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Sudra bowing down to the proud Brahmin whom in his heart he hates as covetous and licentious; and to incur a Brahmin's curse is regarded as one of the greatest of calamities.
The two intermediate castes have now almost ceased to exist-every Hindoo is either a Brahmin or a Sudra. But, through intermarriage a number of mixed castes have arisen ; so that in India now ever trade forms a separate caste. The barber, the smith, the carpenter, the gardener, the washerman, the weaver, and so forth-each trade form a caste of its own. We are to regard the hundred and fifty millions of Hindoos, therefore, as divided into a very large number of separate strata, as it were : the members of one trade, or caste, mingling to a certain extent with those of another caste, but their intercourse being hindered at every step by certain stereotyped regulations. These regulations may be summed up in the three following laws:-A man must follow the trade of his caste; he must eat only with men of his own caste; he must marry only in his caste.
The first rule is, that a man must follow the trade of his caste : : gardener's son must be a gardener, a potter's son must be a potter, a weaver's son must be a weaver. This, of course, as far as it is carried out, tends to produce great social stagnation. Whatever genius of natural aptitude a lad may have, he must do what his father did, and be what his father was. But at the present time this rule is not so stringently enforced as it used to be. The contact with English civilization has taught the people in large towns, and even in the country, a little sense, and has opened up to the people posts emolument which eighty years ago were not thought of
. In hundreds of cases a low-caste Sudra boy has by diligence ability risen to a respectable position as a clerk or assistant magis trate with £100 or £200 a year; while his neighbour, the "twice born” Brahmin, has to trudge on through life in the old rut on ten shillings a month. All this is tending rapidly to break up the caste system ; and so many other elements combine to produce the same effect, that, as the writer's pundit once said in conversation, " As far as the rules of the shasters (sacred books] in reference to caste are concerned, there is not a single Brahmin all over India, that has not broken caste.” The fact is, that caste is, in some respects, most rigid in others, lax. Where the worldly interests of the people advanced, as by the profession of Christianity, caste is almost omni potent; people do not care to become Christians, and therefore the do not relax the rule that the profession of Christianity implies the loss
of caste with all its terrible consequences. But, where caste in terferes with worldly prosperity or comfort, it is in many points quiet dispensed with. Hence people of all classes strive to rise above the occupation and social position of their caste; everybody travels by railway, the Brahmin and Sudra jostling one another in the crowded third-class carriage. In this and other ways first one bond of caste is broken and then another; until at length, some years hence, the people will perhaps suddenly awake to the fact that there is nothing
it left, and this mighty instrument of Satan will bọ numbered with e superstitions of the past. The second rule is, that people shall eat only with those of their own ste. The evil effect of this rule is to foster a spirit of pride in the gher castes, and of servility in the lower, and of selfish indifference fall
. Few things tend to bind men together in friendship so much the social meal; and this common bond is unknown except between len of the same caste. In India there is hardly any brotherhood of ian—there is only the brotherhood of caste. A stranger comes into yillage-he falls down exhausted with hunger-no one will give him grain of rice, for fear he is not of their caste. A traveller parched ith thirst in the burning sun, begs a native for a drink of water; is request is refused, because he does not belong to the same caste.
The third rule of caste relates to marriage. Every man must marry a woman, or 'rather a child, of his own caste. Personal affection in India has nothing whatever to do with marriage. There are professional match-makers, whose business it is to arrange matrimonial alliances between lads of fifteen or sixteen, and girls of seven or eight, who have never seen one another. The evil result of such a system may be easily conceived. The Christian preacher, in seeking to produce conviction of sin, may safely charge almost any assembly of Hindoos in Bengal with breaches of the seventh commandment; and hardly a man that hears him will yenture to deny the charge.
