the building of various temples were undertaken by wealthy citizens or from subscriptions collected from the people. The Puranas that were patronized by our saints found real representations in temples and other places of worship. The unused rocks were well used by our artists. A tendency for laying foundation for the construction of history began to show itself. This is the reason why we find some good and useful inscriptions from the tenth century and after. Our people's attention towards arts shows that the Tamil nation was at its equilibrium. As we pass on from the medieval world of Devaram to the almost modern days of Ottakkuttan, we find a tendency for a thorough change in fashions and the degeneracy of peace slowly setting in.

    Behind the curtain of traditions narrated in Peria Puranam, we see some glaring facts. We can infer from them that even the hunchback Pandiyan's Durbar was in a precarious state. In it he had many conflicting uncontrollable elements. It is the genius of his minister that had much to do with the success of Sundara Pandiyan as a sovereign. It seems that the same degeneracy continued unto the last and the dissensions in the Pandiyan Royal family were quite common, and consequently there were innumerable intrigues with the Cholas. And these seem to be the cause of Chola's success in the Pandiyan territories. But the Chola wars and invasions never seem to have been systematic or continuous. For the policy of Cholas from the time of Karikalan and his successors was almost identical with that of Chingis Khan or Timur. Kalingattuparani would make them gods in human form. Perhaps it was sung by a bard who travelled gods in human form. Perhaps it was sung by a bard who travelled with Gangi Kondan Chola's in the campaigns against the valleys of the Ganges. The inscription of the Conjiveram temple may refer to one of such campaigns against the Pandiyas and a Pandiyan might have been killed in a skirmish. One such fact would be sufficient for his courtiers to style him with the name Madurantaka. For in the past Cholas, according to the Puranic accounts, never seem to have had any success over the Pandiyans. As observed before, a margin ought to be allowed for the exaggerative character of any writing of this period.

    The life of Ottakkuttan, in spite of gross injustice done to him by our scholars, gives us some clue as to the state of the Chola country during the early part of the twelfth century A.D. There is no doubt about his great statesmanship. It was he who induced his Chola (?) to marry a Pandiyan princess. To carry out this piece of diplomacy he was sent as an ambassador to the Pandiyan court. There is a deeper and an inner meaning in the stanza uttered by him in the Pandiyan court which was parodied by Pugalendi. There was a definite important motive in the very proposal of the match. Ottakkuttan's expression was really intended to give hints to the Pandiyan that the Chola help may be indispensable to him at some moment and that he should consider that he is fortunate in his alliance with the Chola.

    The probable date of this marriage seems to be the middle of the 12th century A.D. The war between the Chola and Pandiyan Kingdoms that resulted in the breaking down of the Pandiyan power seem to have commenced after the publication of Kamba Ramayanam. For we have no clear account of the closing period of the lives of the "triad" that ornamented the Chola court. Kamban is alleged to have been murdered by a Pandiyan. Even as to this point there is a difference of opinion. There are two readings for the stanza "வில்லம்பு சொல்லம்பு" which Kamban is alleged to have sung when he breathed his last. One set of Pandits prefer the reading "பார் வேந்தே" and the other "பாண்டியன்" of which the former is said to refer to Chola. Of the last part of the lives of the two other poets we do not know this much at least. We have no information as to how Ottakkuttan and Pugalendi ended their lives. The inscriptions mentioned in the learned article help us to understand the reason why it is so. There ought to have been a sudden outburst of some war in the Tamil states which diverted the attention of the people to more important and inspiring themes than the devotion to poetry and its imaginative realms.

    In conclusion, we are only sorry that the part I alone of the interesting essay on the Dravidian Kingdoms has been published by the Secretary of the Tamilian Archaeological society. It is always highly desirable that such learned essays ought not to be published piecemeal. So we hope an early publication of the remaining part or parts.

