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upon this cloth. Many miraculous cures are said to have been performed on persons swallowing this dust.
But, not only is the body of the shoodru laid prostrate before the bramhun, to lick the dust of his feet, but his soul also is to be sacrificed to his honour; the Hindoo laws enact, that, to serve a brambun, falsehood is allowable ! and that if a shoodru dare to listen to the salvation-giving vedu, he is to be punished for his sacrilege. Even at present, if a bramhun happen to be repeating any part of the vedu aloud, a shoodru, if near, shuts his ears, and runs away.
From the preceding statements, it will be abundantly evident, that this whole fabric of superstition is the work of brambuns. No person may teach the vedu but a bramhun; -a spiritual guide must be a bramhun ;--every priest (poorohitu) must be a brambun; the offerings to the gods must be given to bramhuns ;--no ceremony is meritorious without a fee to the officiating bramhun ;-numberless ceremonies have . been invented to increase the wealth of the brambrins : as soon as a child is conceived in the womb, a bramhun must be called to repeat certain formulas, when he receives a fee and is feasted ; other levies are made before the birth ; at the birth ; when the child is a few days old ; again when it is six months old ; when two years old ; again at eight or nine; and again at marriage ; in sickness, the bramhun is paid for repeating forms for the restoration of the patient ;-after death, his son must perform the shraddhu, the offerings and fees at which are given to the bramhuns, twelve times during the first year, and then annually ;--if a shoodru meet with a misfortune, he must pay a bramhun to read incantations for its removal ;-if his cow die, he must call a bramhun to make an atonement; if he lose a piece of gold, he must do the same ; if a vulture have settled on his house, he must pay a bramhun to purify his dwelling ;-if he go into a new house, he must pay a bramhun to purify it ; – if a shoodru die on an unlucky day, his son must employ a bramhun to remove the evil effects of this circumstance ;-if he cut a pool or a well, he must pay a bramhun to consecrate it ;-if he dedicate to public uses a temple, or trees, he must do the same ;--at the time of an eclipse, the bramhun is employed and paid ;--on certain lunar days, the shoedru must present gifts to bramhuns. During the year, about forty ceremonies are performed, called vrutus, when the bramhuns are feasted, and receive fees ;-when a person sopposes himself to be under the influence of an evil planet, he must call four bramhuns to effer a sacrifice; a number of vows are made, on all which
occasions, bramhuns are employed and paid ;-at the birth of a child, the worship of Shustee is performed, when bramhuns are feasted ;-at the time of the small pox, a ceremony is performed by the bramhuns ;-they are paid for assisting the people to fast ;-to remove cutaneous disorders, the bramhuns pray to one of the goddesses, and receive a fee ;-bramhuns are employed daily to offer worship to the family god of the shoodru ;-the farmer dares not reap his harvest without paying a brambun to perform some ceremony ;-a tradesman cannot begin business without a fee to a bramhun ;-a fisherman cannot build a new boat, nor begin to fish in a spot which he has farmed, without a ceremony and a fee ; nearly a hundred different festivals are held during the year, at which bramhuns are entertained, and, in some villages, feasts are celebrated at a hundred houses at once.
At the house of a raja, at particular festivals, sometimes as many as 20,000 bramhuns are feasted. Instances are mentioned of 100,000 brambuns having been assembled at one feast.
Among the bramhun casts, there are several degrees or orders. That called kooleenu is one indicating the highest mer. it, None could enter this order unless he was distinguished by meekness, learning, good report, &c. At the present time, the highest seat of honour is yielded to a kooleenu on all occasions, yet the supposed superiority of this order in natural or acquired talents, no where exists. The name of the order, however, still gives the brambuns belonging to it great superiority among the lower orders of this cast. Thus, each kooleenu marries at least two wives :---one the daughter of a bramhun of his own order, and the other of a shrotriyu ;* the former he generally leaves at her father's, the other he takes to his own house. It is essential to the honour of a kooleenu, that he have one daughter, but by the birth of many daughters, he sinks in respect; hence he dreads more than other Hindoos the birth of daughters. Some inferior kooleenus marry many wives ; it is said that some persons have a hundred and twenty; many have fifteen or twenty, and others forty or fifty each. Numbers procure a subsistence by this excessive polygamy: at their marriages they obtain large presents, and as often as they visit these wives, they receive presents from the father; and thus, bav. ing married into forty or fifty families, a kooleenu goes from house to honse, and is fed, clothed, &c.
Some old men, after the wedding, never see the female ; others visit her once in three or four
years. A respectable kooleenu never
* Lower order of bramhune.
lives with the wife, who remains in the house of her parents; he sees her occasionally, as a friend rather than as a husband, and dreads to have offspring by her, as he thereby sinks in honour. Children born in the houses of their fathers in law, are never owned by the father. In consequence of this state of things, both the married and unmarried daughters of the kooleenus are plunged into an abyss of misery ; and the inferior orders are now afraid of giving their daughters to these nobles among the bramhuns.
These customs are the cause of infinite evils ; kooleenu married women, abandoned by their husbands, in hundreds of instances, live in adultery ; in some cases, with the knowledge of their parents.* The houses of ill fame, at Calcutta, and other large towns, are filled with the daughters of kooleenu brambuds : and the husbands of these women have lately been found, to a most extraordinary extent, among
the most notorious and dangerous dakaits.
