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from combat ;-of prizes in war ;-of exercising the troops; -of officers and troops for the protection of districts ;-of the king's servants ;-of governors of towns ;-of levying of taxes;-learned bramhuns to pay no taxes; a learned bramhun must never be allowed so to want as to be afflicted with hunger, or the whole kingdom will perish ;-of secrecy in council;-of a king's consulting his ministers; of the important subjects to be debated in council;—the nature of making war; -of invading the country of an enemy ;-of forming alliances ;-of the conduct of a king in his house, respecting his food, his pleasures, the divisions of his time, his dress, his employments;-of a king's sitting in a court of Justice; he must decide causes each day, one after another, under the eighteen principal titles of law, viz. on debt; ownership; concerns among partners; subtracting of what has been given; non-payment of wages or hire; non-performance of agreements; succession of sale and purchase; disputes between master and servant; contests on boundaries; assault ; slander; larceny; robbery and other violence; adultery; altercation between man and wife; their several duties; the law of inheritance; of gaming with dice, and with living creatures ;-when the king cannot preside, let him appoint a bramhun as chief judge with three assessors. In whatever country three bramhuns, particularly skilled in the three several vedus, sit together, with the very learned bramhun appointed by the king, the wise call that assembly the court of Brumha with four faces.' The importance of justice, and the evils of injustice ;-on the necessity of condign punishments; -no shoodru may interpret the law or sit as judge; of that king who stupidly looks on, while a shoodru decides causes, the kingdom itself shall be embarrassed, like a cow in a deep mire.' A king or a judge must not promote litigation, nor neglect a lawsuit ;-the evidence of three persons required;— who may be witnesses. The judge is to call upon a bramhun for his simple declaration; to a shoodru, address a sentence like the following, on the evils of perjury: the fruit of every virtuous act, which thou hast done, O good man, since thy birth, shall depart from thee to dogs, if thou deviate in speech from the truth ;'-false evidence may be given from benevolent motives: such evidence, wise men call the speech of the gods; it is only necessary for such a false witness to make an offering to the goddess of learning;-oaths may be properly taken --a priest is to swear by his veracity; a soldier by his horse, elephant, or weapon; a merchant by his kine, grain, or gold; a mechanic by imprecating on his own head,
if he speak falsely, all possible crimes ;-on great occasions, witness may hold fire, or dive under water, or severally touch the heads of his children and wife. Punishments for perjury: a perjured Bramhun must be banished, a perjured Shoodru fined and banished ;-evil of unjust punishments;-of copper, silver, and gold weights; rates of interest;-of sureties;-of deposits;-of sales; of shares in common concerns ;—of gifts ;-of non payment of wages ;-of breaking engagements;-of disposing girls in marriage with blemishes; -of disputes among owners and feeders of cattle -of boundaries for land ;-of defamatory words ;-of criminal punishments ;-of injuries to man or beast ;-' a wife, a son, a servant, a pupil, and a younger whole brother, may be corrected, when they commit faults, with a rope, or the small shoot of a cane, only on the back of their bodies ;-' men who have committed offences, and have received from kings the punishment due to them, go pure to heaven, and become as innooent as those who have done well;'-of fines ;—' a twice born-man, who is travelling, and whose provisions are scanty, shall not be fined for taking only two sugar-canes, or two esculent roots, from the field of another man ;-of the law of adultery;—of manslaughter ;—a man not to be punished for adultery if the female consent ;-a low man who makes love to a damsel of high birth, ought to be punished corporally ;regulations for markets ;-of tolls and freight; at sea there can be no settled freight ;'-of the charges for crossing rivers ;—a woman two months pregnant, a religious beggar, a hermit in the third order, and Brambuns who are students in theology, shall not be obliged to pay toll for their passage."
Ordeal.-Formerly trials by ordeal were common among the Hindoos, and although this mode has been abolished by the East India Company, so far as its influence extends, it is said still to be practised. There are nine kinds of ordeal mentioned. One kind is to weigh the person accused; then let him bathe with his clothes on; then he is weighed again, and if with his wet clothes, he be lighter than before, he is acquitted; if heavier, he is considered guilty. Another kind of trial is by hot, clarified butter, and persons frequently choose this mode of establishing their innocence, when accused of crimes. This was the case with a young married woman, who was charged with a criminal intrigue, while her husband was absent, but who denied the charge, and offered to undergo this ordeal. Accordingly, on the 18th of November, 1807, the husband, having prepared the articles required, and having invited the bramhuns, she underwent the tri
al in the presence of seven thousand spectators. The trial consists in taking a golden ball from a vessel of boiling hot clarified butter with the hand. This she did, it is said, without the least injury to herself, though a drop of hot oil falling on the hand of the bramhun, to whom she was to give the golden ball, raised a blister on the part. The spectators seeing this proof of the woman's innocence, burst forth into applauses of dhunga! dhunga! happy! happy!
In the administration of the laws, corruption and bribery are common, on the one hand, while on the other, extreme cruelty in the infliction of punishments are frequent.
