Analysis of the 1931 Census of India

Thomas Callan Hodson
William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology
Fellow, St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge

Table of Contents.

1. Introduction
2. Density of population
3. Houses
4. Villages
5. Urban conditions
6. Economic life
7. Miscellaneous
8. Caste and occupation
9. Disappearing industries
10. Changes in conditions
Migration and Movement
11. Reluctance to migrate
12. Casual migration
13. Marriage influence
14. Temporary migration
14A. Periodic migration
15. Semi-permanent migration
16. Permanent migration
17. Political migration
18. Daily migration
19. Effects of migration
Race in India
20. Diversity of physical types
21. Classification of types
22. Caste and genetics
23. Modern methods
24. Racial element A
25. Racial element B
26. Racial element C
27. Distinction between A and C
28. Racial element D
29. Racial element E
30. Racial element F
31. Racial element G
32. Prehistoric races
33. Racial and cultural history
34. Racial and religious history
35. Indian vernaculars
36. Aryan languages
37. The Indo-Europeans
38. Eranian languages
39. Baloch
40. Pashto
41. Ormun
42. Ghalchah languages
43. Dardic languages
44. Indo-Aryan languages
45. Language of the Midland
46. Languages of the Outer Ban
47. Present state
48. Prakrits
48A. Apabhramsas
49. Sanskrit
50. Indo-Aryan vernaculars
51. Hindi
52. Western Hindi
53. Urdu
54. Rajasthani
55. Pahari
56. Gujarati
57. Panjabi
58. Eastern Hindi
59. Kashmiri
60. Kohistani
61. Lahuda
62. Sindhi
63. Marathi
64. Bihari
65. Oriya
66. Bengali
67. Assamese
68. Dravidian languages
69. Dravidian features
70. Tamil
71. Malayalam
72. Kanarese, Kodagu, TuIu, Toda, Kota
73. Kurukh
74. Malto
75. Gond
76. Telugu
77. Kandh (Kui), Kolami
78. Austric languages
79. Munda languages
80. Munda features
81. Tibeto-Chinese languages
82. Tibeto-Burman languages
83. Pronominalized languages
84. North Assam languages
85. Kuki-Chin Group
86. Burmese
87. Shan
88. Miscellaneous languages - Burushaski, Andamanese
89. Gipsy languages
90. Arabic and Somali
91. Bilingualism
Marriage
92. Universality of marriage
93. Exogamy
94. South Indian matriliny
95. The daughter’s line
96. Types of exogamous groups
97. Hypergamy
98. Endogamy
99. Cousin marriage
100. Marriage prices
101. Marriage ceremonies
102. Mock marriages
103. Marriage seasons
104. Polygamy
105. Polyandry
106. Levirate
107. Remarriage of widows
108. Child marriage
109. Divorce
110. Relationship terms
111. Relationship rules
112. Caste
113. Definition of caste
114. Types of caste
115. Sub-castes
116. Caste government
117. Modern effects
118. Classification of castes
119. Caste changes
120. Depressed classes
121. Present conditions
122. Joint family system
123. Basis of Hindu society
Hinduism
124. Origins of Hinduism
125. Nature of Hinduism
126. Scope of Hinduism
127. Hindu sects
128. Brahmo Samaj
129. Arya Samaj
130. Miscellaneous sects
131. Sectarian marks
132. Hinduism in U.P.
133. The Sanskars
134. Initiation
135. Duties of Brahman
135A. Hindu festivals
136. Sun worship
137. Earth worship
138. Planet worship
139. River worship
140. Mountain worship
141. Sitala worship
142. Manasa worship
143. Hero worship
144. Hinduism in S. India
145. Hinduism and Islam
146. Jains
147. Sikhs
148. Parsis
149. Buddhism
150. Jews
151. Christians
152. Tribalists
153. Tribal problems
154. Todas
155. Tribal religion
156. Bhil religion
157. The Mata movement
158. Maria Religion
159. Santal religion
160. The Kherwar movement
161. The Birsait movement
162. Rengma Naga religion
163. Lushei religion
164. Kar Nicobarese religion
165. Islamic society
166. Baluchistan system
167. Pathan system
168. Baloch system
169. Sind Tribes
170. North-West Frontier Province system
171. Bengal system
172. Bombay Musalmans
173. Madras Musalmans
174. Assam Musalmans
175. Zerbadis in Burma
176. The Koran
177. Sunnis and Shiahs
178. Tribal beliefs
179. Superstitions
180. Islam in the U.P.
181. Marriage
182. Baluchistan customs
183. Ahmadias

1. Introduction.

Though geographically a part of Asia, the connection of India with that continent is recent as geology reckons time. Prior to the tertiary period, when the Himalayas were thrown up, the present peninsula of India was bounded on the north by the great central sea known as Tethys, while on the south it was joined to the ancient land area which stretched from Madagascar to the Malay Archipelago. No one who travels through India can fail to be struck with the extraordinary variety of its physical aspects. In the north rise the highest mountains in the world. Their summits are clothed in perennial snow and their lower slopes buried in dense forest. At their foot is an extensive plain, arid and sandy in the west and overlaid with luxuriant verdure in the east. Further south is a great central plateau, bordered on the west by the rugged outline of the Western Ghats and on the south by the rounded peaks of the Nilgiris. Between the plateau and the sea are narrow low-lying plains covered with tropical vegetation. Included within the Indian Empire are on the west, Baluchistan, a country of bare hills and rocky deserts interspersed by a few scattered oases, and the mountainous region bordering on Afghanistan; and on the east Assam with mighty rivers flowing rapidly through fertile valleys, impenetrable jungles and well-wooded hill ranges.

Every geologic epoch is represented in one part or another of India. The flora of India is more varied than that of any other area of the same extent in the Eastern Hemisphere, if not in the world; and the species of animals far surpass those found in Europe. The climate is equally diversified (India, 1911, p. 1 sq.)


2. Density of Population.

The predominant density factors in India are by no means those which count for most in Western countries, where the variations in the population depend mainly on the progress made in commercial and industrial development. While in Europe, agriculture is unable to support more than 250 persons to the square mile, in India there are some purely agricultural tracts where it already supports three or even four times that number. (Indeed how high a population can be supported by agriculture when conditions are favourable, is shown by Cochin with areas here and there carrying over 2,000 and in one rural unit actually 4,090 persons to the sq. mile on land producing rice and coconuts, but principally the latter. India, 1931, p. 5). The variations in the productiveness of the land are far greater than they are in Europe; and it is the causes which produce these variations that are of the greatest, importance in determining the density. It is possible that density may, to some extent, be affected by certain economic conditions, such as the system of land tenures, the rates of rent and the standard of comfort of the people. For practical purposes density is dependent if not solely on the area under cultivation, at least on the sum total of agricultural conditions, of which that is one of the most important, which taken together determine the productiveness of the soil. As to the effect of the rainfall, although a certain amount of rain is necessary for successful cultivation, there is a point beyond which an additional quantity is no longer beneficial and may even be injurious. Provided that it is properly distributed, it appears that an annual precipitation of 40 inches is sufficient in most parts of India and that it is only when it is less than this or is badly distributed, that differences in the amount received have any marked influence on the success of cultivation and consequently on the density of population. Irrigation, where it exists, is an extremely important factor, but it affects a comparatively small area and is not to be compared in its general influence on density with the physical configuration. Crops cannot grow without a certain amount of water, but where that is forthcoming the extent of cultivation and the character of the crops are alike determined by the shape of the surface. Where it is level, practically every inch can be brought under the plough; water can be retained on the land by means of small ridges to supply the moisture during the intervals when no rain falls; there is no erosion, and permanent cultivation is possible. Where the surface is undulating, the bottoms of the slopes are extremely fertile, but on the slopes themselves cultivation is more precarious. Sometimes the natural disadvantages of sloping ground are minimised by an elaborate system of terracing, the hill-sides being laboriously cut into a series of steps, each of which is held up by a retaining wall. But these terraces are possible only where the hill-sides are not too steep and there is a sufficient depth of soil for excavation; and in a very hilly country the proportion of the total area which can be thus treated is extremely small. Numerous instances can be cited of the influence of climate. Historical conditions explain why some tracts of considerable natural fertility still remain almost uninhabited. In India the soil itself counts for very little as compared with the rainfall and the physical configuration. It is equally difficult to correlate density and crops. On the whole, however, it would seem that in most of the more densely peopled tracts rice is the predominant crop (India, 1911, p. 25 sq.)

Generally speaking the maximum density of the agricultural population can be far greater in India than in Europe, not only on account of the greater fertility of the land but on account of the diminution in the absolute necessaries of life corresponding to a less rigorous climate. The real difficulty is that to cultivate on anything like economic lines the number of individuals that can work on a given area of ground is limited. An additional complication of the problem appears in the fact that the cultivating classes in India generally lack the capital required for the extension of cultivation beyond the existing margin, particularly where the cultivation practised is already dependent on a somewhat problematical rainfall. Mechanical improvements which reduce the need for labour are a doubtful palliative, though no such doubt attaches to biological improvements, enabling a better crop to be obtained from a smaller area. Labour-saving devices will do little for a peasantry whose work takes up part only of the year and certainly they will not enable a greater number of peasants to live on the same area of land where there is neither demand nor market facilities for the minor products of agriculture which contribute to the income of the European small holder or on which, such as poultry, pigs or potatoes, he may principally depend. (India, 1931, p. 81).


3. Houses.

The term ‘house’ in India covers the greatest diversity of dwellings. The portable screens of bamboo matting carried on a gipsy’s ass, or the camel-borne tent of a Bugti nomad are less primitive than the mere foliage wind screens of some of the Andamanese but still hardly conforming to the usual conception of a dwelling-house though this term can fairly be applied to the conical grass huts of the Chenchu and the Bhil and still more to the thatched and mat-walled dwellings, often on piles, or in trees, erected in the hills alike of Assam and of Travancore. In Bengal the thatched roof is hog-backed to increase the resistance of the gables to the roof-lifting cyclone, while on the west coast the typical Nayar house has picturesquely cocked gables on a very steeply pitched tiled roof the better to resist the torrential rain. Indeed the houses of the well-to-do in Malabar are built round an open impluvioum on to which a pillared verandah opens giving access to all the rooms, one of which is reserved as in an ancient Roman house for the lares and penates. In Upper India the mud wall and flat roof of a dry climate prevail, while the rich surround their houses of brick or stone with a walled enclosure and ensure privacy by the greatest economy in windows. Almost everywhere the tendency is apparent towards the replacement of traditional roofing materials by corrugated iron sheeting as ugly as ubiquitous. (India, 1931, p. 55).


4. Villages.

The definition of a village as a unit is by no means always easy. The thickly populated parts of the Malabar coast and of. Bengal are often occupied by a series of homesteads, which may be grouped in villages for administrative purposes but which do not thereby acquire any of the characteristics of the compact determinate village of Upper India. The mauza, the revenue unit, is rather administrative than geographical and may consist of quite separate hamlets or even contain no houses at all. In the hills, the conditions are generally the reverse of those in the plains; that is, where the population is thickest it is found in concentrated villages, as on the N.E. Frontier, whereas when very thin it seems to be spread about in isolated homesteads or scattered hamlets as in the Simla Hills. Generally speaking, it may be said that of the total population of India, 89 per cent, is rural, more than half lives in villages with a population of under 1,000 and nearly one-third lives in villages with a population of under 500 persons. (India, 1931, p. 54 sq.). Effective congestion is as likely to be met with in villages as in cities; the essential difference is that the villager can get out of his village quickly while the inhabitants of a city cannot so easily escape. (Madras, 1931, p. 72). If village densities were calculated on the area of the inhabited site or sites, and not on that of the site plus the village lands, they would generally be greater than that of any town. (U.P., 1931, p. 123).


5. Urban Conditions.

The distinction between a small town and a large village as far as the conditions of life or occupation of its inhabitants is concerned is often meaningless and the treatment of any place as urban rather than rural does not imply any degree of industrialisation and only the minimum degree of a corporate life distinct from that of the ordinary village such as the provision of an infrequent lamp-post. The total urban population of India is 11 per cent, of the total population. It is in the nature of things that the more varied activities of towns should attract a mixed population with less homogeneity, than the countryside. But beyond this, there appears to be a tendency for the population of towns to show different characteristics from those of rural areas in certain definite directions. It is naturally to be expected that the percentage of literacy should be greater in towns where opportunities for education are more readily available. Whereas in Bengal, Baluchistan and Assam and the Punjab the Muslim took less readily to town life then the Hindu, the case was reversed in most other parts of India. Clearly the reason has nothing to do with religion. Probably it is to be traced to historical causes and it would appear that the intrusive population is that which tends to prevail in towns. The trading classes which are often racial or religious, naturally tend to be town dwellers so that Parsis and Jews can hardly be found elsewhere, and Jains, who include large numbers of the Marwari and Kathiawari traders, are more urban than communities of other faiths. Thus too Sikhs who are rural at home, town dwellers elsewhere, whither they go generally as mechanics or artificers of some kind. In the centre of Calcutta the highest density is reached in six wards which have 112,000 per square mile. In Bombay in the Kumbharwada quarter there were 465,280 persons per square mile and in Chak No. 95 Talaq Mahal of Anwargana ward in Cawnpore a density of 786,560 persons per square mile is reached. (India, 1931, p. 49 sq).


6. Economic Life.

It is hardly necessary to draw attention to the great preponderance of agriculture, whether as the principal or subsidiary occupation and for dependents no less than for earners, and of the females returned as having domestic service as a dependent occupation it is practically certain that a large proportion also help in the fields. If a comparison be made between the area of land under crops and the number of agriculturalists actually engaged in cultivation the result for British India is that for each agriculturalist there is 2.9 acres of cropped land of which 0.65 of an acre is irrigated. It seems likely therefore that the increase of agriculturalists is resulting in the extension of cultivation to areas which yield a low economic return. Industry occupies 10 per cent. of India’s workers. The increase in Transport workers is natural and expected. Communications have everywhere increased, roads are better and motor traffic has become ubiquitous. There is a general tendency towards increase in what may be described as modernised occupations. But industry in general is less specialised and functions less differentiated than in highly industrialised countries. Probably five millions may be fairly taken as the figure of organised labour in India in 1931. It has been claimed that Indian factory labour is very largely of the casual description; that it is not skilled and it is not recruited even from the hereditary trades to which it might be expected to look for its supply; that while the hereditary weaver is maintaining a precarious existence weaving khaddar at greater cost than is required for machine-made fabric, the mills producing the latter seek their labour in the casual labour market, recruiting very largely from agriculturalists who come and work in the mills for a time and then go back to their village. It is true that industrial labour is continually changing but the bulk of it is probably semi-skilled and in any case factory conditions bear little relation to hereditary handicraft. The conditions under which it lives are frequently incredibly squalid and overcrowded and there is little wonder that countrymen will not bring their wives and families to live in industrial centres if they can help it. The general result is that factory labour is largely recruited from younger sons for whom there is no land or need at home, village servants for whom there is no work and whom the village is unwilling to maintain, cultivators in debt who need cash to pay off a mortgage, ne’er-do-weels who have attracted too much attention to themselves at home, and women frequently of equivocal status.


7. Miscellaneous.

It is simple enough when confronted with a return of Bande Mataram as a means of subsistence to allocate him to “other unclassified non-productive industries.” Should “Professional identifying witness” go into the same category or be classed with Lawyers clerks, petition writers? “Charity-receiver on burial” suggests mendicancy at first sight but probably represents a Mahabrahman. The leech, familiar in India, with his little horns and cupping tools returned his occupation as “sucking bad blood.” Setting gold nails in teeth might belong to Dentists or to makers of jewellery and ornaments. “Cradle-swinger” not only adds a touch of domesticity but indicates the extreme differentiation of function which so often characterises the life of a household in India. (India, 1931, p. 273 sq).


8. Caste and Occupation.

Agriculture is a respectable calling and it is one which at any rate can be combined with many caste occupations and many castes whose names imply some other occupation are now mainly agricultural. Apart from agriculture the abandonment of caste functions is operative in particular directions to the exclusion of others. There is no tendency for instance for other castes to encroach on the dhobi’s monopoly of washing, though all castes aim at entering the learned professions and in particular Government service, and there is a similar tendency to give up caste callings for trade. The tendency to leave caste callings for learned professions is one which is making itself severely felt by those castes, Brahmans and Kayasthas in particular, who have in the past held a virtual monopoly of them. (India, 1931, p. 296).


9. Disappearing Industries.

Certain industries have either disappeared or are in course of disappearance owing to various causes, e.g., competition from imported articles of superior make and finish, change in fashion and taste. Such in Madras are the Bangle industry, handmade paper, painted cloth manufacture, Pithwork, Indigo, the toy industry, lacquer work, boat-building, Jutka, gold and silver lace thread, crochet lace and artistic pottery. (Madras 1931, p. 242 sq.). Bengal finds that indigenous brass and bell-metal industries have been seriously affected by cheap enamel, aluminium and porcelain vessels. The use of indigenous vegetable dyes is practically extinct. (Bengal, 1931, p. 303 sq.) The manufactures of swords, daggers, spears, knives, etc., was once a thriving industry in many parts of Rajputana. Owing to foreign competition and the increasing demand for modern fire-arms, the industry is not flourishing though in Mewar the demands of tourists assist in keeping the trade alive. (Rajputana 1931, p. 94 sq).


10. Changes in Conditions.

By common consent there has been a marked rise in the general standard of living. This is evidenced in various ways. It is perhaps most apparent in the increasing use of articles which a short time back were regarded as luxuries. Diets lanterns are nowadays looked on as absolutely indispensable. The electric torchlight has achieved a tremendous popularity. Umbrellas are used habitually by persons who would not have aspired to them. Bicycles are to be found in the more remote villages. Except in the most backward parts it is becoming difficult to find a village darzi without his sewing machine. The clothes worn by all sections are more varied and usually of better quality than they used to be. Shoes are worn by an ever increasing number, and in the matter of jewellery the tendency among women of every class is towards a greater refinement. The wearing of ornaments by men is falling out of favour but wrist-watches, fountain pens and so forth are affected instead. Even among the poorer classes metal utensils have largely taken the place of the earthen vessels formerly in use and among all classes the popularity of aluminium ware is particularly marked. Such articles as tin trunks are now regarded as a sine qua non. Another sign of the times, which testifies eloquently to enlargement of ideas and higher standards of comfort, is the extent to which passenger lorries and motor services of every kind are now patronised by the rank and file of the population. Ordinary cultivators and members of the labouring classes, faced with a journey of ten or fifteen miles, think little of jumping on a lorry and paying their fare – for no stronger reason than to be quit of the trouble of walking. (Bihar and Orissa, 1931, p. 70 sq).

In the Punjab a wonderful improvement has been made in the design of houses generally. In towns the old system of building underground cellars sard khana for the excessively hot days of summer has been completely abandoned, as the adoption of pankhas, the use of ice and other cooling beverages, added to the moderate temperature of the lower storeys of houses render the underground cellar superfluous. The style of furniture used has also kept pace with the change. The village torchbearer is gradually disappearing. (Punjab, 1911, p. 26-7).


Migration and Movement.

11. Reluctance to Migrate.

There are two main causes – the one social and the other economic – which account for the reluctance of the native of India to leave his ancestral home. The social cause, which affects chiefly the Hindus, is the caste system. The restrictions which that system involves make a man’s life very uncomfortable when he is separated from the members of his own social circle. Not only is he unable to marry beyond its limits; he may not even eat or drink with members of other groups, nor may he smoke from their huqqa. He often finds it difficult to get anyone to cook his food; and if he dies, there will be no one to perform his obsequies, and his body may have to be removed by scavengers. Nor is it only a question of the inconveniences to which a Hindu is exposed during his absence. A man who is long away from home is often looked at askance on his return; he is suspected of having broken the rules of his caste, and he may find it hard to regain his old position. The penalties which a journey across the ocean involves are well known; and on the west coast of India the crossing of certain rivers is similarly interdicted in some cases, especially where women are concerned. The economic hindrance to migration is to be found in the fact that the people of India are mainly dependent for their support on a single calling, i.e., agriculture. At the present time great changes are in progress.


12. Casual Migration.

Migration is of various kinds. Casual migration involves minor movements between neighbouring villages. In rural Bengal shops are practically non-existent. But hat khola, market places, are more frequently met with. Hat are scattered so profusely over the country that a cultivator in almost any district can go to one every day of the week without going more than 5 or 6 miles from home. As often as not he does not go for business. When his crops are on the ground, beyond petty repairs to his homestead, and the care of his cattle which he generally leaves to his children, he has nothing to do. He has his meal about mid-day or a little before, smokes a pipe, has a short sleep and about 3 in the afternoon sets out to whichever hat happens to be meeting. He goes mainly to meet his friends, hear the talk of the neighbourhood and find out the prices of the various commodities because such are the things that interest him. In fact the hat is as much a place of recreation as a place of trade and the cultivator has less work to do, more time to waste in company with others, than almost anywhere else in the world. (Bengal, 1911, p. 392).


13. Marriage Influences.

Casual migration is largely associated with marriage. Both the low ratio of women to men in the north-west and the practice of hypergamy combined with a decrease in social status from west to east among Hindus of many castes results in a surplus movement of women westwards.


14. Temporary Migration.

Temporary migration is due to the migration of coolies to meet the demand for labour on new canals and lines of railway and to journeys on business and in connection with pilgrimages, fairs, marriage ceremonies and the like. Throughout India there are sacred places where large crowds assemble on special occasions. (India, 1911, p. 90.) Religious pilgrimages play a greater feature in Indian life than in the life of any other nation. This pilgrimage habit, for in India it is nothing less, appears to be maintained by regular and hereditary canvassers attached to different shrines who go round the country inducing villagers to leave everything and embark sometimes with their families as well, on visit to distant shrines and tours of holy places which may take years to accomplish. Canvassing is not always needed to start a pilgrimage. In February 1930 the gas generated by night-soil in a trenching-ground near Delhi issued from the earth in flame and the spot promptly became the scene of a local pilgrimage to the goddess-favoured site, large numbers of people of the more ignorant classes coming and removing mephitic earth from the spot hollowed as some said, by the goddess of small pox. The goddess in this case proved obligingly susceptible of chemical analysis which showed that her ambrosial composition was 70 per cent, methane, 20 per cent, carbon-dioxide and 10 per cent. inert gases. (India, 1931, p. 384).


14a. Periodic Migration.

Periodic migration is due to the seasonal demand for labour. Of this character is the annual migration to the Sunderbans and the wheat districts of Upper India at harvest time and the extensive movement from Bihar and the United Provinces to Bengal during the cold weather month for work on the roads. The movement of graziers is a regular one. The Gaddis of the Kangra District shift lower down, in winter, owing to the intense cold at their homes and graze their cattle in the lower hills. Similarly the Afghan Powindahs, who find it difficult to earn a living or procure good fodder for their camels in the hills during the winter, leave Afghanistan in large numbers and bring merchandise to the Punjab even as far as Calcutta or Bombay and in March wend their way home. The graziers in the plains take their cattle down to the riverside tracts in the summer when the supply of fodder is restricted in the uplands. In the winter the cattle are taken to the uplands. (Punjab, 1911, p. 72).


15. Semi-Permanent Migration.

Semi-permanent migration is found where the inhabitants of one place earn their livelihood in another but maintain their connection with their old homes, where they leave their families and to which they ultimately return. This type of migration includes many of the labourers in mills and factories in Calcutta and other big cities; clerks in Government offices and domestic servants and the ubiquitous Marwari trader and money-lender who plies his business in the remotest corners of the Empire but who in his old age almost invariably returns to his home in Rajputana.


16. Permanent Migration.

Permanent migration is in the nature of colonisation and usually takes place when, owing to irrigation or improved communications or changed political conditions, new lands become available for occupation. A minor form of permanent migration is to be found in the practice common amongst old people, especially Hindu widows, of spending their latter days at some sacred spot, such as Benares or Brindaban. Again, the whole complexion of the population of Assam has been altered by the permanent immigrants from Mymensingh in Bengal. Where there is waste land, thither flock the Mymensinghias. In fact the way in which they have seized upon the vacant areas in the Assam Valley seems almost uncanny. Without fuss, without tumult, without undue trouble to the district revenue-staffs, a population which must amount to over half a million has transplanted itself from Bengal to the Assam Valley during the last twenty-five years.


17. Political Migration.

The North Arcot district in Madras was found to contain a remarkable increase in the number of persons born in French India. They represented the party defeated in recent elections in Pondicherry who found it healthier to withdraw to British territory than to remain during the executive arbitrament and domination of their political adversaries.


18. Daily Migration.

An additional form of migration may be described as Daily, which is familiar enough in Bombay and in Calcutta where 26,000 living outside the city travel in daily by train alone, to say nothing of those who use cars, buses or trains. In some industrial areas it is already becoming a common practice for persons to live outside the place of employment and buses are run to neighbouring villages for labour in Assam.


19. Effect of Migration.

Early marriage, which is almost universal, is a great deterrent at one end and immigration restrictions at the other of emigration from India. (India, 1931, p. 62 sq.) Nevertheless an emigration habit undoubtedly exists in Southern India and Ceylon and Malaya act as safety valves to Southern India. It is probable that a continuing proportion of emigration is due to a desire to escape from restrictions suffered in the homeland by the depressed classes who form the bulk of emigrants. Emigration is a great teacher of self-respect, for caste is to a large extent put away when the India emigrant crosses the sea. A man who little removed from praedial serfdom in Tanjore, finds himself treated on his own merits like every one else when he crosses the sea, paid in cash for his labours and left to his own recourses, must in the majority of cases benefit from the change and it is probably the existence of the emigration current that has contributed most to the growth of consciousness amongst the depressed classes. Labourers from well run estates generally bring back to their villages some of the ideas on cleanliness, food and comfort acquired while abroad. Emigration has no observable effect on religion. Caste rigidity undoubtedly weakens but so largely homogeneous are the contributions that here too the effect is less than might be expected. No emigrant even so far afield as Fiji severs his ties of community with the home country and on his return seeks to take a normal place in it. The effects of emigration on education are good so far as estate labour is concerned. Effects on occupation are less than might be expected. The great mass go forth to carry in their new countries the agricultural occupations they inherited at home. The contribution to domestic service is by classes contributing to it in India. The traders are those who in India would probably also have traded. The Madrasi emigrant takes his own world with him and sets it down in his new surroundings. (Madras, 1931, p. 79 sq.) Mutatio loci, non ingenii, Caelum non animum mutant. (India, 1931, p. 72).


Race in India.

20. Diversity of Physical Types.

It is a familiar experience that the ordinary untravelled European on first arriving in India, finds much difficulty in distinguishing one native of the country from another. To his untrained eye all Indians are black; all have the same cast of countenance; and all, except the ‘decently naked’ labouring classes, wear loose garments which revive dim memories of the attire of the Greeks and Romans. An observant man soon shakes off these illusions, and realises the extra ordinary diversity of the types which are to be met with everywhere in India. The first step in his education is to learn to tell a Hindu from a Muhammadan. A further stage is reached when it dawns upon him that the upper classes of Hindus are much fairer than the lower and that their features are moulded on finer, lines. Later on, if opportunity favours him, he comes to recognise at a glance the essential differences between the Punjabi and the Bengali, the Pathan and the Gurkha; the Rajput and the ‘Jungly’ tea coolie; he will no longer take a Maratha Brahman for a Madrasi; or an Oriya for a native of Kashmir. He learns, in short, to distinguish what may be called the Provincial types of the people of India, the local, racial or linguistic aggregates, which at first sight seem to correspond to the nations of Europe. But the general impressions thus formed, though accurate enough so far as they go, are wanting in scientific precision.


21. Classification of Types.

The modern science of ethnology endeavours to define and classify the various physical types, with reference to their distinctive characteristics in the hope that when sufficient data have been accumulated it may be possible in some measure to account for the types themselves, to determine the elements of which they are composed and thus to establish their connexion with one or other of the great families of mankind. For ethnological purposes physical characters may be said to be of two kinds, indefinite characters which can only be described in more or less appropriate language, and definite characters which admit of being measured and reduced to numerical expression. The former class, usually called descriptive or secondary characters, includes such points as the colour and texture of the skin; the colour, form and position of the eyes; the colour and character of the hair; and the form of the face and features. Conspicuous as these traits are the difficulty of observing, defining, and recording them is extreme. The difficulty which besets all attempts to classify colour is enhanced in India by the fact that for the bulk of the population the range of variation, especially in the case of the eyes and hair, is exceedingly small. The skin no doubt exhibits extreme divergences of colouring which anyone can detect at a glance. At one end of the scale we have the dead black of the Andamanese, the colour of a black-leaded stove before it has been polished, and the somewhat brighter black of the Irulas of the Nilgiri Jungles of whom it is said that charcoal leaves a white mark upon them. At the other end one may place the flushed ivory skin of the traditional Kashmiri beauty, and very light transparent brown-wheat coloured is the common vernacular description of the higher castes of Upper India which Emil Schmidt compares to milk just tinged with coffee and describes as hardly darker than is met with in members of the swarthier races of Southern Europe: Between these extremes we find countless shades of brown, darker or lighter, transparent or opaque, frequently tending towards yellow, more rarely approaching a reddish tint, and occasionally degenerating into a shade of greyish black which seems to depend on the character of the surface of the skin.

Still less variety is traceable in the character of the eyes and hair. From one end of India to the other the hair of the great mass of the population is black or dark brown, while among the higher castes the latter colour is occasionally shot through by something approaching a tawny shade. Straight hair seems on the whole to predominate but the wavy or curly character appears in much the same proportion as among the races of Europe. The Andamanese have woolly or frizzly hair, oval in section and curling on itself so tightly that it seems to grow in separate spiral tufts while in fact it is quite evenly distributed over the scalp. The eyes are almost invariably dark brown. Occasional instances of grey eyes are found among the Konkanasth Brahmans of Bombay and the combination of blue eyes, auburn hair and reddish blonde complexion is met with in the North-Western Frontier. On the Malabar coast are instances of pale blue and grey eyes combined with a dark complexion.


22. Caste and Genetics.

When we turn to the definite or anthropometric characters we find ourselves on firmer ground. Nowhere else in the world do we find the population of a large continent broken up into an infinite number of mutually exclusive aggregates, the members of which are forbidden by an inexorable social law to marry outside the group to which they themselves belong. In a society thus organised, differences of physical type, however, produced in the first instance, may be expected to manifest a high degree of persistence.

The Indian endogamous Caste with its exogamous divisions is a perfect method of preserving what is called in Genetics the ‘pure line’. The endogamy prevents external hybridisation, while the exogamy prevents the possibility of a fresh pure line arising within the old one by the isolation of any character not common to the whole line. With the preservation of the pure line the perpetuation of all characters common to it necessarily follows. (Bombay. 1921. p. 103).

The measurements themselves require a few words of explanation. Thus the form of the head is ascertained by measuring in a horizontal plane the greatest length from a definite point on the forehead (the glabella) to the back of the head, and the greatest breadth a little above the ears. The proportion of the breadth to the length is then expressed as a percentage called the cephalic index, the length being taken as 100. Heads with a breadth of 50 per cent, and over are classed as broad or brachycephalic; those with an index under 50, but not under 75, are called medium heads (meso- or mesati-cephalic); long or dolicho-cephalic heads are those in the ratio of breadth to length below 75 per cent. It may be added that neither the shape nor the size of the head seems to bear any direct relation to intellectual capacity. People with long heads cannot be said to be cleverer or more advanced in culture than people with short heads!

The proportions of the nose are determined on the same principle as those of the skull. The height and breadth are measured from certain specified points and the latter dimension is expressed as a percentage of the former. The nasal index, therefore, is simply the relation of the breadth of the nose to its height. If a man’s nose is as broad as it is high, his index is 100. The results thus obtained are grouped in three classes – narrow or fine noses (leptorrhine) in which the width is less than 70 per cent. of the height; broad noses (platyrrhine) in which the proportion rises to 85 per cent and over, and medium noses (mesorrhine) with an index of from 70 to 85. (India. 1901. I. p. 489 sq.)


23. Modern Methods.

For the 1931 census measurements were taken on persons belonging to at least 51 racial groups from all parts of India on 18 different characters. Besides these a large number of observations were recorded including tints of skin, eye and hair colours. For a satisfactory study of the resemblance or difference of the physical characters of two races a co-efficient known as the Co-efficient of Racial Likeness (C.R.L.) has been suggested which takes into account not only the mean characters and their standard deviations but also the numbers of the individuals and characters measured. It should not, however, be forgotten that though the method of the Co-efficient of Racial Likeness is without doubt the best available criterion of racial divergence, it is nevertheless not an absolute test but only a rough measure of how far on the given data significant resemblance or divergence can be asserted. In assigning an equal value to every one of the characters, it furthermore neglects the differences in the relative biological significance of the various characters as measures of racial difference. Other factors such as the systematic observations of non-measurable characters, should therefore be duly considered.


24. Racial Element A.

In the racial composition of the peoples of India we can discern; (A), a short statured long headed element with high cranial vault but faintly marked supra-orbital ridges and broad, short but ortho-gnathous face, with medium lips. The nose is prominent and long but the alae moderately spread out, giving a mesorrhine index. The colour of the skin varies from light brown in the Telugu Brahmin to a dark tawny brown among the Kalla, but the eye colour is dark brown and colour of the hair is usually black. The latter is in general straight but is inclined to waviness and the amount is moderate both on the face and body. It is found in its purest form among the Telugu Brahmins, but the Kallas of Southern Tamil country and the Illuvas of Cochin also furnish good examples. This type forms the predominant element in the greater part of the lower stratum of the population of Northern India, including to some extent the Punjab, where among the Chubra and Chamar is a small-headed, broad-nosed element which appears to be closely related to the Mediterranean stock of Europe.


25. Racial Element B.

On this basic substratum there appears to have superimposed:—

In the western littoral and Bengal (B) a brachycephalic element of medium stature with flattened occiput but having also high head and not infrequently receding forehead. Like the former the face is short and orthognathous but somewhat broader. The nose is long and quite often arched and convex. The skin colour varies from a pale white to light brown among the Nagas Brahmin, to tawny brown among the Kannada non-Brahmins. The colour of the eye is usually dark brown but a small per cent shows light eyes. The hair colour is black with a small proportion showing a dark brown tint. The hair is generally straight and the pilous system well developed. The Nagar Brahmin of Guzrat, the Kayastha of Bengal and the Kannada non-Brahmin are representatives of this type.

And in Northern India:—


26. Racial Element C.

(C) Another long-headed strain with comparatively lower but longer head and tall stature and possessing a long face and prominent narrow long nose. It its purest form it is found in the North-west Himalayan tribes like the Kaffirs and the Pathan where the skin colour is predominantly of a rosy white tint and an appreciable number have grey-blue eyes and chestnut hair. In the plains of Northern India, among the Sikhs of the Punjab and the Brahmin of the U.P. the skin colour changes to a light transparent brown. Here also there is a small proportion of people having light eyes and brownish hair. Among this type also the hair is usually straight and the pilous system well developed.


27. Distinction Between A And C.

The two long-headed strains (A) and (C) show some similarity in the shape of the head. Significant differences are, however, visible not only in stature, in the absolute length and height of the cranial vault, but also in the proportions and form of the face and nose. These together with the differences in the integumentary colours mark out the long-headed people of Southern, from those of Northern India. If long and high-headedness are associated with dark hair and eyes and are the characteristics of a very early type of modern man, the type here designated as (A) must be a south-eastward drift of this race, which reached India in very early times. The other long-headed type, as history would seem to suggest, belonged to a later drift from the north-west though both may have been evolved of a common ancestral stock like the Cromagnon or some pre-Cromagnon race but were differentiated very rarely.


28. Racial Element D.

In addition to these three types, the aboriginal population of India discloses – (D) a short and moderately high-headed strain with very often strongly marked brow ridges, broad short face, the mouth slightly inclined forwards and small flat nose with the alae extended. The hair varies from wavy to curliness and the skin is of a shade of dark chocolate brown approaching black. This type is predominant among the aboriginal tribes of Central and Southern India, but seems also to have entered in a considerable degree in the lower stratum of the Indian population. This type is closely allied to the Veddas of Ceylon, the Toalas of Celebes, and the Sakais of the Malay Peninsula. A more primitive form of this type is seen among the aborigines of Australia, among whom some of its traits are found in an intensified form. The Bhils of the Vindhya and the Chenchus of the Farhabad Hills may be regarded as representatives of this type.


29. Racial Element E.

It seems probable that at a very early time this type displaced and partially intermixed with:— (E) a dark pigmy strain having spirally curved hair, remnants of which are still found among the Kadars and the Pulayans of the Perambucullan Hills but which is mostly submerged in India at the present time. Hutton has drawn attention to the presence of the negrito type among the Angairti Nagas and examination of the large series of skulls brought back by the Triangular expedition has made it quite clear that it extends beyond the Assam frontiers into the trans-Namphuk area of Burma. The Andamanese are racially homogeneous and of distinct type, characterised by a dwarfish stature, black complexion and woolly hair who have survived as a result of isolation.


30. Racial Element F.

The mongoloid racial strain does not appear to have entered in any considerable extent in the population of the mainlands of India. The true Mongol element as seen among the Uzbegs, still remains outside the Indian frontiers but all along the sub-Himalayan region of N.E. Kashmir to Bhutan:—

F: a brachycephalic mongoloid type, having, not improbably some affinities with the former, seems to have penetrated and constitutes to-day the main component of the population of these parts. The type that forms the dominant element in Burma is also brachycephalic but somewhat shorter in stature and having a short flat nose and a tendency to alveolar prognathism. It appears to exhibit certain affinities with the Siamese, the Malay and the Cochin Chinese.


31. Racial Element G.

In Assam and Northern Burma there seems to have entered:—

G: a second Mongoloid strain characterised by medium stature, longish head and medium nose, but exhibiting like (F) the typical Mongoloid characteristics of the face and eye. This element constitutes the major strain in the population of the hills and not inconsiderably of that of the Brahmaputra Valley. The Angami Nagas may be considered to be the best representatives of this type but the Mikir-Bodo group also furnishes a good example. (India. 1931. I. iii. p.v.sqq).


32. Pre-Historic Races.

From the beginning of the 4th millennium B.C. North-western India seems to have been in the occupation of a long-headed race with high cranial vault, long face and narrow prominent nose. Side by side with them we find another very powerfully built race also long-headed, but with lower cranial vault, and equally long-faced and narrow nose, though the latter was not so high pitched as that of the former. A third type with broader head and apparently Armenoid affinities also existed but whose advent occurred probably somewhat later. The presence at Bayana of a small, long, and moderately high vaulted skull with prominent nose seems to indicate that a drift of this race eastwards had taken place even earlier and the whole of the Indo-Gangetic basin seems to have been occupied by it as early as these times. Later on in the Iron Age the Peninsula seems to have been occupied by a long but high-skulled race, with low broad face and nose, resembling the Combe-Capelle type. Though we have no direct evidence of the Negrito race in the old skeletal remains of India, the skull of a victim of human sacrifice found in a cairn at Jewurgi is unmistakably negroid. The Australoid type found so largely in the present day aborigines is, however, abundantly represented both in the Southern Indian and Chota Nagpur sites. The Combo Capelle type, or a race very closely allied to it, entered probably with that culture as early as Neolithic times. Mixed with the Mediterranean race which constituted the major part of the Indus Valley people in the Chalcolithic times, it forms to-day the bulk of the population of the Peninsula and a considerable portion of Northern India, in the upper classes of which there is another strain with undoubted northern affinities. It is probable that the powerfully built large-headed strain found at Mohenjo-daro forms one of the constituents of this Northern race whose advent in India appears to synchronise with the Aryan invasion.

The brachycephalic race, who form the dominant element in the population of the western and south-western parts of India as well as Bengal, must have come at an earlier period, as judged by the remains at Harappa. But that it penetrated Southern India somewhat later seems certain, as judged by the age of the Aditanallur and Raigur skeletons. When it had moved eastwards into Bengal we have no definite evidence but probably earlier than in Southern India as racial drifts along the Gangetic Valley would seem to have been easier and more rapid. The brachycephalic types in South Arabia according to Keith must have come from Persia and Baluchistan. There seems no reason to think that the Indian brachycephals with definite Armenoid affinities had a different origin. (India. 1931. I. iii pl/xix sq).


33. Racial and Cultural History.

The earliest occupants of India were probably of the Negrito race but they have left little trace on the mainland of the peninsula. The proto-Australoids who followed them and whose origin must be sought in Palestine (unless the recently found remains of ‘Solo’ man in Java prove to be earlier) may claim to be the true aborigines on the ground that their racial type was ultimately fixed in India. They were followed by an early stock probably of the Mediterranean race, speaking an agglutinative tongue from which the present Austro-asiatic languages are derived, which migrated down the Ganges valley mingling no doubt with the Proto-australoids and in the van at any rate penetrating to the farthest south-east of the Asiatic continent. This early branch of the Mediterranean race may have carried with it the beginnings of culture with a rudimentary knowledge of agriculture. They may also have taken the practice of erecting rude stone monuments and perhaps of primitive navigation. This migration was followed by a later immigration of civilised Mediterraneans from the Persian Gulf, but ultimately from eastern Europe, who brought with them the knowledge of the metals but not of iron and were followed by later waves of immigrants and a generally advanced culture, which maintained a connection with the cities of Mesopotamia and evolved or developed the pre-historic civilisation of the Indus valley and in all probability a similar civilisation in the Ganges valley. All these immigrants were of the dolichocephalic type but mixed with this last race was a brachycephalic element coming ultimately from the Anatolian plateau in the form of the Armenoid branch of the Alpine-race. The civilisation which arose in India under the auspices of these races had developed by the end of the 4th millennium B.C. a high standard of comfort, art and sanitation in city life, and a religion which bears many resemblances to the earlier religions of the eastern Mediterranean. The language in use was probably Dravidian and there was a pictographic script analogous to those in use in prehistoric Mesopotamia. This civilisation was flooded in the west during the third millennium B.C. by an immigration from the Iranian plateau and the Pamirs of a brachy-cephalic race speaking perhaps an Indo-European language of the Pisacha or Dardic family, the main course of which migration went down the west of India and across the Mysore plateau to the south, missing the Malabar coast which has thus preserved much of the ancient civilisation of Dravidian speaking India. Another branch of these, fewer in number, penetrated the Ganges valley but was not strong enough to obliterate the Armenoid-Mediterranean civilisation, though it probably modified it a good deal. Meanwhile in the extreme east of India other movements were going on as there was a widespread race movement of the southern Mongoloids southwards to the Bay of Bengal and into Indonesia, which had some reflex influence on India from the east. Finally about 1,500 B.C. came the Indo-Aryan migration into the Punjab, which first occupied the area between the Indus and the Jamna and later sent colonies into Hindustan. These imposed themselves upon the surviving civilisation there which so reacted to this powerful stimulant as to produce from the combined material the philosophy, religion, art and letters that were the glory of ancient India. (India. 1931. 1. i. p. 460).


