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CHAPTER II.: RELIGION AND LAW. - Sir Henry Sumner Maine, Dissertations on Early Law and Custom 
Dissertations on Early Law and Custom, chiefly selected from Lectures delivered at Oxford (London: John Murray, 1883).
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RELIGION AND LAW.
The most ancient of the books containing the sacred laws of the Hindus appear to me to throw little light on the absolute origin of law. Some system of actual observance, some system of custom or usage, must lie behind them; and it is a very plausible conjecture that it was not unlike the existing very imperfectly sacerdotalised customary law of the Hindus in the Punjab. But what they do show is, if not the beginning of law, the beginning of lawyers. They enable us to see how law was first regarded, as a definite subject of thought, by a special learned class; and this class consisted of lawyers who were first of all priests. There are signs of the ancient identity of the two professions in the earliest recorded usages of several races, Celts, Romans, and Greeks. Nobody, for example, will understand the ancient Roman lawyer, with that obstinate adherence of his to texts which has characterised his profession during so many centuries, and that method of stating his facts in inflexible formulas which has only just died out in this country, unless it is realised that the jurisconsult sprang from the pontiff or priest. All through the Middle Ages the lawyer who was avowedly a priest held his own against the lawyer who professed to be a layman; and ours is the only country in which, owing to the peculiar turn of our legal history, it is difficult to see that, on the whole, the canonist exercised as much influence on the course of legal development as the legist or civilian. If the Roman Empire had merely transmitted its administrative system to Western Europe, and if it had not bequeathed to it a coherent body of codified secular law making considerable approach to completeness, it is very doubtful whether the general law of the West would not even now reflect a particular set of religious ideas as distinctly as the Hindu law reflects the sacerdotal conceptions of the Brahmans.
It is necessary, first of all, to observe how the priestly character of the Brahmanical authors of the law-books affected their view of conduct, a word which must be used at the outset in preference to ‘law.’ Shortly, this view is intimately affected throughout by their belief as to the lot which awaits human beings after death. This lot will be made up of various experiences, some of which correspond to direct reward or punishment in Heaven or Hell, as conceived by the Western religions. But the Hindu belief concerning the posthumous state of man, and the Buddhist belief which has mainly sprung from it, differ from the most widely diffused Western beliefs in that the Transmigration of Souls fills as large a space as direct reward and punishment, and in that rewards and punishments in all their forms are regarded, not as eternal, but as essentially transitory. It is beside my purpose, I should observe, to consider what may have been the most ancient faith or faiths of the Hindus, and still more how far the religious ideas reflected in the books before us represent their existing religious doctrine. In the works of which I have been speaking, the early manuals of law, belief has reached a definite stage, which may be examined by itself and which seems to me extremely instructive. Hindu theology, from very remote times, appears to have regarded the universe as having been destroyed and again created, and as destined to be destroyed and again created; but during the enormous intervals between these destructions and creations the aggregate of existence is conceived as indestructible and as incapable of increase or diminution. The sum of life, in particular, is always constant. This essence, life or soul, is regarded as running in a continuous stream through all animate, perhaps we might say through all organic, nature; but it is always returning on itself—never ending, still beginning. This stream of life is divided into portions or parcels, which are temporarily detained in external forms, but which are constantly passing from one form to another without losing their identity. Men, animals, holy sages, and the gods themselves, are not essentially different from one another. The same life or soul pervades them all, clothing itself in one form after another. Existence itself does not end, but its successive stages are terminable and transitory. When a man still contaminated by impurity dies, his spirit passes through a series of purgatories; from the last of these it escapes to clothe itself with one animal shape after another, and at last it finds embodiment in a human frame, which at first will probably be frail or sickly. But, after a second birth through the study of the Scriptures, the virtuous at death pass straight into Heaven, where their stock of virtue will keep them for long ages; but it will gradually wear out, until some remnant of it carries them back to earth, to reappear among the prosperous and the powerful. ‘Men of all castes, if they fulfil their assigned duties, enjoy in Heaven the highest imperishable bliss. Afterwards, when a man who has fulfilled his duties returns to this world, he obtains by virtue of a remainder of merit birth in a distinguished family, beauty of form, beauty of complexion, strength, aptitude for learning, wisdom, wealth, and the gift of fulfilling the laws of his caste or order. Therefore in both worlds he dwells in happiness, rolling like a wheel from one world to the other’ (Apastamba, ii. i. 2. 2 and 3). Even the gods in Heaven, who are looked upon as not much more than men of extraordinary virtue, will in time exhaust their store of merit and pass out of blessedness. ‘It is by favour of the Brahmans,’ says Vishnu (xix. 22), ‘that the gods reside in Heaven.’
