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30th class. There are enumerated 10 more classes of the Shoodru cast, which are included in the above.
The Hindoo shastrus bear the most evident proofs, that the founders of the system of casts, must have been men who designed to deify themselves. This institution has been, and ever will be one of the greatest scourges, which can afflict those who are doomed to suffer under it. It has no regard to merit, or demerit. It consigns nine tenths of the people even before birth, to a state of mental and bodily degradation, in which they are forever shut out from all the liberties, honour, or even religion of the country. But not only is the system of cast repugnant to every principle of justice and policy, but to every feeling of benevolence and humanity. The social circle excludes every person, except of the same cast. It arms one class of men against another; it gives rise to the most insufferable ostentation and pride on the one hand, and to the most abject state of degradation and apathy on the other. It is a sufficient excuse for not doing an act of benevolence towards another, that he is not of the same cast ; nay, a man dying with thirst, will not accept of a cooling draught of water, from the hand or cup of a person of lower cast. In short, the cast murders all feelings of benevolence, or pity ; and shuts up the heart of man against his neighbour, in a manner unknown even among savage tribes.
The loss of cast, is the most terrible calamity a Hindoo can suffer. It is worse than death. Instances have frequently happened, where persons have pined away and died on this account. Still the crime for which a person forfeits his cast, is often of the most trivial kind, or perhaps an unavoidable, or even a benevolent act. Perhaps the person has been found eating with a virtuous neighbour of a lower cast, or he has visited other countries on business, and has been compelled to starve, or eat food not cooked by persons of his own cast. Or perhaps he has associated with a person of low cast, so far as to help him out of distress. For these, or such like reasons, the cast proscribes him his father's house, and if his mother consents to talk with him, it must be by stealtb, at a distance from the place which was once his bome, into which he must never enter.
Not only is a person who has lost cast deprived of his property, and renounced by his friends, but he is excluded from all the services and comforts of religion, and from all its sopposed benefits, at and after death, and is of course considered as certainly miserable in a future state. Numbers of such outcasts abandon their homes, and wander about till death,
Children. The birth, nursing, and education of their chil. dren, are considered as matters of the utmost importance, by the higher classes of Hindoos.
Before the birth of a child, to keep off evil spirits, they lay the scull of a cow smeared with red lead at the door of the house. When a child is born, and the father first goes to see it, if a rich man, he puts money into its hand, and the relations do the same. On the sixth day after birth, a certain goddess is worshipped in the room where the child was born, and her blessing implored on it.
The respectable Hindoos, at the birth, keep a record, drawn up by a gunuku, or astrologer, who is informed by the father, of the exact time the child was born, and is requested to cast its nativity, and open the roll of its fate. The astrologer goes home, and draws up a paper, describing what will happen to the child annually, for as many years as he is paid. If the fortune of the infant turns out to be good, the astrologer receives additional sums from year to year. The parent carefully deposits the record in his house, and looks at it occasionally, when good or evil happens to the child.
At the age of a few days the infant is named, generally after some favourite god, but is never called after the father. The reason of this practice probably is, that the Hindoos believe, the repetition of the names of the gods is meritorious, and operating like fire, consumes all sin ; hence, the oftener they are repeated in the family, the better.
A Hindoo woman suckles her child, if she have only one, till it is five or six years old ; and it is not uncommon to see such children standing and drawing the mother's breast. A Hindoo mother seldom employs a wet nurse ; nor is the child fed with prepared food before the expiration of six months. The children of the rich generally go naked till they arrive at their second or third year, and those of the poor till they are six or seven.
As Hindoo women never learn to read, they are unable to teach their children their first lessons, but a father may frequently be seen teaching his child to write the alphabet when five years
the male children are commonly sent to the village school.
Rich men employ persons to teach their children, even at five years of age, how to behave on the approach of a bramhun, a parent, a spiritual guide, &c.; how to sit, to bow, and appear to advantage in society. When a boy speaks of his father, he calls him t’kakooru, lord ; or of his mother, he calls her thakooranee. When he returns from a journey, he bows to his father and mother, and taking the dust from their feet,
rubs it on his head. Considering their inferiority to Europeans in most of the affairs of polished life, the Hindoos in general deserve much credit for their polite address.
Almost all the larger villages in Bengal contain common schools, where a boy learns his letters by writing them, never by pronouncing the alphabet, as in Europe ; he first writes them on the ground; next with an iron style, or a reed, on a palm leaf; and next on a green plantain leaf. After the simple letters, he writes the compounds ; then the names of men, villages, animals, &c. and then the figures. While employed in writing on leaves, all the scholars stand up twice a day, with a monitor at their head, and repeat the numerical tables, ascending from a unit to guodas, * from gundas to voorees, from vooreest to pupus, and from punus to kahunus ; § and during school hours, they write on the palm leaf the strokes by which these numbers are defined. They next commit to memory an addition table, and count from one to a hundred ; and after this, on green plantain leaves, they write easy sums in addition and subtraction of money ; multiplication, and then reduction of money, measures, &c. The Hindoo measures are all reducible to the weights, beginning with ruttees,ll and ending with munus.** The elder boys, as the last course at these schools, learn to write common letters, agreements, &c. - The Hindoo schools begin early in the morning, and continue, till nine or ten ; after taking some refreshment at home, the scholars return about three, and continue till dark. The Bengalee school-masters punish with a cane, or a rod made of the branch of a tree ; sometimes the truant is compelled to stand on one leg, holding up a brick in each hand, or to have his arms stretched out, till he is completely tired.These school-masters are generally respectable shoodrus, though in some instances, bramhuns follow this employment. Their allowance is very small : for the first year's education, about a penny a month, and a day's provisions. When a boy writes on a palm leaf, two pence a month ; after this, as the boy advances in learning, as much as four pence or eight pence a month is given.