It is said, that one of the present reigning Hindoo princes, actually employs bands of robbers to plunder his own subjects, and that when they apply to him for redress, he either evades investigation, or grants only a mock trial. Bribes are universally offered, as well to the judge on the bench, as to the petty constable of the village. On the contrary, it is common to see the lower casts punished in the most cruel manner for the most trivial offence, or the slightest want of reverence towards a Bramhun. Thus Menao, the lawgiver, writes, that a once born man, who insults the troied born (bramhun) with gross invective, ought to have his tongue slit; for he sprung from the lowest part of Brumha. If he mention the names and classes of the twice born with contempt, as "Oh thou refuse of brumhuns," an iron style ten fingers long shall be thrust into his mouth, red hot. Should he through pride, give instruction to a priest concerning his duty, let the king order some hot oil to be poured into his mouth and ear. These laws are often executed in the most rigid manner, upon that poor degraded race, for whom only they were intended.
Casts. The different casts, or orders of the Hindoos, are four: viz. the Bramhuns, the Kshutriyu, the Voishyu, and the Shoodru, which, however, include many other divisions and subdivisions. The samu vedu,* the †smritees, and several †pooranus, affirm, that the bramhuns proceeded from the mouth of Brumha, the kshutriyus from his arms, the voishyus from his thighs, and the shoodrus from his feet; agreeably to which allegory, the Hindoos, in forming their mingled system of civil and religious polity, have assigned the priesthood, and the work of legislation, to the bramhuns; the executive department to the kshutriyus; trade and commerce to the voishyus, and all manner of servile work to the
+ Books of civil law.
shoodrus. Like all other attempts to cramp the human intellect, and forcibly to restrain men within bounds which nature scorns to keep, this system, however specious in theory, has operated like the Chinese national shoe, it has rendered the whole nation cripples. Under the fatal influence of this abominable system, the bramhuns have sunk into ignorance, without abating an atom of their claims to superiority; the kshutriyus became almost extinct before their country fell into the hands of the Mussulmans; the voishyus are no where to be found in Bengal; almost all have fallen into the class of shoodrus, and the shoodrus have sunk to the level of their own cattle, except a few individuals whom these bramhinical fetters could not confine, and who, under a beneficent government, have successfully aspired to riches, though denied the honours to which their ingenuity and efforts would have raised them.
Every person at all acquainted with the Hindoo system, must have been forcibly struck with the idea, that it is wholly the work of the bramhuns; who have placed themselves above kings in honour, and laid the whole nation prostrate at their feet.
By the Hindoo law, the magistrate was not to imagine evil in his heart against a bramhun; uor could a person of that order be put to death for any crime whatsoever; he might be imprisoned, banished, or have his head shaved, but his life was not to be touched. The tribute paid to them, arising from multiplied idolatrous ceremonies, was greater than the revenues of the monarch. If a shoodru assumed the bramhinical thread, he was to be severely fined. If he gave frequent molestation to a bramhun, he was to be put to death. If a shoodru committed adultery with the wife of a bramhun, he was to be mutilated, and to be bound upon a hot iron plate, and burnt to death. If a* bramhun stole a shoodru, he was to be fined; but if a shoodru stole a bramhun, he was to be burnt to death. Ifa shoodru sat upon the carpet of a bramhun, the magistrate, having thrust a hot iron into his fundament, and branded him, was to banish him the kingdom; or to cut off his posteriors. If a shoodru, through pride, spat upon a bramhun, his lips were to be cut off. If a person of this cast, plucked a bramhun by the hair, or by the beard, or seized him by the neck, the magistrate was to cut off both his hands. If he listened to reproaches against a bramhun, he
* The number of bramhuns in Bengal, compared with the shoodrus, is, perhaps, as one to eight, or one to ten.
was to pour hot lead into his ears. If a shoodru beat a magistrate, he was to have an iron spit run through him, and to be roasted alive; a bramhun, for such an offence, was to be fined. And, as though all these horrible punishments on earth had not sufficiently degraded the shoodru, the wrath of the bramhuns pursued him into the next world,-for, the same shastrus teach, that if a shoodru do not rise to receive a bramhun with due honour, he will become a tree after death; if he look angrily at a bramhun, his eyes will be put out by Yumu, the Hindoo Pluto.
The shastrus* teach, that a gift to a learned bramhun possesses infinite merit; feasts to bramhuns are considered as very meritorious a poor man entertains two or three at a time; a rich man invites hundreds. At all festivals, marriages, &c. one of the most important things to be done is to entertain the bramhuns, and to make presents to them at their dismission. If a shoodru wish to succeed in any project, he feasts two or three bramhuns. If a man has been entertaining a number of bramhuns, a neighbour says to him, "Ah! you are a happy man! you can honour so many bramhuns!" A covetous man is sometimes thus reproached: "He is very rich, but he cannot bring his mind to part with a mite, no not to entertain bramhuns: he does not even invite a few bramhuns to his house, and wash their feet.” To present gifts to bramhuns at the hour of death, and bequeath to them lands, or cows, or houses, is extolled in the shastrus as a work of merit destroying all sin, and followed in the next world with imperishable happiness.
To drink the water into which a bramhun's toe has been dipped, is considered a very great privilege. When inquiring into this eircumstance, it was ascertained, that vast numbers of shoodrus, while fasting, thus purify themselves daily; that others make a vow to attend to this duty for a length of time, to remove some disease. Indeed, shoodrus may be frequently seen carrying water in a cup, and intreating the first bramhun they meet, to put his toe into it; after which they drink the water, and bow or prostrate themselves to the bramhun, who bestows his blessing on them; others preserve some of this holy water in their houses. Persons are found who endeavour to collect the dust from the feet of a lack of bramhuns; one mode of doing which is, by spreading a cloth before the door of a house where many are assembled at a feast ; as each bramhun comes out, he shakes the dust from his feet
*Law governing the casts.