Page:History of India Vol 1.djvu/182

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rigines, who formed the Sudra caste, were alone debarred from the heritage of the Aryans.

This is the cardinal distinction between the ancient caste-system and the caste-system of the present age. Caste reserved some privileges for priests, and some privileges for warriors, in ancient times; but never divided and disunited the Aryan people. Priests and warriors and citizens, though following their hereditary professions from generation to generation, felt that they were one nation and one race, received the same religious instructions, attended the same schools of learning, possessed the same literature and traditions, ate and drank together, intermarried and intermixed in all respects, and were proud to call themselves the Aryan race.

There are numerous passages in the Brahmana literature which show that the distinctions between the castes were by no means so rigid in the early times as at a later period. A remarkable passage, for instance, occurs in the Aitareya Brahmana. When a Kshatriya eats at a sacrifice the portion assigned for Brahmans, his progeny has the characteristics of a Brahman, "ready to take gifts, thirsty after drinking Soma, hungry of eating food, and ready to roam about everywhere according to pleasure." And "in the second or third generation he is capable of entering completely into Brahmanship." When he eats the share of Vaisyas, his "offspring will be born with the characteristic of Vaisyas, paying taxes to another king"; "and in the second or third degree they are capable of entering