THE CAMBRIDGE HISTORY OF INDIA - I - ANCIENT INDIA
THE PERIOD OF THE LATER SAMHITAS, THE BRAHMANAS, THE ARANYAKAS, AND THE UPANISHADS
DEFINITELY later than that depicted in the Rigveda is the civilisation presented by the later Samhitas, the Brahmanas, the Iiranyakas, and the Upanishads. It is on the whole probable that the total time embraced in this period is not longer, perhaps it is even shorter, than that covered by the earlier and later strata of the Rigveda; and there are hymns in the tenth book of the Rigveda which are really contemporaneous with the later Samhitas, just as those Samhitas have here and there preserved work of a much earlier epoch. But the distinction between the main body of the Rigveda and the rest of the Vedic literature is clear and undeniable. Nor is it open to much doubt that the redaction of the Samhita of the Rigveda into what, in substance as opposed to verbal form, was its present shape took place before the other Samhitas were compiled. Of these Samhitas the Samaveda, the collection of chants for the Saman singers, is so dependent on the Rigveda for its contents, that it is negligible for purposes of history. On the other hand, the Samhitas of the Yajurveda, the collection of the formulae and prayers of the Adhvaryu priest, to whose lot fell the actual performance of the sacrificial acts, are of the highest historical importance. They represent two main schools, the Black and the White, the name of the latter being due, according to tradition, to the fact that, whereas the texts of the Black Yajurveda contain verse or prose formulae and the prose explanations and comments combined into one whole, the text of the latter distinguishes between the verse and prose formulae which it collects in the Samhita, and the prose explanations which it includes in a Brahmana. Of the Black Yajurveda three complete texts exist, those of the Taittiriya, the Kathaka, and the Maitrayani schools, while considerable fragments of a Kapishthala Samhita closely allied to the Kathaka also exist.
In the case of the Taittiriya there is a Brahmana which is a supplementary work, dealing with matter not taken up in the Samhita. The White school has the Vajasaneyi Samhita and the Chatapatha Brahmana, the latter being one of the most important works in the whole Vedic literature. Finally, there is the Samhita of the Atharvaveda, which is technically reckoned as appertaining to the Brahman, the priest who in the later state of the ritual superintends the whole of the sacrifice, and which is a curious repository of most mingled matter, for the most part spells of every kind, but containing also theosophical hymns of considerable importance.
The conjunction of the prose explanation with the formulae does not prove the later composition of both the prose and the formulae, and there is no ground for attributing the two strata to the same date. On the other hand, the prose of the Yajurveda Samhitas is amongst the earliest Vedic prose. Possibly somewhat earlier may be that of the Panchavimcha Brahmana, which is the Brahmana of the Samaveda, and which, despite the extraordinary technicality of its details, is yet not without importance for the history of the civilization of the period. The Brahmanas of the Rigveda are probably slightly later in date, the older being unquestionably the earlier part (books I—V) of the Aitareya, and the younger the Kaushitaki or Chankhayanal. When the Atharvaveda, which long was not recognised as fully entitled to claim rank as a Veda proper, came within the circle of the Vedas, it was considered desirable to provide it with a Brahmana, the Gopatha, but this strange work is in part a cento from other texts, including the Chatapatha Brahmana, and appears to be later than the Kaucika and Vaitana Sutras attached to the Atharvaveda,its value then for this period is negligible.
Special portions from the Brahmanas are given the title of Aranyaka, "forest books", apparently because their contents were so secret that they had to be studied in the depths of the forests, away from possibility of overhearing by others than students. The extant texts which bear this name are the Aitareya, the Kaushitaki, and the Taittiriya, which are appendages to the Brahmanas bearing those names. All three are somewhat heterogeneous in composition, the Aitareya being the most definitely theosophical, while the Taittiriya is the least. Still more important are the Upanishads, so called because they were imparted to pupils in secret session, the term denoting the sitting of the pupil before the teacher. Each of the three Aranyakas contains an Upanishad of corresponding name. More valuable however are the two great Upanishads, the Brihaddranyaka, which is attached to the Chatapatha Brahmana, forming part of its fourteenth and last book in one recension and the seventeenth book in the other, and the Chhandogya Upanishad attached to the Samaveda; these two are in all probability the oldest of the Upanishads. To the Samaveda also belongs the Jaiminiya Brahmana, one book of which, the Jaiminiya Upanishad Brahmana, is really an Aranyaka, and, like other Aranyakas, contains in itself an Upanishad, the brief but interesting Kena Upanishad. The number of treatises styled Upanishad is very large; but, with the possible exception of the Kathaka, which expands a legend found in the Taittiriya Brahmana dealing with the nature of the soul, none of them other than those enumerated can claim to be older than Buddhism; and the facts which they contain cannot therefore prudently be used in sketching the life of the period under review. Similarly, the Sutras, which are text-books either giving in the form of very brief rules directions for the performance of the sacrifice in its various forms (the Chrauta Sutras dealing with the great rites at which a number of priests were employed, the Grihya Sutras with the domestic sacrifices and other duties performed by the householder), or enunciating customary law and practice (the Dharma Sutras), cannot safely be relied upon as presenting a picture of this period. They are however of much indirect value; for they throw light upon practices which are alluded to in the Brahmanas in terms capable of more than one interpretation; and here and there they preserve verses, far older than the works themselves, which contain historic facts of value.
We have seen that, in the period of the Rigveda, the centre of the civilization was tending to be localized in the land between the Sarasvati and the Drishadvati, but that, though this was the home of the Bharatas, other tribes including the famous five tribes dwelt in the Punjab, which had in all probability been the earlier home of the Indians. In the Brahmana period, as the period under review may conveniently be called, the localization of civilization in the more eastern country is definitely achieved, and the centre of the life of the day is Kurukshetra, bounded by Khandava on the south, Turghna on the north, Parinah on the west. In contrast with the frequent mention of the eastern lands the Punjab recedes in importance; and its later name, Panchanada, "land of the five streams", is not found until the epic period. The tribes of the west receive disapproval both in the Chatapatha and the Aitareya Brahmanas. In the Aitareya Brahmana a geographical passage ascribes to the Middle Country, the later Madhyadecha, the Kurus and Panchalas with the Vachas and the Uchinaras, to the south the Satvants, and to the north beyond the Himalaya the Uttara-Kurus and the Uttara-Madras. On the other hand, while the west recedes in importance the regions east of the KuruPanchala country come into prominence, especially Kosala, corresponding roughly to the modern Oudh, Videha, the modern Tirhut or N. Bihar, and Magadha, the modern S. Bihar. Still further east was the country of the Angas, the modern E. Bihar. In the south we hear of outcast tribes in the Aitareya Brahmana, probably tribes who were not fully Brahmanised: their names are given as the Andhras, who appear as a great kingdom in the centuries immediately before and after the Christian era, Pundras, Mutibas, Pulindas, and Cabaras, the last named being now a tribe living on the Madras frontier near Orissa and showing, in its language, traces of its Munda origin. In the south also was Naishadha.
It does not seem likely that Aryan civilisation had yet overstepped the Vindhya, which is not mentioned by name in the Vedic texts, though the Kaushitaki Upanishad refers to the northern and southern mountains, the latter of which must be the Vindhya. At the same time geographical knowledge of the north is wider : the Atharvaveda knows not only of the Mujavants and the Gandharis, but also of the Mahavrishas, and the name of a place in the Mahavrisha country, Raikvaparna, is preserved in the Chhandogya Upanishad. Yaska in the Nirukta, a text of about 500 BC explaining with illustrations certain selected Vedic words, tells us that the speech of the Kambojas differed in certain respects from the ordinary Indian speech, referring doubtless to the tribes living north-west of the Indus who bore that name. Vidarbha, the modern Berdr, is mentioned, but only in the late Jaiminiya Upanishad Brahmana, though a Bhima of Vidarbha occurs in a late passage of the Aitareya.
In addition to a wider geographical outlook, the Brahmana period is marked by the knowledge of towns and definite localities. There are fairly clear references to Asandivant, the Kuru capital, Kampila, the capital of Panchala in Madhyadecha, to Kauchambi, and to Kachi, the capital of the Kachis on the river Varanavati, whence in later times Benares derives its name. So we hear in this period for the first time of the Vinachana, the place of the disappearance of the Sarasvati in the desert, and Plaksha Prasravana the place forty-four days' journey distant, where the river reappears and which, in the version of the Jaiminiya Upanishad Brahmaua, is but a span from the centre of the universe. These are clear signs both of more developed city life and of more settled habits.
