Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/99

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


THE ARYAN CIVILIZATION OF INDIA. 95 across the plains of Central Asia with their cattle, and whose one talent w^is for war. The Aryan Work of Civilization.— The Aryans supplied, therefore, the civilizing power in India. One of their divisions or castes, the Vaisyas, brought the soil under the plough ; another caste, the Kshattriyas, conquered the rude non-Aryan peoples ; their third caste, the Brdhmans, created a religion and a literature. The early Br&hman religion made no account of the lower races ; but, as we have seen, about 500 b. c. a wider creed, called the Buddhist, was based upon it. This new faith did much to bring the early non- Aryan tribes under the influence of the higher Aryan race, and it was accepted by the later Scythian hordes who came into India from 126 B.C. to 400 a.d. Buddhism was therefore the first great bond of union among the Indian races. It did something to combine the non-Aryans, the Aryans, and the Scythians into a people with similar customs and a common faith. But it was driven out of India before it finished its work. The Brahmans. — The work was continued by the Brahmans. This ancient caste, which had held a high place even during the triumph of the Buddhist religion, became all-powerful upon the decay of that faith. The Chinese Pilgrim to India in 640 a.d. relates how the Brahmans, or, as he calls them, the heretics, were again establishing their power. The Buddhist monasteries had, even at that time, a struggle to hold their own against the Brahman temples. During the next two centuries the Brahmans gradually got the upper hand. The conflict between the two religions brought forth a great line of Br&hman apostles, some of whose lives are almost as beautiful as that of Buddha himself. The first of these, Kumarila, a holy Br&hman of Behar, began his preaching in the eighth century a.d. He taught the old Vedic doctrine of a personal Creator and God. The Buddhists had no personal God. According to a later legend, Kum&rila not only preached against the Buddhists, but persuaded a king of Southern India to per- secute them. This prince, it is said, ' commanded his servants to put to death the old men and the young children of the Buddhists, from the southernmost point of India to the Snowy