The Wheel mentioned in the above passage from Apastamba is a favourite image with these writers. They figure existence as a wheel spinning round. Religious pictures, representing the circle of life with its various compartments, with Heaven at the top and Hell at the bottom, and with human and animal existence at the sides, are common in the East; but though they are not unknown to Hindus, they are more frequently found among Buddhists,1 who must have borrowed the symbol of the Wheel from an older Hinduism, and who appear to attach to it a special spiritual significance. In the Buddhistic Wheel-pictures, Buddha is depicted outside the circumference, in the attitude of benediction. He only has escaped from the weary cycle of existence, and stands alone in Nirvana, apart from gods and men. The assumption of such a possibility would doubtless be regarded by orthodox Hindus as atheistic. Exalted religious feeling takes with them the form of meditation on Brahma, the Atman, the Infinite, the Self-Existent, the ‘immortal and spotless,’ who ‘lies enveloped in matter and is the dwelling of all living creatures,’ who is, ‘like a city, divided into many streets.’ Here and there they express themselves on this topic in language of much sublimity.
I shall have occasion to explain in the next chapter that one particular religious system of the greatest antiquity which is shadowed forth in these books stands quite apart from the beliefs which I have been examining. It is very probable that these beliefs were themselves compounded of divers more ancient parts, and that direct reward or punishment, and indirect reward or punishment by transmigration, did not originally belong to the same body of doctrine. Heaven and Hell and the Transmigration of Souls are, however, all referred to in the oldest of the law treatises, though briefly and slightly. In the more recent writings (some of them, however, not so modern as Manu) these subjects occupy a great space, and have been vastly amplified by gloomy and fantastic imagination. Heaven, as is not unusual in religious systems, is but faintly sketched; but the Hells, or, as they would more properly be called, the Purgatories (since they are essentially transient), are described with the utmost minuteness of detail. They are twenty-two in number, each applying a new variety of physical or moral pain. It would be a mistake, I think, to suppose that they were created by a single imaginative effort, like the circles of Dante’s Inferno. They rather belong to widely separated grades of the conception of punishment. Such places of retribution as the twenty-first of these Purgatories, where souls wander in sword-leaved forests; the nineteenth, where they stray over rough and uneven roads; the fifteenth, where they sink in stinking clay, are probably much older than the first, or place of darkness; the fourth, or place of howling; or the places of burning, parching, and pressing together, which stand tenth, eleventh, and twelfth. These last seem to me not older than the infliction of regular (but originally very cruel) criminal punishments by civil rulers possessing organised authority. The torture chambers of princes have very strongly influenced the conception of posthumous punishment, as may be seen by comparing what remains of some of them—for example, of that in the free city of Nuremberg—with a picture in which some painter of the fourteenth century gives form to the popular ideas concerning Purgatory and Hell.
The sojourn of the sinful soul in each of these places of punishment is, as I have said, always terminable, but its length is expressed in language suited to astronomical magnitudes. If, for example, a Brahman be slain, as many as are the pellets of dust which his blood makes on the soil—that is to say, on the burnt-up soil of India—so many are the periods of a thousand years the slayer must pass in Hell (Manu, xi. 208). The duration of punishment is imagined by the Buddhists with even greater extravagance; and indeed on all these subjects they seem to have outdone the doctrine of the Hindus. The frightful Buddhist pictures of torments in hell are tolerably well known. They are mostly of Chinese origin, and probably exaggerate (but do not more than exaggerate) the criminal justice administered from time immemorial in the great organised Chinese Empire and its dependent kingdoms, in which the highest importance seems always to have been attached to the deterrent effects of punishment.