34. Racial and Religious History.

A number of successive racial intrusions have contributed to the elements now found in the Hindu religion which took its final form as the result of the impact of the social ascendancy of the Indo-European invaders of the 2nd millennium B.C. on pre-existing religious institutions. The first occupants of India were probably Negritos, and elements of their belief, perhaps including the reverence for the pipal tree and possibly a primitive phallic fertility cult, may have been perpetuated by the proto-australoids who were the next comers and probably contributed the totemic theory or at least the basis thereof. The next elements were probably of Mediterranean origin contributing a phallic and a megalithic culture and the life-essence theory but the relative positions of the Dravidian speaking Mediterranean-Armenoid, the proto-Australoid and the Munda and Mon-Khmer or Austro-asiatic races is difficult to determine and there is little material from which to draw a conclusion and many would identify the proto-Australoid and Munda racial elements. If the Munda speaking elements be distinct from the proto-Australoid, it would be conveniently orderly to suppose that the Mundas came after them with a life-essence theory and the Mediterraneans still later to develop it into reincarnation, and bringing in the worship of the Great Mother, but it is conceivable that the Mediterraneans brought both the theory and its development and the Munda came later as a barbarian invader though no doubt already in possession of the soul-matter philosophy, since at any rate the hill tribes of Assam, Burma and Indo-China appear to contain an element of Caucasian stock which penetrated to S.E. Asia before the southern migration of Mongolians of the Paroean branch and the soul-matter theory must have arisen very early in the history of the human race. Both Munda and Mediterranean must have been followed by religious elements from Asia Minor, brought via Mesopotamia by traders and settlers from the west which superseded the fertility and soul-matter cult by one of personified deities, sacrificial propitiation and a formalised worship, again with phallic elements and such institutions as that of the deva-dasi, together with astronomical lore and cults of the heavenly bodies and priestly institutions which formed the basis of modern Hinduism, the final form of which was determined by the successful conflict of this proto-Hinduism on the religious side with the imported religion of the ‘Aryan’ invaders, to whom, however, it had to concede much socially, resulting in the socio-religious position of the priestly order to familiar in India. (India. 1931. I. i. p. 393).


35. The Vernaculars of India.

Four great families of human speech have their homes, as vernaculars, in India. These are the Indo-European, the Dravidian, the Austric, and the Tibeto-Chinese. If we include the territories subject to Aden, we have to add the Semitic and the Hamitic. These families will now be described in the above order. The oldest languages of India are probably those which we class as Austric. Practical reasons compel us to begin with the Indo-Aryan forms of speech, for, whether we consider the influence which they have exercised upon the development of Indian civilisation, or the total number of their speakers, they are by far the most important.


36. The Aryan Languages.

The modern Indo-Aryan vernaculars, although derived from languages which were highly synthetical in structure, are now essentially analytical. The terminals of their nouns and verbs have given place to post-positions, and to disjointed modern particles to indicate time, place, and relation.

These tongues have spread over the whole of Northern India as far as Dibrugarh in the extreme east of Assam, and reaching south to Kanara in Bombay. They have preserved their identity and have superseded, and are still superseding, the indigenous forms of speech. When an Indo-European tongue comes into contact with an uncivilised aboriginal one, it is invariably the latter which goes to the wall. The necessities of intercourse compel the aborigine to learn to use a broken ‘pigeon’ form of the language of a superior civilisation. In process of time the old aboriginal language is forgotten and dies a natural death. The reverse process, of an Aryan tongue being superseded by an aboriginal one, never occurs. In Chota Nagpur, the stronghold of Austro-Asiatic speech in India, the use of the old original language survives practically cent per cent.


37. The Indo-Europeans.

The Indo-Aryan languages form one branch of the great Indo-European family of speech.

From the point of view of language, the first great division of the Indo-Europeans was into the so-called centum-speakers and satem-speakers. The former, who originally began the word for ‘hundred’ with the letter k, travelled westwards. The latter, who expressed the same idea with some word beginning with a sibilant, mostly wandered to the east, and from their language have descended the speech-families which we call Aryan, Armenian, Phrygian, Thracian, Illyrio-Albanian, and Balto-Selavonic. We have only to do with the first of these six.

One of the clans of these satem-speakers, who called themselves Aryans, migrated eastwards. In the highlands of Khokand and Badakhshan, they split up into two sections, one portion marching south, over the Hindu Kush, into the valley of the Kabul, and thence into the plains of India; and the other eastwards and westwards, towards the Pamirs and towards what is now Merv and Eastern Persia. After the separation, the common speech developed on two different lines, and became, on the one hand, the parent of the Indo-Aryan, and, on the other hand, the parent of the Eranian (often spelt ‘Iranian’) family of languages.


38. Eranian Languages.

At the earliest period of which we have documentary evidence, we find Eranian divided into two not very different dialects, commonly called Persic and Medic. Persic was the official language of the Court of the Achaemenides, and was employed by Darius I (B.C. 522-486), in the celebrated Behistun inscription. It developed into the Middle Persian or Pahlavi of the Sassanids (third to seventh centuries A.D.), and finally became modern Persian. Persian is spoken in Baluchistan. Under Mussalman dominion it become one of the great vehicles of Indian literature, and some of the most famous Persian books, including the great lexicographical works, have been composed in Hindustan. Medic, on the other hand, was the language of the Avesta. It was spoken not only in Media (North-western Persia), but all over East Eran. From it are descended the two great Eranian languages belonging to India – Pashto and Baloch; and also, besides others, the so-called Ghalehah languages of the Pamirs and Suriqol.


39. Baloch.

Commencing from the south, the first of these is Baloch. It is in its outward shape the most archaic of all the Eranian tongues, still possessing forms which fifteen hundred years ago had already begun to decay in the cognate Persian. As its name implies, it is the principal language of Baluchistan, and is geographically split up by the Dravidian-speaking Brahuis of the central hills into two dialects – that of the north, and that of Makran in the south and west. Its southern boundary is the Arabian Sea, from near the Indus to about the fifty-eight degree of east longitude. Northwards it extends to near Quetta, and as we go westwards it is found even farther than this, up to the valley of the Helmand. The Indus valley itself is occupied by speakers of Indo-Aryan languages, but the eastern boundary of Baloch follows the course of that river at a short distance to the west up to about Dera Ghazi Khan. The northern dialect is much more rich in Indian loan-words than is Makrani, and both dialects borrow freely from Arabic and Persian, words from the former often appearing in curiously distorted forms, Baloch can hardly be called a written language, although both the Persian and the Roman alphabets have been employed for transcribing it.


40. Pashto.

To the north of Baloch lies Pashto, the main language of British and independent Afghanistan. In the latter it is not the vernacular of the Hazara country or of the tract lying to the north of the Kabul river, including Laghman and Kafiristan, but elsewhere it is in general use. It is the principal language of Swat and Buner, and of the country to the west of the Indus as far south as Dera Ismail Khan. The Indus is almost, but not quite, the eastern boundary; for, while the valley itself in its lower course is peopled by speakers of Indo-Aryan dialects, in the north Pashto has crossed the river and occupied parts of the British Districts of Hazara and Rawalpindi. As a lingua franca it is in common use still farther up the Indus, at least as far as the junction with the river Kandia where the Indus turns to the south. Pashto is spoken by Pathans, while the Hindus employ an Indo-Aryan dialect locally known as Hindko.

Pashto is a written language possessing an alphabet of its own based on that employed for Persian, and has a fairly copious literature. The rugged character of its sounds suits the nature of its speakers and of the mountains which form their home, but they are most inharmonious to the fastidious Oriental ear. Although harsh-sounding, it is a strong, virile language, which is capable of expressing any idea with neatness and accuracy. It is less archaic in its general characteristics than Baloch, and has borrowed not only much of its vocabulary, but even part of its grammar, from Indian sources. It has two recognised dialects, a north-eastern, or Pakhto, and a south-western, or Pashto, which differ little except in pronunciation, the two names being typical examples of the respective ways of uttering the same word. Each has many tribal sub-dialects, which again differ merely in the pronunciation of the vowels. There is, for instance, the Afridi sub-dialect, noted for the broad sound of its a; while the Waziris change every a to o, and every o to i.

The Pathans have been identified with the Pakthas, a tribe mentioned in the Rig-veda, and with the Paktues of Herodotus; while the Aparutai of the Father of History are probably the same as the Afridis, or, as they call themselves, Apridis.


41. Ormuri.

Allied to Pashto, although quite a distinct language, is Ormuri, spoken by a small tribe settled round Kanigoram in Waziristan. It is employed by members of the Bargista tribe, who claim to be descendants, of the Barakis that accompanied Mahmud of Ghazni in his invasions of India. These Barakis are said to have taken a prominent part in the capture of the famous gates of Somnath, and, pleased at the service rendered by them, the Sultan gave them a perpetual grant of the country round Kanigoram. The language, like Pashto, belongs to the Medic branch of Eranian speech. It is even more inharmonious than Pashto, and possesses one consonant, imperfectly represented in English letters by kshr, which even Pathan mouths find difficult to pronounce.


42. The Ghalchah Languages.

The only other Eranian languages with which we are called upon to deal are the Ghalchah languages of the Pamirs. The home of these tongues, Wakhi, Shighni, Sariqoli, Ishkashami, and Munjani, is beyond the British frontier, but the last-named has crossed the Hindu Kush by the Dora pass, and is also spoken in the Leotkuh valley of Chitral where it is known as Yudgha. This differs considerably from the standard language of Munjan and has developed into an independent dialect. The spill of an Eranian language over the great watershed of the Hindu Kush is but a repetition of what occurred centuries ago when the Aryans first settled in the Pamirs. At that early time, if linguistic evidence may be accepted, some of these Aryans crossed the passes and settled in what is now Laghman, Kafiristan, Chitral, Gilgit, and Kashmir. They migrated at a period when all the typical characteristics of Eranian languages had not yet become fixed, and in their new home their tongue developed on its own lines, partly Eranian and partly Indo-Aryan. The Aryans of India proper, who had entered the Punjab by the valley of the Kabul, had little intercourse or sympathy with these tribes, and nicknamed them Pisachas, or flesh-eaters, and in later years gruesome traditions attached to the name.

These Pisacha (or Dardic) tribes must at one time have extended to some distance beyond their present seats. Sanskrit writers mention colonies of them in the Western Punjab and in Sind, and examples of the dialects spoken by them are found in the words which the Greeks employed to record names heard by them in North-western India, and in the versions of the inscriptions of Asoka found in the same locality. Indeed, there are traces of their influence still existing in the modern vernaculars of the Lower Indus valley. At the present day the languages are found only in the country between the Punjab and the Hindu Kush. They possess an extraordinarily archaic character. Words are still in everyday use which are almost identical with the forms they assumed in Vedic hymns, and which now survive only in a much corrupted state in the plains of India.

In their essence these languages are neither Eranian nor Indo-Aryan, but are something between both. In the southern portion of the area in which they are spoken they are much mixed with Indian idioms; and this is specially the case with Kashmiri, which has a Dardic substratum, overlaid by another language of Indian origin, which effectually conceals the original basis.


43. The Dardic Languages.

The true Dardic languages of the present day are Pashai, spoken in Laghman of Afghanistan; a number of Kafir dialects, of which the principal are Bashgali, Wai, and Kalasha; Khowar, the language of Chitral; Shina, that of Gilgit and the neighbourhood and Kashmiri. Shina is the basis of Kashmiri, and the foundation of several mixed dialects, spoken in the Indus and Swat Kohistans, which are now being superseded by Pashto. Khowar occupies a somewhat independent position in regard to the others, while the Kafir dialects differ considerably among themselves. Wasin Veri, the most western of them, in some phonetic peculiarities shows points of agreement with the purely Eranian Munjan. The Dardic languages, except Kashmiri, are without literatures. At the same time it may be remarked that the great collection of Indian folk-lore entitled the Brihat Katha, of which no copy is known to exist at the present day, is said by tradition to have been composed in a Dardic tongue.


44. Indo-Aryan Languages.

The immigration of the Indo-Aryans through the Kabul valley from the west, was a gradual affair extending over centuries. The latest comers would not necessarily be on good terms with their predecessors, who quite possibly opposed them as intruders, nor did they speak the same language. At the earliest period of which we have any cognisance, we see the Punjab peopled by various Indo-Aryan tribes, one at enmity with another, and sometimes alluding to its opponents as a set of unintelligible barbarians.


45. The Language of the ‘Midland’.

In Sanskrit geography India is divided into the Madhyadesa, or ‘Midland’, and the rest. The Midland is constantly referred to as the true pure home of the Indo-Aryan people, the rest being, from the point of view of Sanskrit writers, more or less barbarous. The Midland extended from the Himalayas on the north to the Vindhya Hills on the south, and from Sahrind (vulgo Sirhind) in the Eastern Punjab on the west to the confluence of the Ganges and the Jumna on the east. It thus consisted of the Gangetic Doab, and of the country immediately to its north and south. The population of this tract had expanded from its original seat near the Upper Doab and the sacred river, the Saraswati. The particular Indo-Aryan dialect of these people developed into the modern language of the Midland. It also received literary culture from the most ancient times, and became fixed, in the form of Sanskrit (literally the ‘purified’ language), by the labours of grammarians, which may be said to have culminated in the work of Panini about the year 300 B.C. Sanskrit thus represents a polished form of an archaic tongue, which by Panini’s time was no longer a vernacular [1], but which, owing to political reasons and to the fact that it was the vehicle of literature, became a second language understood and used by the educated in addition to their mother tongue, and has so continued with a fluctuating popularity down to the present day. We may take the language of the Rig-veda as representing the archaic dialect of the Upper Doab, of which Sanskrit became the polished form. It was a vernacular, and, besides receiving this literary cultivation, underwent the fate of all vernaculars. Just as the spoken dialects of Italy existed side by side with Latin, and, while the evolution of Latin was arrested by its great writers, ultimately developed into the modern Romance languages, so the ancient Vedic form of speech developed first into that stage of language known as Prakrit, and then into one or more modern Indo-Aryan vernaculars. It is thus a mistake to say that any modern Indian language is derived from Sanskrit. The most that can be said is that it and Sanskrit have a common origin.

Note 1. Some scholars consider that Sanskrit was a vernacular of certain classes in Panini’s time and for long afterwards.


46. The Languages of the ‘Outer Band’.

So far for the language of the ‘Midland’. Round it, on three sides – west, south, and east – lay a country inhabited, even in Vedic times, by other Indo-Aryan tribes. This tract included the modern Punjab, Sind, Gujarat, Rajputana and the country to its east, Oadh, and Bihar. Rajputana belongs geographically to the Midland, but it was a late conquest, and may be considered as belonging to the Outer Band. Over this band were scattered different tribes, each with its own dialect; but a comparison of the modern vernaculars shows that these outer dialects were all more closely related to each other than any of them was to the language of the Midland. In fact, at an early period of the linguistic-history of India there must have been two sets of Indo-Aryan dialects – one the language of the Midland, and the other the group of dialects forming the Outer Band. From this it has been argued that the inhabitants of the Midland represent the latest stage of Indo-Aryan immigration. The earliest arrivals spoke one dialect, and the new-comers another. The latest invaders probably entered the Punjab like a wedge, into the heart of the country already occupied by the first immigrants, forcing the latter outwards in three directions, to the east, to the south, and to the west. The next process in the geographical distribution of the Indo-Aryan languages is one of expansion. The population of the Midland increased, and exercised an important influence over the rest of India. The imperial cities of Delhi and Kanauj, and the holy city of Mathura (Muttra), the Modura He rou theou of Ptolemy, lay within its territory. With increased population and increased power it expanded and conquered the Eastern Punjab, Rajputana and Gujarat (where it reached the sea, and gained access to maritime commerce), and Oudh. With its armies and with its settlers it carried its language, and hence in all these territories we now find mixed forms of speech. The basis of each is that of the Outer Band, but its body is that of the Midland. Almost everywhere the nature of the phenomena is the same. In the country near the borders of the Midland, the Midland language has overwhelmed the ancient language, and few traces of the latter can be recognised. As we go farther from the centre, the influence of the Midland weakens and that of the Outer Band becomes stronger and stronger, till the traces of the Midland speech disappear altogether. The present language of the Eastern Punjab is closely allied to that of the Upper Doab, but it gradually becomes the Lahnda of the Western Punjab, which has nothing to do with the Midland. So the language of North-eastern Rajputana is very similar to that of Agra, but as we go south and west we see more and more of the original language of the Outer Band until it is quite prominent in Gujarat. Again, in Oudh, which was a country with a literature and history of its own, there is a mixture of the same nature, although here the Midland language has not established itself so firmly as it has in the west and south.

Finally, where possible, the inhabitants of the Outer Band also expanded to the south and east. In this way we find Marathi in the Central Provinces, Berar, and Bombay; and, to the east, Oriya, Bengali, and Assamese, all of them true Outer languages unaffected in their essence by the speech of the Midland.


47. Present State of Affairs.

The state of affairs at the present day is therefore as follows. – There is a Midland Indo-Aryan language, occupying the Gangetic Doab and the country immediately to its north and south. Round it on three sides is a band of Mixed languages, occupying the Eastern Punjab, Gujarat, Rajputana, and Oudh, with extensions to the south in Baghelkhand and Chhattisgarh. Again, beyond these, there is a band of Outer languages, occupying Kashmir, the Western Punjab, Sind (here it is broken by Gujarat), the Maratha country, Orissa, Bihar, Bengal, and Assam. To these should be added the Indo-Aryan languages of the Himalayas north of the Midland, which also belong to the Intermediate Band, being recent importations from Rajputana. The Midland language is therefore now enclosed in a ring fence of intermediate forms of speech.


48. The Prakrits.

The word ‘Sanskrit’ means ‘purified’. Opposed to this is the word ‘Prakrit’ or ‘natural, unartificial’. ‘Prakrit’ thus connotes the vernacular dialects of India as distinguished from the principal literary form of speech. The earliest Prakrit of which we have any cognisance is the Midland vernacular current during the Vedic period. We have no record of the contemporary Prakrits of the Outer Band. We may call all these vernaculars (including the tongue of the Midland) the Primary Prakrits of India. These Primary Prakrits were in a linguistic stage closely corresponding to that of Latin as we know it. They were synthetic languages, with fairly complicated grammars, and with no objection to harsh combinations of consonants. In the course of centuries they decayed into what are called Secondary Prakrits. Here we find the languages still synthetic, but diphthongs and harsh combinations are eschewed, till in the latest development we find a condition of almost absolute fluidity, each language becoming an emasculated collection of vowels hanging for support on an occasional consonant. This weakness brought its own nemesis and from, say, 1000 A.D. we find in existence the series of modern Indo-Aryan vernaculars, or, as they may be called, Tertiary Prakrits. Here we find the hiatus of contiguous vowels abolished by the creation of new diphthongs, declensional and conjugational terminations consisting merely of vowels worn away, and new languages appearing, no longer synthetic, but analytic, and again reverting to combinations of consonants under new forms, which had existed three thousand years ago, but which two thousand years of attrition had caused to disappear.

Returning to the Secondary Prakrits, they existed from, at least, the time of the Buddha (550 B.C.) down to about 1000 A. D. During these fifteen hundred years they passed through several stages. The earliest was that now known as Pali. Two hundred and fifty years before Christ, we find the edict of Asoka written in a form of this language, and it then had at least two dialects, and eastern and a western. In this particular stage of Pali one of the Secondary Prakrits was crystallised by the influence of Buddhism, which employed it for its sacred books. As vernaculars, the Secondary Prakrits continued the course of their development, and in a still more decayed form reached the stage of what, in various dialects, is known as The Prakrit par excellence. When we talk of Prakrits, we usually mean this later stage of the Secondary Prakrits, when they had developed beyond the stage of Pali, and before they had reached the analytic stage of the modern Indo-Aryan vernaculars.

At this stage, so far as materials are available, we notice the same grouping of the Prakrit dialects as exists among the vernaculars of the present day. We have no definite information what was the language of the Punjab; but, as for the rest of India, there was a Prakrit of the Midland, the so-called Sauraseni, called after the Sanskrit name, Surasena, of the country round Mathura (Muttra). It was close to the great kingdom of Kanauj, the centre of Indo-Aryan power at this time. To its south and east was a band of dialects agreeing in many points among themselves, and also in common points of difference when compared with Sauraseni. These were: in the east, in the country now called Bihar, Magadhi; in Oudh and Baghelkhand, Ardhamagadhi; and, south of Ardhamagadhi and Sauraseni, Maharashtri with its head-quarters in Berar. Ardhamagadhi, as might be expected, was partly a mixed language, showing signs of the influence of Sauraseni, but, in all its essential points, its relationship with Magadhi is undoubted. Maharashtri was closely connected with Ardhamagadhi, which formed the connecting link between it and Magadhi, but in its rather isolated position it struck out on somewhat independent lines. It (under the name of Saurashtri) was once the language of Gujarat, before that country was overwhelmed by the invasion from the Midland.

Vidarbha, or Berar, the home of Maharashtri, was the seat of a powerful kingdom, whose rulers, encouraged literature, not only in Sanskrit but also in the vernacular. Maharashtri received culture at an early period. In its native land it became the vehicle of some of the most charming lyrics ever composed in an Indian tongue; and its popularity carried it over the whole of Hindustan, where it was employed both for epic poetry and also by the later Jain religious writers. But it is best known from the Indian dramas, in which, while most of the vernacular prose was written in Sauraseni, the language of the Midland, the songs are usually in Maharashtri. See Note 1.

Note 1. In the old Indian drama, Brahmans, heroes, kings, and men of high rank are made to speak Sanskrit, other characters employing some Prakrit dialect.


48a. The Apabhramsas.

The next and last stage of the Secondary Prakrits was that known as ‘Literary Apabhramsa’. ‘Apabhramsa’ meaning ‘corrupt’ or ‘decayed’, was the title given by Indian grammarians, after the Prakrits had begun to receive literary culture, to the true vernaculars on which these polished literary dialects were founded. Ultimately, these Apabhramsas became themselves employed in literature, and were even studied by native grammarians, successors of those who in previous generations had despised them. This was a mere repetition of history. Sanskrit became fixed, and in time ceased to be generally intelligible. Then the vernacular Pali was used for popular literature. When literary Pali became generally unintelligible, the vernacular Prakrit was employed for the same purpose. Prakrit itself became crystallised, and in the course of generations glad to yield to Apabhramsa. While the earlier Prakrits had been manipulated for literary purposes by the omission of what was considered vulgar and the reduction of wild luxuriance to classical uniformity, so that the result was more or less artificial, the Apabhramsas were not nearly so severely edited, and the sparse literature which has survived affords valuable evidence as to the actual spoken language at the time of its committal to writing. The modern vernaculars are the direct children of these Apabhramsas. The Saurasena Apabhramsa was the parent of Western Hindi and Punjabi. Closely connected with it were Avanti, whose head quarters were round what is now Ujjain, the parent of Rajasthani; and Gaurjari, the parent of Gujarati. The remaining intermediate language, Eastern Hindi, is sprung from Ardhamagadha Apabhramsa.

Turning to the Outer Band, an unnamed Apabhramsa was the parent of Lahnda and Kashmiri, the latter having as its base some Dardic language akin to Shins, Sindhi is derived from a Vrachada Apabhramsa spoken in the country of the lower Indus, and Marathi is the child of the Apabhramsa of Maharashtra. In the east, the great Magadha Apabhramsa is not only the parent of Bihari in its proper home, but has also branched out in three directions. To the south it became Oriya to the south-east it developed into the Bengali of Central Bengal; while to the east, keeping north of the Ganges, its children are Northern Bengali, and, farther on, Assamese. These three branches can be distinctly traced. In some respects Oriya and Northern Bengali preserve common features which have disappeared in Central Bengal.


49. Sanskrit.

Concurrently with the development of the Indo-Aryan vernaculars, we have Sanskrit, the literary language of the Brahmanical schools, endowed with all the prestige which religion and learning could give it. In earlier times its influence was strongest in its proper home, the Midland. Allowing for phonetic corruption, the vocabulary of Sauraseni Prakrit is practically the same as that of Sanskrit. The farther we go from the Midland the more strange words we meet, words which are technically known as desya or ‘country-born.’ These, though Indo-Aryan, are not descended from the particular archaic dialect from which Sanskrit sprang, but belong to the vocabularies of the dialects of distant parts of India which were contemporary with it. On the other hand, the prestige of the literary Sanskrit has exercised a constant influence over all the Aryan vernaculars of India. Universally, wrongly, believed to be the parent of all of them, the would-be children have freely borrowed words from the vocabulary of their adoptive parent and this tendency received an additional impetus with the revival of learning which dates from the early part of the last century. In some of the modern languages it then became the fashion to eschew as much as possible all honest vernacular words derived from the Prakrits, and to substitute borrowed Sanskrit words. Native grammarians call these borrowed words tatsamas, or ‘the same as “that” (sc. Sanskrit),’ while the true vernacular words derived from Prakrit are tadbhavas, or ‘having “that” (sc. Sanskrit)’ for its origin. Thus we see the Aryan portion of the vocabulary of a modern Indo-Aryan vernacular is composed of three elements: tatsamas, tadbhavas, and desyas. The distinction is of some importance, for the literary language of some of them, such as Bengali, is so overloaded with the fashionable tatsamas that it may almost be called a national misfortune. For the sake of a spurious dignity the written word has been rendered unintelligible to the vast multitudes who have not received the education imparted by the higher schools.

Other languages have contributed their quotas to the Indo-Aryan vernaculars. Many words have been borrowed from Dravidian languages, generally in a contemptuous sense. Thus the common word pilla, ‘a cub’ is really a Dravidian word meaning “son”. The most important additions have come from Persian, and through Persian from Arabic. These are due to the influence of Mughal domination, and their use is universal. Every peasant of Northern India employs a few, while the literary Urdu of Lucknow is so full of them, that little of the true vernacular remains except an occasional postposition or auxiliary verb. A few words also have been borrowed from. Portuguese, Dutch, and English, often in quaintly distorted forms. Few Englishmen would recognise the railway term ‘signal’ in sikandar, which also, as a true Hindustani word, means ‘Alexander the Great’.


50. Indo-Aryan Vernaculars.

We thus arrive at the following list of the modern Indo-Aryan vernaculars:

A. Outer Sub-Branch.

I. North-Western group: Lahnda, Sindhi.

II. Southern group: Marathi.

III. Eastern group: Oriya, Bihari, Bengali, Assamese.

B. Mediate Sub-Group.

IV. Mediate group: Eastern Hindi.

C. Inner Sub-Branch.

V. Central group: Western Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Bhili, Khandeshi, Rajasthani.

VI. Pahari group: Eastern Pahari or Naipali, Central Pahari, Western Pahari.


51. Hindi.

The word ‘Hindi’ is very laxly employed by English writers. It properly means ‘Indian’, and can be used to signify any Indian language. By Europeans it is sometimes reserved for a particular form of Hindustani which will be described below, but is more often employed as a vague term to denote all the rural dialects of the three languages – Bihari, Eastern Hindi, and Western Hindi – spoken between Bengal proper and the Punjab. Here it is used only as meaning that form of Hindustani which is the prose literary language of those Hindus who do not employ Urdu. In English ‘Hindi’ is specially applied to the languages of Oudh and of the Midland, and, to avoid the introduction of a strange terminology, these are here called ‘Eastern Hindi’ and ‘Western Hindi,’ respectively. They are two quite distinct languages.


52. Western Hindi.

Western Hindi is the modern Indo-Aryan vernacular of the old Midland, i.e., of the Gangetic Doab and the country to its north; and, as in ancient times, it is by far the most important of all the languages of India. Hindustani, the principal dialect of Western Hindi, is not only a local vernacular, but is also spoken over the whole of the north and west of continental India as a second language, a lingua franca employed alike in the court and in the market-place by every one with any claim to education. Hindustani is that dialect of Western Hindi whose home is the Upper Gangetic Doab, in the country round Meerut. The city of Delhi lies close to the southern border of this tract. Here the dialect was in general use, and from here it was carried everywhere in India by the lieutenants of the Mughal empire. It has received considerable literary cultivation at the hands of both Musalmans and Hindus. The former employed the Persian character for recording it, and enriched its vocabulary with a large stock of Persian and Arabic words. When this infusion of borrowed words is carried to and extreme, as is the fashion, for instance in Lucknow, the language is intelligible only to educated Musalmans and to those Hindus who have been educated on Musalman lines.


53. Urdu.

The Persianised form of Hindustani is known as Urdu, a name derived from the Urdu-e-mu’alla, or royal military bazar outside Delhi Palace, where it took its rise. When employed for poetry, Urdu is called Rekhta (‘scattered’ or ‘crumbled’), from the manner in which Persian words are ‘scattered’ through it. The extreme Persianisation of Urdu is due to Hindu rather than to Musalman influence. Although Urdu literature is Musalman in its origin, the Persian element was first introduced in excess by the pliant Hindu Kayasths and Khattis employed in the Mughal administration and acquainted with Persian, rather than by Persians and Persianised Mughals, who for many centuries used only their own language for literary purposes. Urdu literature took its rise in the Deccan. ‘Dakhini Hindustani,’ as it is called, differs somewhat from the modern standard of Delhi and Lucknow, and retains several archaic features which have disappeared in the north. During the first centuries of its existence Urdu literature was entirely poetical. Prose Urdu owes its origin to the English occupation of India, and to the need of textbooks for the College of Fort William. The Hindi form of Hindustani was invented at the same time by the teachers at that College. It was intended to be a Hindustani for the use of Hindus, and was derived from Urdu by ejecting all words of Arabic and Persian birth, and substituting in their place words borrowed or derived from the indigenous Sanskrit. Owing to the popularity of the first book written in it, and to its supplying the need for a lingua franca which could be used by the strictest Hindus without their religious prejudices being offended, it became widely adopted and is now the recognised vehicle for writing prose by those inhabitants of Upper India who do not employ Urdu. Although originally differing from that language merely in vocabulary, it has in the course of a century developed idioms of its own.

Urdu is usually written in a modified form of the Persian character, while Hindi is generally written like Sanskrit, in the Deva-nagari character. While the former is enlisted into the service of both prose and poetry, the latter is employed only for prose. When a Hindu writes poetry he betakes himself to one of the naturally-born dialects of Eastern or Western Hindi, usually Awadhi or Braj Bhasha. The name ‘Hindustani’, when connoting any particular form of speech, is properly reserved for a language whose vocabulary is neither excessively Persianised nor excessively Sanskritised.

The other dialects of Western Hindi are Bangaru, Braj Bhasha, Kanauji, and Bundeli. The first is the language of the Bangar, or highland of the South-eastern Punjab, immediately to the west of the Ganges. It is sometimes called Hariani, and is much mixed with Punjabi and Rajasthani. Of all the dialects, Braj Bhasha is the nearest relative to Sauraseni. It is spoken round Mathura (Muttra) and in the Central Gangetic Doah. It has a copious literature, mainly poetical, and was the principal literary form of Western Hindi employed by Hindus before the invention of Hindi. Kanauji is almost the same as Braj Bhasha. It is spoken in the lower part of the Central Doah as far down as, say, Cawnpore, and in the country to its north. Bundeli is the dialect of the greater part of Bundelkhand, and also of a good portion of the Narbada valley in the Central Provinces. It has a respectable literature.

As languages, Western Hindi, and its neighbour Eastern Hindi, rival English in their flexibility and copiousness. When not spoiled, as Western Hindi too often is, by an excessive display of Arabic and Persian or of Sanskrit words, they are two beautiful, vigorous forms of speech, not overburdened by complicated grammars, and capable of expressing any idea which the mind of man can conceive with ease, elegance, and crystal clearness. They both have enormous native vocabularies and each has a complete apparatus for the expression of abstract terms. Their old literatures contain some of the highest flights of poetry and some of the most eloquent utterances of religious devotion which have found their birth in Asia.


54. Rajasthani.

Rajputana, in which Rajasthani is spoken, is divided into many states and many tribes. Each claims to have a language of its own, but all these are really dialects of one and the same form of speech. They fall into four main groups – a northern, a southern, an eastern, and a western. The typical dialect of the north is Mewati or Bighota. Of all the dialects of Rajputana it is, as might be expected, that which most nearly resembles Western Hindi. To the north-east it shares off into Braj Bhasha, and to the north-west into Bangaru. Malvi, the main dialect of Southern Rajputana, is spoken in Malwa. Neither it nor Mewati has any literature to speak of. In Eastern Rajputana we have Jaipuri, with many sub-dialects, and many closely connected forms of speech with various names. The western dialect, Marwari, is by far the most important. It is the vernacular of Marwar, Mewar, Bikaner, and Jaisalmer, and its speakers, who are enterprising merchants and bankers, have carried it all over India. It is the most typical of the Rajasthani dialects, and has a copious literature, written in a peculiar character, the aspect of which is familiar to every Indian official who has had occasion to inspect the accounts of native bankers.


55. Pahari.

Rajputana has sent out many colonies into Northern India. The most important are the inhabitants of the Himalayas from Chamba in the Punjab to Nepal. Some centuries ago bands of Rajputs at various times invaded and conquered these hills. They settled there and intermarried with the original inhabitants, on whom they imposed their language. The Rajasthani here transplanted has developed on independent lines, and was no doubt influenced by the form of speech which it superseded. What that form of speech was we do not know, except that we have some old plays in one of the original languages of Nepal. This was akin to what is now modern Bihari. The modern Rajasthani dialect now spoken in Nepal is called by Europeans ‘Naipali’ – a wrong name, it is not the main language of the country but is spoken only by the ruling classes. The other inhabitants employ various Tibeto-Burman dialects. Its speakers call it ‘Khas’, from the name of one of the tribes which employ it. Farther west these dialects are simply called ‘Pahari’, or ‘the Language of the Hills’. We have a Western Pahari spoken north of the Central and Eastern Punjab, and a Central Pahari north of the United Provinces. To these Khas may be added, under the name of ‘Eastern Pahari’. Other offshoots of Rajasthani are Gujari, the language of the Giljars wandering with their herds over the mountains of Kashmir and the Swat valley; and Labhani, spoken by the Labhanas or Banjaras, the great carrying tribe of Central and Western India. There are numerous Gujars in the plains of the Punjab, where they have given their name to two Districts, but these nowadays speak ordinary Punjabi.


56. Gujarati.

Marwar is bounded on the west by the Indian Desert beyond which we find Sindhi, one of the Outer languages, but to the south we enter easily into Gujarat. Gujarati, the language of this country, is the most western of those over which the language of the Midland exercises sway, and at its base we can see distinct traces of the old Saurashtri Prakrit, which belonged to the Outer Band. Gujarati has a printed character of its own, modelled on the cursive form which Deva-nagari takes all over Northern India, especially in Marwar. Owing to the survival of a number of ancient grammars, we have a connected history of the language from the time when it first came into existence as a modern Indo-Aryan vernacular some nine hundred years ago. Literature has always flourished in Gujarat from very early times, and the modern vernacular presents no exception. The Bhils and the inhabitants of Khandesh speak mixed forms of speech which are dialects of Gujarati.


57. Punjabi.

Punjabi most nearly agrees with the modern speech of the Midland. It is spoken in the Central Punjab, and is the vernacular of the Sikhs. Immediately to its west lies Lahnda, an Outer language, and the change from the one to the other is most gradual. It is quite impossible to fix a definite boundary between these two. Lahnda once extended far to the east, but was there superseded by the language of the Midland. This mixed language became the modern Punjabi. Its proper written character is related to that employed in Marwar. It is known as Landa or ‘clipped’ (quite a distinct word from Lahnda, the name of the language of the Western Punjab), and is distinguished for its illegibility when once it is put upon paper. Only its writer, and not always he, can read Landa as commonly scrawled. An improved, and legible, form of Landa is known as Gurmukhi. This was invented about three hundred years ago for writing the Sikh scriptures, and is now the character in ordinary use for printing, although the Persian and the Deva-Nagari are also employed. The standard Punjabi is that spoken in the neighbourhood of Amritsar; and the only real dialect is Dogri, the vernacular of the State of Jammu, and, with slightly varying inflexions, of a part of Kangra. Of the languages connected with the Midland, Punjabi is the purest and most free from the burden of terms borrowed from either Persian or Sanskrit. While capable of expressing all ideas, it has a charming rustic flavour indicative of the national characteristics of the sturdy peasantry that use it.


58. Eastern Hindi.

Eastern Hindi is based on the eastern languages of the Outer Band, and the influence of the language of the Midland is not nearly so strong as in Rajputana and the Punjab. Here the two elements meet in nearly equal proportions. It is the language of Oudh, of Baghelkhand, and of Chhattisgarh in the Central Provinces, and has a long history behind it. It is the vernacular of the country in which the hero Rama-chandra was born; and the Jain apostle Mahavira used an early form of it to convey his teaching to his disciples. The local Prakrit, Ardhamagadhi, thus became the sacred language of the Jains. Its modern successor, Eastern Hindi, through the work of a great genius, became the medium for celebrating the Gestes of Rama, and, in consequence, the dialect employed for nearly all the epic poetry of Hindustan. It is spoken nowadays not only in its own tract, but is also used by uneducated Musalmans far to the east – right into the heart of Bihar; and Oudh men, who are accustomed to travel to distant parts in quest of service, have carried it far and wide over the whole of India. It is commonly heard even in the streets of Calcutta and Bombay.

Eastern Hindi has a great literature, probably larger than that of any other of the modern Indo-Aryan vernaculars; and this literature, being founded on the genuine tongue of the people, and acquiring no fictitious dignity by bastard additions of Sanskrit words, has reacted on the spoken language, so that the form of speech heard in the fields of Oudh possesses the characteristic beauties of poetry and clearness. Every Oudh rustic is soaked in his national literature, and quotations from his great writers fall more naturally from his lips than the words of Burns fall from those of a Scotsman.

In the Central Provinces, Eastern Hindi meets Marathi and shades off into that language through a number of mixed dialects. It and Oriya are the only forms of speech which are not separated from Marathi by a distinct dividing line, and it thus still bears witness to the intimate relationship which existed between the Ardhamagadhi and the Maharashtri Prakrits two thousand years ago.

Eastern Hindi has three main dialects. Besides the standard Awadhi spoken in Oudh, there is the Bagheli of Baghelkhand, and the Chhattisgarhi of the eastern part of the Central Provinces.


59. Kashmiri.

Owing to its somewhat isolated position, and to the influence of the Dardic languages already referred to, the language of the northern State of Kashmir has struck out on independent lines. At the bottom we find a layer of Shina words [see note] and idioms, almost entirely hidden by an overlayer of a second language, closely allied to the Lahnda of the Western Punjab. Owing to the large number of broken vowels which it possesses, and to the changes which they undergo through the influence of others which follow them but are themselves silent, Kashmiri is almost as difficult for a foreigner to pronounce as is English. It has an old literature of considerable extent, but the modern language has borrowed so freely from Persian and Arabic that the books written two or three centuries ago are hardly intelligible to natives at the present day. The bulk of the population is now Muhammadan, only a few Pandits preserving the memory of the ancient language. Kashmiri has two or three dialects, of which the most important is Kashtawari.

Note: The commonest words, such as those for ‘father’, ‘mother’, etc., are Shina, not Indian, at the present day.


60. Kokistani.

Kohistani is the old language of the Indus and Swat Kohistans. It is now nearly superseded by Pashto, only a few tribes still employing it. Each of these has its own dialect. Very little is known about these forms of speech. Like Kashmiri, they have a Shina basis, covered by an overlayer from the Western Punjab.


61. Lahnda.

Lahnda or Western Punjabi is a language which appears under many names, such as Pothwari, Chibhali, Jatki, Multani, or Hindko. None of these names is suitable, as each indicates only the dialect of some special tribe or of some special locality. ‘Lahnda’, i.e., ‘Western’, has been tentatively adopted, although far from satisfactory. The name ‘Western’ Punjabi, suffers from the disadvantage of suggesting a connexion which does not exist with Punjabi proper. Lahnda, is spoken in the Western Punjab as far east as, say, the seventy-fourth degree of east longitude. It once extended much farther to the east, but has there been superseded by the language from which the modern Punjabi has sprung. There is no definite boundary between these two languages. If we take the conventional boundary line just suggested, we find plenty of Lahnda characteristics to its east, gradually diminishing as we proceed, and at the same time many traces of Punjabi for a considerable distance to its west. The population is mixed and has been mixed for centuries. The Sanskrit writers had a very poor opinion of the Central and Western Punjab, although these tracts were not far from the holy Saraswati. The inhabitants are described as possessing no Brahmans, living in petty villages, and governed by princes who supported themselves by internecine war. The population was casteless, had no respect for the Vedas, and offered no sacrifices to the gods. They were flesh-eaters (a Pisacha characteristics) and hard drinkers, and their women were charged with polyandry like the Jats of the present day.

West of the Indus, up to the Afghan border, Lahnda under various names is spoken by Hindus, while the Pathan Musalmans speak Pashto. Lahnda has two main dialects, one spoken north and the other south of the Salt Range. It has no literature. Its written character is, properly, the Landa, also employed for Punjabi, but this has been nearly superseded by a modification of the Persian.


62. Sindhi.

Sindhi is the language of Sind and the neighbourhood. It is closely connected with Lahnda, and, owing to its isolated position, it preserves many phonetic and flexional peculiarities which have disappeared elsewhere. There was, in former days, a Dardic colony in Sind, and traces of their language are still to be found in Sindhi, which is, in other respects, a typical speech of the Outer Band of languages. It has no literature to speak of, and has received little cultivation of any kind. The population which employs it being largely Musalman, its vocabulary borrows freely from Persian; and an adaptation of the Persian character has been employed for writing it, although Landa is also used for personal memoranda and accounts. Sindhi has four main dialects – Siraiki, spoken in Upper Sind; Lari (the standard dialect) in Laru or Lower Sind; Thareli in the Thar or Desert; and Kachchhi in Cutch. The first approaches Lahnda, while Thareli represents Sindhi merging into Marwari. Kachchhi is a mixture of Sindhi and Gujarati, in which the former predominates.


