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“ Although religion no where authorizes this barbarity, the laws which regulate marriages amongst the Rajpoots powerfully promote infanticide. Not only are intermarriages prohibited between families of the same clan (compa), but between those of the same tribe (gote); and though centuries may have intervened since their separation, and thus transplanted they may have lost their original patronymic, they can never be regrafted on the original stem. Every tribe has, therefore, to look abroad to a race distinct from its own for suitors for the females.
“Many virtuous and humane princes have endeavoured to check or mitigate an evil, in the eradication of which every parental feeling would co-operate. Sumptuary edicts can alone controul it. The plan proposed, and in some degree followed by the great Jey Sing of Amber, might with caution be pursued, and with great probability of success. He submitted to the prince of every Rajpoot state a decree, which regulates the dayar (or dower), and other marriage expenditure, with reference to the property of the vassal, limiting it to one year's income of the estate. This plan was, however, frustrated by the vanity of the Chondawut of Saloombra, who expended on the marriage of his daughter a sum even greater than his sovereign could have afforded. Were bonds taken from all the feudal chiefs, and a penal clause inserted, of forfeiture of their fief by all who exceeded a fixed nuptial expenditure, the axe would be laid to the root, and the evil would be checked, and the heart of many a mother (and we may add, father), be gladdened by preserving at once the point of honour and their child.
“ When ignorance declaims against the gratuitous love of murder amongst these brave men, our contempt is excited equally by its short-sighted conclusions, and the affected philanthropy which overlooks all remedy but the ‘sic volo.' Sir John Shore, when acting on the suggestion of the benevolent Duncan, for the suppression of this practice amongst the Rajkoomars, judged more wisely as a politician, and more charitably in his estimate of human motives. A prohibition (says he) enforced by the denunciation of the severest temporal penalties, would have had little efficacy in abolishing a custom which existed in opposition to the feelings of humanity and natural affection ; but the sanction of that religion which the Rajkoomar professed, was appealed to in aid of the ordinances of civil authority, and an engagement binding them to desist from the barbarous practice was prepared, and circulated for signature amongst the Rajkoomars. It may well be doubted how far this influence could extend, when the root of the evil remained untouched, though not unseen, as the philanthropic Duncan pointed out in the confession of the Rajkoomars. All unequivocally admitted it, but all did not fully acknowledge its atrocity; and the only reason they assigned for the inhuman practice was, the great expense of procuring suitable matches for their daughters if they allowed them to grow up. The Rajkoomar is one of the Chohan Sachae, chief of the Agriculas, and in proportion to its high and well deserved pretentions on the score of honour, it has more infanticides than any other of the thirty-six royal races. Amongst those of this race out of the pale of feudalism, and subjected to powers not Rajpoot, the practice is four-fold greater, from the increased pressure of the cause which gave it birth, and the difficulty of establishing their daughters in wedlock. Raja Jey Sing's enactment went far to remedy this. Conjoin his plan with Mr. Duncan's : provide dowers, and infanticide will cease. It is only by removing the cause that the consequence can be averted. As to the almost universality of this practice amongst the Jarėjas, the leading cause which will also operate to its continuance has been entirely overlooked. The Jarėjas were Rajpoots, a subdivision of the Yadus, but by intermarriages with the Mahomedans, to whose faith they became proselytes, they lost their caste. Political causes have disunited them from the Mahomedans, and they desire again to be considered as pure Rajpoots ; but having been contaminated, no Rajpoot will intermarry with them. The owner of a hyde of land, whether Seesodia, Rahtore, or Chohan, would scorn the hand of a Jaréja princess. Can the ‘sic volo' be applied to men who think in this fashion ?”
The conflicting opinions which have prevailed among the most intelligent Oriental writers respecting the origin and antiquity of this and the Jaina sects, and the little historical light that has yet been afforded to disperse the darkness that ages has spread over them, leave us, at the end of many learned disquisitions, involved in almost as many doubts as when we commenced upon them. By some, the extensive sect of Buddha is supposed to have derived its origin from, and to have been identified with, the ninth avatar, or the last appearance of Vishnu upon earth ; when he is said to have appeared to reclaim the Hindus from numerous abominations into which they had fallen, and to teach them more benevolent forms of worship than those which, through the means of human and animal sacrifices, they then practised. These mild doctrines were too simple, and interfered too strongly with the privileges of the Brahminical priests to be long tolerated by them. A religious war, in consequence, ensued between the old and the new sects, and that of Buddha was ultimately expelled from the hither peninsula of India.
