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BRAHMINS.

caste rules and discipline, and the morality or immorality of members of castes, the Brahmins do not interfere. Such matters are the province of the caste gooroo, or instructor, or of its own priests. But the Brahmin's ritual supremacy is absolute; herein he has no competitor, whether in the lowest or the highest castes.

Whether in the original establishment of their order, their triumphant maintenance of it, or in the literature which they have produced during the early periods of their power, the Brahmins must be allowed to have displayed a vast continuous force of intellect. In the cultivation of their noble language, Sanscrit, they have produced philosophical and metaphysical works, which are, indeed, rivals of the remains of Grecian philosophers. There are brilliant dramas, works on mathematics, philology, medicine, astrology and astronomy, for these were inseparable, and many other subjects, all showing profound exercise of intellect, original in their aims and execution, and illustrative of the meditative secluded profession which the early Brahmins assumed. They had a monopoly of such knowledge till the Mahomedan conquest; and it is evident, as in the case of all other monopolies of learning, that of the Brahmins flourished for a while, but eventually became exhausted by its very sameness. The original conceptions were truly very noble; but these, diluted and weakened by repeated commentaries, and reinforced by nothing new or original, grew to be puerile and fanciful. The consequences of such a result can be easily imagined in the decadence of the ancient Brahminical, and rise of the Buddhist faith, which, in the third century B.C., rapidly overspread all India, and the adjacent countries to the north and east, flourished for a while with amazing power, and in India as rapidly died out. Nevertheless Brahminism was not dead. It had no power to withstand the sudden flame, as it were, of Buddhism; but worked its own way in obscurity till opportunity arose for action. Meanwhile it had compiled the Purans, which contained a new and picturesque cosmogony of the world, and a pantheon of gods, unknown before, whose loves and quarrels, human sympathies and divine moralities, suited the genius of the Hindoo people of all classes, was believed with avidity, and before spiritual crusades of the Brahmins, aided by the fanaticism of their new disciples, Buddhism was crushed out and died.

The new school of Brahminical faith and doctrine had altered nothing of the old. The dim, mystical Vedas, the metaphysics of the first philosophers, the non-idolatry of the first Theism, remained intact; while the grotesque and prurient tales of the Purans suggested images which became embodied in the idols now worshipped, and in the ornaments of the temples in which they are enshrined. This strange religious revolution occurred nearly at the Christian era, and has not altered since. There are a few professors of the ancient creed who will be hereafter noticed, but by far the greater majority are Puranic Brahmins, the present priests of the people. No new sacred literature has emanated from Brahminism in
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