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possessed of the whole pepper trade without a rival. As merchants, it was then their interest to lower the price, which was undoubtedly in their power; but as sovereigns, their interest was, that the price should not be so low as to injure the revenue, or discourage agriculture; nor too low to enable the cultivator to thrive, and to discharge the revenue, while he is subject to the present monopoly of native contractors.
The major part of Dr. B's. political observations are, however, derived from local peculiarities, and dependent on them. In very many instances he points out variations from the customary mode of proceeding, that would materially benefit the country'; sometimes by regulations of rent and taxes; sometimes by introducing new articles of production, or improving those now cultivated; sometimes by restoring the reservoirs of water, that indispensable necessary to cultivation in India, and thereby repairing the calamities of war. In many parts the worthy Dr. complains of the scarcity of inhabitants, and of considerable extents of fields and country that lie in an uncultivated condition. The exertions that have lately been made to carry not a few of the Dr’s. ideas into execution will shortly give a new aspect to many districts through which he passed and future travellers will find occasion to wonder at the dissimilarity between his description and their observations.
But, that we may observe some degree of order, in our further account of Dr. Buchanan's work, we shall proceed to state the extent and route of his journey; and then shall present what extracts we have selected, with remarks on what appears to us to be the principal and most interesting subjects comprised in his volumes.
Dr. B. was directed by the Marquis Wellesley to pay particular attention to the agriculture of the country through which he passed ; to the vegetables cultivated for the use of man ; what peculiar kinds were adopted as food; with the modes of their cultivation, the machinery in use, &c.
Also, he was to notice the different breeds of cattle; the extent and tenures of farms; the natural productions of the country ; the articles of manufacture, and commerce; the climate and seasons; the general condition of the inhabitants, &c. To these particulars were added the charge of collecting botanical specimens; and the Dr. also considered antiquities, with the history of the various tribes which he visited, as included in his commission.
Dr B. quitted Madras, April 23, 1800, whence he went by way of Bangalore to Seringapatam, from which city he travelled northward to the boundaries of the Nizam's country. Seringapatam was, as it were, his bead quarters ; from hence he also journeyed south, through part of Karnata to Coimbetore, to the southern districts of Malabar, then passing through the towns on the coast, he took a northern direction to the limits of the Portuguese territory, whence he returned to Seringapatam, and, at length to Madras.
Únquestionably, the state and condition of man may justify attention prior to those of any other claimant. Interested as we may be in the cultivation of pepper and spices, or in the manners of the elephant and tiger, nothing is so important to us as the opinions, the practices, the prejudices, the follies, and the superstitions of our race. Great light is thrown on some of these by Dr. B. His report includes as well the learned and dominant classes, the Brahmans, as the outcasts of society, and those who haunt the forest, nor dare receive even a gift “ with mien ercct.” Some of these excite our pity in the highest degree.
We shall place the Brahmans first.
The Brahmans are divided into a great number of sects, holding different, and of ten contrary opinions. They assume also different marks of distinction on the forehead. Only the three pure casts of Brahmans, Vaishyas, and Sudra, are allowed to attend processions; and, in Bengal, Mahadeva, or Iswara, is never carried in procession. It appears, therefore, that we have yet no perfect knowledge of the deities worshipped in India.
The proper duty of a Brahman is meditation on things divine, and the proper manner of his procuring a subsistence is by begging (Bhiska). This mode of living is considered as very agreeable to the gods; and all industry is deemed derogatory to the rank of a man, and more especially to that of a Brahman.—Yet some, called Lokika, debase themselves by dedicating their labours to worldly affairs. Nevertheless, severai generations devoted to study and mortifications would be required to wash away the stain of ignoble birth, before the merits or learning of a Lokika family could enable them to procure a comfortable subsistence by charity.
The Brahmans are considered as priests of the Hindoos; yet there are none, even of the lowest among the Lokika, who would intermarry with the families of the Brahmans that officiate in the temples of Vishnu and Siva, and in this country ne Brahman officiates in any of the temples of the inferiour gods, whose altars are stained with blood.
