THE SUDRA AND THE SASTRA.
'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).
PERFORMANCE OF CEREMONIES
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.