63. Marathi.

South of Sindhi the Outer Band of Indo-Aryan vernaculars is interrupted by Gujarati, the Inner language which has reached the sea-board. South of Gujarati, extending from near Daman along the coast of the Arabian Sea to beyond Goa, we come to the southern Indo-Aryan language, Marathi. The Saurashtri dialect of Maharashtri once covered Gujarat, but has been superseded by the Midland language. We find, however, traces of Saurashtri not only in Gujarati, but probably also right down the coast as far as the modern Marathi extends. In the Bombay Presidency Marathi covers the north of the Deccan plateau and the strip of country between the Ghats and the Arabian Sea. It is also the language of Berar and of a good portion of the north-west of the Nizam’s Dominions. It stretches across the south of the Central Provinces (except a small portion of the extreme south, in which Telugu is the language) and, in a very corrupt form, occupies most of the State of Bastar. Here it merges into Oriya through the Bhatri dialect of that language. It has to its north, in order from west to east, Gujarati, Rajasthani, Western Hindi, and Eastern Hindi. The first three are connected with the Midland, and Marathi does not merge into them. On the contrary, there is a sharp border-line between the two forms of speech. In the east it shows several points of agreement with the neighbouring Chhattisgarhi dialect of Eastern Hindi, and it shades off gradually into Oriya, both these languages being based on Prakrits of the Outer Band. Oriya is its near neighbour to the east. On the south lie Dravidian languages, and it is bounded on the west by the Arabian Sea. In Marathi we first meet in general use a past participle, and its resulting past tense, of which the characteristic is the letter i. This extends through all the remaining languages of the Outer Band – Oriya, Bengali, Bihari, and Assamese. It is also found, in restricted use, in Gujarati, alongside of the Midland form without the i, and is there one of the relics of the old Saurashtri Prakrit. This i-participle, therefore, covers the whole of Aryan. East India, reaches, through an almost unbroken chain of dialects all imperceptibly shading off into each other, to the Arabian Sea, and illustrates the intimate relationship which exists among all these forms of speech. Although Assamese is widely different from Marathi, and although a speaker of the one would be entirely unintelligible to a speaker of the other, a man could almost walk for 1,500 miles, from Dibrugarh to Goa, without being able to point (except, perhaps, in Bastar) to a single stage where he had passed from one language to another. Marathi differs from all other Indo-Aryan vernaculars by retaining many traces of early tones.

Marathi has a copious literature of great popularity. The poets wrote in the true vernacular of the country, and employed a vocabulary mostly composed of honest tadbhavas. The result is that the language at the present; day is rich in them; and though the scholars for whom the Maratha country is famous have in later times striven with some success to heighten the style of the language by the use of tatsamas, these parasites have not obtained the complete mastery over the literary form of speech that they have in Bengal. The country was not invaded by the Musalmans till a comparatively late period, and was ultimately successful in repelling the invasion, so that the number of words borrowed from and through Persian is small. Marathi delights in all sorts of jingling formations, and has struck out a larger quantity of secondary and tertiary words, diminutives and the like, than any of the cognate languages.

Standard Marathi is printed in the Devanagari character, but for purposes of writing of a current hand, known as modi or ‘twisted’, is in common use. It has three main dialects. The standard dialect, commonly called: ‘Desi Marathi’, is spoken in its greatest purity in the country round Poona. Sub-dialects of it are also found in the Northern and Central Konkan. In the Southern Konkan there is a distinct dialect known as ‘Konkani’. It differs so widely from standard Marathi that some of its speakers claim for it the dignity of a separate language. To its south and west the Dravidian Kanarese is spoken, so that the Kanarese alphabet is generally employed for recording Konkani. Natives also employ the Devanagari character for the same purpose, while the Portuguese missionaries of Goa have introduced the use of the Roman character among their converts. The Marathi of Berar and of the Central Provinces is the third dialect. It agrees more closely with the standard of Poona, the main differences being those of pronunciation. To these forms of speech may be added Halla, which, however, can hardly be called a true dialect. It is spoken in the State of Bastar and the neighbourhood, by Dravidian tribes who have attempted to abandon their aboriginal tongues. It is a mechanical mixture of bad Marathi, bad Oriya, and bad Chhattisgarhi, which varies in the proportions of its constituents from place to place. On the whole, Marathi inflexions form its most prominent feature.

We now come to those languages of the Outer Band which are directly derived from the ancient Magadhi Prakrit. They form the Eastern group of Indo-Aryan vernaculars, and are Bilhari, Oriya, Bengali, and Assamese. Of these the first-named occupies the original home of the common parent, from which colonies have issued in three directions, to the south, the south-east, and the east, where each developed on its own lines into one of the other three.


64. Bihari.

Magadha, the land where the Buddha first preached, and in which the famous Asoka had his capital city, corresponds to the Districts of Patna and Gaya. To its north, across the Ganges, lies the land of Tirhut, known in ancient times as Mithila. To its west lies the Bhojpur country, comprising the west of modern Bihar and the east of the United Provinces. It may be taken as extending to the degree of longitude passing a few miles west of the city of Benares. To the south of Magadha lie the two plateaux of Chota Nagpur, the northern coinciding with the District of Hazari-bagh, and the southern with that of Ranchi. To its east lies Bengal proper. With the exception of Bengal, all these tracts together form the home of the present Bihari language. It has three dialects, Maithili, Magahi, and Bhojpuri, the last of which differs considerably from the two others. Maithili, which is spoken in Tirhut, has a most complicated grammatical system, its verb changing its form, not only with regard to the subject, but also with regard to the object. It has a small literature dating from the fifteenth century, and, when written by Brahmans, has a character of its own akin to that employed for Bengali. The people who speak it are among the most conservative in India, and rarely emigrate from their over-crowded fields to other parts of the country. Their character is reflected in their language, which abounds in archaic expressions. The original Aryan language of Nepal before the Rajput invasion was an old form of Maithili. Magahi, the language of the ancient Magadha, or South Bihar, is also spoken on the northern or Hazari-Bagh plateau of Chota Nagpur, immediately to its south. It resembles Maithili in the complexity of its verbal conjugation and in general character; but, owing to the long Musalman domination of this part of India, it is as a rule more flexible and less conservative. The language of Magadha is looked upon by the inhabitants of other parts of India as typically boorish. Although directly descended from the language in which Buddhism was first preached, it has no literature and no traditions.

Bhojpuri is spoken in the east of the United Provinces and in West Bihar. It has also spread to the southern, or Ranchi plateau of Chota Nagpur, where under a slightly altered form, it is called Nagpuri. The Bhojpuri of the United Provinces differs somewhat from that of Bihar, but over the whole area the dialect has the same characteristics, being a flexible form of speech, adapted for current use, easy to learn, and not over-encumbered by grammatical subtilities. Here again the language reflects the national peculiarities. The Bhojpuris are as free from conservatism as the people of Tirhut are the reverse. They wander all over Northern India, and there is hardly a considerable town in which they do not possess a colony.

Apart from the peculiar character employed by the Tirhutia, Brahmans, all the dialects of Bihari are generally written in the current form of Deva Nagari known as ‘Kaithi’.


65. Oriya.

Oriya is the language of Orissa and of the adjoining parts of Madras and the Central Provinces. It is spoken in an isolated part of India, has been but slightly affected by contact with other languages, and has changed little since the fourteenth century, at which period we find it in use in inscriptions. It has a considerable literature of some merit, and was formerly written by indenting marks with a stylus upon leaves of the talipot palm. On such a a straight indented line along the grain tends to cause a split; and this accounts for the characteristic of its peculiar alphabet, in which the long line familiar to readers of Deva-nagari is replaced by a series of curves.

Oriya is a musical language, with a grammar which is simple but complete. It borrows very freely from Sanskrit, and the chief defect of its literary style in this overloading with tatsamas.


66. Bengali.

In its own home Bengali has a greater number of speakers than any other Indian language. Over the huge area in which it is a vernacular, Bengali is by no means uniform. Its main dialectal division is not however, according to locality, but lies between the literary and the spoken language. If we except the language employed by the Musalman inhabitants of the eastern part of the Gangetic delta, the literary dialect is the same over the whole country. This is never used when speaking, except in formal addresses and the like. Even the most highly educated Bengalis employ the colloquial dialect in their ordinary conversation. The literary form of the language differs from the colloquial not only in its highly Sanskritised vocabulary but in its grammar, in which the dead forms of three centuries ago are retained in a state of fictitious animation. This literary style dates from the revival of learning which took place in Calcutta, under English influences, at the commencement of the last century. Up to that time Bengal had an indigenous poetical literature of its own, written in a purified form of the spoken vernacular. With the advent of the English there arose a demand for prose literature, and the task of supplying it fell into the hands of Sanskrit-ridden pandits. Anything more monstrous than this prose dialect, as it existed in the first half of the nineteenth century, it is difficult to conceive. Books were written, excellent in their subjects, eloquent in their thoughts, but in a language from which something like ninety per cent. of the genuine Bengali vocabulary was excluded, and its place supplied by words borrowed from Sanskrit which the writers themselves could not pronounce. During the past fifty years there has been a movement, with slight success, to reduce this absurd Sanskritisation; but, still, at the present day many words current in literary Bengali are mere ideograms. The Bengali vocal organs are not adapted to the pronunciation of Sanskrit words, and so these words spell one thing, and, when read aloud, sound something quite different. Under such circumstances literary Bengali is divorced from the comprehension of every native to whom it has not been specially taught. It is this which is the official language of Government and of missionaries, and which (with few exceptions) is taught in the grammars written for European students. Bengalis themselves call their Sanskritised book-language ‘Sadhu-Bhasha’, i.e., the ‘excellent speech’, but the adjective which they apply to anything approaching their true vernacular is the significant one of ‘sweet’. It is this ‘sweet’ language which every one with a pen in his hand, be he European or Bengali, endeavours to ignore. It is an instance of history repeating itself. In the old days the classical language was called sanskrit, ‘purified’, but the epithet applied to the true vernacular Prakrit was amia, or ‘nectar’.

The many dialects of spoken Bengali fall into three groups: the western or standard, the eastern, and the northern. Western Bengali is spoken in the country on both sides of the Hooghly and to the west. The centre of Eastern Bengali may be taken as the city of Dacca. It extends to the east into the Districts of Sylhet and Cachar, and, southwards, to beyond Chittagong. The Bengali of Chittagong is very corrupt, and is quite unintelligible to an untravelled native of Calcutta. Farther inland, in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, there is a still more debased dialect called Chakma, which is written in an alphabet akin to that of Burmese. Northern Bengali is spoken north of the Ganges and at the lower end of the Assam valley. It is a dialect which, though closely connected with standard Bengali, really owes nothing to it. It is, by derivation, an intermediate speech between Bihari and Assamese. In some respects it agrees with Oriya rather than with the language of Calcutta.

Bengali and Assamese are written in very nearly the same alphabet, which is related to that employed by the Brahmans of Tirhut. It is of the same stock as Devanagari, but has existed as an independent script since at least the eleventh century A.D.


67. Assamese.

Assamese is the language of the middle and upper parts of the Assam valley. It is more nearly related to colloquial than to literary Bengali; and its claim to be considered as an independent form of speech, and not as a dialect of that language, depends mainly upon the fact that it possesses an important literature. It has also several well-marked peculiarities of pronunciation. The literary style is happily free from the Sanskritisms which deface that of Bengali. The literature itself is of ancient date and is varied in its character, being particularly rich in historical works. Assamese has no real dialects, though it varies slightly from place to place. Mayang, one of the languages spoken in the polyglot State of Manipur, may, however, be classed as a dialect of this language.


68. Dravidian Languages.

Whether we consider the phonetic systems, the methods of inflexion or the vocabularies, the Dravidian have no connexion with the Austro-Asiatic languages. They differ in their pronunciation, in their modes of indicating gender, in their declensions of nouns, in their method of indicating the relationship of a verb to its objects, in their numeral systems, in their principles of conjugation, in their methods of indicating the negative, and in their vocabularies. The few points in which they agree are points which are common to many languages scattered all over the world.

Most of the forms of speech which are called ‘Dravidian’ by philologists are spoken in Southern India or in the hills of Central India. Two of them have found their way into Chota Nagpur and the Santal Parganas, where they exist side by side with Munda dialects; and one, Brahui, has its home far to the north-west, in Baluchistan. The last was not known to Sanskrit writers, who were familiar with two great languages spoken in their time all over Southern India: namely, the Andhrabhasha and the Dravida-bhasha, the former corresponding to the modern Telugu, and the latter to the rest. This old division agrees with the classification of the modern vernaculars, which is as follows:

A. Dravida group: Tamil, Malayalam, Kanarese, Kodagu, Tulu, Toda, Kota.

B. Intermediate languages: Gond, Kurukh, Malto, etc.

C. Andhra group: Telugu, Kandh, Kolami.

D. Brahui.


69. Dravidian Features.

“In the Dravidian languages all nouns denoting inanimate substances and irrational beings are of the neuter gender. The distinction of male and female appears only in the pronoun of the third person, in adjectives formed by suffixing the pronominal terminations, and in the third person of the verb. In all other cases the distinction of gender is marked by separate words signifying ‘male’ and ‘female’. Dravidian nouns are inflected, not by means of case terminations, but by means of suffixed post-positions and separable particles. Dravidian neuter nouns are rarely pluralised. Dravidian languages use postpositions instead of prepositions. Dravidian adjectives are incapable of declension. It is characteristic of these languages, in contradistinction to Indo-European, that, wherever practicable, they use as adjectives the relative participles of verbs, in preference to nouns of quality or adjectives properly so called. A peculiarity of the Dravidian (and also of the Munda) dialects is the existence of two pronouns of the first person plural, one inclusive of the person addressed, the other exclusive. The Dravidian languages have no passive voice, this being expressed by verbs signifying ‘to suffer’, etc. The Dravidian languages, unlike the Indo-European, prefer the use of continuative participles to conjunctions. The Dravidian verbal system possesses a negative as well as an affirmative voice. It is a marked peculiarity of the Dravidian languages that they make use of relative participial nouns instead of phrases introduced by relative pronouns. These participles are formed from the various participles of the verb by the addition of a formative suffix. Thus, ‘the person who came’ is in Tamil literally ‘the who-came’.”


70. Tamil.

Tamil, or Arava, covers the whole of Southern India up to Mysore and the Ghats on the west, and reaches northwards as far as the town of Madras and beyond on the east. It is also the vernacular of the northern part; of Ceylon, and has been widely spread over Further India by emigrant coolies. As domestic servants its speakers are found all over India. It is the oldest, richest, and most highly organised of the Dravidian languages: plentiful in vocabulary, and cultivated from a remote period. It has a copious literature, which is couched in a somewhat artificial dialect known as ‘Shen’ (i.e., ‘perfect’), in contrast with the colloquial form of speech, which is called ‘Kodum’ or ‘Codoon’ (i.e., ‘rude’). Only a few insignificant dialects of the spoken language have been recorded. The name ‘Tamil’ and the word ‘Dravida’ are both corruptions of the same original, ‘Dramida.’ The language has an alphabet of its own.


71. Malayalam.

Malayalam is a modern offshoot from Tamil, dating from the ninth century A.D. It is the language of the Malabar coast, and has one dialect, Yerava, spoken in Coorg. Its most noteworthy features are that, except among certain tribes, it has dropped all the personal terminations of verbs, and that the words which it has borrowed from Sanskrit are particularly numerous. It has a large literature, and employs the old Grantha character used in Southern India for Sanskrit writings.


72. Kanarese.

Kanarese is the language of Mysore and of the neighbouring portion of the Ghat country, including the southern corner of the Bombay Presidency. It, also, has an ancient literature, written in an alphabet closely connected with that employed for Telugu. It has two petty dialects, Badaga and Kurumba, both of which are spoken in the Nilgiris. Kodagu, the language of Coorg, is also considered by some to be a dialect of Kanarese. It lies midway between it and Tulu, the language of a portion of the South Kanara District of Madras, Toda and Kota are petty forms of speech spoken by small tribes on the Nilgiris.


73. Kurukh.

Kurukh, or Oraon, is the vernacular of a tribe in Chota Nagpur and the adjoining portions of the Central Provinces. It is more closely connected with ancient Tamil and with ancient Kanarese than with any other of the great Dravidian languages. The people themselves say that they and the Maler actually did come to their present seats from the Kanara country.


74. Malto.

Malto is the language of these Maler, a tribe nearly related to the Oraons, and now settled, still farther north, near Rajmahal on the bank of the Ganges. Neither of these two languages has any literature or any alphabet. The Roman alphabet is usually employed for recording them.


75. Gond.

The Gond language is spoken in the hill country of Central India. Many of the Gonds have abandoned their own dialects and have taken to Aryan forms of speech. The true Gond is intermediate between the Dravida and Andhra tongues, and has numerous dialects. It is unwritten, and has no literature.


76. Telugu.

Telugu is the only important Andhra language. It is the principal form of speech in the eastern part of the Indian Peninsula, from the town of Madras to near Orissa. It is also spoken in the east of the Nizam’s dominions and in the extreme south of the Central Provinces, extending into Berar. It has an extensive literature, written in a character of its own, akin to Devanagari, which, like Oriya, owes its numerous curves to the fact that it has been written on palm-leaves.


77. Kandh (Kui), Kolami.

Kandh, or Kui, is spoken by the Khonds of the Orissa Hills. It, like Kolami and other petty dialects of distant Berar, is quite uncultivated.

Brahui, also an uncultivated language, is heard in the central highlands of Baluchistan. Owing to its isolated position, it has developed on lines of its own; but it is undoubtedly a Dravidian language.


78. Austric Languages.

The Austric family of languages is divided into two sub-families, the Austro-Asiatic and the Austronesian. Its speakers are found scattered over Nearer and Further India and form the native population of Indonesia, Melanesia and Polynesia, including Madagascar and New Zealand. It extends from Madagascar, off the coast of Africa to Easter Island which is less than forty degrees from the coast of South America. In the North, traces of it were discovered in Kanawar in the Punjab and its southern limits included New Zealand. The only Austronesian languages politically connected with India are Salon, spoken by a tribe of sea-gipsies inhabiting the islands of the Mergui Archipelago and Malay spoken in the same locality. The Austro-Asiatic sub-family is represented in India by the great Mon-Khmer branch spoken in Further India, comprising Mon, an ancient literary language now spoken in Thaton and Amherst, Palaung and Wa, less civilised languages spoken in Upper Burma, by Khasi, spoken in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills of Assam, Nicobarese spoken in the Nicobar Islands, which seems to form a connecting link between Mon and the Munda languages of Chota Nagpur and North-East Madras. (L.S. 1. I. p. 32).


79. The Munda Languages.

The Munda languages are agglutinative, and preserve this characteristic in a very complete manner. Suffix is piled upon suffix, and helped out by infix, till we obtain words which have the meaning of a whole sentence. For instance, the word dat means ‘strike,’ and from it we form the word da-pa-l-ocyo-akan-tahen-tae-tin-a-e, which signifies ‘he, who belongs to him who belongs to me, will continue letting himself be caused to fight.’ Not only may we, but we must employ this posy of speech, if, for instance, my slave’s son was too often getting himself entangled in affrays. As compared with Dravidian languages, Munda languages have a series of semi-consonants which correspond to the so-called ‘abrupt’ tone of the languages of Further India. The distinction of gender is between animate and inanimate nouns, and not between rational and irrational ones. The noun has three numbers – a singular, a dual, and a plural; and the cases of the direct and indirect object are indicated by suffixes added to the verb, while the noun remains unchanged. The numerals are counted by twenties and not by tens. As in Dravidian, the pronoun of the first person plural has two forms, one including, and the other excluding, the person addressed, but in other respects the pronouns are altogether different. There is no agreement whatever between the conjugations of the Munda and of the Dravidian verb. The latter is simple, while the former exhibits an almost bewildering maze of participial forms, which in every case are converted into tenses by the addition of the letter a. Finally, the Munda languages do not possess anything corresponding to the Dravidian system of negative conjugation.


80. Munda Features.

The principal home of the Munda languages (the race is much more widely spread) is Chota Nagpur. The following is a list of these forms of speech: Kherwari, Kurku, Kharia, Juang, Savara, Gadaba.

Kherwari is much the most important. It has several dialects, which are often wrongly considered to be distinct languages. They are Santali or Har, Munari, Bhumij, Birhar, Kuda, Ho, Turim Asuri, Agaria, and Korwa. Ho is the dialect of the Larka, or ‘fighting’ Kols of Singhbhum, while the others are spoken by petty forest tribes. The home of Santali is the Santal Parganas. The rest are all spoken in Chota Nagpur and in the neighbouring hill tracts of Orissa and the Central Provinces.

Kurku is the Munda language of the Mahadeo Hills. With Kharia and Juang it forms a linguistic sub-group, but is more nearly related to Kherwari than are the other two. Kharia is found in the south-west corner of Ranchi and in the adjoining States of Jashpur and Gangpur. The tribe extends much farther south, but they have as a rule exchanged their own language either for the Dravidian Kurukh or for some broken Aryan patois. The language is dying out, and is nowhere spoken in its original purity. It has borrowed freely from neighbouring forms of speech, and has been compared to a palimpsest, the original writing of which can only be deciphered with some difficulty.

Juang resembles Kharia. It is the language of a small wild tribe in the Orissa Hills. From the leaf-garments of its speakers it is sometimes called ‘Patua’. Savara and Gadaba are two languages spoken in Madras territory close to the Orissa border. They, notably Gadaba, are much mixed with the Telugu spoken round about them, and they may probably be grouped as akin to Kharia and Juang. The Savaras are an ancient and widely spread tribe, who were known to the Indo-Aryans in Vedic times, and are mentioned by Pliny and Ptolemy. The majority still adhere to their own language.

None of the Munda languages have any proper written character of any literature. The Roman character is generally employed for recording them.


81. The Tibeto-Chinese Languages.

The languages of Further India together with those spoken in Tibet, are usually grouped under the general name of Tibeto-Chinese, which includes two distinct families, the Siamese-Chinese and the Tibeto-Burman. The original home of all these people seems to have been North-western China, between the upper courses of the Yangtse-kiang and the Ho-ang-ho, and from here they spread out in all directions. So far as British India is concerned, they followed river valleys in their migrations, down the Chindwin, the Irrawaddy, and the Salween into Burma, down the Brahmaputra into Assam, and up the Brahmaputra into Tibet. From Tibet they occupied the Himalayas, and are now found in Nepal and in other mountainous tracts lying south of the main watershed. 156 languages belong to this family, 128 of which are Tibeto-Burman, 11 are Tai-Chinese and 17 are Mon and Karen. [India I. i. 1931. p. 351].

All the Tibeto-Chinese languages are monosyllabic. Each word consists of one syllable, and refuses to be classed under any of the well-known categories of noun, verb, and particle. It expresses an indefinite idea, which may be employed to connote any part of speech, according to its position in the sentence and its relation to its neighbours. The words being monosyllables, the necessary paucity of different sounds is eked out by tones, each sound being raised or lowered in pitch, shortened or prolonged, according to the idea which it is intended to convey. For instance, the Shan monosyllable kau means ‘I,’ ‘be old,’ ‘nine,’ ‘a lock of hair,’ ‘indifference to an evil spirit,’ ‘an owl,’ ‘a butea-tree,’ ‘complaining of any thing,’ ‘the shin,’ ‘the balsam plant,’ or ‘a mill,’ according to the tone with which it is pronounced. The number of tones differs in various languages. Shan has fifteen, while Western Tibetan is said to have only one. The most characteristic of these languages, Chinese and Siamese, belong to what is known as the isolating class – i.e., every mono-syllable has a distinct definite meaning of its own, and complex ideas are expressed by compounding two or more together. For instance, ‘he went’ would be indicated by three words, one meaning ‘he,’ another connoting the idea of ‘going,’ and a third connoting the idea of ‘completion.’ Others belong to what is known as the agglutinating class, in which certain words are now only used as suffixes to indicate relationship of time or space, and cannot be employed independently with meanings of their own. It is as if the word. ‘completion’ in ‘he-going-completion’ had lost its original meaning and was now only used as a sign to indicate that the idea connoted by some other word performing the function of a verb was also the idea of a completed action.


82. The Tibeto-Burman Languages.

Bhotia, Tibetan – The Tibeto-Burman branch of the Tibeto-Chinese languages includes two great languages, Tibetan and Burmese, each of which has an alphabet of its own akin to Devanagari, as well as an extensive literature. Tibetan is one of several dialects grouped under the general name of ‘Bhotia’, from Bhot, the Indian name of Tibet. Besides the Bhotia of Tibet or Tibetan, there are the Bhotia of Baltistan or Balti, that of Ladakh or Ladakhi, that of Sikkim or Denjongke, that of Bhutan or Lho-ke, and so on. Connected with Bhotia, but not dialects of it, are a number of Himalayan languages of which the most noteworthy are Newari, (the main language of Newar, i.e., Nepal), Rong or Lepcha (of Sikkim), Mangar, and Murmi. Most of these are really Nepal languages, whose speakers (many of them soldiers in our Gurkha regiments) are temporary visitors to British India. This group is called the ‘Non-pronominalized Himalayan languages,’ to distinguish it from another, of which Kanawari, Limbu, and the so-called Kiranti forms of speech are the most important members, and which Hodgson classed as the ‘Pronominalized Himalayan languages’.


83. Pronominalised Languages.

Although this latter group is in the main Tibeto-Burman in character, it also shows manifest traces of an older substratum having striking points of resemblance to the Munda tongues. There are the same distinctions between things animate and inanimate, the same system of counting in twenties, the same occurrence of a dual number, and of a double set of plural forms for the first personal pronoun, and the same tendency to conjugate a verb by means of pronominal suffixes. All this cannot be mere coincidence. It inevitably leads to the conclusion that these Himalayan tracts were once inhabited by tribes speaking a language connected with those now in use among the Mundas, who have left their stamp on the dialects spoken at the present day.


84. North Assam Sub-Branch.

West of Bhutan we come across another Tibeto-Burman group, spoken by wild tribes of the hills to the north of the Assam valley. These are Aka, Dafla, Abor-Miri, and Mishmi. In the lower Assam valley itself and the country to its south (omitting the Khasi Hills) we have the Bodo group, of which the principal languages are Bara or Mech, the tongue of scattered tribes in the valley, Garo of the Garo Hills, and Tipura or Mrung of Hill Tippera. Then we have the Naga languages of Central and Eastern Assam. The most important of these is Mikir of the Mikir Hills in the valley itself. To the south and south-east there are the Naga Hills, inhabited by many tribes each possessing a language of its own. Such are Angami, Sema, Ao, Lhota, and Namsangia, with fourteen or fifteen others. None of them, of course, has any literature, and of many of them little but the names and a few words are known. East of Assam, in the confused mountainous country which forms the north of Upper Burma, are a number of cognate dialects grouped together under the general name of Kachin or Singpho. These wild Kachins were migrating into Burma itself, and had already penetrated far into the Shan States, when we annexed that country.


85. Kuki-Chin Group.

South of the Naga Hills lies the State of Manipur, and here we first meet the group of languages known as Kuki-Chin. Meithei, the official language of the State, is the only one of them which possesses an alphabet and a literature. Owing to the existence of the latter its development has been retarded, so that it is in an older stage than the rest. The others are scattered in colonies over Manipur and Cachar, and extend south, through the hill country, as far as the Sandoway District of Burma. Since they occupied this latter area, there has been a constant tendency to expand northwards. On the west they were barred by the sea, and on the south and east by the stable government of Burma. Thus wave after wave has been driven to the north by those who were behind. The Kuki-Chins of Manipur and Cachar once occupied the hills immediately to the south, and these are now held by the Lushais, who were originally pushed forward from the south-east and drove them on. This progress has been arrested by our conversion of Cachar into settled territory. There are more than thirty Kuki-Chin languages, some with several dialects. The most important, both politically and in the numbers that speak them, are Lai in the Chin Hills, and Lushei or Dulien in the Lushai Hills. The Kuki-Chin are the most typical of all the Tibeto-Burman languages. They do not possess a real verb, the conception being expressed with the aid of a verbal noun. When a speaker of Lushei, for instance, wishes to say ‘I go,’ he says ‘my going’; and for ‘I went’, ‘my-going-completion’.


86. Burmese.

Passing over a number of hybrid dialects we come to Burmese, which is the predominant language, even where others are spoken, all over Upper and Lower Burma, except in the Chin Hills, the Shan States, and the Kachin country north of Bhamo. The most important dialect is Arakanese, which branched off from the main stem at an early date, and has developed on independent lines. Burmese has a considerable literature, of which the poetry is written in a special and difficult dialect; and a written character of its own, derived from the ancient square Pali, but abounding in curved lines, and connected through the Pali, with Deva-nagari. The development of the spoken language has proceeded more rapidly than that of the written language, so that words are nowadays seldom pronounced as they are spelt.


87. Shan.

The only important Tai language (Siamese-Chinese) of British India is Shan, spoken in the south-east of Upper Burma, and closely allied to Siamese. A Tai tribe called the Ahoms made themselves masters of Assam in the year 1228 A.D. They were followed by other Shan colonies, which still survive and speak their own dialects. The most important is Khamti. Ahom has been dead for centuries, though its literature still survives and can be interpreted by a few priests of the old religion. The Ahoms were pagans, but the rest of the Shans, like the Burmese, are Buddhists. Shan has a voluminous literature, and a written character based on that of Burmese.

The Karen tribe is principally scattered over Lower Burma, though its members are also found in the Shan Hills. Their language seems to belong to the Siamese-Chinese branch of the Tibeto-Chinese family. It is probable that both Karen and Man have Austric affinities.


88. Miscellaneous Languages.

Two languages have not yet been classed by philologists. These are Andamanese and Burushaski. The former is really a group of languages which are agglutinating, make free use of prefix, infix, and suffix, and are adapted only to the expression of the more simple ideas. Burushaski is spoken in the extreme north-west of India on the borders of Turkistan, by the inhabitants of Hunza-Nagar. No one has hitherto succeeded in tracing a connexion between it and any other known form of speech. It has an elaborate grammar, and its most characteristic feature is the frequent use which is made of pronominal prefixes, so as sometimes to alter greatly the appearance of a word.


89. Gipsy Languages.

The so-called ‘Gipsy’ languages have nothing to do with European Romani. They are a number of dialects spoken by wandering tribes, often of very bad reputation. Some are mere thieves’ jargons, others are hybrids developed in journeys from place to place, and some are real dialects of well-known languages.


90. Arabic and Somali.

In Aden we find Arabic and Somali spoken. The former belongs to the Semitic and the latter to the Hamitic family.


91. Bilingualism.

Bilingualism is a marked feature of India and arises from a number of causes of which the admixture of races and the need for backward people to learn another language in their dealings with advanced peoples are perhaps the most important. In addition the poverty of communications in many parts has led to the existence of dialects which have peculiarities that make them difficult for outsiders to understand without some degree of bilingualism. (Bombay, 1931. p. 332).

So deep does bilingualism go in parts of Ganjam that from very infancy many grow up speaking both Oriya and Telugu and are so much at home in both that they cannot tell which is their mother tongue. In point of fact it is perfectly possible for a child to be bilingual from his first learning to speak and the phenomenon is familiar in some parts of india where marriages between persons of different linguistic groups are common. The late Khan of Kalat spoke Brahui to his mother and Balochi to his father from infancy and in Assam there are small villages where the children grow up fluent in five languages each of which would puzzle a Dutchman to learn a little of in two years, and in the State of Manipur the majority of tribesmen are bilingual in their own tongues and Manipuri while a combined knowledge of some Kuki language, some Naga language and the Manipuri language must be extremely frequent. The incredible rapidity with which a Naga or Kuki interpreter acquires an additional language with the most limited opportunity for doing so has to be experienced to be appreciated, and there are some villages which in addition to real languages compose jargons and counter-jargons of their own in order to be able to chatter incomprehensibly in the presence of others, particularly when discussing a proposition of purchase, sale, or barter. Wherever a tribal language is spoken, the great majority of the adult men using it and a large proportion of the adult women, are bilingual. Bilingualism is on the increase. (India, 1931. L. 1. p. 351 sq.)


Marriage.

92. Universality of Marriage.

Universality of marriage constitutes one of the most striking differences between the social practices of India and those of western Europe. It is not only with the Hindus that marriage is practically universal; it is almost equally so with the Muhammadans, Animists and Buddhists. The fact seems to be that it is not the Indian custom but our own which is unusual. It has often been explained on the ground that, with the Hindus, marriage is a religious necessity. Every man must marry in order to beget a son who will perform his funeral rites and rescue his soul from hell. In the case of a girl it is incumbent on the parents to give her in marriage before she reaches the age of puberty. Failure to do so is punished with social ostracism in this world and hell fire in the next. (India. 1911. p. 263). The opinion that early marriage was due to a belief in the danger of dying with unfulfilled wishes combined with the great wish of a Hindu to marry and have children, is probably the wrong way round. The wish to marry and have children is the cause of the fear of dying unmarried. The penalty for failure to marry is extinction in a future existence. This belief is still so lively that in some parts of India the corpse of a person dying unmarried is married before cremation. (India, 1931. I, i. p. 227).


93. Exogamy.

As a general rule all Hindu castes and Animistic tribes are divided into exogamous groups. Usually descent is traced through the male but there are two parts of India where the system of tracing descent through the female line still prevails, one in the Assam range and the other on the Malabar coast. In Assam, the Khasis and allied tribes (see Assam, 1931, Appendix VII) trace descent solely through the female. No man can own any property except that which he acquires himself. Public offices are filled by men, but they are transmitted through women! a chief is succeeded by his sister’s son. A man when he marries, goes to live with his wife in her mother’s house. In the Synteng country he usually visits her only after dark. With the Khasis, after one or two children are born, he may remove his wife to a house of his own but all his property acquired before marriage descends to his mother’s heirs and only that acquired subsequently to his wife and children. Usually the youngest daughter gets the largest share. The ceremonial religion is in the hands of the women and if the female members of a family die out, a girl is adopted from another family to perform the religious ceremonies and inherit the ancestral property. With Garos also the children belong to the mother’s clan. The woman is the owner of all except self-acquired property and her daughters inherit to the exclusion of sons. Though the property cannot pass out of the motherhood, the husband has full use of it during his life and he can select a person (nokrong, house-supporter) to succeed him as the protector of his family and manager of its property. The nokrong, who is usually his sister’s son, comes to live in his house as the husband of one of his daughters and when he dies marries also his widow. The youngest daughter is selected. The widow is usually the nokrong’s paternal aunt. (See Assam. 1891.) Should a man’s wife predecease him without daughters, or be divorced, her clan will provide him with a second wife, who takes the property of the first wife and so maintains him in actual possession of it.

The Rabbas are in a stage of transition from female to male kinship. The children belong to their mother’s clan, but property devolves from father to son. The only other Bodo community still tracing descent in the female line is the small tribe of Pani Koch. The custom by which amongst the Kacharis of the North Cachar Hills sons are regarded as belonging to the father’s clan and daughters to the mother’s, may represent a stage of transition. When a Chinaman marries a Burmese woman his sons call themselves Chinese, because that is regarded as the superior race, while his daughters claim to be Burmese, because the Burmese woman enjoys a better status and more independence than a Chinawoman. (India. 1911. p. 373).


94. South Indian Matriliny.

The system of tracing inheritance through the female, known as aliya santana in Canarese and marumak kathayam in Malayali, both terms meaning ‘descent through sister’s son’, prevails amongst various castes in the south of India, chiefly on the Malabar coast. This category includes the following castes; Agasa, Bant, Bellara, Basavi, Devadiga, Gatti, Gurukkal, Izhava, Jogi Purusha, Kelasi, Koil Tamnpuran, Malayali Kshatriya, Kudan, Kudiya, Kuruva, Malakkar, Mannan, Moger, Muduvar, Nayar, Pallan, Pisharoti, Samantan, Tiruvallan, Tiyan, Urali, Wynad; and also some sections of the following— Chaliyan, Gudigara, Holeya, Krishna Vakkakar, Kudumi, Kuric’chan, Idyhava, Mala Arayan, Mappilla, Mukkuvan, Nampuriri Brahman, Poduval, Unni, Varaiyar, Veluttedan. A blend of both systems occurs among the following— Nanchinad Vellala, Natta Kottai Chetti. Away from the Malabar coast inheritance through the female occurs among a few tribes, including the Pallan of Madura and the Urali of Travancore. This system of inheritance, though common is South Kanara, is very rare in the adjoining district of Kanara. When the system was in full force a woman after marriage continued to reside in her family home, where she was visited by her husband. The children were regarded as hers, not his, and were brought up by her family. The husband now often sets up a home of his own and takes his wife there to live with him. The children, however, always belong to the clan of the mother. Among the Nangudi Vellalas of Tinnevelly a girl cannot marry without the consent of her maternal uncle but when she marries her father gives her a house and a dowry. Her husband is expected to take up his abode in her house and her dowry descends to her daughters.


95. The Daughter’s Line.

In many parts of India there are instances of a man’s family being continued through a daughter who lives in his house. With the hillmen of Kishtwar in Kashmir, if, as often happens, an unmarried girl has children, they may either be taken by the man who afterwards married her, or remain as members of her father’s family; in the latter case they inherit equally with the children of her brothers. The Mukkuvans of Madras recognise two forms of marriage, the ordinary one or kalyanam, and a maimed rite, known as vidaram, where no bride price is paid. A girl married by the latter rite need not reside in her husband’s house. Her children inherit from their father only if he recognises them and makes a small payment to their mother; otherwise they belong to the family of their maternal grandfather. The vidaram form of marriage can be completed at any time by the performance of the kalyanam ceremony. A girl married before puberty must remain for some time in the status of a vidaram wife. Amongst the Coorgs a man who has no male children may give his daughter in marriage on the express understanding that she will remain in his house and that any issue she may have will belong to his family. A similar custom prevails amongst the Holeyas of Dharwar in the Bombay Presidency, the Kunnavans and Madigas of Madras. It prevails also sporadically in Assam and Kashmir, where a man having no sons imports a boy into his family as the husband of his daughter and the offspring of this union inherit his property. In Assam in such cases the bridegroom often assumes his father-in-law’s gotra. Amongst the Rabhas a man without sons usually selects his sister’s son as the husband of his daughter. With the Santals and Oraons of Chota Nagpur the husband of a woman who has no brothers, if he stays in his father-in-law’s house and works for him till he dies, inherits his property. In such cases the eldest son is named after his maternal and not as is the usual rule after the paternal grandfather. Sometimes, as in the Punjab, when a resident son-in-law has more than one son, the eldest is adopted into the maternal grandfather’s group, while the younger ones retain that of their father. A man who resides in his father-in-law’s house as a member of his family is commonly known as ghar-jamai, ghardi-jawae, ghar-damad or khana-damad. The same designation is applied to a man who, being unable to pay for the girl of his choice, in lieu of doing so, serves for several years in the house of her father, after which he marries her and takes her to a house of his own. The normal period appears to be three years. This practice still continues in a somewhat modified form is now to be found among most Hindu castes and even among Muslims. Formerly a man who lived in his father-in-law’s house or in his sisters’ husband’s house was looked down upon. There was a forcible Hindi proverb – kutta pole, so kutta: sas ghar jamai aur bahin ghar bhai – he who tames a dog is a dog: a man living in his mother-in-law’s house and a man living where his sister is married are the other two dogs. Almost everywhere cases are met with of a son-in-law going to live with his wife’s parents, (i) when the girl’s family is well to do and has no sons, (ii) when the girl’s family is poor and wants the help of a strong man; and (iii) when the son-in-law is a poor man and cannot pay a dower. Instances include Rajputs, Brahmans, Chamars, Ahirs. (U.P. 1931. p. 311). In several castes in Madras if a male heir be wanting, it is the practice to dedicate a daughter in the temple. She becomes the heir to her parents’ property and can perform their funeral rites as if she were a son. She takes to herself a mate of her own selection of any equal or higher caste but lives in her father’s house and her children take [his] name and belong to his family. If she has a son, he inherits the property. If she have a daughter only, the daughter will in her turn become a basavi. No social stigma attaches to her. Her presence at weddings is auspicious, probably because she cannot become a widow. Clearly no immorality is inherent in this custom, which is merely a method of temporarily reverting to the marumakkathayam system when the family lacks a male heir and the makkathayam system proves irksome or inadequate. (India. 1931. I. i. p. 236).


96. Types of Exogamous Groups.

Amongst the Brahmans the exogamous groups are generally eponymous; each group or gotra is supposed to consist of the descendants of one or other of the great Vedic saints or Rishis. Gotras with similar names are found amongst numerous other castes; in their case descent is claimed, not from the saint after whom the group is named, but from those members of the caste who were numbered amongst his disciples. The Rajputs and castes of the Rajput type often have chiefs of comparatively modern times as the reputed ancestors of their exogamous sections. Sometimes the group is named after the place where the founder resided, or with reference to some personal peculiarity of his; and sometimes it is purely local. Lastly, there are the totemistic groups which are found amongst castes of the tribal type. The totem is some animal or vegetable formerly held in reverence by the members of the clan and associated with some taboo. As instances of the exogamous groups of the totemistic type may be mentioned the devaks of the Ramoshi and Kunbi castes in Bombay. The system of the Gonds is interesting. The tribe is divided into a number of large exogamous divisions (vansas) on the basis of the number of the gods worshipped. Thus a man belonging to the division which worships seven gods must marry a woman from a division worshipping four or three or some other number of gods than seven. These divisions are each subdivided into a number of totemistic exogamous septs which are related to one another in the relation either of Dudhbhai or of Mamabhai. Septs which are Dudhbhai to one another may not intermarry, while septs which are Mamabhai to one another may intermarry. The system of khera or village exogamy still survives in the north of the Central Provinces. There is often a rule that a man should not marry a girl of his own village amongst the Mundas of Chota Nagpur and other tribes, in the eastern Punjab especially among communities that have no gotra system. The Kandhs are divided into gochis or exogamous sects, each of which bears the name of a muta or village; believes all its members to be descended from a common ancestor, and as a rule dwells as a body of blood relations in the commune or group of villages after which it is called. The type of tribe as found in the Naga Hills is divided into a number of khels each of which is in theory an exogamous group of blood relations dwelling apart in its own territory. (India, 1901, p. 515). The Garos are divided into two katchis or phratries called Marak and Sangma. A Marak may not marry a Marak nor a Sangma a Sangma. Each phratry is again subdivided into machong or motherhoods, i.e., into exogamous groups of the type usually met with. (In spite of modernising influences the exogamous division of the Garos is very strict. Assam, 1931, Appendix xv). The Mikirs of Assam have five main exogamous divisions each of which is subdivided into a large number of smaller ones. The Ao and the Lhotado Nagas are divided into three phratries. The Lonte in Manipur have only two exogamous sections. Shongashon has four sections arranged in two pairs. [Ed.] In the south of India there are numerous instances of a twofold division. The Irula have six sub-divisions, of which five are regarded as related and can only intermarry with the sixth; in other words, for marriage purposes, they are divided into two exogamous groups.

In Baroda among Rajputs and Lewa Kanbis living in villages a girl cannot be married to a boy living in the same village. All the caste people living in the same village are looked upon as related to each other. Among Brahmans and Vanias living in towns, so far as possible, a girl is married to a boy living in the same town. When she reaches puberty she goes to her husband every day at night time and returns to her parents in the morning. So long as the mother-in-law is alive or she herself has no children, she does not generally stay at her father-in-law’s during the day-time. (Baroda, 1911, p. 175).

Here also marriage within the village is not permitted among Kolis. In some cases a regular cycle of villages has been found, brides being given from village A to village B, from village B to village C and so on. (Baroda, 1931, p. 446).


