Census India 1931: Religion

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This article is an extract from


Report by

J. H. HUTTON, C.I.E., D.Sc., F.A.S.B.,

Corresponding Member of the Anthropologische Gesselschaft of Vienna.

Delhi: Manager of Publications


(Hutton was the Census Commissioner for India)

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Section i.—Religion and the Census


Although on the face of it religion would appear to be a concern purely Religion'• for the individual, and in spite of the recent pronouncement of an eminent Frenchman to the effect that the deity is an academic subject (" la question de. Dieu manque d'ctetualite"), yet strongly held religious convictions inevitably react on political situations and cannot be divorced from those aspects of social life of which the State and therefore the census must take cognizance. This is particularly the case in India, which is still the most religious country in the world, and must be regarded as the justification for the importance attached to religion in the census of India as compared, for example, with that of United States of America, where culture is comparatively independent of religion. In India the two are so inseparably bound up that religion, always a conservative force, appears as a positive obstacle to cultural unity.

It has been argued that the census statistics of religion tend to perpetuate communal divisions ; the census cannot, however, hide its head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, but must record as accurately as possible facts as they exist, and there is no question of the existence of communal differences which are reflected at present in political constituencies. It is not in its devotional aspect that the census is concerned with religion, but in its social, and it cannot be denied but society in India is still largely organised on a basis of caste and religion, and social conduct is much influenced by practices which may not be in themselves religious but which are subject to religious sanctions. The age of marriage, the practice of remarriage, the observance of purdah, the occupations of women, the inheritance of property and the maintenance of widows, even diet, to name a few obvious cases, vary according to the caste and the religious community of the individual. The time will no doubt come when occupation will serve the purpose at present served by religion and caste in presenting demographic data, but that time is not yet, and at the present moment their barriers have not so far decayed that their social importance can be ignored for public purposes, though progress in this direction may well prove much faster than one anticipates.

The social importance of religious differences is reflected in the controversial disputes about religious terminology for census purposes. The census terms are :—Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Sikh, Zoroastrian, Jew, Muslim, Christian, Tribal and Others. This is the most practical division available but is admittedly not satisfactory since difficulty arises in the case of many of these terms, particularly so in that of the term Hindu which is not entirely exclusive of some of the other terms used. Many Hindus for instance claim that Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists are also Hindu inasmuch as their faiths had their origin in the Hindu religion. On the other hand this claim is stoutly repudiated by the great majority of Sikhs and it was therefore necessary to treat the terms Hindu and Sikh as mutually exclusive.

In the case of Janis many; but by no means all, regard themselves as Hindu and orders were issued that any Jain who wished to record the fact that be was also Hindu could do so and the tables would show in a footnote the number of Jains who consider themselves Hindus. In the United Provinces the Census Superintendent reports that the present tendency among Jains is towards segregation from rather than amalgamation with Hindus and that intermarriage with Hindu families is becoming more unpopular, though there is less objection to taking Hindu wives than to giving brides to Hindu males. It was claimed by the Hindu Mahasabha that a few Buddhists adopted the same position as Jams who regard themselves as Hindus, but from Buddhists as well as Jains protests were received against the possibility of their being classified as Hindus. In order to get round the ambiguity it was also ordered that Buddhists might likewise describe themselves as Hindu, and the totals of Buddhists who so regard themselves will be found in footnotes in Table XVI. In all 12,326 out of a total for India of 1,252,631 Jains, and 70 Buddhists out of 12,786,831 described themselves as being Hindus, and of these 526 Jains and 25 Buddhists actually appear as Hindus in the statistical tables.

Ambiguous Sects

Some other schismatics have similarly an ambiguous position. In 1881 Kabirpanthi and Satnami were shown as religions separate from Hinduism. Since that year they have been incorporated with Hindus and on this occasion they have been similarly treated except in Bombay where a few Kabirpanthis and Dadupanthis who did not return themselves as Hindu have been shown under " Others ". It would be natural to suppose that the remaining religions might at any rate be regarded as quite distinct, yet while the border line between tribal religions and some aspects of Hinduism is not at all easy,to draw, it is often just as hard to define it between Hinduism and Islam, and even between Hinduism and Christianity, in the case of a number of intermediate sects which offer points of identity with both.

Except for a body in Tinnevelly that claims to be both Jew and Christian, the Jews remain a much more clearly defined body, and in their case Hindu influence would seem to go no further than inducing the Beth-Israel to add a Hindu or a Hinduised second name to the Hebraic one, but the Indian Christians of South India go further. Caste is admittedly observed by Catholics*, while some Protestants who profess not to admit it do admit a ban on commensality. The Catholics appear to use caste marks in some cases, and there was a cause celelyre in the Madras courts in which an overzealous imported priest, who had destroyed as unchristian the wall which ran the length of the aisle to separate the caste from the outcaste Christians, was prosecuted by his flock in consequence. The Catholics, besides observing caste even to conventional privileges in dress and ornaments, use the tali instead of a ring in marriage and permit the retention of other customs, such as a tabu " for reasons of hygiene " on contacts with persons polluted by childbirth. On the other hand certain features of the Lingayat belief seem to have been borrowed from Christianity, as a doctrine of immaculate conception and the practice of burying the dead. A forest tribe in North Kanara, now Hindu, has family names of Christian origin.

In the case of Islam however the border line is much less definite. Even saints of Christianity, Islam and Judaism are themselves subject to some confusion. In the Near East Elijah, al-Khidr (The Green One) and St. George are confused or identified generally, while boys born on St. Demetrius' Day are called Kasim. Confusion of this kind is probably to be found among Indian outcastes such as Lalbegis, who have drawn on both Hindu and Muslim sources for their religious tenets, but it goes still further with the Chet-Rami sect of the Punjab, who worship the Christian Trinity plus a Hindu-Muslim trinity consisting of Allah the Creator, Parameshwar the Preserver, and Khud'a the Destroyer. There is thus a very real difficulty sometimes in deciding whether a particular body is Muslim or Hindu, and since the census actually took place there have been some searchings of heart as to the Sathpantis, or Pirpantis, of Gujarat, Kachh and Khandesh.

These people are Mathia Kunbis by caste, and an offshoot of the Leva Kunbis, and seem to have been returned at the census as Hindus ; they are said to follow the Atharva Veda, which is perhaps more magical than religious, and they worship at the tombs of Muslim saints at Pirana and elsewhere, from which they get the alternative name for their sect, and they observe as their sacred book a collection of the precepts of Imam Shah, the Pir of Pirana ; they observe the Ramazan, repeat the kalima and bury their dead with both Muslim and Hindu prayers. On the other hand they keep the holi and diwali and their marriages are conducted by Brahmans, so that they appear, on the whole, to be -Hindus socially but rather Muslims by religion. This position is emphasized by the fact that while a religious authority, the Shankaracharya of the Sankeshwar and Karavir Maths, pronounces them to be without the pale of Hinduism, the Hindu Mahasabha, a frankly communal organisation, proclaims that they are within it.

Another Hindu organisation has urged these Mathias to abandon the .worship of Muslim saints, but in truth mere worship at the burial places of holy men is hardly a test of religion at all, since there are many shrines holy to more than one faith, and the holy ones of one religion often survive the superimposition of another and adapt themselves to the change as Badar Makan, the shrine of a Muslim pir in Chittagong, becomes Buddha Makan to an Arakan ,Buddhist. So in Paphos the Cypriot peasant worships even the Virgin Herself as Panhagia Aphroditessa.

The truth is that the shrines of the dead are places impregnated with the fertilising soul-mattert of the departed great ones and the cult of them goes back to a totally pre-Hindu phase, which is still represented in the tribal religions, and appears in “* At the time of going to press a Catholic youth is reported to have started a fast to the death outside the residence of the Bishop of Trichinopoly to secure the removal of the iron railings which separate the caste from the outcaste Catholics in that bishoprick. 't See below page 409 for details of the Karen belief in which this idea is crystallized.” other practices of some Muslims, the implications of which have been forgotten though the practices remain, as in the use of tombstones of phallic design, which may be seen even in the Khyber Pass, for instance, while the Muslims of Malaya use stone ones of different but likewise significant designs for the different sexes. A case not unlike that of the Mathia Kunbis is to be seen in that of the Nayitas of Maiwa who " share in equal degree the Muslim and Hindu religious beliefs ". worshipping Ganesh as well as Allah, using Hindu names and dress and observing Hindu festivals. It may also be found in the Kuvachandas of Sind and again in the Hussaini Brahmans, who like the Mathias are more or less converted to Islam m faith but retain Brahmanical practices and claim to eat only with the Sayyids among Muslims.

The Malkanas of the United Provinces are another somewhat similar group of Rajput, Jat and Bania origin observing both Hindl and Muslim ceremonies. Many became definitely Hindu as a result of the shudd7ii, movement and others returned themselves as Muslim at the census, but the bulk apparently continue to halt between two opinions, and in 1926 when the shuddhi and tanzim movements were at their height these Malkanas started taking money for conversion and it is said that many made considerable sums by conversion and reconversion to and from Hinduism, Islam and Christianity for which communal zealots were then at any rate able to find money. Bengal affords a number of instances of border line sects such as that of the Bhagwania or Satyadharma community, recruited from both Hindus and Muslims, though even within the sect there is no intermarriage, while the Nagarchis of Bakarganj, the Kirtanias of Pabna and Maimansingh and the Chitrakars or Patuas of West Bengal are in the nature of castes rather than sects, whose religion and customs have both Hindu and Muslim features as in the case of the Mathia Kunbis.

A fresh movement aimed at the reconciliation of. Hinduism and Islam was started during the decade under review by a man who claimed to be an incarnation of Channabasaveswara, but his teachings, though they gained some adherents, aroused much antagonism among the Virasaivas of Mysore State, where the movement started, and led to its suppression. Another aspect of the confused border line between Islam and Hinduism is to be seen in the customs of the outcastes of the Punjab, where Chuhras for instance take Muslim names and even utilise the services of mullahs where they serve Muslim villages or wards, though in the eastern Punjab generally they follow Hindu customs and use Hindu names.

Yet there is no such marked difference between one Chuhra and the other that a valid distinction between these two religions can be drawn in his case. At this census it has been left to each individual to return his religion as he thought fit and some Chuhras have returned Islam others Hinduism. Many again have described themselves as belonging to Ad-dharm, ' the original religion ', probably without any clear idea of what that faith may be, but desiring merely to emphasize the distinction between themselves and caste Hindus without committing themselves to Islam or Christianity. Chuhras in the Punjab who returned their religion as " Chuhra " simply (and there were many) have been included with Hindus, following the precedent of the previous census, though it is a moot question whether they should not have been shown as Tribal, and it seems not impossible that they are by origin a degraded branch of the aboriginal tribe known in Gujarat as Chodhra.

Generally speaking, there would seem to be no insuperable reason why the Muslim and the Hindu should not dwell together in harmony, and there are Hindu temples in Madura and Tanjore which have hereditary Muslim trustees. At any rate the obstacle is probably less the divergence of religious belief than their reliance on different historical pasts. In the early glories of Hinduism and Buddhism, under rulers like Chandragupta and Asoka, Islam has no concern, and the great historic characters of the Muslims in India were mostly earth-seizing monarchs whose victories were over Hindus and whose culture was of external origin.

Interpretation of ' Hindu

Part of the difficulty of defining the term Hindu arises from the fact that it is as much a social as a religious term and really denotes membership of a system of organized society with great latitude of religious beliefs and practices, so that it is possible for a man to be a Hindu socially and to have a religious belief shared with others who do not regard themselves as members of the same society, a possibility illustrated by a tribal Korwa of the Central Provinces who said to his Census Superintendent " if we had plough cattle we should be Hindus ". Conversely there if: no compelling necessity that all others of his society should share his beliefs. and the Census Superintendent of Mysore State, himself a Brahman, thus defines a Hindu :—

"What makes a man Hindu is the fact that he is an Indian by birth ; that he shares religious belief of a kind familiar to the majority of the people ; that he is a member of the social order accepted by that majority ; and that he worships one or other of the deities in the pantheon commonly accepted by that same majority."

This is a feature particularly associated with Hinduism but it is not exclusively confined to that religion, as at least one case arose of a Muslim who wished to be included with the social community of Islam but who returned his religion as Agnosticism. He appears to have been unique and his difficulty was evaded by showing him as a Muslim for all tables except that of religion, a position which recalls that of Maurice Barres who said of himself " I am an atheist, but of course I am a Catholic ", but the number of Hindus whose attitude to their community and their beliefs might be expressed in a somewhat similar paradox must be very large, and the cross division of religion and society is clearly going to create a difficult position for census operations in the future unless a return of community " be substituted for that of religion and caste. Thus the Sahejdhari Sikhs who worship the ninth Guru but not the tenth, and who cut their hair instead of allowing it to grow, form a sect half-way between the Hindu and Sikh religions and for census purposes had to declare themselves to belong to one or to the other with the result that some are included in the Hindu and others in the Sikh total, but no substitute for " Hindu " as a religious term can be found, nor is it possible to disentangle its religious from its social significance. This is inherent in the history of Hindu society which has been formed by the accretion of a number of races within a polity indirectly hierarchical.

It is probably significant that many an ignorant Hindu, if asked his religion, will not give " Hindu as an answer but will give the name of his caste or of the particular sect to which he belongs. As far as Sikhs go, the criteria that separate them from Hindus are not very marked on the social side, whatever they may be doctrinally. The daughter of a Sikh ruler can marry a cadet of the house of Nepal, and Hindus can enter the Golden Temple of Amritsar which is normally barred to Muslims and Christians. Indeed there are apparently cases in which a father may bring up one son as a Hindu and another as a Sikh. The Sikhs in general, however, emphatically protest that they are not Hindus, in spite of the Hindu Mahasabha which says that they are, and this is particularly so in the case of the Akali Sikhs, who are mainstay of the Sikhs in the army, while the Sahejdhari Sikhs vote in Sikh constituencies in the Punjab on making a solemn affirmation that they are Sikhs.

Buddhists were claimed as Hindus by the Hindu Mahasabha with less justice than Sikhs, since Buddhism arose as a definite reaction against Hinduism, and considerations of politics have probably been allowed to bias the critical faculty in putting forward this claim, since it may be doubted whether even the Hindu Mahasabha would claim all Japanese Buddhists as Hindus. The common element in the two religions, and this is of course apparent, even to the parallel between the Indian holi and the chaster Burmese Water Carnival, is often derived from a more primitive religion, but to claim Buddhists as Hindus by religion appears to the disinterested just about as reasonable as it would be to claim Christians as Jews. When they do not split away like the Sikhs, there seems to be a tendency for reforming elements in Hinduism to crystallize eventually into a closed caste. This has been the case with the Lingayats, who started as a reforming sect of Hindus founded by Basava in the twelfth century, with the Kabirpanthis and with others, the Vaisnava sect in Bengal for instance, and probably would have been the case with the Sikhs had they remained within the pale. In the case of the Brahmo and Arya Samajists, however, neither are closed but on the contrary recruit steadily from among Brahmanic Hindus ; nevertheless there appeared some tendency on the part of one section of the Arya Samaj to disclaim Hinduism at this census, though the schism between Aryas and orthodox Hindus is perhaps less marked on the whole than when the Arya movement started, which is perhaps due to a weakening of the strictly orthodox position. Of this ' weakening ', if the term be permissible, the Census Superintendent of Cochin State writes, a little pessimistically perhaps, as follows :- "Broadly speaking, a two-fold movement is discernible in this connection.

Among those placed in the lower grades of Hindu society it is -a movement for the purification and elevation of their religious rites and practices ; while those born in the higher grades reveal a growing indifference in all matters connected with religion To the generality of Englisheducated persons—be it remembered in this connection that the caste Hindus have progressed much more than all others in English education—religion is now a matter of utter indifference or unconcern and its rites and practices a mass of superstition to be derided and condemned by all right-thinking people Apart from this, the attitude of a great majority of the English-educated young men of caste Hindu communities towards their religion is now one of veiled hostility because, in these days of communal demand for equal representation of all creeds and classes in the public service, they find that the unlucky accident of their birth within the Hindu fold is an almost impassable barrier against their entry in government or quasigovernment service, the only career for which they are fit by training and temperament alike."


The Jains, as already pointed out, were claimed as Hindus with more reason, since some Jains do actually consider themselves to be Hindus, though their customs of succession and adoption are not the same as those in Hindu law. It seems probable indeed that this sect represents the continuity of an anti-Brahmanistic teaching which may trace its derivation to a pre-Vedic age and to opposition at the outset to the rise of Brahmanic Hinduism. It is not likely that Mahavira was regarded as the 23rd tirthankara gratuitously, in spite of his having been the first historical one of the series and the apparent founder of the religion. Moreover, this view of the Jain position would explain how it is that although the teaching of Mahavira was emphatically antivedic, the rules of Jain and of Brahmanic asceticism are almost identical, if the suggestion be accepted, that is, which is generally advanced here, that Brahmanic Hinduism was not an entirely new religion imported from outside by Indo-European invaders into a country peopled by darkskinned savages, but an indigenous growth produced by the impact of these invaders, having a religion akin to that of classical Greece and Rome, upon a pre-existing more civilized people with a religion drawn from Mesopotamia, Asia Minor or the eastern Mediterranean.

