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the army; the third, of the merchants and agriculturists. Below the fourth and lowest caste-the Sudras already mentioned—is still another order : those known as Pariahs—-persons who have been expelled from the other castes, and from whom all Hindoos shrink with horror.
The oldest religion in India, and in the world, is Brahminism. It recognizes a Supreme Deity, who manifests himself in three forms and under three names, constituting a trinity, but who is worshipped as one god. The first manifestation is Brahma, the creator, who represents the past. His emblem is the sun.
The second is Vishnu, the conservative principle, who represents the present. His emblem is water. The third is Siva, the principle of destruction, who represents the future. His emblem is fire. There are, besides, a number of subaltern gods, who execute the mandates of these three. The followers of Brahminism believe in the immortality of the soul in the form of metempsychosis; and their rites consist in ablutions, abstinences, &c. Brahminism is full of superstitions, some of which are of a revolting character. At the fête of the Juggernaut, the car of the god crushed under its iron wheels the fanatics who believed such a death ensured eternal happiness. Other zealots inflicted on themselves the most cruel tortures. Widows, for example, burned themselves on the bodies of their dead husbands. * It numbers about 100,000,000 of believers, and is still in many respects the dominant religion of Hindostan.
Another religion of Asia, which counts a still greater
The English Government has humanely suppressed these odivus customs.
following, having some 200,000,000 of adherents, is Buddhism, which was founded some 600 years before Christ, and was first preached in the north of India. It differs from Brahminism in one essential point: it admits all castes within its fold, and foreigners as well as natives. This religion is purely spiritual, and the chief deity, Buddha, represents supreme reason and absolute intelligence. It declares our present existence to be imperfect and perishable; that the world is an illusion of the senses; and that the soul should be detached from material things, and prepared for entrance into the true and imperishable world, where Buddha reigns supreme in a region eternal and indestructible. This religion appeared in China in the first century of our era, and continued to overspread various parts of Asia. It has been furiously persecuted by Brahminism, which in the fourteenth century expelled it from India ; though its followers are now twice as numerous as those of the persecuting faith. Its sacred books are called “ Commandments,” and copies exist in the Great Library of Paris.
From this rapid sketch it will be seen that the laws and religion of the oldest empire in the world combined to maintain the ascendency of the Upper Classes, and to perpetuate the subjection of the
Historians note as a phenomenon that the people have never made an effort to throw off the yoke by insurrection. Whilst wars between Kings and Dynasties, whilst conspiracies and revolutions
among the Upper Classes, have been common enough, the laboring population have tamely submitted to their fate, as if conscious that it was ordained of nature and nature's God.
A conclusive proof that it is to physical causes, such as climate, food, and soil, the condition of Asia is to be ascribed, is the fact that all tropical countries are in a similar condition. There is no instance on record of any tropical country," says a learned writer, 6 where wealth having been extensively accumulated, the people have escaped their fate; no instance in which the heat of the climate has not caused abundance of food, and the abundance of food caused an unequal distribution, first of wealth, and then of political and social power. Among nations subjected to these conditions the people have counted for nothing; they have had no voice in the management of the State, no control over the wealth their own industry created ; their only business has been to labor, their only duty to obey."
Thus much of Asia, usually called the cradle of the human race, since its history began there. It is declared by some writers that the authentic history of this continent hardly begins before the end of the tenth century A.D.
WHETHER We are to Jok for the first traces of civilization on the continent of Africa in Egypt or Ethiopia is uncertain; but it is beyond question that the former country ultimately attained the highest development. The history of Egypt may be dated from 2450 before Christ, when its first King, Menes, reigned. Before that all is fabulous.
The main features of Asiatic and African civilization were identical, and the same causes are assigned. In Egypt, the masses were poor and enslaved, whilst the Upper Classes possessed all the wealth and power. “ The civilization of Egypt being, like that of India, caused by the fertility of the soil,” says Buckle, "and the climate being also very hot, there were in both countries brought into play the same laws, and then naturally followed the same results. In both countries we find the national food cheap and abundant: hence the labor market oversupplied; hence a very unequal division of wealth and power; and hence all the consequences which such inequality will inevitably produce.” In Asia, the ordinary food of the people was rice; in Egypt, and other parts of Africa, it was composed of dates, the fruit of the palm-tree. This fruit, which was abundantly produced with little labor, not only fed the millions of human beings that crowded Egypt in ancient times, but was likewise the food of animals of all kinds.
We have an excellent proof of the redundance of population produced by the cheapness of food in the statement of Herodotus, that there were said to be twenty thousand inhabited cities in Egypt when, nearly five centuries before Christ, he was travelling through the country.
The Egyptians were originally divided, like the Hindoos, into four castes—the priests, the army, the artisans, and the peasants, called fellahs. The Government at first was theocratic, and the sacerdotal was higher than the royal power.
The land was divided among the Clergy, the Army, and the King, each of whom owned a third.
The same care was shown in Egypt as in India to keep the masses in profound subjection. They were forbidden to change the condition in which fate had placed them, every man being required to follow the pursuit of his father. All knowledge was confined to the Upper Classes ; and severe penalties were inflicted, as in India, on those of the lower who sought for information.
The religion of ancient Egypt was a sort of Pantheism, in which all the forces and forms of nature were deified.
Above all the rest was a god without name, eternal, infinite, and the source of all things. Then came a series of subaltern gods, as in India, with emblems almost similar. Lastly, animals, plants, and vegetables were worshipped in different portions of the country. The Egyptians believed in the immortality of the soul, and in metempsychosis. They had also great respect for the dead, and carefully embalmed the bodies of their parents.