97. Hypergamy.

Hypergamy is the rule whereby when a caste is divided into several sections of different status (frequently the result of a different origin) parents are obliged to marry their daughters into an equal or higher section and if they fail to do so, are themselves reduced to the status of the section in which their daughter marries. The men may marry girls of their own or any inferior section. The marriage of a daughter to a man of a higher section is regarded as very desirable and such men are therefore in great request as bridegrooms. The result is that it is extremely difficult for parents of the highest sections to find husbands for their daughters. This led to the wholesale murder of female infants. Amongst the Brahmans of Bengal, who are organised according to a highly complicated system, whereby the jus connubii is so strictly limited that the highest class, or Kulins, experience the utmost difficulty in finding suitable husbands for their daughters, the remedy took the form not of female infanticide but of wholesale polygamy. There are occasional though very rare instances where the idea of social superiority operates in the opposite direction. There are cases where a section of a caste will not give their daughters to men of lower status. But there is no widespread demand on the part of the lower sections to obtain husbands from the higher; and it is this which constitutes the essence of hypergamy.


98. Endogamy.

Endogamy is the essence of the caste system. Where, as is usually the case, kinship is traced through the male, the rule that a man may not take as his wife a woman of his own exogamous group prevents the marriage, not only of near relatives on the father’s side, but also of persons who are related only distantly, if at all. It does not act as a bar on consanguineous marriages on the spindle side of the family. In northern India this defect is remedied by a further rule that a man may not marry any one within a certain number of degrees (usually seven) of relationship. By Hindu law, which is followed by most high castes, sapindas may not intermarry, i.e., any two persons whose common ancestor is not further removed than six degrees on the male and four degrees on the female side. This excludes no less than 2,121 possible relations; the Christian table of kindred excludes 30 for any one person, (U.P. 1911, p. 211). In some of the higher castes, chiefly in Bengal, the difficulties of a marriage are further enhanced by the rule that the wife must be taken from a particular section and generation. A Dakshin Rarhi Kulin Kayastha must marry his eldest son to a girl of one of the other two Kulin sections belonging to the same generation as himself. As a general rule the bridegroom must be older than the bride but this rule is not in force among the castes of Southern India who practise cousin-marriage; it can also be occasionally circumvented by some device as making the bridegroom swallow a two-anna bit, or tying to the bride’s waist cloth as many cocoanuts as there are years in the difference between her age and that of the bridegroom.

In Baluchistan, a Pathan girl should properly marry a Pathan, a Baloch girl a Baloch, a Brahui girl a Brahui. (Baluchistan, 1911, p. 101). In Chota Nagpur the Hos are strictly endogamous. Sexual intercourse between Oraons and non-Oraons is a serious offence. The extreme penalty of expulsion from the tribe is inflicted by the Santals for breaches of either the endogamous or the exogamous law, i.e., for sexual intercourse with’s non-Santal or between Santal relatives who come within their table of kindred and affinity. (B.B.O. and S., 1911, p. 470 sq).

The Khelma Kukis are divided into thirteen, possibly more, endogamous clans. Descent is reckoned from the father. Though marriage with a person of another clan is frequent, it is regarded as entailing defilement. A man contracting such a marriage, cannot perform the funeral rites of his parents. Each family therefore sees to it that one member at least marries within the clan. – (India, 1931, I, iii, p. 133).


99. Cousin Marriage.

Where as is commonly the case with exogamous groups, kinship is traced through the male a man is prevented from marrying the daughter of his father’s brother; where it is traced through the female, he may not marry the daughter of his mother’s sister. In the south and amongst certain communities elsewhere, though a man may seldom marry the daughter of his father’s brother or mother’s sister, he is often obliged, or at least has a right, to marry the daughter of his father’s sister or mother’s brother. In the South Maratha country in Bombay thirty-one castes allow a man to marry the daughter either of his maternal uncle or paternal aunt; three also allow him to marry the daughter of his maternal aunt; and fifteen allow him to marry the daughter of his maternal uncle but no other first cousin. In the Central Provinces the marriage of a brother’s son to the sister’s daughter is practised by the Gonds of the more remote tracts and some of the less civilised tribes, e.g., the Baigas and Agarias among whom it is spoken of as dudh lautana (giving back the milk) which expresses the idea that the loss of a woman to a family on marriage is compensated by the return of her daughter in marriage to the family. Among the Maria Gonds the claims of a man to his father’s sister’s daughter can be enforced by the tribal panchayet. [The Bhotias of Sikkim may marry a cousin on the mother’s side not one on the father’s side as the bone descends from the father’s side and the flesh from the mother’s. Should cousins on the father’s side marry, the bone is pierced, resulting in various infirmities. (B.B.O. and S., 1911, p. 326).]


100. Marriage Prices.

As a rule marriage is by purchase. The high castes ordinarily pay for the bridegroom and the low castes for the bride but there are many exceptions. In some cases the payment is nominal but in others very large sums are paid, especially where hypergamy prevails or there is a great shortage of women. In recent times the bride-groom price has been affected largely by the educational qualifications of the bridegroom. In Bengal under the pan system the unfortunate fathers of daughters to whom it would be a disgrace either to leave them unmarried or to marry them into a group socially lower than his own is unable to marry them in his own or a higher group without being subjected to very heavy exactions. The family of the bridegroom demands the payment of a certain sum of money before it will consent to the alliance. It is to some extent astonishing that a practice universally condemned should be almost universally prevalent. Two circumstances appear likely to reduce the preference of the practice. One is that young men are now-a-days tending to put off marriage until they have completed their education and feel that they are in a position to support a wife. A second factor is the gradual rise in the age at which girls are married. In both the Kayastha and the Baidya castes it is becoming not unusual for girls to remain unmarried until they are 18 or 20 years old. Some of them have pursued their education to the graduate stage. The marriage price of a bridegroom varies among the higher classes according to his university degree or rather according to the discrepancy between his standard of education and that of his bride; and this has made it a sound investment for parents and guardians to have their girls educated as far as their means and time will allow. (Bengal, 1931, p. 399 sq).

A virgin usually fetches a higher price than a widow but an exception is found among certain artisan castes whose women help them in their work. The amount occasionally varies with the age of the bride. Where marriage by purchase prevails brides are often exchanged. In the Punjab exchange-watta satta – is of three kinds, (a) ahmo samhana where each party betroths his girl to a boy in the other party’s family, (b) trebhanj, where three betrothals are made in connection with each other and (c) chobhanj, where four betrothals are made in connection with one another. (Punjab, 1911, p. 272). [In the United Provinces the practice is found in two forms. The first is adala badala. Santa or golawat in which form the son of one man marries the daughter of the other and the second man’s son marries the first man’s daughter. This form is not popular and is often looked down upon. The more popular form is that known as tigadda or tiptha which is a triangular arrangement. This arrangement is common every where among the ordinary castes and often among the higher, including Vaisyas. In the east of the province where Muslims are largely descendants of converts from Hinduism who have retained many Hindu customs they too practice this custom.] (United Provinces, 1931, p. 313).

The form of marriage known as marriage by service still survives (see above ghardi jawae), Traces of marriage by capture are found sometimes amongst the higher classes. A mimic fight between the bridegroom’s and bride’s parties is a regular feature of many low caste marriages.


101. Marriage Ceremonies.

The essential and binding part of the marriage ceremony varies in different parts. In the Punjab it consists of the phere or circumambulation of the sacrificial fire. In the United Provinces the young couple walk round not a fire but the marriage shed or pole. In the east of these provinces and also in Bengal and Bihar and Orissa, the binding part of the ceremony, is generally the sindurdan or painting of the bride’s forehead with vermilion. Amongst certain castes such as the Hari, the bride and bridegroom smear each other with their blood, which they obtain by pricking their fingers with a thorn. In Bombay the higher castes follow the practice of circumambulation. The lower castes sprinkle rice over the bride and bridegroom, while some pour milk or water over the joined hands of the couple. In Orissa their right hands are tied together with kusa grass, or their left hands when the bride is a widow. In Madras there are various ceremonies, such as making them eat from the same dish, or knotting their garments together, or pouring water over them so that it runs from the man to the woman. But the most common is the tying the tali or necklace by the bridegroom round the bride’s neck. The Brahman bridegroom places the bride’s foot seven times on a mill-stone, a symbol of constancy.


102. Mock Marriages.

Occasionally it is held that a widow may marry only a widower but a bachelor may sometimes qualify himself by performing a mock marriage with a tree, an earthen pot filled with cakes or some other inanimate object. (An odd number is very unlucky. A man may therefore marry a widow without danger if it is his second or fourth marriage but not if he is a bachelor marrying his first or a widower marrying his third wife.) When a bachelor takes a widow wife, he first goes through a form of marriage to a sahara tree. One of the branches of the tree is lowered and placed in his hand and a garland is tied round his wrist as is generally done in the case of a woman. Then the widow is brought before the bridegroom, garlands are exchanged and the bridegroom presents a bala or bangle to the bride and makes her wear it. If a widower marries for a third time, he also marries a sahara tree before he takes the widow as his bride, so that the tree becomes his third wife and the widow his fourth wife. The Koltas say that if a bachelor marries a widow, he will become an evil spirit after death; he therefore goes through a mock marriage with a flower before the real marriage with the widow. When a Halwai bachelor marries a widow, the ceremony takes place as usual in the widow’s house, but before going there the bridegroom is formally married in his own house to a sword or piece of iron, which he bedaubs with vermilion as if it were his bride. Among the Bagdis, early on the wedding morning before the bridegroom starts in procession for the bride’s house, he goes through a mock marriage to a mahua tree. He embraces the tree and bedaubs it with vermilion his right wrist is bound to it with thread, and after he is released from the tree, this same thread us used to attach a bunch of mahua leaves to his wrist. Among the Kharwars not only the bridegroom but the bride also goes through the form of marriage to a mango tree, or at least to a branch of the tree, as a preliminary to marriage. The Kurmis of Chota Nagpur make the parties marry different trees, each separately in their houses on the wedding morning. The bride marries a mahua and the bridegroom a mango. The bride wears on her right wrist a bracelet of the leaves of the mahua walks round the tree seven times, has her right hand and right ear tied to the tree with thread, and is made to chew mahua leaves. In the case of the bridegroom the tree is a mango and is circled nine times. The same practice of marrying the bride to a mahua and the bridegroom to a mango prevails among the Mahilis. In Nepal Newar girls are married when children to a bel fruit, which is thrown into some sacred river after the ceremony; they are afterwards married to husbands when puberty is attained. To avoid the stigma of attaining puberty without being wed the Gonr sub-caste of Kandus in Bihar marry to a sword any girl who is unlikely to find a husband by reason of physical infirmities. Such marriages are especially common in Orissa where the girl is married to a flower or tree or an arrow if she is on the point of attaining puberty. Among the Chasas the priest binds the girl’s hand to the arrow with some kush grass. The girl venerates the arrow during her lifetime and never mentions it, just as she would never mention the name of a real husband. If a suitor presents himself afterwards, her marriage is dwitya the name given to the re-marriage of a real widow. The marriage is like that of an ordinary widow, for the bridegroom need not attend the marriage, but may send his younger brother, who puts a bangle on the bride’s wrist. In Bengal a girl who is intended for a life of shame, is married either to a man, generally an imbecile, though sometimes a Baishnab is hired to act as bridegroom or a prostitute’s son, or to a plant or to a sword or knife, the two latter being invariably selected by Muhammadan prostitutes while a plant is preferred by Hindus. The plant is carefully watered and the sword is kept locked up in a box, in the belief that if the one dies or the other is lost, the girl becomes a widow. (B.B.O. and S. 1911, p. 322.)


103. Marriage Seasons.

The Kadwa Kunbis of Baroda and the Central Provinces have a curious custom of celebrating their marriages on a single day fixed by the astrologers once every nine, ten or eleven years. As so long an interval must elapse before another opportunity occurs, every family disposes of all its unmarried members. Sometimes even unborn children are thus given in wedlock; if when born, they prove to be of the same sex, the ceremony is treated as void. When a suitable bridegroom is not available, a girl is either married to a bunch of flowers, which is afterwards thrown into a well or to some married man who divorces her as soon as the ceremony is over. She is then regarded as a widow, and can at any time be married according to the maimed rite for widows. The Bharvads of Baroda celebrate their marriages once in every twelve, fifteen or twenty four years, and the Motala Brahmans once in every four years. The Agharias of the Central Provinces celebrate their marriages only once in every five or six years, when all children whose matches can be arranged are married off. The Chettis of Madras have a marriage season at intervals of ten or fifteen years. During the conjunction of Leo with Jupiter, which takes place every twelfth year and lasts for about eighteen months, all marriages and various other religious and secular acts are forbidden in the tract between the Ganges and the Godavari. (India, 1911, p. 258).


104. Polygamy.

Hindu law places no restriction on the number of wives a man may have, and sometimes polygamy is a regular practice. But most castes object to their members having more than one wife, except for special reasons, such as the failure of the first wife to bear a son, or her affliction with some incurable disease or infirmity. In such cases the consent of the caste panchayat must be generally before a man marries again. Sometimes a second wife may be taken only with the consent of the first. In such cases the second wife is often the younger sister of the first; but her elder sister may on no account be married. The Binjhals in Sambalpur require a man to marry a new wife when he succeeds to landed property, irrespective of the number he already has. It should be noted that there is a certain amount of compulsory polygamy owing to the practice whereby certain castes expect a man to marry his elder brother’s widow. The Garos in certain cases expect him to marry his widowed mother-in-law. The Namputiri Brahmans are polygamous, as the eldest son alone is allowed to marry, and unless he took several wives, many of the girls would perforce remain unwed. (India, 1911, p. 246). The Santal commonly enjoys the favours of his wife’s younger sisters. The wife sometimes encourages this intimacy. A Santal male has intercourse with his wife’s nieces. (B.B.O. and S., 1911, p. 326).


105. Polyandry.

Polyandry is of two kinds – where the husbands need not be related and where they are brothers, or possibly cousins on the father’s side. Fraternal polyandry is extremely rare in northern India; and it exists naked and unashamed only in the Himalayan border land where it is attributed to the poverty of the country and the desire to avoid large families. In Southern India polyandry is a recognised institution amongst the Todas and a very few low castes chiefly on the Malabar coast. (India, 1911, p. 239, sq.). The Santals so far practice fraternal polyandry that a man’s younger brothers have a recognised right to intercourse with his wife: at present the wife is usually common property only while they are unmarried. (B.B.O. and S., 1911, p. 326).


106. Levirate.

The custom by which a woman is taken as the wife of her late husband’s younger brother is commonly known as the levirate, but it must not be confused with the similarly named custom among the Jews, the object of which was to provide a son for the deceased. It is true that in the Hindu law-books the practice, there called niyoga, was as a rule permitted only where the widow was childless, with the object of providing a son for the first husband; and Manu expressly says that cohabitation must cease as soon as one, or at most two, sons have been begotten. With one or two local exceptions, the idea of raising up seed to the deceased is entirely foreign to the custom of widow marriage as it now obtains in India. One isolated case comes from the Madras Presidency where a younger brother merely procreates children for the deceased husband whose property they inherit. At the present day the castes that allow the levirate are ordinarily not those of twice-born rank, who would be most influenced by the precept of the Shastras, but of a much lower status. (India, 1911, p. 247). The higher castes forbid it altogether and, the custom is held to be a mark of social respectability, many of the more ambitious of the lower castes have adopted it by way of raising their social status, while Muhammadans who are closely brought into touch with their Hindu neighbours are apt to share the prejudice. (India, 1921, p. 155). The relations between a man and his bhauji (elder brother’s wife) are apparently always tinged with a familiarity almost verging on licence, and are not infrequently the subject of scandal and gossip. (C.P., 1911, p. 141).

Among the Santals a younger brother who takes the widow as his wife does not go through any marriage ceremony and no bride price is paid as they say they have already paid for her and she belongs to the family. Among the Hos if either the younger brother or the widow refuse to marry, and she marries some one else, her husband has to refund the bride price originally paid for her. (B.B.O. and S., 1911, p. 322).


107. Remarriage of Widows.

To the Hindu the relation of husband is sacramental rather than contractual and once it has been established it cannot be severed even upon death except by a desecration. Every Hindu in his heart probably considers that the Hindu widow is capable of realising the finest ideal of womanhood by ascetic self-denial, devotion to her husband’s memory, and the self-sacrifice with which she consecrates herself to the service of the remaining members of her husband’s family; and there are many particularly amongst the orthodox, to whom any sacrifice of this kind appears profoundly repugnant. They would prefer that the ideal should still be attempted even if it involves, as it does in many cases, suffering and almost unbearable nervous and psychological strain upon the widows. There is, however, a large body of progressive thinkers who, finding no Shastric injunction in favour of perpetual widowhood, are prepared and even to encourage remarriage of widows. The Hindu Sabba advocates this but with a certain complacent patronage puts it forward as being specially appropriate for the lower castes on the ground, for which there is apparently little justification in fact, that they are dying out owing to their failure to find unmarried girls as brides. There are numerous instances of widow remarriages but in all cases they were viewed with displeasure by some portion of the caste. There are considerable organisations for the encouragement of widow remarriage and it has become more prevalent during the last ten years. Nearly all were in favour of restricting the remarriage of widows to those who have been bereaved before the marriage was consummated or to those who were of tender years and some of them thought it necessary to insist that the widow should not be remarried without her own consent. A proviso rendered necessary by the fact that orthodox Hindu law regards women as no free agents but as being at all stages of their lives a chattel or rather a ward of some male relative. (Bengal, 1931, p. 402).

A Hindu widow cannot be married according to the ordinary religious rites. Where her husband is the younger brother of the first, there is often no ceremony at all; in other cases it is of a very informal character. Such as it is, it generally takes place at night in the dark half of the month.

In Baluchistan among the there is plenty of widow remarriage – though the lady can please herself whether to live as widow, mistress, or wife. If she makes up her mind to remarry, her late husband’s brother has no claim to her hand, and the bride price goes to her parents. Her second wedding seems to be regarded as a huge joke. The women make the unfortunate mullah the butt for the broadest of jests; they stitch up his clothes and he is a lucky man if he escapes with his breeches on. To add to his misery he only gets half the usual wedding fee. (Baluchistan, 1911, p. 108).


108. Child Marriage.

The practice of child marriage involves as a necessary corollary some postponement of effective marriage and in the case of Muslims and of the majority of Hindu prepuberty consummation is not practised, though the prevailing Hindu custom certainly involves consummation at a very early date thereafter. While there exists no necessity in the case of the Hindu marriage for any further ceremony to cement the union, which also remains valid and final in the case of the bridegroom’s death, it is true that a further ceremony is frequently performed either when the wife is taken to her husband’s house or as a preliminary to consummation but such ceremonies are neither universal nor essential. The custom of child marriage seems never to have extended to the Malabar coast and is not nearly so prevalent in the extreme south, along the east coast, or in the north-west as in the west and in Bengal and in the Deccan. It seems more than probable that the underlying idea which imputes blame to failure to marry and propagate is the same as that which enjoins fertilisation at the earliest opportunity. Infant marriage naturally involves infant widowhood, a feature of no significance where remarriage is allowed, but of serious importance where it is not. There is an excess of males in India generally and this is likely to tend, when associated with child marriage, towards an increasing disparity between the ages of husband and wife if it does not actually tend towards prepuberty marriage of the latter. The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1930 which was to take effect from 1st April 1930 provided penalties for the solemnisation of marriages of male children under 18 and of female children under 14 years of age but did not invalidate marriages made in contravention of its provisions. The interval between the date when the Act was passed and the date on which it came into force was very largely responsible for the enormous increase in the numbers of those married below the age of ten years. Money-lenders and others who stood to profit by the celebration of marriages circulated a rumour that the Act prohibited any marriages taking place for the space of 14 years. In some districts difficulty was experienced in getting the services not only of musicians, it was said, but even of priests. In many cases the children married in all this haste were the merest infants. Facts indicated the retention of purely secular marriage among the rural Christian community on account of the fact that early marriage could not be celebrated under the Christian Marriage Act. This retention of secular marriage after conversion is familiar enough in the case of many hill tribes on account of the difficulty of getting divorce in the case of marriages under the Christian Marriage Act, but they mostly practise adult marriage. (In certain cases Garos have infant marriages. Such marriages are bound up with tribal law. Assam, 1931, p. 94). The unfortunate increase in the existing number of infants and children married and widowed at a tender age has been occasioned by the advantage taken by the orthodox to marry while an open season yet remained. An excess of males, particularly when it is almost compulsory for men to have a son, since ‘there is no heaven for a sonless man’ is bound to lower the age of marriage for females. When there are not enough to go round, (In every province of India fewer females are born than males. The extraordinarily low female ratio of the Shekhawat branch of the Kachwaha clan of Rajputs in Jaipur State, 580 females per 1,000 males, is indubitably suggestive of deliberate interference with the natural ratio. India, 1931, I, i, p. 195), it becomes a necessity to secure a girl while she is young enough not to have been snapped by some one else and if an excess of males is biologically inherent in the caste system, a relaxation of that system will be necessary to remove the growing shortage of females which must, if it continue, make the early marriage of girls almost compulsory. (India, I., i, 1931, p. 229 sq).


109. Divorce.

With orthodox Hindus, marriage is a religious sacrament which cannot be revoked; and although a woman convicted of adultery may be deprived of her status and turned out of her caste, divorce in the ordinary sense is an impossibility. The case is otherwise amongst certain low castes in the north of India, and many castes, both high and low, in the south, especially where the sambandham form of marriage is in vogue. With the Koravas a woman who has had seven husbands whether she lost them by death or by divorce, is much esteemed, and takes the lead in marriages and religious ceremonies generally. In the Central Provinces many castes freely allow divorce. If a woman goes off with another man, the husband is usually satisfied with the repayment of his marriage expenses; and the panchayat, after being feasted, sanction the divorce and the new union. In a caste of as high status as the Jadams of Hoshangabad, an endogamous branch of Rajputs, it is said that a woman sometimes has as many as nine or ten husbands in the course of her life. Among the low agricultural and labouring castes, the impure castes and the tribes, marriage ties are throughout easily soluble. (India, 1911, p. 245).

Among the Bhils divorce is frequent. Any reason is sufficient for a divorce. To effect a divorce the injured man calls together his village panchayat and in their presence tears off a piece from the end of his turban which he hands to his wife, stating that finding that her conduct was bad he is divorcing her and that from this day forth she will stand to him in the relationship of a sister. The divorcee takes the piece of cloth and hangs it [carefully] on a rafter of her father’s house for a whole month. This shows that her former husband has no rights over her and she can re-marry. (India, 1931, i, iii, p. 54). With the Korwas divorce is easy. A man dissatisfied with his wife can say – Go, I will not keep you. She then goes to her parents and can marry anyone else. The husband finds another wife. A woman, of course, has no power to divorce. (India, 1931, I., iii, p. 88).


110. Relationship Terms.

A great deal of light can be thrown on the system of kinship and marriage which prevails in a community by the terms of relationship which it uses. For instance in a system where cousin-marriage was the only possible form of marriage at one time, it is extremely probable that the terms of relationship at present in use will show it. In such a system, wife’s father would be mother’s brother; wife’s mother would be mother’s brother’s wife; mother’s brother would be father’s sister’s husband; father’s sister would be mother’s brother’s wife mother’s brother’s son, father’s sister’s son, would both be brothers-in-law. And the terms for these pairs of relationship would very well be the same. In South India, where cousin-marriage is found, this is actually the case in Tamil, Telugu and Canarese; whilst in the Korwa terms of relationship both mother’s brother and father’s sister’s husband is mama whilst their wives are respectively mamin and mami. The terms when analysed fall into various classes; – (1) real terms bap, man, chacha; (2) foreign and literary terms; (3) affectionate diminutives and corruptions denoting relationship – abba, baba, amman, bhaiya, bitia; (4) terms of respect or affection, not connoting relationship at all and vague terms such as mian, babu, lala, larka, londa, chokra, bachchha; (5) names of other relationships used for other relations; e.g., kaka or chacha (father’s brother) or dada (father’s father) for father, beta (son) for nephew, amman (mother) for aunt, and so on. Of these the second and fourth classes are negligible and the third is only of value if the diminutive of one class is used for another. Yet in common parlance they are much the most frequently used. There are other difficulties as well. Though the Hindi language is probably richer than most languages in its terms of relationship, yet the Indian in speaking of his relatives and still more in speaking to them manages to get along with very few. What the Indian actually says is much more important than what he might say and would say if it were necessary to be precise about the relationship. Bhai (brother) for instance includes not only a full (saga) brother, but a half brother; every kind of cousin however, remote, a fellow casteman, or even a fellow villager. It is common to address some relatives by a term denoting a different relationship. The most striking cases are – (1) the custom whereby father and mother are called paternal uncle and aunt amongst Hindus; (2) the custom whereby the father’s brother and his wife are called father and mother amongst both Hindus and Muhammadans; (8) the custom whereby the father’s sister and mother’s brother’s wife are called mother, the former chiefly amongst Muhammadans, the latter amongst both; (4) the way in which every kind of cousin and brothers and sisters-in-law are called bhai in both communities; (5) the custom of calling ‘nephews’, ‘son’, in both communities; (6) amongst Muhammadans the custom of calling parents-in-law indifferently by the terms for most kinds of uncle and aunts. As regards (1) and (2) and their correlatives (4) and (5) the cause is possibly, amongst Hindus, the joint family system. Of (3) there seems no clear explanation save respect and affection. The sixth case points directly to cousin-marriage which is as a matter of fact common enough amongst Muhammadans, so that the parents-in-law very frequently are uncles and aunts. It is said to be the custom to address the wife’s brother as salar jung (a high military title – the noun is obvious). He is often known as a naql-parwana, the copy of a document granted to a man for his own use. The various terms for step-son amongst such castes as possess the levirate are curious. One is pachhlagua – from pichhe and lagna – one who comes to the step-father’s house ‘fastened behind’ his mother or tied to her apron strings. Another is gelar – from gel a road – one who has come by road and not by birth; a third is lendra, popularly derived from len dori meaning a string of carts carrying camp equipage and conveying the idea that he has moved camp from his father’s to his step-father’s house. All these terms are used slightly. (U. P. 1911, p. 233, sq).

Most of the female terms of relationship in Hindi in the Central Provinces are formed from the corresponding masculine forms such as mama, mami, kaka, kaki, nana, nani, jeth, jethani. In some of these terms the corresponding female form denotes the wife of the male relative. In the cases of persons a generation below the subject the idea conveyed by the corresponding feminine term is usually not that of a wife but of a sister. Thus mami is the wife of mama but bhatiji is the sister of bhatija. There are, however, some terms denoting male relationships which have originated from terms indicating female relationship. These are phupha, from phua, mausia from mausi, bahnoi, from bahin. In these terms the formation is not regular as in the case of those derived from male relationships. It will be noticed that the radical denotes one of the blood relations in the family group, while the derived term indicates relationship by marriage. There could not be a bahnoi without a sister but there could be a kaka without an aunt. With regard to the classificatory terms, baba, dada, kaka, mama, bhai, bhatija, bhancha, dai, sasur, mami, bahu, sasur, sas, jeth, dewar and sala are used in Hindi. Some of them are used in Marathi, while in the Gondi the prominent word of this class is sannemari. Baba really means a father, and is derived from the same source as bap but it is also used for a father’s father, father’s brother, mother’s sister’s husband, mother’s father, husband’s father, and wife’s father, while in Telugu and Gondi it also includes father’s sister’s child, mother’s brother’s child and wife’s brother, the Gonds further extending it to husband’s brother and son’s wife’s parents. But in the case of persons of the same generation the speaker must be younger than the person to whom the term is applied. Dada is also similar to baba. The original connotation being that of father, its use is extended to persons in an elder generation such as father’s father, father’s brother, elder brother and all elder cousins, mother’s father, wife’s father, son’s wife’s father, and in Gondi and Korku a wife’s sister’s husband. The feminine form is dai or mother but the term is also used for an elder sister, father’s brother’s wife, mother’s sister, father’s mother, mother’s mother and husband’s brother’s wife. Didi or jiji means elder sister but it is also used for mother, father’s sister, mother’s sister, wife’s sister, husband’s sister, husband’s brother’s wife and wife’s brother’s wife when addressing them. Kaka is paternal uncle but it includes father’s cousins. Bhai connotes brother but it includes cousins of all classes. So does bahin (sister) in respect of female relatives. A brother’s son is bhatija but the term is also used for husband’s brother’s child, wife’s brother’s child and sister’s and wife’s sister’s child. A sister’s child is bhanej or bhancha in Hindi but the term is also used for relationships included in bhratija, especially among the aborigines and the lower castes, and also by Musalmans, apparently on account of anta santa or marriage by exchange. If A married B’s sister their issue C would be B’s bhanej and if A’s sister is married to B she would regard her brother A’s son as her bhatija but as wife of B she would bear the same relation to C as her husband B does and thus C would be her bhanej at the same time. In Gondi the term which is used for both bhatija and bhanja is sannemari. Mama is mother’s brother but is also applied to a father-in-law, father’s sister’s husband and mother’s sister’s husband, mami is mother’s brother’s wife but is sometimes used for mother-in-law or father’s sister. Sasur is a father-in-law. The husband’s father is the wife’s sasur and vice versa. All cousins of the husband’s father are again sasur of the wife and those of the wife’s father are sasur of the husband. The husband’s elder brother is called jeth-sasur and a wife’s elder sister is called jeth-sas. Jeth and dewar are the husband’s elder and younger brothers respectively and all his cousins stand in the same position according to their ages. Their children carry the distinction to the next generation, a jeth’s son being a jithaut and the son of a dewar a dewaraut. Their wives are also differentiated by the name of jithani and dewrani.

The sala or wife’s brother includes all his cousins and also gives his name to his other relatives, his sister being a sali, his wife a sarhaj, his son a sarput, and his daughter a sarputin... There are no special words for father’s brother’s child, father’s sister’s child, mother’s brother’s child or mother’s sister’s child. These relationships are indicated by descriptions such as chachera bhai, phuphera bhai, mamera bhai or mausera bhai. Mamu stands for father’s sisters husband in Gondi, Oraon, Munda, Kharia, Korku and Korwa. Sala is an opprobrious and offensive epithet and the same is more or less the case with the term sasur or father-in-law. A man’s sala is his inferior by virtue of the sentiment underlying hypergamy but it is probable that the special use of these terms is to imply improper relations between the speaker and the sister or daughter of the man so addressed. The corresponding feminine terms of these, sali and sasuri are also used opprobriously. Khasam, used for husband, carries a suspicion of opprobrium with it. Bahnoi and damad (sister’s and daughter’s husbands) are used as terms of abuse in respect of a third person. Is he your bahnoi or damad is equivalent to saying are you his sala or sasur? The words tura and turia for boy and girl also imply inferiority and are not used except with evil intention. (C.P. 1911, p. 146, sq). In Assamese the words for father, mother, son and daughter assume different forms according as the person concerned speaks, is spoken to or is spoken of. Separate words are used for elder and younger brother brother-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, paternal and maternal uncle, uncle’s wife, aunt and aunt’s husband; the paternal uncle and aunt are carefully distinguished from those on the mother’s side, and so are brothers and sisters-in-law according as they are on the husband’s or the wife’s side. First cousins on both sides are called brothers and sisters but distinguished as elder or younger. Nephews who are children of a brother have a different name from the children of a sister and they stand in the same relationship to the wife of their uncle, as they do to him. There are special names for the husband of the wife’s sister, for the wife of the husband’s brother, and for the parent of the son’s wife. (Assam, 1911, p. 74, sq).


111. Relationship Rules.

Hindu females are debarred by custom from mentioning the names of their husband and of their husbands’ superior relatives, such as his father, his mother and his elder brother. Males do not, as a rule, mention the name of their daughters-in-law or of the wives of their brothers’ or sisters’ sons but there is no strict rule as there is in the case of women. Orthodox women generally refer to their husbands’ elder brothers and other superior relatives of their husbands by mentioning them as father of ‘so and so’. A husband is usually called by his wife – not the father of her son – but the son of her son, there being some superstitious objection to the use of the term ‘father’ in connection with one’s own husband. This, though the old custom is not the universal practice for in Calcutta and its neighbourhood women who have been educated not only call their husbands their son’s fathers but actually call them by their names. Orthodox women refrain from using words which are the same as or similar to those names. Thus a woman whose husband’s name happens to be Madhu, will when speaking of honey, (or which the word madhu is a Bengali equivalent) either refer to it in a round about way by calling it chakbanga – that which is taken out of the beehive – or transform it arbitrarily into Kadhu. Similarly, if the name of a husband’s elder brother happens to be Panchu, the woman, in counting, will avoid the word panch and call it nach, a dance. Great respect is paid by Hindu women to their husbands’ elder brothers whom they may not even speak to. Among the Santals there are special restrictions on the relations between an elder brother and his younger brother’s wife. They must not touch one another; they cannot enter the same room or remain together unless others are present. Should she come in from work in the fields and find the elder brother sitting alone in the courtyard she must remain in the village street or in another verandah of the house till some other people enter the house. As a rule, too, she must not sit down in his presence; should it be really necessary for her to do so, she must sit on a low stool. A similar rule is observed by the Mundas. With the Oraons a man is baynalas and a woman is baynali to his and her younger brother’s wives; and the latter are baynali to them. Again a woman is baynali to her younger sister’s husband and he is baynalas to her. This relationship imports, that persons of different sexes must never remain alone, never touch each other’s things, never walk in one another’s shadow. Except in cases of absolute necessity they are not allowed to speak to each other. This family bar lasts as long as life. The relations of a man with his wife’s younger sister and of a woman with her husband’s younger brother are free from restraint. Among Oriya castes such as Sahar and Gon Gandas a woman will step aside and leave the road for respect for her husband’s elder brother, her husband’s maternal uncle and her younger sister’s husband, but not for her elder sister’s husband. If a Gond woman and her husband’s elder or brother’s son sit together at a meal, she cannot leave her seat first, even if she has finished her meal, but must wait till the nephew rises. (B.B.O. and S., 1911, p. 334, sq).


112. Caste.

The first question that arises is what is meant by a caste? The segmentation of Hindu society is much more complicated than appears at first sight. Apart from general terms indicating occupation or locality such as Baniya or Marwari, there are amongst Hindus four different kinds of social distinctions, viz.: (i) The four classes (varna) mentioned in the Shastras, viz.: Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra, with a fifth division for the large and miscellaneous group of untouchables (aprishya Sudra). This is an elaboration of the still earlier division into Arya, noble or twice-born, and Anarya or Sudra. (ii) The modern castes (jati) or social groups bearing a common name and having a common traditional occupation. (iii) The sub-castes, or endogamous groups into which each main caste is usually divided. (iv) The exogamous groups, (gotra, got, kul, illam, phaid, etc.) within each sub-caste, composed of persons reputed to be descended from a common ancestor and between whom marriage is prohibited. Class and caste stand to each other in the relation of family to species. The general classification is by classes, the detailed one by castes. The former represents the external, the latter the internal view of the social organisation. The division into classes is a broad grouping of the population as a whole. Every clean caste claims to belong to one or other of the four classes. As an illustration of the fact that these class distinctions are still recognised it may be noted that a Brahman, when acknowledging the salutation (pranam) from persons of other classes, says to the Kshatriya jaiya ho (may victory attend you) to the Vaisya kalyan ho (may prosperity attend you) and to the Sudra jiyo (may you live long).


113. Definition of Caste.

The second kind of social division, that of castes properly so called, is not easy to define. The character and scope, of the restrictions that have arisen from it are not everywhere the same. There is scarcely any general statement on the subject which is universally true. A caste may be defined as an endogamous group or collection of such groups bearing a common name and having the same traditional occupation, who are so linked together by these and other ties, such as the tradition of a common origin and the possession of the same tutelary deity, and the same social status, ceremonial observances and family priests, that they regard themselves, and are regarded by others, as forming a single homogeneous community.


114. Types of Caste.

Although function has been the most potent influence in the formation of the existing castes, it has not been by any means the only one. Seven types of caste are distinguished: (i) Tribal castes, where a whole tribe has insensibly been transformed into a caste by the gradual acceptance of Hinduism and the social ordinances connected with it. (ii) Functional castes composed of persons following the same occupation. Many military castes have been formed in this way. Ruling families of many different stocks have obtained recognition as Rajputs. (iii) Sectarian castes comprising persons who were at first merely the adherents of a sect but in time came to recognise the bond thus created as stronger than any other and so formed a new marriage union. (iv) Castes formed by crossing. (v) Castes of the national type. (vi) Castes formed by migration which usually produces a new sub-caste rather than a new caste. (vii) Castes formed by change of custom or occupation.


115. Sub-Castes.

Just as there are different types of caste, so also there are different types of sub-caste. These may be divided primarily into two main classes: Sub-castes of fusion, and sub-castes of fission. Accretions to caste may be classified as a rule under three heads – functional, parvenu, foreign. Although endogamy has been mentioned as the most striking characteristic of caste, there are some local exceptions to the rule prohibiting inter-marriage with other communities. Though they are more rare, cases sometimes occur of men procuring as their wives women of a higher caste with a view to raising their own status.


116. Caste Government.

Most castes have a permanent governing body, but some, chiefly those of the highest rank, have not, and when a case crops up for decision, a special meeting has to be convened for the purpose. The offenders in castes which have no councils at all suffer most severely, in serious matters at all events. They are automatically excommunicated, without enquiry or trial, and once excommunicated, there is no hope of re-instatement since there is no council to whom they can appeal. Amongst communities possessing permanent panchayats, as a rule the panchayats are called together when required. It is the business of the man who for any reason requires a decision of the panch, after consulting the headman of the caste to collect the members of the caste at the appointed place. On the appointed day the members meet at a fixed place and the headman or one of the elders explains the nature of the offence committed and calls upon the offender to admit it or to make his defence. The witnesses of both parties are asked to swear by the Ganges, lifting up a pot of water, or by the cow, holding the tail of a cow, or by their son, catching hold of his arm. The last resort is a trial by ordeal. Persons hiding offences are visited with enhanced penalties. Offenders usually, therefore, confess and in certain cases they are prompted to confess at once, under the belief that if they are not purified they will suffer very seriously in the next world. Amongst the lower castes the ordinary punishment for a breach of the social code is either a fine or a feast to the brotherhood, and excommunication is resorted to only in extreme cases or where the offender proves contumacious. Amongst the higher castes fines are sometimes imposed, but more often the offender is required to undergo a ceremony of purification and atonement. (India. 1911 p. 365 sq).


117. Modern Effects.

In the United Provinces the last 20 years have seen a marked decline in the authority and influence of such panchayats. This is especially noticeable in the more progressive western districts of the province (United Provinces) and in towns. The reasons for this loss of authority are manifold. (1) The spread of education and the great improvement by rail and road, though some are said to have been strengthened thereby. (2) The growing spirit of disobedience to constituted authority deliberately inculcated in boys at school. (3) The effect of Congress activities. (4) The Suddhi movement and the spread of the Arya Samaj doctrine of no caste and the refuge provided by Christianity for the outcaste. (5) The ease with which owing to improved communications offenders escape the punishments inflicted by panchayats. (6) The abandonment of this system of caste government in those areas where the social uplift movement is strong and the lower castes are claiming higher status. (7) Departure from the traditional occupations. (8) City and town life and the stress of modern conditions. (9) Legislative and administrative changes. (U. P. 1931. p. 544 sq).


118. Classification of Castes.

It is claimed that Hindu society is an organic whole, composed of different classes, occupying positions of different grades and ranks, each with a distinctive feature of its own, as regards customs, manners and other social matters. Each is as important as the other in forming part of the whole and having its uses in the entire scheme, although the one may be lower in rank than the other. (See Assam. 1931. p. 214), The various groups have been dealt with on the principle of classification by social precedence as recognised by public opinion and manifesting itself in the facts that particular castes are supposed to be the modern representatives of one or other of the castes of the theoretical Hindu system; that Brahmans will take water from certain castes; that Brahmans of high standing will serve particular castes; that; certain castes, though not served by the best Brahmans, have nevertheless got Brahmans of their own whose rank varies according to circumstances; that certain castes are not served by Brahmans at all, but have priests of their own; that the status of certain castes has been raised by their taking to infant-marriage or abandoning the re-marriage of widows; that the status of some castes has been lowered by their living in a certain locality; that the status of others has been modified by their pursuing some occupation in a special or peculiar way that some can claim the services of the village barber, the village palanquin bearer, the village midwife, etc., while others cannot; that some castes may not enter the courtyards of certain temples; that some castes are subject to special taboos, such as that they must not use the village well, or may draw water only with their own vessels, that they must live outside the village or in a separate quarter, that they must leave the road on the approach of a high caste man or must call out to give warning of their approach. The Provincial schemes exhibit points of resemblance and difference which deserve some further examination. The first point to observe is the predominance throughout india of the influence of the traditional system of four original castes. In every scheme of grouping the Brahman heads the list. Then name the castes whom popular opinion accepts as the modern representatives of the Kshatriyas, and these are followed by the mercantile groups supposed to be akin to the Vaisyas. When we leave the circles of the twice-born, the difficulty of finding a uniform basis of classification becomes apparent. The ancient designation Sudra finds no great favour in modern times and we can point to no group that is generally recognised as representing it. The term is used in Bombay, Madras and Bengal to denote a considerable number of castes of moderate respectability, the higher of whom are considered ‘clean’ Sudras, while the precise status of the lower lends itself to endless controversy. At this stage of the grouping a sharp distinction may be noticed between Upper India and Bombay and Madras. In Rajputana, the Punjab, the United Provinces, the Central Provinces, Bengal and Assam, the grade next below twice-born rank is occupied by a number of castes from whose hands Brahmans and members of the higher castes will take water and certain kinds of sweetmeats. Below these again is a rather indeterminate group from whom water is taken by some of the higher castes but not by others. Further down, where the test of water no longer applies, the status of a caste depends on the nature of its occupation and its habits in respect of diet. In Western and Southern India the idea that the social status of a caste depends on whether Brahmans will take water and sweetmeats from its members is unknown, for the higher castes will as a rule take water only from persons of their own caste and sub-caste. In Madras especially the idea of ceremonial pollution by the proximity of a member of an unclean caste has been developed with much elaboration. (India. 1901. pp. 538-59.)


119. Caste Changes.

When a low caste grows more prosperous and abandons the degrading occupation which formerly characterised it, its members naturally become dissatisfied with the position hitherto accorded to them and endeavour to acquire a better status, the first half unconscious step to which they are urged by the degraded Brahmans who now minister to them, is to give up their impure or heterodox practices and to model their conduct of life on that of the higher castes. They frequently assume the sacred thread and change their period of mourning to that observed by some higher caste. Their efforts towards aggrandisement are greatly facilitated if they can succeed in sloughing off their old caste designation; and a long step is made in this direction if they can induce Government to recognise them by a new name. The claim to a new name and status is almost invariably accompanied by copious quotations from the Shastras and by commentaries full of fanciful statements and false analogies and generally bolstered up by a vyavastha or declaration obtained from certain pandits whose good offices have been secured. The degree of success depends a great deal not only on the influence which the community is able to exert, and on the sacrifices which it is willing to make but also on the methods adopted. (India. 1911. p. 379 sq). Moreover, as often as not, direct action is requested against the corresponding hypotheses of other castes. For the caste that desires to improve its social position seems to regard the natural attempts of others to go up with it as an infringement of its own prerogative; its standing is in fact to be attained by standing upon others rather than with them. (India. 1931. I. 1. p. 438.)