It may be noted incidentally that such a hypothesis would do something towards reconciling the difficulty in that whereas the Jains describe the Tirthankara Parswa who preceded Mahavira as the son of a king Aswasena of Benares, no king of that name is known to Brahmanical literature except a king of the " Nagas ". Professor Tucci's opinion that Jainism embodies a revival of very ancient rituals and forms " probably even pre-Aryan ", goes to support the same view, and it cannot be denied that the nudity cult of the Digambar Jains is of great antiquity, much older than the familiar accounts of Megasthenes of the 3rd century B.C. This nudity cult still causes local sensations from time to time and some Jain munis were in April 1931 charged with indecency in the Court of the City Magistrate at Surat.

The case was withdrawn on an understanding given by the Jains that such " sky-clad " ascetics should only move about in public surrounded by a discreet bodyguard. In May however in Dholpur State the appearance of sky-clad Jains in the village of Ra jakhera, where the populace was less tolerant, gave rise to a serious riot. The Jain like the Hindu community is not unmoved by the spirit of reform, and opinion has run very high on the question of the initiation of minors as religious ascetics (muni), leading m Ahmadabad to blows between the two factions in July 1930 and to action by the Magistrate who had to take security against breaches of the peace in January 1931.

Reforming movements

Some indications of a tendency to change and reform have appeared in the other important religious communities, even the Parsis having apparently experienced dissensions between the Shenshais and the Kadmis, and between the supporters and opponents of Bahaism, while as an instance of the change effected by modern means of transport it is interesting to note that the holy fire for a Parsi temple at Allahabad was brought from Bombay in a specially consecrated motor lorry in which the sacred fire was fed with sandalwood by a priest. In Islam an attack by the Ahl-i-Hadis sect on the Hanafi sect resulted in a criminal prosecution, and the Dawudi Borah sect was divided by a fatwa which excommunicated those members of the society who might forbear to wear beards.

The insignificance however of dissensions of this kind serves merely to emphasize the general unity of the community as a whole, and the Christian communities of India, who, Roman Catholics apart, show sects as multifarious as those of Hinduism, have made a notable movement towards unity in the attempt, partially if not completely successful, to unite the Wesleyan, Congregational and Presbyterian communities into a United Church, or rather into two united churches, those of Southern and Northern India respectively. It was hoped that the figures of Christian sects would be available to show the extent and effect of this unifying movement from which certain sections of those three bodies withheld themselves, but unfortunately the necessity for economy at the abstraction stage prohibited the necessary sort being made Similarly separate figures are not available for the Anglican Communion, the form under which were returned members of the Church of England and of the newly established independent branch of that community in India. The disestablishment of the Anglican Church in India, which will in future be independent of the State, as well as of the ecclesiastical control of the Church of England, and will receive no aid from Government as in the past, is too recent for its consequences to be foreseen, but it is possible that it will seek to unite with the other united Protestant communities, while it is also not unlikely that its sympathies politically will -be definitely nationalist. - Among Catholics exception was taken to the separate return of Catholics of the Chaldaean and of the Latin rite.

As it was impossible to • include the Catholics of the Chaldaean rite among Roman Catholics generally and also to show them as Syrian Christians, and as from their history and traditions the Syrians as a whole form a striking and important community in Southern India, where they have been established as long as Christianity has in most parts of Europe, and have quite as much right to be regarded as an indigenous religious body as have Muslims and Parsis, the Catholics of Chaldaean rites were shown as a separate unit, other Syrians being taken together like the Protestants. These other Syrians include Nestorians, whose numbers have been much depleted by secessions to the Jacobites and to Rome ; Jacobites, who form the next largest Syrian body to Romans of the Chaldaean rite ; Reformed or Mar Thoma Syrians, and a small schismatic body known as Yuyomayam.

The Jacobite community has been rent since 1910 by a schism resulting from the excommunication by the Patriarch of Antioch of the Jacobite metropolitan Mar Dionysius, who refused to recognise the decree or to surrender his temporalities or to submit to the findings of the secular court, which in turn adjudicated on the case. About the time the census was taken the Patriarch came to India and the good offices of Lord Irwin were obtained and the decree of excommunication was revoked and a synod was called to arrange for a reconciliation of the divisions which the schism had caused.

The Catholics of Chaldaean rites have had Indian bishops from their own community since 1896, but during the decade preceding this census the first Indian bishop of Latin rites was also appointed (1923). There is also now an Indian bishop of the American Episcopal Methodist Church. The part played by the Indian Christians in the nationalist movement is not without importance, and it is during the past decade that their attitude has tended to change from that of a separatist minority towards co-operation with the moderate nationalists, a change expressed by the formation of a Christian Nationalist Party in Bombay.


One difficulty which was little felt at this census as ccmpared with some previous ones was the temporary displacement of population by great pilgrimages. Religious pilgrimages play a greater feature in Indian life than in the life of any other nation, though they have always been popular on the shores of the Mediterranean. Even the very ancient pilgrimages to St. James of Compostella however and the modern ones to the grotto of Lourdes are probably insignificant compared to such assemblies as the Kumbh meta at Allahabad, which occurred fortunately in 1930 and not in 1931. This pilgrimage habit, for in India it is nothing less, appears to be maintained by regular and hereditary canvassers attached to different shrines who go round the country inducing villagers to leave everything and embark, sometimes with their families as well, on visits to distant shrines and tours of holy places which may even take years to accomplish.

The shrines undoubtedly benefit, but it is impossible not to speculate as to whether the moral or physical benefit of the pilgrim is proportionate to the loss in time, in labour and in expense, though the justice of such a materialistic reflection is perhaps questionable when made by one who has not himself experienced the religious emotion inspired in the pilgrims. Canvassing, however, is not always needed to start a pilgrimage. In February 1930 the gas generated by night-soil in a trenching-ground near Delhi issued from the earth in flame, and the spot promptly became the scene of a local pilgrimage to the goddess-favoured site, large numbers of people of the more ignorant classes coming and removing mephitic earth from the empyreumatic spot hallowed, as some said, by the goddess of small-pox. The goddess in this case proved obligingly susceptible of chemical analysis, which showed that her ambrosial composition was 70 per cent. methane, 20 per cent. carbon-dioxide and 10 per cent. inert gases.


If, however, the census was untroubled by pilgrimages or great fairs it had other troubles to meet from religious sentiment to which allusion has already been made. There was the energetic propaganda by the Hindu Mahasabha which practically amounted to an advocacy of returning as Hindu every person whose religion could not be found to have been originated outside India, that is practically every one but Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews, regardless of whether the followers of other Indian religions wished to be returned as Hindu or not, and equally regardless of the facts of the case. They also proposed to include as Hindus all persons of doubtful position half-way between Hinduism and Islam, without insisting on the shuddhi ceremony. In the fear apparently that the depressed classes would not be returned as Hindus attempts were also made to minimise their numbers, though it is only fair to say that the depressed classes organizations were not behind hand in claiming as " depressed " a number of castes almost certainly not in that category. Non-Hindu hill tribes such as the Khasi of Assam were claimed as Hindus, though one Assam paper naively distinguished between kutcha ' and pieca' Hindus, while a proposal was actually mooted by certain members of the Central Legislature that wherever the majority of the members of a hill tribe had been Hinduised, the complete tribe should be shown as Hindu. It was not suggested that where a minority were Hindu the whole tribe should be returned as Tribal, though this may of course have been implied.

The Census Superintendent for Bombay regards the figure of Tribal Religions for that province (155,038) as grossly understated " and thus accounts for their deficiency : " Whenever an individual disclaims membership of any recognised religion, the tendency is to enter Hindu without further enquiry, more particularly if the individual in question is undoubtedly a member of a tribe, long established in the locality. The process of thought is something as follows :—This land is called Hindustan and is the country of the Hindus, and all who live in it must be Hindus unless they definitely claim another recognised religion. This attitude pervades all grades of Hindu Society and I have been questioned on tics basis, as to the propriety of the instructions issued, by many Hindus, including Government officers, who possessed the qualification of B.A. and who held the rank of Mamlatdar.

Though they submitted to the orders given, there is little doubt that these orders were not passed on in their entirety and with the clarity necessary to impress them upon all Enumerators It is certainn that the very vast bulk of the Bhils, Katkaris and Thakurs in this Presidency are not Hindus. It cannot also be denied that Bhils and Thakurs, living in isolated groups in Hindu villages are gradually yielding to the influence of association and conforming to the rites of Hindu worship as practised locally but in the absence of adequate data it is impossible to compute the number of persons who have abandoned their primitive beliefs and adopted Hinduism in their place. My personal view is that the process of assimilation is very slow, much slower than is commonly believed to be the case, even in areas where individual members of the Aboriginal Tribes have descended into the plains and are brought into contact with all the influence 4 village life." What took place in Assam is typical and it is simplest to quote the Census Superintendent 'himself :

"Just before the census I received several petitions from Kacharis in Kamrup stating that they had been returned as Hindus in the census schedules and that they objected to the action of the enumerators recording their religion as Hindu. The Census Officer in forwarding the petitions noted as follows and I think his note sums up exactly what went on in most districts of the Assam Valley :— ' It is true to some extent that due to propaganda by the Hindu Sabha some of the Kacharis have willingly allowed themselves to be recorded as Hindu by religion ; in some cases some of the enumerators have persuaded them to have themselves recorded as such ; and in-some cases some of the enumerators have recorded them as such of their own accord, they being ignorant of what was recorded of them '." The Census Superintendent continues :

"The propaganda work of the Hindu Mission was certainly a great success in Assam from their point of view and had an enormous influence on the tribal peoples hovering in the borderland between Hinduism and Animism some Lalungs cane to see me in Nowgong in January 1930 and asked my advice as to how they should return their religion. I questioned them about their religion, ascertained that it was purely a tribal one and advised them to tell the truth. A meeting of Lalungs was subsequently held and a resolution was passed that the Lalung community should return their religion as Lalung. In spite, however, of this resolution the vast majority of Lalu ngs returned themselves as Hindus, in many cases, I have no doubt, voluntarily. But there can be no doubt that many enumerators under the influence of the propaganda entered. Hindu against the names of tribal persons who found it difficult to state precisely what their religion Vas and if there was any doubt Hinduism got the benefit of it I4 palTang the Deputy Commissioner reports that he had good reason to suspect a Charge Superintendent--a Government officer—of using his influence to get Animist Kacharis returned as Hindus." In another passage the Census Superintendent remarks that attempts were made to return as Hindus even the Naga and Kuki tribes of the North Cachar. Hills, and he quotes as follows from the Deputy Commissioner of Darrang District "The Hindu enumerator (and they are nearly all Hindus) tends to record all animistic and aboriginal tribes, such as Kacharis, Mikes, Mundas and Santhals, as Hindus. Even if the enumerator fails, the supervisor or checking officer tends to keep him up to the scratch. An instance was brought to my notice at Halem where the enumerator had written Miri, but the Checking officer changed it to ' Hindu Miri '.

There is no remedy though I have done what I can ; the enumerator, if questioned, says that they say they are Hindus. In the great majority of cases do not imagine they do say so. Those I have asked say (in the great majority of cases) that they are, e.g., of the Miri' religion. The net result must be that the religion statistics collected at this census will be very inaccurate in areas where there are animistic or aboriginal tribes." Agitation among the Gonds and Oraons resulted in a large number, who were returned as Tribal in 1921, particularly of the former, returning themselves or being returned as Hindus, though their Hinduism in parts of the areas concerned is highly problematical. In the case of the Gonds in Berar alone these rather dubious Hindus numbered over 100,000, and in the Central Provinces and Berar together they amounted to more than three lakhs. In India as a whole the tribesmen who changed from Tribal religions to Hinduism numbered a million and a half.* In Gwalior State over 14,000 Bhils in the remoter forests and hills, whose tribal name was returned as their religion, were classified notwithstanding as " Hinduized Tribal " and included in the total of Hindus, involving a total transfer from " Tribal " in 1921 to " Hindu " in 1931 of some 162,000 Bhils.

In Cochin State some 5,000 hill or forest tribesmen were classified as Hindu ' though very doubtfully conforming to such a description, and a similar procedure has probably been followed elsewhere. On the other hand again counter-agitation in the Punjab against being returned as Hindu led 400,000 of the depressed castes to return themselves as Ad-Dharmi, i.e., " of the original faith ", as distinct from the terms used by their congeners of other provinces in northern India—A di-Hindu, an expression which allowed of their inclusion in the total of Hindus, correctly of course, since in spite of their disabilities they are Hindu by religion, and if not, would not agitate for admission to Hindu templest. Feeling on the subject of the return of religion ran highest in the Punjab, where many attempts were made to weight the census. False statements were circulated probably to arouse enthusiasm, such as a canard that all the sweepers of Simla had been returned as Muslims, which was published as a fact before even the preliminary enumeration of Simla had begun. A good deal of heat was similarly engendered on the question of the Udasi Sadhus. Members of this sect at one time regarded themselves generally as Sikhs, but since then they have reverted to the original fold and are now Hindus.

Unfortunately an obsolete direction was reproduced in the Punjab Census Code from 1921 directing the inclusion of Udasis as Sikhs in the absence of information to the contrary. This was at once withdrawn when the circumstances were made clear. A great deal of misunderstanding was also aroused by the provision in the Code that Aryas and Brahmos should not be entered in the schedule as Hindu. This provision is an old one and is merely intended to facilitate the sorting of the Brahmo and Arya slips, but it was assumed by uninstructed persons who obtained access to the Code that the provision was intended to exclude'Brahmos and Aryas from the Hindu total, which was not of course the case.

In Bengal even compilation was subject to propaganda and in one sorting office it was discovered that payment had been made for copying slips for fictitious Hindus while 74 Muslims were converted to Hinduism during the slip copying process. The in§ignificance of the numbers involved and the fact that the chicanery was detected and corrected is rather a testimony to the general accuracy of compilation than otherwise.

In the social map these Ad-dharmis have been shown in pale blue amalgamating them with the other depressed castes.

Map of census.PNG

Other communities showed no particular reluctance to act on lines similar' to those of the Mahasabha, and in the Punjab in particular attempts made by Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims alike to bully the depressed castes into returning themselves as the canvassers desired probably left little to choose between them reports from the Punjab indicate that if any discrimination can be made the Sikhs were the most and. the Muslims the least Active of the three in this respect. Ultimately the depressed classes were so harassed that they made a big demonstration in Lahore, • insisting on being returned under their own religious designation of Ad-dh.armi. As they denied that they were Hindus it was necessary to show them separately.

Section ii.-The figures

The figures for Religion will be found in Table XVI in part ii of ' this Hindus. volume and comparative and proportional figures in the Subsidiary tables at the end of this chapter -,' for convenience an abstraction is given below :-


The Hindu population has increased during the decade by 10 . 4% to a total of 239,195,140. The composition of this total will appear from the accompanying table, in which the figures for " Other Hindus " contain the sum of those who returned their religion as Adi-Hindu, Adi-DraVida and Adi-Karnataka, together with 'certain sects such as that of the Dev Samaj for which separate. figures are shown in some provinces. The 'depressed castes who returned themselves as Ad-Dharmi in the Punjab (except for 7,287 who returned themselves as " Hindu Ad-Dharmi " and are inetuticd accordingly as' Other Hindus ') have been included under the head " Others ", and not as HinL'ii q since they- objected to being so included, and though their religion does not seem to -ctftlei Ipvria thst of Adi-Hindus-in any way, and it would seem proper .tcyhave included them in the Hindu toad,' tble, only position which is possible to the census is to accept the individual's own statement of his religion provided it can be classified under one of the standard heads, and the return of Ad-Dharm has therefore been included with " Others ". The numbers were 399,307. Had this group. been added to the Hindu total, the percentage of increase would have been raised by an additional 0'2. The difference which would have been made in the Punjab by the inclusion of Ad-Dharmis as Hindus would have been to transform the decrease of ---3 . 81%, which the Hindus of that province suffered, into an increase of 2 . 3%. Even so the figure is low as compared to the 16 . 5% increase of Muslims and 34% of Sikhs in that province ; these figures relate to British Districts, but the figures for the states and for the unjab States Agency are not dissimilar.

The increase under the head of Brahmanic Hindus is not entirely the result of the normal propagation of the species. Apart from conversion or rather perhaps reconversion (sh,uddhi) of a certain number of Muslims and Christians, the numbers have been increased by large adhesions to Hinduism of hill and forest tribesmen. Reference has already been made to Gonds, Oraons and Bhils. The organ of the Hindu Mission claims 62,844 converts from Muslims, Christians and Tribal Religions for the year 1927-28 alone, and having stated that the Mission commenced work in 1926 " in order to stem the tide of conversion tcYChristianity " goes on to say " In 1930 a large number of our workers carried an intensive propaganda for several months before the census operation. We were convinced of a substantial increase of Hindu population in these provinces (Assam, Bengal and Bihar) in consequence of the absorption of Animists ".