Such, very briefly stated, is caste. Now what shall be the bearing of the Christian missionary towards it? It is partly religious and partly social. Shall a man be required to give up caste on becoming a Christian ? or, shall it be treated as a social evil, just as slavery was by the apostles, and left to die out by the gradual pervading influence of Christianity? The first missionaries to India beld the latter view. For more than a century caste was tolerated in the Churches of South
India, where missionaries first laboured, and this must be taken into consideration when estimating the success of early missionary labour in that part of the country. Even such a man as Schwartz found caste existing in the native Church, and was unable to eradicate it. It was hoped that in course of time Christian teaching and example would so modify the system as to destroy its objectionable features
. Instead of that, as a matter of fact, the toleration of caste was found to encourage the prejudice
it was intended to conciliate. About forty years ago, the late Bishop Wilson of Calcutta, after a thorough examination on the spot of the results of this toleration, came to the conclusion that it must be given up" altogether, at once, and for ever." And since that time caste has not been tolerated in most of the Churches of Southern India. In Northern India caste has never been tolerated in the Christian Church. Those wonderful men of Serampore, as in other matters, so in this, showed the wisdom which God had given them. From the Fery first they said that every one who wished to confess the Lord Jesus by baptism must break caste,
Now this caste system is one of the greatest obstacles to the spread of the truth in India ; and it alone would suffice to make India one of the most difficult fields of evangelistic labour on the face of the earth, Its evil effect is mainly threefold.
In the first place, it makes the profession of Christianity such i terrible ordeal, that many sincere believers in Christ, even to the last shrink from the open avowal of Him by baptism. When the caste system was in full vigour eighty years ago, at the time when Dr. Carey first landed in India, to break caste was indeed a terrible trial of faith. It implied all that to a Roman Catholic is involved in the word "excommunication.” The convert came under the curse of the Brahmins, and it must have required a large amount of Divine courage for a Hindoo to face that. It involved the loss of all earthly things ; the man who had lost caste was driven from his home and his village. If an agricultural labourer, he was persecuted in every way possible under British law. If an artisan, a carpenter, a barber, a shopkeeper
, nobody would employ him or buy from him. If possessed of property, the law itself took it away from him ; and his relations and friends
, father, mother, brother, sister, wife, children, drove him away, hated him, cursed him, and only regretted that English law prevented their killing him. Or, if his family did join him, the convert found it extremely difficult to get any one to do anything for him, or to get employment for his sons; or, what to a Hindoo would seem as great a calamity as any, to obtain husbands for his daughters. Such were the consequences of confessing Christ at first; and such, with some modification, owing to the relaxing of the bonds of caste and the growing spirit of friendliness entertained by the natives towards Christians, has been the consequence to the present day. It may easily be conceived what an enormous obstacle at the very outset of the Chris, tian life was presented, and is still presented, by the necessity of breaking castē. Nor does the evil effect end here. When the con. vert thus lost everything on becoming a Christian, his European fellow-Christian could not leave him to starve, but was forced to help him, and thus the native Christians gradually came to expect help from and to depend upon the missionaries ; and in this way á spirit of dependence has characterized the native Church from the first. The great problem now claiming the attention of all missionary Societies is How to make the native Church independent and self-supporting? And it is a problem of which it is extremely difficult to find the right solution, so as not to “ quench the smoking flax" in the weak native Christian community.
The second way in which caste hinders the spread of the gospel is this: it prevents the exercise of home influence by the converts on their unconverted relations. In other lands, when a man is led to Christ, he will live at home, and his Christian spirit and holy life will often win those whom he loves to the Saviour. Þerhaps the gospel spreads as much by this means as by the direct preaching of it, more; but this home influence is, in almost all cases, necessarily want
ig in India. When a man is converted, except in very rare cases, he innot live at home. If he is married, perhaps his wife and children hill come and live with him,—and perhaps not; but certainly no other elatives will live with him ; most likely, they will not speak to him or lave anything to do with such a wretch as they deem him, who had brought such reproach upon their family and disgraced them all. When Matthew was converted, he made a feast to his brother-publicans, and invited Jesus to come and speak to them. Christian people n England and elsewhere often invite the outcast and degraded to a riendly tea, and then preach the gospel to them ; but nothing of the ort can be done in India because of the rules of caste.
