Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 33.djvu/135

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I, 271.
105
ORDEAL BY BALANCE.

administered in the forenoon, the person (to be tested) having fasted for a day and a night, taken a bath, and wearing his wet dress.

269. Excepting cases of high treason, an ordeal shall not be administered, unless the plaintiff comes forward and declares himself ready to undergo punishment in case of his being defeated.

270. The king may inflict ordeals on his own servants, even without the one party declaring himself ready to undergo punishment. On the other hand, in the case of other persons accused of a crime, (he should administer ordeals) according to law (only).

* 271. After having well fastened the two scales by the hooks of the beam, he should place the man in the one scale and a stone in the other.


The essential features of the proceedings described in pars. 271-284 may be summarized as follows; 1. The person to be tested by this ordeal should be placed in the one scale, and a basket filled with stones and sand placed in the other scale, as an equivalent. 2. The basket having been made precisely equal in weight to the man with the help of goldsmiths and other persons skilled in the practice of weighing, the position of the beam should be marked on each of the two arches. 3. After that, the man should be allowed to descend from the scale. The judge should admonish him, and he should get into the scale again, after a bill recounting the charge raised against him has been fastened on his head. 4. A Brahman should address the balance with prayers. 5. The man having descended once more from the scale, the result of the second weighing should be compared with the result of the first weighing. If he has risen, i.e. if he has proved lighter than the first time, he shall be acquitted ; if the scale has gone down, or if it has remained in the same place as before, he must be pronounced guilty. 6. If any part of the balance has broken during the proceeding, he has to be acquitted.

271. The term 'a stone' seems to denote an equivalent here and in the next paragraph. The sequel shows that the equivalent consists of a basket filled with stones and other objects.