The conviction was well founded, as Tribal religions in Assam show a decrease of 280,000, as compared to an increase in Christians of 117,000, and a reference to the Assam Census Report will show how large the turnover from ' Tribal' to ' Hindu' in the return of religion for some of the plains tribes in that province. The table (see below paragraph 173, Tribal) hardly shows complete figures for the change, aE it can only give the numbers of those tribes which returned their tribe in column 8 of the schedule, and there were certainly many Christians who did not do so and probably appreciable numbers of Hindus. On the other hand against the increase from these sources must be set off some decrease due to defection from orthodox Hinduism to the Arya or Brahmo Samaj, though the total figure of Hindus is not thereby affected, to the exclusion of the Ad-Dhannis already explained, and perhaps in some small degree to the conversion of the depressed castes and others to Islam or Christianity. It should be pointed out that the term Brahmanic as used at this and past censuses includes 'not only Sanatanists and orthodox Hindus of recognised Hindu sects but also many, such as Lingayats, Kabirpanthis or the Jugi caste of Assam, who do not recognise Brahmanic authority.

Similarly the increase of Aryas is to be attributed to the adhesion of " Brahmanic " Hindus drawn very largely but by no means entirely from the lower ranks of Hindu society, which find in the Arya Samaj an opportunity of rising socially without abandoning Hinduism, since the Arya Samaj does not attach that importance to caste which is characteristic of orthodox Brahmanism. This reason was given for the increase of Aryas in Kashmir from 1,000 in 1911 to 23,000 in 1921, their present figures being 94,000. The Arya Samaj has been the most active of the Hindu proselytising bodies, and the All-India Shuddhi Conference, meeting under its auspic€s at the Kumbh Mela of 1930 at Allahabad, propounded (if correctly reported) the amazing proposition that " it is an undisputed fact that the founders of all the religions of the world were eithc r Hindus or their descendants who drifted away from the present body ", and it appealed for the reconversion of their followers in the interests of the future progress of mankind. The Brahmo Samaj is a more eclectic body with a better claim to provide a catholic religion in that it does not insist on the infallibility of the Vedas, but inculcates the worship of one God, Creator and Preserver, who punishes sin remedially and is to be. served in prayer and moral conduct, a belief in the immortality of the soul, and the view that no prophet, and no scriptures of any religion are finally and exclusively authoritative.

It is probable that the very broadness of this creed militates against its appeal to any but the most intclictual classes, and though there are a number of Brahmo nussic-ms th, increase by conversion is very much less numerically than that-off eui,ed by the Arya Samaj. Its position in Hinduism both religiously and socially offers a near parallel to that of the Unitarians in Christianity in Britain.


The increase of 33. 9% under this head cannot be regarded as an entirely natural increase of population. Allow ante must be made for a considerable amount of conversion from Hinduism not only in the Mazhbi section of the community, which is recruited from rather a different class than the rest, but in Sikhs proper by adhesion from Hindi-speaking castes, such as Jats and Aroras, even in the eastern part of the Punjab.

This conversion seems to have been partly due to the impression that there was something to be gained by belonging to a community comparatively speaking little represented in Government services, and cases are actually reported in which some sons are brought up as Hindus and others as Sikhs so as to better the opportunities of the family as a whole in the search for posts under Government. How far the figures given represent a complete return of Sikhs it is not easy to say, as it is not known whether the Sahejdhari Sikhs generally returned themselves as Sikhs or Hindus. The orders given to enumerators were that a return of " Sikh, Hindu " would not be accepted, and that the person enumerated must decide in which body he would be returned.

The probability is that the bulk of the Sahejdhari Sikhs returned themselves as Hindus in Baluchistan and in the N.-*. F. P. but it is doubtful if such is the case in the Punjab where the Sahejdhari is recognised as a Sikh for electoral purposes if he desires to be so regarded. The figures of Sikhs in Sind show a remarkable fluctuation from census to census, largely on account of the varying classification of the Sahejdhari. Thus in 1881, 127,000-Sikhs were censused in Sind, in 1891 under a thousand, in 1901 none, in 1911 about 11,000, in 1921 about 7,000 and in 1931 18,500. The decennial increase in the number of Sikhs is shown in the marginal table above. - Their fertility is probably higher than that of Hindus on account of later marriage and the free remarriage of widows. The great bulk of the Sikhs shown as such in the census reports belong to the Keshadhari or Akali division which outnumbered those Sahejdhari who returned themselves as Sikhs in 1921 by about 1,200%. A noticeable feature in connection with the Sikhs is their appreciable increase in centres distant from the Punjab, to which they migrate largely for the sake of employment as mechanics. The phenomenal increase of over 30% in the Punjab itself, must be largely ascribed to the inclusion by conversion of Hindu castes.


The Jain community is gradually decreasing in number proportionatel to the population of the country as a whole. This is probably due in part to the practice of child marriage and the prohibition of widow remarriage, and partly also to the small size of the community which, attracting as it does no adherents from outside, cannot increase at the same rate as much larger ones. Dr. Guha suggests with some force that the Jains have a lowered fertility and an increased infant mortality rate on account of their division into small endogamous groups, some of which in Ahmadabad do not exceed 500 souls. The percentage of increase among Jains at this census was 6 . 2 and the Jain community now stands at 0 . 36% of the population of India instead of the 0 . 37% of last census and the 0 . 49% of 1891. 11,800 out of 1,252,105 Jains returned themselves as also Hindu, while the category 'Hindu, Others ' includes 526 in the Punjab who returned themselves as also Jain.


Contrariwise to the Jains the population of Buddhists to the rest of the population has steadily gone up with the increasing population of Burma, where 96 . 6% of the Buddhists recorded at this census are found.

The great bulk of these are Burmans ; Shans, Karens and Talaings making up about one-fifth to a quarter between them. In India the bulk of the Buddhists are found in Sikkim and the adjoining bills. There are a few in ..... Assam, the descendants either of ancient immigrants from Burma via the Hukong valley or of isolated parties left behind by the army of invasion in the early 19th century. A few Sinhalese Buddhists are reported from Cochin State but most of the Buddhists there - are educated Malayali Iruvas who have abandoned Hinduism on account of their social disabilities in that community. A colony of Buddhists in Chittagong, however, claims to represent the ancient Buddhist population of Maghada, and to be distinct from the Buddhists of the adjoining Hill Tracts, whose origin is Talaing or Arakanese, and from the Maghs of Chittagong whose religion has also been brought from Burma. Of Indian Buddhists 45 returned themselves as also Hindu, while 25 Buddhists in the Punjab who returned themselves as Hindu first and Buddhist afterwards are included under the head of ' Other Hindus '.

Disturbution of buddhist.PNG


In spite of pressing invitations to return to Persia, which the Parsis have shown little inclination to accept, the Parsis have increased by 7-8% during the decade. Of the total number of 109,752, 99,010 are found in Bombay province, in Baroda, and the states of Western India. It waspointed out at last census that the birth rate was very low among Parsis, though the survival rate was exceptionally high. Both phenomena are due primarily to the high economic and cultural condition of the community, prosperity with education being the only really efficient check on the birth-rate yet discovered. So severely did this check operate by 1921, that in that year the birth-rate was lower even than in France. Like the Jains the Parsis are declining in. numbers proportionately to the population as a whole, and it is possible that in their. case also fertility may be lowered by too much inbreeding.

Population of parsis.PNG


As in the case of the Parsis, the Jews (Beni-Israel they are called in Bombay) are practically a closed body and receive no addition by conversion. Their increase from 21,778 to 24,141 (10 . 9%) shows that unlike the Parsis they are not losing in numbers proportionately to the rest of the population of India.

The Muslims bulk of them are found in Bombay Presidency and in Cochin, being divided in both cases into " Black " and " White " Jews, though there appears to be no tradition of any connection. between the Bombay and Cochin colonies, which arc of very great antiquity.



Probably owing to the practices of polygyny, of widow remarriage and on the whole, of later consummation of marriage than is the prevailing practice among most Hindus, the Muslims are at present increasing at a greater rate. Some of the increase may be attributed to the tanzim movement for conversion to Islam, which naturally sprang up in reply to shuddhi, but it is believed that the increase attributable to this cause is not appreciable.


The movement was primarily directed to the reconversion of the shuddhs converts and met with some success in the Agra and Mathura districts. Possibly the more rapid rate of increase may account to some extent for the lower level of intellectual attainment on the part of the Muslim population, but this would appear to be contradicted by the much more rapid increase of Sikhs. It is however to be borne in mind that comparison in the rates of increase between groups of very different size are apt to be fallacious and it is not to be expected that taking India as a whole the Hindus who form such a large majority should increase on the same scale as smaller units, limited, as in the case of the Sikhs for instance, almost to a single area. Figures of the principal Muslim sects are not available as some local Governments decided to ignore these divisions, and others took cognizance of Sunni and Shia only, ignoring smaller bodies such as the Ahmadiya, Ahl-i-Hadis and Dawudi. It is noticeable that in most provinces the rate of increase of Muslims is decidedly higher than that of Hindus, though this is most markedly so in the Punjab. On the other hand in Bengal, where in the , previous decade the Muslim population showed an increase of 5.2% against a Hindu decrease of 0 . 7, the Hindus at this census show an increase much nearer to that of the Muslims in rate, though still behind. Hindus have increased by 6 .7% as against the Muslims 9 . 1%. If adults only be regarded, the comparative figures of Muslims to Hindus are lower, the higher fertility ratio rather naturally being accompanied by a higher rate of immature mortality. In the Punjab, on the other hand the respective ratios of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs are very much the same whether the total population be considered or the adult population only.

Comparitive hindu and muslim.PNG


The increase under the head of Christian is of course largely due to conversion which causes a steady transfer to Christianity from the depressed classes and still more, except in Madras, from the hill and forest tribes. If the natural increase be 12%, then over 20% out of the total increase of 32 . 5% must be due to conversion. Figures for the different denominations of Protestants and of Syrians other than Catholics are not available except for certain areas, and in any case those of Protestant sects would have been much confused by the cross divisions of Presbyterians and others who have for certain purposes combined as a United Church, but some of whom returned their unitary designation only while others returned only their sectarian one. Of the Christians returned from the whole of India about 2 . 7% are Europeans, 2 . 2% are Anglo-Indians and the remainder, at any rate for all practical purposes, are Indians. Unitarians, who were returned in 1921 under ' Indefinite Beliefs ' have been included as Protestants on this occasion. Their position among Christian sects is somewhat analogous to that of the Brahraos in Hinduism, appealing likewise to a limited intellectual group of the upper and middle classes, though there is in Assam an Unitarian mission which claims a number of converts in the Khasi Hills.

Tribal Religions

The figures of Tribal religions show a decrease of 15 . 3% since 1921, this figure being primarily due to losses by conversion to Hinduism or Christianity. In the case of the latter, typical figures are afforded by the Assam Hill Tribes in districts in which conversion to Hinduism has been inoperative. Thus in the Naga Hills and in the hill areas of the Manipur State the variation in Christians has been +162% and +157% respectively compared to +2% and + 17% on the part of tribal religions. As an instance of loss by conversion to Hinduism the most outstanding cases are those of Assam again and of the Central Provinces. In Assam the census superintendent attributes 350,000, that is half the increase of Hindus in , the Assam valley, to accretions from Tribal religions. In the Central Provinces the turnover from Tribal to Hinduism and Christianity, but mainly to Hinduism, in various parts of the Province shown in the marginal table, and these, of course are only the actual figures by which adherents of tribal religion have decreased as compared with 1921, making no allowance for the actual increase of population which might have been anticipated in tribal religions.

In Rajputana the Tribal religions have lost at least 250,000 to Hinduism. So again in Gwalior State the figures under Tribal Religion in 1921 were 161,629, and this time are shown as nil, a mere 14,291, who are specifically stated to have returned the name of their tribe as that of their religion, being returned in spite of that as Hinduized Tribes. Clearly it is most unlikely that the change has been as complete as all this, when Bhils who are not Hindu are found living even in mixed villages in Rajputana, and there has probably been arbitrary classification of Tribal religion as. Hindu. The figures given in the margin cannot be regarded as complete since many missionaries objected to their 9 .ponverts recording their tribe in column of the Schedule and • • • • instructed them to .. return "Indian Chris- tian " thus depriving the census of real figures of the tribe.

The numbers of .. .. Tribal religion have also suffered depletion owing to the decay, which attacks so many primitive tribes when brought into contact with civilisation. Thus the Andamanese have declined from 1882 in 1901 to 460 in 1931, a loss of 75 . 6% in 30 years, at which rate they will be virtually extinct by the end of the century. This aspect of tribal figures may be examined in Table XVIII and with reference to appendix II to this volume.


The head ' others' includes the comparatively insignificant number of persons who return themselves as deists, agnostics, free thinkers, rationalists, theosophists, Christian Scientists, etc., those eccentrics who made such returns of religion as " Ahimsa 7, " Truth ", " Reason " and " Freedom for India " (one of them described himself as " spiritually universal ", but manifestly could not be distributed to all the various heads), and those who returned themselves as having no religion or who merely failed from indifference, or from inability to express themselves, to make any return of religion at all. It includes Confucians, a term used indiscriminately by census officers in India for any Chinese and usually rendered by enumerators and compilers, perhaps not inaptly, " Confusionist ", and also a number of Chinese ancestor-worshippers returned as Animists (i.e., Nat worshippers) from Burma. It also includes 418,789 Ad-Dharmis who objected to being described as Hindus, an objection which they continued to reiterate during the compilation stage of the census. The followers, some thousands in number, of a prophet, or a rogue, named Pao Chin Hao, who has recently arisen in the Chin Hills in Burma and started a new religion, which includes an- inspired script and one or two most engaging features, such as the institution of religious police whose business it is to arrest diseases, were included among ' Animists ' in the Burma returns and their numbers are not accurately known ; a brief notice of this creed will be found in the appendix volume.

Comparative numbers

The following table shows the relative proportions of the various religious communities in 1931 as compared to 1921 throughout India. Their comparative proportions since 1891 will be found in subsidiary Table I to this chapter. It brings out very clearly the extent to which the Hindu community is indebted to accretion from tribal religions for its growth at this census. With the exception of Baluchistan, where the Hindus are generally speaking immigrants and their number easily influenced by the composition of military units in Quetta, no province has shown any proportionate increase of Hindus to the general population except where there have been tribal religions to draw from. Muslims on the other hand have increased their ratio to the total population in all provinces except Ajmer- Merwara where the 1921 Muslim figure was artificially swollen by the Urs pilgrims.

Disturbution by religion.PNG

Section iii.-General

Hinduisim in its relation to Primitive Religion in India

The question of religion in India cannot, of course, be entirely disentangled from that of race, and the views expressed here must be read with those in the subsequent chapter, but it may be convenient to state here briefly the general hypothesis reached. That is that a number of successive racial intrusions into and occupations of India have contributed to the elements now found in the Hindu religion, which took its final form as the result of the impact of the social ascendency of the Indo-European invaders of the 2nd millenium B. C. on pre-existing religious institutions. The first occupants of India were probably Negritos, and elements of their belief, perhaps including the reverence for the pipal tree and possibly a primitive phallic fertility cult, may have been perpetuated by the proto-australoids who were the next corners and probably contributed the totemic theory, or at least the basis thereof.

The next elements were probably of Mediterranean origin contributing a phallic and a megalithic culture and the life essence theory, but the relative positions of the Dravidian-speaking Mediterranean-, Armenoid, the proto-australoid and the Munda and Mon-Khmer or Austroasiatic races is difficult to determine and there is little material from which to draw a conclusion, and many would identify the protoaustraloid and Munda racial elements.

If the Munda speaking elements be distinct from the proto-australoid, it would be conveniently orderly to suppose that the Mundas came after them with a life-essence theory and the Mediterraneans still later to develop it into reincarnation, and bringing in the worship of the Great Mother, but it is conceivable that the Mediterraneans brought both the theory and its development and the Munda came later as a barbarian invader, though no doubt, already in possession of the soul-matter philosophy, since at any rate the hill tribes of Assam, Burma and Indo-China appear to contain an element of Caucasian stock which penetrated to the S. E. of Asia before the Southern migration of Mongolians of the Pareoean branch, and the soul-matter theory must have arisen very early in the history of the human race. Both Munda and Mediterranean must have been followed by religious elements from Asia Minor, brought via Mesopotamia by traders and settlers from the west, which superseded the fertility and soulmatter cult by one of personified deities, sacrificial propitiation and a formalised worship, again with phallic elements and suci institutions as that of the deva-dasi(vide supra para. 102), together with astronomical lore and cults of the heavenly bodies and priestly institutions which formed the basis of modern Hinduism, the final form of which was determined by the successful conflict of this proto-Hinduism on the religious side with the imported religion of the " Ar yan " invaders. to whom, however, it had to concede much socially, resulting in the socio-religious position of the priestly order so familiar in India. The generally accepted view of the Hindu religion or societ y regards it as originating in Aryan invaders of about B. C. 1500 who came in with a higher civilization and a fairer skin to find the great peninsula inhabited by dark skinned barbarians on whom they imposed the religion of the Vedas.