The series of Purgatories is, however, at last worked through, and the soul or portion of life emerges to begin a course of transmigration which may bring it again to humanity. I have already stated my opinion that the purgation of sin or impurity by transmigration, and its purgation by punishment in hell, did not originally belong to the same system of religious thought. But in these Hindu law-books they are blended together; and the sinful spirit, released from purgatorial pains, has still to pass through a succession of animal or vegetable forms before it is again clothed with a human body. It is hard not to smile at the grotesque particularity of detail with which such writers as Vishnu and Manu depict the transmigration of souls. ‘Criminals in the highest degree enter the bodies of all plants successively. Mortal sinners enter the bodies of worms or insects. Minor offenders enter the bodies of birds. Criminals in the fourth degree enter the bodies of aquatic animals. Those who had committed a crime affecting loss of caste enter the bodies of amphibious animals’ (Vishnu, xliv. 2). These general statements are followed by a prodigious number of others, mentioning the class of creature into which particular sinners enter. There is perhaps a natural fitness in some of them, but others look like arbitrary assertions or wild guesses. One who has appropriated a broad passage becomes a serpent living in holes. One who has stolen grain becomes a rat. One who has stolen water becomes a water-fowl. But what is to be said of the transformation of the stealer of silk into a partridge; of the thief of linen into a frog; of the cattle-stealer into an iguana? I may venture at the same time to suggest that what seems to us most difficult to understand in these beliefs once appeared simple and natural. It has been observed that savages look upon the transmutation of one creature into another as almost an easy, everyday process. Primitive men, living constantly in the presence of wild animals, preying on them and preyed upon by them, do not seem to have been struck by the immense superiority of the man to the brute. They appear to have been impressed by the difference between living things and everything else, but to have considered the forms of animate being as separated from one another by a very slight barrier. Some very interesting inferences have recently been drawn from this savage characteristic; and it has been pointed out how in those survivals of a very ancient world, fairy tales and myths, one creature is constantly changing into another, and slipping back into its original shape. The most popular child’s book of our day is a story of metamorphosis; but that story of Wonderland owes its popularity to its faithfully following the operations of a dream; and one must here remark that much of the material of ancient superstition is literally such stuff as dreams are made of.
But these Hindu law-books have wrought up the ancient belief into a moral and theological philosophy of the greatest precision and amplitude. Their special principle is that man’s acts and experiences in one form of being determine the next. Whether he will in a future existence become a plant, a reptile, a bird, a woman, a Brahman, or a semi-divine sage, depends on himself. He goes out of the world what his own deeds have made him; and the impossibility of dissociating the past from the future is declared by these writers in language of much solemnity. If a man departs modified by voluntary sinfulness or involuntary impurity, and if he has not expelled the taint by due penance, he will become one of the lowest creatures; if he dies purer than he was born, he may reach the highest stage of humanity or become indistinguishable from divinity. The whole theory is saved from contempt by its power of satisfying moral cravings, and by the apparently complete explanation which it offers of the unequal balance of good and evil in this world. The last King of Burmah had been a monk before he ascended the throne, and he remained to his death an eminent Buddhist theologian. An Englishman was lecturing him on the military, scientific, and commercial superiority of the English to the Burmese, not without some intention of hinting that this pre-eminence was due to the purer faith of his countrymen. The king politely assented, but added, ‘There is no doubt that you must all have been very virtuous Buddhists in some former state of existence.’