Corresponding with the change in geographical conditions is a still greater change in the grouping of the tribes. The Bharatas, who are the heroes of the third and the seventh books of the Rigveda, no longer occupy the main position, and we find in their place, in the land which we know they once held, the Kurus, and close to the Kurus the allied Panchalas. As we have seen already, there is little doubt that the Kurus were new comers with whom the Bharatas amalgamated, and the Kurus thus reinforced included in their numbers the Purus. The mention of the Uttara-Kurus as resident beyond the Himalaya is sufficiently accounted for if we suppose that a branch of this tribe had settled in Kashmir, just as another branch seems to have settled on the Indus and the Chenab. The Panchalas, too, seem to have been a composite tribe, as the name which is clearly derived from pañcha, "five", shows. According to the Chatapatha Brahmapa the older name for the Panchalas was Krivi; and we may at least believe that the Krivis who with the Kurus appear to have constituted the two Vaikarna tribes of the Rigveda were a part of the Panchala nation. The same Brahmana suggests, if it does not prove, that the Turvachas were another element of the people; and the disappearance from history at this period of the Anus and Druhyus may indicate that they also were merged in the new confederation. With the Kurus and Panchalas must be ranked the Vachas and Uchinaras, two minor tribes who occupied the Middle Country, and the Srinjayas, whose close connection with the Kurus is proved beyond doubt by the fact that at one time they had a Purohita, in common, showing that, for the time at least, they must have been acting under the leadership of one king.
In the texts the Kuru-Panchalas pass as the models of good form: the sacrifices are perfectly performed in their country: speech is best spoken there and, as it seems, among the northern Kurus; and the Kaushitaki Brahmana tells of people going to the north for the sake of its pure speech. The Kuru-Panchala kings are the example for other kings: they perform the Rajasuya, the sacrifice of the royal consecration: they march forth in the dewy season for their raids and return in the hot season. Their Brahmans are famous in the literature of the Upanishads for their knowledge; and the Samhitas and Brahmanas which are preserved seem, without exception, to have taken definite form among the KuruPanchalas, even when, as in the case of the Chatapatha Bramana, they recognize the existence of the activities of the kings and priests of Kosala-Videha. It is significant of the state of affairs that in the Samhitas and allied texts of the Yajurvedas where the ceremony of the Wajasilya is described, the king is presented to the people with the declaration, This is your king, 0 Kurus,' with variants of ' 0 Panchalas ' and 0 Kuru-Panchalas.'
In the Sanskrit epic the Kurus and the Panchalas are conceived as being at enmity; and it is natural to enquire whether this tradition goes back to the Vedic periods. The reply, however, must be in the negative, for the evidence adduced in favour of the theory is of the weakest possible character. In the Kathaka Samhita there is an obscure ritual dispute between a certain priest, Vaka, son of Dalbha, who is believed to have been a Panchala, and Dhritarashtra Vaicitravirya, who is assumed to have been a Kuru king. But apart from the fact that a mere dispute on a point of ritual between a Panchala priest and a Kuru king could not prove any hostility between the two peoples, there is no ground for supposing that this Dhritarashtra was any one else than the king of the Kachis who bears the same name and who was defeated by the Bharata prince, Satrajita Chatanika, and in the very same passage of the Kathaka allusion is made to the union of the KuruPanchalas. A second argument of some human interest is derived from the clever suggestion of Weber that in the revolting ceremony of the horse-sacrifice, one of the great kingly sacrifices by which the Indian king proclaimed his claim to imperial sway, the queen of the Kurus is compelled to lie beside the victim, since otherwise Subhadrika, the wife of the king of Kampila, the capital of Panchala, would take her place. If this were the case there would be convincing proof of an ancient rivalry which might well end in the bitter conflicts of the epic; but, unhappily, the interpretation is almost certainly incorrect. With the absence of evidence of opposition between the Kurus, assumed to have been specially Bramanical, and the Panchalas, disappears any support for the theory, based on the phenomena of the later distribution of dialects in India, that the Kurus were a fresh stream of immigrants into India who came via Chitral and Gilgit and forced themselves as a wedge between the Aryan tribes already dwelling in the land. The theory proceeds to assume that, coming with few or no women, they intermingled with the Dravidian population with great completeness and produced the Aryo-Dravidian physical type. If these things were so, the fact was not at any rate known by the age which produced the Samhitas and the Brahmanas.
Though the Bharatas disappear in this period as a tribe, the fame of the Bharata kings had not been lost: in a passage in the Chatapatha Brahmana which describes the famous men who sacrificed with the horse-sacrifice, we hear of the Bharata Dauhshanti, whom the nymph Chakuntala bore at Nadapit, and who defeated the king of the Satvants and won victories on the Ganges and Jumna, showing that the Bharatas, as in the Rigveda, were performing their great deeds on the eastern as well as on the western side of the kingdom. Another king, Satrajita Chatanika, as we have seen, defeated the king of the Kachis. We hear too of a descendant of Divodasa, Pratardana, whose name is of value as tending to show that the Tritsus were the family of the royal house of the Bharatas: according to the Kaushitaki Upanishad he met his death in battle. It is possible that with him perished the direct Tritsu line: at any rate, the first king who bears the Kuru name, Kuruchravana, is a descendant of Trasadasyu, the greatest of the Puru kings. But of Kuruchravana and of his father Mitratithi, and his son Upamachravas we know practically nothing; and the first great Kuru king is one mentioned in the Atharvaveda, Parikshit, in whose reign the hymn tells us the kingdom of the Kurus flourished exceedingly. His grandson and great-grandson according to tradition were the Pratisutvana and Pratipa whose names are mentioned in the Atharvaveda. A later descendant of his was the famous Janamejaya, whose horse-sacrifice is celebrated in the Chatapatha Brahmana, and who had in his entourage the priests Indrota Daivapi Chaunaka and Tura Kavasheya. His brothers Ugrasena, Bhimasena, and Chrutasena by the same sacrifice purified themselves of the crime of Brahman-slaying. But the history of the Kurus was not apparently, at the end of the period, unchequered: there is an obscure reference to their being saved by a mare, perhaps a reference to the prowess of their charioteers or cavalry in battle; but the same text, the Chhandogya Upanishad, alludes to a hailstorm or perhaps a shower of locusts afflicting them, and a prediction is preserved in an old Sutra telling that they would be driven from Kurukshetra. It is in accord with these hints that the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad sets as a question for discussion the problem what has become of the descendants of Parikshit: the dynasty must have passed away in some great disaster. From the Chatapatha Brahmana we gather that the capital Janamejaya was Asandivant, "the city of the throne", and that at Mashnara a Kuru king won a victory, and Tura Kavasheya, a priest of the Bharatas, sacrificed at Karoti.
Of the Panchalas apart from the Kurus we hear comparatively little: they had however kings like Kraivya and Chona Satrasaha, father of Koka, who performed the horse-sacrifice and thus claimed imperial power, Durmukha, who was taught the royal consecration by Brihaduktha and conquered the whole earth, and the more real Pravahana Jaivali who appears as philosopher king in the Upanishads, and who at least must have been willing to take part in the disputes of the Brahmans at his court. Panchala towns were Kampila, Kauchambi, and Parivakra or Paricakra, the scene of Kraivya's exploits.
The Uttara-Kurus seem already in the time of the Aitareya Brahmana to have won a somewhat mythical reputation, for when Atyarati Janamtapi, who was not a king, proposed to conquer them as well as the rest of the world, he was dissuaded by his priest Vasishtha Satyahavya, and for his rashness was defeated by Amitratapana Chushmina, the king of the Chibis, a tribe no doubt identical with the Chivas of the Rigveda and belonging to the north-west. The Uttara-Madras must have lived near them in Kashmir; and the Madras of whom we hear in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad were, in the Buddhist epoch, settled between the Chenab and the Ravi. In the Middle Country with the Kuru-Panchalas were the Vachas and Uchinaras who seem to have been of no importance. With them in the Kaushitaki Upanishad are coupled the Matsyas, and we hear of one great Matsya king, Dhvasan Dvaitavana, who performed the horse-sacrifice and who probably ruled in or about Jaipur or Alwar, where lake Dvaitavana must be placed. On the Jumna we hear at the end of the period of the Salvas, under king Yaugandhari, probably in close touch with the Kuru-Pahchala people.
The Srinjayas also stood in this period in close relationship to the Kurus, and like the Kurus the Srinjayas seem to have suffered disaster at some period. The Vaitahavyas, the Atharvaveda relates, offended the priestly family of the Bhrigus and came to ruin: this tradition is confirmed by the notices of disasters in the Kathaka and Taittiriya Samhitas. Of their history we have one definite glimpse: they rose against their king, Dushtaritu Paumsayana, despite the ten generations of his royal descent, and expelled him with his Sthapati, "minister", Chakra Revottaras Patava; but the latter afterwards succeeded in restoring his master to power, despite the opposition of Balhika Pratipiya, whose patronymic reminds us of the Pratipa who was a descendant of the Kuru king Parikshit, showing that the Kuru princes were probably anxious enough to use domestic strife as a means of securing a hold over a neighbouring kingdom. Perhaps in the long run the ruin of the Vaitahavyas took the shape of absorption in the Kuru realm. On the other hand, the defeats of the Satvants on the south by the Kurus were doubtless nothing more than mere raids.