It is more than doubtful if this view can any longer be accepted, and the doubts cast on it appear to be confirmed by recent discoveries including that of a figure of Shiva among the remains at Mohenjodaro, while Sir John Marshall has clearly shown that the pre-Aryan relig; on of the Indus valley involved a cult of the bull, and of the snake—typical Mediterranean cults, to be found in Crete—and also of phallic symbols, including " ring " and baetylic stones, which are probably all part of the soul-fertility cult which is associated throughout India with menhirs, dolmens and a megalithic culture generally ; indeed Heine-Geldern connects the megalithic Mycenean theatre with India and so with the Far Eas t and the Pacific Islands. It Ras been pointed out with some aptness that in modern Hinduism only those elements of Vedic rites have survived which are essentially social, such as the marriage ceremonies ; the argument being that though society was, or aimed at being, Aryan, its religion is older than that of the so called Aryan invasion. The god of the Rigveda Indo-Europeans is lndra, the thunder god, who fills in later developments an entirely minor role, apparently being absorbed into the Hindu pantheon just as the minor gods of primitive tribes have been, retaining, however, his personal identity by virtue of a social prestige or priv-ilege which other tribal gods have lost in the process of assimilation. The historical Hindu religion first appears not in the Punjab, which must be regarded as the area most completely occupied by the Indo-European invaders, but to the east of that in the Brahmarshidesha where stable fusion between these Indo-European invaders and the previous inhabitants probably took place. When alien cultures and religions fuse to form a new culture or religion, it will not be found that this fusion takes place where the intrusive culture is strong enough to It, will ratlipx annear awa y from the centre where the intrusion is complete suppression and make its influence felt on the new one.

Thus it is that the efflorescence of Hellenic culture took place not in Sparta, where was the purest blood of the northern invaders, but in Athens where the grasshopper-wearing inhabitants regarded themselves as autochthones and where there was probably offectiu: fusion between the fair-haired northerner and the dark-haired Pelasgian. Similarl y there is some reason to believe that Rome grew from a fusion between the ancient Etruscans and later invaders, whether the latter came from the east or from the north. In the same way it is suggested that Hindu religion and society finally took form and flourished as a result of the impact of the invading Indo-European on the indigenous religion that he found in India. It is quite clear that the previous inhabitants of India lived in cities and had a high civilization, probably of western Asiatic origin, and it is significant that Hinduism .is remarkable for the similarity of many of its tenets and practices to those of Asia Minor and Mesopotamia. The indigenous religion of any country inevitably starts with an advantage over that of an invading people, since it is the priest of the country who knows how to approach the gods of the soil and propitiate them, and for that reason there is always a tendency for a local religion to establish its ascendency over an intrusive one. This appears to have been the case in India where the important position of Shiva, Vishnu and Kali, as compared to the unimportant one which Indra now nolds : signalizes the triumph of the older gods.

The religious history of pre-Vedic India was probably similar and parallel to that of the eastern Mediterranean and of Asia Minor. Prof. Tucci points out that though the moon does not appear to have been an independent divinity, ancient lunar cults have been assimilated by Devi in the forms of Durga, Kali and Tripura-sundari. The cult of snakes, the worship of a mother goddess were probably brought in by earlier invaders of Mediterranean or of Armenoid race, speaking no doubt a Dravidian language, whose religion must also be associated with fertility cults, phallic symbolism, the Devadasi cult and probably human sacrifice. Recent discoveries in Crete have revealed a remarkable snake cult associated with the symbol of the double axe. With Mesopotamia too we must perhaps associate a moon god and sun goddess whose sex was changed with a change from matrilineal to patrilineal descent perhaps under the influence of the Rigvedic invaders.

It is worth pointing out that the deification and worship of kings, very typical of the Hindu attitude to kingship, is stated by Langdon (J. R. A. S., 1931, page 367) to be characteristic of Sumerian religion in contrast to Semitic. It would also appear not characteristic of the religion of the Rigveda, but on the contrary to be connected with the beliefs in the external soul and in life-essence discussed below, inasmuch as the king contains or represents the life-principle of the community he rules. Like the cult of the snake, the transmigration of souls too appears to be a doctrine in no way typical of northern religions in which the dead live on underground, and Fustel de Coulanges has pointed out that it is not a feature of any northern religion though it has survived and been incorporated in them from the more ancient religions of Greece and Italy.

Ancestor worship again is very strong in India and this too would appear foreign to northern European religion, and indeed it is almost impossible that nomads should be ancestor worshippers, and the Aryan invasion, so-called, was probably an invasion of steppe-dwelling tribes, pastoral in habit and still nomadic. Cremation they may have brought in and if so, they gave it a social cachet which is still leading to its gradual adoption by tribes which have previously practised burial or exposure, but it seems much more likely that the Rigvedic Ar yans buried their dead and adopted cremation from the inhabitants whom they conquered. The 8th book of the Rigveda contains the following words addressed to the dead I place this barrier (of stones) for the living that no other may go beyond it. May they live a hundred numerous autumns, keeping death at a distance by this hill Enter the mother earth Earth, let his breath rise upward (easily) ; oppress him not Even as a mother covers her son with the end of her cloth, so do ye, earth, cover him may these homes for all time be his asylum. I heap up earth above thee, etc., " (Rajendralala Indo-Aryans, 123). This passage seems very . clearly to indicate burial in a tumulus, and the word translated barrier ' is stated in a note to be paridhi which may mean part of a circle of stones.

It is true that the 10th hymn of the Rigveda clearly refers to cremation, but the author above quoted rightly regards it as the later passage, and suggests that ritual exigencies involved the dislocation of the verses and their fusion for ceremonial purposes in the Yajurveda and the Sutras, the reference to inhumation being then interpreted as indicating the burial of the ashes. It appears, however, quite clear that the hymn quoted above can only refer to the inhumation of the body, and that this practice as well as that of cremation was in use at the time of the Rigveda, while cremation is not mentioned until the 10th hymn, admittedly a much later composition than the earlier ones ; cremation also seems definitely to have been the practice in the Indus valley of the Mohenjodaro period, and therefore the more likely one of the two to have been adopted as an alternative by the Rigvedic Aryans at their period of fusion with the preexisting population. The Aryan sanctity of fire seems likely to have been incompatible with cremation, and it will be remembered that Herodotus taxes Cambyses with impiety for having had the body of Amasis burned " for the Persians regard fire as a god and therefore to burn the dead is on no account allowed ...... for they say that it is not right to offer to a god the corpse of a man." It may be noticed both that Wilson (Infanticide in Western India, 74) remarks of the Rajputs of Kachh and Kathiawar that they encouraged their concubines to commit sati in preference to their wives and actually gives as the reason that sati was a custom of low castes and therefore derogatory to Rajputs, and also that Rajputs in Gujarat who forbid widow remarriage are called Vcinka,` crooked ', and those who allow it Pddhrd, ' straight ' (Bombay Gazetteer, IX, i, page 123-n).

With Asia Minor or Mesopotamia again we must associate astronomy and the worship of the heavenly bodies, which form an important part of Hindu culture, and in particular the cult of the moon god. Sun worship appears to be less important in the Rigveda than at a later date when the Bhavishya Purana is largely devoted to a cult of the sun. It is however possible that it was the influence of Rigvedic invaders which changed the sex of the sun from female to male and gave rise to the sun-descended nobility as distinct from the moon-descended.

In Rigveda X Soma the moon is represented as ina le and as marrying Surya the daughter of the Sun. The name of the latter suggests that the Sun himself, Silrfa, was originally the female that married the Moon and that there has been a change of sex associated in so many parts of the world with variations of the Phaethon legend. Similarly again the existing holy places of the Hindus are outside Brahmavarta where one might have expected to find them, if it were really the fact that the religion actually arose in that area, while to find them elsewhere is consistent with a view that they are places regarded with devotion by the religions which preceded the invasion. This view is sometimes emphasised by the existence of Hindu shrines where priests and custodians are not Brahmans but some pseudo-Brahman or Sudra caste, e.g. the Malis who are the officiating priests of some Orissa temples and probably the Panda. Brahmans of the same region.

It is doubtless significant that sacrifice of cattle was " detested by the public " though enjoined by the earlier vedas, the inference from which is that the reverence paid to cattle predates the Rigvedic invasion, and Buddhism and Jainism, the latter of which contains extremely ancient ceremonial survivals, may represent a reaction towards the pre-Vedic religion to which the majority of the inhabitants of northern India were attached and which was modified but not destroyed by contact with the invaders. The first prohibition of cow-killing seems to be found in the comparatively late Atharva Veda and to be applied specially if not exclusively to Brahmans, while elsewhere we learn that the cow, although a fit offering for Mitra and Varuna, should not be sacrificed because such sacrifice is opposed to public feeling, a clear indication of the contrast between the religions of the socially superior Aryan invaders and the cattle-cherishing inhabitants who formed the bulk of the population.

In Southern India, the Census Superintendent for Madras points out, " the cow is as much revered in those areas of the presidency with the lightest tincture of Brahmanism as in those more affected ", which " may be taken to indicate that reverence for the cow in India is older than the Vedic religion." In any case the sanctity of the cow is foreign to the Rigveda and appeals far more suggestive of the religions of Asia Minor, Egypt and Crete than of the Indo-European invaders who came from the steppes of the north-west to conquer northern India in the strength of their horses and of their iron. Indra moreover appears as the author of sacrifice and in the Yajur Veda it seems still to be India and Varuna who are the principal recipients of sacrificed cattle. It does not seem possible to accept Sir John Marshall's antithesis between the worship of the bull and the worship of the cow. Both are surely different aspects of the same reverence for cattle which characterises the pre-equine civilisations of the Mediterranean basin, and in India are pre-" Aryan " in origin. The Vedas after all enjoined gaumedha, and the Black Yajur Veda lays down an elaborate list of deities to whom bulls, oxen and cows can be appropriately sacrificed. Vishnu, Shiva and Kali the great gods of Hinduism are not Rigvedic deities at all.. Sakti is probably a cult derived from the Great Mother goddess of Asia Minor, and the cult of Shiva is inevitably associated with it, the two being bound up with the phallic religion of southern Asia and of the eastern Mediterranean.

It is probably significant that the word linga is definitely of non-Aryan origin, as Przyluski has demonstrated, while the word puja is also believed to be a non-Sanskritic loan word. With the worship of Shiva, too, is to be associated the snake cult of which there are so many survivals in southern India and which appears to have been at an early date in definite opposition to Brahmanistic Hinduism, the conflict between the two being indicated, for instance, by Krishna's exploits against serpents, by the destruction of serpents at the burning of the forests of Khandava and the slaughter of serpents in the Nahabliarata. Vishnu, apparently a post-Rigvedic god, is perhaps the fruit of the reaction of what we may call proto-Hinduism to the Rigvedic invaders, as also the present ascendency of male over female conceptions of the deity, and Przyluski in one of his most recent essays (Archiv Orientdini, IV , 2, August 1932) ascribes a Dravidian origin to the name Vishnu '. At the same time Vishnu would seem to have some associations with religious beliefs which must be regarded as represented chiefly in beliefs yet surviving among primitive tribes.

Indra apparently is himself declared in the Mahabharata to be guilty of brahmanicidd'in killing Vrtra and Namuci who were Danavas, though the Rigveda praises him for the same deed. Pargiter adduces considerable evidence to show that the true Brahman families were of pre-Rigvedic origin and that the Aryan kings of Madhyadesha were their own priests and in the earliest times had no Brahmans. Strabo remarks that it is recorded that "The Indians worshipped Zeus Ombrios, the river Ganges and the indigenous gods " (Tan yxcuptovs asaitcovas—XV, 718) and as Zeus Ombrios is clearly Indra, the thunder god, the suggestion that the other gods worshipped are of indigenous origin is probably very near to the truth and the traditional view that the Hindu religion is a growth entirely subsequent to the Rigveda, or rather to the Rigvedic invasions, is no longer tenable.

Rai Bahadur Ramaprasad Chanda in a paper on the " Non-vedic elements in Brahmanism " has made a number of points which indicate the continued existence of the pre-Rigvedic religions alongside of or in opposition to the orthodox Hinduism of the Brahmarshidesha. Quoting Kumarila and Medhatithi he points out that the Smartas include non-Vedic elements ; thus of the four orders named in the Dharmasutra of Gautama (Student, Householder, Ascetic and Hermit) only that of householder (grihastha) is prescribed in the Vedas that the Upanishads were not originally recognised as part of the Vedic canon at all and had their origin outside Vedic Hinduism ; that the Yatis destroyed by Indra are probably the forerunners of the Yatis of the Upanishads and the Smritis and that the latter order were organised on a pre-Vedic model ; that the Pancharatra and Pasupata systems were condemned by Kumarila as non-Vedic and that the Vaishnavite and Saivite sects are derived respectively from those two systems ; that contact with Pasupatas, Saivas, Jainas, etc., involved purification ; that by the time of the Mahabharata, however, Pancharatra and Pasupata are placed on a footing of recognised and orthodox religious authority. His general conclusion is that the cults of Vishnu, Shiva and Sakti " originated among a people of different ethnic origins from the midlandic Aryans ".

The point to be emphasised here is not so much Chanda's precise conclusions as the evidence he adduces of the survival of pre-Vedic religion alongside and inside the later forms of Hinduism, and of their gradual absorption and acceptance as a recognised part of it, which has perhaps since developed into the position of their forming the most important part of it.

If the view be accepted that the Hindu religion has its origin in , pre-Vedic times and that in its later form it is the result of the reaction by the religion of the country to the intrusive beliefs of the northern invaders, many features of Hinduism will become at once more comprehensible, while the very striking difference between the religion of the Rigveda and that of the Dharmashastras will seem natural. It will, however, be still necessary to look westward for the source.of Hindu religion, though its spread in India was possibly in the nature of a peaceful infiltration along the trade routes from Asia Minor of beliefs and practices which associated themselves with those already followed by the indigenous inhabitants. This will

Distribution between communities.PNG

explain Hinduism's amalgamation with and absorption of local cults and its excessive multiformity, and is moreover in entire accordance with the manner in which it still spreads at the present day, absorbing tribal religions in virtue of its social prestige and by identification of local gods with its own , by an experimental resort to Hindu priests, and by the social promotion of pagan chiefs who, are provided with suitable mythological pedigrees. Onto the early Hindu beliefs spread in this manner the religion of the Rigveda has been imposed, and absorbed. Features survive curiously in out of the way parts beyond the pale of Hinduism itself.

Thus the horse sacrifice has become a fertility rite among the non-Hindu Garos of the Assam hills and appears likewise in the wilds of Sumatra, though it has failed to establish itself in orthodox Hinduism. Similarly, though the sacrifice of cattle is anathema to the true Hindu, the Ta,ittiriya Brahmana recommended a whole series of animal slaughterings, including both bulls and cows, to be performed at the Panch,asaradiya Sava and at the Asvamedha, a series extremely suggestive of the scales laid down for successive feasts for the acquirement of social merit at such ceremonies as the Terhengi, of the Angami Nagas, while the Grihya Sutra enjoins the Sulagava, " spitted cow " ceremony (corresponding roughly to the Angami Sekrengi, as the Panchasaradiya does to the Terhengi) at which the beast was killed, as to-day by Sema Nagas, with a pointed stake, and its death accompanied by the erection of a wooden post with a round top mortised on to it and by the distribution of the animal's flesh.

Viewed in this light it is not difficult to understand the claim of certain politicians that the term Hinduism should cover all religions having their origin in India, even though we hold that the original impulse came from the Mediterranean or Asia Minor, since Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism are all offshoots of the same root. The claim is less logical when applied to tribal religions which have not yet reached the stage of acceptina Brahmans as priests or of attaching any sanctit y to the cow or of worshipping in 'pHindu temples in their own villages. An occasional visit to Hindu temples away from home is not quite a safe test since many such shrines undoubtedly occupy sites dedicated originally to more ancient' indigenous deities and subsequently Hinduised, and in any case it is typical of primitive religions to propitiate the gods of any locality they may visit. Admittedly however the line is hard to draw between Hinduism and tribal religions.

The inclusion of the latter within the Hindu fold is easy and wherever hill or forest tribes live in permanent daily contact with Hindus their religion rapidl. assimilates itself to that of their neighbours though the old method of thinking is unchanged. Thus it is that religious or quasi-religious beliefs and practices among Hindus appear very frequently to be based on the principles of magic, mana or other ideas common in primitive religion. The very word brahma itself seems to have probably connoted originally supernatural power or influence of the nature of mana—a view apparently supported by the Atharva Veda, and these beliefs and practices survive and operate with all their primitive qualities alongside the 1pftiest heights of asceticism and philosophy. If it appears that the latter aspect of the Hindu religion is lost sight of in these pages, it is because their purpose is rather to articulate the fragments of the more primitive and material philosophy that preceded it, than to emphasise what is already of long-standing and undisputed recognition.