With these explanations, some features of those writings which are at first sight very perplexing become comparatively intelligible. Thus, they are chiefly called law-books because they contain rules of conduct stated with the utmost precision. But what happens to a man if he disobeys the rule? This is the principal question to the modern jurist. What is the punishment, or, as the technical phrase is, the Sanction? Understood in the modern sense, it is hardly noticed in the oldest of these books. It is in fact to be inflicted in another state of existence, and therefore, though it may be asserted, no directions can be given about it. Thus the place which in a modern law-book is taken by the Sanction—that is, by the various penal consequences of refusing to obey a law—is taken in these writings by Penances. You are to punish yourself here, lest a worse thing happen to you elsewhere. These penances are set forth in the most uncompromising language and in apparent good faith.2 In one place, the penitent is told to mutilate himself and to walk on in a particular direction till he drops dead. In another he is to throw himself three times into the fire, or to go into battle and expose himself as a target to the enemy. For one great crime he is to extend himself on a red-hot iron bed, or to enter a hollow iron image, and, having lighted a fire on both sides, to burn himself to death. For the comparatively venial offence of drinking forbidden liquor a Brahman is to have boiling spirit poured down his throat. Other penances are extraordinary from the length and intricacy of the self-inflictions which they suppose. The old books hint a doubt here and there as to the efficacy of penance: what good can it do, they say, since the evil deed itself remains; still, they add, the authoritative opinion is, that the penance should be performed. ‘Man in this world,’ writes Gautama (xix. 2), ‘is polluted by a vile action, such as sacrificing for men unworthy to offer a sacrifice, eating forbidden food, speaking what ought not to be spoken, neglecting what is prescribed, practising what is forbidden. They (i.e. some Brahman authorities) are in doubt if he shall perform a penance for such a deed or if he shall not do it. Some declare that he shall not do it, because the deed shall not perish. (But) the most excellent opinion is that he shall perform a penance.’ This opinion is then supported by copious quotations from the Hindu scriptures. The remarkable thing is, that no one of these writers seems to feel, what would be our doubt, whether anybody could be got to perform the severer penances.
How then does what we should call Law—that is, law, civil or criminal, enforced by sanctions or penalties to be inflicted in this world—first make its appearance in these books? It appears in connection with the personage whom we call the King. His authority is more or less assumed to exist in the oldest of these treatises, but, all taken together, they suggest that the alliance between the King and the Brahmans was very gradually formed. The most ancient of the books give comparatively narrow place to the royal authority, but the space allotted to the King and his functions is always increasing, until in the latest treatises (such as Manu) the whole duty of a King is one of the subjects treated of at the greatest length and with the greatest particularity. It may be observed that, with the increased importance attributed to the King, there is a change in the sacerdotal view of his relation to the law. In what appear to me to be the most ancient portions of these books, the King is only represented as the auxiliary of the spiritual director. He is to complete and enforce penances. ‘If any persons,’ says Apastamba (ii. v. 10. 13), ‘transgress the order of their spiritual director, he shall take them before the King. The King shall consult his domestic priest, who should be learned in the law and in the art of governing. He shall order them to perform the proper penance, if they are Brahmans, and reduce them to reason by forcible means, except corporal punishment and servitude, but men of other castes, the King, after examining their actions, may punish even by death.’ In a later treatise (Vishnu, iii. 2) the duties of a King are summed up in two rules: he is to protect his people; he is to keep the four castes, and the four orders of Student, Householder, Hermit, and Ascetic, in the practice of their several duties; or, in other words, he is to enforce the whole social and religious system as conceived by the sacerdotal lawyers. The further progress of change consists in the further exaltation of the personage who in the passage from Apastamba is called the King’s domestic priest. In the end, the law-books come to contemplate an ideal tribunal composed of the King, with learned Brahmans as assessors. The later writings clothe the King with right divine. He is formed of eternal particles drawn from the substance of the gods. ‘Though even a child, he must not be treated lightly, from an idea that he is a mere mortal. No; he is a powerful divinity who appears in human shape’ (Manu, vii. iv. 8). But he has lost in actual personal power. He can only act with the advice of his Brahman assessors. ‘Just punishment cannot be inflicted by an ignorant and covetous King, who has no wise and virtuous assistants, whose understanding has not been improved, and whose heart is addicted to sensuality. By a King, wholly pure, faithful to his promise, observant of the Scriptures, with good assistants and sound understanding may punishment be justly inflicted’ (Manu, vii. xxx. 31).