The highest among the Brahmans are certain Vaidika, who, by more than usual mortification, attain a large proportion of divine favour. They cut off their hair ; dress in a yellow or red cloth; eat but once a day; abstain entirely from women; and, relinquishing all the domestick enjoyments of society, live in pagodas or matams, i.e. convents, where they dedicate their time entirely to devotion, and the instruction of those who are less pious, and who follow them as disciples. A Brahman of this kind is called a Sunnyási, and must be a man of learning, i. e. must be able to read Sanscrit, and be acquainted with the dogmas of his particular sect. The number of Brahman Sannyásis is very small, and is chiefly confined to those who are Gurus, Swamalus, or bishops of the different sects, and who, in every thing relating to religion and cast, have a jurisdiction over all their inferiours. They also perform certain ceremonies, such as Upadesa and Chicricanticum, which may be considered as analogous to the confirmation granted by our prelates. They are supported entirely by the contributions of their disciples; but these are so bur. thensoine, that a Guru seldom continues long in one place; for the contributions even of Madras, are not equal to supply the wants of a Swamula for more than one or two months. A hundred pagodas a day (361. 158. 5d.) is as little as decently offered to such a personage. The Raja of Tanjore is said to give his Guru 250 pagodas a day (911. 18s. 6il.) when that personage honours him with a visit. The Gurus travel in great state, with elephants, horses, palankeens, and an immense train of disciples, the least of whóm considers himself as highly elevated above mankind by his sanctity. They generally travel at night, in order to avoid their Mussulman or European conquerors, who would not show them that veneration, or rather adoration, to which they consider themselves entitled; and they have, therefore, been seldom seen by travellers. On the approach of a Guru to any place, every inhabitant of pure birth must go to meet him. The lower classes are not admitted to his presence. The Guru, on being conducted to the principal temple, bestows Upadesu or Chicricanticum on such as have not received these ceremonies, and distributes holy water. He then inquires into matters of contention, or transgressions against the rules of cast; and having settled or punished these, hears his disciples dispute on theological subjects. This is the grand field for acquiring reputation among the Brahmans. These disputations are said to be very similar to those which were common among the doctors of the Romish church seven or eight hundred years ago ; and, in fact, a strong resemblance will be found between the present state of Ilindoo knowledge, and that which then prevailed in Europe. Vol. I
The Brahmans are separated into two great divisions, one of which occupies the countries toward the south, and the other the countries toward the north. A southern bolds in great contempt those from Kasi (or Benares) as being men from the north; and would not even admit them to the honour of eating in his house. These Brahmans, he says, eat fish, offer bloody sacrifices, and commit other similar abominations. The northern Bralımans are, however, at least as proud as those from the south, and liege several reasons for holding them in contempt; among which the most urgent is, that ihe women of the southern Bralumans are allowed to appear in publick.
None of the southern Brahmans can, without losing cast, taste animal food, or drink spirituous liquors; and they look on the smoking of tobacco as disgraceful. All those who have been married are burned after their death, and their wives ought to accompany them on the pile ; but this custom has fallen very much into disuse, and instances of it are extremely rare; whereas, in Bengal, it still continues to be common. A woman can, on no account, take a second husband; and, unless she is married before the signs of puberty appear, she is ever afterwards considered as impure. They are not at all confined, and can be divorced for no other cause than adultery. When a Brahman divorces his wife, he performs the same ceremo. nies for her as if she had died. P. 308.
It gives us great pleasure that Dr B. reports, in very many places, that the custom of widows burning on the funeral pile of their husbands is either little practised, or wholly fallen into disuse. We consider it as a proof of the decline of Brahminical power and as indicating a favourable opening for the introduction of better principles.
The southern Brahmans are divided into nations, who can eat together, yet never intermarry ; into distinctions formed by offices, or professions, either wholly spiritual, or partly temporal ; and into sects, some of which will not eat with others, because they consider them as holding heterodox opinions.
