Page:The history of caste in India.pdf/177

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DISCRIMINATION ON ACCOUNT OF VARNA.

157

this evidence serves to show that the Brahmanas were asserting the principle again and again, but it by itself is insufficient to convince us that it was actually observed in practice when cases may have been decided. It is plain enough that the persons of low caste who committed offenses against the persons of higher castes must have been severely dealt with, but the punishment could by no means be so severe as these works give. The guilty persons were probably told how grave an offense they had committed and how severely they deserved to be dealt with according to the rules of dharma, The spirit of the law was probably observed but never the letter.

Whatever criticism is made on the rules laid down by our author regarding assault, the same may be made regarding the rules on defamation.

In cases of defamation the higher the varna of the party injured the greater was the offense; and the lower the varna of the offender the greater was the punishment. Our text says:

"A Kshatriya having defamed a Brāhmana, shall be fined one hundred (panas); a Vaishya, one hundred and fifty or two hundred; a Shūdra shall suffer corporal punishment.

"A Brāhmana shall be fined fifty (panas) for defaming a Kshatriya; in (the case of defaming) a Vaishya the fine shall be twenty-five (panas); in the case of) a Shūdra, twelve."

"For offenses of twice-born men against those of equal varna, (the fine shall be) also twelve."

"A once-born man (Shüdra) who insults a twice-born