Further east of the Kuru-Panchala realm lay the territories of Kosala and Videha, which were, however, not allied in any so close a manner as the Kurus and the Panchalas. Para, son of Atnara, their greatest king who celebrated the horse-sacrifice, is however spoken of as a king of Videha as well as a king of Kosala, showing that the kingdoms were sometimes united under one sovereign. A well-known legend in the Chatapatha Brahmana recognises that Videha received Vedic civilization later than Kosala, for it tells how Mathava the Videgha, whose name shows the older form of the word Videha, passed from the Sarasvati, the seat of Vedic culture, to the land of Videha, crossing the Sadanira; this perennial stream, as its name denotes, formed the boundary of Kosala on the east and, with some plausibility, has been identified with the modern Gandak, which rising in Nepal joins the Ganges near Patna. Kati and Videha are also connected in the Kaushitaki Upanishad; and a late text preserves the record that Jala Jatukarnya was the Purohita of the Kosalas, Videhas, and Kachis at one time, proving a temporary league. Of other kings we hear of the Kosalan Hiranyanabha, of the Videban Nami Sapya, and beyond all of Janaka of Videha, whose fame leads him to play the part of the father of Sita, the heroine of the Ramayana, the second of India's great epics. Janaka appears himself as a king ever anxious to seek for the wisdom of the Brahmans; and among his contemporaries are mentioned the great Yajnavalkya, and Chvetaketu. His contemporary was Ajatachatru of Kati, whom one account indeed refers to as of Kati or Videha, and it is a natural suggestion that in this name we have a chronological fact of value. It is suggested that in this Ajatachatru we have the Ajatasattu of the Buddhist texts, who was a contemporary of the Buddha and who therefore reigned in the sixth century BC. But the suggestion is not a happy one. In the Buddhist text Ajatasattu never appears as king of any other place than Magadha, and the name is merely an epithet, "he who has no foe", which could be applied to any king, though it may well be that the Ajatasattu of Magadha gladly borrowed an epithet which a king of Kachi had made famous. Other kings of Kachi were Dhritarashtra, whose defeat by a Bharata has been mentioned above, and Bhadrasena, a descendant of Ajatachatru.
The Eastern Peoples
It is very noticeable that the relations of Kachi and the Bharatas seem to have been those of war; and there is evidence of some aversion existing between the Kosala-Videhas and the Kachis on the one hand and the Kuru-Panchalas on the other. It is clear enough that the Brahmanical tradition came to the Kosala-Videhas from the Kuru-Panchala country; but the question remains whether the Aryan tribes, who occupied Oudh and Tirhut, were a branch of the Kuru-Panchalas or men who were originally settled in the Kuru-Parichala country or on its borders and were pushed eastwards by the pressure of the Kuru-Panchalas. The evidence is not sufficient to pronounce any opinion on either view, and, as we have seen, still less to show that the Kurus were distinct from the Panchalas as a different branch of the Aryan invaders of India.
Much more definitely still beyond the pale were the people of Magadha, which serves with Anga, in the Atharvaveda as a symbol of a distant land. The man of Magadha is dedicated, in the account of the symbolic human sacrifice given in the Yajurveda, to "loud noise", suggesting that the Magadha country must have been the seat of minstrelsy, an idea supported by the fact that in later literature a man of Magadha is the designation of a minstrel. If, as has been suggested, the Kikatas of the Rigveda were really located in Magadha, the dislike of the country goes back to the Rigveda itself. The cause must probably have been the imperfect Brahmanization of the land and the predominance of aboriginal blood, which later in history rendered Magadha the headquarters of Buddhism. It is significant that the Buddhist texts show a subordination of the Brahman to the Kshatriya class which has no parallel in the orthodox literature. It is clear however that Brahmans sometimes lived there, but that their doing so was a ground for surprise.
The man of Magadha is brought into close connection with the Vratya in a mystical hymn in the Atharvaveda which celebrates the Vratya as a type of the supreme power in the universe. A more connected account of the Vratyas is found in the Panchavincha Brahmana of the Samaveda and the Sutras of that Veda. It is clear that, as their name suggests, they were persons regarded as outcasts; and ceremonies are described intended to secure them admission into the Brahmanical fold. The description of the Vratyas well suits nomad tribes: they are declared not to practise agriculture, to go about in rough wagons, to wear turbans, to carry goads and a peculiar kind of bow, while their garments are of a special kind. Their sense of justice was not that of the Brahmans, and their speech, though it seems Aryan, was apparently Prakritic in form, as is suggested by the significant remark that they called what was easy of utterance hard to speak; for the Prakrits differ from Sanskrit essentially in their efforts to avoid harsh consonantal combinations. Where they were located is not certain, for their habits would agree well enough with nomads in the west; but the little information which we have seems fairly enough to lead to the conclusion that some at least of the Vratyas were considered to be dwellers in Magadha.
There is little to be said of other tribes. The Vidarbhas are known through one of their kings who received certain knowledge from the mythical sages Parvata and Narada, and through a special kind of dog found in their country. The list of kings who performed the horse-sacrifice includes the Chvikna king, Rishabha Yajnatura. Mention has been made above of the Paravatas, who were found on the Jumna; and the Kekayas with their prince Achvapati, and the Balhikas were located in the far north. The temptation to transform the name of the latter into a sign of Iranian influence must be withstood, as it rests on no sure basis and we have seen Balhika as part of the name of a Kuru prince. An early Sutra refers to Chaphala, the kingdom of Rituparna. The Andhras, and other tribes mentioned by the Aitareya Brahmana as outcasts, were probably still Dravidian in blood and speech, though Munda speaking tribes may have been mingled with them as the name Cabara suggests. The Angas, too, may have been comparatively little affected by the influence of the Aryan culture. It has been conjectured that in Magadha the wave of Aryan civilization met with another wave of invasion from the east; but, tempting as the suggestion is, it cannot be supported by anything in the Vedic literature.
As was to be expected, society was far from unchanged in this period of active Aryan expansion. As we have seen, there is good reason to believe that in the period of the Rigveda the priesthood and the nobility were hereditary. This view receives support from the fact that similar class distinctions are to be found in other Indo-European communities, such as the patrician gentes in Rome, the Eupatridae of Athens, the nobles of early Germany, the eorls of the Anglo-Saxons, and the still closer parallel of the Iranian classes of Athravas and Rathaesthas, priests and warriors. It may even be that these distinctions are earlier than the severance of the Indo-Iranians, if not as old as the union of the Aryan peoples. But in this period there comes into existence a new factor, the introduction of divisions among the ordinary freemen, the Vaicyas, and the development of a large and complicated system of caste which converts the simple distinction of Vaigya and Chudra into an ever-increasing number of endogamous hereditary groups practising one occupation or at least restricted to a small number of occupations. This result was certainly far from being reached in the period of the Brahmanas, but the tendency of social or racial distinctions to harden into castes is already apparent. In this development there must have been two main influences: the force. of occupation is later revealed clearly enough in the Pali texts, and another interesting case is supplied by the Brahmanas themselves. In the Taittiriya Bramana the Rathakaras, "chariot makers", appear as a special class along with the Vaichyas; and in this special position we can see how the chariot makers, the type of skilled workers in the Rigveda, have, through their devotion to a mechanical art, lost status as compared with the ordinary freeman. The influence of the aborigines must also have been very strong, as intermarriage proceeded. To be born of a female Chudra was a disgrace with which Kavasha and Vatsa were taunted by their priestly contemporaries: contact with the aborigines seems to have raised questions of purity of blood very like those which at present agitate the Southern States of the United States or the white people in South Africa. In the Rigveda, restrictions on intermarriage seem to have been of the simplest kind, confined to rules such as those prohibiting marriage of brother and sister or father and daughter. In the Sutras the rules are still not quite rigid; but they insist that there shall be no marriage with agnates or cognates, and they require that a man must either marry in his own caste, or if he marries out of his caste, it must be into a lower caste. But while some authorities so lay down this rule as to allow the Brahman to marry into the next two lower castes, the Kshatriya and the Vaichya, and the Kshatriya to marry into the Vaichya caste, others also permit marriage with Chudras, and therefore allow a Vaichya to marry into that caste.
As might be expected, the Brahmana period presents us with a stage intermediate between the rules of the Sutras and the laxity of the Rigveda. The rule as to marriage within the circle of the cognates and agnates seems, by the time of the Chatapatha Brahmana, to have extended only to the prohibition of marriage with relations of the third or, according to others, of the fourth degree. Similarly in the Brahmanas, while we have no reason to doubt that priesthood and nobility were hereditary, these castes seem to have been free to intermarry with the lower castes including the Chudra; as the cases of Vatsa and Kavasha cited above indicate. The marriage of a Brahman with the daughter of a king is attested by the case of Sukanya, the daughter of Charyata, who married the seer Chyavana.