We may therefore expect to find very ancient and primitive beliefs continuing under the guise of Hinduism. The sanctity of the fig tree for instance is possibly to be associated with the beliefs of the Negrito inhabitants who appear to have formed the earliest population of India. It is probably on account of its milklike sap that the *us is associated with fertility cults in Africa, Italy and New Guinea as well as in Assam and in southern India, and it is generally also connected with the spirits of the dead. This cult appears to be shared by the Andamanese who are an approximately pure Negrito race and perhaps the only race still surviving in the world comparatively unmixed in blood.

At any rate they and their beliefs have probably been isolated for some five thousand years at least. Similarly, though the probability is that this element of Hinduism is due to some pre-Aryan immigrant cult from the direction of Asia Minor, the possibility that some tribal and totemic taboo has acted as a contributory factor in the religious sanctity attaching to cattle cannot be entirely overlooked. Thus the flesh of cattle is tabooed by certain clans among primitive tribes of Assam and Indonesia who do not appear to have come even remotely under the influence of Hinduism, while on the other hand the cow is regarded as completely tabooed by the Shins of Chilas, who are described by Leitner as a Hindu tribe with nowadays a veneer of Islam, the highest caste in Dardistan and really Brahmans themselves though expelled from India or from Kashmir by Brahmans. Not only do they taboo the flesh of the cow but also its milk and only touch a calf at the end of a prong.

Pargiter's view of the original conception of brahma as akin to that of mana has already been mentioned and this view seems naturally to associate itself with the views on soul-matter, or life itself as a transferable and material substance, which are so familiar in Indonesia and further India but which are actually common enough in India itself.

It is on this theory of the indestructibility and transferability of life-matter that the underlying principle of head-hunting is based in Assam ; in other parts of the same cultural area it is manifest in human sacrifice or in cannibalism, the latter perhaps being its most primitive manifestation and the former its most developed. That the principle is still strong in India may be inferred from a number of recent instances several of which are given later. In the form of head-hunting this theory involves that which regards the head as the particular seat of the soul, and this belief is apparent in India proper in the sanctity winch attaches to the head or to the hair, as also in many cases where the (soul-impregnated ?) hair does duty for the individual, as in the case of the Naga who dies far from home and a portion of whose hair is brought back by his companions to be attached to the head of the wooden effigy which is then the subject of the usual funeral ceremonies, and as also in the case of the head-hunter who so often substitutes the hair of his dead or even of his living, and unwitting, victim for the head he cannot carry off.* The Ujli Minas when unsuccessful in dacoity will only shave at home and after propitiating their goddess.

Probably they fear that they may be suffering from a loss of life-essence as Samson did when his hair was cut. Conversely a Korku woman of the Central Provinces tries to obtain as a cure for barrenness a hair from the mother of a large family which she buries under her bathing stone. The same theory may perhaps be the origin of the familiar caste mark placed in front of the forehead just between eyebrows. The Angami Naga tribe regards this particular place as the special seat of the soul, conceived of as a diminutive human shape, which it is necessary to guard from the infectious influence of strangers by means of disinfectants.

This is done by attaching to that particular spot on the forehead a small fragment of the leaf of the wormwood—an effective disinfectant of spiritual influences, like other aromatic plants. It seems likely that it is in a practice of this sort and as a protection against danger to the soul that the use of the caste mark may have first originated.

Fertility cults have already been mentioned. These like head-hunting and human sacrifice are intimately associated with agriculture and the line is hard to draw at the point at which a purely magical fertility rite begins to develop into ceremonial of a genuinely religious nature. At any rate a point is easily reached by the former which is correlated to the latter, and the tribal cult ceases to be purely tribal and is identified with some definitely religious festival so that the magical, ceremonial and devotional aspects become merged.

Magical fertility rites, originally regarded as necessary to ensure the processes of nature, are thus conserved and crystallized and continue to be accepted as a natural feature in the ceremony when the reason of their being there is forgotten. So too features of such rites which in the beginning are natural and inevitable, since they are regarded as essentially necessary to make the rite effective, and for this reason are performed without any sense of impropriety or obscenity, become, when they cease to be essential to the ceremony, effectively indecent but are not recognised as such as long as the traditional form of the ceremony continues to be unquestioned. In this form ceremonies and practices survive long after the conditions of society in which they originated have changed. Thus rites essentially priapic survived at Isernia near Naples at any rate into the 19th century actually under the aegis of the Church, and it is only on contact with and under criticism from some external source that familiar and therefore unquestioned practices are seen in a new and critical light. That this process is now taking place in Hindu society is sufficiently obvious.

The Cochin Government has prohibited the singing of obscene songs, etc., at the Holi festival, and advanced Hindu opinion would probably welcome a similar prohibition in many parts of British India, whe' already the festival seems to be generally celebrated with less excess than used to be the case. The Government of Mysore has abolished the institution of Devadasis, and here again an influential element in Hindu society is loud in its approval.

It is perhaps symptomatic of the tendency to reform and to even more drastic change in Hinduism that it should prove possible, as apparently it has in. Bombay, to constitute an " Anti-Priestcraft Association ", the professed purpose of which is " to combat all religious and social beliefs and customs and institutions which cannot stand the test of reason ", and members of which are reported to entertain a frankly bolshevist attitude towards all religions and to advocate the destruction of all temples, churches and mosques.

On the other hand little effective has been accomplished in the way of removing untouchability in its real sense. It is often said that the conditions of modern life have broken down the idea that contact with certain castes involves pollution, and this is true just to that extent to which the use of conveniences such as trams, 'buses and trains necessitates a relaxation of the rule that certain castes pollute by touch and still more that they can pollute by mere proximity. Further there is a tendency obviously consequent on the necessity -of relaxation referred to above to relax the rule of pollution by touch in the case of members of untouchable castes who do not pursue untouchable avocations. This does not necessarily involve any real abandonment of the attitude of caste Hindus to what the Census Superintendent of Assam conveniently describes as the " Exterior Castes ". The water they touch is still undrinkable, food they touch becomes impure and they are not admitted to places of worship or to restaurants nor will the ordinary barbers serve them.

Indeed the most that seems to have been yet accomplished* is the occasional staging of inter-cast€ meals, gestures which appear so far to have had little practical effect on the general attitude of the caste to the outcaste Hindu. But it must not be forgotten that the att,mpts of the depressed classes to obtain the right of entry to temples is perhaps some times as much inspired by social motives as by religious ones, and produces an antagonistic reaction which might be absent if religion alone were involved. The tribal religions, as has been indicated already, represent, as it were, surplus material not yet built into the temple 'of Hinduism. How similar this surplus is to the material alread y used will appear in many ways and may be noticed, to start with, in the cults of the dead. The Hindu rites of the shradh provide for the creation of a new body to house the soul of the deceased and, though theoretically renewed every year to maintain it, they are usually as a matter of fact gradually abandoned with the lapse of time. In the tribal religions this cult of the dead is seen in a precisely parallel form but at a very much more matter of fact and materialistic stage of the development of the idea.

Thus in Mysore the Hasalar tribe redeem the rioul with a pig from the magician who has caused the death and domicile it in a pot where it is supplied with food and water. The Nicobarese and some Naga tribes fashion wooden figures on which the skull of the deceased is placed in order that the soul may leave it and enter the wooden figure. It is for a time kept supplied with all worldly necessities. A similar practice must formerly have obtained among the Garos of Assam, but it has disappeared and in the wooden figures now used the pegs that held the skull in place have become unrecognizable, surviving apparently as a sort of a pair of ornamental horns, though an ob..;olete grave figure in the Indian Museum in Calcutta has a pair of horns much more nearly approximating to the trans-frontier Konyak Naga type.

Further west and south the Sawara of the Ganjam Agency tracts uses a similar but more conventionalised wooden figure to accommodate the soul of his cremated dead during the interval between death and cremation and the time for the erection of a stone Or stones for the souls of the dead during the year past, which is done annually about the time of the sowing of the crop. Still further west the Kunbi of the Central Provinces make an image of their dead in brass which is kept until the

  • This was written before Mr. Gandhi's fast, which has certainly given more impetus to the

movement against untouchability, while the younger generation, students and schoolboys in particular, has for some time been manifestly more tolerant than their elders, particularly in Bengal and Assam.


superfluity of such images necessitates their deposit in the water of some sacred river. In the north the statues of the dead made by the head-hunting K. afirs of


the western Himalayas had probably the same purpose, while in western India may be seen the chattries of deceased Hindu Maratha rulers in which the recumbent bull and a lingam face the waxen images of the dead prince and his wife, which latter are piously supplied with food and other requisites and are entertained with music and have their clothes changed regularly once a week. In the very south of India the Malayarayans of Travancore make a metal effigy of the dead, which is kept in a miniature stone cist covered with a capstone (like the tattoed skull of a Konyak Naga in the north-east) and erected on high ground. The image is brought out annually and feasted and worshipped with tulsi leaves on its head.

Allusion* has already been made to the theory of soul-matter as a fertilizer of the crops and a producer of life generally, a theory which appears to pervade the magico-religious thought and practice throughout Indonesia and south-west Asia and survives in strength in further India. The Sawara custom above is probably a mere manifestation of the same idea, since the collective disposal of the village's dead at the time of sowing is clearly associated in some Naga tribes with their aspect as crop fertilizers, while the Oraons of Chota Nagpur again temporarily inter their dead, if the paddy has sprouted, to be cremated the following year before it sprouts. The connection between the souls of the dead and the fertilization of the ground is reflected again in their very frequent association with water. It is hardly necessary to call to mind the value set by Hindus upon the immersion of their dead in the Ganges, but there are a number of parallel beliefs in more or less primitive tribes which do not seem to owe their existence to Hindu influence but rather to share their origin with the ingredients of that religious system.

Thus the Meithei practice of disposing of the frontal bone of the deceased in the Ganges appears, at first sight, to be the result of their Hinduization, and no doubt their choice of the Ganges is such a result:but their neighbours the Kacharis, when yet unhinduized, used to consign their frontal bone to the Kopili river after the harvest, while the Rengma Naga makes a pool for water at the grave of any notable man that the rain, and rice, may be plentiful, and at least one other Naga tribe pours water on a grave to cause rain, while the Palaungs of eastern Burma fetch a bier pole from a grave and put it in a stream for the same purpose. The Santal again have the practice, at any rate under certain circumstances, of consigning a piece of bone from the head and another from the breast of the dead to the waters of the Damodar river. The Panwar mourner, besides throwing into the Narbada the bones of the dead, throws in with them some of his own hair also, thus perhaps vicariously accompanying the soul.

The Kunbi practice of consigning to the Canges the brass images of his ancestors has already been mentioned and the Bishnoi Brahmans of Sind were described by Tod as burying their dead at their thresholds and raising over them small altars on which they place an image of Shiva (1 a lingam) and a jar of water (Rajasthan, VIII, ii).

Though nothing is said of any fertilizing effect these various practices would seem not unconnected. It is even possible that there may be some similar association with the dead or their avenging spirits in the ordeal by water described by Warren Hastings as practised by Hindus in the Ganges, the accused man submerging himself and hol' l i, c; to the foot of a Brahman, a form of ordeal parallels to which are practised by a number of primitive tribes from Western India to Vizagapatam and from the Central Provinces via Assam and Burma to Indo-China. Even in the Rigveda itself there seems to be some notion of the souls of the dead as departing to the waters or vegetation, in spite of the more definite and prevailing idea of a house of the dead, and in the later Vedic rite of garbhadhana to promote conception the husband infused grass in water and then poured the water down his wife's nostril, which looks as though it were intended that soul-matter from the grass should enter the woman to cause her to conceive.

The idea of soul-matter as a fertilizing agent is probably also responsible for distinctive treatment of the bodies of those who die by " bad " deaths and are therefore probably either unfertile or unsuitable or likely to lead to the reproduction of bad results. It is thus that we find everywhere special treatment accorded to the bodies of women who die in child-birth, while other forms of death are treated differently, i.e., as bad or otherwise, by different tribes. In the case of persons killed by wild beasts the idea is perhaps the soul-stuff of the dead is absorbed by the wild animal, and this is illustrated b y the widespread belief that the soul of the dead rides on the tiger, as told for instance by the Annamites of Cambodia and the Baigas of Central India. The idea that the soul of a person killed enters the killer is found elsewhere, e.g., in Australia. The same doctrine of soul-matter is probably the principle which underlies head-hunting, human sacrifice and cannibalism.

The first of these has been recognised in India only in Kafiristan and in Assam, though it is reported of the Bhils that they were at one time accustomed to bring back the heads of their enemies and. hang them up in trees (Rajputana Census Report, 1931), while the Kondhs circulated a head, hair and fingers as a signal for a rising in 1882, and of four heads taken in that rising one at any rate was affixed as a trophy " to a tamarind tree near Billat village ; again a Brahui clan explain their name of Sarparra as meaning ' decapitator ' and have been identified with Strabo's " Saraparae, that is Decapitators " who lived near the Guranii and the Medes and were savage intractable mountainy men " who " slash round the legs* and cut off the heads of strangers." The theory however on which it is based, that the soul-matter is specially located in the head, may be detected elsewhere. Thus the Andamanese attach special importance to the jawt and to the skull in mourning, and at any rate one case is recorded of their carrying off the cranium of a victim killed in warfare. The Newars of Nepal apparently show traces of the separate treatment of the head in burial, a feature frequently associated with head-hunting in Assam, Indonesia and Oceania, Melanesia in particular, and undoubtedly based on the same idea. Head-hunting as a

  • The generally preferred reading, rEptaxvOto-rcis for reptcrteeXtcrrcis is translated " scalp in the

Scythian manner " but this is hardly compatible with decapitation, either would seem to be aurae XeyOpevov and the former reading is much more likely the emendation of a scholiast who knew his Herodotus, but was as unacquainted with what is a common feature of head-hunting practice as with the unusual word coined by Strabo to describe it ; Casaubon indeed explains the name of the tribe as a facetious metaphor from Persian trousers (capcii3apa ' jodhpurs') ' diminishing at the knee.' A Naga headhunter who does not actually remove and suspend from the village head-tree the foot and leg of his victim will frequently slash the legs in order to entitle him to wear the embroidered gaiters of a warrior who has taken his enemy's legs, while some tribes on the north bank of the Brahmaputra are reported to cut off the hands and feet of their enemies (though they do not decapitate) probably to hamper possible attempts of the ghost to pursue and harm them.

necessary preliminary to marriage, as it is in most if not all genuine head-hunting tribes, is to be explained by the idea that unless a man has taken heads he has no surplus soul-matter about him to beget offspring.* Probably the same notion is to be seen in the Chang Naga practice of naming a child after a village raided by his father. Thus the present chief of Yongemdi is named Longkhong and his brother Ongli after the Ao villages Lungkhung and Ungr which were successfully raided by their father with considerable slaughter about the time that they came respectively into this world. The same notion is clearly present in the cases that come to light from time to time in India of murder as a remedy for barrenness in women. Thus in October 1929 the High Court of the Punjab lif.d to deal with a case in which a girl, desperately anxious to bear her husband a son, killed a child, cut off its hands and feet and bathed herself standing upon them. It cannot be doubted but that the idea was that the life of the dead child should become the life of a fresh child in her womb.

Again early in 1930 a case occurred in Gujarat of the murder by means of sulphuric acid of a 12 months old boy by a girl of 20 who had no child, and, it was part of the prosecution case that it was a comparatively common practice on the part of barren women to attempt to quicken themselves by burning marks on children in the street, a practice no doubt ultimately derived from one which involved the taking of the child's life, and which may be compared with that of branding children offered to the Syrian Goddess referred to below (page 411). And if head-hunting is rare in India, human sacrifice, on the other hand, has been widespread and has clearly been ultimately based on the same conception of the necessity or at any rate the desirability of releasing soul-matter to fertilize the earth. No doubt it was later interpreted as the placation or propitiation of an earth deity, but this must be regarded as a sophisticated justification of a practice the true meaning of which had become obscure or been forgotten.

The Kondhs are described as having performed their Meriah sacrifices to the earth mother, but the details of the ceremony and the practice of distributing fragments of the sacrificial meat in their fields and granaries show a very patent connection with the disposal of enemy flesh by headhunting Nagas and the underlying idea is undoubtedly the same. In one form of the sacrifice the victim was squeezed to death in a cleft in a green tree, and in another the tears caused by his sufferings brought rain in proportion to their profusion. Similarly the Wa of Burma definitely associate their head-hunting with the sowing of the crop, while the successful Kafir head-hunter was greeted, on his return from the foray with his trophy, by a shower of grain.

In Kulu the transplanting of the rice is accompanied by the sacrifice of a rough dough image of a man to the house god. So again the Dasehra festival, now associated by all Hindus with the killing of Ravana by Rama, coincides throughout most of India with the sowing of the winter crops, in particular with that of millet, a more ancient staple in south Asia than rice, as well as with that of wheat. It is this festival that is associated in western India with the worship of weapons of war (and it is still regarded there as a proper day on which to go forth and loot) while it is then that human sacrifices used to be performed in eastern India, and it is still on this festival that the gupta puja, the hidden rite, to ensure the prosperity of the person, house or family, would be resorted to if ever. The association of human sacrifice with the prosperity of the individual and with the success of the state in war seems clear enough, and its association with crops may be inferred with equal safety.