120. Depressed Classes.

Though it is conceded that the position of individuals belonging to the castes hitherto described as depressed has been much ameliorated as far as public life is concerned, in so far as their position has been improved it seems to be less the result of a change of heart towards them than a concession by caste to caste for its own convenience and not by by caste to outcaste for the benefit of the latter. From the point of view of the State the important test is the right to use public conveniences – roads, wells and schools and if this be taken as the primary test, religious disabilities and the social difficulties indirectly involved by them may be regarded as contributory only. In point of fact the restriction of the use of roads has possibly disappeared as far as British India is concerned. It has recently been reported that a caste has been found in the Tamilnad, the very sight of which is polluting, so that its unfortunate members are compelled to follow nocturnal habits. The use of wells is another matter and the disability of the exterior castes varies from not being allowed to approach the village well at all to the position common in Bengal in which persons of certain castes may not draw water themselves but must await someone of a clean caste who draws water for them. Generally speaking, if the exterior castes have succeeded in asserting their rights to use public wells the higher castes have given them up. Here again the difficulty about the use of wells will be found to be most prevalent in the drier parts of India where water is scarce. In regard to the use of dharamshalas and of public burning ghats and the burial grounds the position of the exterior castes is much the same as it is in regard to the use of wells. The question of schools is another very real problem, since in many parts of India if the exterior castes sit inside the school they would be made to suffer in some other way by the higher castes using the school, and whereas the acquisition of reading and writing at least may be taken for granted in the case of any Brahman, it is an exception in the case of the exterior castes whose children, if they read at all, must sit outside in the sun and dust.

Their religious disabilities debar them from the use of temples, burning grounds, mats and some other institutions. In addition to the above, but arising out of them, there are the disabilities involved in relation with private individuals, such as the services of barbers and the admission to tea-shops, hotels or theatres owned by private individuals. There are other points in which the exterior castes suffer. Thus exception is taken to their wearing the ornaments usually worn by higher castes, and in some cases they are not allowed to wear gold ornaments at all. Cases are on record in which Chambers have been beaten for dressing like Rajputs and the mounting of an exterior caste bridegroom upon a horse for his bridal procession has led to a boycott of the caste in question by the higher caste neighbours. Theoretically perhaps the admission to Hindu temples would be enough, once it is conceded to remove all the other disabilities, for the temple is not merely a religious institution but is also in many ways a social one, for the term must be taken to include such buildings as namgarhs which, as temples do in some parts of India, serve as a village hall or a town hall for the public generally. A temple also contains a school, so that the absence of the right of entering may debar an individual from the possibility of attending the school. The prohibition against exterior castes entering the Hindu temples naturally raises the question whether they can really be called Hindus at all. Generally speaking the answer must be that they are definitely Hindus. The degree of Hinduism does, however, vary considerably. This social bar tends to foster conversion to the Sikh faith, to Islam, or to Christianity though even after conversion the social stigma does not vanish at once. The Mazhbi Sikhs are looked down upon by Sikhs who are not Mazhbi. The Southern Indian Christians distinguish between the castes of their converts in their seating accommodation in churches, and the dislike of the, exterior castes does not immediately disappear when they turn Muslim. At the same time once they are converted it does not take them very long before they can rise in the social scale. (India. 1931. p. 471 sq).


121. Present Conditions.

The superficial restrictions of the system are being rapidly discarded. There are evident signs of a desire to remove some of the more obvious inequalities, but it is not yet apparent that the main principles of the caste system have become distasteful to the bulk of the people. Two of the more prominent features of the caste system are (i) the insistence of marriage within definitely prescribed limits, and (ii) restrictions on the practice of interdining. Though it is still infrequent, so much so as to cause widespread comment, it is not impossible among the more advanced castes, particularly Brahmans for a youth of one sub-caste to ally himself with a girl of another sub-caste and cases have been known in which the parties belonged to the Maratha caste and in the other to a closely allied community but even such unions are rare. As regards interdining, considerably greater latitude is now permitted and it would be almost true to say that the younger generation observe no distinction and in matter of offering and accepting hospitality among members of the various sub-castes within a major caste, but, apart from the widely advertised actions of ardent social reformers, members of different major castes would not, except in very special eases, meet at a common dining table. (Bombay, 1931. p. 381 sq).

As regards the United Provinces the truth is that though a progressive few have broken caste restrictions, caste is still the foundation of the Indian social fabric. ‘Every Hindu is born into a caste and his caste determines his religious, social, economic and domestic life from the cradle to the grave.’ (United Provinces. 1931. p. 533). In the main this view is still essentially true. Developments there have been in the last decade. In some respects there would seem to have been a genuine relaxation of caste distinctions, while in others there are indications of a caste consciousness more aggressive than ever before. But these manifestations are really nothing more than ripples on the surface. They may portent greater and more far-reaching changes to come, but hitherto they have but touched the fringe of the problem. And so long as caste counts for as much as it does at the present time, so long as it continues to exert a vital influence on the growth and distribution of the population, on the occupation of the individual, the age at which he marries, the position of his womenfolk, his educational prospects and so on, it would be wrong as well as futile to ignore its existence. (Bihar and Orissa. 1931. p. 266.)

In Bengal powerful agencies are at work for the relaxation of caste restrictions in general and probably the ablest as well as the most vocal agitation is progressive rather than reactionary. Generally speaking, the orthodox were opposed to any relaxation of caste restrictions and were in favour of maintaining the doctrine of untouchability. Instances of intermarriage between castes were rare and the generally felt disapprobation for inter-caste marriages applied not only to marriages pratiloma but also to the anuloma type regarding which very little, if any, disapprobation was expressed in the Shastras. Every degree of orthodoxy showed a much greater liberality of outlook as regards pollution by contact, eating of prohibited foods and inter-dining with other castes. At any religious ceremony pollution by contact would certainly be felt and would invalidate the ceremony performed. Most, even among the Brahmans, declared that what they principally looked to was not the caste or status of the person preparing the food but his personal cleanliness and the cleanliness of the vessels in which it was cooked and served. Where prayaschitta is demanded, its performance is often desired only ‘to bring down the pride of the Europe returned persons’. Its performance is often a mere formality and as indicating that the person returned from abroad has remained a good Hindu. There is very little evidence that caste as a social institution is in danger or is ceasing in essential matters to have the same influence as before in Hindu life. (Bengal, p. 397 and p. 440.)

In Assam a more liberal spirit is abroad – especially among the younger generation, in matters appertaining to caste and, particularly in towns, the bonds of caste have been relaxed to an appreciable extent. But the caste system is still as strong as ever and is merely adapting itself to modern conditions and modern requirements. The system is so solid, so ancient, and so powerful that it is difficult to believe those who say that caste prejudices will have disappeared in another generation. (Assam, 1931, p. 206).

Caste prejudice is not a monopoly of Brahmans. In fact it is more prominent at the lowest level of the community in Madras than at the highest. The adjective ‘fluid’ has often been applied to the Hindu caste system and with much appropriateness. A fluid takes the shape of the vessel within which it is contained but does not alter in volume or quality. Much the same applies to Hinduism and the Hindu caste system. If the changes which take place are examined closely it will be found that those who have an actual or believed connection with the originals of the faith of the people show no signs of real alteration whereas social incidents or customs which are in essentials superficial change rapidly and frequently. It is this fluidity which gives Hinduism and its caste system their strength and which have ensured and will ensure their survival. The most extreme instances of departure from caste custom are in such matters as later marriage or widow marriage, which has been authorised under statute for over 70 years and has yet to take any serious root in communities which have not hitherto practised it. The trend is for the practice to contract rather than to expand. Among the more superficial changes, diet and dress are most noticeable. Among other prohibitions or taboos that have weakened greatly is that against sea-voyage. In the unessentials Hinduism and its caste system are responsive and even quickly so. Where anything with a Shastric foundation is concerned things are different. Few men will defy caste opinion in these matters in their own village or surroundings, whatever they may do in distant cities or countries. This attitude is likely to persist. What may be termed occasional nonconformity is the most that is likely to eventuate in these matters within reasonable time. Women are the unbending custodians of ancient custom and until they move it is not likely that any essentials of Hindu observance will be seriously affected. (Madras. 1931. p. 339 sq).


122. The Joint Family System.

The joint family system was one of the most characteristic institutions of Hindu life. In the higher castes it has now begun to break up. In the lower castes and amongst purely agricultural families it remains firmly established. Those, however, who follow the learned professionals or adopt clerical occupations are driven afield in search of work and there set up their own establishments. In educated circles the joint family is tending to split up into a number of groups which perhaps contribute towards the maintenance of the parent family where it is necessary, and meet on ceremonial or stated occasions to keep up the solidarity of the family without remaining in it all the time. The system had many advantages. The joint family when it was bound together by unquestioned loyalty to its head was an admirable substitute for universal insurance; it provided for every member and even secured for those whose abilities were mediocre the certainty of ungrudging maintenance. (Bengal. 1931. p. 401). In Madras there is universal agreement that that characteristic Hindu institution the joint family system is weakening. Most consider it inevitable. Some Jeremiahs complain of the selfishness of modern youth and the growth of individualism as opposed to the old collective spirit. Some of its drawbacks are obvious. In its strength it was in effect a social bulwark and India’s provision against unemployment and penury. It is doubtful however whether weakening has gone so far as some pessimists suppose. So long as caste controls marriage family will control marriage and the family as a unit is bound to retain some of its importance and remain, a potent factor in life in India. (Madras, 1931. p. 340). The figures lend no support to the theory that the joint family system is in danger of rapid dissolution in Assam. The joint family system has certain advantages, its obvious defect is that members lack the incentive to earn. The process of disintegration – and that there is such a process cannot be denied – is proceeding very very slowly. (Assam. 1931. p. 30 sq).


123. Basis of Hindu Society.

Society in India is still largely organised on a basis of caste and religion, and social conduct is much influenced by practices which may not in themselves be religious but which are subject to religious sanctions. The age of marriage, the practice of remarriage, the observance of purdah, the occupations of women, the inheritance of property and the maintenance of widows, even diet, to name a few obvious cases, vary according to the caste and the religious community of the individual. The social importance of religious differences is reflected in the controversial disputes about religious terminology. Many Hindus for instance claim that Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists are also Hindus inasmuch as their faiths had their origin in the Hindu religion. This claim is stoutly repudiated by the great majority of Sikhs and many but by no means all Jains regard themselves as Hindu. Other schismatics have similarly an ambiguous position. While the border line between tribal religions and some aspects of Hinduism is not at all easy to draw, it is often just as hard to define it between Hinduism and Islam and even between Hinduism and Christianity, in the case of a number of intermediate sects which offer points of identity with both.

Part of the difficulty of defining the term Hindu arises from the fact that it is as much a social as a religious term and really denotes membership of a system of organised society with great latitude of religious beliefs and practices; so that it is possible for a man to be a Hindu socially and to have a religious belief shared with others who do not regard themselves as members of the same society, a possibility illustrated by a tribal Korwa of the Central Provinces who said ‘if we had plough, cattle we should be Hindus’. Conversely there is no necessity that all others of his society should share his beliefs. What makes a man Hindu is the fact that he is an Indian by birth: that he shares religious beliefs of a kind familiar to the majority of the people; that he is a member of the social order accepted by that majority; and that he worships one or other of the deities in the pantheon commonly accepted by that same majority. No substitute for the term Hindu as a religious term can be found nor is it possible to disentangle its religious from its social significance. This is inherent in the history of Hindu society which has been formed by the accretion of a number of races within a polity indirectly hierarchical.

Energetic propaganda by the Hindu Mahasabha practically amounted to an advocacy of claiming as Hindu every person whose religion could not be found to have been originated outside India. Non-Hindu hill tribes such as the Khasi of Assam were claimed as Hindus though one Assam paper distinguished between kutcha and pucca Hindus. The Arya Samaj has been the most active of the Hindu proselytising bodies and the All-India Shuddhi Conference, meeting under its auspices at the Kumbh Mela of 1930 at Allahabad, propounded – if correctly reported – the proposition that the founders of all the religions of the world were either Hindus or their descendants who drifted away from the present body.


Hinduism.

124. Origins of Hinduism.

It is quite clear that the previous inhabitants of India lived in cities and had a high civilisation, probably of Western Asiatic origin, and it is significant that Hinduism is remarkable for the similarity of many of its tenet and practices to those of Asia Minor and the Mediterranean. The indigenous religion starts with an advantage over that of an invading people, since it is the priest of the country who knows how to approach the gods of the soil and to propitiate them. In India the important position of Shiva, Vishnu and Kali signalises the triumph of the older gods. The cult of snakes, the worship of a mother goddess were probably brought in by earlier invaders of Mediterranean or Armenoid race whose religion must also be associated with fertility cults, phallic symbolism, the Devadasi cult and probably human sacrifice. Ancestor worship is very strong in India. With Asia Minor or Mesopotamia we must associate astronomy and the worship of the heavenly bodies, which form an important part of Hindu culture, and the cult of the moon god. The sanctity of the cow is foreign to the Rig Veda and appears far more suggestive of the religions of Asia Minor, Egypt and Crete. Vishnu, Shiva and Kali, the great gods of Hinduism, are not Rigvedic deities at all. Sakti is probably a cult derived from the Great Mother Goddess of Asia Minor and the cult of Shiva is associated with it. It is probably significant that the word lingo, is definitely of non-Aryan origin while the word puja is also believed to be a non-Sanskritic loan word. Vishnu would seem to have some associations with religious beliefs represented chiefly in beliefs yet surviving among primitive tribes. Admittedly it is difficult to draw the line between Hinduism and the tribal religions. The inclusion of the latter is easy and wherever hill or forest tribes live in daily contact with their Hindu neighbours their religion rapidly assimilates itself to theirs, though the old method of thinking is unchanged.


125. Nature of Hinduism.

Religious or quasi-religious beliefs and practices among Hindus appear very frequently to be based on the principles of magic, mana or other ideas common in primitive religion. The sanctity of the fig tree is possibly to be associated with the beliefs of the Negrito inhabitants, the earliest population of India. The possibility that some tribal and totemic taboo has acted as a contributory factor in the religious sanctity attaching to cattle cannot be entirely overlooked. The very word brahma itself seems to have connoted originally supernatural power or influence in the nature of mana. This seems naturally to associate itself with the views on soul-matter or life itself as a transferable and material substance which are common enough in Indonesia, Further India and India itself. It is probably the principle which underlies head-hunting, human sacrifice and cannibalism. The first of these has been recognised in India only in Kafiristan and Assam. Headhunting as a preliminary to marriage is to be explained by the idea that unless a man has taken heads he has no surplus soul-matter about him to beget offspring. Human sacrifice has been widespread and has clearly been based on the conception of the desirability of releasing soul-matter to fertilise the earth. The same idea of soul-matter as a fertiliser is probably at the bottom of human sacrifice as a cure for illness, as in the case of a Santal who in 1931 garlanded and then beheaded his infant son in order to cure his own maladies. True cannibalism is only traditional in India but vestiges of ceremonial cannibalism survive in many places or have done till recently. Thus in September 1931 two men, one apparently a Rarhi Brahman ascetic and the other a Mahabrahman, were accused in Bankura of having dug up the newly hurried corpse of a child, of having taken it to their asram and of there having cooked and eaten part of it; the Rarhi Brahman admitted having eaten a little of the heart as ‘he believed it was part of his religion to do so.’ Perhaps the crudest form in which the doctrine of soul-substance appears is the vulgar but widely credited superstition which attribute to the European the practice of catching fat boys and hanging them over a slow fire to distil from a puncture in the skull the seven drops of vital essence which imparts to sahibs in general their energy in field sports and their activity of mind and body. Curiously enough this life essence, this momiyai, seems to have started as bitumen simply and to have been used as a legitimate medicine, then to have become a spurious substitute in the form of resin, the supposed virtues of which were later attributed to the embalmed bodies from which this resin was most easily obtained. Involved again in the belief in soul-matter is the practice of erecting megalithic monuments and wooden images of the dead. Dolmens have been used as Saivaite temples. The carved stones erected to the Rajput dead of both sexes have the same origin as the Naga or Khasi menhir. At certain temples in southern India barren women are or were seated on a particular stone to get offspring. A suit was argued in the Calcutta High Court in 1929 about a stone about 5 feet square, apparently of black slate or marble from Jaipur, which changed hands for Rs. 10,000 as being ‘very efficacious in the matter of getting a son.’ The suit arose because the stone failed to function and it was stated in evidence that numbers of even quite well educated Hindus believed in the efficacy of stones of this kind, when used with the correct rites and, that so much as a lakh might be paid for such a stone. The reverence and superstition paid to stones in general are the degenerated remnant of the life-essence fertility cult. A vague belief in reincarnation is common to most of the tribal religions in India and is generally associated more or less with some degree of ancestor worship, a tendency which is everywhere apparent. This reincarnation belief is seen very clearly in the ancient Brahmanic theory that after the birth of a son the sexual relationship of husband and wife should cease, since the son is the father’s self and the father’s wife has become his mother also. It is stated of the Kochhar sub-caste of the Khatri, a trading caste of the Punjab, that a father’s funeral rites should be performed in the fifth month of his wife’s first pregnancy, which points to the same idea. It is a common practice with some tribes that while a dead grandfather’s name or that of another ancestor must be given to a child, the name of a living ancestor shall not be given as either he or the child will die. In old Indian society in the lists of kings it is common to find a grandson named after the grandfather, but the name of any ancestor living or dead is reported now to be avoided by Hindus. Traces of totemism are shown by primitive, tribes in all parts of India and by not a few castes that have reached or retained a high social position. It is likely that totemism in general has received accretions from a number of sources and while it may have originally started with the conception theory in ignorance of the fact of paternity, it has been encouraged and perpetuated by the ideas of life-matter, a separable soul, transmigration and other connected ideas and that a number of these have contributed to totemism as still found in India. A belief, in magic, both white and black, pervades all the more ignorant classes in India nor is it always eliminated by culture and education, as in the practice, reported on good authority, of a director of an international trading corporation in Rangoon who, when ill, has sewn into the seat of his pyjama trousers by his Catholic wife a pious fragment of the holy St. Theresa’s petticoat. Often a belief in witchcraft leads to the murder of the reputed witch. On the other hand the witches themselves likewise commit murders for their own ends and to that extent justify their persecution. Tribal magic, in which the community combines, usually at some festival, in rites or dances intended to secure fertility or prosperity, is a normal feature of tribal religion. Such festivals are usually associated with the agricultural year, and no better instance of such a festival can be quoted than the holi, which has survived as a Hindu festival throughout India. Thus the tribal religions represent as it were surplus material not yet built into the temple of Hinduism. Hindu religion has its origin in pre-Vedic times and in its later form it is the result of the reaction by the religion of the country to the intrusive beliefs of the invaders. This will explain Hinduism’s amalgamation with and absorption of local cults and its excessive multiformity and is in accordance with the manner in which it spreads at the present day, absorbing tribal religions in virtue of its social prestige, and by identification of loca l gods with its own, by an experimental resort to Hindu priests, and by the social promotion of pagan chiefs who are provided with suitable mythological pedigrees. (India, 1931, I, i., p. 392 sq).


126. Scope of Hinduism.

The Hindu word ‘dharma’, which corresponds most closely to our word ‘religion’, connotes conduct more than creed. In India the line of cleavage is social rather than religious for no one is interested in what his neighbour believes, but in knowing whether he can eat with him or take water from his hands. The Indian, though much less tolerant than the European in the matter of his neighbour’s acts, is far more so where his beliefs are concerned. Fearing many gods himself, he is quite ready to admit that there may be others of whom he has no ken, and it seldom occurs to him differentiate himself from his fellows merely because they invoke a different deity in time of trouble. It is only when a new religious cult is joined to some strong social or political propaganda that any real cleavage is established. This was the case with Buddhism, which repudiated the Brahmanical supremacy, and Jainism, which denied the authority of the Vedas, and also with Sikhism in the form given to it by Guru Gobind, who aimed at the establishments of a political ascendancy and openly repudiated many of the ordinary Hindu scruples. The peculiar tenets of the Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs differ widely from the ordinary forms of Hinduism. There are numerous minor cults, such as those of the Satnamis and Panchpiriyas, which differ equally widely but have no history and no religious literature and are relatively of minor importance. Hinduism includes a complex congeries of creeds and doctrines. It shelters within its portals monotheists, polytheists and pantheists; worshippers of the great gods, Siva and Vishnu, or of their female counterparts, as well as worshippers of the divine mothers of the spirits of trees, rocks, and streams and of the tutelary village deities; persons who propitiate their deity by all manner of bloody sacrifices, and persons who not only will not kill any living creature but who must not even use the word ‘cut’; those whose ritual consists mainly of prayers and hymns, and those who indulge in unspeakable orgies in the name of religion; and a host more or less of heterogenous sectaries, many of whom deny the supremacy of the Brahmans, or at least have non-Brahmanical religious leaders. There is a bewildering maze of sects which overlap each other in a most extraordinary manner. There are the two main divisions of Saiva and Vaishnava; and it has been said that all Hindus belong to one or other of these, but this does not seem to be correct. There is, for example, the Sakta sect, which owes its origin to the Tantrik developments that infected both Buddhism and Hinduism, chiefly in North-East India, about the seventh century of our era. This cult is based on the worship of the active producing principle of nature as manifested in one or other of the goddess wives of Siva; it is a religion of bloody sacrifices and magic texts. The ritual is laid down in the mediaeval scriptures known as Tantras, in one of which it is expressly stated that the Vedas have become obsolete. Of the great mass of Hindus only a relatively small minority belong definitely to special sects, and still fewer have any idea that their peculiar cult differentiates then in any way from ordinary Hindus. A Bengali scholar said; – I fast on the Sivaratri day, because it is sacred to Siva, and I fast on the Ekadashi day because it is sacred to Vishnu. I plant the bel tree because it is dear to Siva and the tulsi because it is dear to Vishnu. The bulk of Hindus are not sectaries. (India, 1911; p. 113 sq).


127. Hindu Sects.

Hindu sects may be grouped under seven heads – (1) the old sects comprising the religious orders, the saint worshippers and the orthodox, (2) worshipping Muhammadan saints in addition to their own gods, (3) sects of low castes, (4) the reformers, (5) miscellaneous sects, (6) unspecified and (7) sects analogous to other religions. The Hindu religious orders are Shaiva (Sanyasis who are worshippers of Shiva and Jogis who worship Bhairon – including Gorakpanthis) and Vaishnavas (Bairagis who are attached to Ram Chandra and Gossins who are devotees of Krishna). Shankacharya organised the Sanyasis into a regular religious order and established four Mathas (central institutions) where alone a person could be initiated. They are at Goverdhan, Shringeri, Dwarika and Kedar. A disciple was placed in charge. A number of minor groups of Sanyasis have been formed such as Urdhabahu who keep one arm up until it becomes atrophied and stiffens in that position, Akashmukhi, who always keep looking upwards, Nakhi who grow their nails, Sthadeshwari who always keep standing and never sit or lie down. Urdhamukhi who tie themselves to a tree by their legs at the time of their practices. The ceremonies of initiation are (1) to perform the shraddha of all his pitras – ancestors – (2) to give away all that he possesses except a kopin, a loincloth, danda or staff, and jalpatira or water vessel; (3) to have his beard, moustaches and head shaved – except the shikha or scalp lock; (4) to perform his own shraddha or after death rites, thus declaring himself to be dead, (5) to proclaim his giving up all desire for sons, wealth or higher life and his resolve that no living being shall be harmed by him, (6) the severance of his shikha and abandonment of this world. The Sanyasis are not cremated but buried in a sitting position. The Saint worshippers are the Dadupanthis, followers of Guga Pir, Kabirpanthis, Kalupanthis, Namabansis. Panjpiriyas worshipping five persons, (1) Lakhdata (Sakhi Sarwar), (2) Gugapir, (3) Devi, (4) Devata, and (5) Guru Nanak. Another purely Hindu combination is (1) Bhairon, (2) Shiv, (3) Parbati, (4) Gugu and (5) Sitala. River worship is common in the south-western Punjab and they believe in Darya Sahib. The corresponding cult in the eastern Punjab is that of Khizar Pir who is worshipped equally by Hindus and Musalmans.

As to the orthodox Hindus, the bulk of them are Shaivas, for Goddess worship in one form or another is very prevalent but with reference to the main forms of worship it may be equally true to call the majority Vaishnavas.

Besides conversion Islam has had influence on the Hindu religion. The miraculous powers of Muhammadan saints were enough to attract Hindus. Such are the followers of Sakhi Sarwar or Sarwarias who abstain from Jhatka, i.e., they will not eat meat unless prepared by halal, and observe Jumerat – Thursdays, when doles are distributed in fulfilment of vows. The Shamsis are believers in Shah Shames Tabrez of Multan and follow the Imam, for the time being, of the Ismailia Shiahs, their present leader being H.H. the Agha Khan of Bombay. They belong mostly to the Sunar caste, pass as ordinary Hindus but their devotion to the Imam is said to rest on faith in the efficacy of his blessings. The instructions of the creed are issued in a novel alphabet – probably a secret code – by H.H. The Agha Khan who is said to represent an incarnation of the Hindu Trinity.

The principal sects of the lower castes are the Balmikis and Lalbegis. The Arya Samaj and the Brahmo Samaj are reforming sects. (Punjab, 1911, p. 116 sq).


128. The Brahma Samaj.

The Brahma Samaj, founded by Raja Ram Mohun Roy is divided into three sections, the Adi or original, the Nabab dhan or New Dispensation and the Sadharan or common Samaj but all alike believe in the unity of the Godhead, the brotherhood of man, and direct communion with God in spirit without the intervention of any mediator. The differences are ritualistic and social rather than religious. The Adi Samaj is the most conservative and while discarding all idolatrous forms, it follows as closely as possible the rites of Hinduism, drawing its inspiration from Hindu religious books, especially the Upanishads. The Nababidhan Samaj, founded by Keshab Chandra Sen, has assimilated what it considers just – both in the Shastras and in the teachings of Christianity, Buddhism and Islam. The Sadharan Brahmo Samaj is the most advanced and relies on the teachings of all religious systems, rejecting the system of caste altogether. It is also opposed to the parda system, gives its women a liberal education and allows them an equal voice in all matters of church government. (Bengal, 1901, p. 159). It inculcates the worship of One God, Creator and Preserver, who punishes sin remedially and is to be served in prayer and moral conduct. No prophet and no scriptures of any religion are finally and exclusively authoritative. The very broadness of this creed militates against its appeal to any but the most intellectual classes – (India, 1931, p. 388).


129. The Arya Samaj.

The Arya Samaj was founded by Mul Shankar, an Audich Brahman of Kathiawar. In 1845 he became a Sanyasi and devoting himself to yoga or ascetic philosophy wandered from teacher to teacher. From 1863 to 1873 Dayanand Saraswati as he was then called wandered over Northern India from Bombay to Calcutta preaching a reformed Hinduism. God – he taught – was a personal creator – all true, all knowledge, incorporeal, almighty, just, merciful, unbegotten, unchangeable, all pervading, immortal and the cause of the universe. He alone is to be worshipped. With God are two eternal substances – spirit or the soul and Prakriti, the material cause, creation was only a rearrangement of Prakriti. The soul is distinct from God – it is an eternal substance, endowed with consciousness and the capacity for pleasure, pain and knowledge. The Vedas are actually the knowledge of God Himself and consequently as eternal as He. Salvation (moksha) is won by good deeds; it is a temporary emancipation from human existence and its troubles, exchanged for a state of existence with God. The law of karma is an Arya tenet; man is free as regards his actions but cannot alter their results. Its ritual is simple. There is no doubt that it is the greatest religious movement in India of the past half century. When Dayanand died in 1883, he constituted the Paropkarini Sabha and left all his wealth to it to be spent on the publication of the Vedas, on the preaching of the word and the maintenance and education of orphans. In each province there is a Pratinidhi Sabba composed of delegates from each local sabba. Its funds are raised by subscriptions. Ever since 1897 Veda Prachar or missionary teaching has been the chief means of propagandism. The updeshaks or missionaries are always moving about, preaching especially at large fairs. The Aryas hold that not birth alone but occupation, method of life and knowledge of the Vedas determines caste. It has strong and sound views against child marriage. The expenses of weddings are curtailed. Widow remarriage is countenanced and encouraged. In the matter of food the tendency is to relax the Hindu restrictions till they are little more than such as are dictated in any case by common sense. They are far beyond the mass in the matter of education both male and female. The Arya Samaj meeting house serves the purposes of a social club, a religious meeting place and local headquarters. The samaj as a whole is not a political body, all Aryas are not politicians and those Aryas that are politicians have not necessarily opinions that lead to or connote disloyalty. The attitude of the Arya Samaj to other religions is often objectionable. It seems certain that the Arya Samaj do fear the spread of Christianity because the adoption or adaptation of any foreign creed would endanger the national feeling which they wish to foster. (U.P., 1911, p. 132 sq.) Started as a crusade to purge the old Sanatan Vedic religions of idolatrous impurities and to break the superiority of Brahmans, Aryaism has found it difficult to make much impression on the stubborn rock of Hinduism and there is now a noticeable weakening in their campaign against the priestly Brahman. The Sarnaj’s influence on the views and social activities of the orthodox Hindu community has been marked and has made for the amelioration of the lot of considerable numbers of the population. The Samaj still disclaims any political connexions. But the younger followers of the Samaj were among the most ardent supporters of the Congress movement and are not politically-minded because they are Aryas, rather they have become Aryas either in the hope of being able to use the Samaj’s organisation for their political aims or because the advanced doctrines of the Samaj appeal to them. (U.P., 1931, p. 508 sq).


130. Miscellaneous Sects.

The Karthabhajas are said to be a disreputable Guru-worshipping sect but they call themselves worshippers of the Creator, the Satya or Sahaj Pharma. Members must never utter any untruth, must every day repeat the mantra three times in the prescribed manner on at least five occasions in the day, must observe Fridays as sacred, abstain from meat and intoxicating liquor. No distinctions based on caste or wealth are recognised but popular belief credits them with immoral practices. The original principle of the sect was the very antithesis of, sensuality. Men and women must remain as eunuchs for only by sexual self-restraint can one avoid the cycle of rebirth.

The same idea of the evils of procreation, as leading to rebirth in a world of misery, appears to be the basis of the beliefs of the Bauls, a Vaishnava sect who do not shave or cut their hair, go about in motley garb, and sing devotional songs to the accompaniment of stringed instruments called gub-guba-gub.

The Shikshaparas hold that Krishna is the only male principle in the universe and that all else constitutes his prakriti or female principle. A woman belonging to this sect is said to look upon Krishna as her spiritual husband and her mundane husband as a conventional appanage. She regards the Guru as Krishna’s representative on earth and has no objection to giving him the privileges of a husband. Caste distinctions are obliterated and members of different castes partake of food together.

The Sheonarayanis believe in one formless God and have a sacred book called the Sabda Granth which lays down that salvation can be attained only by faith in God, control of the passions and obedience to the Guru.

The Kabirpanthis follow Kabir who endeavoured to establish a religion that would embrace both Hindu and Musalman, rejecting distinctions of caste, sect and rank, and preaching the equality of man. One God only is worshipped and idolatry is forbidden. Converts from clean castes from whom water may be taken by Hindus will not allow converts from low castes to eat with them; the cook must, moreover, be a Brahmin or Rajput.

The Kumbhipatia sect was founded by Mukund Das who lived in retreat at Joranda for many years and proclaimed himself the apostle of a new faith. The idols worshipped by Hindus were merely stone and wood. The Creator of the Universe was Alekh or Mahima, a spiritual being without form, omnipresent and omniscient. He denounced the caste system and would eat food cooked by any one except a Raja, a Brahman, a Bhandari and a Dhoba – the Raja because he was responsible for the sins committed in the State, the Brahman because he accepted gifts from sinful persons, the Bhandari because he shaved sinners, and the Dhoba because he washed their clothes. He used to take his food on the public road in a broken earthen pot. He and his followers used the bark (pat) of the kumbhi or yellow cotton tree to cover their nakedness. As he was regarded as an incarnation of the deity and immortal, his death came as a shock to his followers but Bhima Bhoi, a blind boy of Kandh (Khond) origin became the leader of the sect. Inspired by the belief that if the image of Jagannath was destroyed, it would convince Hindus of the futility of their religion, he led a body of Kumbhipatias to Puri and tried to break into the shrine. A woman with whom he consorted became pregnant and Bhima declared that she would give birth to Arjun who would root out all unbelievers. The woman gave birth to a girl but Bhima asserted that it had been revealed to him that the child would destroy the unbelievers by her charms. The child died a few days later and Bhima gave out that she was a fairy who quitted this world because she found it filled with vice. They believe that the soul of the father is reincarnated in his son. To attain salvation one should not be reborn. Man is sinful because he does not repress his sexual instincts. For the specially initiated celibacy is essential. Others may marry and beget children but they must only have intercourse with their wives at periods favourable for the fertilisation of the ovum. If they observe this rule, though they beget children and must therefore be born again, they will be free from sexual passion and attain salvation at the next birth. Initiation confers a secret virtue by which man and woman are rendered incapable of procreation, even though there may be sexual union. God is an unseen power manifested by the organs of generation, but is not to be identified with them or their functions. God is in fact an omnipresent creative energy, but is not visible or expressible, and is therefore called Alekh. (Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Sikkim, 1911, p. 211 sq).

The present day leaders of this sect consider themselves to be Hindus with the exception that they do not worship idols or forms. The followers are divided into three classes – (1) Kumbhipatias, (2) Kamapatias and (3) Grihis. The first are those sannyasis who have attained that stage of development which entitles them to wear bark; the second are sannyasis who have coupins; and the third class are men living as householders but professing Alekh Dharma. (Bihar and Orissa, 1931, p. 258, sq).


131. Sectarian Marks.

The outward mark of sectarianism is what is known as a tilak, a mark made on the forehead (and on other parts as well see B.B.O. and S., 1911, p. 252), as a symbol of the god which the sect worships. The marks of the Shaivas are phallic in character and consist of two or more horizontal lines with, or without, a dot below or above the lines, or on the middle line and with, or without, an oval or half oval; also by a triangle, a cone or any other pointed or arched figure having its apex upwards. The figure of a crescent moon or a trident (trisula) also indicates a votary of Siva. These marks are made by hand or by metallic stamps with ashes collected from the sacrificial fire or from burnt cowdung or sandal wood paste or turmeric steeped in a solution of lime juice and saltpetre. The ashes used are said to represent the disintegrating force associated with Siva. The Vaishnavas usually make two perpendicular lines on their foreheads with or without a dot or circle between them. They also make marks on their body by stamps of the emblems of Vishnu, the discus – chakra – the conch, sankha – the mace gada, and the lotus, padma. They have also other signs coloured red, yellow and black, made with sandal wood paste or charcoal taken from a fire in which incense has been burnt before an image. Clay brought from sacred places like the Ganges, Jaggannath, Puri, etc., is also used, especially by the lower castes. The different sub-divisions of Vaishnava sects founded by (1) Ramanuja (2) Madhava and (3) Vallabba have different tilaks. The followers of the first are divided into the northern school, Vadagalais and the southern school, the Ten-galais. The Vadagalais make a simple white line between the eyes, curved like the letter U to represent the sole of the right foot of Vishnu, and a central red mark emblematical of Lakshmi, while the Ten-galais have a more complicated device symbolical of both feet which are supposed to rest on the lotus. The Ten-galais symbol has the appearance of a trident, the two outer prongs painted with white earth standing for Vishnu’s two feet, the middle painted red for his consort Lakshmi and the white line drawn over nose representing the lotus. The sect marks of Madhavas and Vallabhas are those of the Vada-galais but the Madhavas instead of the red line in the centre have a black one made with charcoal taken from incense burnt before an image of Vishnu. The Vaishnavas also brand their breast, arms and other parts of the body with stamps representing the two chief emblems of Vishnu, the chakra and sankha. These instruments are made either of copper, brass or silver, are heated to a sufficient temperature to singe the shin and leave a deep black mark on it. Dwarka, Brindaban and Udki are the chief places where visitors go for these branding operations but the chief Gurus of the Madhava sect will perform the operations on followers of the sect wherever they happen to be. The Saktas have no special marks peculiar to them but use the same tilaks as the Saivas. (C.P., 1911, p. 88 sq).


132. Hinduism in the United Provinces.

Hinduism in the United Provinces, is Brahmanism run to seed and spread out into a confused tangle of divine personalities and incarnations, from which three emerge pre-eminent – Brahma, Siva, Vishnu. They are all equally manifestations of Brahma, the universal spirit, but they are also more, for they are separate personal deities. Hinduism’s chief characteristic is theism, but with constant lapses into pantheism. Hinduism itself is usually divided into five sects – Saivas, Vaishnavas, Saktas, Ganpatyas and Sauryas. The one creed which may be held to be orthodox in Hinduism is that which regards the highest deities as finite beings, destined ultimately to be absorbed into the universal spirit, Brahma. And in that sense Saiva and Vaishnava are unorthodox as they exalt each his favourite personal deity to the position of an eternal, supreme self-existing god. Saivaism identifies Siva with Brahma as well as with the Atman and Maya of the Vedanta philosophy, and also with the Purusha and Prakrit of the Sankhya system, with the male and female generative energies operating in the universe, with every conceivable force and form in nature! It is not pantheism, for Siva is a personal god; it is theism. But it is based on and directly springs from, the pantheism of Brahmanic thought. Vaishnavism exalts vishnu in much the same way. It is therefore like Saivaism a form of theism, even of monotheism. But there are certain differences. Saivaism is a severe and cold system. It inculcates reverence fear, worship: Vaishnavism postulates not only a personal god but personal devotion to him (bhagti) it inculcates faith rather than reverence, love rather than fear, devotion rather than worship. Such then is theoretical Hinduism which can be described in all its three forms as theism, which in the case of a few is polytheism, in the case of the vast majority is monotheism, but always theism with personal gods. Every Hindu has some conception of a supreme personal god called by many names but most commonly Parameshwar, who made the world, who is pleased by good and displeased by evil deeds but much too exalted to be troubled by mundane affairs. Nebulous as his idea of Parameshwar may be, it makes of him at bottom a monotheist. It is a waste of time to importune a god with prayer when his attitude is one of suave aloofness; and the Hindu reserves his attentions for the minor gods and godlings. There is however a point on which Hindus differ widely and that is the question of salvation and what it means. Each system has its own heaven – that of Siva is called Kailasa, supposed to be in the Himalayas; that of Vishnu is known as Vaikuntha and is generally located on the mythical Mount Meru. The faithful adherents are transported to these heavens, where, safe from future transmigration they attain to beatitude, which consists, according to the soul’s deserts in either salokya – dwelling in the same world with the personal god – or samipya – dwelling near the personal god – or sarupya – obtaining the form of the personal god. The kingdom of Hell, of Yama the god of death, lies in the south of the sky; between it and the earth flows the terrible river, Vaitarani, which all departed spirits must cross, Yama though he punishes the wicked does not reward the good who escape and go straight to Kailasa or Vaikuntha; nor can he avail against the power of proper death-bed ceremonies. As soon as the dead sinner has been cremated. Yama’s messengers hale him to the judgment seat. Chitra Gupta the recorder of good and evil deeds, produces his balanced account and judgment is pronounced accordingly. Once sentenced, the spirit is hastened back to the place of cremation, there to acquire a body; for without a body it can neither enjoy heaven nor suffer the pains of hell. This body is acquired by feeding on the pindas (funeral cakes) offered for 12 days. On the 13th day it is hurried back to hell, through fierce heat and icy winds, amid fearful thorns and terrible animals; the road at one place is the edge of razors and at another iron spikes. From there the worst of sinners can be saved by death-bed ritual and death-bed gifts to Brahmans. The first and most important ceremony is to transport the dying man to the nearest stream, among which the Ganges is pre-eminent. Merely to look on it in the death agony keeps Yama’s messengers at a distance. At the last moment the dying man is made if possible to repeat the taraka mantra or saving text. The Chaitanya Vaishnava sect consider that the mere repetition of Vishnu’s name, or names, especially Krishna, Narayan or Hari, secures admission to Vaikuntha but there is not in general use any such thing as a death-bed mantra. The ordinary Hindu layman, with no theological instruction, scarcely knows mukti which may be temporary or final for he means by it little more than an advantageous reincarnation. The ordinary good man must be content with hoping for temporary mukti in the heaven of his particular creed till he has been paid in full for the goodness of his past life and it is time for him to be born again. On the other hand the bad man can also escape hell and get some measure of mukti; so long as his funeral rites are all they should be, the god of hell will be disappointed of his victim but the sinner cannot escape a disadvantageous rebirth. To the average Hindu it is karma and not the pleasure or displeasure of a god, which provides the religious sanction which dissuades him from evil and persuades him to good. In theory it may be a weak sanction, for a man knows nothing of his former lives and practically it is another person who suffers from his ill deeds. Nobody minds running up a bill which somebody else will have to pay. But in practice there is no doubt it is a real and powerful sanction. (U.P. 1911, pp. 124 sq).


133. The Sanskars.

The ceremonies or sanskars prescribed for Brahmans and other twice-born castes are – (1) Garbhadhan, performed at the consummation of marriage. – (2) Punsavana, the sacrifice performed in the vitality in the foetus. – (3) Anavalomana, performed in the third month of pregnancy. – (4) Vishnubali, the guardian-pleasing sacrifice performed in the seventh month of pregnancy. – (5) Simantonayana, the parting of the hair in the fourth, sixth or eighth month of the first pregnancy. – (6) Jatakarma, giving the infant clarified butter out of a golden spoon before dividing the navel string. – (7) Namakarma, naming the child on the tenth, eleventh twelfth or hundred and first day. – (8) Nishkramana carrying out the child to be presented to the moon on the third lunar day of the third bright fortnight after birth. – (9) Suryavalokana carrying out the child in the third or fourth month to be presented to the sun. – (10) Annaprashana feeding the child with food (rice) in the sixth or eighth month. – (11) Chudakarma tonsure of the hair in the second, third or fifth year. – (12) Upanayana the ceremony of investing the boy with the sacred thread. – (13) Mahanamya the instruction in the Gayatri after the Upanayana. – (14) Samavartana the boy’s return home after the completion of his studies. – (15), Vivalia, marriage. – (16) Antyeshthi obsequies. (Bombay, 1911 p. 02).