    E. N.T.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Supposed Maya Origin of the Elaphocephalous Deity Ganesha.*
[Extract from the Journal of the Anthropological Society of Bombay Vol. VIII. No. 7 – Ed. S. D.]
    The attention of orientalists has been recently drawn to the study of the origin of the worship of the Hindu elaphocephalous deity Ganesha and of the ceremonies performed in Western India in connexion therewith, in a paper read before the Anthropological Society of Bombay, on the 30th August 1905, and published at pp. 479 – 491 of its Journal, Vol. VII, No. 7. In this paper, the author Mr. Ranganath Sadasiva Jayakar has tried to prove (and, I think, he has succeeded in doing so) that the cult of the deity Ganesha has been known to the Hindu since a long time anterior to the period of the red action of the Vedas, which is computed by competent Vedic scholars to have ranged from B. C. 2000 to B. C. 1400. He has further shown therein that, in the Vedas, there are two Suktas, viz., the Brahmanaspati and the Vinyak Sukta, that one of the hymns of the Rigveda opens with the words (i.e. Ganpati is the pati or master of host or things which exist) and that, in the Rigveda, the name of Ganpati or Ganesha is not so prominent as that of Brahmanaspati, the two being identical. In fact, the whole trend of the author's argument therein is to the effect that the cult of Ganesha originated in India in the pre-Vedic times.
    But, as if by way of counterblast to the aforementioned argument about the Indian origin of Ganesha worship, a startling theory was propounded about thirteen years ago to the effect that the cult of the elaphocephalous deity Ganesha originated among the Mayas § [§ Squires, who has more than any other traveller, studied the different races in America, has proposed the term Nahuatls for the people of Mexico and Central America. The southern branch of the Nahuatls was known as the Aztecs who occupied Mexico and were subjected by the Spaniards. The Mayas were another branch of the Nahuatls, who occupied Yucatan and were very nearly affiliated to the Aztecs of Mexico.] of Yucatan in Central America and that it was introduced into India from thence. The author of this theory is the eminent American explorer and archaeologist, Dr. Augustus Ie Plougeon, who spent some twelve years of his life in exploring the wondrous antiquarian remains of Yucatan in Central America, and in deciphering the inscriptions carved on the walls of those ancient buildings. A popular and fascinating account of these researches of Dr. Plougeon and of his accomplished wife, Madame Ie Plougeon, who shared with him the hardships and perils of that long period of exploration in the wild and obscure recesses of Yucatan was published by his friend, Mr. D. R. O'Sullivan, H.B.M., Vice-consul at Pemba, under the title of "A fairy tale of Central American Travel" in the Review of Reviews (English) for September, 1895, pp. 271-281. In the course of his paper, Mr. O'Sullivan has set forth, inter alia, Dr. Plougeon's conclusions (based on his discovery and decipherment of the Yucatan; that the legend about Cain and Abel (given in the book of Genesis) had its birth place in the latter country: that the Sphinx was a monument erected by his sorrowing spouse to the memory of her slain lord Abel; that the ancient Egyptian mysteries were transplanted wholesale from Yucatan; and that the Greek alphabet is simply a Yucatanese version of the destruction of the lost Atlantis.
    Among the other bold speculations of Dr. Plougeon, of which an extremely interesting account has been given in the aforementioned paper, is the theory, referred to above, that the cult of the elaphocephalous deity did not originate in India but that it had its inception among the Mayas of Yucatan, and was introduced by them into India, and that King Can deified, who was figured as a human being with the head of a mastodon, was the antitype of the Hindu elephant-headed god Ganesha. This bold conclusion is sought to be supported with the arguments that, (1) because the deity Ganesha is painted red, which is the peculiar colour of the American race, and (2) as the practice of children being carried by their mothers astride their hips, and (3) the custom of importing the figure of a hand dipped in a red liquid prevail both in Yucatan and India, the introduction into India of the cult of the elaphocephalous deity by Maya colonists from Yucatan, becomes all the more plausible. Dr. Plougeon's reasoning will be best set forth in his own words as contained in the following extract from the aforesaid paper :-
    "Dr. Ie Plougeon's researches also give a clue to the probable origin of elephant-worship in India. The Hindus, as is well known, represent Ganesha, the god of wisdom, as a human body, coloured red, and surmounted with the head of an elephant. This is the most popular of all their images, and it is sculptured or painted over the door of every house as a protection against evil. The legends, purporting to account for this form of worship, are so numerous and so contradictory that it may safely be assumed that the true origin is not known. Turning to Yucatan, we find in the Troano MS, that the "Master of the Land," King Can deified, is therein depicted under the guise of a human form with the head of a mastodon. Presumably the Mayas adopted that animal as the symbol of their great ruler, from the fact of its being the largest and strongest creature with which they were acquainted, and as such would naturally be for them symbolical of strength and power. On the façade of the building at Chichin-Itza, called by the natives "Kuna" (the house of Gods), - the same building to which Stevens gives the name of Iglesia – there is a sculptured tableau representing the worship of that great pachyderm, the head of which with the trunk constitutes the principal decoration of the temples and palaces which were built by members of the family of King Can. Here, then, is another most curious "coincidence". May not the truth be, as Dr. Ie Plougeon suggests, that the worship of the elephant was introduced into India by colonists from Mayax, where the worship of the mastodon was so general? The fact of the body of Ganesha being invariably painted red, which is the characteristic colour of the American race, lends additional probability to this view. Certain characteristic customs, moreover, which obtain in India, such for example, as the habit of mothers carrying the child astride on the hip, and of worshippers impressing upon the walls of the temples the imprint of the hand dipped in a red liquid, serve to strengthen the theory of a Mayan immigration, since the red imprint of a human hand is commonly met with on the walls of the temples in Yucatan, and the women of that country still carry their children astride on the hips."
    In refutation of the aforesaid theory, it may be asserted that the customs, from the simultaneous prevalence whereof in Yucatan and India, the inference about a Mayan immigration into the latter country has been drawn, are of so insignificant a character that it is not safe to rely on them at all. Firstly, the practice of depicting the symbol of the outstretched hand, in red colour, on temples and houses, is not confined to Yucatan and India only, but it prevails in other countries also. Mr. S. M. Edwardes, I. C. S, in his very interesting Presidential Address, delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Anthropological Society of Bombay, on the 26th February 1907, referred to this custom and, after describing the various forms in which it is practised in India, observed as follows : - *
[Vide the Journal of the Anthropological Society of Bombay, Vol. VIII. Pp. 24-25]
    "But India is not the only country that acknowledges and reveres the Mystic Hand. The aborigines of Australia place it on their caves and shelters, coloured white to ward off death by incantations, and red to protect against the evil eye; and they even preserve the several hand of a dead chieftain as a tribal protective charm. It appears on the Alhambra Palace in Spain, a relic perchance of Moslem sovereignty during the days of the Khalifs: Carved out of red coral, it hangs round the necks of the children of Italy: it was an oft-repeated image upon the ex-voto of ancient Carthage, and is figured at the present day upon houses in Morocco and Palestine, to ward off evil from the dwellers therein. Among the Semitic races, it appears to have typified to have Divine might. The celebrated pyramid of Borsippa was called "The temple of the right hand; one of the names of Babylon was "the city of the celestial hand;" while the hand emerging from a pyramidal base, stamped on a Chaldean cylinder, has served as the prototype of our modern Hand of Justice. And if we turn to Christian countries and Christian symbolism we again find the Hand, emerging from a cloud or encircling a cross, used as a simulacrum of Providence in its highest conception. Remark also how the mystic power of the Hand gives rise in succeeding ages to the mudras of Hinduism, the indigitamenta of ancient Rome, the imposition of hands in the Christian Scriptures: let use recall the primitive red hand of Ireland; and we shall realize that even in this one small matter of the symbolic Hand there is a link, albeit perhaps a broken one, between peoples of widely differing nationality."
    This being so, are we justified in arguing that, because the custom of depicting the red imprint of a human hand, which prevails in Yucatan is also in vogue in such far off lands as Australia, Spain, Carthage, Morocco, Palestine and other countries, a band of Maya colonists must have emigrated from Yucatan and introduced the aforementioned custom into the latter regions? My answer to this query is an emphatic No! It is my humble opinion that it would be foolish on our part if we argue in this strain, because there is not extant any evidence at all from which it can be proved that there was ever any communication between the inhabitants of the former and those of the latter countries during any period of time of which we have got record.
    Secondly, the practice of women carrying children astride the hips is not confined to any particular race of people. On the contrary, it is prevalent among many races of people and in many lands. Is it therefore, consistent with reason to argue that, because the practice of carrying the children astride the hips, which is in vogue in Yucatan, is also prevalent among the womenfolk of other lands, the same must have been introduced thither by Maya colonists? There is no proof what ever of any intercourse having existed, at any time of which we have record, between the womenfolk of Yucatan and those of the latter countries. Consequently, this argument, too, of Dr. Augustus Ie Plougeon in support of his theory of the Maya origin of the elaphocephalous deity Ganesh also falls to the ground.
    Thirdly, Dr. Augustus Ie Plougeon argues that because the characteristic colour of the American people is red, and because the elaphocephalous deity Ganesha is also invariably painted red ergo the Mayas of Yucatan in Central America must have introduced the cult of the said divinity into India. But we find that red is the characteristic colour of British heraldry, as it is the chief colour of the very valiant and courageous nation of Spain. A writer in the Globe (of London), discussing the interesting subject of the symbolism of colour, says: - "Red has always been the badge of courage. In heraldry, it has the added significance of magnanimity. Therefore have not Britons done well to make it their own, for do they not pride themselves on never hitting a man who is down? Moreover, it is the chief colour of that very valiant and very courteous nation of Spain. Christian symbolism call red the bloodshed for the faith, and employs it on the day sacred to martyrs. Red is the colour of magic, and the pointed caps of the Good People have never varied from the hue which lies under the influence of the ruby planet Mars.* [* Quoted in the Hindu, Patriot (daily) of Friday, the 21st April 1899.] Are we, there fore, warranted in coming to the conclusion that, because red is the peculiar colour of the American race, and because red is also the characteristic colour of British heraldry and the chief colour of the Spaniards, the Mayas of Yucatan must have emigrated to England and introduced the red colour into the latter country? There is ample historical evidence to prove that, in remote antiquity, maritime and commercial intercourse existed between the ancient Britons and those "Pedlars of the Ancient World" – the Phoenicians, the Ancient Romans and many other nations and races of by gone ages. But for aught we know, there is not a title of evidence to show that any communication ever existed between the Mayas of Yucatan on the one hand, and the ancient Britons on the other. Nor has the search-light of modern research been able to discover in English culture and civilizations the least trace whatever of Mayan or Aztec influence. Thus, the third argument of Dr. Augustus Ie Plougeon also fails.
    On the other hand, there is extant evidence of a somewhat satisfactory character which shows that, before the arrival of the Spaniards in the New World, there existed communications between the people of Central America and the East Asia, and most likely through East Asia with India. Now there is extraordinary coincidence between the chronological and astronomical systems of the Nahuatls or ancient Mexicans and the Eastern Asiatics. The system of reckoning cycles of years in vogue among the ancient Mexicans, bears a striking resemblance to that found in use in different parts of Asia. But both the aforesaid systems are so artificial I their construction and so troublesome in practice that it is very unlikely that they were evolved independently in the two continents. Moreover, the ancient Mexicans correctly oriented the sides of their pyramidal temples towards the different quarters of the heavens, and had also ancient myths and traditions of the four ages or four epochs of destruction of the world, and the dispersion of mankind after a great flood of waters. From these striking resemblances, the celebrated German savant, Buron von Humboldt, sought to prove that the ancient Mexicans originally came from Asia, as will appear from his following arguments: - "I inferred the probability of the western nations of the new continent having had communications with the east of Asia long before the arrival of the Spaniards from a comparison of the Mexican and Tibeto-Japanese calendars, - from the correct orientation of the steps of the pyramidal elevations towards the different quarters of the heavens, and from the ancient myths and traditions of the four ages of four epochs of destruction of the world, and the dispersion of mankind after a great flood of waters.* [* Humboldts "Aspects of nature" Vol. ii, p. 174]
    But another scholar the late Mr. Thomas Belt, F. G. S., the author of that charming book of travels and natural history observations entitled: "The naturalist in Nicaragua," who has studied the aforesaid question, is of opinion that the extraordinary coincidence between the chronological and astronomical systems of the Nahuatls or ancient Mexicans and of the Eastern Asiatics might have been brought about by some of the latter having been stranded on the shores of America – a fact, which he says, is very probable, considering that there is perfectly reliable evidence extant of a Japanese ship with its crew having been stranded on the coast of California. The evidence referred to above is contained in Kotzebue's narrative of his voyage round the world and is as follows:- "Looking over Adam's diary, I found the following notice – Brig Forester, March 24, 1815, at sea, upon the coast of California, latitude 32° 45´ N. longitude 135° 3´ W. We saw this morning, at a short distance, a ship, the confused state of whose sails showed that they wanted assistance. We bent our course towards her, and made out the distressed vessel to the Japanese, which had lost both mast and helm. Only three dying Japanese, the captain and two sailors, were found in the vessel. We took these unfortunate people on board our brig, and after four months nursing, they entirely recovered. We learned from these people that they had sailed from the harbour of Osaka, in Japan, bound for another seaport, but were overtaken by a storm, in which they lost the helm and mast. Till that day their ship had been drifting about, a mere butt for the winds and waves, during seventeen months; and of 35 men only three remained, all the other having died of hunger.'"
    Relying on the aforesaid evidence, Mr. Belt argues thus: -
    "Is it not likely that in ancient times such accidents may have occurred again and again and that information of the astronomical and chronological systems of Eastern Asia may thus have been brought to the Nahuatls, who, from the case with which they embraced the religion of the Spaniards, are shown to have been open to receive foreign ideas?
    "The three arguments on which Humboldt principally relied to prove that a communication had existed between the east of Asia and the Mexicans, may be explained without adopting his theory that the Nahuatls had travelled round from the old world. The remarkable resemblance of the Mexican and Tibeto Japanese calendars might result from the accidental stranding of a Japanese or Chinese vessel on their shores bringing to them some man learned in the astronomy of the Old world. The correct orientation of the sides of their pyramidal temples was but the result of their great astronomical knowledge and of the worship of the sun. And the resemblance of their traditions of four epochs of destruction and of the dispersion of mankind after a great flood of waters arose from the fact that the great catastrophes that befell the human race at the melting of the ice of the glacial period were universal over the world." * [* For a fuller discussion of this subject, vide "the Naturalist in Nicaragua" by Thomas Belt, F. G. S and Edition, London: Edwards Bagnpus, 888, pp 370 373]
    Weighing the Evidence adduced in support of the theory of the emigration of the Nahuatls or ancient Mexicans from Eastern Asia, against that brought forward to prove the hypothesis of the accidental stranding, on the shores of Central America, of a Japanese or Chinese vessel which brought to their country some man learned in all the wisdom and lore of Eastern Asia, I am humbly of opinion that the evidence preponderates in favour of the latter theory which appears to be a more plausible one. This being so, we may conclude that some learned man from Eastern Asia communicated to the ancient inhabitants of Mexico, and, for the matter of that, of Central America the knowledge of astronomy and kindred subjects.    
    Now Yucatan is adjacent to Mexico. If it be possible for a learned man from East Asia to have communicated to the ancient inhabitants of Mexico the knowledge of all the wisdom and lore of Eastern Asia, is it not possible for the same man to have communicated knowledge of the religious ideas of Eastern Asia to the ancient people of Yucatan which is so closely adjacent to Mexico? I humbly think that such an event is possible.
    Now it may be asked: "Is there any evidence extant from which it can be shown that Hindu religion and civilization had ever been transplanted to Eastern Asia?" In reply to this query, it may be stated that there is ample testimony, and that of a very convincing character to prove that, at an early period of history, the culture of the Hindus flourished in all its vigour in East Asia and that Hindu missionaries propagated in the Far East the doctrines of Hindu religion. The discovery of extensive Hindu architectural remains and Sanskrit inscriptions have shown that the Hindus had established a powerful kingdom in Cambodia in the Far East. It is mentioned as Champa in the classical writings of the Hindus and is also alluded to by the Chinese annalists and the celebrated Venetian traveller of the Middle Ages – Marco Polo. The French Orientalists, M. M. Barth and Bergaigne, have deciphered the aforesaid inscriptions in Sanskrit; and their researches into these epigraphic records have shown that, as early as the seventh century A. D. the whole religious and philosophical systems of classical India, and all its rhetoric and literary habits were naturalised in far off Cambodia on the outskirts of China that Saivas, Vaishnavas, and Buddhists lived side by side and in some sort of promiscuity that the Ramayana and Mahabharat were considered sacred on the borderlands of distant Laos; and that Kind Somasarman presented a temple with copiers of the two aforementioned epic poems and of the puranas and had them recited every day.* [* For a fuller account of this subject, see the late Mr. E. Rehatsek's excellent article on Hindu Civilization in the Far East which appeared in Vol. I, pages 505-532 of the Bombay Anthropological Society's Journal; as also a Review of M. Barth's Inscriptions Sanskrites Du Cambodge in the Indian Antiquary Vol. XVII for 1888, pp 31-32.]
    We have further historical evidence to show that several Indian Princes ruled in Upper Burma and Siam. As far back as 105 A. D, an Indian king named Samuda reigned in Upper Burma; whereas in 322 A. D, a prince of Cambodia in north-west India established a kingdom in Siam. † [† A History of Assam. By E. A. Gait, I. C. S. Calcutta: Thacker Spink & Co. 1900, p. 14]
    In some remote period of antiquity, the Hindus established their supremacy in Java also, where they appear to have disseminated the tenets of their religion most successfully, as is testified to by the numerous remains of great temples and beautifully carved sculptures of Hindu deities which exist there even at the present day. The Hindu religion flourished there till about 1478 A. D. when it was supplanted by Islam. The ruins of the great temple at Borobodo and those at Bramhanam and Gunong Pran still attest to the civilized world to what pitch of greatness the Hindu religion had attained at not a very remote period of history. The Hindu goddess Durga, called in Java, Lora Jonggrang (the exalted Virgin) was the favourite deity of the old Javanese; and her image (a bas relief representing her being figured in Wallace's The Malay Archipelago) is often found in the ruined temples which abound in the eastern part of the island. Various other deities of the Hindu pantheon were also worshipped there; and their images too exist there even at the present day – facts which can be ascertained by any one visiting the Archaeological Galleries of the Indian Museum at Calcutta, wherein various sculptured figures of Hindu gods brought from Java are exhibited in the ground floor halls to the right of the entrance vestibule.
    Among these are two images of the elaphocephalous deity Ganesha, in an excellent state of preservation, to which the attention of the visitor is particularly drawn and which have been described as follows: -* [* Catalogue and Handbook of the Archaeological collections in the Indian Museum. By J. Anderson, M. D. Part II, Calcutta: Printed by order of the Trustee, 1883, pp. 359 9. 361-2.]
    (1) "A fine figure of Bitara Gana or Ganesa seated on a lotus throne. The figure has a richly foliated coronal mukula with a human skull in front of it. Two long ringlets hang down on each shoulder, and the Brahman's thread is over the left shoulder. Only one hand of the four arms remains, and it holds a rosary. There are the usual ornaments on the arms and round the neck, but the waist is girt with ornamented belt or sabuk, which holds up the richly figures sarong or jarit that reaches down to the chubby feet of the statue. A Ganesa similar to this has been figured by Sir Stamford Raffles." § [§ Raffles History of Java (1817) Vo. II, p. 13]
    (2) "A figure of Ganesa. The figure, as in the previous one, is seated cross-legged, with the soles of the club feet opposed. He has four arms, and, in his right upper hand is a rosary, and in the other right hand a lotus flower, while his up raised left hand holds an axe, and the lower left hand a bowl in which he inserts his trunk. The head-dress is much the same as in Ja. 12, and, like it, bears a human skull in front. There is a nimbus behind the head sculptured on the plain back slab. The ears are thrown outwards as in the previous figure of Ganesa, and the ornaments are much the same as in it. Figures similar to it are figured by Sir Stamford Raffles." * [* Catalogue and Handbook of the Archaeological collections in the Indian Museum. By J. Anderson, M.D. Part II, Calcutta; Printed by order of the Trustees. 1883, pp. 358-; 361-2.]
    Similarly, India exercised a powerful religious influence over Japan in the past. Mr. J. N. Farquhar, M.A. a gentleman well-known in Calcutta for his evangelistic labours in connection with the Theistic Mission, went to Japan sometime ago. In the course of his sojourn there, he found there many images of Buddhist deities which are extremely Hindu in appearance. He writes that a large number of deities of the Hindu pantheon have found their way to the Land of the Rising Sun, that, in some of the shrines there, he actually came across the images of Indra and Brahma and that Yama, the Hindu god of death, is one of those deities whose carved representations are commonly found in Japanese temples. The cult of the Tantras as also the doctrines of Pantheism and Avatars also appear to have exercised a potent sway over the Japanese mind. Shintoism, the state of religion of Japan, is only the doctrine of Avatars adapted to the spiritual requirements of the Japanese. Architecture and sculpture were also introduced into Japan from India. The Japanese shrines and the images installed therein display, in a striking way, the influence of Indian art and thought, so much so that Mr. Farquhar says that "no one who knows India can walk through Japan today without being strikingly impressed with the many Indian features which still remain visible after so many centuries." Another noteworthy fact is that, just as in India all the sacred hymns and formula of the Hindus are composed in Sanskrit – their sacred language, the rituals in the Buddhist temples of Japan are, in the same way, still chanted in the Sanskrit language. The religious books of the Japanese are written in Sanskrit language but in Chinese characters. During the last half century or there about, a goodly number of ancient Sanskrit MSS, and inscriptions have been discovered in Japan. All these facts prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Sanskrit, the sacred language of the Hindus, was studied extensively in the Land of the Rising Sun in the remote periods of antiquity, and that, by means of this medium, the Japanese must have acquired an intimate knowledge of the religious system and lore of the ancient Hindus. To put the whole matter in a nutshell, it may be stated that India is the fountain head, the Jons et origo of Japanese culture. It is with a good deal of truth that Mr. Farquhar says that the same good offices, which India performed towards Japan, she also did, in varying measure , for China, Mongolia, Tibet, Annam, Siam, Jana, Burma, not to mention Ceylon. "All peoples of the East", he adds, "learned from Hindustan; all were proud to acknowledge her supremacy and to drink from the following fountain. For a thousand years, counting from Asoka, India continued to give out the riches of her storehouse to the nations of the East; but after 750 years after Christ, this spontaneity gradually ceased. But though India no longer continued to give forth as before, yet the influence of Buddhism in the East was neither short lived nor superficial. It moulded the life and character of these peoples to an extraordinary degree; and the results have lasted down to our days." * [* Vide an article entitled: "India's Influence upon Japan in the Past" in The Maha-Bodhi and the United Buddhist
World (published from Colombo, Ceylon, for June 1908, pp. 85-87
    By the evidence adduced in the preceding paragraphs, it has been proved to the very hilt that the religious and philosophical systems and lore, the whole body of religious customs and rituals, nay, the whole culture of the ancient Hindus had been transplanted into the countries of the Far East, where the same flourished in all their strength and vigour till a late period of history. This being so, is it not possible for a man, learned in all the religious lore of the ancient Hindus, to have been stranded on the shores of Central America in some remote period of antiquity, and to have communicated to the ancient inhabitants of Yucatan the knowledge of the various gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon, including that of the elaphocephalous deity Ganesha? If we rely on the late Mr. Belt's arguments supra which are based on a substratum of fact, we think we are justified in concluding that this is possible, and that, at least, the theory about the knowledge of the Hindu elaphocephalous deity Ganesha having been communicated from India to the ancient inhabitants of Yucatan, is a more plausible one than the counter-hypothesis, propounded by Dr. Augustus le Plougeon, of a body of Maya colonists having emigrated from Yucatan to India and introduced into the latter country the cult of the mastodon-headed King Can which ultimately took the shape of the elephant headed deity Ganesha.
    The next results of the forgoing discussion may be stated as follows:- (1) The theory of the cult of mastodon-headed King Can having been introduced from Yucatan in Central America to India by a body of Maya colonists is not borne out even by a single fact. (2) On the contrary, there is reliable evidence to show that the Japanese have occasionally been stranded on the shores of America. (3) It is possible that some learned man from the Far East of Asia might, in the same way as the aforementioned Japanese were, have been stranded on the shores of Central America and disseminated among the ancient inhabitants of the latter country, a knowledge of the culture of Far Eastern Asia. (4) There is overwhelming evidence to show that the ancient Hindus had transplanted their religion into some of the countries of Far-Eastern Asia, not excepting Japan where images of several Hindu deities exist even at the present day. (5) It is possible that some Eastern Asiatic, learned in all the religious lore of the ancient Hindus, might, in the same way as the aforementioned Japanese were, have been stranded on the shores of Central America and propagated in Yucatan the cult of the Hindu elaphocephalous deity Ganesha which took the shape there of the mastodon-headed King Can.