The question how far change of caste was possible raises difficult problems. The evidence of any change is scanty in the extreme. The most that can be said is that it does not seem to have been impossible. Thus in the Rigveda, as we have seen, Vichvamitra is a priest, the Purohita of the king Sudas, but in the Panchavimcha and the Aitareya Brahmanas he is treated as of royal descent, of the family of the Jahnus. The Panchavimcha Brahmana also speaks of certain persons as royal seers; and the later tradition preserved in the Anukramani, or "index" to the composers of the Rigveda, ascribes hymns to such royal seers, in some cases at least without any real foundation. Yaska, in one instance, represents a prince, Devapi, as sacrificing for his brother Chamtanu, the king; but here we can see from the passage of the Rigveda on which his narrative is based that he has no warrant for this theory. In the Aitareya Brahmana a king, Vichvantara, sacrifices without his priests, the Chyaparnas; but the case has no cogency, for the mention of other priests in the context suggests the natural inference that he used one or other of these groups. Some kings are mentioned in the Panchavimcha Brahmana and elsewhere as having been great sacrificers; but this may mean no more than that they were the patrons of the sacrifice, the normal part of the king. We come nearer to contact with fact in the concurrent stories of the Upanishads which show kings like Janaka of Videha, Achvapati king of the Kekayas in the Punjab, Ajatacatru of Kachi, and Pravahana Jaivali of Panchala disputing with and instructing Brahmans in the lore of the brahman, the unity which is the reality of the world. Very possibly this attribution is mainly due to considerations of the advantage of conciliating the kings who were the patrons of the new philosophy; but, in any case, there is no reason to deny that kings could and did take interest in intellectual movements, and we cannot from such facts infer that there was any possibility of interchange of caste: we cannot say that, if a king became a seer, as the Jaiminiya Upanishad Brahmana asserts in one case, it really meant that he was regarded as ceasing to belong to the kingly caste, any more than we can say that, if a priest became king, as was not unknown later at least, he thereby suffered any loss of his priestly position. One case of interest remains, that of Satyakama Jabala who was accepted as a pupil by a distinguished priest because he showed promise, although all he could tell of his ancestry was that he was the son of a slave girl; but, evidently, his father might have been a Brahman, and the case is only of value as negativing the idea of any unnatural rigidity of institutions in the Vedic age. The history of later India shows how rigid distinctions might be in theory but how ingeniously they might in practice be evaded in the individual case. What is more significant, perhaps, is that there is no instance recorded in the Vedic texts of a Vaisya rising to the rank of priest or a prince: the two upper hereditary classes might to some degree permit closer relations, but they seem to have regarded the commoner as definitely beneath them.
The relations of the four great classes of castes are summed up from the point of view of the Braman in a passage of the Aitareya Bramana. In that passage the Kshatriya is taken as the norm, and the other castes are defined according to the relations which they bear to him.
The Braman is a receiver of gifts, a drinker of the Soma, a seeker of food, and liable to removal at will. We can distinguish in this period two classes of Brahmans, the priests who, as Purohitas of the king or belonging to his entourage, took part in the vast sacrifices, some of them lasting for at least a year, which they offered for their masters, and the priests of the village who lived a humble and more restricted existence, except when they might be called on to serve at the sacrifice instituted by some rich noble or merchant. In both cases the priest was, in the long run, at the mercy of the political power of the king. To the spiritual claims of the Brahmans, so proudly asserted at the ceremony of the royal consecration, when the king is announced to the people as their king but it is added that the Soma is the king of the Brahmans, must be opposed the practical power of the king.
The Vaiga is described as tributary to another, to be lived on by another, and to be oppressed at will. From the point of view of the Kshatriya this indicates the fact that the exactions of the king from the commoners of the tribe were limited only by practical considerations of expediency: the commoner had no legal right to his landholding or to his private property if the king decided to take them from him; and, if he was allowed to retain them, he paid for them in tribute and in the duty of supporting others. This refers, no doubt, to the king's privilege of assigning to his nobles the right to receive food from the common people, and thus of making provision for the maintenance of the nobility, who assisted him in the protection of the country, and in the administration and the conduct of justice. By this means the nobles came more and more to occupy the position of landholders under the king, while the Vaichyas approximated to the position of tenants. Moreover, the nobles may well have received from the king, as a result of successful onslaughts on the aborigines, grants of conquered lands and slaves, which they would hold in full proprietorship, subject to the political authority of the king. Among the Vaichyas, again, distinctions were growing up: that originally the agriculture was carried on by Aryan tillers is certain; but, in the period of the Brahmanas, the position was changing gradually; and, for the peasant working on his own fields, was being substituted the landowner cultivating his estate by means of slaves, or the merchant carrying on his trade by the same instrumentality, though we cannot with any certainty say how far this process was proceeding. The industrial workers, like the chariot makers, the smiths, the tanners, the carpenters, were sinking in estimation and forming distinct castes of their own.
On the other hand, the Chudra was approximating more and more to the position to which the humbler freeman was being reduced. In the passage referred to, he is still described as "the servant of another, to be expelled at will and to be slain at will"; but in the Sutras we find that, while the Vaichya has a wergeld of 100 cows, the Chudra has a wergeld of 10 cows; and, even if we assume that this is merely for the benefit of his master—which is very doubtful—still unquestionably the growing complication of the social scheme was abolishing the relation of simple slavery. Slaves proper there were, as we see in the Buddhist texts; but, where whole tribes were reduced to subjection, the tendency must have been to assign villages and their inhabitants to the king and to the nobles, sometimes, perhaps, also, though in a less degree, to the commoners who at this period must still have formed the bulk of the army. While some of the aboriginal inhabitants would thus become slaves pure and simple, the rest would rather stand in the relationship of serfs; and, as we have seen, there is reason to suppose that in many cases the true Vaichyas also were approximating to the position of tenants of the nobles. There is an interesting parallel in the early history of England, where the ordinary freeman gradually fell into feudal dependence on his superiors, while the slave as gradually acquired the position of a serf, and became more and more assimilated to the position to which the freeman had sunk.
This ambiguous position of the Chudra is amply recognised in the Vedic texts: on the one hand, he is emphatically regarded as being impure and not fit to take part in the sacrifice: after consecration, in some cases, the mere speaking to a Chudra is absolutely forbidden. He was not allowed even to milk the cow for the milk needed for the offering to Agni. In the Vajasaneyi Samhita illicit connections between Aryan and Chudra are severely reprobated; but, in other places, sin against Arya and Chudra is referred to, prayers are uttered for the glory of Arya and Chudra, and we learn of rich Chudras. The Sutras, while they emphasise many points not attested by the Brahmana texts, such as the danger of sitting near Chudras, their exclusion from the study of the Veda, and the prohibition of eating food touched by them, yet recognize that they may be merchants or indeed exercise any trade.
It seems probable enough that among the chudras themselves there were rules of endogamy; for we may generally assume, in the absence of anything to the contrary in the texts, that the Vedic Indians and the aborigines alike married within the tribe. The Chudras seem often to have been subjugated by whole tribes, such as the Baindas, the Parnakas, the Paulkasas, and perhaps the Chandalas, who may originally have been members of small and degraded tribes living mainly by fishing or hunting: such tribes have survived in the Central Provinces and near the Himalayas until the present day, and they must have been much more numerous in the first millennium BC. Thus from below as well as from above, from the practices of the conquered aborigines as well as from the class prejudices of the Aryans, may have come the impulse to the development of caste.
From the political point of view the chief characteristic of the new order was the growth in the power of the king. We must not assume that, even in this period, there were great kingdoms. It is true that the horse-sacrifice as reported in the Chatapatha Brahmana and in the royal consecration of the Aitareya Brahmana, both of which passages are late, presuppose that the kings who performed it set up claims to imperial dignity, and that they had won the proud title of "conquerors of the whole earth", which is applied to them. But real conquest seems not to have been meant; and, though the evidence above given proves that there was considerable amalgamation of tribes and the formation of larger kingdoms than those in the period of the Rigveda, yet it is significant that even the Kuru-Panchalas, and still less the KosalaVidehas, never amalgamated into single kingdoms. We may, however, safely hold that the king now ruled in many cases a much larger realm than the princes of the Rigveda. The hereditary character of the monarchy is clearly apparent: in one case, that of the Srinjayas, we hear expressly of a monarchy which had lasted ten generations. The term Rajaputra, "son of a king", is now found together with the older Rajanya, which probably covers the nobles as well as the king and his family. The importance of the kingly rank is emphasised by the elaborate rite of the royal consecration, the Rajasuya. The king is clad in the ceremonial garments of his rank, is formally anointed by the priest, steps on a tiger skin to attain the power of the tiger, takes part in a mimic cattle raid, assumes the bow and arrow, and steps as a conqueror to each of the four quarters, an action paralleled in the coronation of the Hungarian king. A game of dice is played in which he is made the victor. A list of kings who were thus consecrated is given in the Aitareya Brahmana: in all but details it coincides with the list given in the Chatapatha Brahmana of those who performed the horse-sacrifice.