In noticing this most beneficent of the explanations of Vishnu's ninth incarnation, we are left in considerable perplexity to account for the apparently inadequate manifestation of his power to punish the sacrilegious Brahminical opponents of his divine will: and this will lead to the observation, that the Buddhas wholly, and the Brahmans partially, disavow this incarnation of Vishnu ; the former insisting that the worship of Buddha possesses a far higher claim to antiquity than that of the deities of the Brahmans, who, they maintain, came from other countries, and established their own religion, mainly by the power of the sword, on the ruins of the more ancient one of Buddha, which had for ages before prevailed. This point will be noticed again presently.
The Brahmans, on their side, aver that this appearance of Vishnu was not an incarnation, but merely a manifestation of his power; the object of which they account for in a manner peculiarly their own.
It may have been noticed in other parts of this work, that the gods of the Hindus were not remarkably scrupulous about the means which they adopted for the accomplishment of any especial purpose that they might have had in view, whether that purpose were the establishment of individual supremacy, the benefit of the celestial hosts, or, more benevolently, the good of mankind. Thus we find Vishnu, in the Vamuna avatar, deceiving Maha Bali to dispossess him of his three kingdoms : and thus we find him, as Parasu Rama, and Varuna, opposing craft against craft to each other, as readily and effectually as two of the most skilful of modern diplomatists; the one to obtain a promise that he might take an undue advantage of it; the other, to evade that which sacred ordinances forbade him to retract. In the argument of the Brahmans here alluded to, we shall find the doctrine of the end sanctifying the means, carried to an extent which must be deemed more demoniacal than divine, and more in accordance with the character of a minister of evil, than of the preserving deity of the universe.
It is accordingly urged, that Vishnu (in some accounts it is said at the solicitation of Siva) manifested himself in the form of Buddha, to overturn the supremacy of the Asuras (or demons), the opponents of the gods; who, under Divodasa, by their extraordinary virtue, piety, and practice of the holy doctrines of the Vedas, had become eminently powerful and happy. It would thus appear that the Hindu immortals were not behind earthly mortals in cherishing those evil and base passions of the heart, envy and uncharitableness, which we are apt so frequently to decry, and, like the gods of Swerga, too frequently to nourish. But be that as it may, Indra and his subordinate deities were alarmed at the increasing virtue, and, in consequence, extending power of the Asuras; and applied to Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva to protect them from the distress which they anticipated from such exemplary holiness and goodness. Brahma, whose blundering good nature, as may be discerned on many other occasions, so frequently led the gods into almost insurmountable difficulties, appears also on this to have granted a boon (and to have obtained Siva's consent thereto) which he could not recall, to Divodasa, that none of the deities should exercise their power in that monarch's dominions of Kashi. Vishnu and Siva accordingly declared, that it would be impossible to resist or overcome the Asuras, so long as they continued to be virtuous and to adhere to the religion of the Vedas. Continuing, however, to experience the solicitations, and to witness the anxiety of Indra and the other gods, Vishnu at length assumed the form of Buddha, and by preaching doctrines of a more humane character than those of the Vedas, caused Divodasa and the Asuras to become apostates from that faith, and thus enabled the gods to overcome them, and establish their own supremacy on the subversion of their just and pious opponents.
This legend, of which there are several versions, puerile, and we may add highly immoral as it may appear, is a correct specimen, in point of extravagance, of many others contained in the Puranas. It reflects too little credit on their deity, for the Vishnaivas to insist so strenuously on the manifestation of his power in the ninth avatar as in the others; and this incarnation is in consequence held in infinitely less esteem.
The more beneficent explanation of Vishnu's appearance in the ninth avatar, mentioned in the preceding part of this article, must be equally unsatisfactory to the Brahmans; inasmuch as it places the priesthood in a direct and sacrilegious opposition to the god whom they profess to serve.
The Buddhas, however, as I have before stated, wholly deny the identity of their deity with the avatar in question. They admit the divinity both of that god and others of the Vedantic faith; but they insist that they are greatly subordinate to Buddha, the worship of whom they carry back to a period far anterior to that of the gods of the Hindus. They do not acknowledge a creation of the universe ; but they admit that it has been destroyed many times, and by some extraordinary operation been as often reproduced. Each of these regenerated worlds was governed by Buddhas, of whom they enumerate twenty-two. The present universe has been ruled, successively,