From this point the law set forth in these treatises becomes true civil law, enforced by penalties imposed in this world by the Court itself. The Brahmans themselves no doubt from first to last claim a considerable benefit of clergy. ‘Corporal punishment,’ it is written, ‘must not be resorted to in the case of a Brahman; he at most can have his crime proclaimed, or be banished, or be branded.’ At the same time the abstract doctrine of punishments or penal sanctions found in Manu (vii. 17 et seq.) might satisfy the English jurists who make the sanction the principal ingredient in a law, so uncompromisingly is it declared. Jeremy Bentham could hardly complain of such language as this: ‘Punishment governs all mankind; punishment alone preserves them; punishment wakes when their guards are asleep; if the King punish not the guilty, the stronger would oppress the weaker, like the fish in the sea. The whole race of man is kept in order by punishment; gods and demons, singers in heaven and cruel giants, birds and serpents, are made capable by just correction of their several enjoyments’ (Manu, loc. cit.) The full consequences of juridical doctrine like this do not, however, appear in such a law-book as the extant Manu, which, besides a great deal of civil law, contains a mass of sacerdotal rules, mostly, as it seems to me, in a state of dissolution and decay. A still later treatise, Narada,3 is almost wholly a simple law-book, and one of a very interesting kind. The ancient Brahmanical system has been toned down and tempered in all its parts by the good sense and equity of the school of lawyers from whom this book proceeded. The portions of it which deal with Evidence appear to me especially remarkable, not only for the legal doctrine, which (though the writer believes in Ordeals) is on the whole extremely modern, but for the elevation of moral tone displayed in its language on the subject of true and false witness, which should be set off against the unveracity attributed to the modern Hindu. ‘No relatives, no friends, no treasures, be they ever so great, are able to hold him back who is about to dive into the tremendous darkness of Hell. Thy ancestors are in suspense when thou art come to give evidence, and ponder in their mind, “Wilt thou deliver us from Hell or precipitate us into it?” Truth is the soul of man; everything depends upon truth. Strive to acquire a better self by speaking the truth. Thy whole lifetime, from the night in which thou wert born up to the night in which thou wilt die, has been spent in vain if thou givest false evidence. There is no higher virtue than veracity; nor is there a greater crime than falsehood. One must speak the truth, therefore, especially when asked to bear testimony’ (Narada, pp. 42, 43, Jolly). The somewhat analogous passage in Manu (viii. 112) is defaced by the often reprobated qualification, ‘In case of a promise made for the preservation of a Brahman, it is no deadly sin to take a light oath.’
The difficulties under which the student of the so-called Sacred Laws of the Hindus has so long laboured have been almost entirely caused by the transitional character of the book which was first introduced to European scholarship as the original source of Hindu Law. If the sample of this branch of Hindu literature first translated into a Western language had been Narada, it would have been regarded as a law-book of a familiar type, and the traces of sacerdotal influence which are to be found in it would probably have been neglected. If, on the other hand, the book first made accessible had been Gautama, or Baudhâyana, or Apastamba, it would probably have been set down at once as a manual of practical religious conduct, the Whole Duty of a Hindu; the law contained in it would probably have been considered adventitious or accidental. But Manu, which Sir William Jones made famous in Europe, neither falls wholly under the one description nor wholly under the other. And so long as it stood by itself there was the greatest difficulty in determining its place in the general history of law. A good many years ago (‘Ancient Law,’ pp. 17, 18, 19), I showed the hesitation I felt in making use of it for archæological purposes; but I can now see that I underrated the sacerdotal element in the structure of Manu. The whole of the literature to which it belongs sprang, it would now appear, from a double origin; in part from some body of usage, not now easy to determine (though the recent investigation of local bodies of Indian custom has thrown some light upon it), but chiefly from the Hindu scriptural literature. The last exercised by far the most important influence. Its creators, far back in antiquity, did not start with any idea of making or stating law. Beginning with religious hymnology, devotional exercises, religious ritual, and theological speculation, some of their schools were brought to Conduct, and to stating in detail what a devout man should do, what would happen to him if he did it not, and by what acts, if he lapsed, he could restore himself to uprightness. Gradually there arose in these schools the conviction that, for the purpose of regulating Conduct by uniform rules, it was a simpler course to act upon the rulers of men than on men themselves, and thus the King was called in to help the Brahman and to be consecrated by him. The beginning of this alliance with the King was the beginning of true civil law.