Monday, November 3, 2014


    On page 139 of this Journal of September there is published a letter from Mr. R. Shunmukha Mudaliyar which raises some important points for consideration. They are of course those which the orthodox ordinarily put forth whenever an attempt at introducing a reasonable reform into the society is made. He says, "The caste system in India is a practical result going on in harmony with the religious progress or evolution." The caste system that we see at present in existence is no doubt the result of the working of the system for several centuries past. But can it be contended that it grew as a consequence of the growth of religiosity? It is something quite different from that which was set down by the great sages. It has only the mere form, without the spirit, of the ideal caste system preached to us by the several lawgivers. If the form can be taken as supplying the place of the spirit and if both can be regarded as one and the same the existing system may severe us well. But the spirit is something quite distinct from form and the latter has to be modified or sometime transformed as every new phase of the spirit comes into play, suiting the needs of the times. It is in this light that all our sacred books have been interpreted by thinkers both ancient and modern. In the first article on 'The Sudra and the Sastra'*, [* Vide pp. 31-37 in July Number of this Journal – Ed. L.T] the writer has quoted, from the celebrated commentary of Sankara on the Gita, a passage wherein the rationale of the caste system has been explained by the great preacher. Tested by the criterion laid down there, there will be no difficulty in understanding that the system is not what it ought to be and unless it is thoroughly modified, it is agreed on all hands, that it is becoming obstructive to all progress. Among the moderns Svami Vivekananda who has been quoted in the article in question, the Hon. Mr. G. K. Gokhale, and recently the Hon. Mr. Justice Sankaran Nair have spoken to the same effect.

    When it is said that Mr. Chamberlain dined with royalty, it is meant to be conveyed that royalty has recognized merit even in a man of a caste which in India we call degraded and vile. If it can be claimed for the caste system that it allows merit to have its due place in society there will be no cause for complaint against it. Whether the progress is spiritual or otherwise the ground principle ought to be the recognition of merit wherever found, or the system where such recognition is not existing is bound to collapse as it will be the case with the caste system if it does not take care to mend itself. Recognition of merit leads men to more exertion on their part and exertion if properly put forth makes way for progress. One is at a loss to know if dining with royalty prevents a man from thinking with Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa or Saint Tayumanavar. We have read in some of our sacred books that some of our greatest sages whom we revere even today are the recipients of boundless hospitality from kings and it cannot be said for a moment that their spirituality has in any way become lessened. It is only merit, inborn capacity that makes a man great either spiritually or otherwise. Mere dining sinks into insignificance before this great moral law. Spirituality is no doubt the end and sociology or caste system are all means to that end. Dining with royalty after all means recognition of merit. If recognition of merit can be taken as conveying that the means and the end are equal then there is a wide gulf between the writer of the article as it is understood and the critic and it is not Justice to argue that royalty is vying with Divinity in its real sense. It is possible to conceive of instances where a soul can stand 'on the highest rung of the ladder' both socially and spiritually at the same time. The one status does not at all make anybody ineligible for the other. The only consideration is that he who is in a position to become spiritually advanced would not care to work up his material elevation. However there are examples of personages who are both socially and spiritually great. Rama and Janaka were such and are regarded as having taken birth in this world for the sake of humanity.