It was probably some such association of soul-substance with fertility and perhaps with some notion of a higher fertility value attaching to Europeans that led Oraons to remove portions of the body of a recently buried European not very long ago. The evidence at the trial made it clear that special value attached to European bones for magical purposes (see Indian Antiquary, Dec. 1929). The location of the soul in the head and the confusion of the soul with the shadow are illustrated in the Himalayan cure for fever in which the patient stands in the sun and a bone filled with grain is buried in the spot where the head of the shadow falls (Crooke, Religion and Folklore of N. India, 1926, page 222). The same idea of soul-matter as a fertiliser is probably at the bottom of human sacrifice as a cure for illness, as in the case of a Santa' of Dhanbad who in 1931 garlanded and then beheaded his infant son in order to effect a cure of his own maladies.

  • Conversely I have known a Brahman gardener in the Simla Hills refrain from setting

grafts himself since to do so would prejudice his chance of begetting children, clearly on account of the loss of life-matter ; instead he called in an old man past the breeding age to do it for him. True cannibalism is only traditional in India but vestiges of ceremonial cannibalism survive in many places or have done until recently. Thus Portman records the practice of Andamanese homicides, who drank of the blood and ate of the raw fat of the victim and of the flesh of his breast, the latter apparently cooked. In the north-west the Kafirs used to eat a piece of the heart and drink some of the blood of their enemies they killed.

In the north-east the Lushei of Assam used to taste the liver and lick from the spear-head the blood of the first victim slain in war. The nearly related Thado eats his first meal after taking life with hands deliberately imbued with his enemy's blood and still uncleansed therefrom, a custom practised as late as 1919, and the same custom obtains in a decayed form among the independent Semas of the Assam frontier, where a returning head-taker must eat at least a morsel of food before entering his village ; the insister ce is on the meal now, but it is eaten with still ensanguined fingers as he may not cleanse himself until after he has taken this meal. The intention in all these cases is certainly to transfer to the slayer the soul-matter or life-matter of the slain, just as the soul-matter of so many kings has been transferred to their successors by their murder. Similar in principle is the practice of anointing at his succession the intrusive Raj put ruler with the blood of the indigenous Bhil who regards the right to give it as a precious privilege, even though the giver is believed always to die within the year, his soul-matter exhausted no doubt in providing for the fertility and prosperity of the State.

It was no doubt a similar idea to that of the Kafir and the Thado which inspired the action of Nana Pharari, a notorious dacoit of Nasik in Bombay Presidency who stabbed a personal enemy in July 1930, pulled out his knife from the victim and applied its gory blade to his forehead and to his tongue. The action of applying the blood to the forehead offers a very close parallel to that of the Angami Naga who never drinks liquor without applying on the tips of his finger a drop to his forehead for the benefit of the material soul resident within. The drinking of human blood and the tasting of human flesh is common in Indonesia and Oceania and it is likely that it has at one time been more prevalent in _India than it is now.

It was reported of the Wa of Burma by Sir George Scott that probably human flesh was eaten on special occasions, possibly at the harvest festival. The Wa are also credited by the Shans with eating their dead relatives like the Battak of Sumatra, and this, a practice probably arising rather from a belief in reincarnation than directly from that in life or soul-matter, has also been reported of some tribes in India. Thus Herodotus mentions the Callatians as an Indian tribe known by Darius to practise this, and he attributes the same custom to the Padaei, for whom an identification has been suggested with the Birhor of Chota Nagpur whom Dalton states to have admitted its former pratice by their tribes. The same custom has been likewise attributed to the Lobas of north-east Assam (called Mishu Ting Ba by the Tibetans) in particular, to the hill tribes of Chhattisgarh and of the Amarkantak tableland, as to the hill tribes of Assam, in general, and to some of the transfrontier Kachins of north-west Burma, though in these cases there is no well authenticated evidence.

A possible survival of the same practice is to be found in the Kharia custom in the Central Provinces of catching, and eating communally, a fish on the third day after a person's death, the fish being a common vehicle of the soul as is noted elsewhere in this chapter. All this points to some pre-existence of this practice and to a clear cultural link between the more primitive tribes of India and those of the Indian archipelago.

Perhaps the crudest form in which the doctrine of soul substance appears is the vulgar but widely credited superstition which attributes to the European the practice of catching fat black boys and hanging them by the heels over a slow fire to distil from a puncture in the skull the seven drops of vital essence which imparts to sahibs in general their energy in field sports and their activity of mind and body. Curiously enough this life essence, this momiyai, seems to have started as bitumen simply and to have been used as a quite legitimate medicine, then to have become a spurious substitute in the form of resin,,the supposed virtues of which were later attributed by confusion to the embalmed bodies from which this resin was most readily obtained. From the dead body a fourth transfer has taken place and superstition now imputes the virtue of the medicine to its distillation from the living body in the form of its life-essence. This belief caused several harmless strangers to be beaten in Saharanpur recently on the suspicion that they were manufacturers of this elixir. Enthoven mentions that it gave some trouble in the outbreak of plague in 1896 in Bombay, and the belief is clearly still active. Possibly in has some bearing on the reluctance felt in India to remain in a hospital.

Here again it is by Hindus, or persons classified as such, that this superstition is generally held, and the Kabuli trader who brings momiyai for sale from Afghanistan is probably under no delusion as to its composition or virtue. The theory is also to be seen in the Aghoripanth philosophy (Russell, Tribes and Castes of the C. P., Vol. II) and in occasional cases of cannibalism that come to light in the criminal courts. Thus in September 1931 two men, one apparently a Rarhi Brahman ascetic and the other a Mahabrahman were accused in Bankura of having dug up the newly buried corpse of a child, of having taken it to their asram and of having there cooked and eaten part of it ; the Rarhi Brahman admitted having eaten a little of the heart " as he believed it was a part of his religion to do so .". It is perhaps partly due to the influence of the primitive belief in this life-giving soul-matter that so much importance is attached in India to the reproduction of the species to pass it on reduplicated to the next generation, so that the penalty of failure to marry is among the more primitive tribes extinction at the hands of a demon who bars the pathway of the dead, while among a number of Hindu castes, as also among the Todas of southern India, the corpse of a person dying unmarried is married before cremation as a necessary qualification to future happiness.

The doctrine of soul-substance as a fertiliser is naturally not less applicable to animals than to human beings, and it is therefore .not surprising to find the Malas of southern India and Ahirs at the Gaidaur festival causing their cattle—the young in particular—to trample a pig to death, after which according to the ancient custom, the corpse of the pig is eaten by the hirs who thus share in the transfer of the porcine life-substance to their cattle. In the case of the Koravas, who have a similar practice, an instance of the substitution of a human being for the more usual pig is actually on record (Thurston, Castes and Tribes of South India, III, 463 sq .), the unfortunate having been buried to his neck before the cattle were driven over him.


Involved again in the belief in soul-matter probably is the practice of erecting megalithic monuments and wooden images of the dead. The two practices are not completely separable as both appear primarily to be intended to ailord a temporary dwelling for the soul pending its operation as a fertilizer of the crop. The megalithic monument appears very often as merely a permanent substitute for the impermanent wooden statue which can be given greater resemblance to the human body.

Thus the wooden statues of the dead put up by the Angami Nagas of Assam are in some villages destroyed after the harvest and the others have a small stone erected behind them to do duty when they have perished. In other villages again a man's youngest son succeeding to his father's house must put up a monolith for his deceased parents, an act corresponding to that of some other villages in which the monoliths are erceted during their lifetime by specially prosperous persons to enhance the prosperity of the community as a whole. The significance of the latter monolith is quite definitely phallic and ancient specimens still exist whose form puts this beyond dispute, both as a solid menhir and as hollow monoliths which contained the ashes of the dead, and there is no doubt but the association is here again with the soul-matt, as a fertility agent, and an echo of the doctrine is perhaps to be found in the Vijayanagara legend of the head of the hero Ramanatha which when returned to Kummata became united with the lingam of Shiva. It may be noted that Kampila, the defender of Kummata appears, or at least his troops do, under the guise of, head-hunters (Journal of the Mythic Society, January 1930), while dolmens have actually been used as Saivite temples ; in the Naga Hills the cult of 1-.1- hunting is, like that of the dead; associated with menhirs and dolmens and other symbols of fertility like the milky finis or euphorbia trees.

The remains of this megalithic culture in India are widespread though in most places completely decadent, and they generally show sporadically very similar traits. Thus the disposal of the dead of the community during the sowing season has already been mentioned and in further India it is, or used to be, associated with a certain amount of mummification of the dead to make them keep, some tribes, e.g., the Ao Nagas smoke-drying the body, others e.g., the Khasis, embalming it in honey. The use of a soul-figure is merely a different method of obtaining the same end, and by the Konyak Naga of Assam a wooden figure is provided to house the soul until the head can be separated and disposed of in a phallic stone cist. The Sawara of the Ganjam Agency in Madras burn their dead, but a wooden figure is provided to house the soul till the erection of monoliths for the dead which takes places annually about the time of sowing. Soul-figures, probably of similar purpose in the first instance, are made in earth by the Handi Jogi of Mysore.

The Nicobarese, like some Nagas, place the skull of the dead on a wooden body, and at this census such a figure was to be seen on the island of Teressa, the skull doing duty as a head incongruously surmounted by an old top hat, the treasured headgear of the dead man. It is impossible not to see the same idea underlying the waxen figures of deceased Hindu princes already referred to accompanied as they are by a stone lingua'. It seems therefore not unlikely that the carved stones erected to the memory of Rajput dead of both sexes have a similar origin, and table stones may occasionally be seen in Rajputana erected to mark the site of a Sati, recalling the fact that the dolmen is used as a memorial of the dead by the Munda of Chota Nagpur, while by some Assam tribes the upright monolith and recumbent dolmen are used to correspond respectively to the male and to the female sexes. A reference to Volume IX of the Bombay Gazetteer definitely confirms the supposition that the Rajput memorial stone has the same origin as the Naga or Khasi menhir. Unhewn stones (khatra) or carved stones are raised, we learn, by most classes of Hindus in Gujarat for deceased persons, sometimes for all, but more particularly for those that have died a violent death* or been remarkable

  • The Census Superintendent of Madras may be conveniently quoted here on similar

practices in South India :-

"&dams or shrines exist to which no priests or temples are attached and the prevailing worship is in fact a kind of goblin propitiation, the goblins being usuall y the spirits of persons who died a violent death. Animal sacrifice and frequent admixture of human blood are commonplaces in their ceremonies. One such shrine in Tinnevelly district is to the spirit of a European killed in the Travancore wars and the offerings made are of articles considered peculiarly acceptable to one of race, bread, fowls, cheroots and brandy ...... In effect the real religion of the presidency, in the south, at any rate, is directed rather towards shrines and saints than towards deities."

for their holiness*. These stones are sometimes placed in a shrine, sometimes under a pipal tree. Until the shrine is set up the spirit of the deceased is dangerous. We may perhaps infer that the reason why such stones are set up, particularly for persons whose spirits are likely to be dangerous, is in order to appease them by providing an abiding place for them and so conforming to an ancient custom otherwise liable to be foregone. The carved stones take the ordinary form of a Rajputana or Kathiawar memorial stone or may be replaced by " a bust of black marble, brick or wood " but it is significant that they are worshipped by the newly married, or by a bridegroom on the way to fetch the bride, recalling the ceremony performed by childless Konyak Nagas on their phallic stone skull cists, and the practice of barren women to strip themselves at dawn and embrace naked the stone slab carved with the image of Hanumant.

At certain temples in southern India barren women are or were seated astride a particular stone to get offspring, success depending upon the experience of an orgasm while in this position. In the Punjab hills again, Chamba for instance, monoliths, or wooden substitutes, are put up for the dead with feasting on a great scale, and for the sake of acquiring merit. A rough effigy of the deceased is usually carved on the stone and the wooden substitute sometimes has a hole and a spout for water, when it is set up in the stream beside which it would otherwise be placed. Sometimes a circular stone is placed on the top of the monolith (recalling the former Khasi practice) and in the case of ruling families (e.y. of Mandi and Suket, where the practice is confined to royalty) the wife and concubine of the deceased are also represented on the stones as they are by Assam hill tribes. The Malayarayans of Travancore make a metal effigy of the


dead and put it into a miniature cist of stone verticals and a capstone which is erected on high ground• and worshipped annually. Even the method of transporting

  • " The spirit of Muhammad even is said to inform one granite pillar in Tinnevelly where

daily " Puja " is done by Hindu votaries. Vows are made to it by Hindus who flock to seek cure of disease, rain and other boons. Ganja and cheroots are the form the offerings take, these being considered peculiarly attractive to Muhammadans " (M. W. M. Yea tts, Madras Census Report, 1931).

¶ One may compare with these practices that of embracing a certain pillar in the church of the Virgin at Orcival in Auvergne or sitting in the chair of St. Fiacre in the church of the village of that name, the stone seat of which, like the pillar at Orcival, had the power of rendering barren women fertile. It was necessary, however, that there should be no garment between the stone and the sitter's body. Similarly in the chapel of St. Antoine de Paule at Saragossa there was a tombstone on which barren women lay in order to become fruitful. (Dulaure, Des Divinites Gêneratrices, page 251).

megaliths seems to have left traces in western India. The Nagas, like the people of Nias in the Indian archipelago, transport megaliths on wooden sledges made from the forked trunk of a tree which are dra gged by very large numbers of men pulling on cane or creeper ropes. In the case of the Naga at any rate an essential implication of the ceremony is the infection of the village with the prosperity of the celebrant, and when the ceremony is performed with- ooden instead of stone emblems these emblems are formally dragged all round the village with this express purpose. Very suggestive of a degenerate form of this ceremony is the village festival (ghasbavji) in Rajputana at which the " god ", consisting of a large waterworn boulder, is dragged round the village on a sled made out of a forked tree trunk. Probably of similar origin also is the general veneration paid to stones throughout India, particularly of course to those of queer or unusual shape.

Crooke (in The Religion and Folklore of Northern India) gives a very large number of examples which it is unnecessary to recapitulate, but it may be recorded here that a suit was argued in the Calcutta High Court on the 25th of April 1929 about a stone bout 5 feet square, apparently of black slate or marble from Jaipur, which changed hands for Rs. 10,000 (£750) as being " very efficacious in the matter of getting a son ". The suit arose because the stone failed to function, and it was stated in evidence that numbers of even quite well-educated Hindus believed in the efficacy of stones of this kind when used with the correct rites, and that so much as a lakh might be paid for such a stone. It was also mentioned that sitting on a stone is an essential feature in many Jain rites.

It may here be urged that the reverence and superstition paid to stones in general, is not, as Crooke suggests, a vague supersitition which develops into the use of memorial stones but on the contrary is the degenerated remnant of the lifeessence fertility cult. The use of a stone or mere pebble as a pretyasila " stone of the disembodied spirit " by Hindus in western India seems a definite instance of this process of decay. The stone is picked up by the chief mourner at the place where the corpse was put down and is anointed with oil (recalling the baetyls of Naga fertility cults), a crow is induced to eat corn scattered about it and the pebble is then thrown into running water or kept among the household deities. Similarly the Komati caste of Mysore invokes the soul of the deceased to enter a pebble temporarily, while the ashes of the deceased are cast into a sacred river or some other water. It seems therefore much more likely that a veneration of stones on account of the indwelling soul has been transferred to peculiar stones in general on account of similar possibilities, than that a vague reverence of stones should exist without reason and be elaborated into a coherent creed which really turns on a belief in the power of soul-matter to promote the fertility of nature.

An extension of the same idea would seem to appear in the practice of requiring spirit or soul-matter of the dead to impart permanence or, to use our own metaphor, life " to buildings. This practice is referred to as that of foundation " sacrifices ", but the idea of sacrifice, if present at all, is clearly later than the practice itself, which is essentially of the same origin in India, where at least a belief in the necessity survives, and in Oceania, where in Fiji and in the Marquesas, for instance, human sacrifices were required to invest a building or a canoe with the necessary mana. This belief is still so prevalent in India as to be the cause of a good deal of disturbance from time to time. In 1922 the Deputy Commissioner of Dibrugarh had to issue a notice reassuring people against mur katas headcutters ") coming to kill or behead male children for some unkown purpose and to threaten with prosecution anyone assisting to spread the rumour. In 1923 on the 27th May a riot took place on Cinnamara tea estate on account of a scare about the kidnapping of children for the foundation of a new bridge. In June 1924 a rumour in Calcutta that the Port Commissioners were seeking for children to bury in the foundation of the new Kidderpore dockyard led to Punjabi taxidrivers being killed in the belief that they were agents decoying children for this purpose, and in the same month strangers in Patna were maltreated in connection with a similar scare about a bridge in Bihar.