134. Initiation.

Initiation (diskha or mantragrhan) is performed when a Hindu boy is 8 or 9 years old. The guru informs him what god is to be the peculiar deity of his worship and whispers in his ear a mantra some mystic syllables, through which he can obtain remission of sins and future happiness. This mantra the lad must keep an inviolable secret; its daily repetition is a solemn duty. Initiation is regarded as conferring spiritual franchise and bringing the boy into direct communication with God. The Guru renders spiritual revelation possible, for he acts as a medium between God and his disciple. Throughout the life of the latter the Guru is his spiritual guide and receives, almost divine veneration. A person who has passed the age at which he should have been initiated without having the ceremony performed, is held to be impure and to be incompetent to perform religious ceremonies with efficacy. No orthodox Hindu will knowingly take food or water from such a man, even though he belong to his own caste or family. He cannot enter into heaven or attain salvation by absorption into the divine essence, but will be condemned to narak (purgatory) and subject to re-birth. For this reason people dare not die without initiation and the ceremony is frequently performed upon their death-bed. It is not surprising that some Hindus consider initiation the most distinctive feature of Hinduism and the only possible criterion between the Hindu and the non-Hindu. A distinctive external sign of Hindu laymen is the chutia or as it is also called shikka or tikki, the lock of hair worn on the crown of the head. It distinguishes them from the Muhammadans on the one hand and from the Hindu monastic orders on the other. The practice of wearing this lock dates back to very ancient times and cutting it off was regarded as the greatest of punishments. This, indeed, was the punishment for heinous crimes imposed on Brahmans who could not be put to death. It is said in the Mahabharata that, when Asvathama was convicted of killing the sons of the Pandavas, his top-knot was torn out of his head. In commemoration of this and symbolically to heal the raw wound on his head, every Hindu when taking his daily bath sprinkles a little oil on before anointing his body. Dressing the top-knot and tying it are regarded as a daily religious duty by all Hindus and there are distinctive mantras to be uttered on this occasion. (Bengal, Bihar, Sikkim and Orissa. 1911, p. 231).


135. Duties of Brahman.

The Brahman is enjoined to perform daily, in addition to the sandhya prayers, the panchamahayadnya or five daily acts of devotion, viz., (1) bhutayadnya or oblation to all created beings (2) manushyayddna, hospitable reception of guests, (3) pitrayadna, oblations of water to the manes, (4) brahmayadna, the recital of the Vedas, (5) devayadna oblations to the gods through fire. But except the very orthodox who are few in number, none perform any except the sandhya, which is dispensed with by a large number of educated persons. Marathas, Rajputs, Kunbis and the artisan castes are expected to worship the house-gods after the morning bath or to visit temples. The worship of the house gods should be performed by the head or other elder of the family; but it is generally entrusted to the drone of the family if there be one. It is often delegated to boys, and even to women as a last resort. Among the well-to-do, a Brahman priest is engaged to perform the daily worship of the house-gods. The Brahmans and other high caste Hindus have generally in their houses a room set apart for the worship of the gods, which is known as the god-room. Their family gods generally consist of the Panchayatna or the group of five, a stone linga, pyramid for Mahadev, a stone Shaligram or round pebble from the Gandaki or the Narbada river or an idol of Vishnu, an image of Shakti Bhavani or Mata, Ganpati, and Surya, or the sun. Some families have the images of their family deities such as Khandoba or Vithoba. Toks or embossed images of deceased ancestors are also kept among the house gods, in the Deccan. In Kanara the favourite house gods of the lower castes are Venkatramana and Ammas or mother goddesses, to which are some times added unhusked cocoanuts representing the original ancestors of the family. In addition to the house deities, the sun is worshipped by Brahmans and other castes who perform Brahmanic rites, by the offering of arghyas or water while performing sandhya. Other Hindus worship the sun every morning by bowing down to him after cleaning their teeth and washing their faces; some times after the bath. Certain texts are repeated by Brahmans and other twice-born castes while bathing, while the other castes repeat the names of the sacred rivers. The tulsi plant is grown in a kind of altar in the backyards of houses in towns and in front yards of villages by all pious Hindus. It is worshipped daily, especially by married women whose husbands are still alive. Every year the marriage of the tulsi with Vishnu is celebrated in every Hindu house with the help of a Brahman priest. Of the principal Hindu gods, Siva is worshipped annually on the treat Sivaratri or Siva’s night in Magh and on every Monday in Sravan Vishnu is worshipped in his incarnation as Krishna on the eighth of the dark half of Sravan and as Ram on the ninth day of Chaitra. The goddess Bhavani is worshipped during the Navaratra or nine days of the first half of Ashvin. When cholera breaks out, Mariamma or Kakabalia, that is the cholera goddess is worshipped with offerings of water, goats sheep, fowls or he-buffaloes. Similar offerings are made to Sitaladevi or smallpox goddess when smallpox is raging; when a child recovers from smallpox and in certain castes even after vaccination. In other cases of sickness vows are made to certain deities, which are fulfilled if the patient recovers. No special deities are worshipped to overcome barrenness but vows are made and pipal trees are circumambulated for hundreds of times a day continually for days. On all ceremonial occasions Ganpati is worshipped as the remover of obstacles. Among Brahmans and other higher castes, Gaurihar is worshipped by the bride at the time of marriage. Animal sacrifices are made to the gods Khandoba, Bahiroba, Jotiba, etc. and to the goddess Bhavani, Kalika, Maruti, Kakabalia, Sitala and others. The usual occasion for animal sacrifices is the Desara holiday. Occasional sacrifices are made to the gods generally on Sundays and to the goddess on Tuesday or Friday when they do not fall on fast days. The sacrifice is attended with little or no ceremony; but at times the animal is, worshipped and music is played while it is being slaughtered. All the cultivating castes perform field rites for the protection of their crops and cattle. Before sinking a well and before each seasons first ploughing the ground is worshipped. Before watering the ground for the first time the water in the well is worshipped and to guard against excessive rain fall the village headman and other husbandmen go with music to the village tank and offer flowers, red powder and cocoanuts. The field rites of the Maratha Kunbis are far more elaborate. (Bombay, 1911, p. 63).


135a. Hindu Festivals.

Beginning with the new year according to the Hindu calendar, which almost corresponds with the official year, April to March, the first most important festival is Ramnawami, the anniversary of the birthday of Rama. A silk doll is made to represent Rama and all the ceremonials connected with childbirth are gone through. A similar ceremony is performed on the birthday of, Krishna which falls in the month of August and is called Janamashtami. The only difference is that the latter is observed by night and a clay doll is used instead of a silk one. In the same month falls the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, the birthday of the god of learning. A clay image of the elephant-headed god is taken out in procession and finally thrown into a tank or river. On this day of Chathurthi no one looks at the moon lest a calamity befall him. Should a man see the moon accidentally the remedy is to hurl stones at the houses of his neighbours till some justly incensed householder comes out and abuses him; the calamity will then fall on the neighbour. This festival is followed by Anantchaturdasi on which day Ananta, the endless, i.e., Vishnu is worshipped. The god is represented by a coil of knots arranged round a string which is worn on the neck or arm. This string may be of kusha grass cotton, silk, silver or gold wire. If made of metal it must not be melted or changed into any other ornament, as this would be a disrespect to the god. In the month of October falls the great festival of Dasahra, which is doubtless the autumn Saturnalia and celebrates the return of fertility. It is also called by Hindus Vijaya Dashmi, the day of the victory gained by Rama over his enemy, the demon king of Ceylon. It is also the day on which the goddess Kali vanquished the buffalo demon, and in some places a buffalo is sacrificed. The offering of goats is usual, and those who cannot or will not make any animal sacrifice adopt a substitute in the shape of a white pumpkin supported on four sticks resembling the legs of a goat. The pumpkin is really a substitute for the more precious offering, a human being, and it is for this reason that a fruit in the early stage of development, when it has not got rid fully of the stalk underneath it, is selected, so that the latter may represent the tuft of hair on the head of a human being and it is on that side of the fruit that the knife falls which severs it from the main body. A little of it is ceremonially eaten by every member of the family. On this day every caste worships his tools and implements. A Teli will worship his oil machine, a Kayasth his ink-stand, a blacksmith his anvil and hammer, and so on. Other picturesque ceremonies are performed on this day. People go out to the village boundaries as if ceremonially to re-open communications with neighbouring villages which have been interrupted during the rains. Every one looks out eagerly for the blue jay, nilkanth, or blue-necked, an epithet of Siva, whom the jay is supposed to represent. If the bird is seen a salutation is made to it and a pradakshina (circumambulation) is performed round the tree in which it is, as if it were a temple in which some god is enshrined. The name of the festival, Dasahra, is said to mean the destroyer of ten sins hence old offences are forgotten and the opportunity is taken to make up all previous quarrels and to pay visits to friend and foe alike. Twenty days after the Dasahra comes the Diwali when Lakshmi the goddess of wealth is worshipped. She is supposed to pass over the land distributing her gifts of riches; all therefore illuminate their houses and shops in order that they may not be overlooked. The lights are often tastefully and beautifully arranged and the festival is one of the prettiest of the year. In country villages a Govardhan or heap of cowdung cakes is built in which sometimes an egg is placed; cattle and buffaloes are worshipped and driven over the heap. Should the egg remain unbroken it betokens immunity from all calamities during the year. Two days after Diwali comes Yama Dwitiya when Yama the god of death was entertained by his sister at the river Yamuna (Jumna) in the United Provinces. On this day brothers visit their sisters and are entertained by them and in the evening the sisters return the visit, perform the ceremony of Arti and receive a gift. On the Basant Panchami in the month of February Kamadeva or the God of Love is worshipped. The next great festival is Sivaratri at which Mahadeo is worshipped. The year closes with Holi, the spring Saturnalia, when the demoness Holika is propitiated. A great fire is burnt, being kindled first by a Mahar. A cocoanut symbolising the primitive human sacrifice is hung from a pole in the middle of the fire and when it falls the people secure the burnt core and eat it and smear themselves with the ashes of the fire. This fire is brought home and with it a heap of cowdung cakes called ballas are lit. Next day follows a period of license and enjoyment in which the people, especially the women, throw mud and red fluid at one another and indulge in obscene songs, while among the lower castes there is an orgy of sexual license. Hookswinging is sometimes indulged in and on this day the country women still claim a special right on every man they meet which now takes the form of a money payment. There are different myths as to the orion of this festival. According to one Hindu legend Kamadeva the god of Love endeavoured to awaken in Siva a passion for Parvati. Siva, enraged at his impudence, reduced him to ashes with a beam of fire from his eye but afterwards relenting caused to him to be born again. The fires are said to symbolise the death of love and rejoicing at his rebirth. Love here represents the spirit of fertility and the whole character of the festival proclaims it, like Dasahra, a festival to celebrate the reproductive principle in earth and man. The ceremonies often include among the aborigines the mock marriage of two effigies of a male and a female and are always accompanied by dancing either among the men and women of the village. A large part in the ceremonies connected with the earth and its fertility is taken by women. (C.P. 1911. p. 83 sq).


136. Sun Worship.

Amongst the godlings of Nature the Sun, Surjya or Graharaj (king of the planets) takes the first place. The Sun god, one of the great deities in Vedic times, has now fallen to the rank of a godling but is still widely worshipped, especially in Bihar. The higher castes worship him daily while bathing. The Gayatri or sacred verse which each Brahman must recite daily is dedicated to him. Sunday is sacred to him, and on that day many abstain from eating fish or flesh, in some cases also salt. The great festival in his honour, the Chhat Puja, is held on the 6th day of the light half of Kartik, when the people gather together at a river or pool and offer libations to the setting sun. Brahman priests are not employed but an elderly member of the family, usually a female conducts the worship. Even Muhammadans join in the Chhat Puja. Unmarried girls worship the Sun in Magh in the hope of obtaining a good husband and a satisfactory mother-in-law. In Puri Hindu women desirous of obtaining male offspring worship him on the second day after the new moon in Asin. The Sun is often credited with healing powers in all sorts of diseases, such as asthma, consumption, skin diseases, white leprosy and severe headaches. The Sun is a male deity but in Rajshahi he has a female counterpart, named Chhatmata, who is worshipped, chiefly by females, on the 6th day of Kartik and Chaitra.


137. Earth Worship.

The earth is venerated as the mother of all living things and the giver of all food and is regarded as a benignant female deity. She has various names, such as Bhudebi (the earth goddess) Basundhara, (the wealth bearer) Dharti Mai (Mother Earth) Ambubachi and Basumati Thakurani. She is held in great reverence by all and pious Hindus chant her mantras (Asan suddhi) before commencing the worship of any great god and do reverence to her when they rise in the morning. The dying man is frequently laid on the ground, and so is the mother at the time of parturition. Newly married couples must sleep on the earth for the first three nights. The earth is often worshipped before entering a new house and on the birth of a child. Before sowing is commenced she is propitiated with offerings of flowers and milk. The great festival in connection with the worship of the earth is in Ashar. On the first day of that month she is supposed to menstruate and there is an entire cession of all agricultural operations, and widows refrain from eating cooked rice. On the 4th day the bathing ceremony is performed. A stone, to represent the goddess, is placed erect on the ground, the top painted with vermilion, and is bathed with turmeric water and bedecked with flowers and offerings of milk and plantains are made. The moon is held to be a male deity of a very mild disposition. He is depicted as a handsome man with a wheat coloured complexion. He is often regarded as the deity who presides over crops and over the education of children and is credited with the power to heal wounds and certain diseases, especially those of the eye. The date for his worship varies and in many places it is performed only by women. There is a very general superstition that if any one but a worshipper should happen to see the moon on the day fixed for worship, they will suffer a loss of reputation. A person who sees the moon on such an occasion takes up five stones and after touching his forehead with them throws them at his neighbour’s roof. If the latter then abuses him, it is believed that atonement has been made.


138. Planet Worship.

The other planets are also worshipped on certain occasions and with less ceremony. The most important are Sani (Saturn) and Rahu, the demon who causes eclipses of the sun. Sani is supposed to have great influence over the destiny of men and is much dreaded and is carefully propitiated, either on Saturdays or on particular occasions when astrological calculations indicate that a visitation from him is to be feared. He has no image but is represented by an earthen pot filled with water. A Brahman priest officiates and the offering, a sort of pudding made of flour, plantains, sugar and milk, must be eaten on the spot by the devotees, who must wash their mouths carefully before leaving. If any casual visitor should arrive while the ceremony is in progress, he must wait till it is concluded and eat a share of the offering; otherwise he will incur the godling’s displeasure.


139. River Worship.

Numerous rivers are sacred but the greatest of all is the personified Ganges, who is said to have sprung from the feet of Vishnu. She is a benignant deity and worshipped daily. It has special virtue on the occurrence of certain yogas or auspicious conjunctions of the planets, when large crowds assemble on its banks to wash and be clean. Pilgrims at Gaya offer their first pinda (rice cake) to her in the name of their deceased ancestors. Certain ascetics perform a special penance in her honour which consists in spending every night in Magh seated stark naked on small platform erected over the river, engaged in such prayer and meditation as their sufferings from the cold will allow. The town of Tribeni in Hooghly is held to be specially holy, because the three sacred streams, the Ganges, Jamuna and Saraswati, which meet at Allahabad here once more separate. The Brahmaputra is sacred only on the Ashokashtami day in Chaitra, when large numbers of pilgrims resort to its banks to bathe: The Baitarani in Cuttack is held in great reverence by all Hindus on account of its bearing the same name as the Indian Styx which all must cross before they can reach heaven. Pilgrims to Jagannath worship on its banks and make offerings of cows etc. to Brahmans so that they may safely cross the river after death. There are several water godlings who are worshipped without reference to any special river. Two of the best known, Khwaja Khir and Pir Badr, are Muhammadan.


140. Mountain Worship.

The mighty chain of the Himalayas is held sacred by all Hindus and is worshipped on certain occasions by the higher castes with the aid of Brahman priests.

The most sacred of all trees is the Pipal (ficus religiosa). It is said that the trunk is the habitation of Brahma, the twigs of Siva, and the leaves of the other gods. It is known as Basudeva and water is poured at its foot after the morning bath, especially in the month of Baisakh and when people are in difficulties. It is very meritorious to plant these trees by the wayside and to consecrate them (pratistha). The Bel (Aegle marmelos) is the sacred tree of Siva; its leaves are indispensable in performing the worship of Siva and Sakti, and for this reason pious Vaishnavas will not so much as mention its name. When the tree dies, none but Brahmans may use the wood as fuel. It is believed to be a favourite tree with certain spirits who take up their abode in it. The Tulsi or holy basil plant is to the Vaishnava what the Bet is to the Sakta and the plant is to be seen in the courtyard of all members. It is watered after the daily bath. In the evening a lamp is lit at its foot. Hari is believed to be always in it. Its leaves are essential for the worship of Vishnu. They are believed to have a certain medicinal effect in the case of malarial affections and are much used by native practitioners.


141. Sitala Worship.

Of the various godlings such as Surjya, Dharmaraj etc., credited with the power to cure disease, the best known. almost widely worshipped is Sitala who is also known as Basanta Burhi (the old lady of spring), one of the seven sisters who are variously said to be the seven forms of Adi Sakti, the primordial energy, or the seven principal Yoginis or followers of Parvati. In many places a shed is erected outside the village for the seven sisters, who are represented by seven balls of clay placed in a line. In the event of a severe epidemic even the high castes offer pigs to the seven sisters but employ Dosadhs for the ceremony. Chamars worships the seven sisters, not for protection against epidemics, but to obtain the spread of cattle disease. The seven sisters are overshadowed by the special veneration paid to Sitala. Her name, the cool one, is given because if properly propitiated she can allay the burning sensations which accompany the disease. She is generally represented as a naked female, painted red and sitting on an ass, with a bundle of broomsticks in her hand an earthen pot under her left arm, and a winnowing fan on her head. Sometimes the image is a piece of wood or stone with a human face carved on it, besmeared with oil and vermilion and studded with spots or nails of gold, silver or brass, in imitation of the pustules of the disease. The Pods of Khulna regard her, not merely as the goddess of small-pox, but as their main deity, and if a person is carried off by a tiger or his crops are destroyed by wild animals, it is thought that he has incurred the displeasure of the goddess. Elsewhere she is worshipped only when epidemics of small-pox or measles (and sometimes cholera) break out or when children are inoculated or vaccinated. The offerings consist of milk, flowers, fruits, sweets, rice, betel-nuts, vermilion, bel leaves etc., and sometimes a goat. When the higher castes worship Sitala, they do so with the aid of a Brahman priest. In the case of the lower castes one of the devotees sits before the idol wagging his head, until he is inspired to say what is the cause of the outbreak and how the deity is to be persuaded to stamp it out. The Acharji Brahmans profess to treat cases of small-pox but they do little beyond recitingmantras and touching the patient with a twig of the nim (azidir-achta indica) which is Sitala’s favourite tree. Ghantakarna is the husband of Sitala. He was a great hero and devoted follower of Siva by whom he was vested with the power to cure cutaneous disease. He is worshipped in the early morning on the last day of Falgun when a representation of him is made with cowdung on the outside of a blackened earthen pot. The puja is conducted by the housewife who covers the image with ghetu flowers, which she arranges with her left hand. In Bengal several forms of Kali are credited with special powers over epidemics. The chief of these is Bakshya Kali. She has the usual form of Kali and when an epidemic breaks out she is worshipped by all castes usually at a place where three roads meet. Sometimes she is worshipped at a burning ghat and is then known as Shashan Kali and is adored when the crops have been unusually good.


142. Manasa Worship.

Of all the snake godlings Manasa in Bengal holds the foremost place. She is worshipped by all castes to secure immunity from snake-bite. She has a sister named Jagat Gauri who in West Bengal is credited with power over cobras and other snakes. A fair is held in her honour on the fifth day of the moon in Jaista. Ananta Deb is regarded in Bengal as a benignant deity who confers various temporal benefits but in Orissa he is looked on as the King of snakes and is worshipped on the 14th day of Bhadra for 14 years in succession. If a man dies before he has completed the fourteenth year of the worship his son is obliged to continue it on his behalf.


143. Hero Worship.

Goreiya or Dilligoria is a male hero of Dosadh origin. He is worshipped throughout Bihar by all Hindus, even the highest castes often reckon him as of their dii penates. When a man returns home from a distant place, his first care is to pay his respects to this godling and to offer him sherbet and food. It is not necessary that a man should have been a Hindu to be worshipped by Hindus after his death and several of the best known deified heroes are Muhammadans. There is a general belief – especially amongst the lower castes – that the spirit of a person who dies a painful or violent death, or of a suicide, remains on earth near its old home and cause all kinds of evil to persons in the neighbourhood who may fall foul of it. The general name for such evil spirits is Bhut in the case of males, and Pretini in the case of females. Whenever a person suffers from an illness presenting any unusual features it is attributed to possession and a remedy is sought in exorcism. The exorcist or Ojha is believed to have in his power a bhut of greater power – and by means of mantras he forces his own spirit to drive away the one that is causing the trouble. Sometimes he resorts to physical force, such as blows with a shoe or a broomstick, applying red pepper and turmeric smoke to the nostrils etc. In the south of Gaya a bhut when under proper control, is a valuable possession and marketable – the usual price being Rs. 20. When the sale of a bhut has been arranged, the Ojhah hands over a corked bamboo cylinder supposed to contain him. This is taken usually to a tree where it is intended he should in future reside; a small ceremony is performed, liquor is poured on the ground, pindis (small mounds) are erected in his honour and the cork is then taken out when the bhut is supposed to take up his abode in the place chosen for him. His function is to watch the crops and guard them from thieves and if any one should be hardy enough to steal from a field this guarded, he is certain to be stricken by the bhut and in a few days will sicken and die. Of all male bhuts the most dreaded is the Barham or Brahma Daitya, the spirit of a Brahman who has died a violent death. Such spirits are specially powerful and malicious. Woe betide the unfortunate who should give one of them offence e.g., by unwittingly felling the tree in which he has taken up his abode, or who was in any way responsible for his death. He can only escape the consequences by making the Barham his family deity and worshipping him regularly. In Bihar he often becomes the tutelary deity or Dihwar of the whole village. The worship is usually performed under the tree, usually a banyan, which he is supposed to frequent. Of other classes of bhuts one of the best known is the Baghaut or spirit of a person killed by a tiger, who assumes the form of a tiger with a human face. Some take the form of a cow and are known as Gob hut. A miser is often believed to return to earth to watch over his money and is called Jak or Sur. The most malevolent of all spirits is the Churel or Kichin, the spirit of a woman who dies in childbirth. Her feet are turned backwards, she has no mouth, she is specially feared by women, sometimes she falls in love with young men to whom she appears as a beautiful girl neatly dressed and decked with ornaments and whom she eventually kills by slow emaciation.

Almost every village has its special tutelary deities (one or more) which preside over the welfare of the community. These are called the Gramya Devata and are worshipped on the occasion of every religious ceremony and on special occasions, e.g., when disease breaks out or a newly built house is occupied for the first time. The landlord of the village celebrates the puja, usually under a pipal or banyan tree, while each ryot performs his own ceremony at home. Some village deities are less local than others and have obtained a wider vogue. These usually have a sylvan home, e.g., Dholai Chandi, who inhabits a tree or grove which is sacred to all. Pieces of rags or brick are tied to the branches, as an offering to procure the welfare of children, and people make obeisance whenever they pass her abode. (Bengal, 1901, p. 158 sq).


144. Hinduism in South India.

Hinduism as a South Indian phenomenon must present much that is peculiar to orthodoxy from the north. Even to the casual European eye many manifestations in the Tamil regions and most of all in Tinnevelly and Ramnad have much more in common with what is known as animism than with Hinduism as it is generally described. In Tinnevelly the old pre-Aryan beliefs have in fact led captivity captive. The cow is as much revered in those areas of the Presidency with the lightest tincture of Brahmanism as in those more affected; this may be taken to indicate that reverence for the cow is older in India than the Vedic religion. Many castes in this and other districts do not consider the presence of a Brahmin necessary at marriages or funerals. Pudams or shrines exist to which no priests or temples are attached and the prevailing worship is in fact a kind of goblin propitiation, the goblins being usually the spirits of persons who had died a violent death. Animal sacrifice and frequent admixture of human blood are common places in their ceremonies. One such shrine in Tinnevelly district is to the spirit of a European killed in the Tranvacore wars and the offerings made are of articles considered peculiarly acceptable to one of his race, bread, fowls, cheroots and brandy. In effect the real religions of the presidency in the south at any rate is directed rather towards shrines and saints than towards deities. Adoration for great or good men and the places associated with them is after all an ancient and natural tendency. (Madras, 1931, p. 320).


145. Hinduism and Islam.

In Bombay both Hinduism and, in a lesser extent, Islam, suffer a certain drain caused by the existence of a number of sects, whose religious principles derive from the precepts of both religions. The chief of these borderland sects are – Matia, Momna, Sheikh, Molesalam, Sangahar, Sanjogi, Kabirpanthi and Dadupanthi. Generally speaking the origin in each case is a Puritan movement, initiated by a single individual, whose personal merit and mode of life attracted a following. While some possess a comparatively clear cut doctrine, particularly those which are most influenced by Islam, others lay emphasis on the necessity of purity in social conduct and deviate from Hinduism mainly in the degree of indifference they display to mere ritual and ceremonial. (Bombay, 1931, p. 353).

The Nayitas of Malwa share in equal degree the Muslim and Hindu religious beliefs. Worshipping Ganesh as well as Allah, using Hindu names and dress and observing Hindu festivals. The Hissarhi Brahmans are more or less converted to Islam in faith but retain Brahmanical practices and claim to eat only with the Sayyids among Muslims. The Malkanas of the United Provinces are another somewhat similar group of Rajput, Jat and Bania origin observing both Hindu and Muslim ceremonies. Many became definitely Hindus as a result of the shuddhi movement but the bulk continue to halt between the two opinions and when the shuddhi and tanzim movements were at their height started taking money for conversion and it is said that many made considerable sums by conversion and reconversion to and from Islam, Hinduism and Christianity for which communal zealots were able to find money. Bengal affords a number of instances of border line sects such as that of the Bhagwania or Satyadharma community, recruited both from Hindus and Muslims, though even within the sect there is no intermarriage. The Nagarchis of Bakarganj, the Kirtanias of Pabna and the Chitrakars of West Bengal are castes rather than sects whose religions and customs have both Hindu and Muslim features. Chuhrus in the Punjab take Muslim names and even utilise the services of mullahs where they serve Muslim villages or wards, though in the eastern Punjab they generally follow Hindu customs and use Hindu names. (India, 1931, p. 380 sq).

The members of both religions who in Bihar indulge in common practices are uneducated persons at the bottom of the social scale. With many of the Hindus religion means merely a propitiation of evil spirits, while many of the Mussalmans do not know what the tenets of Islam are. To them Islam is only circumcision and eating cow’s flesh. In some places the Mussalmans are descendants of Hindu converts whose Hinduism was little but Animism. Even after conversion they maintain their primitive beliefs and continue to observe the same ceremonies as their Hindu neighbours. In Purnea, low class Mussalmans and Hindus worship Geians, i.e., the spirits of dead men, their shrines being nothing more than two long bamboos stuck in the ground. Humble offerings are made to the trees in which other evil spirits reside and are subsequently placed in an earthen vessel and exposed at the nearest crossroads. The evil spirits are thereby bribed to leave the village and attach themselves to the first man who touches them. Another popular deity who is revered by low Hindus and Mussalmans, alike, is Devata Maharaj, with his doorkeeper, Hadi, who are represented by a long bamboo planted in the ground, from which are suspended an old winnowing basket, a bow, an old fishing net and a hook. In this district so-called Mussalmans commonly make offerings to purely Hindu deities, as well as to the village godlings, a Hindu being employed to make the actual sacrifice. They celebrate Hindu festivals with their Hindu neighbours and also frequent the shrine of Kali. Attached to almost every house is a little shrine called Khudai Ghar or God’s House, where prayers are offered indifferently to Allah and Kali. Even among the higher classes there is a tendency to retain Hindu customs after conversion to Islam. In cases of illness or snake-bite a Hindu ojha or exorcist is called in, who recites mantras containing the names of Hindu gods or goddesses. In Bengal Mussalmans make offerings through Hindu priests to Manasa, the goddess of snakes. Both in Bihar and Bengal they propitiate the goddesses of disease, when epidemics break out. In parts of Bengal Hindus who have adopted the cult of the Panch Pir, will not eat meat unless the animal has been duly slaughtered by a Mussalman while Hindus make offerings to Satyapir who has been Hinduised under the name of Satya Narayan. They also frequent the shrines of Pirs in the belief that the Pirs have power to help them and to avert misfortune. The pirsthan as the shrine is called is also visited on special occasions. Newborn babes are brought there, and their heads pressed down in obeisance. When a cow calves, first fruits of her milk are offered. Newly married brides and bridegrooms go there on the way to the latter’s house and make their salutations. Perhaps the most interesting example of common celebration of religious rites is the Muharram, in which low caste Hindus join, though they apparently regard it as a merry festival instead of a sad memorial service. In some places in Bihar low caste Hindus worship Hasan and Husain as gods. Childless husbands and wives, even among good castes, vow that if they have a boy he shall serve as a paik during the Muharram for a number of years. Similar vows are made if a boy falls ill or passes through some crisis, the fulfilment of the vow being conditional on recovery from sickness of escape from misfortune. On the seventh, eighth and ninth days of the Muharram, batches of these paiks may be seen running barefooted from one akhwra to another each with a yak’s tail in his hand, small bells girdled round his waist, and a cone-shaped turban on his head specially made for the occasion. The boys, and sometimes the whole family, abstain from salt, animal food and all luxuries during the period of their service as paiks. This generally is three to five years but occasionally a boy is dedicated as a paik for his lifetime. On the tenth day of the Muharram, Hindus take their sick to the procession so that they may touch the tazias and throw lai – fried rice mixed with gur – and cowries on to the tazias, keeping a little of the lai to give to the sick or to serve as a safeguard against the evil eye. Women in some places even put on green saris and perform the makham like the Musalmans. (Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Sikkim, 1911, p. 251, sq).

In Madras there are Hindu temples in Madura and Tanjore which have hereditary Muslim trustees. (India, 1931, I, i. p. 381). The spirit of Muhammad even is said to inform one granite pillar in Tinnevelly where daily ‘puja’ is done by Hindu votaries. Vows are made to it by Hindus who flock to seek cure of disease, rain and other boons. Ganja and cheroots are the form the offerings take, these being considered peculiarly attractive to Muhammadans. (Madras, 1931, p. 320).

In many parts of the country the Muslim peasant joins to some extent in Hindu worship. Muslims used to take part in the Janmastami procession at Dacca. The use of combined Muslims and Hindu names is not unusual in more than one part of Bengal. In Jessore the Muslims revere the tulsi plant and bel tree and observe the festivals of Jamai Sasthi and Bhratridwiya. In Bogra the Muslims observe the period of ceremonial uncleanness – asauch on the death of parents and at its conclusion shave the head and beard. The women wear the vermilion mark of Hindu wives and the worship of Durga is frequent. The navanna ceremony seems universal and Muslims from great distances travel to the shrine of Gopinath at Gopinathpur to offer fruit and milk and bathe in a well for the cure of their ailments and at Mahasthan Muslim and Hindu mark their or on safes with vermilion on the Dasara day and perform the Satyapir puja with offerings of sinni. The worship of Sitala, the small-pox goddess, is almost universal and practices such as the use of turmeric gaye halud – at the marriage ceremony have been borrowed. (Bengal, 1931, p. 390).


146. Jains.

Some Jains do actually consider themselves to be Hindus, though their customs of succession and adoption are not the same as those in Hindu law. It seems probable that this sect represents the continuity of an anti-Brahmanistic teaching which may trace its derivation to a pre-Vedic age and to opposition at the outset to the rise of Brahmanic Hinduism. It is not likely that Mahavira was regarded as the 23rd tirthankara gratuitously, in spite of his having been the first historical one of the series and the apparent founder of the religion. Although the teaching of Mahavira was emphatically antivedic, the rules of Jain and of Brahman in asceticism are almost identical. Jainism seem to embody a revival of very ancient rituals and forms probably even pre-Aryan. It cannot be denied that the nudity cult of the Digambar Jains of great antiquity. (India, I. i. 1931, p. 383).

The Digambars worship naked idols and gurus. The Svetambars dress their idols in clothes. The Dhondias worship gurus who put on white apparel and wear a patti (a strip of white cloth) on their lips. They never worship idols. The Digambars assert that their women do not attain salvation, the Svetambars favours the opposite view. According to the former, Mal Nath, the nineteenth Tirthankar or Saint was a male, while the latter maintain that he was a female. (Bombay, 1901, p. 67 sq).

The Jains share the Hindu belief in transmigration and the doctrine of karma; they employ Brahmans in their domestic ceremonies, but the Jains reject the Vedas and worship their twenty-four deified Saints instead of the gods of the Hindu pantheon. (India, 1911, p. 119).


147. Sikhs.

The true Sikh is a follower of the ordinances of Guru Gobind Singh. Now as far as religious doctrines are concerned the Guru did not, in any essentials, depart from the creed of his predecessors. Guru Nanak himself stood quite within the pale of the orthodox Hinduism of his time, though he was a monotheist and endeavoured to continue that movement against the grosser forms of idolatry which had been begun or revived by his forerunners, especially by Kabir. This teaching Guru Gobind Singh did not essentially change. He inculcated the belief in the One Supreme Being and in his Granth the adoration of the minor deities is by no means rejected. The main strength of the Guru’s reformation lay in his social ordinances. He endeavoured to cut his followers completely adrift from the social tyranny of Hinduism as well as from the political tyranny of the Muhammadans and to effect this and to mark their repudiation of Hinduism his followers were to discard the sacred thread (mis-called ‘of caste’) the Hindu sacred books, and rites at birth, marriage and death; to signify their aversion to Islam no Sikh was to wear a cap or eat meat killed in the Mussalman fashion. To show that they were a people consecrated to the service of God, the Guru caused the Sikhs to adopt the ancient religious rule that those who were under a vow should leave the hair uncut, and he also ordained that tobacco should not be used. But the reforms of Guru Govind Singh went deeper. He endeavoured to reform the social system from top to bottom, for he preached the absolute equality of all castes, not only in the presence of God, but in daily life. Consistently with this crusade against social inequality the Guru also forbade the murder of girl children and the acceptance of a price for a daughter given in marriage. It is not easy to say what is the distinctive creed of Sikhism. The Gurus from first to last strove, not to break away from the ancient beliefs but to reconcile them with a purer creed. Within Sikhism we find a medley of many religious ideas at variance with its ideal creed. That creed involves belief in one God, it prohibits idolatry, pilgrimages to the great shrines of Hinduism, faith in omens, charms or witchcraft. It does not recognise ceremonial impurity at birth or death. As a social system it abolishes caste-distinctions, and as a necessary consequence Brahmanical supremacy and usages in all ceremonies. (Punjab, 1901, p. 123). The principal outward sign is the wearing of the hair (kes) long. Those who do this are known as Kesdhari and those who do not as Sahjdhari. Both sections alike reverence the Granth, a book containing the utterances of Nanak. They are believers in the Hindu doctrines of metempsychosis and karma and in the three Hindu modes of attaining union with the Supreme Being. (India, 1911, p. 118). The Sahejdhari Sikhs who worship the ninth Guru but not the tenth and who cut their hair, form a sect half way between the Hindu and Sikh religions. As far as Sikhs go, the criteria which separate them from Hindus are not very marked on the social side whatever they may be doctrinally. The daughter of a Sikh ruler can marry a cadet of the house of Nepal and Hindus can enter the Golden Temple of Amritsar which is normally barred to Muslims and Christians. The Sikhs in general emphatically protest they are not Hindus, particularly the Akali Sikhs, the mainstay of the Sikhs in the army. (India, 1931, I, i. p. 382). The Singhs of Patna are particularly strict in their observances as the custodians of the Har Mandir, a temple which marks the birthplace of Guru Govind Singh and enshrines his cradle, his shoes and a copy of the granth in which the Guru is said to have written his name with a point of an arrow. The temple is one of the sacred places of the Sikhs who visit it on pilgrimage. Patna is one of the few places in India where the Sikhs pay the strictest attention to the injunctions of Guru Govind. Sleeping or walking they are never without the habiliments known as the five Ks (the kesh or long hair, kirpan a small knife with an iron handle round which the hair is rolled, the kanga or wooden comb, the kachh or drawers and the kara or iron bangle for the wrist), and not only will the more orthodox not partake of food cooked by Hindus but they will not partake of it cooked by a Sikh who has not on his person all the five Ks. (Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Sikkim, 1911, p. 245).


148. Parsis.

The religion of the Parsis is known as Zoroastrianism from their prophet Zoroaster (Zarathustra) and their sacred books, the Zend Avesta, are supplemented by collections of ravayets, authoritative rulings on points of ritual. Their one God, Ahurmazd, is the creator of the universe, the giver of good and the hearer of prayers. To Ahirman, Satan, is traced all evil thoughts, deeds and happenings. Every man has a soul which on death passes either to a place of reward, behesht, or to a place of punishment, duzak. Good angels carry out the wishes of God and look after fire, water and earth. The words Humata, hukhta, huvrasta, holy mind, holy speech, holy deeds, form the code of morals for such lead to heaven while dushmata, duzuvarata, duzukhta, evil mind, evil deed and evil speech are hateful to God and lead to hell. Fire, atesh, is the chief object of worship. The Mobeds are to them what Brahmans are to Hindus. No religious ceremony can be performed, no marriage celebrated, no prayer uttered for the dead, except by Mobeds. Before the Mobed can perform any such duties he has to perform certain ceremonies for nine days and nights. No one can touch him and he cannot dine with or eat food cooked by a Behdin (a layman for whom and for whose relatives the Mobed utters prayers) during that period. Children are initiated between 7 and 9 by a ceremony called navzot. It consists in clothing the child with a sacred muslin shirt, the sadra, and tying round its waist the sacred cord, the kasti, which is worn constantly. A Parsi must always keep his head and feet covered, he must always wear the sadra and kasti, must not smoke and must wash his hands if he puts his fingers in his mouth. When a Parsi dies, the body is washed dressed in clean white clothes, and before put on the bier, a plain iron cot, it is shown to a dog in order to drive away evil spirits. At the Tower of Silence the body is exposed for destruction. Funeral rites are held annually. Contact with Hindus and Mussalmans has introduced many alien practices and faith in ghosts, magic and astrology is strong especially among the women. (Baroda, 1911, p. 104 sq).


149. Buddhism.

Although Buddhism had its origin in India and still flourishes in Ceylon, China, Japan and other countries to which it afterwards spread, it has practically disappeared from the land of its birth. Nearly all are in Burma, which is India only in a political sense. There are Buddhists residents in the Himalayan area marching with Tibet or in the parts of Bengal which impinge on Burma, or belonging to tribes in Assam who have immigrated from the Shan States or are immigrants from Nepal, where Buddhism survives though rapidly yielding place to Hinduism. The only survivors of purely Indian Buddhism are the small community in the Orissa States known as Sarak (from Sravaka, a bearer, the designation of the Buddhist monks who lived in monasteries.) (India, 1911, p. 125). They assemble once a year at the cave temples of Khandagiri which are of undoubted Buddhistic origin, to offer homage to the idols there and to confer on religious matters. They also worship an idol called Chaturbhuja whom they identify with Buddha, especially on the Baishakh Chaturdasi, or day preceding the full moon, which they say is the anniversary of Buddha’s wedding. The offering consists of edible fruits, rice, etc., never of cooked food. The only offerings at Hindu temples of which they will partake are those made to Jagannath at Puri, which, as is well known, is often said to be of Buddhistic origin. All their ceremonial observances are commenced with the recitation of the formula:— Ahinsa parama dharma. The taboo of the word meaning ‘cut’ is strict. The caste organisation is very complete. (Bengal, 1901, p. 427 sq).

Most of the Buddhists in the Cochin State are educated Malayali Iruvas who have abandoned Hinduism on account of their social disabilities in that community. A colony of Buddhists in Chittagong claims to represent the ancient Buddhist population of Maghada and to be distinct from the Buddhists of the adjoining Hill Tracts. (India, 1931, I. i. p. 389).


150. Jews.

There are Jews who have come to India in modern times for purposes of trade and there are two colonies of long standing on the Malabar Coast, in Cochin and Bombay. Both colonies are divided into two sections, the White and the Black, the latter in colour and physiognomy showing signs of a mixture of race. The former are indistinguishable from their congeners in Europe. (India, 1901, p. 377 sq).

Except for a body in Tinnevelly that claims to be both Jew and Christian, the Jews remain a much more clearly defined body and in their case Hindu influence would seem to go no further than inducing the Beni-Israel to add a Hindu or a Hinduised second name to the Hebraic one. (India, 1931, I. i. p. 380).


151. Christians.

The oldest of the Christian Communities in India is the Syrian Church of the Malabar Coast which claims, though on doubtful authority, to have been founded by the Apostle St. Thomas, and was certainly in existence as far back as the commencement of the sixth century. These Christians were formerly Nestorians whose spiritual head was the Patriarch of Babylon. When the Portuguese obtained a footing in India in the fifteenth century they endeavoured to bring them under the rule of the Pope and to substitute the Latin rite for the Syrian. When the power of the Portuguese was broken about the middle of the sixteenth century, many placed themselves under a bishop consecrated by the Patriarch of Antioch under whose influence they adopted the Jacobite ritual and liturgies. (India, 1901, p. 377). There are three main divisions – Romo-Syrians who acknowledge the authority of the Pope but whose services are is the Syrian language and who follow in part the Syrian ritual – Jacobite Syrians under a bishop consecrated by the Patriarch of Antioch – Reformed Syrians who have adopted certain practices of the Anglican Church and a few Chaldaeans. (india, 1911, p. 133).

In 1542 St. Francis Xavier of the Society of Jesus came to India and was followed by many others, and numerous converts were obtained chiefly in the Madras Presidency. The earliest Protestant propaganda was that of the Lutherans in 1706 at Tranquebar. The Baptists effected their first lodgment under Carey in 1793 – The Anglican Church entered the missionary field in 1813. (India, 1901, p. 377).

In the United Provinces the acceptance of Christianity was slow because (1) Christian practice did not come up to Christian doctrine, as displayed in the ordinary life of Christians, (2) there are essential differences between Hindu and Christian views of philosophy and theology, (3) there is the dread of social ostracism and (4) it is impossible to insist on a high standard of Christianity in the case of low caste Hindus. It is undoubtedly true that Europeans pay less attention to the observances of their religion sometimes because it is duff cult to do so, sometimes because the conditions of their life prevent it. The argument has force chiefly because the Hindu spectator is himself so apt to consider that religion lies wholly or chiefly in observance of ritual. The Hindu thinks philosophy and theology inseparable whilst the Christian draws a clear distinction between them and considers metaphysical speculation de omnibus rebus et quibusdam aliis an unessential excrescence on religion. The chief cause which is opposed to the success of missionary propaganda is the fear of social ostracism. It is not too much to say that a high caste convert loses by conversion every thing which from a worldly point of view makes life worth living and gains nothing of the same nature in return. The low caste convert has much less to lose and in return gains more. The children of the converts born in Christianity, will be very different from their parents. The Hindu fellows of these converts have now to acknowledge that they are in many ways better off and are better men. Given the right type of Christian, the Hindu will regard him not only with toleration but with respect and even affection. (U. P. 1911, p. 144 sq).

