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friendship of their conquerors; submitting, in gloomy silence, to the one; and avoiding, what they considered the contamination of the other, by infanticide. '
But whatever may have been the origin of this inhuman practice, it may, I think, from the various authorities which I have consulted, be concluded, that motives of a very powerful character can only have influenced this brave people (some of whom are, in other respects, in the highest degree tenacious of the life of the most insignificant of sentient animals) thus to destroy their helpless offspring, at the expense of every natural and every manly feeling.
A question will, no doubt, suggest itself to the reader, in what manner these powerful tribes can, if they thus destroy their female offspring at the moment of their birth, perpetuate their race? I have before stated, that there are especial exceptions from this common practice, which arise from
occasional unconquerable natural affection; from the family having no male child ; from an extraordinary loveliness in the infant; or from the circumstance of the children of the Rannies only being put to death, those of the concubines being spared. These, and the females of inferior castes, who do not destroy their children, become the wives of the tribes who do; generally speaking, I believe, they choose their wives from females of other tribes than their own.
The Rajpoots, among whom the practice of infanticide has the most prevailed, appear to have been aware of the enormity of the measure; and while they have urged the plea of necessity, to have been conscious how untenable such a plea must have been, in opposition to the immutable principles of truth and nature. Still, the insurmountable apprehension of disgrace to their families, feudal pride, and long-established custom have predominated over every other consideration.
To those who would make the sword the law, and hasten forward events by opposing cannon to such powerfully religious and national prejudices, which have subsisted, as these people believe, for centuries before the Christian era, instead of patiently allowing the slow, but certain progress of intelligence, directed by prudence and perseverance, to undermine their hitherto adamantine bases, I would recommend the attentive perusal of the following pages from the pen of a gentleman, whose long residence among the Rajpoots has stored his mind with an intimate knowledge of their habits and manners, their lofty principles of independence, their feudal pride, their prejudices, and above all, their power. If, then, there be any who would attempt to put down the practices which have been now described, and which cannot be too much deprecated, by force, instead of the better weapons of reason and persuasion, let them, in the first place, recollect that the Rajpoots do NOT acknowledge our authority; and, in the next, calculate upon the awful responsibility which that man would incur, who should first attempt to subvert, by such means, the independence of these people, for the sole purpose of intermeddling with, and striving to suppress customs, which they have considered, for ages, to have been their surest safeguards against dishonour and disgrace. *
“ Although,” says Colonel Tod, “ custom sanctions, and religion rewards a sati (or suttee), yet, to the honour of humanity, neither traditionary adage nor religious text can be quoted, in support of a practice so revolting as infanticide. Man, alone, of the whole animal creation, is equal to the task of destroying his offspring. When a female is born, no anxious enquiries await the mother, no greetings welcome the new comer, who appears an intruder on the scene which often closes in the hour of its birth. But the very silence with which a female birth is accompanied forcibly expresses sorrow. Families may exult in the satis which their cenotaphs pourtray, but none ever heard a Rajpoot boast of the destruction of his infant progeny. What are the causes, we may ask, sufliciently powerful to induce the suppression of a feeling which every sentient being has in common for its offspring? To suppose a Rajpoot devoid of this sentiment, would argue his deficiency in the ordinary attributes of humanity. Often is he heard to exclaim, “ accursed is the day when a woman child was born to me.” That woman child he dares not see degraded, and he gives the opiate to his infant, whom he cannot portion to marry to her equal.
' For a farther account of the Rajpoots, see the article“ Rajpoots, &c." in another part of this volume.
“ 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 (gate) ; 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 stern. 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 J ey 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.
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 pretentious 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 difiiculty of establishing their daughters in wedlock. Raja J ey 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 Jaréjas, the leading cause which will also operate to its continuance has been entirely overlooked. The J aréjas 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 J aréja princess. (Jan 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