    Mr. Mudaliyar raises the question of inter-dining in the course of his letter. Sastras allowed inter dining somewhat freely among the first three castes. Those members are called the twice-born. But even among the Sudras, there were a few from whom a Bramana was permitted to take food.

    Parasara who wrote his code fro the Kaliyuga laid down: "A Brahmana can safely partake of the boiled rice of a Dasa, Napita, Gopala, Kulamitra, and Ardhasiri among Sudras as well as that of one who has resigned himself to his care." But the practice was allowed to fall into desuetude in later times.

    Animal diet is another of the question raised. One, cannot understand how, if 'addicted to animal diet,' men cannot 'agree and think of the Supreme Siva successfully'. There is nothing to prevent a man whether a flesh-eater or vegetarian from contemplating on the Supreme self. The Aryan were once flesh-eaters. Perhaps at the time when Vedas and Upanishats had been composed, there is reason to believe, that flesh eating must have been common. Manu and other legislators intervened and restricted the use of meat to sacrifices and Sraddhas. Yajnawalkya says, "The departed manes become gratified with … fish, venison, mutton, meat of birds, goat, spotted antelope Ena (deer), Ruru (deer), boar (pork) and have successively for one month more. The meat of rhinoceros, and of fish having large scales…the meat of black goat…is said to yield un-ending fruits; there is no doubt (Ch. I-258-261)." Gradually there was a re-action in favor of vegetables diet pure and simple and when Parasara wrote the first three twice-born castes and a few sects among the Sudras had become vegetarians. Probably the change was due to the benevolent teachings of Buddha. Vegetarianism is also now making progress in some of the Western countries and its spread is due partly to the fact that animal life should be treated with tenderness and, partly to the growing recognition that it helps intellectual and spiritual growth. But whatever it is vegetarianism is steadily growing as it did in ancient times. However, that is no reason why those who are addicted to vegetarianism should dissociate themselves from those who are not and think it necessary that one should be a pure vegetarian in order to deserve social equality with them. Vegetarianism is not an unknown thing even among the lowest castes. There are days among them when a purely Vegetable meal is religiously taken. Hence, there will be no difficulty in instituting a inter dining on a vegetable basis provided the superior castes are willing to move.

C. A. N.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


'Service forms the Tapas of a Sudra.' Manu Chapter XI. V. 236.

    Lord Morley said, on a very important occasion, "I do not in the least want to know what happened in the past except as it enables me to see my way more clearly through what is happening today." So, as he laid down, the only purpose of history is to enable its student to understand what is going at present. This explanation of the study of past events will be appreciated by those who try to account for the extraordinarily complex nature of the Hindu Society as it exists today. There are twenty Samhitas extant which are the religious codes framed by the ancient law-givers. In spite of the fact that the extant codes are only portions of the original ones, they furnish us with information which is sufficient to give us an insight into the nature of the Society, of the times, for the guidance of which they were specially written. Some of these codes such as, the Manu Samhita, the Yajna Valkya Samhita and the Vishnu Samhita, are more comprehensive than others and deal with all manner of subjects bearing immediately on the progress of society, as the term progress was understood by them. But the codes are mainly religious in their scope and everyone of them has got something to say, on the several rites which every orthodox Hindu ought to undergo and almost all of which survive, even to the present day, though in outward form, from the hour of his very conception till that of his death and on the penances enjoined on him for the purification of his sins. A study of these codes is essential, if one wishes to know the various stages in the gradual growth of the Hindu Society and 'to see his way more clearly through' the complexity of customs and isolating tendencies which form its present weakness, which mainly contribute to its gradual decay and will ultimately pull it to pieces if remedies should not opportunity be applied to resuscitate it to fresh vigour and the reformation may be introduced on the laws of growth which influence the other communities of the world, without in any way deviating from the noble ideals preached by the ancient sages of India, some of which admit of such a wide application as will entitle them to stand for ever.


    In the caste system as conceived by the Rishis, the Sudra, says Mr. M. N. Dutt, was originally, an evangelist of service – a title which the greatest philanthropic worker nowadays will be proud to have – and he regards Sudratvam as identical with Karmatvam (work, action or service). The Sudras, though belonging to one of the four principal orders, have received very scant attention at the hands of the law-givers and it is a weary and laborious search in the several volumes of the Samhitas, to find one couplet here and another couplet there, which bear directly upon him. Meagre as is the information, however, what is furnished on this subject is, one would think, adequate to form a correct, idea of the position he held in those days. It is not that of an 'evangelist of service'. Nowhere, do we read in the Smritis that a Sudra was being treated with that reverence which ought to be shown to 'an evangelist of service'. That is, undoubtedly, the ideal which the Rishis pointed out for the guidance of the superior orders, but prejudice, accumulating for ages, stood in the way of its being realised, frustrated the good intentions of the legislators. But the Sudras were mere servants, they occupied a low status in the Society, they had a few privileges granted to them with great difficulty, these few privileges were gradually contracted, till all social relationship was fully cut off. They had few facilities or none for study, they were prohibited by law from occupying any official position in the state, the king appointing Sudras to offices in the state being cursed with the visitation of plague, famine, and they sometimes were artisans. Sudratvam, as stated by Mr. M. N. Dutt, ahs now become 'synonymous with something low or vile.'

    The caste system has engaged the attention of several eminent men both Indian and European and its is agreed, on all hands that it originated out of the necessity for a division of labour, in order to ensure the healthy growth of the individual and all-round progress of the Society as a whole. The Smritis have got their own version of the origin to give and as it is usually the case with our ancient books, a religious turn has been given to it. For the good of the world, four-fold division of functions has been considered to be necessary. Thinking, affording protection against enemies, supplying sustenance for the continuance of life, and serving, are the four broad divisions of the Divine energy, which is embodied in the Brahman on the eve of the creation. So, it is said, the mouth of the Brahman as embodying the function of thinking, has given forth the first order who is to do the thinking portion of the work for the humanity and to be known as the Brahmans. Out of his hands, as embodying the second function, has proceeded the second order whose business is to be the protectors of humanity. Out of his thighs, as embodying the third function, has evolved the third order who is to be the suppliers of life energy to the whole world. And out of His legs, as embodying the fourth function, have come forth Sudras who are to be the servers of the universe. This sublime conception of the origin of the four orders which is so difficult for us to grasp and much more difficult for us to realize in our daily practice, gives the Sudra a dignified position in the economy of the universe as a true 'evangelist of service' although, in practice, as in the case of every human institution, the original is lost in out-growths and evils. As the sages have explained, the caste system stands unique among the social systems of the world, its underlying principle remains true for all times.

    Some of the Law-givers of ancient India have deal with the origin of the system in their account of the creation of the universe. Manu, the first and the most important of them whose smriti has been regarded by the subsequent law-givers as an infallible authority, says, "for the furtherance of the (goof of the) world He (the Lord Brahma) created Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra from his mouth, arms, thighs and legs (M. Ch. 1-9)." Manu believed that some organised system was necessary for 'the furtherance of the world' and laid down the caste system towards securing it as the best he could think of. Kalluka Bhatta who wrote a celebrated commentary on the Manu Smriti regarded the face, arms, thighs and feet of the Brahma as representing the fourfold divisions of the Divine Energy and says that the four orders arose out of these divisions.

    In the Gita explaining the origin of the four orders in Ch. iv. 13. Sri Krishna says, "I have created the four orders, according to the division of qualities (gunas) and actions." He further explains the system by adding the following sound principles which form decidedly the basis of the caste-system. 'Man reached perfection by each having intent on his own Karma (duty)'… 'He who does his Karma (action or duty) prescribed by his own nature does not incur sin'… 'One should not renounce his Karma born of his nature, though defective'. Thus, according to the Gita, it is the nature in man and his inborn qualities that distinguish man from man and the caste-system is intended to help their growth.

    Sankaracharya commenting upon Ch. IV-13 of the Gita remarks: "The institution of the Varnas which authorises men to action is for the world of men. It is so prescribed. Men who act according to the division of the castes, follow the path laid down by me (Krishna). There are four castes, by the division of qualities and by the division of action. The qualities are Satva (harmony or Rhythm), Rajas (motion or passion), Tamas (Inertia or darkness). To the Brahmana in whom Sattva predominates, Serenity, self-control, austerity and such actions are laid down. To the Kshatriya who is void of Satva and in whom Rajas predominates, prowess, splendour, and such other actions, are laid down. To the Vaisya who is devoid of Tamas and in whom Rajas predominates, agriculture and other actions are laid down. To the Sudra who is devoid of Rajas and in whom Tamas predominates, service as the only action is laid down? Sankara comments upon Ch. XVIII – 16 of the Gita thus: "(There are) the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and also the Sudras whose action (karma) is different and who are of one caste, owing to their want of authority to Vedic study. The actions (of the four Varnas) as distinguished from each other, are prescribed by qualities (Gunas) whose origin is the Prakriti of Isvara which is the embodiment of the three gunas. To Brahmanas, are distributed serenity and other actions. Or of the Brahmana nature, satva guna is the cause for origin. Of the Kshatriya nature, Rajasguna divested of satva is the origin. Of the Vaisya nature, Rajasguna, divested of Tamas, is the origin. Of the Sudra nature, Tamas divested of Rajas is the origin … Thus by the qualities Satva, Rajas, Tamas – born of nature – serenity and other actions, in obedience to their origin, are distributed. If it should be asked that, how it was that serenity and other actions of Brahmana and other varnas which were prescribed by the Sastras, should be considered as arising out of the divisions of the Gunas that is no objection. By the Sastra itself, serenity and other actions of Brahmanas and other varnas are distributed with the express object in the importance of the qualities. Even though the division is by the Sastra, yet it is said that the actions are distributed in accordance with the Gunas." So, according to Sankara, Sastra interprets the workings of nature in the production of the castes, according to the qualities possessed by each. That is, it is the quality which marks out man from man and not birth. The function of the Sastra is to see that the division takes place in obedience to this universal law. Sankara clearly explains the fundamental principle on which the institution is based and in the light of his commentary, one need not hesitate to say that the caste-system as it exists today, has come to be something quite different from the one which the sages in ancient days contemplated.

    In our own days, several eminent Indians have given their thought to the consideration of the system. Svami Vivekananda who, besides being a great student of Sanskrit, had travelled much and been a keen observer of the working of the several institutions that influence the nations of the world, said, in a speech delivered at Madras, that according to Mahabharata there was only one caste in the beginning and the subsequent division arose, out of the necessity for the distribution of labour; he predicted that the innumerable divisions that we see the Hindu community split into, are tending, as the ages advance, to go back to the original condition. "The only explanation is to be found in the Mahabharata which says that, in the beginning of the Satyayuga, there was one caste the Brahmas and then by difference of occupation, they want on dividing themselves into all these differences of caste; that is the only true and rational explanation that has been given. In the coming Satyayuga all the other castes will have to go back to the same condition."