A Brahman of this country will not give any thing out of his hand to persons of lower birth, of whom he is not afraid, but throws it down on the ground for them to take up. He will receive any thing from the hand of a person of pure descent ; but when a Whallia delivers any thing to the Brahman, he must lay it on the ground, and retire to a proper distance, before the Brahman will dcign to approach. P. 314.
The Numbi are an inferiour order of Brahmans, whose duty is to act as Pirjário in the temples. They are all Vaidika, and never follow any worldly occupation; but are despised on account of their receiving fixed wages for performing their duty. P. 332.
Dr. B. is guilty of a small errour in mistaking the character of a place reputed holy; for he tells us, p. 278, Vol. I.
The hill (ał Colar) seems to attract more moisture than the level country, and do be more favoured with rain ; for a certain field on it annually produces a crop of rice, without any artificial watering, which, in this arid climate, is looked on as a kind of miracle.' There is a spring of water which Aows from the side of this hill in a small stream; and such a thing being here very uncommon, the Brahmans have conducted it along a gutter formed in the rock; and where it falls from thence, bare, under a building, placed some stones, which the obligung imagination of the natives conceives to resemble a cow's mouth. The place, as being holy, is much frequented; and a ruinous temple at some distance attracts to its annual feast about ten thousand pilgrims.
Now, it is not "a cow's mouth,” but “ THE cow's mouth,” which this place is thought to resemble; i. é. a fissure between rocks in the course of the Ganges, considerably above Hurdwar, called by this name, well known to the Brahmans; and the stream “ falling from the gutter formed in the rock,” resembles a famous place of bathing and ablution still nearer to the head of the sacred Ganges; so that, in fact, this spot at Colar combines miniature representations of two of the most sacred places in Brahminical estimation; and, therefore, may well be reputed holy.
There is something curious enough in the mode of dividing the produce of the ground, as practised in some parts of Hindoostan. We shall take, as an example, that adopted in the neighbourhood of Bangalore. There is first set aside from the heap,
Seers For the Gods, i. e. for the priests at their temples, For Charity, i. e. for the Brahmans, Jangamas and other mendicants, For the Astrologer, or Panchanga ; who, if no mendicant be present, takes also tlie 5 Seers,
For the poor Brahman of the village, whose office is hereditary,
the the village sacrifices,
given the following perquisites :
heap of 20 Candacas, is
is about an inch thick ; but this is mixed with the cow-dung that, by way
10 45 45
169 The accomptant also, for every Canılaca of seed sown, and which ought to produce one heap of this size, gets two men's load of straw with the grain in it.
This, on a heap of 20 Candacas of 160 Scers, amounts to about 51-4 per cent. of the gross produce. Of the remainder the government takes first ten per cent. and then a half; so that it receives 55 per cent. of the net produce, and the farmer receives 45 per cent.
In dividing Jagory, a kind of scramble takes place among the same persons who shared in the heap of rice; and in this the farmer partakes. During the scramble about a fourth part of Jagory is taken away in handfuls, and the remainder is divided equally between the government and the farmer.
All the dry field ought to be let for a money rent; but, besides this, the farmer must pay the following duties:
To the barber, 30 Seers for every heap of grain.
To the iron-sinith, 20 Scers for every plough. The farmer finds the materials ; but the smiths must make all the implements of husbandry, and assist in building and repairing the farmer's house.
To the washerman for any family, consisting of two men and two wives, or under that number, 50 Seers ; for a family of four men and four wives, 100 Seers; and for a larger family 150 Seers.
Dr. B. gives two other lists of distribution, both of which begin by allotting portions “ to the gods, and to the Brahmans."
