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I.—Brdhmans and the Aborigines of India*.
My Dear Friend,
Some time ago I hinted to you that it was my impression that the brahmans of India originally emigrated from Egypt, since which time they have converted the Hindus to their faith. As it is a day of canvassing new subjects, it may perhaps not be uninteresting to my friends to give them some of the reasons upon which I ground the opinion.
A point like this can only be proved by direct history or by some points of resemblance in the characters of the people; but as all Hindu history is such a mixture of inconsistency, I shall confine myself to the latter method, which to my mind affords evidence amounting almost to certainty.
1st. By referring to Gen. xliii. 32, you will perceive that the ancient Egyptians had something of that singular custom called caste, which is so peculiarly distinctive of the inhabitants of India, the rules of which are defined and enforced by the brahmanical priesthood. It appears from this passage that the Egyptians considered it an abomination to eat bread with the Hebrews, and that this prejudice was carried so far that even a separate table was set for Joseph, though at that time lord of the land. The reason why they could not eat with Joseph, it is clear, was because he was a Hebrew, and not, as some might suppose, because the prince could not condescend to eat with the common people, for according to historians every Egyptian was considered of noble birth, and might
* We have been politely favored with thin letter designed for a friend in America. The account of the Santals referred to by the writer appeared in a former number of the Observer.—Ed.
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on certain occasions sit at the table of the king. Now it is a singular fact that amongst the Hindus, elevation in rank can have no effect to elevate a man's caste. If a low caste man is exalted to a throne, his own brahman domestics will still refuse to eat at his table. It cannot be presumed that at that early age the Egyptians had that completely regulated system of caste which now exists in Hindustan, but the fact that they excluded foreigners from their tables, and considered shepherds such an abomination that the Israelites, who were of that occupation, were obliged to dwell in the land of Goshen, indicates that they had amongst them the germ from which caste has sprung.
2nd. The Egyptians believed in three principles that accomplished the work of creation and pervade all nature. These three principles were deified under the names of Osiris, Isis and Typhon. The first was supposed to be that principle of intelligence which gives form to matter, the second matter, and the third the imperfect state of matter. Now this is the very doctrine of the Hindu Vedas, and in several Hindu shastras it is represented by the mystical word >§. The dot above this word ong is said to have sprung from the Divine Light, and is the symbol of the first male, and the half circle below, the symbol of the first female energies. From these two sprang the letter which has three points, ( 5S ) and is said to be symbolical of all that exists in this world, and hence every thing .should be reckoned by threes. Thus spirit, matter and corruptibility; the father, the seed, and the mother; the God, the teacher, and the disciple; the true attribute, the worldly and the wicked. These symbolical representations are also deified into the forms of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, which images are said so exactly to resemble some of the ancient Egyptian images, that a company of Hindu soldiers who were not long since conducted through that country, recognized in them the images of their own deities, and fell down and worshipped them.
3rd. Another argument may be drawn from the peculiar resemblance that the brahmans bear to the Egyptian priests. Instead of directly reproving the king, the Egyptian priest was in the habit of proclaiming aloud the excellencies of a virtuous prince, that by these means be might he reminded of his duty and not offended by the sharpness of rebuke. Now nothing is more common when a Hindu Raja travels through the country thaii to see several brahman attendants running by his side proclaiming the glories of a good ruler. But the Indian brahmans bear a more striking resemblance to the Egyptian priests in the secret doctrines, which were thought by the Egyptians to be more excellent than the common doctrines which were taught to the ignorant part of the community. The same kinds of doctrines are taught by the bráhmans of India, and it is a fundamental principle in their creed that there are two kinds of religion, one for the wise man, and the other for the fool. In the Yujar Veda, Yama says to his disciple, “Knowledge of God which leads to absorption is one thing, and rites which have fruition for their object, another; each of these producing different consequences, holds out to man inducements to follow it. The man who of these two chooses knowledge is blessed, and he who for the sake of rewards, practises rites is excluded from the enjoyment of eternal beatitude,” (Rámmohan Ráy’s translation of the Vedas.) From Gen. xlvii. 22 and 26, it appears that the priests of Egypt had portions of land assigned to them by the king, and so very sacred were they deemed to be, that Joseph in the time of the famine could not purchase them with the rest of the land of Egypt. How much resembling these lands are those which have been given to the brāhmans by the princes of India for religious purposes, and exempted from all taxation | These lands are well known throughout the country by the name Brahmatwar, &c. The British Government, much to the dissatisfaction of these usurpers, have of late wisely commenced resuming such as have been claimed, but to which no title can be proved, and it is to be hoped they will soon put an end to many of these unjust claims and establish greater equality amongst their Indian subjects. It is only to be lamented that they do not resume the whole, for if the country is their own, why should the land of one man be exempted from taxation any more than that of another 4th. There is a striking resemblance between the Egyptian objects of worship and those used in this country. Moses alleged it as the reason why the Israelites could not sacrifice to their God in Egypt, that by so doing they must sacrifice the abominations of the Egyptians before their eyes. It is well known that those beasts which the Egyptians worshipped, such as oxen, cows and calves, were sacrificed by the children of Israel; therefore, in slaying before their eyes, such animals as were held most sacred by the Egyptians they must have incurred their displeasure. Now it is well known how sacred the cow is held throughout India, and in no way could Europeans and Musalmáns so successfully sacrifice the abominations of the bráhmans as by eating the flesh of that animal. The crocodile was another object of Egyptian worship. These huge animals were fed and ornamented by the priests
and regarded with profound veneration. This very custom exists in many parts of India, and in fact all Hindus who regard the religion of brabmanism pay the crocodile divine honours. Besides the worship of those animals, it is stated by travellers that the images of the Hindus bear a striking resemblance to those still extant in Egypt.