    Some of them have been struck with the manifold evils of the system and in consideration of their irremediable nature have advocated a thorough modification – if not its total abolition.

    The Hon. Mr. G. K. Gokhale, while speaking on the occasion of his moving the resolution on the elevation of the depressed classes at the Dharwar Social Conference held on 27th April 1903, has contrasted the castes of the East with the classes of the west and pointed out with clearness the besetting weakness of the caste-system and emphatically declared that the system, as we see at present in force, is not conducive to the progress of the Society. "The classes of the west are a perfectly elastic institution and not rigid or cast-iron like our castes. Mr. Chamberlain, who is the most masterful personage in the British Empire today, was at one time a shoemaker and then a screw maker… Mr. Chamberlain today dines with Royalty and mixes with the highest in the land on terms absolute equality. Will a shoe-maker ever be able to rise in India in the social scale in a similar fashion, no matter how gifted by nature he might be? A great writer has said that castes are eminently useful for the preservation of society but that they ae utterly unsuited for purposes of progress."

    So the question is, will the caste-system become plastic and enable a member of the very lowest scale to rise to the highest by reason of his merit alone or will it allow itself by persevering in its rigidity to be broken and supplanted, by the forces of progress which are influencing the society at present? Who knows if it will not yield – for it once supplanted Buddhism by assimilating some of its practices which caught the imagination of the people – and become penetrated with that plastic nature which is its crying want?


    The Sudras, then, embodied the fourth function – that of service to humanity. He was of those who, by nature, were constituted to serve. All the smritis which have dealt with this subject are agreed, that he should ungrudgingly serve the twice born, that service was his only 'Tapas'. Manu lays down the root-principle when he says 'Service is his vocation by Nature. Who shall emancipate him from that?' (Chap. VIII-414) His Master might liberate him but still he must serve somebody. He appears to have occupied no better status than a slave for 'A Sudra whether a slave purchased or otherwise must be employed, inasmuch as it is for serving the Brahmana that he has been created by the self – begotten one.' (Ch. VIII. 413) He was a 'Jata Brahmana', the significance of which term will be fully realised by such service. Whatever else he did, was futile. Manu mentions seven kinds of slaves. "A captive of war, a slave for maintenance, the son of a female slave, one purchased for money, a slave obtained as a present, a hereditary one, and one condemned to slavery for any offence – these are the seven kind of slaves (Lit. sources of slavery). (Chap. VIII-415). All these should have formed the bulk of the Sudras. The Sudra was the property of his master. He should not acquire riches for himself and his earnings his master could unhesitatingly appropriate to himself. 'For a wife, a son and a slave can never acquire any property for themselves, whatever they earn, go to him to whom they belong. Let a Brahmana unhesitatingly appropriate to himself whatever (his) Sudra (slave) has earned, inasmuch as nothing can belong to the latter, he being himself an enjoyable good of the Brahmana.' (Manu Chap. VIII – 416, 417). Even capable of earning money, he should not accumulate riches lest, in his pride, he might oppress a Brahmana and the king was strictly enjoined to see that the Vaisyas and Sudras faithfully discharged their proper duties, since their non-performance tended to disturb the social economy of the world. He should take his salary from his master. He should put on the old and cast-off clothes of his master, wear his old shoes, used his old umbrellas and eat the leavings of his food. He should make use of the old beddings of his master or prepare beds out of the grain less paddy that the master gave him. According to Manu, he committed no sin by eating the prohibited articles of fare. But Parasara regarded that as sin.

    From this severe injunction laying service as the sole work of the Sudras, a healthy departure was sanctioned by the several smritis in times of necessity. He could go to any foreign country in search of livelihood, and settle there as long as convenient. If, by his service to a Brahmana, he found it difficult to earn an adequate livelihood, he was permitted to serve a Kshatriya, or a rich Vaisya and get a sufficient living. If he could not obtain Brahmana service, he was allowed to become an artisan and to live by his industry, to safeguard against starvation. "A Sudra, incapable of securing the services of Brahmanas, shall live as an artisan to prevent the death of his wife and children by starvation. Let him do such varied works of artisanship (such as painting, or carpentry, etc.) by which the Brahmanas are best served." (Manu Chap. X 99-100). According to Yajnavalkya, he might also become a tradesman if necessary. Atri regarded that service to the twice-born was his religious work and work of art was his secular work. Parasara ruled that he committed no sin by selling salt, honey, oil, milk, curd, whey, clarified butter and that he should always live by trade, agriculture or handicraft. Harita laid down that he should live by hardship. Vishnu permitted him to practice 'all the arts.' At the same time, the master was required to pay sufficient remuneration for service rendered. For, "in consideration of the skilfulness of their services, their capacity of work, and the number of their dependents, let him (Brahmana) adequately fix the salaries of his Sudra (servants)"

    Gautama says: 'A Sudra shall support his own servants and devote himself to the services of any of the three superior social orders. A Sudra shall take his salary from his master … Otherwise, a Sudra may earn hi livelihood by doing any kind of handicraft. The person, whom a Sudra might serve as his master, is bound to support him in his old age, even if he becomes incapable of doing further service. Likewise, a Sudra is bound to support his master in his old age or if fallen on evil days. His master shall have a right to his estate, and he will be competent to order him to accept other men's service.' (P. 680). So at the time when Gautama wrote, there must have been many Sudras who had had servants to wait upon them and estates to enjoy, for Gautama laid them under the obligation of supporting the servants. If we are permitted by the order in which the duties are mentioned by him to infer, the inference would be, that the duty of service to the twice-born came only next to that of his supporting his own servants, that he was taking up such service only in cases of necessity, and what was once a severe duty, came to be regarded as one of necessity. Also, he must have been in a position to dictate his own terms, inasmuch as his master was bound to pay him. Anyhow, his position, during the age of Gautama, appears to have been improved considerably and to have been quite different from that which he had occupied during the time of Manu. There is also another reason for this inference. The Sudra was bound to support his master in his old age, or if fallen on his evil days. This statement shows that there must have been a few who had had independent means of livelihood, as apart from that of their service to the twice-born. The master had, even at that time, a right to the estate of his servant and could compel him legally to serve any other master. But whether the servant was the master's property in the sense in which it had been laid down in Manu, is open to question, inasmuch as the necessity, then, for laying down the obligation upon the Sudra to maintain his master in times of emergency, would not have arisen. Another thing it is worthy to notice, is the obligation which Gautama laid upon the master to support his servants 'when incapable of doing further service.' That labourers in their old age should be provided for, is one of the social problems absorbing the attention of the modern legislators and Gautama anticipated this many ages ago.

    There were a few Sudras 'who wend righteous and just ways, for, according to Harita, one of the duties of the Sudra was to adore such. (Chap. 11-13). He should make gifts without being solicited. Gautama enjoined on him the practice of forbearance, toleration and truthfulness in his daily life. Yajnavalkya says, "[He should be] devotedly attached to his wife, be of pure conduct, a protector of servants and given to the performance of Sraddha… Abstention from cruelty, truthfulness, not stealing, purity, control of the senses, charity, mercy, self-restraint and forgiveness, are the religious practices for all." (Chap. 1.-121-122) Manu encouraged the Sudras to imitate the 'doings of the virtuous' and laid down a broad principle to regulate the evolution of the Sudra to a higher status. "But the Sudras who are the knowers of virtue and seek to acquire virtue, commit no sin by imitating the doings of the virtuous, in exclusion of the Vedic Mantras; rather they become commendable by so doing. Non-malicious Sudras proportionately acquire like commendations and elevations in this world and the next, as they do comparatively better deeds in this life." (Chap. X. -127-128).


    To the ancients, the attainment of Brahman was the sole end of human existence. Towards this object, they laid down a severe course of conduct which should guide the life of an individual throughout, from the hour of his conception till the hour of his death. Human life, whose duration they reckoned as one hundred years, was, in their opinions, one long discipline training man for a real spiritual life in the future and was divided into four periods called Asramas, each of which devolved on the holder the performance of specific rites suited to it. In the Brahmacharya, one, after the initial ceremonies, had to lead the life of a student practising, abstinence, purity, charity, chastity. In the Garhastya, he became a householder practising the domestic virtues of hospitality, godliness, citizenship, honesty and such like. In the Vanaprasta he went to the jungle and lived there, either alone or accompanied by his wife, a life of retirement and devotion. In the last, he became a sanyasin, wandered with no particular abode to live in and lived a life of pure renunciation and of meditation in God. Manu laid down that conduct is the highest virtue and described virtue in these words. 'The virtue, which pious men, well-read (in the Vedas) and free from attachment and a version, have followed from time immemorial, (for the reason of its being based on the Vedas, the eternal repository of truth), and as to the truth or falsity of which, the dictates of the heart are the concluding proof: now hear me describe that virtue' (Chap. II-1). But he restricted the practice of such virtues to a portion of India, for 'the country in which black antelopes are found to roam about in nature, should be understood as a sacrificial country, the rest is the country of the Mlechchhas.' (Chap. II. -23).

    The life of virtue then meant the rigid performance of the several vedic rites. Gautama mentioned as many as forty. "The forty consecratory rites are, Garbhadanam, Pumasavanam, Simantanayanam, Jata karma, Namakaranam, Annaprasam, Chuda karanam, Brahmacharyam with a view to study the four Vedas, ceremonial ablutions, marriage celebration of religious sacrifices in honour of the deities and one's departed manes, the daily practice of hospitalities to men and beasts, celebration of Sraddha ceremonies under the auspices of the full moon in the months of Sravana, Agrahavana, Chaitra and Asvina, as well as of those known as Ashtakas, rite of depositing fuels on the sacred fire, Agnihotram, Darsa Purnamsa (a religious sacrifice celebrated on days of the full and new moon, each month), Chatur Masyam (a religious vow observed for four months from the month of Sravana to that of Agrahayana and closed with the celebration of a religious sacrifice). Nirudha Pasubandha (a kind of vedic sacrifice) and of Sautramnee, Agnishtoma, Uktha, Shodasi, Vajapeya, Atiratram, Aptoryama (these seven forms of Soma yajna) (Chap. VIII). And he ruled that all these rites should be done if one wished to attain the 'Region of Brahman'.