Nothing which thus happened seems to me to be very unlike what would have happened in the legal history of Western Europe, if the Canonists had gained a complete ascendency over Common Lawyers and Civilians. The system which they would have established might be expected to give great importance to the purgation of crime by penances. This in fact occurred; the preference of the ecclesiastical system with its penances over the secular system with its cruel punishments, had much to do, as may be seen from the legendary stories, with the popularity of St. Thomas (Becket). Then it would be probable that, in the case of graver sin, the ecclesiastical lawyer would invoke the aid of the secular ruler to secure the proper expiation; and this again occurred in the form of entrusting the severer punishments to the secular arm. Finally, if the sole advisers and instruments of the European King in the administration of civil and criminal justice had been ecclesiastics, they would have been driven in the long run to construct a system of civil and criminal law with proper sanctions enforced by the Courts. But the system would have been deeply tinged in all its parts with ecclesiastical ideas, and though it would possibly have borrowed some or many of its rules from older usage, it would have been very hard to detect their sources and their precise original form.
Here we have one of the chief drawbacks on the historical usefulness of the sacred Hindu laws. In the course of their growth they have probably absorbed much customary law from without; but even in the earliest of them it probably has been changed in transmission, while in the latest it may have been borrowed from several different bodies of usage, irreconcilable in the principles from which they start. On the whole, the most valuable portions of the literature are those which throw light on the derivation of certain branches of law from a set of entirely religious beliefs. One example of this derivation will be discussed in the next chapter.
I said that this ancient literature threw less light on the beginning of law than on the beginning of lawyers. But it is of course to be understood that the men who conceived and framed it were much more than lawyers. All the world knows that they were also in some sense priests; but they were much more than priests. What we have to bring home to ourselves is the existence in ancient Indian society of a sole instructed class, of a class which had an absolute monopoly of all learning. It included the only lawyers, the only priests, the only professors, the sole authorities on taste, morality, and feeling, the sole depositaries of whatever stood in the place of a science. These books are one long assertion that the Brahmans hold the keys of Hell and Death, but they also show that the Brahmans aimed at commanding a great deal more than the forces of the intellect, and that all their efforts came to be directed towards bringing under their influence the mighty of the earth of another sort, the conquering soldier and the hereditary king. They were to become partners with princes in their authority, their advisers and assessors. ‘A King and a Brahman deeply versed in the Vedas, these two uphold the moral order of the world’; thus it is written in one of the oldest of the books. Doubtless, the alliance between Brahman and King was often sealed, and produced great effects; for, amid the obscurities of early Indian history, the fact does seem to emerge that, although religions doubtless at first extended themselves by conversion, they were established over wide areas and again overthrown much less by propagandism than by the civil power. On the whole, the impression left on the mind by the study of these books is, that a more awful tyranny never existed than this which proceeded from the union of physical, intellectual, and spiritual ascendency. At the same time it would be altogether a mistake to regard the class whose ideas are reflected in the literature as a self-indulgent ecclesiastical aristocracy. It is not easy, I must admit, to describe adequately the intensity of the professional pride which shows itself in all parts of their writings. Everybody is to minister to them; everybody is to give way to them; the respectful salutations with which they are to be addressed are set forth with the utmost minuteness. They are to be free of the criminal law which they themselves prescribe. ‘A Brahman,’ writes Gautama, ‘must not be subjected to corporal punishment, he must not be imprisoned, he must not be fined, he must not be exiled, he must not be reviled or excluded (from society).’ Their arrogance perhaps reaches the highest point in a passage of the law-book of Vishnu, where it is written that ‘the Gods are invisible deities; the Brahmans are visible deities. The Brahmans sustain the world. It is by favour of the Brahmans that the Gods reside in Heaven.’ Yet the life which they chalk out for themselves is certainly not a luxurious and scarcely a happy life. It is a life passed from first to last under the shadow of terrible possibilities. The Brahman in youth is to beg for his teacher; in maturity, as a married householder, he is hedged round with countless duties, of which the involuntary breach may consign him in another world to millions of years of degradation or pain; in old age, he is to become an ascetic or a hermit. It is possibly to this combination of self-assertion with self-denial and self-abasement that the wonderfully stubborn vitality of the main Brahmanical ideas may be attributed. As I have shown, the sacerdotal legal system, as a system, owes probably much of its present authority to its adoption by the Anglo-Indian Courts of Justice as the common law of India; but some of the points of belief which underlie it, as they do the whole Brahmanical literature, make the most durable part of the mental stock of every Hindu. Some of these ideas are not wanting either in religious or in moral elevation; but on the whole the evil has prevailed over the good. We can find in this most ancient literature the germs of many superstitions still exercising pernicious effect—of the caste prejudice which forces the wounded Sepoy to die of fever rather than take water from his low-caste fellow-soldier or his English officer; of that terror of pollution which, twenty-five years since, led to the frightful mutiny of the mercenary troops; of that rejection of meat and drink which still limits the food supply of an over-populated country, and contributes to its periodical famines. But in close contact with this frame of mind there is nowadays an ever-growing body of thought stirring with the leaven of Western knowledge and Western scientific method; and the juxtaposition of the two makes the government of India by the English an undertaking without a parallel in its novelty and difficulty, and in the amount of caution, insight, and self-command demanded from its administrators.
NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS.
Buddhist wheel-pictures are, as I have said, commoner than those of the Hindus, and have been frequently figured. Mr. Grant Duff’s kindness has, however, supplied me from Madras with two Hindu pictures of the class, less perfect in outline than the Buddhist wheel-pictures, but manifestly following the same model.
I am indebted to Professor Cowell for the following curious legendary account of the origin of the Buddhist pictures:—
‘In the twenty-first story of the Northern Buddhist collection of legends called the “Divyávadána,” there is an account how Buddha’s disciple, Maudgalyáyana, used occasionally to visit heaven and hell, and when he returned to earth he would describe the different sights which he had seen.
‘Buddha said to Ánanda, “Maudgalyáyana will not always be present, nor one like Maudgalyáyana; therefore a wheel must be made with five divisions and placed in the chamber of the gate.” The mendicants heard that Buddha had given this order, but they did not know what sort of a wheel was to be made. Buddha said, “Five paths are to be made—those in the hells, animals, pretas,1 gods and men. Of these the hells are to be made lowest; then the animals and pretas; and above, the gods and men—i.e. the four continents, viz., Púrvavideha, Aparagodáníya, Uttarakuru, and Jambudvípa. In the centre are to be made desire, hatred and stupid indifference:2 desire in the form of a dove, hatred in that of a snake, stupid indifference in that of a hog. And images of Buddha are to be made pointing out the circle of Nirváṇa. Beings are to be represented as being born in a supernatural way, as by the machinery of a water-wheel, falling from one state and being produced in another. All round is to be represented the twelve-fold circle of causation3 in the regular and in the reverse order. Everything is to be represented as devoured by Transitoriness, and the two gáthás are to be written there,—
‘The mendicants carried out Buddha’s words, and made the wheel with five divisions. The Brahmans and householders came and asked, “Sir, what is this engraved here?” They reply, “Sirs, even we do not know.” Buddha said, “Let a certain mendicant be appointed to stand in the chamber of the gate, who shall show it to all the Brahmans and householders who come from time to time.” ’
[1 ]See Note A at the end of this chapter, ‘Wheel-pictures.’
[2 ]Apastamba, i. i. 15; Gautama, xxii.; Vishnu, xxxiv, xxxv.
[3 ]The ‘Institutes of Narada’ have been translated into English by Dr. Julius Jolly. London: Trübner & Co., 1871.
[1 ]Ghosts or goblins who suffer from perpetual hunger.
[2 ]The well-known three ‘faults’ of Hindu philosophy.
[3 ]See Colebrooke’s Essays (ed. 2), vol. i. pp. 453-455.
[4 ]Dharma and Vinaya.