At the royal consecration the entourage of the king played an important part. The list of Ratnins, "jewels", given by the Taittiriya texts, consists of the Brahman, i.e. the Purohita, the Rajanya, the Mahishi, the first wife of the four allowed to the king by custom, the Vavatda, "favourite wife", the Parivrikti, "discarded wife", the Suta, "charioteer", the Senani, "commander of the army", the Gramani, "village headman", the Kshattri, "chamberlain", the Samgrahitri, "charioteer" or "treasurer", the Bhagadugha, "collector of taxes" or "divider of food", and the Akshavspa, "superintendent of dicing" or "thrower of dice". The Chatapatha Brahmana has also the "huntsman" and the "courier", while the Maitrayani Samhita, adds the Takshan, "carpenter", and Rathakara, "chariot-maker"' In an older list of eight Viras, heroes, given in the Panchavimcha Brahmava are found the brother, son, Purohita, Mahishi, Seta, Gramani, Kshattri, and Samgrahitri. We are faced, in the interpretation of the names of several of these officers, with the doubt whether we are to recognise in them merely courtiers or public functionaries. The Suta is according to native tradition the "charioteer"; but it seems much more probable that he was at once a herald and a minstrel, and to this conclusion the inviolability, which in one passage is attributed to him, clearly points. The Gramani has already been met with as a military official in the period of the Rigveda. Probably at this epoch a Gramani was, both for civil and military purposes, at the head of each village, owing, it may be conjectured, his position to the king, while the Gramani par excellence presided over the city or village where the royal court was situated. It is also far from unlikely, despite the silence of the texts, that the civil functions of the Gramani were the more important; for the post is emphatically declared in several places to represent the summit of the ambition of the Vaichya. If later analogy is to help us, we may conjecture that the Gramani formed the channel through which the royal control was exercised and the royal dues received. It may well be then that the household officers, besides their more primitive functions, carried out the important duties of receiving and disbursing the revenues which the king thus obtained; and on them must have fallen the duty of seeing that the supplies, which the Vaichyas were required to provide for the maintenance of the king's household, were duly forthcoming. The condition of these officers is indeed probably to be compared with that of the household of the early English and Norman kings.
An officer, not included in the list of the Ratnins but often mentioned in the texts of the period, was the Sthapati; and we learn that it was the Sthapati of Dushtaritu who restored him to the kingdom of the Srinjayas after he had been expelled thence by his subjects. He may have been a governor of part of the kingdom; but the more likely interpretation of the term is "chief judge", an official who doubtless combined executive as well as judicial functions. Later however in the Sutras we hear of a Nishada-Sthapati which may mean a "governor of Nishadas", apparently the ruler of some outlying aboriginal tribes, who had been reduced to subjection and placed under the royal control.
Of the actual functions of the king we hear little detail. He still led in war—the Kuru-Panchala princes sallied forth to raid in the dewy season and returned in the hot weather as a matter of course—but the Senani appears as leader in charge under him. From the Sutras and from a stray reference in the Chatapatha Brahmana, he seems to have taken a very active part in the administration of the criminal law. There can be no doubt that he controlled the land of the tribe. It is not, however, necessary to ascribe to this period the conception of the royal ownership of all the land, though it appears in the Greek sources from the time of Megasthenes downwards, and is evidenced later by the law-books of the time. He had, it is true, the right to expel a Brahman or a Vaigya at will, though we do not know expressly that he could do this in the case of a Kshatriya. But these considerations point to political superiority rather than to ownership proper; and we may assume that, when he gave grants of land to his retainers, he granted not ownership but privileges such as the right to receive dues and maintenance from the cultivators. There is a clear distinction between this action and the conferring of ownership; and it may be doubted if the actual gift of land was approved in this epoch: the only case of which we hear is one reported in the Chatapatha and the Aitareya Brahmanas, in which the king Vichvakarman Bhauvana gave land to the priests who sacrificed for him, but the Earth itself rebuked his action. It is more probable that, at this time, the allotment of land was determined by the king or the noble to whom he had granted rights of superiority according to customary law, and that gifts not in accordance with this law were disapproved. It is hardly necessary to point out the close similarity between such a state of affairs and that existing at the present day in parts of West Africa, where kings have introduced for purposes of personal gain the practice of dealing as absolute owners with lands, which, according to the strict system of tribal law, they had no power to allocate save in accordance with the custom of the tribe. Nor is it inconsistent with this view that the king had an arbitrary power of removing a subject from his land. That power flowed from his sovereignty, and though disapproved was acquiesced in, we may presume, just as in West Africa; while the dealing of kings with the land by way of absolute ownership was regarded as a complete breach of the tribal law, the actual removal from his land of any individual was recognized as a royal prerogative, even if the power were misused.
In curious contrast with the comparative wealth of information regarding the king, is the silence of our texts on the assembly of the people. The samiti or the sabha is not rarely mentioned in these texts; and we cannot assume that the assembly had lost its power, though it may have diminished in importance. Even this, however, we cannot absolutely assert; for we hear so often of expelled kings that we must believe that the people were far from obedient to a yoke which rested on them too heavily. But there must have been in the extension of the realm a tendency to diminish the possibility of frequent meetings of the samiti, and accordingly some diminution in its control over the state. At any rate, there are indications, if no conclusive proof, that there was growing up within the members of the sabha a distinction between those who attended only at the great meetings and the sabhasads, or "assessors", who attended regularly; and it may be that for judicial purposes the activity of the sabhd was entrusted to a smaller number, the Homeric gerontes, unless indeed we are to trace judicial functions to an origin in voluntary arbitrations.
On judicial matters we learn but little more than in the preceding period. Serious crimes like killing an embryo, the murder of a Brahman, and the murder of a man occur in lists of sins together with minor defects, such as the possession of bad nails. Other more serious crimes mentioned are stealing gold and drinking the sura, while treachery to the king is recognized as a capital offence. There are traces of a growing sense of justice in the discussions which are recorded in the case of the accidental death of a boy through the carelessness of the king and the Purohita, who were driving in a chariot. But the procedure in cases of crime is still quite uncertain: the king may have presided and the tribe or the assessors may have judged; but for this result we can rely only on the fact that the king is said to wield the rod of justice, and that in the case of the accidental death of the boy the matter is stated to have been referred to the Ikshvakus who decided that an expiation was due. In the case of theft in the Chhandogya Upanishad we find the axe ordeal applied, apparently under the direction of the king; but this is the solitary case of an ordeal known in Vedic literature as a part of criminal procedure. In the Sutras we hear of the king with his own hand striking a confessed thief. On the other hand, beside the public organization of criminal justice, there was still the system of private vengeance tempered by the wergeld. The Sutras fix the wergeld of the Kshatriya at 1000 cows, of the Vaicha at 100, and of the Chudra at 10, with a bull over and above for the king, according to the text of Baudhayana. This seems to indicate a stage when the royal power had extended sufficiently to secure that the wergeld should be accepted, and that the insult to the royal peace required the appeasement of the king and his reward for his intervention by the gift of a bull. The lower position of women is shown by one text which assigns in her case only the same wergeld as for a Chudra. Unhappily, the texts are so vague that we cannot be certain whether the payment in the case of a Chudra was always required or whether he might be slain with impunity by his master, as the term "to be slain at pleasure" applied to him in the Aitareya Brahmana suggests.
We have also very little information regarding civil law. The use of an ordeal in this connection is attested only by the case of Vatsa who proved his purity of descent, which was assailed, by walking unharmed through fire. Presumably, civil cases might be decided by the king with assessors; but this view rests only on the analogy of other peoples and on the later practice in India itself. We know for certain that a Brahman had preference in his law cases; but whether because it was a moral duty of the witnesses to bear testimony in his favor, or for the judges to give judgment for him, cannot be decided from the passage of the Taittiriya Samhita which records the preference. As regards the substance of the law we learn the outlines of the law of succession: a father might in his lifetime divide his property among his sons, in which case he seems to have had a free hand as to their shares if he grew old and helpless, they themselves might divide it, while in the division among the sons on his death the older son received the larger share. Women were excluded from the inheritance. Similarly, a woman had no property of her own: if her husband died, she passed to his family with the inheritance like the Attic epikleros. Her earnings, if any, were the property of husband or father. The Chudra seems in law to have been also without capacity of owning property in his own right. As in the period of the Rigveda, there is no evidence of joint family ownership of any property, even in the case of land, though, as we have seen, land at this epoch was not considered a suitable form of gift. There is a clear reference on the other hand to the allotment of land by the Kshatriya, presumably in accordance with the customary law. There is no trace of the development of the law of contract: much work was doubtless done by slaves or by hereditary craftsmen who received customary remuneration from the villagers, not payment for each piece of work.
On the whole, there seems to have been some decline in this period in the position of women: as has been seen, in one of the Sutra texts her wergeld is assimilated to that of a Chudra and her lack of proprietary power must have tended to decrease her prestige. The polygamy of the kings is now fully established; and, presumably, the practice of the sovereigns was followed by the richer of their subjects. In a number of passages in the Bralmanas it has been sought to find proof that female morality was not highly estimated; but this cannot be established; and it is a mistake to suppose that the exposure of female children was practised. On the other hand, the preference for sons becomes more and more pronounced: a daughter is a source of misery, a son a light in the highest heaven. Generally speaking, the increased complexity of society seems to have been accompanied by an increase of crime and moral laxity, as appears from the curious litany in the Yajurvedas where Rudra is hailed as the protector of every kind of thief and ruffian.
In agriculture and pastoral pursuits progress was doubtless made. The plough was large and heavy: we hear of as many as twenty-four oxen being harnessed to one: it had a sharp point and a smoothed handle. In addition to irrigation, which was known in the Rigveda, the use of manure is referred to several times. In place of the indeterminate yava of the Rigveda many kinds of grain are mentioned, and yava is restricted, in all probability, to the sense "barley". Among those names are wheat, beans, corn, sesamum from which oil was extracted, and various others. Rice, both domesticated and wild, was much used. The seasons of the different grains are briefly summed up in the Taittiriya Samhita: barley, sown no doubt, as at present, in winter, ripened in summer: rice, sown in the rains, ripened in autumn: beans and sesamum, planted in the time of the summer rains, ripened in the winter and the cold season. There were two seasons of harvest according to the same authority; and another text tells us that the winter crops were ready in March. The farmer had, as now, constant troubles to contend with: moles destroyed the seed, birds and other creatures injured the young shoots; and both drought and excessive rain were to be feared: the Atharvaveda provides us with a considerable number of spells to avoid blight and secure a good harvest. Cucumbers are alluded to, perhaps as cultivated; but there is no certain reference to tree culture, though frequent mention is made of the great Indian trees like the Achvattha, the Ficus religiosa, and the Nyagrodha, the Ficus indica, and the different forms of the jujube are specially named.