    But to the Sudra, one general instruction was laid down. Whatever he was permitted to do, had to be done without the recitation of the Mantras. The following were some for the performance of which the Sudra had the sanction from the Smritis. 'The rite of Nisekha (or Garbhadanam) shall be done unto a woman when signs of her full uterine development will be patent. The rite of Punsavanam (causation of the birth of a male child), before the quickening of the child is felt in the womb. The rite of Simantanayanam (parting of the hair) on the sixth or eighth month of pregnancy. The rite of Jatakarma (post-natal ceremony), on the birth of the child. The rite of naming (should be done into the child) on the expiry of the period of uncleanness. The showing of the sun to the child shall be made in the fourth month after its birth. The rite of Annaprasanam (of first feeding the child with boiled rice or Payasa) should be done in the sixth month. The rite of tonsure in the third year." (Vishnu Chap. XXVII). A Sudra should wash his hands and feet for the purpose of Achamanam. He was competent to celebrate the Sraddha ceremony in honour of his departed manes. "Namas" (obeisance) was the only mantra which he was authorised to utter. He was allowed to do the Pakayajna. And lastly the ceremony of Marriage, he has the privilege to perform. Many says, 'He (Sudra) cannot be initiated with the sacred thread.' This was a serious prohibition, for in those days investiture with the sacred thread meant the beginning of the life of a student and the life of a student is ever connected with the growth of the mind. The consequence was, that, those among the Sudras who were, by nature, fitted to be benefitted by instruction of any kind even to a small degree, were disabled and intellectual stupor was the result. Some among the legislators of ancient India appear to have recognised the broad province of nobody and that he whom nature fits for it should have every kind of encouragement given to him. Manu says, where there is no virtue or gain or where there is no prospect of a counter-balancing service, then knowledge should not be imparted, like a good seed in a barren soil. Wealth (honestly acquired), friends (relations), age, work and erudition (knowledge) which forms the fifth, these are the sources of honour, each succeeding one being more honourable than the one preceding it… Grey hairs do no make an old man, a young ma who has studied, the Devas designate him as really old. (Chap. II – 186). Respectful, let him acquire an auspicious knowledge even from a Sudra; the highest virtue even from a Sudra." (Chap. II. – 238). According to Yajnavalkya 'The grateful, the submissive, the intelligent, the pure, those who do not suffer from mental and physical ailments, those who are shorn of jealousy, the good-natured, those who are clever in serving friends, those who distribute learning and riches are worthy of receiving religious instruction? (Chap. I.-28). How far this wise rule of conduct worked to the benefit of the Sudra, we are not in a position to know. But, judging from the only prohibition, though severe, against a Sudra reciting a Vedic Mantra, such as the Gayatri and his applying himself to Vedic study – offences criminally punishable with barbarous cruelty – it is reasonable to suppose that the Sudra who tried to acquire other branches of study, such as, puranas, literature, history and laws of human nature, were tolerated and perhaps encouraged. For one, to become 'a man of varied knowledge' he should acquire other sciences than the Veda and Vedangas. Daksha has laid down, 'even if an inferior person studies and listens to it (Institutes of Daksha) reverentially, he comes by son, grandson, animals and fame.' (Chap. VII-53) and Purta (such as digging of tanks etc.) and permitted him to perform the latter only. Svami Vivekananda gives a correct interpretation of the spirit of the Sastra when he says, 'who told you (non-brahman castes) to neglect spirituality and Sanskrit learning?' According to Vyasa the Sudra was entitled to practice religious rites, but he was not privileged to recite any Vedic Mantra, nor to pronounce the terms Svaha, Svadha, and Vashat. Many denied him the privilege of instituting (Vedic) sacrifices, yet he was made to contribute, by force, to the completion of a sacrifice begun by a twice-born and nearing completion. 'In the event of there being a king, if a part of a religious sacrifice instituted… by a Brahmana in special, stands unperformed for want of funds … let him forcibly carry those articles from the house of a Sudra in the event of two or three limbs of his Kamayajna (sacrifice instituted for the fruition of definite desire) standing unperformed.' (Chap. XI. – 11-13).


    The question of intermarriages is now an all-absorbing topic. The Hon'ble Mr. Bhupandra Nath Basu's Bill has placed the question of importance in India which has not got something to say on the importance or otherwise of the Bill. But the question is not a new one, and the law-givers of ancient India, even before the time of Manu, were drawn, on account of the importance, to its solution. The marriage ceremony had been a sacred thing with them as it is at present and the tie, once formed, remained with them indissoluble unless, under exceptional circumstances. They made a bold attempt to introduce intermarriage to a limited extent, and in spite of the prejudice that must have assailed the law-giver at every step, there is sufficient evidence in many of the Smritis for us to believe that the practice, severely restricted as it should have been, had been in force for several ages before it was allowed to fall into desuetude. .

    According to Manu the whole human race was divide into two – Aryan and the Non-Aryan. The Aryans were of four castes and he laid down a broad principle which was to regulate the marital relationship that should subsist among the recognised castes. After weighing the relative merits of the paternal element. "Several wise men assert the pre-eminence of the soil; others, of the seed; while some there are who speak of equal importance of both the seed and the soil. In such cases of conflicting opinions the following is the decision of law. Sown in a barren soil, a seed dies before sprouting, while a good field without seeds is but a hard fallow. Since through their excellent energies (Potency), seeds, cast in the wombs of beasts (by the holy sages), fructified in the shapes of human beings who became honoured and commendable Rishis in life, the seed is commended (as of greater importance in an act of fecundation)." (V. 70-72). These are words of far-reaching wisdom against which the law-givers of whatever period had nothing to say and which they regarded as specially laid down for their guidance in legislating for the times in which they lived.

    Manu also laid down a rule of progressive tendency with the eye of a far-sighted reformer. He authorized what was known as the attainment of a superior caste by members of an inferior caste or by children born of recognized intermarriages. It was possible for a Kshatriya like Visvamitra to become a Braman, and the son of a Bramana by his Sudra wife could attain Brahminhood, under exceptional circumstances. "But, in each cycle of time, these men (i.e. those born of parents belonging to the same caste or contrary), by dint of penitential austerities, and through the excellence of their paternal elements, acquire higher castes.' (Chap. X -42). Of course, instances of such an elevation should have been very rare by its extraordinary nature. Manu also described the method in which the latter kind of elevation could take place. 'If the daughter of a Bramana by his Sudra wife is married to a Bramana, and the daughter of that union is again married to a Bramana, and so on, uninterruptedly, up to the seventh generation, in the female line, then, at the seventh generation, the issue of such union is divested of its Parasava caste and becomes a Bramana.' (Chap. X. – 64). Yajnavalkya mentioned that 'The attainment of an excellent higher caste is known to take place in the seventh or the fifth yuga (cycle or birth). Such was the way in which the two of the earlier law-givers boldly endeavoured to provide for the elevation of the inferior castes. In our day Svami Vivekananda has borne testimony to the transformations of the inferior castes into superior ones by some of the reformers of later days. He says, "And those great epoch-makers, Sankaracharya and others were great caste-makers. I cannot tell you all the wonderful things they manufactured and some of you might strongly resent to what I have to say. But in my travels and experiences, I have traced them out and most wonderful results I have arrived at. They would sometimes get whole hordes of Beluchis and make them Kshatriyas in one minute, whole hordes of fishermen and make them Brahmins in one minute. They were all Rishis and Sages and we have to bow down to their memory. Well, be you all Rishis and Sages." The reforming principle which had been laid down by Manu was put into practice with such liberality by Sankaracharya and others and Svami Vivekananda's counsel of perfection 'Be you all Rishis and Sages' might as well serve as a watch-word to reformers of our own day.

    The practices of taking Sudra wives by members of the twice-born was, undoubtedly, prevalent even in times before Manu, for he quoted some authorities who had mentioned it with their strong disapproval. That Manu tolerated it but desired to restrict it within narrower limits perhaps with a view to its final extinction by the low position he assigned to the Sudra wife in the family circle on any occasion of religious importance, will be clear from what he laid down for the guidance of the subsequent law-givers in marriages of this kind. 'A girl belonging to his own caste is recommended to a Bramana for holy wedlock; for desire, a wife he may take from any of three remaining castes, her precedence being according to her castes. A Sudra woman is the wife of a Sudra: a Vaisya can marry a Sudra or a Vaisya wife, a Kshatriya can take a Sudra, a Vaisya or Kshatriya wife; and a Bramana can marry a Sudra, Vaisya, Kshatriya or a Bramana wife. In no history or chronicles can be found that, even in time of distress, a Bramana or a Kshatriya has (lawfully) married a Sudra wife. By marrying a low caste woman, through the intoxication of desire, a twice-born one degrades himself, with the nine generations of his progeny to the status of a Sudra. He who marries a Sudra woman becomes degraded. This is the opinion of Atri and of (Gautama) the son of Utathya. By visiting a Sudra wife for the purpose of begetting offspring on her, a twice-born one becomes degraded. This is the opinion of Sanaka. The father ship of his Sudra children degrades a twice-born one. This is the opinion of Brigu…The oblations offered, by a twice-born one who is assisted by a Sudra woman in the capacity of his principal married wife, in the rite of Pitri or Daiva Sradha ceremony, neither the manes nor the divinities partake of." (Manu Chap. III – 12-18).

    In the above account, Manu gave a brief statement of the extent to which the practice must have prevailed up to his time. Yajnavalkya disapproved of it and accounted for his doing so. "There is a saying that the twice-born ones can get their wives from among the Sudras. I do not approve of it; for the Atman (soul) itself is born there (in the wife) [as the son]" (Ch. I. v-56). Vyasa permitted only the Vaisya to take a Sudra wife (Ch. II-11), and considered 'visiting a Sudra woman even for a single night' by a Brahmana as sin and punished him, when guilty of it, with the penance of begging for three years for purification (Ch. VII, 9-10). Parasara who condemned the marriage 'of a girl who menstruates before her marriage' regarded 'a Brahmana, marrying such a girl' as one who 'should be looked down upon as the husband of a Sudra wife'. But he laid down: "A son begotten on the person of a Sudra's daughter by a Brahmana, and duly consecrated with Brahmanic rites by another Brahmana, is called a Dasa. A son, thus begotten, but not consecrated, is called a Napita. A son begotten by a Kshatriya on the person of a Sudra daughter is called a Gopala" (Ch. X. 2-22). From his two statements we are in a position to infer that the practice was prevalent in his time, that he condemned it and that, in order to secure its total abolition, he put upon it severe restrictions by treating 'the Brahmana husband of a Sudra wife' with contempt, by making it an offence punishable with a penance and by rigidly insisting upon the performance of the ceremony of consecration by a Brahmana. Parasara wrote his code for the Kaliyuga and gave a fatal blow to the practice which has become extinct, perhaps, ever since.