* Innumerable instances of the fetus in the womb being destroyed by these women, are well known among all the Hindoos. A kooleenu bramhub assured me, that he had heard more than fifty women, daughters of kooleenus, confess these murders!! To remove my doubts, he referred me to an instance which took place in the village where he was born, when the woman was removed in the night to an adjoining village, till she had taken medicines, and destroyed the foetus. Her paramour and his friends were about to be seized, on a charge of murder, when the woman returned home, having recovered from the indisposition occasioned by the medicines she had taken. On making further inquiry into this subject, a friend, upon whose authority I can implicitly rely, assured me, that a very respectable and learned bramhun, who certainly was not willing to charge his countrymen with more vices than they possessed, told him, it was supposed, that a thousand of these abortions took place in Calcutta every month! This statement is doubt. less exaggerated, but what an unutterably shocking idea does it give of the moral condition of the heathen part of Calcutta. The same brambun affirmed, that he did not believe there was a single Hindoo, male or female, in the large cities of Bengal, who did not violate the laws of chastity !--Many kooleenus retain Mussulman mistresses, without suffering in cast, although these irregularities are known to all the neighbours. The practice of keeping women of other casts, and of eating with women of ill-fame, is become very general among the bramlıuns. A great proportion of the chief dakaits, (plunderers,) are bramhuns. I am informed, that in oue day ten bramhuns were once hanged at Dinagepore, as robbers, and I doubt not, the well known remark of Governor Holwell is, in substance, true: “ During almost five years that we presided in the judiciai cutchery court of Calcutta, never any murder or other atrocious crime came before us, but it was proved in the end a bramhun was at the bottom of it.” Holwell: Hist. Events, vol. 2.
Formerly the bramhuns were employed in austere devetion and abstinence, their business being the worship of the gods—then they were supported by kings and princes, and it seems did not employ their hands in worldly labour. At the present time only a few are supported in this way, most of them being obliged to enter into all kinds of worldly employment for support; many of them are beggars, some steal, &c.
The cast called kshutriyu is said to have been created to protect the cattle, the earth, and the Bramhuns.
This cast, as well as the third, called Voishyu has nearly disappeared, having sunk into the fourth order.
The fourth cast, shoodrus, is chiefly composed of the vilest and most degraded of the human race. They are not only by civil law rendered unfit to associate with other human beings in this world, but are denied the benefit of those means which are considered necessary to insure happiness in that which is to come. By the rules of the shastrus, or civil law, bramhuns are prohibited from giving spiritual counsel to a shoodru, or to inform of the legal expiation for his sids.
There are many sub-divisions among the shoodrus, some of which are as effectual barriers to mutual intercourse, as the distinctions between the bramhuns and shoodrus. Each of these classes follow distinct employments.
1st class. The first class voidyus, are the professed, though not the exclusive medical men among the Bengalees. Some of them can read.
2d class. The second is called the writer cast. Some of this class also understand medicine, and can read.
3d class are druggists. This is a respectable class. Some of them are visited by the bramhuns.
4th class, or brass founders. More than fifty different articles are made for sale by this class.
5th class. This class are shell-ornament makers. They make and sell the ornaments worn by the ladies on their wrists, &c.
6th class. Husbandmen. In general the farmers obtain a bare maintenance ; frequently it takes the whole crop to pay their rent, in which families are left with no subsistence, and are turned out to beg or perish.
7th class. Barbers. The Hindoos, even the poorest, never shave themselves, or cut tbeir own nails. Shaving is never done in the house, or shop, but sometimes under a small shed, or tree, very often in the street, or road,
8th class. Confectioners. They make and sell a great variety of sweetmeats, chiefly composed of sugar, molasses, four and spices. Of these, immense quantities are consumed.
9th class. Po ters. They make a considerable variety of earthen ware ; plaster houses with clay, make brick, &c.
10th class. Weavers. This is at Bengal a numerous class, but except in their business, are very ignorant. 11th class. Blacksmiths. Not very numerous.
Their work is generally clumsy.
12th class. This class is composed of such persons as awake the king in the morning, by announcing the hour, describing the beauties of the morning, &c.
13th class. Sellers of Flowers. They prepare the wedding crown for the bridegroom, artificial flowers, &c.
14th, 15th, and 16th classes, are Charioteers, and shopkeepers.
17th class. Joiners. They make gods, bedsteads, doors, boxes, &c.
18th class. Washermen. The Hindoo women do not even wash the clothes for their own families. This class are employed for that purpose. They are very dishonest, and will steal, or change garments whenever they have opportunity.
19th class. Goldsmiths. They make gods of brass, &c. sundry other articles, as cups, dishes, and gold and silver ornaments.
20th class. Bankers. They are money changers, buy and sell old silver and gold, &c. some of them are very rich.
21st class. Oilmen. They prepare and sell the oil used for lamps.
22d class. Milkmen. They keep a number of cows, and sell milk, clarified butter, &c. A Hindoo cow gives only about a quart of milk at a time.
23d class. Fishermen. The business of this class is to catch fish, which are sold by their wives at the markets.
24th class. Distillers. They make several kinds of arrack, a kind of rum, and several other kinds of spirit.
25th class. Dancers.
27th class. Shoemakers. This despised class make shoes, of different skins, and even from that of the cow, which are sold for fourpence or sixpence a pair.
28th class. Ferrymen. This class are much employed, as there are few bridges in their country. 29th class. Palanquin bearers.