Even more striking is the great development of industrial life and the sub-division of occupations. The list of victims at the symbolical human sacrifice of the later texts of the Yajurveda provides us with a large variety of such occupations; and, after making all allowances, it is impossible to doubt that the lists represent a good deal of fact. We hear of hunters, of several classes of fishermen, of attendants on cattle, of fire-rangers, of ploughers, of charioteers, of several classes of attendants, of makers of jewels, basket-makers, washermen, rope-makers, dyers, chariot-makers, barbers, weavers, slaughterers, workers in gold, cooks, sellers of dried fish, makers of bows, gatherers of wood, doorkeepers, smelters, footmen, messengers, carvers and seasoners of food, potters, smiths and so forth. Professional acrobats are recorded, and players on drums and flutes. Beside the boatman appears the oarsman, and the poleman; but there is still no hint of sea-borne commerce or of more than river navigation, though we need not suppose that the sea was unknown, at least by hearsay, to the end of the period. There is a trace of police officials in the Ugras who occur in one passage of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad; and a Gramyavadin or village judge appears to have held a court for petty cases in the village. Among the priests themselves, we find the sub-division of Chhandogas, the singers of Samans, while the Charakas were wandering students, a special branch of whom are said to have founded the schools of the Black Yajurveda. Moreover, in accordance with the tendency to sub-divide and formulate, the life of the priest is now more rigidly regulated: he must pass as a preliminary through the apprenticeship of being a Brahmacharin. In this stage he is taught by a master, for whom in return he does all the necessary work of the day and for whom he begs or otherwise provides food. Two important features of later village life in India appear in the forms of the astrologer and the barber. Of women's work we learn of the dyer, the embroiderer, the worker in thorns, and the basket-maker. The merchant is often mentioned, and the usurer has a special name: it is of interest that the term Chreshthin several times occurs, denoting at least a wealthy merchant, and possibly already the word has its later technical sense of the head of a merchant gild.
The advance of civilization is seen also in the more extended knowledge of the metals: as compared with the gold and the ayas, of doubtful meaning, of the Rigveda, this period knows tin, lead, and silver of which ornamented bowls are made, while ayas is differentiated as red ayas, presumably copper, and dark or black ayas, which must be iron. Another sign of the new era is the definite references to the keeping of tame elephants, the guarding of elephants being one of the occupations occurring in the Yajurveda texts. But there is no hint that the elephant was yet used for war as it was already in the time of Ctesias. The use of horses for riding had certainly become more common; but no clear reference is made to the employment of cavalry in war, though that was usual by the time of Alexander's invasion.
Little change can be traced in the social life of the time. The use of houses of wood continued; and, as a result, we have not a single relic remaining of the architecture of the period. Nor have we any coins : it is not probable, indeed, that a regular coinage had begun, though the path to this development was already opened by the use of the krishnala, the berry of the Elbrus precatorius, as a unit of weight. We hear in the Brahmanas of the chatamana, a piece of gold in weight equivalent to a hundred krishnalas, and such pieces of gold were clearly more or less equivalent to currency and must have been used freely by the merchants, of whose activities we hear so little in the sacred texts. The nishka, originally a gold ornament, was also at this time a unit of value; and the cow as a unit was probably in course of supersession. The style of clothing seems to have continued unchanged, though we hear more of the details: among other things we are told of woollen garments, robes dyed with saffron, and silk raiment. The food of the Indian remained unaltered: the eating of meat is, indeed, here and there censured, as for instance in a hymn of the Atharvaveda where meat eating is classed with the drinking of the surd, as a sinful act, and meat might be avoided like other things by one who was keeping a vow. But it was still the custom to slay a great ox or goat for the entertainment of a guest, and the great sage Yajnavalkya ate meat of much cows and oxen, provided that the flesh was amsala, a word of doubtful import, rendered either "firm" or "tender" by various authorities. The doctrine of ahimsa, which forbids the doing of injury to any animal, was indeed only in embryo in this period, and was not fully developed until the growth of the belief in transmigration came to strengthen the philosophic tenets of the Brahmanas as to the unity of all existence. The amusements of the day were, as in the period of the Rigveda, the chariot race, dicing, of which we have several elaborate but not very clear accounts, and dancing. The term Chailusha appears in the list of victims at the human sacrifice, and the sense 'actor' has been seen in it. Taken in conjunction with the dozen or so of hymns which show a dialogue form it has been supposed to indicate that the Rigveda knew of a ritual drama, the direct precursor of the drama of later India. But the evidence adduced is insufficient to bear the strain of the hypothesis.
In one respect there seems to have been a distinct retrogression since the age of the Rigveda. In that Samhita there is frequent mention of the physician's skill, and wonderful deeds are ascribed to the Achvins as healers of diseases. As early as the Yajurveda Samhitas, however, the physician appears to be held in less esteem: the Achvins were said to have made themselves inferior to the other gods by their practice of medicine, by which they made themselves too familiar with all sorts of people. The Atharvaveda contains much which gives a sad picture of the medical practice of the day: against the numerous diseases which it mentions it had nothing better to oppose than the use of herbs and water accompanied by strange spells, based on sympathetic magic. The number of diseases recorded by differing names is large: the most frequent was fever, no doubt the malaria which still haunts India; and others mentioned are consumption, haemorrhoids, abscesses, scrofula, dysentery, boils, swellings, tumours on the neck, convulsions, ulcers, scab, rheumatism, tearing pains, headache, leprosy, jaundice, cramp, senility, and others less easy to identify. Various eye diseases were known; and the use of a sand bag to stop bleeding is recorded. The dissection of the animal victims at the sacrifices gave the opportunity to acquire knowledge of the bones of the body, but on the whole the facts recorded, especially in the Atharvaveda and the Chatapatha Brahmana, give us no very elevated opinion of the accuracy of the Vedic physician in this regard.
On the other hand, a distinct advance was unquestionably made in regard to astronomical knowledge. The Rigveda knows only, so far as we can see, the year of 360 days divided into twelve months of thirty days each, which is six days longer than the synodic lunar year, and nearly five and a quarter days too short for the solar year. To bring the year into something like order, intercalation seems to have been attempted quite early : we hear in a riddle hymn of the Rigveda of the intercalary month, the thirteenth. In the Samhitas the system is slightly more developed; and possibly some efforts were being made to arrange intercalation in a cycle of five years in such a manner that the years and the seasons would be made to coincide; but it is fairly clear that a satisfactory method had not yet been obtained. The Samhitas, however, give us the names of the twelve months arranged very artificially in six seasons, and they introduce to us the important doctrine of the Nakshatras, or "lunar mansions", groups of stars selected as roughly indicating the parts of the sky in which the moon appeared in the course of a periodic month of 27-28 days. In the Rigveda the term Nakshatra seems usually to mean no more than star; and it is only in the admittedly late marriage hymn that the names of two of the Nakshatras proper are found though in altered forms. The number of the Nakshatras is variously given as twenty-seven in the Taittiriya Samhita and the Kathaka lists and usually later, and as twenty-eight in the lists of the Maitrayani Samhita and the Atharvaveda. As the periodic month has between 27 and 28 days, the variation may be primitive: of the allied systems the Chinese Sieou and the Arabic Manazil have twenty-eight: the missing star Abhijit in the smaller enumeration may have fallen out for a variety of causes; and it seems easier to assume this than to regard it as a later addition. The use of the Nakshatras offered a simple and effective means of fixing dates by the conjunction of the new or full moon with a particular Nakshatra, and in the Brahmana period a further step was taken: on some arbitrary basis which we cannot now determine, twelve of the Nakshatra names in adjectival form were chosen to represent the months. It might have been expected that the months represented by these names would be lunar, but they are, as a matter of fact, the twelve months of the traditional year of 360 days. The whole series of the new names is not found until the Sutra period; but the vitality of the new system is adequately proved by the fact that the old series of twelve given in the Samhitss corresponding to the six seasons is practically ignored in the later literature.
The origin of the Nakshatras has formed the subject of most lively controversy: it is clear that the Vedic Indians knew very little about astronomy, for it is extremely doubtful whether the planets were known at all in the Brahmana period. But it is not impossible that, even at this epoch, the Nakshatras could have been discovered, for the achievement is a rude one. The question is, however, complicated by the existence of the Arabian Manazil and the Chinese Sieou. The Manazil are better chosen as lunar mansions than the Indian Nakshatras: borrowing on the part of India from Arabia cannot be proved in view of the late date of the Arabian evidence, while the superiority of the Arabian system seems to make it improbable that it should have been derived from India. The Chinese evidence is early enough to allow of borrowing; and the dependence of India on China has been maintained by Biot and de Saussure; but the difficulties in the way of this view are really insuperable. It remains therefore as the most plausible view that the Nakshatras are derived from Babylon, though direct proof of the existence of the Nakshatras there has yet to be discovered.