    According to Katyana, if a twice-born had many wives of the same caste and of different castes, the rite of churning for the production of the Sacred Fire should not be done by his Sudra wife. (Ch. 6, 8). According to Gautama, sons, born of a Sudra woman by a Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaisya were respectively known as Parasavas, Yavanas, Karanas and owing to the superior castes of their fathers, retained their racial superiority till the seventh or fifth generations and were not disqualified from performing religious rites. (Ch. IV) Vasishta tolerated the practice with strong indignation and assigned some reasons for its discontinuance. ['The son of a Brahman] by a Sudra woman is a Parasava. They say that the condition of a Parasava is that of one who, albeit living, is a corpse. The designation of a dead body is Sava. Some say that a Sudra is a corpse, therefore the Veda must not be recited near a Sudra… One who has placed the Sacred Fire shall never approach a Sudra woman, for she, belonging to the black race, is like a bitch not for religious rites but for pleasure'. (Ch. XVI.) Vasishta was probably recording the prevailing opinion of his times but the quotation probably reflected his own view on the subject. Vishnu recorded that sons, born of women of lower castes, belonged to the caste of their mothers but laid down the prohibition as follows:

    'The Sudra wife of a twice-born one shall not have the same privilege (of being in the company of her husband during the performance of a religious rite. The Sudra wife of a Brahmana can never be for virtue. She is only the object of enjoyment of a passionate Brahmana. Twice-born ones who, through folly, marry women of low castes, degrade their sons and families to the status of a Sudra. The gods and pitris do not accept the oblations offered to them by twice-born ones, who perform the Daiva and Pitri sacrifices or propitiate the Atidhis in the company of their Sudra wives; such men go to hell.' Sons, born of inter-marriages of the recognized kind, performed the various religious rites laid down by the law-givers. Manu excluded those, born of Sudra, mothers by twice-born fathers, from the privilege of being initiated with the sacred thread; for he says: "of sons begotten by twice-born ones (Brahmanas and Kshatriyas) on wives of their own castes or on wives belonging to castes next or next by one those of their own, six castes (of sons) have the right of being initiated with the sacred thread (lit, the privilege of twice-born ship), and the rest are Sudras, partaking of the status and privileges of Sudra". (Ch. X-41). According to Vyasa, the performance of the rites depended on the caste to which the mother belonged and the Brahminic rites mentioned by Parasara as necessary in the case of a Dasa probably meant his exclusion from the investiture with the Sacred thread.

    But the sons, born of Sudra mothers, observed, there is sufficient evidence to believe, what was known as Sapindata or Sapinda relationship towards their twice-born father and other relatives. 'Sapindata is kinship connected by the offering of the funeral rice-balls to the manes' and 'extends over three degrees in case of persons of various varnas begotten by one [father] upon many wives of various castes.' (Usana Ch. VI-1. 54). The period of impurity which should be observed in the case of a birth or death of Sapinda relation was also fixed. Usana says: "On the death of a Sapinda Sudra, the impurity for the Vaisyas, Kshatriyas and the Brahmanas extends in order, over six, three and one night. On the death of a Sapinda-Vaisya, the impurity for the Sudras…extends over a fortnight…" (Ch. VI-30, 38). Sapindata ever remains one of the strongholds of orthodoxy and Mr. M. N. Dutta has remarked on the above that at that time inter-marriages had been in existence, otherwise the necessity for such a regulation would not have arisen. According to Atri, "the impurity of female servants and of wives taken from inferior castes, consequent on a death or a birth, should be like that of the husband." (Ch. V-89). According to Sankha, on the death of a Brahmana Sapinda, his relatives of the four castes remained unclean for tend days and on the birth or death of a Sudra Sapinda, his Brahmana relation remained unclean for a day. (Ch. XV. 17, 19). But he who ruled that 'even in distress, a twice-born one should not wed a Sudra girl, inasmuch, as a son begotten by him on her person will never find his salvation (Ch. V-9), prohibited the Sudra son from performing Sraddha to his twice-born father and other relatives, for the twice-born one 'is degraded to the status of a Sudra by having the thirteen Sraddhas done unto him by (such) a Sudra son. The Sapinda relations whose Sraddhas are performed (by such a Sudra Son) according to the usage of the family…are degraded to the status of a Sudra' (Ch. IV-11). So, during the age of Sankha 'the usage' of the family enabled a Sudra son to offer pinda to his twice-born relatives but as the times perhaps wanted that such a thing should cease, he consequently laid down that twice-born ones should not marry Sudra women. Apastamva required a Brahmana to remain unclean, on the birth or death of his Sudra Sapinda, for one day only (Ch. IX-12). Vishnu says: "When…Sudra Sapindas of a Brahmana (are born or dead), he becomes pure within…one night…If Sudra Sapindas of a Kshatriya [are born or dead] he becomes pure within…three nights…If the Sudra Sapindas of a Vaisya are born or dead he becomes pure within six nights" (CH. IX, 21, 23).

    Some of the smritis mentioned eight forms of marriage of which the Asura form was, ordinarily, the proper one for Sudras. If necessary, a Sudra could adopt the Gandharva or Paisacha. These three forms were allowed by Manu as interpreted by Kalluka who regarded that Rakshasa form was also lawful for the Sudras. "The form in which the Bridegroom, on paying money to her father and to herself, out of the promptings of his own desire, receives the bride in marriage is called Asura. The form, in which, for the reason of a reciprocal marriage of hearts, the bridegroom is mated with the bride, is called Gandharva. It originates from a couple's passionate desire of being united with each other. The form of marriage in which the bridegroom, by killing or hurting the guardians or relations of the bride and by forcing open the door of her house, forcibly carries her away weeping and screaming, is called Rakshasa. The form in which the Bride, when alone, asleep, senseless, intoxicated or delirious with wine, is ravished by the bridegroom, is called Pisacha, the eighth and most sinful form of Marriage." (Chap. III. – 31, 34). Manu regarded the Paisacha form as the most sinful and prohibited it. He also condemned the Asura form of marriage for, 'Let a man never marry a wife either in Paisacha or in the Asura form, since these two forms are prohibited (V. 25)' and laid down: "An erudite father of a Girl shall not take anything by way of Sulka from her bridegroom. By taking a dowry out of greed, he becomes the seller of his off-spring." (Ch. III-51). Mr. M. N. Dutt in his footnote on (Ch. III-31) observes that the Asura form, from its name, must have originated with the Assyrians and that fathers in all primitive societies who had claimed 'absolute proprietary rights' over their daughters took every opportunity to dispose of them to 'the highest bidders in the matrimonial market'. But it was due to the wisdom of our ancient law-givers who had regarded this as 'a modified form of slave trade', that they were the first to condemn it on the ground of 'the commercial element of the matrimonial compact.' But the form was restricted to Sudras and Vaisyas, who on account of their compulsory stay in foreign countries, had no other means of marrying than by the payment of money. It may be remarked in passing that the 'commercial element' has now assumed quite a different shape with the graduate-Hindu, for it is he who is being purchased by the Bride's father and his graduate-education fetches him a high price in the matrimonial market. These four forms of marriage were, however, regarded as low and a Sudra girl when married to a Brahmana should hold 'the frill of his cloth with her hand during the ceremony.' Sons born of such marriages possessed 'condemnable traits in their character' and were 'cruel, untruthful and hostile to the religion of the Brahmana'. The name of a Sudra should be a term implying vileness and 'prefixed to one denoting service'. The sons, born of a Sudra mother by a Brahmana father, were known as Nishadas; those by a Kshatriya father were Ugras and those by a Vaisya father were Karanas. Nishadas who were also known as Parasavas which term literally meant living corpses, lived by killing fishes. Ugras were 'cruel in deeds and temperaments' and lived by 'killing or capturing hole-dwelling animals.' Karanas were confectioners. Sons born of an Ugra woman by a Brahmana were Avritas. Those born of a Sudra woman by a Nishada were Pukkasas who live like the Ugras.

    Some of the Smritis provided rules for the division of property among the Sons born of such mixed marriages. The Sudra son got one-tenth of the property of his twice-born father and in exceptional circumstances he inherited more than that for everything depended upon his father's will. The general rule was this: 'Let the versed-in-law divide the whole estate in ten equal parts and allot them to the sons in the following manner: let the Brahmana son take four such shares; the Kshatriya son, three; the Vaisya son, two; and the Sudra son, one. Let him not, in consideration of virtue, give more than a tenth share to his Sudra son, whether he be a good son or otherwise." (Ch. IX – 152, 154). According to Kalluka sons born of a Sudra woman who was not a married wife was not entitled to any share but should take whatever was given him by his father. Manu also laid down that, in the absence of the son of a superior status, the son of an immediately inferior status should be allowed to inherit the entire property. Ordinarily Saudra, son by a Sudra wife, one of the twelve kinds of sons mentioned for the purpose of inheritance, was not heir to his paternal property. Yajnavalkya permitted the son even of a Sudra maid-servant to inherit a portion of the property of his twice-born father and required the other brothers, on the death of their father, 'to give him (the son of the Sudra wife) half of each of their respective shares. In the absence of other brothers or of the sons of daughters, he (the son of the Sudra wife) is [solely] entitled to the entire properties'. (Ch. II-136, 137). According to Gautama the son of a Sudra woman by a Kshatriya father inherited his father's property in the manner of a disciple, provided there were no other sons of his father living and he nursed his father on his death-bed. (Chap. XXIX).

    During the times of Vishnu, there were not only inter-marriages of the recognized kind on a wide scale but the question of the division of property among the several kinds of sons presented itself in all its complexity. He framed elaborate rules to meet every phase of the question and devoted a whole chapter – chapter XVIII – to its consideration. He laid down one general rule. The Sudra son inherited only one share of the whole property. But the number of shares into which the property was divided depended upon the kinds of sons that the twice-born father had. In the case of a Brahmana who had four kinds of sons, the Sudra son got one-tenth of the property; in the absence of the son by the Brahmana wife he got one-sixth; in the absence of the son by the Kshatriya wife his share was one-seventh; in the absence of the son by the Vaisya wife, one-eighth. In the case of a Kshatriya father, the Sudra-son inherited one-sixth; in the absence of the Kshatriya son he inherited one-third in the absence of the Vaisya son, one-fourth. In the case of a Vaisya father, the Sudra son obtained one-third. Vishnu also provided for such cases as these: - If a Brahmana father had a Brahmana son and a Sudra son the latter was allowed to have one-fifth of the property. If a Kshatriya father had a Kshatriya son and a Sudra son, the latter secured one-fourth. If a Brahmana, Kshatriya or Vaisya had two sons of whom one was a Vaisya and the other a Sudra the latter took one-third of the property. The principle observed by Vishnu was, the Sudra son maintained his proportion of one to that of the other kinds of sons living, and the property was divided among the different kinds of sons living, in their legalised proportions. If he happened to be his father's only son, he got one-half of the entire property. But if there were two sons by a Brahmana wife and one son by a Sudra wife the latter had one-ninth of the whole property and if there were two sons by the Sudra wife and one son by the Brahmana wife, the Sudra son was given one-sixth. Such detailed regulations show that the society as developed by intermarriages must have attained considerable proportions and we are left only to conceive of the state of that society from the picture drawn by Vishnu and other law-givers.