Caste hinders the progress of the gospel in India in yet another way, -as it prevents the home influence of the converts, so it restricts the Christian preacher, whether European or native, in his endeavours to draw close to the people in order to win them to Christ. He cannot drop in and have a friendly meal with a native, or invite him to come in like manner to his own house. The Hindoo is always watchful lest in some way the preacher should pollute him ; and the preacher himself has to be careful lest he should unwittingly do something which would break the man's caste. Hence caste very much hinders that close and free communion of heart with heart which is so important for the successful preaching of the gospel. Still, this caste system, with all its evils, has one good effect; the ordeal involved in the loss of caste prevents the native Church from being deluged with hypocrites ; and this strong tendency of the Hindoos to go together and act as others do, will hereafter, if we do our duty in preaching the gospel to them, cause the people who now in a mass reject Christianity
, afterwards in a mass to profess it. The sun may shine day by day upon the mountain-snows, and but little effect is produced; until
as it were in a moment, the avalanche is loosened, and carries everything before it. So Christian influence is brought to bear upon Hindooism'; and it seems as if but little in the way of conversion is being done ; but let that influence be more and more fully exerted,
some day we, or our descendants, will be amazed to hear of thousands, it may be millions, all at once professing their faith in Jesus
" THAT YE LOVE ONE ANOTHER." It was the last Wednesday in De- agreeable, for her face was flushed, cember, and to-morrow would be and in her eyes was a look at once
baffled and defiant. It was a long It was late in the afternoon when walk to the humble street whither her Emily Morris descended the steps
way led; and, though she walked fast, of a handsome house in the fashion impelled by her restless mood of able part of the town of —-, and mind and by the cold, it was nearly turned homeward. Evidently, her
dark when she reached home. errand, or its result, bad not been
“Home” to Emily meant two small
rooms, which she and her brother After Emily's small duties we Jack hired in the plain but comfort- performed, the clock struck six. able house that had been indeed a whole hour," she sighed, as, wh home as long as their parents lived. | she had curled herself up in the b There were lights in the part of the to keep warm, with the candle a: house occupied by another family: matches on the chair beside her, s but Emily's windows were dark, and deliberately blew the light out, lea she sighed as she went in and en ing herself in the dark as well tered her lonely sitting-room. It | the cold. This was the last cand seemed colder than out-of-doors, for and Jack must have the good of tha there was no fire; and darker, until Emily had groped to the cupboard Emily thought of the fire in th and lighted a candle.
other part of the house, but th The light showed a room dismal family were new-comers, and it w in its emptiness, although in per easier to endure hardship and lon fect order. The walls were neatly liness than to take favours fro papered, but a worn carpet covered coarse and noisy strangers. Th only the centre of the floor. An part of the town had changed ar iron-bedstead, a table and two chairs,
degenerated during the last fe and a stove, composed its entire fur. years, so that not one of the Mo niture, with the exception of a clock, rises' old friends remained in tl three or four photographs, and a neighbourhood. The brother si few books on the mantel. One by sister were literally alone in til one all the other articles of furniture world, and it was well that they that had escaped the general auction found such comfort as they did is that followed Mr. Morris's death had each other. . Emily's love and ad gone to meet contingencies caused miration for honest industrious Jac by illness, and by failure of work for were unbounded; and he no don Jack at the shop and for Emily at appreciated the rare blessing he he the needle.
in such a sister. But he inherite Emily went to the fuel-box, and,
his father's almost taciturn di after noting its scanty contents, laid position; while, with her mother wood in the stove ready to light; but loving nature, Emily had also by did not light it.
reserve, which made it easier “ We can't have a fire long to her to do than to speak, easier 1 night,” she said to herself; and give than to seek to win. W Jack shall have the good of it all.”
all the splendidness that she attr Without taking off her shawl or buted to Jack, he failed to give he hood, Emily proceeded to draw the something which she craved; ofte! table near the stove, and to set it for hardly understanding herself the two, with as much care as though choking feeling that came when the patched cloth were damask and left her to her solitary day wit the earthenware fine porcelain. scarce a good-bye, or returned There was no butter to set off the
evening silent and grave. Still, rather stale-looking loaf, and the few was “always good” to her, as s! slices of cold meat seemed a meagre | said to herself again and again. supply for two, though they made à Emily's thoughts were not cheeri sad difference in the small joint from ones that evening; and, after thim which they were cut,
ing for a while, she began to cry. "That's a pretty Christmas dinner, “Now stop," she said to hersel Imust say," was Emily's mental com- “what's the use ? you'll just me ment as she replaced the meat in the your nose red, and trouble Jag cupboard, and shut the door not very when he comes. You may as gently. “ Poor Jack, it is a shame!” | sing."