Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/70

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66 THE ARYANS IN INDIA. interesting from a scientific point of view. A great revival of Indian music has been brought about by patriotic native gentlemen in our own days, and its strains give delight to millions of our Indian fellow-subjects. Brahman Law. — The Brahmans made law a part of their religion. Their earliest legal works were the Household Maxims {Grihyd SUlras), some of them perhaps as early as 500 B.C. The customs of the Brahmans in Northern India were collected into the Code of Manu, composed in its present final form between 100 and 500 a.d. Another famous compilation, known as the Code of Yajnavalkya, was drawn up later; apparently in the sixth or seventh century a.d. These codes, and the com- mentaries written upon them, still rule the family life of the Hindus. They set forth the law in three branches, — namely, (1) domestic and civil rights and duties; (2) the administration of justice ; (3) religious purifications and penance. They con- tain many rules about marriage, inheritance, and food. They keep the castes apart, by forbidding them to intermarry or to eat together. They were accepted as almost divine laws by the Hindus; and the spread of these codes was the work of the Brahmans as the civilizers of India. But they really record only the customs of the Brahman kingdoms in the north, and do not truly apply to all the Indian races. The greatest Hindu lawgivers agree that the usages of each different country in India are to be respected ; and in this way they make allowance for the laws or customs of the non-Aryan tribes. Thus among the Brahmans it would be disgraceful for a woman to have two husbands. But among the Nairs of Southern India and other non- Aryan races it is the custom ; therefore it is legal for such races, and all the laws of inheritance among these peoples are regulated accordingly. Brahman Poetry. — The Brahmans were not merely the composers and keepers of the sacred books, the philosophers, the men of science, and the law-makers of the Hindu people — they were also its poets. They did not write history; but they told the ancient wars and the lives of the Aryan heroes in epic poems. The two most famous of these are the Mahabharata, or chronicles of the Delhi kings, and the