Caste is admittedly observed by Catholics while some Protestants who profess not to admit it do admit a ban on commensality. The Catholics appear to use caste marks in some cases, and there was a cause celèbre in the Madras Courts in which an over-zealous imported priest, who had destroyed as unchristian the wall which ran the length of the aisle to separate the caste from the outcaste Christians was prosecuted by his flock in consequence. The Catholics, besides observing caste even to conventional privileges in dress and ornaments, use the tali instead of a ring in marriage and permit other customs such as a tabu ‘for reasons of hygiene’ on contacts with persons polluted by child birth. (India, 1931, I. i. p. 380).

There is nothing incompatible in castes existing as social units within the church; their presence adds a certain solidarity and a connection with the life and character of the country which may be of advantage; the continuance of violent prejudice and social stigma cannot tend to strength or self-respect within a Christian communion. There are wide variations in the degree to which these prejudices exist along with alleged Christianity. They are stronger among Roman Catholics than Protestants, possibly because the former have a large proportion of higher caste origin; they are worse in the south than in the north or west. On the handling of this problem may depend the future of South Indian Christianity; almost certainly the future of autonomous Indian churches. (Madras, 1931, p. 328).

Certain features of the Lingayat belief seem to have been borrowed from Christianity, as a doctrine of immaculate conception and the practice of burying the dead. Saints of Christianity, Judaism and Islam are subject to some confusion. The Chet-nami sect of the Punjab worship the Christian Trinity plus a Hindu-Muslim trinity consisting of Allah, the Creator, Parameshwar, the Preserver, and Khuda, the Destroyer. (India, 1931, I. i. p. 380).


152. Tribalists.

Tribalists in India form rather a heterogenous category, including Muslim tribes of Pathans, Baluchis, Brahuis and Mappillas (who form part of Islamic Society, see Islam) comparatively primitive tribes like the Toda or the Nicobarese who still worship their own tribal deities; others who have become partly Hinduised like most of the Bhils or Gonds where the tribal name is on the way to become a caste name; others largely Christianised like the Oraon [1] or the Lushei; and others again wholly Hindu like the Manipuri but retaining their distinctive language and culture. (India, 1931, I. i. p. 430).

Primitive tribalists. – Many tribes particularly in the Bhil, Koli and Gond groups, fade off into castes wherever they live in the plains or open country as ordinary Hindu villagers (India, I. i. p. 502, 1931) but in Bombay the vast bulk of the Bhils, Katkaris and Thakurs neither acknowledge the accepted Hindu gods nor worship in Hindu temples nor do their devotional practices correspond with those of the Hindu population in the immediate vicinity. It is correct that both set up images and worship these images. (Bombay, 1931, p. 356). In the Central Provinces the home of the Gond, it would be incorrect to class the Hinduised aboriginal with the ordinary Hindu villager, for, although, after centuries of varying degrees of contact, each may have assimilated ideas and customs from the other, their cultures are most obviously distinct. (C.P., 1931, p. 397).

Note (1). The tendency towards absorption is very noticeable among the Oraons. (Bihar and Orissa, 1931, page 255).


153. Tribal Problems.

There are primitive tribalists in every Province in British India except the Punjab. Their position in surroundings of a more developed culture presents certain problems of administration. As long as a primitive tribe remains in isolation conducting its own affairs according to its own laws and customs it presents no problem except that required to prevent raiding or other forms of aggression on more civilised or less warlike neighbours. The rapid opening up of communications, involving contact at many points and often the practical settlement of tribal country, generally speaking, substitutes conflict for contact, not necessarily a conflict of arms but of culture and material interest. Attempts to develop minerals, forests or land for intensive cultivation can only be made at the expense of the tribe whose isolation is thus invaded tribal customs which regulate the ownership, usufruct or transfer of land are normally superseded by a code in the application of which the tribe is deprived of its property, generally in the name of law, either by alienation to foreigners or by transferring the trusteeship of a tribal chief into absolute ownership of a kind quite foreign to the customs of the tribe. This has befallen both the Mundas and the hill tribes of Chittagong while even in Rajputana a somewhat similar process has been at work. A similar application of alien law also usually disturbs the tribal customs of debt. The criminal law of a civilised community is often at variance with what is felt to be just and proper by tribal custom. The complicated system of administration of justice has tended to impair the natural truthfulness and honesty of the people and the social solidarity of the tribes and has weakened the authority of the social heads and the respect they formerly commanded. [It is true to say that the aboriginal is handicapped in the courts by the system of law and procedure of which a rich man can reap the advantages which a poorer man, because of his poverty, cannot. A rich man can brief pleaders who by means of the rules of procedure can frequently defeat justice. This a poor man cannot do and an aboriginal is a poor man. How many poor men (including aboriginals) are acquitted of a murder charge? On the contrary how difficult it is to convict a rich man of murder. For one thing, the rich man is able to buy up prosecution witnesses and suborn defence witnesses. On the civil side what a small chance has a poor man against an unscrupulous money-lender]. (C.P., 1931, p. 401).

Afforestation is a frequent grievance. Again the exploitation of minerals not only involves the taking up of tribal land but generally the introduction of an alien population, usually of an extremely mixed character, and not infrequently exceptionally dissolute. Even excise laws, although in many ways to the benefit of primitive tribes may operate as a hardship if the very proper restrictions on distilling were extended topachwai and tari made for household consumption and forming a very important part of the diet of tribes that cannot grow sugar and are too poor to buy it. The invasion of missionaries is liable to produce as much evil as good, if not more, for their conduct and objects are generally in extreme conflict with tribal religion and with tabus of all kinds and backed by the support of influentially vocal societies at a distance are more likely to obtain the support of authority than tabus which are on the face of them unreasonable to all except those to whom they are the most vitally important things in life. The Durbar of a State vetoed the advent of railways as an evil for they only brought in dirt, disease, crime and strangers. (India, 1931, I. i. p. 502 sq.) Indeed the Sauria Paharia of the Sonthal Parganas ascribes epidemics of small-pox or cholera to evil spirits having been brought into his country by train. He exorcises them by constructing a rude model of a train which he wheels through the village into the jungle, thus symbolically casting the evil spirit out of the village. (Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Sikkim, 1911, p. 206). All Nagas assert that since their country was taken over illness has increased. Not only have specific diseases, such as venereal disease and tuberculosis, been introduced but epidemics spread more quickly. The opening of the cart road to Manipur has led to an increase in prostitution. Education of the type which is given has been on the whole an evil rather than a good. Foreign dress is spreading and the custom is bad in every way. It encourages dirt since no Naga can afford the changes he ought to have. It spreads disease in two main ways. Adults become more liable to chills and pthisis since they do not change their wet clothes and children who are carried against ‘wet shirt waists’ instead of against their mothers’ warm backs suffer as a result. To substitute spoiled and poor quality western clothes or a caricature of them for the picturesque Naga dress is an aesthetic crime. Foreign houses are a blot on the landscape and are expensive and stuffy. As religion plays a part in every ceremony, every ceremony such as the Feasts of Merit must go, but to abolish these feasts is to do away with the natural Naga and Kuki way of distributing wealth. An Animist puts his village before himself. A Baptist puts himself before the village. The suppression of the Morung in which young Animists learn to be useful citizens is part of the tendency to abolish old things just because they are old. (Assam, 1931, Appendix A).


154. Todas.

More has been written about the Todas, more theories have been evolved about their origin and more prophecies about their future, than about any other tribe or even caste of South India. That the Todas should arouse such interest is not surprising. The greater stature, the erect carriage, the luxuriance of hair and beard, the clear and generally lighter skin, the almost Semitic cast of face, the distinctive garment, the easy shepherd’s gait, all form a type. A diminution in their numbers has been observed since 1901. The deduction which finds common acceptance is that there are at work forces inherent in the tribe and its mode of life which make for decline, which are in fact killing it off. Heads are shaken over venereal disease, polyandry, low fertility, frequent barrenness, high infantile mortality. Generalities like ‘contact with civilisation’ are uttered and the burial service is all but read over the Todas. But there is a crying need for something like reliable data before positive statements are made either way on the question of Toda decline. Venereal disease is certainly rife among them and to this are generally attributed the low fertility and frequent sterility among Toda women. The venereal disease incidence among them is certainly no higher than among the ordinary patients who enter the Madras hospitals for other ailments. The fertility rates among Toda women are lower than for ordinary Hindus. Barrenness is however quite common among primitive tribes and fertility runs low among them. If a Toda decline is due to the impact of civilisation is it mostly due to epidemics brought up from the plains. Toda dwellings with entrances about 2 feet square, might almost have been designed to further the spread of epidemics and all that saves them from being complete death-traps is the fact that so little time is spent in them, at least by men. Todas are not over-cleanly in habits or dress and too often the Toda’s cloth is of that colour which the poet described as ‘albus erat nunc est contrarius albo’. Relapsing fever’s heavy toll can be easily understood; a disease of dirt could not fail to work havoc in such a population so housed. It is an uphill task to get the Toda to take to any occupation but that of his forefathers. The Toda does not like work in the sense of anything requiring long and steady application. The grazing of cattle permits of many hours of sleep or meditation on the banks of a pleasant hill stream; potato cultivation is a very different matter. Some sceptics maintain that in a good many of the professed Toda potato patches the real work is done by Badagas fee’d for the purpose. The tribal customs have been little influenced by impact from the plains. The Toda has taken kindly and spontaneously to the umbrella. The advent of the turban is rather to be deplored. The shirt is slow to gain favour. When circumstances compel him to some activity more strenuous than merely looking dignified the Toda will doff his voluminous cloth and has no objection to donning an old coat or other garment. Tattooing seems to be diminishing in favour. A community at odds with its environment generally indicates this in its demeanour and outward circumstances. It cannot be said that the Toda so far at any rate finds the pressure of the modern world too much for him. His characteristic hauteur and self-satisfaction have suffered no diminution and the only Todas who seemed ill at ease wore shirts and had been to school. The true denizens of the mund remain independent and if not unspoiled at least true to themselves. How long they can remain so true in the face of uplift activities is another matter. (Madras, 1931, p. 387 sq).


155. Tribal Religion.

The tribal religions represent surplus material not yet built into the temple of Hinduism. How similar this surplus is to the material already used will appear in many ways and may be noticed, to start with, in the cults of the dead. In the tribal religions the cult of the dead is seen at a materialistic stage of the idea. In Mysore the Hasalar redeem the soul with a pig from the magician who has caused the death, and domicile it in a pot where it is supplied with food and water. The Nicobarese and some Naga tribes fashion wooden figures on which the skull of the deceased is placed in order that the soul may leave it and enter the wooden figure. It is for a time kept supplied with all wordly necessities. Further west and south the Sawara of the Qanjam Agency uses a similar but more conventionalised wooden figure to accommodate the soul of his cremated dead during the interval between death and cremation and the time for the erection of a stone or stones for the skulls of the dead during the year past which is done annually about the time of the sowing of the crop. In the very south the Malayarayans of Travancore make a metal effigy of the dead which is kept in a miniature stone cist covered with a capstone – like the tattooed skull of a Konyak Naga in the north-east – and erected on high ground. The image is brought annually and feasted.

The collective disposal of the village’s dead at the time of sowing in clearly associated in some Naga tribes with their aspect as crop fertilisers, while the Oraons of Chota Nagpur temporarily inter their dead, if the paddy has sprouted, to be cremated the following year before it sprouts.

The idea of soul-matter as a fertilising agent is probably responsible for distinctive treatment of those who die by ‘bad’ deaths and are therefore either infertile or unsuitable or likely to lead to the reproduction or bad results. We find everywhere special treatment accorded to the bodies of women who die in child-birth. In the case of persons killed by wild beasts the idea is perhaps the soul-stuff of the deceased is absorbed by the wild animal and this is illustrated by the widespread belief that the soul of the dead person rides on the tiger.

Human sacrifice has been based on the conception of the desirability of releasing soul-matter to fertilise the earth. The Kondhs are described as having performed their Meriah sacrifices to the earth mother. In one form of the sacrifice the victim was squeezed to death in a cleft in a green tree and in another the tears caused by his sufferings brought rain in proportion to their profusion. It was probably some such association of soul-substance with fertility and perhaps with some notion of a higher fertility value attaching to Europeans that led Oraons to remove portions of a recently buried European. The evidence at the trial made it clear that special value attached to European bones for magical purposes.

The soul is often conceived in the tribal religions as having the form of mankind and being located in the head. The idea that the soul comes back as an insect is joined with the conception of the soul as able to leave the body and flit about at night, derived in part no doubt if not entirely from the phenomena of dreams. As instances the Lhota Nagas of Assam and the Kunbis of Bombay and the Kamis of Bengal watch for an insect after a person’s death. The Ahirs, Kamars and Gonds go to a river and bring back an insect or fish as containing the soul and sometimes as in the case of the Gonds eat it to ensure its rebirth. A vague belief in reincarnation is common to most tribal religions in India and is generally associated with some degree of ancestor-worship.

The beliefs held are the debris of a real religious system, a definite philosophy, to the one time widespread prevalence of which the many survivals in Hinduism testify, linking together the austro-asiatic and australoid cultures of the hills where the isolated remains still hold out in an unassimilated form. (India, I. i. p. 399 sq).


156. Bhil Religion.

The Bhils cremate their dead. They bury young babies whose teeth have not yet appeared, lepers and persons dying of small-pox and suicides. All these are buried in the sleeping position. An ascetic is buried in the sitting position. The corpse is always carried so as to lie north and south, the feet pointing to the south. On coming to a ber tree the corpse is set down, and all the persons present take up stones with which a heap is made. A piece of cloth is then torn off the dead man’s garment and thrown over the tree. The earthen vessel with water to wash the corpse is broken under this tree on the heap of stones. The body is burnt together with the man’s bow, club, etc., and in the case of the woman some favourite ornament. The unconsumed bones are collected and placed in an earthen vessel and buried next the house. The deceased is provided with food and drink on the 3rd day, the provisions being placed under the ber tree where the corpse rested. The stones heaped up there are scattered. The Bhils have ideas about the future of the soul. The flour round the lamp is examined and by the shape of the marks it is determined what animal the spirit will next inhabit. If it is like a human footprint, a man is his next abode; if like a hoof, a horned animal: if like a bird’s foot, a bird; if like a scorpion or snake, one of those animals. Yama comes from the south and carried the soul to the north. On the way the soul passes over a thorn strewn plain. Hence shoes are given as gifts on the day of the funeral feast. He then passes between two heated pillars and encounters a bhatyari – keeper of a cook-shop – who offers him cooked food. He then reaches a river. A cow is given as a gift. It is supposed to appear providentially and by treading on its tail the departed gets across; otherwise he is nearly drowned. Yama then determines which of the three hells – kunds or tanks – he is to enter – one being full of nectar, the others of varying degrees of foulness, until he is born again. Those who die a violent death become inimical spirits – bhut –, so do Badwas – medicine men – while others become Khatris who cannot harni human beings but only animals, and others Deos who are beneficent spirits. A sinner is believed to be transformed into an insect. When a man is killed in a fight or by a wild animal away from his home, a stone monument is erected at the spot where he died. A man on horseback is generally carved on the stone. If stone is unavailable wooden monuments are erected. With some Bhils there is an upright stone monument about 3½ feet high with a carved figure of the dead person. In front of it are two wooden posts, 4½ feet high, with a bar across. Suspended from this bar is a small wooden swing. This is followed by two small wooden posts, 2 feet high and finally there is a small stone slab about 1 foot high and 9 inches broad. The soul of the departed perches on the swing and enjoys itself. On the smaller wooden posts a cross bar is placed on which food and offerings are left for the departed. In times of distress the spirit is involved and it is believed that a childless woman will be blessed with progeny by offering prayers at the monument.

Brahmans are not as a rule employed for religious or ceremonial purposes. The Badwa, or medicine man, evokes spirits and tells them the result. On such occasions the Badwa is supposed to be possessed and goes through a performance consisting of various contortions of the body and rapid movements of the head, the eyes roll in their sockets, the nostrils are distended and in the excitement the few rags are thrown off. He then half incoherently blabbers out what the spirit has told him, calms down and for a time is as helpless as a child, doubtless owing to his exertions. A form of casting out an epidemic is to sling some baskets that have contained corn, and earthen water pots, on a bamboo pole carried by men who run along the main road shouting todka, todka. On hearing the shouts, the next village sends out men to take over the burden at the boundary. Eventually it is thrown into a stream or river or is deposited in the forest. The Bhils have great reverence for hilltops difficult of ascent as being the abode of spirits who must be propitiated during sickness or to obtain offspring. In such cases, after the usual offering the forest is often set alight. Belief in magic is universal. Should any one fall sick without clear cause, the Badwa is called in to discover the origin of the illness. With care he can usually discover some wretched old beldame who lives in the sick man’s village. The witch would be placed on one end of a yoke with cow-dung cakes on the other end in a pond; if she sank, she was a witch; if she swam, she was innocent. Red pepper would be put in her eyes; if no tears came she was a witch. Sometimes a few grains of jowar mixed with a copper coin are passed round the sick man’s body and sent to the Badwa, who places over them a leaf of the Butea frondosa and floats the collection on water. He then picks out the grains and slowly drops them into the water, saying bhut, dea dakini (witch) successively. When a grain floats, he is able to determine which of these evil influences is at work. Trial by ordeal is common. Some of the forms employed were the swallowing of live coals in the hand, piercing the palm of the hand with an arrow, eating poisonous herbs or fruits, etc. Certain oaths are inviolable. One is that of the dog. A Bhil swears with his hand on a dog’s head calling out that the curse of the dog should fall on him if he swears falsely. (India, 1931, I. iii. p. 54 sq).


157. The Mata Movement.

The Mata movement started in November 1922 among the Bhils. The great curse among these primitive tribes is their addiction to drink. A certain amount of temperance propaganda had been carried on among them which had provoked occasional counter-activity on the part of the liquor dealers. An invasion of gaulis, religious zealots of the primitive revivalist type, swept through the taluks, a Bhil stronghold. At the start there was much crude magic in their ceremonies with the brandishing of the red cloth (selu) which symbolised the sweeping away of the old ‘divinities’. The gauli usually worked himself into a frenzy of excitement and by means of incantations declared the complete extirpation of the old gods and goddesses. ‘There runs Salibai’ the gauli would shout. ‘There goes Devlibai’ and in place of the banished deities the goddess Bhavani, a form of the sakti of Siva, was installed. Her cult involved the observance of cleanly habits, abstinence from drink, and vegetarianism. The converts sold their poultry and sheep for a song, the profiteers, mostly Parsi or Vohra, reaping a rich harvest. Agitation became more secular and violent but the religious interest was organised on a more permanent basis under Hindu influence. While the anti-drink fury and the class war subsided, the changes in ritual and religion have persisted and the local Arya Samaj invested some of the ‘Bhil Kshatriyas’ with the sacred thread. (Baroda, 1931, p. 385 sq).


158. Maria Religion.

In the heart of the Maria hills in Bastar burial is the usual thing but there are exceptions. They never let a dying person die on a cot but lift him on the ground – this does not apply to women who in any case are not supposed to lie on a cot – but they say they only do this because they do not want him to fall off the cot in a death convulsion. The corpse is burned or buried with the loincloth that was on it at death and all jewellery. If other clothes are in the house which the deceased wore, they are taken to the grave for burning or burying with the corpse or for hanging up around it. All his dancing clothes and ornaments, his axe (not his bow and arrows), his godari, (korki, digging tool) but not spears, are buried with him or burnt with him; in the latter case, they are often picked up by passers-by after a few days and taken into every day use; no money is ever buried with the body. A house or portion of a house where a death has occurred should be shut up and not inhabited. It is not pulled down but it is not repaired. It us considered that so long as it stands it will be a memorial of the dead.

If the death is due to cholera or small-pox, or to suicide, the corpse is not buried in the regular burial place. Persons killed by tigers are burned where they are found or where they are after the inquest, and should not be touched. Logs are placed under the remains and kindled. They have no marmangal (a cairn of stones from 14 to 24 feet high, surmounted by a flat cap-stone) or kotokal stone (clan stone-memorial ground) and no dancing dresses or other property are brought to be burned with him.

If – for example – a young man or woman dies suddenly for no obvious reason, the bearers halt just by the grave and stand with the hurdle on their shoulders. The Waddai (clan priest) takes 7 saja leaves and places them in a row on the ground 7 or 8 paces away from the corpse. One leaf represents the Earth or Bhum, standing for death through the displeasure of the Village Mother, the second represents death through sickness; the third death through the displeasure of gods and ghosts (pen-hanal); the fourth death through the magic of a fellow villager, the fifth from magic of a man whose enmity has arisen from a quarrel or exchange of abuses; the sixth death from the magic of a wizard, witch or sirha; and the seventh normal death. The Waddai strikes the earth three times with an axe and calls on the corpse to disclose the cause of its death. The corpse then impels the bearers to rush to one of the leaves and stand on it; or else the waddai first excites the corpse by scattering rice on it till it moves its bearers to one of the leaves. Then the bearers leap away some 8 or 9 paces from the leaf, and behind their backs the order of the leaves is changed and the former process repeated. If in 3 or 4 tests the same leaf is always indicated, they are satisfied that the cause of death has been revealed. If it is witchcraft, a seed of suspicion has been sown that will grow in their minds and will sooner or later lead to assault or murder. In old times when witchcraft was pointed out as the cause of death, the corpse was asked by the Waddai to point out the magician among those present at the funeral or in the dead man’s village or an adjacent village.

Relatives have duties. A man’s wife’s brother, his erramtogh, carries the property from the house to the grave to be buried. Over the heaped earth of the grave leaves are strewn and over these logs. Then carved wooden posts are put up – hanalgutta – four small at each corner and two large in front. The posts have roughly carved peacocks on top. At the foot of the two front posts a little stone cromlech, the hanalgarya or ghost’s throne, is set up by the erramtogh. A bamboo fence is made round the grave except the two front wooden posts. (For a cremation the ritual is much the same.) The next ceremony must take place at evening. All proceed to a spot by the roadside near the entrance of the village and there the senior akomama (member of a clan from which the deceased had his wife) the erramtogh, or next nearest akomama relative builds the marmayal cairn. He and each of the householders present places a pinch of rice or kosra grain on the capstone, addressing the dead man’s hanal by name and saying that he gives him this grain to eat. If a man is rich enough to put up a stone to the dead in the kotokal, he should do so after four days but if he cannot do so, he goes to the grave-side and bows before the hanalgarya, tells the ghost he is sorry he cannot yet put up his stone and begs the ghost to be patient and to forgive him and not harass him. When he has collected enough, he goes with his friends and relatives to find a stone. They select a suitable stone which will require only as many bearers as they can afford to provide with food and drink. They drag out the stone and place under it several crosspieces of wood, the stone lying between two long and stout poles, to which the cross pieces are lashed. At the kotokal they deposit the stone on the ground at the selected spot. A hole is dug at one end of the stone and the stone, if small, is pulled upright and held there while earth is shovelled in. If it is large and heavy, ropes are lashed round the far end and used to pull it to a vertical position while 10 men or so on each side hold poles across the top to prevent it falling over, while stones and earth are rammed round its foot. When the stone has been erected, at its foot a hanalgarya cromlech is made about 1 foot high. The heir kills a chicken and not looking at the stone places rice or grain on the capstone, saying whether you were killed by magic or by any angry hanals or gods or died naturally, I know not, but now I have put up this stone for you and you must wander no more. Stay here in peace and do not worry us, your descendants. No one present at the ceremony may look at the stone. All sit with their backs to it. This finally lays the ghost. But until the stone is erected in the kotokal, the hanal must be fed every year at the Nawakhani festival, at the hanalgarya at the grave, not at the marmangal. Everyone believes that these stones increase or decrease in size according as the hanal is satisfied or not. (India, 1931, I. iii, p. 83 sq).


159. Santal Religion.

Outside the village headman’s house – if a non-Christian – is the manjhi than, a place for the original headman, considered by many to be the first man. As a rule it is a small square place with a four sided roof resting on four poles, one in each corner, with a fifth in the middle. At the foot of this is a small stone, representing the spirit of the original headman. Here sacrifices are made to his spirit. Instead of the stone one sometimes may see a head of wood, the only sculpture the Santals have. The sun, moon and stars are considered to be animate beings, the sun the male the moon female and the stars their children. A shooting star – as with the Kukis in Assam – is called a star-excrement. Ursa Major is called Budhi Parkom, i.e., the old woman’s bedstead. The three stars, the shaft, are called bursi kombroko, the firepan thieves; the star furthest out from the bed is always kept so far away because he is always laughing. The three stars of the belt of Orion are called arar ipilko, the yoke stars, and the three small stars close to the yoke are called arar lalakko, the yoke cutters or dressers. The Pleiades are called sorenko. What soren means is not clear but one of the twelve Santal septs is called soren. Two small stars in Vega in Lyra are called potem bele, the dove’s eggs. The milky way is called hat dahar panjar dahar, the market place, rib way. One of the planets rising in the morning is called angak ipil, the dawn star; it is also called adratia, lit, the half night star, and cor kheda, the thief pursuing star, because it is believed that when thieves see this star they cease thieving and return home. As regards eclipses the most common explanation is that once upon a time the sun or the moon or both together stood security for humanity, when they had to borrow food from the Dusad, a certain godling. As the men did not pay back, Dusad now and again catches hold of the sun or moon to get his dues. To explain the moon’s phases they say that formerly the sun and moon had many children, the boys staying with their father while the girls stayed with their mother, the moon. On account of the terrible heat it was felt that all would be burnt up. The moon suggested to the sun that they should eat their children. The sun insisted that the moon should eat her daughters first; then, if necessary, he would eat his sons. The moon hid her daughters in a large bamboo basket and told her husband that the heat was just as bad though she had eaten her daughters so that he must eat his sons. If he did not, mankind would perish. The foolish husband ate his sons, the day-stars and when it became night, saw that all the girls were there. He took a sword, chased his wife and slashed her. The moon gave him two of her daughters and he was somewhat comforted but every month he remembers her deceit and pursues her again. The two stars which may be seen during the daytime are Venus and Jupiter. As regards thunder and lightning all natural phenomena are considered the acts of the Supreme Being – he rains, blows, thunders, etc. One term for thunder is literally cloud-sound. The Santals believe that the stone implements found in the ground are thunder-bolts – ceter dhiri – lit, stroke of lightning stone. They have a ceremony called caco chatiar when a child is given the full social rights of a Santal without which no one may be married or cremated. Cremation is generally performed near some water. When the body is burnt, the heir washes the bones and puts a bit of the skull and two bits of the collar bone in an earthen pot on the mouth of which is put a pot-sherd with a hole in it to let the dead one breathe through it and a straw (Rottbellia perforata) by which he can go out and in. Small children are buried without ceremonies. Women who die in pregnancy become curin, spirits with a large head with hair standing out. The Santals believe in the continued life of the soul. At death the soul leaves its hut. At the last funeral ceremonies the dead one is formally sent over to the dead ancestors with a request that he may not be kept at the back of the house, i.e. outside the community. God at birth gives every one by measure what he will need of food. When there is no more left he dies. God takes man away to the other world, judges him according to his deeds in this world. A good man gets a good place, and the spirits torture the bad. Certain sins are punished by the sinner being put in a mire of excrement. A man who dies without having paid his debts is called on to pay in the other world and as he has nothing to give, they flay his back and sow salt in the sore but do not combine this with what they owe to Hindu money-lenders. One may sometimes hear a Santal express a wonder whether they may become a lizard or a grasshopper after death and have tales that presuppose a belief in the soul of a living man being able to come out through the mouth in the share of a small lizard. (India, 1931, iii, p. 101 sq).


160. The Kherwar Movement.

Kherwar according to the Santals was their original name and the aim of the Kherwar movement is a return to the golden age when the Kherwars worshipped God (Chando) only and were undisputed lords of the soil. In 1871 a Santal named Bhagirath set up as a religious teacher, exhorting the Santals to give up eating pigs and fowls as well as the drinking of liquor, and to abandon the worship of Marang Buru for that of the one true God. The burden of his teaching was that the land belonged to the Santals and no rent should be paid for it. He used to have a tray loaded with grain carried round and would ask. Who made the grain? ‘Chando or God’. He then asked – Who cultivated the grain? ‘We cultivated it’. Then said he – If God made it and we cultivated it, why should we pay rent? His adherents were to rise at a given signal and drive out all foreigners. He would reign over them. The movement collapsed on his arrest. It has been revived more than once and from time to time new babajis have sprung up who are credited with thaumaturgic powers such as curing disease, procuring offspring for the childless, etc. The movement is apt to revive in time of scarcity when the people attribute their misfortunes to their having fallen from a state of pristine purity when they worshipped only one God.


161. The Birsait Movement.

In 1835 Birsa, a Munda youth who had been educated at the Lutheran Mission School, appeared in Ranchi as the teacher of a new faith and his doctrines, which were largely political, spread rapidly owing to the agragrian unrest among the Mundas. For many years they had been seething with discontent at the encroachments of Dikkus – foreigners – Hindus or Mussalmans – who ousted them from their lands and robbed them of cherished rights. They put forward claims to the absolute proprietorship of the soil, subject only to the payment of Government revenue. By representing himself as divine, Birsa obtained unbounded influence. He took advantage of a thunderstorm, when lightning struck the ground near him, to declare that he had received a divine message. He followed this up by various tricks. As a visible proof of his pretensions he painted himself with turmeric and showed himself at a window after dusk, after which it was given out that his body frequently changed into the colour of gold. He also claimed divine powers of healing. People flocked in from all parts, bringing their sick, and in many cases their dead, but Birsa did no more miracles. To account for his failure he told the people that their faith was too weak. His preaching was a strange medley of admonitions in favour of purity and asceticism, and of injunctions to his followers to defy the Government and its officers. The worship of idols and devils must be abandoned. There is but one God and to him alone is worship due. This doctrine appealed to the Mundas as they said it was an economical religion. When questioned by his followers on the subject of marriage, he said they could not have more than one wife but took two wives himself. He inveighed against stealing, lying, murder, etc., and ordained that white pigs and fowls should be destroyed and his orders were obeyed throughout the district. He foretold a deluge which would destroy all but those around him. It was wasted labour to weed the crops and as the people would have no further need for cattle for ploughing, etc., they should turn them all loose. The Government money would be turned to water and it was useless to keep it. The people should at once spend all they had in purchasing clothes. Cultivation was stopped, thousands of cattle were turned loose into the jungles and all the clothes available at local markets were bought up. Birsa would lead the people to victory. If the Government tried to oppose him, its guns would be turned into wood and its bullets into water. He was arrested and on the night he went to jail it was raining heavily and an old tool shed in the jail compound collapsed. This was taken to be a sign of God’s anger at Birsa’s incarceration. Rumour had it that the jail walls had fallen in and that Birsa would be coming back to his people. He was released in 1897 on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee and promptly resumed his campaign. The final outbreak occurred on Christmas Eve, 1899, when the Christians were attacked in various places. The revolt was soon suppressed. Birsa had some skirmishes with the troops before he fled. There were many women among his followers who did good work in the fighting line. Birsa showed no lack of courage but was never hit. On one occasion he painted his face with gold saying that he was the Messiah and exposed himself on a rock during heavy rifle fire, to show he could not be killed. He was eventually captured and died in prison. The Mundas had, and have, a firm belief in his supernatural powers. While he was in jail, no Munda believed he was really confined. They alleged that he had gone up to heaven and that the authorities had only a clay figure in jail which they pretended was Birsa. Some Mundas even now do not believe that he is really dead and steadfastly expect his return. (Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Sikkim, 1911, p. 214 sq).


162. Rengma Naga Religion.

Among the Western Rengma Nagas it is very vaguely believed that the sun is male and the moon female. Both were once equally hot but God (Songinyu) saw that men were troubled because they had no means of telling night from day and planted a ficus tree – urembi – and a plant with long leaves – alaphatung – on the moon. These shade it and are the marks we see on the moon. Orion represents men trying to attack a village. The belt itself is Terison keyenyu – the sentries and the dagger Byenyu – the strangers, i.e. attackers. The Pleiades are called Shenyu Pempi Kepenyu – the star of the pounding table carriers. There are believed to be seven but most people can only see six. Any one who can see seven will be very happy in his married life. A pair of stars – Castor and Pollux – is called Letung – girl’s stick, and represents a young man cutting a stick for his mistress. Venus, both as a morning and as an evening star, is called Shepfu and is believed to influence the crops. There is a separate name for each fork of the Milky Way. Neolithic axes are called tsampham duding – axes fallen from the sky. They are believed to come down with lightning. It is lucky to find one and the finder keeps it as a charm. They are hurled down by God on any tree he claims and wishes to fell. Thunder is the voice of god and in whatever direction it is heard most the crops will be best. The rainbow is the breath of a spirit. It rises from damp, haunted spots. If you point your finger at it you will get ill.

The dead are buried in the village under a slab of stone. The soul of a dead man remains in the village till the Ngada ceremony which marks the beginning of the next agricultural year. Very occasionally a dead man goes to a home in the sky but the vast majority go to the Land of the Dead under the earth. Including the present life a man has seven lives in worlds one below the other, each being an exact repetition of the one before. Those who can sing become crickets; those who cannot butterflies. (India, 1931, I, iii, p. 131).


163. Lushei Religion.

Lushei hold that the sun is a female and being a timorous woman is afraid to wander abroad at night while the moon – a man – has no such fears. Whenever an eclipse of the sun – ni-awk-lem or of the moon, thia-owk-lem occurs, Lusheis beat gongs and drums to frighten away the awk – a mythical animal, said to be the spirit of a Poi chief – and prevent him from swallowing the orb. They fear that if the awk really swallows the orb there will be another thimzing or darkness during which all human beings will be turned into monkeys or other animals as happened before. Many of the animals we now know were human beings before the last Thimzing. Orion’s belt and sword are known as Chhovreivung. There are eight stars which represent an owl, a rat’s nest, and six rats’ holes. The owl used to sit just above the rat’s front door and catch the rats as they came out. One day the mouse said to the rat – why not have a back door as well as a front door as we do and the owl will not be able to catch you. The rat made a back door but as soon as he finished it the great darkness the Thimzing started and the owl and the rat’s holes became stars.

The dead now-a-days are nearly always buried but there is another way only followed by the chiefs because of its great expense. The body is placed in a coffin made of a hollow log. This is placed in the house against the wall and a special hearth is built close to it. From a hole in the coffin a bamboo tube is run through the floor into the soil below the house. A fire is lit on the hearth and kept burning day and night until the corpse has been thoroughly desiccated. It is not until all the flesh has been dried off that the skull and larger bones are taken out and placed in a basket kept on a shelf near the hearth. The smaller bones are placed in an earthenware pot and buried. When the collection of bones in the house becomes too large they are placed in an earthenware pot and buried. While the body is being dried the widow is supposed to sit by it and a chief who is drying his wife is not supposed to leave his house till the process is completed, though there is no formal brilh the breach of which would entail penalties. There are two abodes of the dead, Mithikua and Pialral. To Mithikua, the dead man’s village, go the spirits of ordinary persons, while to Pialral, or across the Pial river, go the spirits of certain privileged persons who have performed the Khuangchawi feasts and are known as Thangchhuah. The spirits of men who have been especially successful with women, those who have enjoyed three virgins and those who have enjoyed seven women whether virgins or not, are admitted to Pialral. The last class to be admitted are those of men who have killed a man, an elephant, a bear, a wild boar, a wild mithun, a sambhur, a barking deer, a hamadryad, a flying fox and an eagle. No women are admitted to Pialral. The guardian of the lower world is Pupawla, the first human being to suffer death. He shoots with a pellet bow at all spirits on their way to the lower world but is not allowed to shoot at those qualified to enter Pialral. Those who are bound for Mithikua first of all pass over the Tiringlang hill, cross the Lunglo river whose waters are the waters of forgetfulness and pluck hawilo flowers – impatiens Chinensis – which remove all desire to look back to the world.

The Lusheis have the belief that the spirits of dead children are sometimes born again in the bodies of their younger brothers or sisters. Lusheis believe that spirits may migrate into hornets. The Lusheis feast called Mimukut is essentially a sacrifice to the spirits of their dead relations and the Mithirawplam – one of the series of Thangchuah feasts – is held in the honour of the ancestors. (India, 1931, I, iii p. 135 sq).


164. Kar-Nicobarese Religion.

During one of the Kar-Nicobar festivals in which the witch-doctors, to-Miuo-no, who deal with the spirits of the dead and the evil spirits, take no part at all unless as laymen, on the day of taking food kia-la, in all the houses offerings of food in pots, cocoanuts and fruits of several kinds are hung up and the people make supplication. Let our houses be always supplied with plenty to eat; let us have many things to eat from other villages; let there come new girls to our villages; grant us to be happy. Their conception of a Supreme Being may be vague but this supplication seems to be addressed to some being or beings apart from the spirits of the dead who can hear prayer. The Kar Nicobarese have an intense belief in evil spirits, sio-ta-chaich, who are the unseen enemies of mankind. They never bring happiness or prosperity. The spirits of the dead ma-a-la-ha, maintain to a great extent the kindly temperament they had in life but many of them miss the friends of their life on earth and this desire for company will cause them to bring sickness to these friends. When a Kar Nicobarese dies, his spirit is seized by the evil spirits and is carried about with great rejoicing. The spirits of the dead then struggle for the dead man’s spirit. The struggle always ends in the victory of the spirits of the dead who take him away to the spirit world, ei-ki-tel-ko-re, which means Mid air and there he lives on, very much as he did when on the earth. The spirits of the dead can localise themselves and every village has a place – avoided by all except the witch doctors called panam-sio, the place of the spirits and there the witch doctors claim that they can meet and converse with the departed spirits. Twice a year, in July and November, the evil spirits are driven out of the villages. Bamboos are got ready and decorated with bunches of leaves and daubed with soot and red paint. In the evening these are erected on the beach – el-panam – and after sunset the people meet in the “Village Hall” and sing ma-a-fai songs; the lights are turned down and shaded with the spathe of the giant palm because the evil spirits dread the light. The witch doctors then spear the devils with their magic spears made of a light brittle wood – the devils squirm and squeak, making a noise such as one makes with a leaf between one’s lips and drawing in the breath. The captured spirits are tied up with a kind of creeper. This goes on for three nights if necessary, until all the spirits possible have been captured and on the fourth evening the doctors go round all the houses in the village and those on el-panam, spearing and capturing till no more can be caught. Rafts have been got ready by the young men and women and equipped with sails of palm leaves, dry palm leaf torches and bunches of evil spirit-expelling leaves. The tied up spirits are placed on the rafts and each raft put in charge of a spirit of the dead, represented by a leaf-made figure about four feet high. The rafts are towed out beyond the breaking surf, those engaged in this task keeping the spirit expelling leaves in their hands and finally with great rejoicing the rafts are carried off by wind and tide. The bamboos are taken down and any evil spirits that have been overlooked are speared and thrown into the sea. After this follow the feast for the dead. The feeding and clothing of the departed spirits is done partly because they will need these things in the spirit world and partly because they have helped in the driving away of the evil spirits. In November the evil spirits are thrown into the sea only as the wind is from the north-east and there is no feast for the dead. When a man is killed by falling from a coconut palm, the evil spirits in the place of the accident are driven down to the beach and thrown into the sea. Death is feared by them and even the word will not be mentioned. When a man is about to die he is usually brought to a death House on the beach – el-panam, and there is left to die, leaves to keep away evil spirits having been placed around his bed. When the time for the funeral comes the corpse is bound to old pieces of canoe to make it rigid and easy to carry to burial. The relatives pretend to want the corpse brought back to his house in the village. The rest of the community wish it to be buried so there is a struggle about the corpse. When the burial ground is reached the corpse is put into the grave prepared for it and all the bedding, wraps, etc., used by the deceased when sick are burnt and vessels broken in pieces and the ashes and pieces thrown in the sea. After a number of days, odd, not even, there is purification of the deceased when the memorial post of the deceased is set up. This is a round log about a foot in diameter buried until about 2 or 3 feet of it are above the ground. A short distance from the top there is a hole cut through and while the feast is being kept a stick is put through the hole and spoons and forks hung on the stick. There is a feast held generally in the ‘Village Hall’ after sunset. After the burial ceremony the name of the deceased is not mentioned and if another man in the same village has the same name as the deceased he will change it, or if the deceased bore a name like fire or water the relatives will henceforth use a synonym for this. Once in 3 or 4 years a feast for the departed is held in a village. After the invitations have been sent to other villages a tree about 60 feet high is cut down and holes are bored at intervals along the stem after the branches have been removed and pegs driven into the holes. The tree is set up with posts fixed alongside to steady it. A man climbs the post with the end of a rope in his hand. Fruit, baskets of pork, etc., are drawn up by the rope and fastened on the pegs.

If the villagers are poor, this post may not be set up. Bamboo cages to hold about a dozen pigs are made in the village. Canoes are decorated and set up in front of their houses. The graveyard on el-panam is tied up and kept tidy. After the feast there is pig wrestling. Some of the most savage pigs are let out of the cages in the late afternoon and men who are skilled in this sport seize the pigs by their ears and hold them. Sometimes a man is bitten or gored by the tusks of the pigs; any pig that injures a man is speared at once, and young folk may not eat its flesh. On the following day the bones of those who have been dead for two years or more are dug up, a witch doctor standing by each grave and keeping evil spirits away. If by any chance the bones are found to have flesh on them they are put back and covered again. Otherwise the skull is wiped clean by hand, wrapped in white calico and placed on a spathe of palm. The other bones are taken out and placed on the same spathe. This is then carried to the Dead House on el-panam and placed on top of big yams scattered under the house for the purpose. Then the spathe containing the bones is wrapped round with red and white calico. The bundles containing the bones of more important people are re-interred in the grave, the others carried to the unclean place in the jungle and the bones scattered there and the cloth torn to rags. The grave diggers go down to the sea and wash their hands and legs or bathe. (India, 1931, I, iii, p. 187 sq).


165. Islamic Society.

In the whole of India Muslims have their highest number in the North-West Frontier Province. In Baluchistan, Sind and the Punjab, and in Bengal where they predominate particularly in the Dacca, Chittagong and Rajshahi Divisions. (Bengal, 1931,. p. 388. Bombay, 1931, p. 367).

Probably owing to the practices of polygamy, of widow remarriage and on the whole later consummation of marriage than is the practice among most Hindus, the Muslims are increasing at a greater rate. Very little of the increase may be attributed to the tanzim movement for conversion to Islam which was primarily directed to the reconversion of the shuddhi converts. (India. 1931, I, i, p. 390).