In 1926 in north Lakhimpur there was a rumour that arkas (i.e., head-takers ?) were trying to obtain children's heads for the construction of a railway bridge. In the same year the district engineeer constructing the recent bridge on the Sibsagar Road-Khowang Railway had trouble from a kidnapping scare, which was so much intensified when a retaining wall burst that schoolboys asked leave in order to stay at home for fear of being kidnapped on their way to school. Several petitions were filed in the S. D. 0.'s office, also against suspected kidnappers, while villagers insisted on visiting and counting tea-garden coolies during the night in order to assure themselves that they were not concealing victims in their lines, and a number of assaults took place, one serious. In July of the same year there was a scare in Cachar that a human sacrifice w. as required for the oil-borings to promote the flow of oil in the Burmah Oil Company's wells.

A strange coolie was roughly handled on the 12th of that month in Cachar and a stranger from Sylhet was beaten and confined on the same suspicion on the 10th. In January 1929 a rumour in Bombay that children were being kidnapped for the construction of a bridge in Baroda led to an attack on Patliars, and on a Greek engineer, to the death of a Ilindu carpenter and ultimately during two days time to the killing of 17 Path ans while two other Muslims and three Hindus were killed in the consequent affrays, very many other persons being injured. In the subsequent riots 149 people were killed and the damage to property came to at least 5 lakhs of rupees. In May 1929, in Bihar again this time, a man was beaten to death in the belief that be was seeking to kidnap a child as a " foundation sacrifice " for a bridge at Jamshedpur, while the floods in the Surma valley of the same year led to a scare that children were being kidnapped for the reconstruction of certain embankments in the Manipur State. In certain tribes of the Naga Hills in Assam a live chicken is still placed in the hole dug for the main house post and the post stepped on to it, while it is asserted that certain transfrontier tribes use a human being thus, as formerly in Fiji, " to hold up the post ".

The same idea is to be seen in a practice attributed by Mr. S. N. Roy, (in Man in India, IX, page 272) to Bengali boat-builders who have had to dispute their dues with a customer a few drops of the ship-wright's blood are plugged into a cavity in the planking, when the boat acquires a malevolent vitality, drowns its crew and continues an independent existence as an aquatic phantom. A sword used in sacrifice acquires a similar vitality from the blood of the victims it decapitates, and like boats it is furnished with eyes painted in vermilion, It has been already indicated that the soul is often conceived in the tribal religions of India as having the form of a manikin and being located in the head, and though this conception is apparently at conflict with the theory of soul-matter or a material life-substance it is held concurrently with it without any consciousness of inconsistency.

There is nothing remarkable in this, but the question arises whether these two conceptions are of different origin or may have come into being from the same source, and it is here submitted that the conception of the soul as a manikin is merely the effect, on a rather vague conception as to the nature of life, of that tendency towards anthropomorphism which is inevitable when man is to conceive of a material with some of his own attributes and no known shape and which is apparent in the conception of the deity in the great majority of religions. The Karen of Burma have a doctrine of a material substance which is the cause of life, or rather which is actually life itself, a sort of ectoplasm of life, which leaves the dying body to enter the herbs of the field or the seeds of the earth, and which then passes through grass into cattle and through grain, or indirectly through the meat of grazing animals, into man and passes through the seminal fluid to generate fresh life, precisely as if it consisted of carbohydrates*. This doctrine may perhaps be regarded as having arisen very early in the history of mankind as a natural result of speculation as to the cause of the change that takes place at death and as to the nature of that which has left the body.

Speculation of some kind would be inevitable, if only as a result of the natural curiosity required by any animal, human or otherwise, to adapt itself to environment in the struggle to survive. Abstract ideas come late in the development of a language and presumably therefore late in the development of thought, and hence the necessity, before any philosophic idea of life can be framed, of regarding it as a material substance and of thinking of that substance as taking some form. The idea then of a manikin living behind the forehead whose movements are registered on an infant's fontanelle is a not unnatural symptom of the development, or degeneration, of the life-substance theory and may perhaps be traced in that doctrine of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy which regards the soul as. encased in a series of sheaths the interior of which accompany the soul on its migration while the exterior constitutes the material body ; and the location

  • It seems certain that the strange provision in the Brahmanical code which makes the Tells

an untouchable caste (but not the Tili, who only sells not presses oil) is due to their practice of destroying the seed in the pursuit of their occupation without provision for its transfer to another living organism, a suggestion confirmed, I think, by Manu, iv. 85. of the soul in the head is illustrated by the Hindu belief that it escapes through the " crevice of Brahma ", through which ascetics can project their soul (and so die) at will, while for less holy persons it is necessary to fracture the skull with a conch shell to let out the soul. The salagrama held to the aperture perhaps served the same purpose as the pretyasila mentioned above. One is also reminded of the story in the Aitareya Brahmana (vide Rajendralala Mitra, Indo-Aryans, II, 76) of how the gods killed a man for their sacrifice, but the part in him fit for an offering went oat, leaving him deformed, and entered a horse, and so on through an ox (which turned to a gayal when the fit part left it), a sheep and a goat and entered the earth, where the gods surrounded it so that no escape was possible, when it turned into rice.

Father Schmidt considers that in India " the materialistic Sankhyan philosophy most certainly arose from matrilineal animism," and he suggests that the spiritual philosophies of classical Greece may have had at least in part a similar source. Having got as far as materializing our life principle, its conception as similar in feature to that of the body is inescapable, and the way is clear for the doctrine of reincarnation. The doctrine reached is logically irreconcilable with the theory with which we started but experience shows that the two can be held simultaneously, at any rate by primitive man, without any consciousness of inconsistency. There are probably, however, steps by the way which contribute to this belief—the idea of the soul coming back as an insect is one, and one to which the conception of the soul as able to leave the body and flit about at night, derived in part no doubt if not entirely from the phenomena of dreams, has contributed. As instances the Lhota Nagas of Assam and the Kunbis of Bombay and th3 Karnis of Bengal may all be quoted as watching for an insect after a person's death, or the Ahirs, Kamars and Gonds who go to a river and bring back an insect or a fish as containing the soul and sometimes, in the case of the Gonds at least, eat it to ensure its rebirth.

Another contributory observation to the insect notion is perhaps the mysterious way in which large numbers of insects appear from nowhere in particular, as if caused by superfluity as it were of life-substance, an idea which would have been comprehensible enough to the ancient world, which regarded nor instance insect life as spontaneously engendered in dung dropped under a waxing moon, etc. (vide Pliny, Nat. Hist., Bk. II), or which regarded the Nile floods as pouring soul into the sods so as to fashion live creatures from the very soil (Niles ...... glaebis etiam infundat animas, ex ipsayue h,umo vitalia effingat- Pomponius Mela, I, 52), bringing us back again to that fertility cult which associates soul with water. Similarly Diodorus Siculus (I, i) says " moisture generates creatures from heat, as from a seminal principle " and a little further on " they say that about Thebes in Egypt, after the overflowing of the river Nile, the earth thereby being covered with mud and slime, many places putrefy through the heat of the sun, and thence are bred multitudes of mice. It is certain, therefore, that out of the earth animals are generated ".

These ideas of life in dung and water seem to have been combined in the practice which so disgusted the Abbe Dubois at the temple of Nanjanagud in Mysore some 150 years ago. Barren women and their husbands were described by him as drinking out of the temple sewer from hands soiled by setting aside a portion of the ordure to be examined a few days later whether insects or vermin were engendered in it, which was regarded as " a favourable prognostic for the woman ".'The same belief probably accounts for the practice of throwing dung at a bridal pair, a practice common for instance in the Assam Hills. Whatever be its origin, however, a vague belief in reincarnation is common to most of the trill religions in India and is generally associated more or less with some degree of ancestor worship, a tendency to which is everywhere apparent. This reincarnation belief is to be seen very clearly in the ancient Brahmanic theory that after the birth of a son the sexual relationship of husband and wife should cease, since the son is the father's self and the father's wife has become his mother also.

It is stated of the Kochhar sub-caste of the Khatri, a trading caste of the Punjab, that a father's funeral rites are performed in the fifth month of his wife's first pregnancy, which points to the same idea. The Bishnoi of Hissar bury an infant at the threshold that its soul may re-enter the mother and be born again. Among the Bhuiyas every child is regarded as a reincarnation of some deceased relative, while the Mikirs, it may be noticed, believe in reincarnation except for the souls of those who have been killed by tigers. Among the Lushei the reincarnated soul sometimes appears as a hornet, sometimes as dew and in the latter form the belief is hardly distinguishable from the Karen theory of life substance. So again it is a common practice with the tribes mentioned that while a dead grandfather's name or that of another ancestor must be given to a child, the name of a living ancestor shall not be given as either he or the new born child will die. The practice was perhaps similar in ancient Indian society as in old lists of kings it is common to find a grandson named after the grandfather. This practice seems, however, to have changed as the name of any ancestor living or dead is reported now to be avoided by Hindus.

The association of reincarnation with the soul fertility cult is perhaps confirmed to some extent by Malcolm's record of the practice of jumping off certain high rocks in Central India in order to be reborn in a royal house. Forsyth (Highland, of Central India) also records the account of an eyewitness, Captain Douglas, Political Assistant in Nimar, of a scene at Omkar, a shrine of Shiva on Mandhatta island in the Narbada, at which a young man leaped off a rock 90 ft. high to his death in 1822, and mentions a later case of an old woman who hesitated and was pushed over.

In the case of this rock apparently if the jumper survived, he was killed by a " priestess " with a dagger, but in the case of another of these rocks if a man survived the fall he was made Raja and the association between the soul and the fertility of the land impinges on that between the fertility of the land and the king as the living receptacle or embodiment of the life-spirit, and one which must not be allowed to grow old. One is reminded, however, by this habit of jumping off a cliff to royal incarnation of a number of similar practices associated in each case with the fertility of the soil.

  • Thus rope-sliding (beduart) in

the Himalayas would appear to be a definite survival of a similar form of voluntary or involuntary human sacrifice. The slider, an acrobat or dancer (beda) by caste, is worshipped as Mahadeo, bathed in milk, dressed in new clothes, and carried round the village fields before the ceremony, which is resorted to when harvests have been bad. That this is a survival of human sacrifice is clearly indicated by the fact that both the rope used and the hair of the slider are distributed as fertility charms while the slider himself becomes infertile, for his fields go barren and the seed he sows fails to burgeon. He is in fact spiritually deadt and his life-matter has been distributed to his neighbours. We are recalled to the Kondh rneriah whose parent was consoled by his neighbours in words which Macpherson has recorded—" Your child has died that all the world may live ". It is worth remarking that the hereditary caste of rope-sliders is the Nat caste and that the women of that caste are associated in many parts of India with dancing and prostitution. Both are probably closely connected with fertility rites and it may be that the professions of tight-rope walker, acrobat, dancer and prostitute take their origin in services performed primarily for the benefit of the crops. In former days it is said that the slider who fell off the rope was cut to pieces at the bottom, and the rite as a whole suggests a chastened form of human sacrifice in which it was essential that the victim should fall from a great height.

It recalls insistently the ceremony described as practiced at the temple of the Syrian Goddess where from a very lofty porch between two gigantic phalli the animal or sometimes apparently human victims were hurled to the ground and where worshippers let their children down in a sack aft er branding them (cf. supra p. 403) as devoted to the deity. In the northeast corner of India the Angami Naga still hurls from the roof of a house his sacrificial victim, a puppy dog invested with the symbolic attributes of a man, while a calf released below is literally torn to pieces by the crowd. Meanwhile ashes representing clouds and cotton seeds representing hail are thrown by the priest from the roof, clearly showing that not only is a distribution of the victims ' life-essence involved but a fall of fertilizing water probably intended to be magically ensured by a fall of the victim from above.

One phenomenon of primitive religion which cannot be ignored when writing of India is totemism, traces of which are shown by primitive tribes in all parts of India and by not a few castes that have reached or retained a high social position. From the Bhils in the west to the Wa of eastern Burma ; from the

  • Tod (Annals, XI, ch. iv) says " love of off-spiing " is the motive, but he does not explain

and one is almost inclined to suspect him of facetiousness.

t Like the Maithil Brahman mentioned by Wilson (Indian Caste, II, 194), who was outcasted by his family because he recovered after his funeral ceremonies had actually been performed in expectation of his decease, and like the Bhil referred to above (p. 1) who dies within a year of the use of his blood to anoint his lord as king.

Kanets of the Simla hills to members of Telugu castes of southern India, clear traces of totemism are found to survive, and it is needless here to go into details already sufficiently well-known and recorded. It may be enough to recall " the longtailed Ranas of Saurasthra ", Jethwa Rajputs who claim descent from Hallman, and the ruler of the Malabar coast whose death involves abstention from fishing lest the soul-inhabited fish be captured, to show that totemistic ideas are not entirely confined to primitive tribes and to castes low in the social scale. Various theories have been put forward to account for totemism of which the most satisfactory is Sir James Frazer's " conceptional " theory. His position, put briefly, is that a period must have existed in human history when the function of the male in producing offspring was as yet unrecognised ; consequently the female on consciousness of conception sought for a cause to explain the phenomenon and attributed it to some animal or plant.

Clearly we need not, indeed cannot, suppose that the existing beliefs of the Australian tribes, on which Sir James bases his diagnosis, represent the belief in totem birth in its original form, and assuming that his theory is correct we may probably imagine conception as first attributed to something eaten, touched or even merely seen by the conceiving woman. Granting the coexistence of the soul-matter theory of life and death and the inclusion in that theory of plants or fruit, it would be easy to speculate as to the source of the new life within the womb from soul-matter taken in food. In any case ignorance of paternity can hardly have lasted for a very long period in most branches of the human race, and in the well-known instance of the Trobriand Islands Moubray (Matriarchy in the Malay Peninsula, p. 53) has plausibly argued that the Trobrianders' emphatic denial of the father's share in procreation is the result of a decay of society starting from the point of development at which matriliny was about to swing over patriliny. Be that as it may, it is obvious that once the idea of totemism be started it would be kept alive and fed by ideas and sentiments not adequate in themselves perhaps to start the theory. The psychological considerations sometimes urged as causes of totemism cannot be regarded as the actual causes since ideas must have some ultimate reference to observed experience, but they will contribute to the retention of an idea which would not otherwise survive.

Frazer himself has pointed out the theory of the external soul as apparently responsible for some forms which, if not actually totemism, resemble it so closely as makes no matter ; and while it has been recently argued by an American anthropologist that totemism arises from food restrictions, others have traced it to theories of the transmigration of soul. Bullock (Man, XXXI, 185) regards totemism as developing subsequently to exogamy and as being merely the machinery by which exogamy is implemented.

This conclusion is based on a study of the institutions of the Mashona, where, he says, " the connection between totemism and exogamy is undoubted ". This, however, does not prove that such a connection always existed, since no society is in a static condition and an accidental coincidence may easily develop into a coalescence. Durkheim with greater plausibility (L'annge sociologique, vol. i) regards totemism as the cause of a taboo on incest and consequently as the cause of exogamy. It is simplest, perhaps, to accept Frazer's view of the origin of totemism and to regard the other explanations as having contributed to extend or support the belief after a period at which the observation of the fact of paternity would otherwise have put a natural end to it.

If it so happened that exogamy originated at an early totemic period of the human race, it is natural to find it surviving where totemism survives either in some semblance of its earliest form as a conception theory or in a developed form into which other beliefs have entered. Such a view of totemism also agrees with the extreme variety of its manifestations, ranging from the sacramental consumption of the totem or its use for magical augmentation of the food supply, to the merest peg for exogamy to hang upon, and it is in the latter form that it is commonest in India where it has generally decayed into a mere totemistic clan name. There are, however, traces of taboos and beliefs essential to it at an earlier stage. Some tribes with what appear to be totemistic clan names no longer regard them as such. Thus the Thevoma clan of the Angami, Nagas and the Awomi of the Sema would appear in both cases to bear names translatable as " Pigmen ", but no such meaning is ascribed by the Angamis, who explain the name as a human patronymic, while the corresponding Sema clan gives an adventitious explanation of an ancestor who was bitten by a pig ; on the other hand the Ao Naga neighbours of these tribes have a dog clan which still claims canine characteristics, e.g., speed of foot and doglike features* ; moreover they taboo the dog as food or rather used to taboo it until recently they found it desirable to break the taboo in order to benefit by the medicinal virtues of dog-flesh.

Another Ao clan again, the Wozakumr—Hornbill people, claim descent from a woman who conceived as a result of a feather dropping in her lap from a hornbill flying overhead, and it is taboo for them to kill a hornbill or even to see a dead one. It may likewise be noted that the Hindu Chasa of Orissa regard the injuring of their clan totem as punished by leprosy, a fate which the Brahman regards as caused by killing a cow.

