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have given up the world altogether; it is the preeminence of social extinction. Then, a step lower down, stands the soldier. His is also by definition a sacrificial life. That in point of fact it has been often the reverse of sacrificial is indisputable; it has been frequently the most oppressive of all forces. Yet this is contrary to its ideal. The ideal of the soldier is that of a man who has lost his personality in the life of his country, who has given up his individual desires for a national motive, and who has become animated by one spirit which has displaced every private will—the spirit of patriotism. Therefore he stands in the second rank amongst the castes of India, yielding only to the priest in the order of his pre-eminence. Yet with him, as with the priest, the order of pre-eminence is a sacrificial order. He stands at the top of the ladder because he has less personality than those below, and he owes his superiority to the belief that he has made a more full surrender of his individual independence, · We take a step further down still, and we come to the third caste—that of the agriculturist or man of commerce. He is, from an Indian point of view, decidedly below either the priest or the soldier. His profession is by nature less sacrificial; it does not of necessity involve the giving up of himself for others. It is possible in such a life as his to make his own interest the sole motive of his living. Nevertheless, he does not stand at the foot of the ladder. With all his temptations to selfishness, he may still be unselfish. He may realise the fact that the life of commerce is, after all, not for the individual but for the community—that it is based upon the very idea of an interchange of wants, whereby a man gives to his brother what his brother needs, in return for receiving what he himself requires. In the very practice of agriculture he may recognise the symbol of a sacrificial life, in which the seed comes to the surface only because it has been buried, and he may be stimulated by that symbol to go and do likewise. Therefore it is that even for him there is reserved a place higher than the lowest—a place which touches, indeed, the borders of the worldly, but which yet lies interniediate between the secular and the sacred. He is a step below the heavens, yet a step above the earth.
The lowest place is reserved for the fourth orderthat of the slave. The serf occupies in the religion of India the most subordinate position in sacred as well as in secular things. Yet I am by no means of opinion that he has been assigned this subordinate position in religion by reason of his lowly condition of life. It is not because he is a slave that he holds the lowest place amongst the privileges of the worshipper, but because, being a slave, he has not the opportunity of yielding up a voluntary sacrifice. It is not the fact of his dependence that places him on that step of the religious ladder which is nearest to the ground. Dependence, in the view of the Brahman, so far from being a thing to be despised, is a thing to be sought and venerated. The goal of all life, the ultimate aiin of all existence, is that the individual slould surrender himself to the sway of the Universal Will—that man should lose himself in God. But the difference between the surrender of the devotee to God and the surrender of the slave to his earthly master, is that in the one case the act is voluntary, in the other obligatory. The slave gives up his life to his master because he is compelled to do so; he is not under grace but under the law. It is this which puts him, in the view of the Brahman, lower than the priest, lower than the soldier, lower even than the merchant. He is not his own master. He is in the strictest sense a mere individual unit, impelled to act from motives of private interest. He is dominated every moment by the sense of fear. His action never passes beyond himself, never contemplates its effect on humanity. It is done purely as a source of self-preservation, and in the preserva-' tion of his individual self its purpose ends. Therefore to this fourth order of the body politic there is assigned the lowest place on the social ladder. He stands at the very base because his life does not transcend the earth, and his aspirations do not reach above the ground. He is a child of the soil, a creature of the dust, a denizen of the day and hour; and therefore there is given to him a place on a level with the dust and an order commensurate with the hour.1 - Such is, in my view, the mental origin of the idea of caste as exhibited in India. It is only as an origin that I propose it. It is certainly no longer the Indian motive for its own social order; that motive has long since become worldly. But originally it was not worldly. In that period of transition in which -the Indian mind woke up from its dream that this earth was an elysium, it passed firmly and instantaneously to the opposite extreme. It came to regard this world not as a paradise but as a hindrance to paradise—as an illusion, a dream, a clog on the aspirations of the spirit. It was at this period of worldly pessimism that the idea of casto arose, and surely its rise must be interpreted in accordance with the age which produced it. Is it probable, is it conceivable, that at the very moment in which India proclaimed the despair of earthly life, she should have inaugurated a system intended to propagate earthly vanities? Is it likely that caste could have meant to her the superiority of one man to another at a time when she had reached a conviction of the nothingness of all human things? Is it not far more probable that the idea of caste was itself an expression of this sense of human nothingness, and that the degrees by which she regulated the ladder of earthly greatness were degrees in the power to sacrifice and superiorities in the strength of self-surrender ?
1 The best account of these four orders of caste will be found in the first volume of Dr John Muir's 'Original Sanskrit Texts on the Origin and Progress of the Religion and Institutions of India, col. lected, translated into English, and illustrated by Notes.'