5th. The doctrine of transmigration, which formed a part of the Egyptian theology, and which accounts for their embalming the dead, as they held that the spirit did uot seek another abode till the former had become corrupted, is also most strenuously maintained by the brahmanical priesthood. "Now birth, and now death" is a most favourite verse we often hear them repeat from their shastras, which signifies that there is a constant change from one body to another. This change they believe will continue till one lias through voluntary suffering secured sufficient merit to entitle him to absorption into the Deity. It is a question if ever any other two nations so much resembled each other in the manner of teaching this doctrine as the Egyptians and Hindus.
6th. Again, Egypt in the book of Psalms is called the land of Ham who was the son of Noah, and whose son Mizraim is supposed to have been the first who inhabited that country after the flood, and hence in the sacred writings it is generally called Mizraim. Now Mizraim or Misara is the name by which this country is known throughout India, and it is a circumstance that in no small degree favours our argument, that this is one of the most common surnames amongst brahmans in every part of India. Bhagaban Misara is the name of one of our converts. When asked to give the signification of the name, they usually say they know no more about it than that it is a name applied to the whole family, and which they inherited from their fathers. Is it not indeed an interesting fact that at this day so many of these Indian priests bear the very name of Noah's grandson Mizraim?
7th. There is still a tradition amongst the brahmans that they came from a foreign country and taught the people of India religion, and some say that that foreign country was Egypt. My native brother has told me that he was taught by his father that he originated from Egypt, from which country he received the name of Misara. Now if this idea of the brahmans be correct, it follows that as long as they have no interest in Christ, in whom all the nations of the earth are blessed, they are under that curse pronounced by Noah: '.' Cursed be Canaan*, a servant of servants shall he be unto
* Mr. Noyes, like many others, seems to forget that the curse was pronounced, not upon Ham but on Canaan.—Eb.
his brethren." Although the brahmans, as priests of religion, exercise almost unlimited influence, yet all political power has long since passed from them into the hands of the Rajputs, -who, though with the most of all other classes of Hindustan, they are converts to their faith, are evidently of a different origin.
8th. To conclude this argument, it gives me pleasure that I am not alone in the supposition that the brahmans are not the original inhabitants of India. Mr. Maurice, a gentleman who has written much about this country, supposes that "the first migration of mankind took place before the confusion of tongues at Babel, from the region of Ararat where the ark rested. By the time the earth became sufficiently dry, either Noah himself or some of the descendants of Shein, gradually led on the first journey to the western frontiers of India; that this increasing colony flourished for a long succession of ages in primitive happiness and innocence; practised the purest rites of the patriarchal religion without images and temples, till at length the descendants of Ham invaded and conquered India, and corrupted their ancient religion." (From the American Encyclopedia of religious knowledge.)
These descendants of Ham I hold to be the brahmans, and from the foregoing reasons believe they emigrated from Egypt. According to the history of this country they once held political sway, but were at length overpowered by the Rajputs, and being unable to maintain the character of princes, they became the priests of India.
A very interesting inquiry now suggests itself. If the brahmans have obtained their power through conversion, are there still remaining any Hindus who have never yet become converted to their creed? To this question it may be answered, there are in almost every part of India, those who though situated at an immense distance from each other and known by different names, such as Coles, Khunds, Santals and Bhumijas, yet have a striking resemblance to each other in features, language, manners, customs and religion.
The particular tribes in the vicinity of which providence has cast my lot, are the Santals and Bhumijas, a brief account of which singular and highly interesting people, I have already communicated to you. The simple character of their religion, destitute of images and all other appendages of brahmanism, indicates the correctness of their claim to be the original proprietors of the soil.
I am of opinion that these people are the descendants of Sliein, and the late noble interference of the British Government to prevent the Cooly trade (which is only another name