We cannot forego the introduction of a thought that strikes us, as to the origin of this distribution of the products of the land being in truth more ancient than the use of money in commerce ; for it seems to have all the requisites for doing justice to such persons as the agriculturist could possibly have accounts with, in the course of the season; and these he was to liquidate at the time of harvest; not by paying in rupees ; but by communicating to each a portion of his grain, as he had enjoyed a portion of their labour. It is certain that a village, conducting itself strictly on this principle, might be all the world to itself; and without external com. merce might bestow on each member of its little community, in the simplest manner possible, the supports of life. The share of the accomptant, which in some allotments, amounts to 100 Seers, out of 130, seems almost to denote, that the science of calculation, and the art of writing, were held in great esteem, when the rate was settled, probably because of its rarity ; as well as because of its usefulness. The very large proportion
demanded by government, should seem to be in consequence of moderni events.
This manner of distributing maintenance appears also to be one principal support, as it may be coeval with their origin, of the doctrine of casts, so far as it depends on profession : for, when once the relative rank of a profession was fixed, it became the interest of all others to restrain its share of the increase within those limits which had been assigned to it: while loss of cast, however low that cast might be in estimation, disqua. lified the individual from demanding what otherwise would have been his allotment.
Very different from our own ideas of sanctity of manners, with which cleanliness of person is usually associated, are ihe notions of the Hindoos. For instance, Dr. B. informs us, that,
Firewood at Seringapatam is a dear article, and the fuel most commonly used is cow-cung made up into cakes. This, indeed, is much used in every part of India, especially by men of rank; as, from the veneration paid to the cow, it is considered as by far the most pure substance that can be employed. Every herd of cattle, when at pasture, is attended by women, and these often of high cast, who with their hands gather up the dung and carry it home in baskets. "They then form it into cakes, about half an inch thick, and nine inches in diameter, and stick them on the walls to dry. So different, indeed, are Hindoo notions of cleanliness from ours, that the walls of their best houses are frequently bedaubed with these cakes; and every morning numerous females, from all parts of the neighbourhood, bring for sale into Seringapatam baskets of this fuel.
Many females, who carry large baskets of cow-dung on their heads, are well dressed, and elegantly formed girls. The dress of the Karnútaca women is, indeed, very becoming: and I have never seen finer forms than even the labouring women of that country frequently possess. Their nastiness, however, is disgusting; very few of the inhabitants above the Ghats being free from the itch; and their linen being almost always died, is seldom washed. Vol. I. p. 135.
As a strong contrast to the assumption of the lordly Brahman, yet as manifesting how nearly extremes meel, and that when least suspected by the assuming, we shall instance, in a tribe which lives on alms, rather than by honest labour, and will not work, though sustenance might be obtained by it. Yet these are held in horrour, and not a slave will touch them
The Nžadis are an outcast tribe common in Malabar, but not numerous. They are reckoned so very impure that even a slave will not touch them. They speak a very bad dialect, and have acquired a prodigious strength of voice, by being constantly necessitated to bawl aloud to those with whom they wish to speak. They absolutely refuse to perform any kind of labour; and almost the only means they employ to procure subsistence is by watching the crops to drive away wild hog's and birds. Hunters also employ them to rouse game; and the Acnumurs, who hunt by profession, give the Viallis one fourth part of what they kill. They gather a few wild roots; but can neither catch fish nor any kind of game. They sometimes procure a tortoise, and are able, by means of hooks, to kill a crocodile. Both of these amphibious animals they reckon delicious food. All these resources, however, are very inadequate to their support, and they chictly subsist by begging. They have scarcely any clothing, and every thing about them discloses want and misery. They hare some wretched huts built under trees in remote places; but they gene. rally wander about in companies of ten or twelve persons, keeping at a little disa tance from the roads; and when they see any passenger, they set up a bowl, like 80 many hungry dogs. Those who are moved by compassion lay down what they are inchned to bestow, and go away. The Nżadis then put what has been left for them in the baskets which they always carry about. The Viadiz worship a female deity called Maladeiva, and sacrifice fowls to her in March. They have no marriage ceremony; but one man and one woman always cohabit together; and among them infidelity, they say, is utterly unknown.
A wretched tribe of this kind, buiteted and abused by every one, and subsisting on the labour of the industrious, is a disgrace to any country; and both compassion