The People of India


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In the Institutes of Manu . . . we read how the Brahman is by right the lord of the whole creation, since through his mouth the gods continually consume the sacrificial viands and the manes receive the offerings made for the benefit of the dead. Other mortals subsist through his benevolence; he can create new worlds and new guardians of the world, and can deprive the gods of their divine station. Though Brahmans employ themselves in all sorts of mean occupations, they must be honored in every way; for each of them is a very great deity. To slay a Brahman is a mortal sin; whoever threatens him with physical violence will wander for a hundred years in hell; the man who seizes his property will feed in another world on the leavings of vultures. Even the cardinal duty of veracity is dispensed with in the interest of the Brahman. In the chapter on witnesses the obligation to tell the truth is strongly insisted on and is enforced by the most terrible penalties. "Naked and shorn, tormented with hunger and thirst and deprived of sight, shall the man who gives false witness go with a potsherd to beg food at the door of his enemy." Yet it is also written: "No crime, causing loss of caste, is committed by swearing falsely to women the objects of one’s desire, at marriages, for the sake of fodder for a cow, or of fuel, and in order to show favor to a Brahman."2

When a Brahman received a gift from another Brahman he had to acknowledge it in a loud voice; from a Rajanya or Kshatriya, in a gentle voice; from a Vaishya, in a whisper; and from a Sudra, in his own mind. To a Brahman he commenced his thanks with the sacred syllable om; to a king he gave thanks without the sacred om; to a Vaishya he whispered his thanks; to a Sudra he said nothing, but thought in his own mind, svasti, or "This is good."1

2Risley, H.H.n/an/an/an/a, , 151–152 (London: W. Thacker & Company; Calcutta: Thacker, Spink and Company. By permission).

1 Russell, R. V., The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India, 1: 20 (The Macmillan Company. By permission).


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Chicago: "The People of India," The People of India in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed July 21, 2024,

MLA: . "The People of India." The People of India, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 21 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: , 'The People of India' in The People of India. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 21 July 2024, from