Compared with the case of the Nakshatras there is little other evidence of the contact of India with other civilizations in this period. In the Chatapatha Brahmana for the first time there appears the legend of the flood and the saving of Manu by a great fish; and it is most unlikely that we are to see here any reminiscence of the former Aryan home and the crossing of the Hindu Kush. It is therefore possible that the legend may be of Semitic origin; but, if so, as usual the Indians have completely appropriated the motive, so that the borrowing cannot be proved. It has been suggested that the knowledge of iron was derived from Babylon; but this is merely a conjecture which has at present no support in evidence. A sea-borne commerce with Babylon cannot be proved for this epoch either by the evidence of Vedic literature or by the references in the Book of Kings to apes and peacocks by names which are believed to have had an Indian origin. The history of the alphabet has been used by Buhler to show that it was borrowed by traders from a South Semitic source via Mesopotamia about 800 BC; but we cannot lay any stress upon this date. It seems, indeed, most probable that writing was introduced by traders and that it was only gradually adopted into its proper form for the expression of the Sanskrit language. At what date this took place is not really susceptible of proof: there is no certain reference to writing in the literature of a date earlier than the fourth century BC; and the real development of writing belongs in all likelihood to the fifth century BC. It was the end of the sixth century that saw the invasion of Darius and the annexation of the territory round the Indus; and, prior to that event, there is no strong evidence of a really active contact between India and the outer world. It is, indeed, probable enough that even before the time of Darius, Cyrus had relations with the tribes on the right bank of the Indus, and Arrian asserts that the Astakenoi and the Astakenoi were subject to the Assyrian kings; but everything points to the fact that, in the period of the Brahmanas, relations with the Gandharas and other tribes in the remote north-west were very slight. It is also significant that there is no really certain case of an inscription of any sort in India before the third century BC.
The development in religion and philosophy in the period is remarkable. The ritual has grown to very large proportions; and with the ritual the number of the priests required at a sacrifice had increased until sixteen or seventeen are enumerated as taking part in the more important offerings. The mere offerings of vegetable food and milk are comparatively unimportant; but the animal sacrifice is increasingly elaborated, and the Soma sacrifice has developed largely. In addition to the simplest form of the Soma sacrifice occupying one day, there are innumerable other forms culminating in the Sattras which might last any time from twelve days to a year or years. It is significant that, at the bottom of this priestly elaboration, is much really popular religion. Thus the Rajasuya, or royal consecration, is fundamentally a popular rite for the anointing of the king: the Vajapeya betrays a popular origin in the prominence in it of a chariot race, once probably the main element; the Gavamayana, a Sattra lasting a year, is distinguished by the ritual of the Mahavrata day in which long since was 'recognised a primitive performance celebrating the winter solstice. The horse-sacrifice is at bottom the elaboration of a simple rite of sympathetic magic; but it has been so elaborated as to combine everything which could make an appeal to the warrior Indian king and induce him to distribute abundant largesse on the celebrators. But beside these and other popular festivals, which the priests have worked over, stands one of the highest interest to the priest, which seems to reflect a new conception of theology. It is the building of the altar for the sacred fire; in one sense no doubt this was an ancient and simple rite, accompanied as so often by the slaying of a man in order to secure the abiding character of the structure: the Brahmana texts avoid requiring any such actual slaughter, though they record it as a deed of the past; but they elaborate the building out of all reason and utility. The only explanation of this action must be that offered by Eggeling, that, in the building up of the fire altar, the Brahmans sought to symbolize the constitution of the unity of the universe. As we have seen, in the Purusha hymn of the Rigveda occurs the conception of the creation of the universe from the Purusha, and in the theology of the Brahmanas the Purusha is identified with Prajapati, "lord of creatures", and the sacrifice is conceived as constantly recurring in order to maintain the existence of the universe. To render this possible is the end of the fire altar, the building of which is the reconstruction of the universe in the shape of Prajapati. Prajapati, again, is identified with Agni, the fire of the altar, and both Prajapati and Agni are the divine counterparts of the human sacrificer. But Prajapati is himself Time, and Time is in the long run death, so that the sacrificer himself becomes death, and by that act rises superior to death, and is for ever removed from the world of illusion and trouble to the world of everlasting bliss. In this the true nature of Prajapati and of the sacrificer is revealed as intelligence, and the Chatapatha Brahmapa urges the seeker for truth to meditate upon the self, made up of intelligence and endowed with a body of spirit, a form of light and an ethereal nature.
The same doctrine appears in another form in the Upanishads which are engaged with the discussion of the underlying reality. They agree in this that all reality in the ultimate issue must be reduced to one, called variously brahman, "the holy power", or atman, "the self". Moreover, the Upanishads agree in regarding the absolute to be unknowable, and though they ascribe to it intelligence they deprive that term of meaning by emptying it of all thought. If the real is the absolute alone, the existence of the appearance of this world must be explained; but naturally enough the Upanishads do not successfully attempt this task; and it was not until the time of Chankaracharya in the beginning of the ninth century AD that it was found possible to reconcile the doctrines of the different texts by the view that all existence is merely illusion. This is perhaps a logical development of the doctrine of the Upanishads; but the Upanishads were groping after truth and did not attempt to deduce all the consequences of their guesses at the nature of reality.
There was one consequence which followed so clearly from the new conception of existence that it is enunciated, though not very decidedly, in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, namely that there was no consciousness after death in the case of him who realised the true nature of the self as intelligence without thought. But this conception plays a very small part in the texts compared with the new theory of transmigration. There is no real sign of this doctrine in the Brahmanas proper, but there is a certain amount of preparation for its appearance in the gradual development of the doctrine that not even after death is the horror of death ended: a man may die repeated deaths in the next world. If this conception be transferred to the present world, then the doctrine of transmigration is produced, and in the Upanishads this doctrine is clearly and expressly enunciated. The Chhandogya and Brihadaranyaka agree in the main outlines of the new belief: the forest ascetic who has realized the nature of brahman, after death goes by the way of the gods to be absorbed in brahman and never again to be born: the man who has done good deeds but has not attained the saving knowledge goes to the world of the moon to reside there until the fruit of his deeds is exhausted, when he is born again first as a plant and then as man or at once as a man: the wicked on the contrary are born as outcasts, dogs, or swine, according to the Chhandogya, as birds, beasts, and reptiles according to the Brihadaranyaka. There is a variant version on the Kaushitaki which makes all first go to the moon; but the essential point is the acceptance as a matter of certainty of the new doctrine of transmigration. The Brihadaranyaka also has an important addition to the doctrine in the form of the gospel of karman, action, which determines on a man's death the nature of his next birth. In the Buddhist view the idea recurs in the simple form that the self, which is recognised as persisting through transmigration by the Braman, is discarded as needless and the karman alone is asserted to possess reality.
The origin of this doctrine may have been helped by the widely prevalent view among tribes of animists that the souls on death or even in life can pass into other forms, animal or vegetable. We have seen that in the Rigveda in one hymn the soul is regarded as going to the waters or the plants; and we have no reason to doubt that such ideas were prevalent among the aboriginal tribes with which the Aryans mixed. But these vague ideas are totally inadequate to account for the belief in transmigration, and the theory must, it would seem, have been a discovery of the schools of seekers after the nature of truth, who arrived at it on the one side from the popular beliefs of the peoples among whom they lived, and on the other from the conception of the Brahman as that death could be repeated in the other world. The doctrine led directly to pessimism, but the Upanishads are not themselves pessimistic; and we obtain thus a valuable evidence of their priority to the rise of Buddhism, which is saturated with the doctrine of the misery of the universe. The extraordinary success of the doctrine shows that it was in harmony with the spirit of the Indian people, and suggests what is otherwise probable, that by the end of the period of the Brahmanas the influence of the Aryan strain was waning, and that the true Indian character of the intellectual classes was definitely formed.
As we have already seen, the tradition makes kings take part in the discussions which marked the formation of the doctrine of the absolute, and even hints that the doctrine was in some way a special tenet of the ruling class; but it is doubtful if we can accord full credit to this tradition, or believe that the brahman doctrine was the reaction of the noble class against the excessive devotion of the priests to the ritual. Policy adequately explains the part assigned to them by the Brahmans, whose aim it was to make their patrons appreciate that their researches were such as to deserve support. Parallel with the development of philosophy there was proceeding the movement which leads to the religions of modern India, the exaltation of Rudra and in a minor degree of Vishnu to the position of a great god. Prajapati is indeed the main subject of the theosophical speculation of the Brahmana texts, a purpose to which his name as 'lord of creatures' especially lent itself; but Prajapati had no claims to be a god of the people, and the position of Rudra as a popular deity is sufficiently shown by the litanies to him in the Samhitas of the Yajurveda, and by the whole outlook of such texts as the Aitareya, Kaushitaki, and Chatapatha Brahmanas. When Prajapati committed incest with his daughter, the Aitareya tells us that the gods were wroth, and from their most dread forms produced the god Bhutapati, lord of creatures, who represents one aspect of Rudra's activities. He pierced Prajapati and thereby acquired his dominion over all cattle. In another passage the wording of a Rigvedic verse is altered to avoid the mention of Rudra's dread name: in yet another he appears at the sacrifice in black raiment and appropriates to himself the sacrificial victim. We need not suppose that in this presentation the Brahmanas were creating a new figure: rather they were adapting to their system, as far as they could, a great god of the people. But the Rudra of this period can hardly be regarded as a mere development of the Rudra of the Rigveda: it seems most probable that with the Vedic Rudra is amalgamated an aboriginal god of vegetation, closely connected with pastoral life.