    Sons born of the parents of the same caste were regarded as the best and were known as Savarnas. Those of the intermarriages tolerated by the smritis were known by a different name. Manu gave them the name of Antarjanmas owing to the defects arising out of the inferior castes of their mothers and regarded them as apasada (inferior). Yajnavalkya called them Anuloma offspring and regarded them as sat (good). But what the law-givers from Manu downwards condemned with absolute rigour was intermarriages of the opposite kind members of inferior castes taking wives from superior castes. They were called Pratiloma and the offspring of such condemned connexion were denounced as Pratilomajas. Manu dealt legislators such as Gautama, Vishnu devoted some attention towards this subject.

    Manu who had regarded intermixture of any kind with great disfavour and tolerated the Anuloma kind perhaps with great unwillingness as he should have met with considerable difficulty to legislate against a prevailing custom assigned these reasons for the origin of all kinds of intermixture. 'Through the intermixture of castes, through intermarriages among forbidden castes, and through renunciation of their specific duties by members of (the four several) castes, that the hybrid ones are born.' (Ch. XV. 124). In such a vast community like the Hindus, restricted as it has ever been by regulations which do not at all permit expansion even of the very narrowest kind, the three causes must have worked very powerfully to split the community into innumerable units each forming a caste by itself. It is very likely that restrictions of the kind laid down by the Sastras must have been transgressed in countless instances and persons guilty been visited with severe punishments. It is astonishing to see the number of caste-units mentioned by Manu and others and Vishnu says 'There are numberless other mixed castes produced by further intermixture.' (Chap. XVI-7). And it is reasonable to conclude that the verse of Manu quoted above furnishes us with the main – if not the sole – explanation for the present bewildering complexity of the Hindu community.

    Sons, born of the intermixture of the prohibited kinds as well as of the tolerated kind, according to Manu, 'shall live by doing lowly works, which the Brahmanas are incapable of doing' (Ch. X. v. 46) Sudras, for their own share, contributed to the intermixture by connections of the prohibited kind. Sons born of Sudras by Vaisyas women were Ayogavas who earned their livelihood by artistic performance, such as dancing. Sons born of Ayogava women by members of robber castes were Sairandras who were expert in dressing hair and who, though not actually servants, lived by service and by capturing birds and beasts. Margavas, born of Ayogava Women by Nishadas, lived by working as boatmen and were also called Kaivartas by the inhabitants of Arya Varta. Ayogava women wore the clothes of corpses and ate the leavings of other men's food. Maitreyas were born of Ayogava women by Vaidehas who were the offspring of Brahmana women by Vaisyas, lived by lavishly singing the eulogies of the king at dawn and roused him from sleep by ringing bells in the morning, Sairandras, Margavas and Maitrayas did not belong to the castes of their fathers. Kattahs were children born of Kshatriya women by Sudras.

    Chandalas were those born of Brahmana mothers by Sudra fathers and lived by the execution of criminals. Pandapakas born of Vaidehika women by Chandala fathers manufactured bamboo-made article. Sopakas born of Chandala fathers lived by working as public executioners. Antyavasins begotten on Nishadi women by Chandalas were attendants at cremation grounds and were the vilest of all vile castes. There were others such as Charmakaras who born of Nishada fathers were cobblers, Andras and Medas who lived outside villages. There were, besides, others of unknown parentage who should be detected by their respective works.

    Pratilomajas were regarded as 'viler and more condemnable' and denied the privilege of doing religious rites'. They were required to have social intercourse only among themselves. Like higher castes the son inherited the property of his own father. 'To relinquish life, without any consideration for reward, in order to save a Brahmana or a cow or for the sake of a woman or child, confers heavenly bliss even upon base castes.' (Vishnu Chap. XVI-18).

    The Chandala with his Progeny was specially marked out for legislation of the very severest kind that one could conceive of in any code either religious or worldly. The transgression of a Brahman woman was regarded as the most heinous sin imaginable and her children born of a Sudra father were regarded as being unendurable in this world and were denied even the faintest kind of protection in the eye of the Dharma. Some of the smritis such as Manu, Parasara, Vasishta have got some thing to say about the Chandala and if we judge from the severe prohibitions laid down by them, to regulate the conduct of the superior castes in their daily life with him, we are led to think that such an inhumanly unsympathetic attitude could not have proceeded had they not aimed at his total extinction from the face of the earth, though the conjecture that much of what the legislators wrote were but mere records of customs prevalent at the time goes a little way to mitigate the extraordinary rigour of their procedure. Manu says: "Doing their proper works, these castes shall live in the forest, or about cremation-grounds, or on hill tops or underneath the lordly trees. Chandalas and Svapachas (lit. dog eaters) shall live at the outskirts of villages, they shall use no utensils; dogs and asses being their only wealth. They (Chandalas, etc.) shall wear the apparels of corpses, eat out of broken pots, wear ornaments of steel and live a nomadic life. One, while doing a religious rite, must not see or speak to them (Chandalas); they shall carry on their monetary or matrimonial transactions among members of their own caste. One shall cause food given to them through his servants in broken saucers; and they must not be allowed to roam about in a village in the night. Stamped with the signs of King's permits on their persons, they shall enter the Village on business (i.e. for the sale or purchase of goods) in the day and the decision is that, they shall remove the corpses of the friendless deceased (from Villages). They shall kill, according to the rules of the Sastra, criminals punished by the king with death, and take the bedding and wearing apparels of the executed convicts." (Manu Ch. X. v. 50-56).


    Inter Dining is one of the social questions awaiting solution. From the citations above made it must be clear that intermarriages of the Anuloma kind were recognised with some unwillingness. And intermarriages could not have been done without dining between the parties. Besides, there was permission for the twice-born members to take food from those Sudras who though not connected by marriage had yet some kind of social intercourse such as friendship with the family, cultivation of the fields. Manu, Yajnavalkya, Yama, Parasara, Gautama, and Vishnu did not consider it punishable for the twice born to accept boiled rice from a barber, a cowherd, a servant and such others. This is a question which is beset with much difficulty and orthodoxy feels itself injured if Inter-Dining should take place among the members of several castes. It will not therefore be wearisome and uninstructive if all the available authorities on the subject are given and pressed to the attention of the public.

    Manu says: "a Brahmana may partake of the cooked rice of one who cultivates his fields, or of one who is an ancient friend of his family, or of one who keeps his cows, or of his slave or barber as well as of him who has surrendered himself to his protection." (Ch. IV. V. 253). Yajnavalkya gives the same list but with the substitution of 'a servant' for 'his slave' in Manu. 'Of Sudras: the food of a servant, of a cowherd, of one with whose family hereditary friendship has been maintained, of one with whom one cultivates land in half-shares, of a barber and of one who entirely surrenders himself, could be taken." (Ch. I-168) Yama lays down: "Of Sudras, food may be taken from a servant, barber, cowherd, one with whom hereditary friendship is maintained, those who cultivate the same plot of land and from him who dedicates his own self. (v. 20). According to Vyasa one committed no sin if he ate 'Boiled rice belonging to Napita (barber), a Kulamitra, Ardhasiri (plough man), Dasa or Gopala' (Ch. III. V. 52) and the mention of 'one who surrendered himself' was omitted from the list. Parasara however mentions all the six. 'A Brahmana can safely partake of the boiled rice of a Dasa, Napita, Gopala, Kulamitra and Ardhasiri among Sudras as well as that of one who has resigned himself to his care." (Ch. XI. V. 20) Gautama withdrew the privilege from barbers and those who surrendered themselves but extended it to traders with a clear prohibition that the food of those Sudras who did not come under the classes mentioned should not be taken. "Brahmana may safely partake of boiled rice belonging to the keepers of their own domestic animals or to tillers of their own lands or to their own paternal servants or to hereditary friends of their families, even in such keepers of animals, tillers of lands, servants, and hereditary friends be Sudras, but they cannot eat boiled rice belonging to Sudras, not falling under any of the foregoing categories. Boiled-rice of traders other than actual artisans may be safely partaken by Brahmanas." (Ch. XVII). Vishnu, besides mentioning the six classes, allowed the food of cultivators who gave one-half of their crop to the king and retained the other half for themselves, to be taken by the twice-born ones. "One who ploughs the ground for half the crop and gives the other half to the king or to the owner of the land (Ardhika), a Kula-mitra (lit. a friend of the family), one's own slave, a cowherd, or a barber, as well as he who surrenders himself saying, 'I am your slave' – the food of these persons, even if they are Sudras, may be taken" (Ch. I. VII. V 16.) Mr. M. N. Dutt remarks, on the above that the Sudras mentioned were the children of marriages of the anuloma kind between members of different castes and quotes Agnipuranam which regarded all sat Sudras as 'the offspring of unions between twice-born fathers and Sudra mothers'.

    So, slaves, servants, barbers, cultivators, cowherds, Kulamitras and traders were permitted, to give 'cooked rice' to those twice-born men who had had immediate social intercourse with them. Considering the times in which the several law givers lived the privilege must be considered as very liberal and might as well astonish the orthodox in these days. What should specially appeal to them is the provision made by Parasara whose code is regarded by every orthodox Hindus as written especially for the guidance of the Kali Yuga. It is very refreshing now to see the way in which our ancients who never failed to foresee the evils which might disrupt the society, consequent on the absence of a general cohering-force such as the inter-dining, boldly tried to grapple with this question.

    The food-taking was confined to the above six classes of Sudras. But one or two articles more even though cooked by any Sudra might be accepted. According to Atri, 'Arnalam (gruel made from the fermentation of boiled rice)…[even when made] by a Sudra does not bring on any sin' (V. 246, ch.1) Parasara authorised that 'articles of confectionary cooked in oil and offered by a Sudra should be taken by Brahmana only at the bank of a river'. (Ch. XI. V. 13). It is curious to note that 'raw meat' was accepted from Sudras and the explanation is that Manu, Yajnavalkya and a few other earlier law-givers allowed certain kinds of flesh to be offered for the satisfaction of the manes of the dead. Excepting these reservations made in favour of the Sudras, there were severe prohibitions laid down against the acceptance of food, drinking water from a Sudra which were offences punishable. For a Brahmana, even the touch of the Sudra involved the performance of a penance. Apastamva regarded that the boiled rice 'belonging to a Sudra is like blood' (Ch. VIII. V. 13) and so it should be avoided. And we can easily account for the present isolation of individual from individual in these prohibitions which by their rigorous working not only nullified the few privileges granted to the inferior castes but brought the Hindu Society to the present condition.

    C. A. N.