Into this conception theory of totemism the belief in life-matter seems hardly to enter unless it be perhaps to the extent that the supply of totem soul is limited and is continually passing through death and rebirth from one member of the clan to another. This appears to be the case in Australia but it is not reported of any tribe in India. On the other hand the external soul, which seems to be a development of the life-matter belief, does appear as connected with totemism in India much as it is in parts of Africa. As a possible source of the connection between totemism and the external soul the phenomena of birth may be suggested. The afterbirth is well known to be intimately associated with the idea of the external soul and is regarded in some cases as actually containing it. Thus among the Baganda it is buried under a plantain tree and a woman may conceive if pollinated, as it were, by the dropping on her of a plantain flower.

In the case of the chief, however, the placenta is carefully preserved and brought to him to handle and return to safe keeping on state occasions. Here we are reminded of the placenta standard on the palette of Narmer. No doubt as the abode of the king's vital essence the proximity of such a standard in time of danger would be useful and if the standard be the abode of the external soul we have the explanation both of the association of totems with standards and the apparent paradox of taking into danger a very highly prized emblem the capture of which is regarded by the enemy as of great significance.- One may recall the Fairy Banner of the McLeods which not only brings victory but causes a cow to drop her calf or a pregnant woman to give birth on the sight of it. It may be inferred that its quickening property is due to its being the seat of external soul-matter.t If the placenta be thus regarded as the location of the external soul, a possible origin of totemism at once suggests itself in the possibility of the placenta being devoured by some scavenging animal or bird or being associated with the tree on which it is placed for security or with some plant which springs up on the spot where it is buried. It is necessary of course to postulate a subsequent transfer of the totem from the individual to the exogamous clan d,.scended from him or her, but such an origin would perhaps account for a purely social form of totemism in which there was no sacramental element and no magical food production. It would also account for a soul-transmigration form of totemism.

It is worth while in this ._onnection to draw attention to the case of the plantain tree as deriving Baganda soul-matter from a placenta at its root in Africa

  • In the Nicobars where descent is claimed from a dog and a woman the dress of men is said

to be intended to simulate a doggy appearance, consisting of a fillet round the head with two ends sticking up from the knot on the forehead to resemble dog's ears, while the private parts are concealed in a blue bag with a long red point to it, and the waist-band is arranged to fall down behind in a tail.

t The earliest Roman standards are said to have consisted of a bundle of hay on a pole. Can it have been held that such a bundle of hay would be, like a growth of mistletoe, a convenient hiding place for external soul matter, just as the Rayan leaves the leafy tops of trees unpruned in order to afford a refuge for the spirits of vegetation when clearing the fields ? It might be that the same idea was present in the bandaged pole which on an Egyptian temple represented the god, the hieroglyphic for which resembles a flag though it is described as a hatchet and stated to be in effect a bandaged pole with a loose flap projecting. Strasser (The Mongolian Horde, p. 104) relates that the Tashal Lama of Urga in Mongolia " pressed his standards to the slit throats of his victims, saturating them in their spurting life blood." One is tempted to see in this an attempt to imbue the standards with soul-matter which would no doubt contribute towards their victorious progress. and as being used as the equivalent of a human being in Assam and Oceania.

  • Thus a " plantain tree " is in many parts of the Naga hills an euphemism for a

slave for decapitation. The same equation appears m Micronesia, Fiji, Polynesia, Madagascar and nearer home among the Palaungs of Burma, with whom the tree is also an emblem of fertility, w hile it is frequently a plantain tree which is used in India in the mock marriages sometimes performed for elder children to enable their juniors to be married before them. A close parallel to the Baganda theory of conception from a plantain flower is to be found in India in the Muslim belief that a woman may conceive if the flowers of a rose tree or jasmine which is growing from the tomb of a dead saint should fall upon her. One may also call attention to the existence in the case of the Ho of a clan whose peculiar totem is the bole of a mouse or rat, a totem immediately explicable on the placenta theory when one is informed that the tribe is descended from a person whose placenta at his birth was buried in a rat hole. The same placenta theory perhaps also appears in the Kora story reported by Risley from Bengal to account for the fruit of a certain tree's being taboo to the tribe since their ancestor once accidentally ate a human placenta which had been exposed in a tree of that particular variety. Another origin of totems has been suggested as likely to be found in food restrictions. We should be inclined rather to put it the other way round and regard it as perhaps to be found in peculiarities of diet.

The discovery and search for forms of vegetable food must have held a very important place in early domestic economy. Under any conditions in which food was scarce and its collection uncertain and laborious, as is probably frequently if not normally the case in a preagricultural stage of existence, there must have been a tendency to conceal as long as possible the source of some hitherto unknown supply of food lest that supply be exhausted by other gatherers. Experiment in strange vegetables is dangerous, particularly in the tropics. It is therefore suggested that to the discovery and communication to the kindred and concealment from other clans of new forms of vegetable food must be ascribed the importance of certain wild vegetables in clan ceremonial among the Naga tribes of Assam. The test of whether a clan in one tribe is to be identified or not with a clan in another tribe speaking a totally different language often depends on the vegetable used in certain ceremonies.

If the identical plant is used the clans would be regarded as related and clansmen of one tribe going on a trading expedition into the territory of another will feel secure in a house of a related clan, whereas otherwise they would lie down, if at all, in fear of being awoken from their slumber by the sharp dao of decapitation. It is true that the wild vegetables used in these clan ceremonies are not always regular articles of food, but it is the writer's impression that they are always edible. Here surely is another possible source of ideas leading to the adoption of a vegetable totem by a given clan.

It is not argued that all totems are accounted for directly by any of the ideas suggested above. Pigs' tripe, for instance, will not quite fit, though we might perhaps suppose a fragment to have got left in a pot in which an afterbirth was hung up ; buffalo dung is harder still, unless dung be regarded (vide supra p. 410) as a source of spontaneous life. It is, however, likely from every point of view that totemism in general has received accretions from a number of sources, and that while it may have originally started with the conception theory in ignorance of the fact of paternity, it has been encouraged and perpetuated by the ideas of life-matter, a separable soul, transmigration and probably other connected ideas, and that a number of these have contributed to totemism as still found in India.

Magic, when limited to purely imitative or sympathetic magic, is rather within the domain of science than religion. There is nothing religious at all about the effort of an Ao Naga to influence the rice by planting a root or two in earth put in the hollow-top of a bamboo, and so raised above the rest of the field which is thus induced to grow high ; in the rather inconsiderate Kuki plan of putting a bug into the bundle of the departing guest in order that the rest of the vermin may leave the 'house likewise, or in the custom of giving a Prabhu bride a grind-

  • Cf. also Census of Nigeria, 1931. VI, 7—" It is said that some of the Yoruba eat the

placenta In the Cameroons it is usually buried under a plantain tree and the-fruit iE henceforth taken by the native doctor and later by the child". ,stone to hold which she gives to her husband saying " take the baby ". When however the efficacy of such magic depends not on the practice but on the practitioner, we may suspect that the idea of soul-matter is present and that it is, often at any rate, the superfluity of this material that enables the magician to make his magic successful.

Here again one may perhaps see the reaction of the simple belief that like produces like to an independent belief in the existence of soulmatter. However, that may be, a belief in magic both white and black pervades all the more ignorant classes in India and is frequently responsible for serious crime, nor is it always eliminated by culture and education, as witness the comparatively educated persons frequently victimised by rogues who profess to be able to double currency notes miraculously.

Thus, to give a single instance, in May 1931, a well-to-do merchant of Indore imprudently handed over Rs. 2,800 to one Pandit Sri Krishna who claimed to have a marvellous process of doubling notes. Ignorant villagers are much more easily imposed on, as in the case of a village near Multan in the Punjab which about the same time parted with Rs. 15,000 in cash and ornaments to a Muslim Fakir who' first called down a few rupees from heaven to inspire confidence in his piety and miraculous powers, and then professed to be able to turn silver ornaments into gold or one rupee into three. A belief in magic again, for it can hardly be described as anything else, even if it involve the theory of the impregnation of matter with soul-essence, appears in the practice, reported on good authority in Rangoon, of a director of an international trading corporation who, when ill, has sewn into the seat of his pyjama trousers by his Catholic wife a pious fragment of the holy St. Theresa's petticoat. What the effect on a male Naga would be of wearing a piece of any woman's petticoat, however saintly, we hesitate to set down in print, but presumably Herr Direktor experiences benefit.

Often a belief in witchcraft leads to the murder of the reputed witch. In 1928 in Bihar for instance nine cases of murder were ascribed to witchcraft, and in 1931 in the Yarpur mahalla of Patna a small Lohar girl was murdered in retaliation for the supposed enchantments of her mother, while an " aboriginal " woman suspected of being a witch was killed in Ghatsila district. In Fyzabad in 1927, a man was killed on the advice of a medicine man as being the cause of another's prolonged dysentery, and in Budaun a chamar who was suspected of having bewitched an idiot of good family was pegged out and periodically belaboured while the bewitched one was watched for improvement in his condition. Ultimately, as there was none, the chamar succumbed. In July 1920 a mob in the Nizam's Dominions killed a woman who was believed to have brought cholera on the village, a belief arising from the hysterical statement of a possessed woman into whom had entered the spirit of the goddess who was being worshipped at the time by the village. In November 1930 in Gonda in the United Provinces a wizard was murdered by his own pupil in the belief that he, the wizard, had caused an evil spirit to destroy his pupil's wife and would cause it also to destroy him himself, and as the pupil was one of ten years' standing this instance testifies to the wizard's belief in his own system.

On the other hand the witches themselves likewise commit murders for their own ends and to that extent anyhow justify their persecution. A boy was sacrificed in Bhagalpur in 1928, for the purpose of exorcising evil spirits from a possessed woman, while on the eve of the Dasehra festival of 1930 two sorcerers of Sambalpur, described by the High Court as " men of standing ", sacrificed a boy for some nefarious purpose of their own.

This case however may possibly have been one rather of a homicide of the kind.alluded to above as occasioned by the belief in the need for soul-matter. The use of human sacrifice in order to exorcise spirits is probably unusual, as it is commoner to treat the body of the possessed by more direct methods. Indeed a Hindu girl was beaten to death in Lahore in November 1929, in the attempt to cure her of possession, and this apparently at a shrine frequented by persons in order to experience possession by the deity. In view however of the extent of illiteracy and of the population concerned, the amount of violent crime actually due to a belief in witchcraft appears to be unexpectedly small, though naturally apt to increase with the appearance of calamities or epidemics, which are ascribable to the malevolence of witches, and in Chota Nagpur there are professional witch-doctors called sokha whose business it is to indicate the witch responsible for calamity or epidemic that has occurred. Personal magic, however, is not the only form in which magic appears. Tribal magic, in which the community combines, usually at some festival, in rites or dances intended to secure fertility or prosperity, is a normal feature of tribal religion. Such festivals or rites are usually associated with the agricultural year and may involve sexual licence which is probably intended to have a magical effect on the fertility of the crop and of the community itself, and no better instance of such a festival can be quoted than the holi, which has survived as a Hindu -festival throughout India.

  • It is tempting, if possibly fanciful, to

trace the origin of the widespread belief in the magic effect of coition on the fertility of the soil, of animals and of people in general to a period in human history when the relation between cause and effect in the begetting of children was not yet fully comprehended, but when the two were already seen to have some association, so that what was really the cause of the conception of one particular child was regarded as merely the cause of parturition in general.t Such a stage in the process of deduction from observed facts, if its existence be credible, would account for the common practice of assisting the fertility of the crops by the act of sexual coition. A reference has already been made (v. supra ch. VI. para. 102) to the probable connection between fertility cults and the practice of sacred prostitution. An explanation may here be offered of the peculiar part played by strangers in this cult. Both in the sacred prostitution of Babylon and Byblus it is clear that the dedicated woman gave herself to strangers ; similarly it was commerce with strangers which was so necessary to the fertility of the fields of Kamul and so contributive to the prosperity of the people of Caindu.

Yule mentions the custom as reported of the Hazaras and of other peoples, including even the Nayars (Travels of Marco Polo, I, 212, II, 56). It seems not unlikely that the underlying motive is the acquisition from the stranger of additional life-matter not already inherent in the soil or its inhabitants. The soul-matter of any given place may be regarded as limited in extent and the transfer from one individual to another merely redistributes but does not increase, whereas the reception of soul-material from a stranger is additional to that already in circulation and will naturally therefore increase fertility. This hypothesis likewise offers a possible explanation of the custom mentioned by Gait of the Todas (Census of India, 1911, I, p. 260), who are reported to call in a person from another village to deflower a girl about to attain puberty, who otherwise finds it difficult to marry, and perhaps also of the talikettu ceremony in south India generally.

A possible association of the distribution in India of the brachycephalic Eurasiatic type with the practice of infant marriage has already been suggested (supra, ch. VI, para. 102). The fact that approval of commerce with strangers, which is perhaps associated always with the fertility of the soil, is reported of the Uighars, Hazaras, Chukchis, Koryaks (vide Yule, Travels of Marco Polo, I, p. 212 n., II, 56 n.), and (by a Xth • century Arab traveller) of some Turks, makes it possible that this custom also has Alpine associations. Dancing likewise has probably a magical origin, and it certainly has a magical aspect as when it involves leaping up in the air to encourage the growth of paddy, and Russell has acutely suggested that acrobatic displays have originated in the same idea. Similarly animal dancing, such as that for instance of the Gonds, Bhatras and Parjas of the Central Provinces, probably originates in an attempt to increase or perhaps merely to concentrate by magic the wild animals on which the community partly depends for its food supply. When, however, the spring hunting is considered, it is apparent that the soulmatter cult is again prominent.

The Aheria of the Rajput in western India, the hunting festival of the Halvakki Vakkals in Kanara, the Jur Sital of Bihar,

  • Unless it be the marriage festival annually celebrated in June by the lord of a feudal

manor in Normandy who after participating in the bridal festivities of his serfs picked out the couples who appeared to him to be the most amorous, and caused them to consummate their marriages in the boughs of trees or in the waters of the local river. Dulaure speaks of this practice as one of tyrannical jesting, but the interpretation here assumed is perhaps more likely. Fertility rites survived in Europe in spite of the Church ;—" le femmes prostituees ...... qui suivaient la Cour ...... etaient terms, tart que le moi de mai durait, de faire le lit du roi des ribauds" (Dulaure), and sometimes even under its auspices as at Isernia.

I have heard a Sema chief of great tribal authority and experience, Inato of Lumitsami, affirm that it was ridiculous to suppose that pregnancy would result from coition on one occasion only, which indicates that even now the relation between cause and effect in this particular is not completely grasped in that tribe the spring hunt of the Chota Nagpur tribes, and of the Bhatras, Gonds and Gadabas of the Central Provinces and Madras, the Sekrengi hunt of the Angami Nagas and the corresponding festivals of other Assam tribes are all designed to secure prosperity through the coming year, and inasmuch as all manner of living things are destroyed they are probably intended (the Sekrengi certainly is) to collect a supply of life-essence and are to be regarded in much the same light as the spring man-hunt of the VA of Burma.

It would be impossible here to go into all the aspects of the tribal religion in India but enough has perhaps been said to show that the beliefs held are not mere vague imaginings of superstitious and untaught minds, " amorphous as they were described in the Census report of 1911, but the debris of a real religious system, a definite philosophy, to the one time widespread prevalence of which the manifold survivals in Hinduism testify, linking together geographically the austroasiatic and australoid cultures of the forest-clad hills where the isolated remains of the original religion still hold out in an unassimilated form. It is probably this philosophy of life-essence which accounts for the fact that in so many parts of the world, e.g. in India and southern and eastern Europe, Greece and Italy in particular, the real religion of the people is hagiolatry.

It is less the orthodox gods of the religion who are worshipped than shrines and holy places, generally tombs particularly associated with some deceased saint or hero likely to have been rich in soul-matter, the benefit of which may be obtained at the grave, originally no doubt in the form of a material emanation. Be that as it may, showing traces in Europe on the one hand and stretching down into Australasia on the other, this creed must have been in its time a great religion, not so great perhaps in altruism, but great in extent and in constituting a very definite rung in that poor ladder up which the race still tries to climb in its effort to ascertain the unknowable, to scale the ramparts of infinity.

See also

Census India 1931: Introduction

Census India 1931: Caste, Tribe, And Race

Census India 1931: Religion

Sex Ratio: Census India 1931

Census India 1931: Distribution And Movement of Population

Census India 1931: The Population Problem in Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Census India 1931: The Population Problem in Assam

Census India 1931: The Population Problem in Baluchistan

Census India 1931: The Population Problem in Baroda

Census India 1931: The Population Problem in Bengal

Census India 1931: The Population Problem in Bihar and Orissa

Census India 1931: The Population Problem in Bombay

Census India 1931: The Population Problem in Burma

Census India 1931: The Population Problem in Central Provinces

Census India 1931: The Population Problem in Coorg

Census India 1931: The Population Problem in Delhi

Census India 1931: The Population Problem in Gwalior

Census India 1931: The Population Problem in Jammu and Kashmir

Census India 1931: The Population Problem in Madras

Census India 1931: The Population Problem in North-West Frontier Province

Census India 1931: The Population Problem in Punjab

Census India 1931: The Population Problem in United Provinces of Agra and Oudh

Census India 1931: The Population Problem, The Central India Agency

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