Vishnu cannot be said to have won any such assured place as Rudra, who is already hailed as the great god par excellence, and already bears the name of Chiva, "propitious", which is to be his final appellation. But the constant identification of Vishnu and the sacrifice is, in view of the extraordinary importance attached to the sacrifice by the Brahmans, a sure sign that he counted for much in Vedic life, and that he shared with Rudra the veneration of the people, who may in different localities have been the followers of one or the other god respectively. For the rest, while we now obtain many details of the lower side of the religion in the spells of the Atharvaveda, the pantheon of the Rigveda remains unaltered save in such minor aspects as the new prominence of the Apsarasas, the mechanical opposition of the gods and the Asuras, and the rise of snake worship, which seems to have been due to the imitation of the aboriginal tribes. On the other hand, the attitude of the priests to the gods as revealed in the sacrifice has lost whatever it had of spontaneity and simple piety. It is no doubt possible to exaggerate these qualities even in the earlier hymns of the Rigveda; but their absence in the later Samhitas is unquestionable. The theory of sacrifice is bluntly do ut des; and even in that theory the sacrificers had so little trust that the whole sacrificial apparatus is dominated by sympathetic magic. So convinced is the priest of his powers in this regard that the texts explain that he can ruin as he pleases, by errors in the sacrifice deliberately committed, the patron for whom he is acting, and in whose interest he is presumed to be at work. It is a sordid picture; and, as we have seen, the higher spirits turned away from a hocus pocus, which they must have despised as heartily as any Buddhist, to the interpretation of the reality underlying phenomena. Yet it is characteristic of the Indian genius that, though it evolved views which must have rendered all the sacrificial technique logically of no avail, it made no effort to break with the sacrifice which was allowed to stand as a preliminary towards the attainment of that enlightenment which the priests professed to impart.
The language of the Samhitas in their verse portions is similar to that of the Rigveda, especially in the tenth book and in the later additions to the other books. The language of the prose represents the speech of the Brahman schools of the day: it differs from that of the verse by the removal of abnormalities, and by much greater precision shown, for example, in the exact use of the tenses, the 'narrative perfect' being at first carefully eschewed, and by the disappearance, except in a narrow sphere, of the use of the unaugmented past tenses of the verb with modal meaning. There seems in one passage of the Chatapatha Brahmana to be a curious admission that other tribes had not preserved the purity of the Vedic speech: the Asuras are credited in that text with the utterance of the words he 'lavo, which may be interpreted "Ho! ye foes", and, if so, can be explained as Prakrit forms. Similarly, as we have already seen, the Vratyas are described as regarding the Vedic speech as difficult to pronounce, no doubt because of its conjunct consonants which the Prakrits avoid. In both cases the reference is probably to tribes of the Magadha country, and the Magadhi Prakrit is marked by both the points alluded to. There are also signs of this corruption of the language through the contact with the aborigines in the fact that in the spells of the Atharvaveda are found several forms which can only be accounted for as Prakritisms. Beyond these generalities we cannot affect to estimate how far the process of the transformation of the language in the popular speech had gone: the earliest foreign evidence, that from the Greek records, shows that many names were reported by Megasthenes and others in Prakrit form; and, in the middle of the third century BC, the inscriptions of Atoka are all written in Prakrit dialects varying considerably in detail from one another. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that beside the language of the Brahman schools, there existed more popular forms of speech ; but everything points to the fact that the deeds of princes were still sung in a language of the same form as the priestly speech. In metre a significant change can be seen: the later hymns exhibit, when written in the eight syllable metre, a distinct tendency to be composed of stanzas in which the four lines are no longer independent in structure, but the first and third and the second and fourth respectively are assimilated. The latter pair is made to end with a definite iambic cadence, while the first and third on the contrary are made to end with an iambus followed by a trochee, thus producing an effect of contrast and setting a gulf between the old and the new form of versification. This new form is far from being exclusively employed even in the latest versification of the period, but in the epic it is firmly established, and the variants reduced to narrow limitsl.
Interesting as are the Samhitas and the Brahmanas from the point of view of the history of civilization and religion, as literature they are hardly ever of substantial value. Much of the speculation of the Brahmanas is utterly puerile and seems to be the product of a decadent intellect. On the other hand, the real interest of the Upanishads is undeniable: these primitive philosophical fragments exhibit a genuine spirit of enquiry, and here and there do not fail to rise to real dignity and impressiveness
For the date of the epoch of the Brahmanas we are again thrown back on those considerations of literary and social development which we have found to be the sole trustworthy criteria for the dating of the epoch of the Rigveda.
The lower limit is given by the fact that Buddhism accepts from the Upanishads the doctrines of transmigration and pessimism, the latter of which had been developed as a doctrine of obvious validity from the facts of transmigration. Other indications, such as the want of any trace of the knowledge of writing, show that we cannot legitimately carry the Upanishads of the older type later than 550 orperhaps more probably 600 B<c. The fixing of the language which is posterior to the Brahmanas may be dated at latest at 300 BC; and the earlier Sutras probably go back to at least 400 BC and very possibly earlier. These are important considerations and their cumulative effect is harmonious and practically decisive of an early date for the civilization which has been described. On considerations of probable development, the beginning of the Brahmana period may fairly be put back to 800 BC.
As with the Rigveda, attempts have been made to show that these dates are much too low and that astronomical data enable us to carry the Brahmanas much further back. The lists of the Nakshatras all begin with Krittikas, and we know that in the sixth century AD the constellation which then headed the Nakshatras was chosen because the vernal equinox took place when the sun was in conjunction with that Nakshatra. From the precession of the equinoxes, we are enabled to arrive at the conclusion, that the position of Krittikas at the vernal equinox must have taken place in the third millennium BC. This has been supported by a passage in the Chatapatha Brahmana where it is said that Krittikas did not move from the eastern quarter at that time. But we have no evidence whatever to connect the sun and the Nakshatras at this period, and the notice regarding the position of Krittikas cannot be taken seriously in a work which shows so little power of scientific observation of facts as the Chatapatha. Moreover if, as it is probable, the Nakshatra system was borrowed ready made, we cannot even conjecture for what reason Krittikas was placed first. More promising is a definite notice contained in the Kaushitaki Bramana and repeated in the Jyotisha, a late Vedic work on astronomy, if indeed it can be dignified with this title, that the winter solstice took place at the new Moon in Maghas. From this datum results varying from 1391-1181 BC were early deduced by different investigators; but these conclusions can claim no scientific value, as they rest on assumptions as to the exact meaning of the passage which cannot be justified. The possible margin of error in the calculations is at least five hundred years; and we are therefore reduced to the view that this evidence only indicates that the observation which is recorded was made some centuries BC. The same conclusion can be drawn from the fact that in quite a number of places the month Phalguna is called the beginning of the year. In the view of Jacobi, this shows that the year began with the winter solstice at full moon in Phalguni, and thus would correspond with his view that in the Rigveda the sun at the summer solstice was in Uttara-Phalguni. But, in this case also, the result is unacceptable; for it is nowhere stated that the beginning of the year was dated from the winter solstice. The most probable explanation is that the full moon in Phalguni was deemed to be the beginning of the year, because it marked, at the time when it was so termed, the beginning of spring. Since the new moon in Magha was at the winter solstice, the full moon in Phalguni would fall about a month and a half later in the first week of February, which is compatible with Feb. 7, the Veris initium in the Roman calendar, and which is a perfectly possible date for about 800 BC, especially when it is remembered that the division of the year into three periods of four months was always a rough one, and the beginning of spring had to be placed early so as to allow of the rains, which are definitely marked out by the fall of the first rain, to fill the period from about June 7 to October 7. With this explanation the theory, that the mention of the full moon in Phalguni as the beginning of the year records an observation of the fourth millennium BC, disappears, and still more the theory that the mention of the month Caitra as the beginning of the year carries us back to the sixth millennium. Nor can any more trust be put in the argument that the mention in the late marriage ritual of the Dhruva, a fixed star shown to the bride and bridegroom as a symbol of constancy, points to an observation made at a period when there was a real fixed pole star, i.e. in the third millennium BC. We do not even know whether this part of the rite goes back to the period of the Brahmanas; and, even if it did, for so little scientific a purpose there was no need of anything save a fairly bright star not too distant from the pole. Ingenious therefore as all these arguments are, they must be dismissed as affording no real certainty of correctness. The most that can be said is that they tend to support the period 800-600 BC as a reasonable date for the period of the civilization of the Brahmanas.