Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 1)

(London :  Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,  1910.)



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Castes of
the ancient

The four

punished those who would not be content with their

All this is well illustrated by the history of the
ancient Chosroes (Khusrau), for they had created great
institutions of this kind, which could not be broken
through by the special merits of any individual nor by
bribery. When Ardashir ben Babak restored the Per¬
sian empire, he also restored the classes or castes of the
population in the following way :—

The first class were the knights and princes.

The second class the monks, the fire-priests, and the

The third class the physicians, astronomers, and other
men of science.

The fourth class the husbandmen and artisans.

And within these classes there were subdivisions, dis¬
tinct from each other, like the species within a genus.
All institutions of this kind are like a pedigree, as long
as their origin is remembered; but when once their
origin has been forgotten, they become, as it were, the
stable property of the whole nation, nobody any more
questioning its origin. And forgetting is the necessary
result of any long period of time, of a long succession
of centuries and generations.

Among the Hindus institutions of this kind abound.
We Muslims, of course, stand entirely on the other side
of the question, considering all men as equal, except in
piety; and this is the greatest obstacle which prevents
any approach or understanding between Hindus and

The Hindus call their castes varna, i.e. colours, and
from a genealogical point of view they call tiiQTa jdtaka,
i,e, births. These castes are from the very beginning
only four.

I. The highest caste are the Brahmana, of whom the
books of the Hindus tell that they were created from
the head of Brahman.    And as Brahman is only another
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