There are no female schools among the Hindoos ; every ray of mental improvement is carefully kept from the sex. As they are always confined to domestic duties, and carefully excluded from the company of the other sex, a Hindoo sees no necessity for the education of females, and the shastrus themselves declare, that a woman has nothing to do with the text of the vedu ; all her duties are comprized in pleasing her
* Four. + Twenty. Eighty. One thousand two hundred and eighty. A seed of the abrus pricatorious. ** Eighty lbs.
husband, and cherishing her children. Agreeably to this state of manners, respectable women are never seen in the public roads, streets, or places of resort.
What would a European say if the fair sex were at once to be excluded from public view-and if, in every public assembly, every private walk, every domestic circle, he was to meet only the faces of men!
When a child is ill, the mother, supposing that her milk is the cause of its sickness, abstains from bathing, eating sour food, fish, &c. and partakes of food only once a day. Sometimes, after making a vow, and promising some gift, if the deity will restore her child to health, she abstains from cutting the child's hair until the expiration of the vow; others tie up a lock of hair, and repeat over each hair in the lock the name of a different deity : this clotted hair may frequently be seen on the heads of children.
Though the children of the highest and the lowest casts seldom play in company, yet the offspring of casts which more nearly approximate are often seen in the streets, playing together with the utmost freedom; and indeed if a child at play should have food in its hand, and the child of another cast partake of it, it is not much noticed. Hindoo children play with earthen balls, and with the small shells which pass for money. Bigger boys amuse themselves in different kinds of inferior gaming, as dice, throwing kourees, &c. ; in boyish imitations of idolatrous ceremonies ; in kites ; leaping ; wrestling ; in a play in which two sides are formed, bounds fixed, and each side endeavours to make incursions into the boundary of the other without being caught; in hide and seek, and the like. Children are seldom corrected, and having none of the moral advantages of the children of christian parents, they ripen fast in iniquity, and among the rest in disobedience to parents. At a very early age, they enter the paths of impurity, in which they meet with no checks either from conscience, the virtuous examples of parents, or the state of public morals.—A bramhun, who appeared to respect Christianity, was one day reading the first chapter of the epistle to the Romans in Bengalee ; and while going over this melancholy description of the sins of the heathen, he confessed, with a degree of astonishment, how remarkably applicable it was to the manners of his own countrymen.
Marriages.-A Hindoo, except he be grown up, as in second marriages, never chooses his own wife. Two persons frequently agree while the children are infants, to give them in marriage, but most commonly a parent employs a man called ghutuku, to seek a suitable boy or girl for his child.
The son of a shoodru is often married as early as bis fith year ; the sons of a brumhun, after being invested with the poita, at seven, nine or eleven. Delays to a later period are not unfrequent : parents cannot always obtain a suitable match, or money is wanting ; marriages also must be regulated by the cast, and by complicated customs. Amongst the middling ranks, five hundred roopees are often expended, and amongst the rich many thousands, at the marriage of a son.
One of the Hindoo shastrus gives the following directions respecting the qualities of a wife :" She who is not descended from his paternal or maternal ancestors within the sixth degree, is eligible by a twice-born man for nuptials. In conpecting bimself with a wife, let him studiously avoid the following families, be they ever so great, or ever so rich in kine, goats, sheep, gold and grain : the family which has omitted prescribed acts of religion ; that which has produced no male children ; that, in which the vedu has not been read ; that, which has thick hair on the body ; and those, which have been subject to~[here a number of diseases are mentioned.] Let a person choose for his wife a girl, whose form has no defect ; who bas an agreeable name ; who walks gracefully like a young elephant ; whose hair and teeth are moderate respectively in quantity and in size ; whose body has exquisite softness.
The following account of the person of Sharuda, the daughter of Brumba, translated from the Shivu pooranu, may serve as a just description of a perfect Hindoo beauty; This girl was of a yellow colour: had a nose like the flower of the sesamum ; her legs were taper like the plantain tree; ber eyes large like the principal leaf of the lotus ; her eye-brows ex. tended to her ears ; her lips were red like the young leaves of the mango tree; her face was like the full moon; her voice like the sound of the cuckow ; her arms reached to her knees ; her throat was like tbat of a pigeon ; her loins narrow like those of a lion ; her hair hung in curls down to her feet; her teeth were like the seeds of the pomegranate ; and her gait like that of a drunken elephant or a goose.
Each cast has its own order of ghutokus, which profession may be embraced by any person qualified by cast and a knowledge of the ghutuku shastrus. They sometimes propose matches to parents before the parents themselves have begun to think of the marriage of their child. Many of these men are notorious flatterers and liars, and in making matrimonial alliances, endeavour to impose in the grossest manner upon the parents on both sides. If the qualities of a girl are