Islam does not seem to receive many converts. Occasionally an eloquent Mullah obtains a few genuine converts. As a rule the persons who cross over from one religion to the other do so for material, and not for religious reasons, e.g., a Muhammadan takes a Hindu widow as his second wife, or a Hindu widow is detected in an intrigue with a Muhammadan and being out-casted is fain to seek an asylum in the ranks of Islam, or a Hindu falls in love with a Muhammadan girl and has to adopt her religion before he can marry her. (Bengal, 1901, p. 1-2).

Reconversion is more likely to succeed with Christian than with Muslim converts, for what Islam has once gained, it does not readily release and embracing of Islam introduces the convert to a wider and more powerful Indian brotherhood than the acceptance of Christianity. (Madras, 1931, p. 327).


166. Baluchistan System.

In Baluchistan society rests on an ancient tribal system, which, admirably suited though it is under existing primitive conditions to people and country alike, is peculiarly sensitive to changes of all kinds and sensitive above all to any change in the communal or quasi-communal tenures of land on which it is partially grounded. The term ‘tribal system’ is curiously difficult to define. The truth is that the tribal system is not one and immutable throughout the country. It is to be found in all stages of evolution – from infancy to maturity and from maturity to senile decay. And different races and even different tribes have within the same race evolved characteristic varieties of it, suited to their peculiar needs. But however numerous there are certain broad features of similarity running through them all. Society under the tribal system is no random collection of individuals; it is a living organic whole, made up of organisms within organisms. And the most rudimentary organism of all is the family. Nowadays a typical tribal family consists of the father and his unmarried sons; from a purely formal point of view the wives and daughters are rather part of the family’s wealth than actual members of it. In olden days the family probably included the eldest living male and all his descendants, and the smallness of the modern family is perhaps a symptom that the system is beginning to decay from within. Now in the family the most obvious bond is the common blood which runs through all its members. But common blood is not sufficient in itself for a division of the family property results at once in the fissure of the family into several smaller organisms of the same kind. Common blood, common property, common weal and woe, these are the bonds that bind the family together. And the same bonds operate with varying force all up the line till the tribe itself is reached. The key note of the tribal system (among Brahuis) is decentralisation all down the line. The head of the family, the kamasha or section leader, the takkari or clan leader, the sardar or Chief – each was left to the management of his own charge. In the maintenance of his authority in his allotted sphere those above and below him were almost equally concerned. One of the main secrets to which not only the Khan but the chiefs owed their extraordinary hold over the tribesmen was a lavish display of hospitality. (Baluchistan, 1911, p. 11 sq).

The gradual organisation of the several tribes into a confederacy was due in no small measure to the statecraft of the Ahmadzai leader though it was self interest that ultimately kept it together – the need of showing a united front to a common enemy; it possessed a territorial unity and a geographical isolation. It almost looks as if a loosely knit confederacy were the one form of social community really suited to the Brahui genius. Added to the absence of natural checks on Brahui disintegration there are a multitude of positive disintegrating forces, such as the growth of a selfish individualism among the tribesmen at large and most significant of all among the chiefs, the inevitably disintegrating influence of peace under a foreign administration. (Ibid, p. 168 sq).


167. Pathan System.

The Pathan is conveniently positive about his origin and his genealogies which show them descended from King Saul, son of Kish, through Abdur Rashid, friend of the Prophet, valorous for the faith and sire of Saraban, Ghurghusht and Baitan, from one or other of whom all true Pathans are sprung. There is hardly a Pathan tribe which does not makeshift to explain the presence of this or that section in its midst of the descendants of some adopted son or of some fugitive from another tribe, or – most pathetic of all his confessions of ignorance – of some foundling. And the absorption of strangers must have been easy enough in the old days when the land was the common property of the tribe, to be distributed and redistributed among the tribesmen from time to time. Taken in bulk as a race or individually as tribes the Pathans are much less of a medley than either Brahui or Baloch. The only real tendency towards fissure is within the tribe itself; clans will still break off from the parent tribe to form tribes of their own. There is evidence that our Pathans are somewhat more democratic now. The present tendency is apparently twofold; on the one hand the power of the older chiefs seems to be decaying and their influence more and more confined to the clansmen living in their immediate neighbourhood; on the other new men are constantly rising into prominence and having gathered a following round them, setting themselves up in authority as leaders of smaller sections. Nonetheless these leanings towards democracy are leavened by a strong clannish feeling and robust racial pride. (Baluchistan, 1911, p. 154 sq).


168. Baloch System.

The Baloch tribal system of today is clearly a late development in Baloch history – the history of a vast nomadic horde strengthening its number by giving harborage to aliens. The modem tuman – the turkish tuman or ten thousand – is no mere concourse of tribesmen. It is made up of clans or takar; each clan is made up of sections or phalli; each phalli of smaller sub-sections or para; each para of groups of logh or households. At the head of the tuman is the tumandar, now hereditary and hedged round with divinity. At the head of each takar or clan there is a clan leader or wadera, also hereditary. At his side there is an executive officer called the mukaddam, the working man of the clan who owes his office to selection, though he is usually selected from some particular section. But the wadera and the mukaddam do not deal direct with individual tribesmen but work through the many motabar, the chosen heads of the various phalli and para. (Ibid, p. 159 sq).


169. Sind Tribes.

Closely linked with Baluchistan is Sind where the tribes are divided into ten classes, I – Baluch Tribes, II – Pathan Tribes, III – Brahui tribes, IV – Servile tribes of Baluchis and tribes of Jats or Serai Jats, V – Tribes from the South West Punjab, VI – Sindhi Tribes of Sammo, Jat or Rajput origin, VII – Occupational tribes including religious orders, VIII – Tribes professing an origin from Trabi or Central Asia, IX – Miscellaneous Sindhi Tribes not of Sammo origin, X – Tribes which have migrated from Cutch, Gujrat, and other parts of India (not the Punjab). In the Upper Sind District the Baloch tribes still preserve much of their tribal organisation but the further south one goes, the more one finds the tribal organisation disintegrating. Sammat tribes have tended to imitate the Baloch tribal organisation, even to the extent of claiming the existence of the jirga system and headship vested in a sardar. The influence of Baloch nomenclature on Sindhi tribal names is very great. (Bombay, 1931, p. 497 sq. Appendix F).

In one case there is a strong panchayat with various admirable regulations dealing with theatres, quarrelsome women, and other fruitful causes of disturbance. Methods of social advancement vary, of course, with the environment and the standards obtaining in the tract in question. Probably the boldest hid for a rise in status was recorded in the Upper Sind Frontier where the Golas brought off a belated murder of the uncle of a man who had seduced a Gola woman 7 years before. This spirited attempt to secure Baloch status by imitating Baloch customs was unfortunately defeated by the Commissioner’s order in revision of the jirgah decision. (Bombay, 1911, p. 205).


170. North-West Frontier Province System.

In the North-West Frontier Province, the bulk of the population are Mussalmans who recognise no caste restrictions. They freely interdine with each other. Although they generally marry within their own caste or tribe, but intermarriage between different groups or tribes is not uncommon, at least there is no insuperable social bar to unions between persons of different castes or tribes. So far as social distinctions are concerned. Mussalmans may roughly be divided into two classes, the gentlemen and the menials. In India the Ashraf (the genteel) class includes four groups, Sheikh, Saiad, Moghal and Pathan, provided that they preserve their purity of blood, i.e., if a Moghal adopts the occupation of a Saqqa (water-carrier) for his livelihood, he will no longer belong to the Ashraf class and his fraternity with the Moghals will cease. He can thereafter marry only with the water-carriers. The two essentials of caste, birth and occupation are thus regarded as the condition of preserving the purity of blood and the breach of one of these rules leads to degradation. The distinction of hasb-nasb (lineage) is more elaborate in the villages than in the cities. Among the Pathans, especially trans-border Pathans of the Province, the criterion of tribal unity resides not in the law of marriage, but in the obligations of blood revenge. Members of the various divisions intermarry freely, and new divisions are constantly springing up. Pathan tradition makes Kashighar or Shawal their earliest seat and they used to be called Abdalis, from Malik Abdal under whom they first emerged from the Sulaiman range and drove the Kafirs or infidels out of the Kabul Valley. They claim as their peculiar saint, the Afghan Quth, Khawajah Quth-ud-din Bakhtiar Kaki, of Ush (near Bagdad). Thirty two Pathan tribes are recognised whose characteristics are of great variety. (North-West Frontier Province, 1921, p. 232 sq).


171. Bengal System.

In Bengal the conventional division of the Muhammadans into four tribes – Sheikh, Saiad, Moghal and Pathans – has very little application. In many parts the term Sheikh (strictly, an elder or chief) instead of connoting a foreigner does exactly the reverse and raises the presumption that the persons who so describe themselves are converts of Indian extraction. The Muhammadans themselves recognise two main social divisions, (I) Ashraf or Sharif and (II) Ajlaf. The first – which means ‘noble’ or ‘persons of high extraction’ – includes all undoubted descendants of foreigners and converts from the higher castes of Hindus. All other Muhammadans, including the functional groups, and all converts of lower rank are collectively known as Ajlaf ‘wretches’ or ‘mean people’ or Kamina or Itar, ‘base’ or ‘razil’, worthless. This cate gory includes the various classes of converts who are known as Nao Muslim in Bihar and Nasya in North Bengal but who, in East Bengal, where their numbers are greatest, have usually succeeded in establishing their claim to be called Sheikh. It also includes various functional groups, of which the Ashraf takes no count. To him all alike are Ajlaf. This distinction is primarily one between Muhammadans of foreign birth and those of local origin. The Ashraf consider it degrading to accept menial service or to handle the plough. The traditional occupation of the Saiads is the priesthood, while the Moghals and Pathans correspond to the Kshattriyas of the Hindu regime. In some places a third class called Arzal or lowest of all is added. It consists of the very lowest castes with whom no other Muhammadan would associate and who are forbidden to enter the mosque or use the public burial ground (See Bengal, 1901, p. 452).

In Dinajpur the common people hold that all priests are Saids: the police and peons, Pathans; woollen cloth dealers, Moghals; and cultivators, Sheikhs.

There is in Purnea, a group of Muslims commonly reported to be the descendants of some hill tribe converted to Islam at a date unknown. They are an enterprising and independent community of fine physique and fair complexion. (Bihar and Orissa, 1931, p. 252).

The Muhammadan functional castes and Hindu castes have the same system of caste management. The number of members of the governing committee varies from two to five. They are sometimes elected and sometimes they attain their position without any formal method of selection; occasionally they are appointed by the Zamindar. The post is said to be much coveted by the well to do members of the community. The panchayat takes cognisance of all breaches of caste custom in respect of religion, trade or morality. In some cases a caste will not even allow its members to engage in avocations which are generally considered more honourable than its own traditional occupation. No member of a caste may endeavour to oust another from any employment he has obtained by offering to do the work for a lower wage or otherwise. The panchayat also organises trade strikes. Among the social offences dealt with by the panchayat are the eating of forbidden food, adultery, divorce without due cause, elopement of wife or daughter, circulating false rumours, or making false complaints against a caste fellow, marrying women of other castes (whether of higher or lower rank is immaterial), eating with or smoking from the hukka of the out-castes. These panchayats are found usually only amongst the functional groups. A member of one such group cannot ordinarily gain admission to another and he retains the designation of the community in which he was born even if he abandons its distinctive occupation and takes to other means of livelihood. Amongst the Ashraf and the cultivating Sheikhs there is no standing caste committee and offences against the general sentiment are less universally and less readily dealt with by the community. The pride of blood among the Muhammadans of foreign descent is considerable and the general tendency is for a Saiad to marry a Saiad, a Pathan a Pathan and so forth. Exceptions occasionally occur. As regards commensality the practice varies but the question is purely a social one. (Bengal, 01, p. 439 sq.). (See also p. 165 sq).

In the country districts of Bengal the Muslim is ordinarily tolerant enough unless communal consciousness has been excited either by the preaching of itinerant maulvis and mullahs, or by some definite clash with practices on the part of other communities repugnant to their own religious feelings. In many parts of the country the Muslim peasant is indeed tolerant of Hindu practices and joins to some extent in Hindu worship. Muslims used to take part in the famous Janmastami procession at Dacca. The use of combined Muslim and Hindu names is not unusual in more than one part and in Jessore the Muslims revere the tulsi plant and bel tree and observe the festivals of Jamai Sashthi and Bhratridwitiya. Inter-communal borrowing is not confined to the Muslims; the unsophisticated Hindu will render reference to any manifestation of holiness without enquiring what religion it exemplifies and pirs and fakirs or their memory receive veneration and offerings in many parts of Bengal. This approximation of practices is however discounted by the orthodox, and efforts are made by preachers of both communities to purge away observances not consistent with strict communal bigoty. (Bengal, 1931, p. 390).


172. Bombay Mussulmans.

As to the areas where Muhammadans, are in a minority, in Bombay a small percentage of the Muslim community is composed of Arab, Baloch, Persian, Pathan and Moghal stock and these individuals, as a rule, take pride in their descent and are careful to proclaim it, but the bulk of the Muslims are the descendants of converts whose pride of race has been submerged in pride of religion. (Bombay. 1931, p. 378).

There are also sects whose religious principles derive from the precept of both Hinduism and Islam. The origin in each case is a puritan movement initiated by a single individual, whose personal merit and mode of life attracted a following. While some possess a clear cut doctrine, particularly those most influenced by Islam, others lay emphasis on the necessity of purity in social life and deviate from Hinduism mainly in the degree in which they advocate adherence to a more rigid code of ethics and in the indifference they display to mere ritual and ceremonial. (Ibid, 353). In the Central Provinces conversions take place occasionally: for instance disgusted because they were not allowed to draw water from a well, about one hundred Shiklagars embraced Islam. There are castes which have Mussalman sections but the so-called castes are really occupational groups or guilds and two groups survive in which Hindu and Muslim customs are observed side by side. These are the Khojahs and one section of the Leva Kunbis. They follow the Atharva Veda and their sacred book is the collection of religious precepts called ‘Shiksha natri’ made by Imam Shah, the saint of Pirana. Their burial prayer ‘in the name of Allah, the merciful, of Satgor Patia, of Brahma and Indra, of Imam Shah, of the spotless Vishnu and of Ali Muhammad Shah’. They worship the tombs of the Mussalman saints, keep the Ramzan fast and the Hindu holidays, especially Holi and Diwali. (C.P., 1931, p. 331). (See C.P., 1901, p. 97). In the United Provinces the Malkanas, people of Rajput, Jat and Vaishya descent who observe certain Hindu and Muslim ceremonies, are still uncertain as to what they are by religion. In 1926 when the shuddhi and tabligh movements were at their height it was common for these Malkanas to be converted and reconverted to Hinduism, Islam and Christianity in rapid succession as the various bands of preachers visited their villages on behalf of the different movements. They began to stand out for receiving money for conversion which the zealots of the conflicting religions were then generally willing to give. It is said that many of these Malkanas made quite a lot of money out of their conversion and reconversion. (U.P., 1931, p. 498).

The influence of Hinduism has powerfully affected Muslim customs, tradition and sentiment and a very large section of Muslims are the descendants of converted Hindus who have retained in large measure their Hindu customs. Besides the four original foreign tribes of Saiyids, Mughals, Pathans and Shaikhs, there are numerous endogamous occupational castes. (Ibid, p. 535). (Cf. India, 1911, p. 117 sq).


173. Madras Mussulmans.

In Madras on the West Coast Islam is represented by the Mappilla. He is easily recognised in any west country town or village not only by dress or his peculiar square cap; he seems to acquire added strength with Islam and an air of self-reliance that contrasts favourably with Hindus of his own class, the depressed class. In the south-east of Tinnevelly are small sects of Islam claiming, not without justification, an Arabian origin and to this day one at least of these communities declines to intermarry with other Muslim groups and seeks its brides from purer sects across the sea. Community of origin has led to Hindu survivals in South Indian Muslim ceremonial and to a certain tolerance or even acceptance of Muhammadan customs by Hindus of the lower sort. The spirit of Muhammad is said to inform one granite pillar in Tinnevelly where daily puja is done by Hindu votaries seeking cure of disease, rain and other boons and offering ganja and cheroots. (Madras 1931, pp. 317 and 320). Hindus take a leading part in the celebration of the Mohurram in Madras City. Passages of the Koran are sometimes chanted as mantrams in the Hindu fashion. There is no pollution among Mussalmans and all are equal in the mosques and burial grounds. Even a sweeper may take the first place in a mosque at service if he is the first to arrive there. The occupational groups are apparently not castes in the ordinary sense of the words as they seem to intermarry among ane another and do not necessarily retain the functional name to which they were born. There is no bar to the members of one tribe eating with those of another except that which is founded upon social distinctions. (Madras, 1901, p. 133).


174. Assam Mussulmans.

In Assam, where there has been a great influx of a great horde of land-hungry Bengali immigrants, mostly Muslims into the Assam Valley Districts. (Assam, 1931, p. 49). Muhammadans resent the assertion that their community has traces of a caste system and point out that it is no part of their religion, which is quite true. The fact remains, however, that certain sections of the community are modelled an the Hindu system so far as eating and marrying are concerned. In Assam the principal example is the Mahimal fishing caste of Sylhet, which is held in low esteem and is cut off from marriage with the ordinary members of the community. The panchayet system of punishing breaches of social custom is quite common amongst Muhammadans in Sylhet most especially in the Jaintia Parganas, where there are no zamindars or talukdars; the mathers or leading men of the village insist on the deposit of a sum of money by both parties before deciding a case, the loser’s deposit being spent on a feast and the winner’s refunded to him. (Assam, 1911, p. 123).


175. Zerbadis in Burma.

In Burma there are Zerbadis (offspring of marriages between Indian Muslims and Burmese women who in some cases adopt the race of the father and in other cases that of the mother), Arakan Mohammedans, the Arakan Kameens and the Myedus. The Kameens are the descendants of the followers of the Shah Suja, son of Aurangzebe, who fled to Arakan in 1660 after the failure of his attempt to seize the throne. After his death they were formed into a royal bodyguard of archers, hence their name. (Burma, 1931, p. 230). The Myedu race of the north of Shweho are descended from Muhammadans of Northern India who came to Burma in time of King Alongpaya (1750-1760) to offer their services as soldiers and were given lands. (Burma, 1921, p. 212).


176. The Koran.

The Muhammadans are limited as to their main tenets by the teaching of the Koran and its basic principles are contained in the aphorism (Kalimah) La Ilaha-il Allah-o-Muhammad-ur-Rasul Allah. There is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet. The essential difference between the Muslim and other communities consists in its peculiar conception of nationality. The main purpose of religion is not thinking about life but to build up a coherent social whole for the gradual elevation of life. The unity of religious belief on which Muslim communal life depends is supplemented by the uniformity of Muslim culture. The object of Islam is to free men from fear. There is no aristocracy in Islam. The noblest among you – says the Prophet – those who fear God most. Islam is a unity in which there is no distinction and this unity is secured by making men believe two simple propositions, viz., the unity of God and the mission of the Prophet. (Punjab, 1911, p. 162).


177. Sunnis and Shiahs.

Differences of opinion in the interpretation of the Holy Book have led to the formation of sects of which the two main ones are the Sunnis and the Shiahs. The Sunnis accept the authority of all the successors of Muhammad, whereas the Shiahs look upon the first three, Abu Bakr, Omar and Osman, as interlopers, and regard Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law, as the first true Kalipha; they also reverence his martyred sons, Hasan and Husain. In India the Sunnis greatly preponderate but they usually share with the Shiahs their veneration for Hasan and Husain and strictly observe the Ramzan. The religious Writings of the Sunnis consist not only of the Koran but also of the Hadis or traditional sayings of Muhammad not embodied in the Koran. There are four recognised commentaries – and their followers are called Hanafi, Sufi, Mahiki and Hanbahi. The differences are slight but the main characteristic of the Hanafis, the most numerous in India, is that the traditions are freely interpreted in the light of analogical reasoning, whereas the others take their stand against any modification of the actual words of the Prophet. Some who interpret the traditions for themselves, without following any particular Imam, call themselves Ahli Hadis, people of the tradition, or Ghair Mukallid, those who do not wear the collar. In the 17th century a new sect of Muhammadan purists called Wahhabis after Muhammad Wahab of Nejd, arose in Arabia. They rejected the glosses of the Imams and denied the authority of the Sultan, made comparatively light of the authority of Muhammad, forbade the offering of prayers to any prophet or saint, and insisted on the necessity of waging war on all infidels. At the present day the fanatical element of the Wahhabi movement seems to have died down and the efforts of the reformers are directed mainly to the eradication of superstitious practices not sanctioned by the Koran and to the inculcation of the true principles of the religion. In cities almost every mosque has its school where boys are taught the rudiments of their faith and the smaller villages in rural tracts are regularly visited by itinerant Maulvis. (India, 1901, p. 372).


178. Tribal Beliefs.

In Baluchistan, the living beliefs of the tribesmen have little to do with the religions which they profess. There is as much difference between the Islam of the average tribesman and the highly-developed Islam of the Indian maulvi as between the Hinduism of the domiciled Hindu families and the Hinduism of orthodox Brahmanism. As regards outward observances the Pathan stands no doubt on a fairly high level; for all his ignorance of the inner meanings of his Faith and his weakness for ancestor-worship he is usually as punctilious over his prayers and his fasts (if not over the pilgrimage and alms-giving) as his more enlightened co-religionists; what he lacks in doctrine he is quite capable of making up in fanatical zeal. The Baloch lags far behind. Though there are signs of a religious revival, ancient custom still holds sway in the vital affairs of his life; to him religious precepts are little more than counsels of perfection; religious practices little more than the outward and awe-inspiring marks of exceptional respectability. Among the Brahuis a truly devout Mussalman, learned in doctrine and strict in practice, is rarer still; with the vulgar mass Islam is merely an external badge that goes awkwardly with the quaint bundle of superstitions which have them in thrall. It would almost seem as if many people had never heard of Islam and Mussalman at all. ‘Put me down the same religion as the chief’ was the commonest answer. More amusing but hardly less common was the noncommittal request ‘Just wait till sundown and I’ll enquire of the mullah’. Circumcision is rigorously observed by all and among the folk are those who practise female circumcision of which there are two distinct methods. The Pathan treats his mullahs with marked respect and in nearly every Pathan mosque are talib-i-ilm, searchers after knowledge, youths preparing themselves for the priesthood. The mosques are humble enough but imposing edifices compared with the so-called mosques in the Brahui country, where mosques are as plenty as blackberries. It is just as well that nothing is easier to make, for a mosque is frequently required on the spur of the moment in all sorts of out-of-the-way places; a corpse, for instance, which has been disinterred from its temporary resting-place for burial in the family graveyard, must lie in a mosque at every halting stage on the weary march home. Range a few stones in a ring; leave a small opening on the east; raise a small arch on the west and the Brahuis mosque is complete.

But even among Pathans the respect paid to a mullah is as nothing compared to the reverence paid to Sayyids and other holy men; among Brahuis this reverence is carried to a higher pitch still. And great as is the reverence paid to the living it is altogether dwarfed by the worship paid to the dead. Throughout the country, among the Pathans, the Brahuis the Baloch and the rest, the number of pir or saints, of their ziarats or shrines, is veritably legion. ‘There is no God but God’ is the grand confession of the Faith. But it is often little more than lip-worship after all. Ask a Brahui to swear by God and he’ll swear briskly enough, without bothering himself over much about the truth, but ask him to swear by his patron saint and he’ll boggle a mighty long time before you can get the truth out of him and his knees will knock together when at last he brings the holy name to his lips.

The most striking feature about Pathan shrines is the fact that the majority and certainly the holiest are shrines of sainted ancestors. It would be difficult to find any spot of importance in the country, whether a village graveyard or a boundary between two tribes, or a spring of water, or an imposing mountain top that is not hallowed by the presence of a shrine. Nowhere are shrines held in greater worship than in the Brahui country. A place without a shrine is a place to be avoided; a shrineless road is wearisome, unlucky, unsafe.

The typical shrines of the Brahui country are rough piles of stones, strewn about almost at random, often surrounded by a rude wall. Though a shrine is often the actual grave of some saint, almost anything seems to serve as an excuse. Hither come all who are in need, sickness or any other adversity, to entreat the saint for the fulfilment of their desires, vowing to sacrifice this or that in return – the barren woman to pray for children, the sick to pray for health, the traveller for a safe return from his travels, the hunter for luck in the chase. Every household among the Brahuis has its patron saint who watches over its destinies and its own peculiar shrine. And if the two parents worship different saints, the saint of the goodman has the pre-eminence in the family worship. Some shrines there are in which largish stones, polished and to all seeming chiselled with devoted care, occupy the place of honour in the niche towards which the worshippers direct their prayers – surely a lingam an ancient relic of pre-Islamic times. There are far famed shrines which attract their votaries from all parts of the country. A shrine dedicated to a dog would be a bit of an oddity anywhere and something more than an oddity in a Mussalman country. Yet such a shrine is to be found in the Kirthar hills – in memory of a faithful hound and to it resort the folk of Jhalawan in the certain belief that whatsoever they seek, that they will surely find. And in the Pathan country, hard by the shrine of the sainted Husain Nika stands the shrine of his wonderful dog – slain by the hasty saint and mourned by him too late.

Old and cherished beliefs are slowly breaking up with the advancing tide of civilisation. In a short time many of them will lose all vitality only lingering on in weird and unintelligible survivals, or here and there perhaps in harmless games, their original meaning lost to tribal memory. Typical instances are ancient customs relating to rain making. When famine was sore in the land, the Brahui would look to the Khan to exercise his divine powers and bring down the rain for which the earth cried out. Then would the Khan doff his fine clothes for the woollen overcoat of the peasant and drive a yoke of oxen across a rain-crop field. When the flocks are dying for want of rain, a sham-fight is arranged between the women-folk of two nomad encampments and unseen by the men they belabour one another till blood begins to fall, for the falling of blood will surely induce the falling of rain. Among the Pathans an interesting rain-making custom still survives in what is now a mere boys’ game. In times of drought boys make a round bag out of white cloth and stuff it with rags. And they paint the eyes and nose of a woman on one side of the bag and bedaub the face with flour and stick a pole through the bag and go in a body from house to house, singing in chorus at each door and receiving alms. To a Pathan the stopping of rain must seem simple enough. Throw a handful of salt on the fire; nail a horse shoe on to the wall, out of the reach of the rain; plaster a wheaten bannock on a rubbish heap; put a Koran into an oven when the fire is out, and bring it back to your room and distribute alms – all these methods are pronounced effective. Two other Pathan ideas about rain are worth adding. Pathan lasses are fond of scraping up the last titbits on the dish with their fingers and licking them off, much to the disgust of the old ladies. For the hundredth time of asking – they will say – don’t lick the pot or there’ll be a downpour on your wedding day. And any Pathan can tell you that if you want to change your sex, all you have to do is to go and roll underneath a rainbow.

In almost every locality in the land there is some holy man who receives a share of the produce to produce rain, keep off locusts and mildew and otherwise control nature for the good of the community. If rain holds off the people seek to spur the flagging efforts of the holy man by stopping his payments. If this fails, they bind him hand and foot and leave him to swelter in the blazing heat in the pious hope that he will call in his frenzy upon God and his sainted forefathers to save his honour by sending rain. Some holy men specialise in one particular department of nature. Such is the Makri or Locust Sayyid of Dhadar who holds his title by virtue of having the locusts under his charm. Father passes on the charm to son, brother to brother, by simply spitting into his mouth. For a day or two the only result is that the man initiated into the mystery goes stark staring mad. When a swarm of locusts infests the country all the Sayyid has to do is to catch a locust, spit in its mouth and let it go. Off it flies, spreading the news among its fellows and in alarm they take flight towards pastures new where Sayyids cease from troubling. To rid the wheat of rust, the Brahuis get hold of a boy of seven years, bathe him and deck him out in red clothes and make him drive a kid through the fields attacked by the red rust. The kid is then slaughtered and the meat distributed in the name of God. To deal with mango trees or date palms that fail to give fruit is simple enough for a bit of bluster will make them mend their ways. Or they may heal its hurt by finding it a wife and celebrating its wedding with due jollity.

A sketch of Baluchistan religion with the spirits of darkness left out would be as bald as Paradise Lost without the Arch-fiend. Everything untoward seems to be put down to the Jinns – sickness among the children, murrain among the cattle, sudden death among the men. But worst perhaps than all is the way the Jinns plague the poor women, yet there are women so lost to shame as to put on the airs of one that is possessed of a devil and all to compass some private end. One has a grudge to pay off against her husband. Another may fancy that folk will eye her with reverence when they know that she is in league with the Jinns. To drive them out men use amulets and charms and old fashioned folks set great store by the Sheikh and his dancing. Some Jinns he has for ever under his spell and with these to do his bidding he can win the mastery over others. (Baluchistan, 1911, p. 59 sq).


179. Superstitions.

The people themselves complacently attribute the excess of male births in no small measure to their overwhelming desire for male issue which is as intense among the mothers of Baluchistan as it was among the mothers of the Jewish world where by the bye it has roots much more ancient and much more deep down in human nature than that divine hope of bearing the promised Messiah in which they were taught to believe. The intensity of the desire for male issue and the universality of the belief in the inherent inferiority of the female sex are factors not to be overlooked in any discussion of sex proportion in Baluchistan. (Baluchistan, 1911, p. 82). The theory of intense desire is strongly backed by local public opinion. It is probably the stronger will-power that influences the sex. Unlike other seeds they say, the human seed lies in the blood of the parents and it is the stronger will power that has a direct influence on the sex every particle of which in the process of manufacture is under the command of the will-power of man. It is only when the father is indifferent to the sex of the issue that the desire or will-power of the mother prevails. Artificial methods are employed in the East to influence the sex of children. Take the rainbow crescent from the feather of a peacock and one pellet from the dropping of a hare. Powder them well and mix them up. In the second or third month of the child’s life before seeing the light of day administer the mixture to the mother. The sex of the hare will govern the sex of the child. (Baluchistan, 1931, p. 55).


180. Islam in the United Provinces.

The actual belief of the ordinary man diverges considerably from the standard of the religion and his practice varies still more. If an illiterate Hindu is asked to quote the authority for a moral ruling and replies ‘The Shastras forbid it’, he probably has no clear idea whether he means a single book or the whole body of Sanskrit sacred literature. To the Mussalman of every condition however the Koran bears a definite meaning and is the ultimate source of all inspired knowledge though there may be disagreement as to the authority of other writings to which some classes may attribute almost equal validity. This fact in itself tends towards a uniformity in essential beliefs in Islam which is wanting in Hinduism, and there are few Muhammadans, however illiterate or unintelligent, who cannot repeat the creed. ‘There is no God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet’ and who do not understand and believe this literally. Islam prescribes the performance of certain duties apart from the moral law, which briefly include (i) prayer (a) daily, (b) on certain festivals, (ii) fasts, especially during the month of Ramzan, (iii) the giving of alms by those who can afford it, (iv) the pilgrimage to Mecca. In regard to prayer the ignorance of the ordinary man is a stumbling block but there are few who do not repeat the creed on raising and hardly a Mussalman will be found absent from prayers on the Id-ul-Fitr and the Id-uz-Zuha. The obligatory five prayers a day and the prayer on Friday morning in the mosque are not performed by the great majority of the masses but ignorance of the masses of the words to be used is accountable for this to a certain extent. The observance of the fast during Ramzan is probably stricter amongst the masses than amongst the higher classes excepting those individuals who are exceptionally pious and orthodox. In the giving of alms the Mussalman is in no way behind the Hindu and in fact a fixed proportion of savings over a certain amount is prescribed and in many cases is actually distributed to the poor. The opportunity of making a pilgrimage to Mecca or to Kerbela does not come to the ordinary man as a rule. In regard to morality the average Mussalman has much the same standard as the average Hindu or the average Christian. The practices most condemned by all classes are the eating of pork, the smoking of preparations of opium (madak and chandu), perjury in respect of an oath, taken on the Koran in a mosque, incest, adultery and open immorality. Theft, murder and the like are universally reprobated. Sins are divided into two kinds according as they are against God only, such as neglecting prayer, or against man also, such as theft, murder, etc. In regard to the latter a belief is strongly held by the mass of the people that if the sinner is forgiven by the person sinned against that particular sin will not tell very strongly in the day of judgment. The future life is eternal and the soul preserves its individuality. If a man has done evil on earth that must be expiated in the other world but hell is not eternal, and when the soul has been purged, it passes to paradise, which is usually described as a place where material happiness will be enjoyed. The masses have a clearer idea of the unity and omnipotence of God than the ordinary Hindu has and they have firm belief in the value of offerings at certain holy places for obtaining temporal blessings. The better educated Muhammadans also believe to a large extent in the efficacy of pilgrimages to these sacred places, but in their case the spiritual aspect is clearly regarded while in the case of the masses the object in view is material gain. (N.W.P., and Oudh, 1901, p. 92 sq. India, 1901, p. 373).


Note. As the Muslim calendar is luni-solar, the months rotate and the fast falls at a different time each year.


181. Marriage.

Amongst Muhammadans other than local converts the restrictions on marriage are few and simple. It is considered that a man should take as his first wife a virgin bride of the same social standing as himself and preferably of the same main division or tribe. As regards subsequent wives, there is no restriction whatever. There are no exogamous groups. The marriage of persons more nearly related is forbidden but that of first cousins, whether the children of two brothers or two sisters, or of a brother and sister, is considered very suitable; failing them an alliance is preferred with some family with which there have already been marriage relations. It is sometimes said that the object of cousin marriage is to keep the family as free as possible from foreign blood, and to retain in the family the property inherited by the young couple. The Muhammadans of Gilgit do not share the general predilection in favour of cousin marriage, and they forbid altogether the marriage of a man with the daughter of his maternal aunt. In the case of local converts to Muhammadanism belonging to functional groups, marriage must ordinarily be confined within the limits of the group which in this respect, is just as close a corporation as a Hindu caste. Many of these groups object to cousin marriage. (India, 1911, p. 252).


182. Baluchistan Customs.

In Baluchistan a girl may be contracted away before even she is born, either by a loving compact between expectant mothers or in part payment of a bride-price or blood money. In an ordinary marriage, first and foremost – and very possibly while girl and boy are both immature – some negotiations, (ostensibly set afoot by the boy’s party) for the transfer of ownership in the girl in consideration of a bride-price; hard on the heels of successful negotiations follows a public ceremony in which the contract is announced in open assembly; and – finally when lass and lad have both passed from childhood to youth – comes the wedding ceremony, hallowed by the religious ritual of the nikah. Polygamy up to the Islamic limit of four wives is open to all. But it is an expensive luxury that not one man in ten is likely to be able to afford. Divorce lies in the hand of every husband he has only to throw three stones and bid his wife be gone and the deed is done; but tribal opinion is a wholesome safeguard against a wanton abuse of the husband’s unfettered powers. Widow remarriage – except, may be, in the proudest families – is the very general rule. It would be unthrifty indeed for tribesmen to suffer such easily convertible capital to lie idle. In most the widow is the recognised perquisite of her deceased husband’s brother and it is hardly too much to say that second marriage with the brother’s widow is at the bottom of most of the polygamy in the country. Bride-price is simply back-payment for the girl’s upbringing in her father’s house. Most Brahui tribes carry out this idea with businesslike pedantry; for the bridegroom has to pay not only lab or bride-price proper which goes to the father, but also a shir-paili or milk share which goes to the mother. But bride-price is not an old system and is probably comparatively modern. A much older form of marriage is marriage by exchange which under many names flourishes in one form or another among all races to this day. Even nowadays the family that has the least bother in finding brides for its sons is the family with an equal number of daughters to give in exchange. As for the bride-price itself, not only does it vary in different tribes, it has its ups and downs within the same tribe; looks, social position and youth – these have their market value. If one of the two girls is of tender age or a widow, and the other a ripe maiden, it is the regular thing to give something in addition as a makeweight – some cash perhaps, or preferably the promise of a girl yet unborn, very possibly the issue of the projected union. The exchange was confined to a limited circle. A Pathan girl should properly marry a Pathan, a Baloch girl a Baloch, a Brahui girl a Brahui. Cousin marriage is as common among the Brahuis for putting great faith in his proverb that though it takes a good sire to breed a good colt, it takes a good mother to breed a good son he favours cousin-marriage as the simplest means of keeping the stock pure. Among Jhalawans it used to be the correct thing for one group of families to interchange marriages generation after generation with another group which belonged very possibly to quite a different tribe altogether. Such a group called the other its shalvar or breeches – for breeches are as essential to a Brahui bride as a bridal veil to a bride in Europe. Paradoxical though it may seem, the three Pathan customs of prenuptial license – cohabitation between betrothed, majlis and girl hospitality – go hand in hand with the most stringent insistence on the sanctity of the marriage tie. According to strict old custom the wages of adultery is death to wife and paramour alike; if they escape the clutches of the outraged husband and his kinsmen, there arises a blood feud that only a blood settlement can wipe out. The Brahui is absolved from all guilt if he slaughters his bride on the bridal bed when proofs of her chastity are not forthcoming. But among the Jatt and some if not all the Baloch tribes the stains on the bridal raiment are the outcome of artificial deflowering a few hours previous to consummation. Whatever store a Jat may set by the chastity of his bride, he sets absolutely none on the chastity of his wife.

Wedding buffoonery is regarded everywhere as fit and proper for a wedding (so local theorists say) and may explain the curious shrinking from the wedding and the wedding ceremonies that is often displayed by the bride, her groom, her brother, and her father. It certainly seems as if glimpses of bygone motherkin peep out from some of these customs. It is quite clear for instance that a Brahui mother claimed a milk-price on the marriage of her daughter ages before her husband dreamt of claiming a bride-price for himself. Until a Brahui mother has expressly renounced all mother-rights in her dead child, no one would dream of removing the body to the grave. It is in the bride’s house that a Brahui wedding is performed and – much more significant – the young couple must abide in it for at least three days after the wedding; indeed in high Jhalawan families it is a point of honour to keep them much longer. A Baloch wedding on the other hand is solemnised in the bridegroom’s house; the nikah being read the very evening of the bride’s arrival; if she has not reached puberty, custom must be fulfilled and the girl brought to the bridegroom’s house, though consummation is deferred till she has left girlhood behind. There is some diversity among the Pathans but as a very general rule the wedding is celebrated in the house of the groom. The nikah is read the moment she arrives. Sometimes she has to wait if the bridegroom has hidden himself away. During this period of delay, which ordinarily lasts for three days, she is treated like a guest and it is essential that some kinswoman should sleep by her side. Even after the marriage is solemnised, she often continues to share her bed with a kinswoman for three nights more; and when her husband joins her, he is expected in some tribes to defer consummation for a considerable period. Whereas a Pathan or Brahui woman is transferred permanently out of her parental family on marriage and does not return to it on widowhood, the ordinary rule among the Baloch is for her to remain a member of her husband’s family only so long as he is alive; on his death she reverts to her parents. The maternal uncle frequently plays a prominent part in the family as the brother, and therefore the owner and natural defender of the mother. Indeed throughout Baluchistan he is regarded as a much nearer and more loving kin than the uncle on the father’s side. The country is full of wise saws to prove it just as it is full of saws – the Brahui in particular – to prove that the faults and virtues of a son are derived not so much from his father as from his mother – in short that it is the mother and not the father who is the boy’s nearest kin. Today the position of the husband and father is supreme and in nearly all parts of Baluchistan inheritance is strictly confined not merely to males but to those who can trace their descent through males though there is a faint-hearted tendency springing up to give women the shares to which Islam entitles them. But confusion would become chaos if the tribesmen suddenly changed their own simple if selfish methods. Shariat or Muhammadan Law is ill-suited to our tribes in their present stage of development. It strikes at the very root of the tribal system itself. Bride-price has much to recommend it in practice. To its credit must be placed the absence of female infanticide in the tribes. It ensures the careful nurture of the child from infancy to maidenhood and tends to invest the young wife on entry into her husband’s home with a respect in some degree proportionate to its size. It acts as a very valuable check against wholesale and unbridled polygamy. The truth is that women cannot be reduced to terms of money. To treat them a soulless abstractions is to ignore the fundamental laws of human nature which govern the relations of man and wife, mother and child. Tribeswomen are human beings with rights as well as duties. So far from being mere chattels, the average wife and the average mother exercise a very real influence over their menfolk, nonetheless potent because it is exercised in the background. To say that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world would be hyperbole. Yet cases are on record of the paramount influence of women in the tribe. In the spiritual world there is no personage of greater reverence and influence than Bibi Mariam, Chishti Sayyid of Kalat. (Baluchistan, 1911, p. 100 sq).


183. Ahmadias.

The Ahmadia sect was founded in 1891 by Mirza Gulam Ahmad who then issued a proclamation announcing that he was the promised Mahdi and Messiah whose coming was foretold both in the Bible and Koran. He declared that the Christian doctrine of the death and ascension of Christ was false and also the Mussalman belief that, when Jesus Christ was crucified, God sent down an angel who assumed his appearance while the real Christ was translated to heaven. Jesus, he declared, did not die on the cross but only swooned; he did not rise from the dead but only recovered from the swoon; he did not ascend to heaven but came to Afghanistan and India to preach to the lost tribes of Israel; and he now lies buried in one of the streets of Srinagar in Kashmir. Messiah, Mahdi and Krishna were merely so many names and titles and he claimed them all. He was Mahdi for he would reform the Mussalmans; he was Messiah, because he would reclaim the Christians who did not follow the true teachings of Christ; he was Krishna because he will bring back the Hindus to the pure teaching of the Rishis. He was denounced as a heretic, and a fatwa was issued excommunicating his followers. Marriage with them, burial in Muhamadan graveyards, entrance into mosques, were all prohibited. He employed modern methods to spread his doctrines and turned to account the affairs of the day. He was a voluminous writer. Plague having appeared in some villages in the Punjab he announced that he had received a vision in which he saw plants of a dark colour being planted by angels which the angels told him would bring forth the plague. His prophecy was fulfilled. He was bitterly opposed to the Arya Samaj but was ready to meet them in debate. When his first work was published he offered to pay Rs. 10,000 if it could be refuted. The chief points of difference between the beliefs of the Ahmadhias and orthodox Mussalmans are that the orthodox hold that the Mahdi will be a warrior who will convert the heathen at the edge of the sword while Ahmad came to establish the supremacy of Islam by peaceful means. His followers believe that divine-revelation still continues and that he was the recipient of revelations from God. One significant feature of the cult is its opposition to Christianity. According to Mussalman belief, when the end of the world approaches, Dajjal (Anti-Christ) will rule and the powers of evil will reign till Christ reappears, and, with the help of Mahdi, overthrows Dajjal and converts the whole world to Islam. The Ahmadia holds that the prophecy of the advent of Dajjal has been fulfilled by the spread of Christian missionaries. (Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, and Sikkim, 1911, p. 249 sq).


Published by the Manager of Publications, Delhi

Printed by the Manager, Government of India Press, New Delhi, 1937