Hindu Manners Customs and Ceremonies

Hindu Manners Customs and Ceremonies

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Book Specification

Item Code: NAE123
Author: Abbe J A. Dubois
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788188043453
Pages: 894
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 770 gm

Book Description

Preface of Third Edition

The fact that a third reprint of this complete edition of the Abbe Dubois’ Hindu Manners, Customs, and Ceremonies has been called for within a period of a few years is sufficient proof of the high value which is still attached to the Abbe’s observations and of the wide popularity which his work still enjoys. It was stated in my Preface to the first edition:- The impression may be felt in many minds that a book written so long ago can be of little practical use at present; but the fact is that the Abbe’s work, composed as it was in themed of the people themselves, is of a unique character, for it combines, as no other work on the Hindus combines, a recital of the broad facts of Hindu religion and Hindu sociology with many masterly descriptions, at once comprehensive and minute, of the vie in time of the people among whom he lived for so many years. With any other the Hindus such a work would soon grow out of date; but with them the same ancestral traditions and customs are followed nowadays that were followed hundreds of years ago, at least by the vast majority of the population.

Not only in India but also in the United Kingdom and the Colonies, as well as in several countries of Europe and in the United States of America, reviews and notices of the work have appeared; bearing invariable testimony to the conspicuous merits of the Abbe’s work. I may add that it formed the subject of the annual address of a learned President of the Royal Historical Society, and of the Presidential Address at an annual meeting of the Hindu Social Conference by the late Mr. Justice Remade, the famous Marietta Brahmin leader of Bombay; and it also furnished a text for some observations in an important speech delivered in Bombay by the late Viceroy and Governor-General of India, Lord Curzon.

What may be regarded as still more satisfactory, perhaps, is that by the Indians themselves the work has been received with universal approval and eulogy. The general accuracy of the Abbe’s observations has nowhere been impugned; and every Indian critic of the work has paid a warm tribute to the Abbe’s industry, Zeal, and impartiality. Perhaps I may quote in conclusion here the opinion expressed by one of the leaving Indian newspapers. The Hindu, which in the course of a long review of the book, remarked: It is impossible to run though the immense variety of topics touched in this exceeding book; but we entirely agree with Mr. Beauchamp in his opinion that the book is as valuable to-day as it ever was. It contains a valuable collection of information on a variety of subjects. Including ceremonies and observances which might pass as trifles in the eye of many an ordinary person. The Abbe’s description might be compared with the experience of the modern Hindu, who will find that while the influence of English education is effecting a and profound change and driving the intellectual and physical faculties of the people into fresh grooves, the bulk of the people, whom they influence has not reached, have remained substantially unaltered since the time of the French Missionary.


In the Library of the Madras Literary Society and Auxiliary of the Royal Asiatic Society may be seen, in a conspicuous position above one of the doorways, a striking portrait in oil-colors. This portrait at a distance one takes to be that of some Hindu, clothed in white, wearing a white turban, and holding in one hand the bamboo staff that tradition assigns to a Hindu Pilgrim.

A closed inspection, however, shows that in reality it is the portrait of a European, albeit the face is so tanned, and so furrowed with the lines of age and thought, that the first impression that one receives of it is not dispelled. It is a face that literally speaks to you from the canvas. The broad forehead, the well-shaped but somewhat prominent nose, the firm but kindly month and above all the marvelously intelligent eyes, all bespeak a man of no common mould. Whoever the artist was (and I have not been able to discover his name or the circumstance which led to his executing the work), there can be no doubt that that he has succeeded in depicting a countenance that is full of character; while as a background to his picture he has painted a low range of range of bare, rugged hills that seem to be thorough keeping with his subject, and to suggest, as a kind of inspiration, the hard, self-denying, but solid life-work of him whose features he has handed down.

This portrait is that of the of the Abbe J. A. Dubois, a Christian Missionary who labored for some thirty-one years in India, striving to fulfil the task which his sense of religious duty imposed upon him. Merely in this respect one claim for him no special merit, for the annals of Christian Missions in India are full of the name of those who spent themselves and were spent in the service of their Master. His special claim to recognition will be found elsewhere, namely, in the wonderful record which he compiled of the manners, customs, institutions, and ceremonies of the people among whom he lived and moved and being for so great a portion of his life. He seems to have recognized from the very first day of his arrival in India that Christian Mission work meant something more than the mere preaching and expounding of the Gospel; that it included among its chief essentials to success a long and thorough study of the innermost life and character of the people amidst whom it was to be carried on. In his day, it must be remarked; there were no roads to such knowledge. There were no text-books to prepare the way by their critical analyses of the sacred Hindu writings. Such knowledge had to be gained at first hand, and by the more laborious (though, it must be confessed, more sure) method of personal inquiry in situ. ‘I had no sooner arrived amongst the natives of India, the Abbe himself tells us,’ than I recognized the absolute necessity of gaining their confidence. Accordingly it my constant rules to live as they did. I adopted their style of clothing and I studied their customs and methods of life in order to be exactly like them. I even went so far as to avoid any display of repugnance to the majority of their prejudices. By such circumspect conduct I was able to ensure and a free and hearty welcome from people of all castes and conditions, and was often favored of their own accord with the most curious and interesting particulars about themselves.

Unfortunately such details concerning the Abbe’s personal history as we possess are extremely meager. His modesty is so extreme that he rarely appears in his own person throughout his work, and those particulars that I have been able to obtain have been culled from various other sources- chiefly from the Madras Government Secretariat, From the British Museum, and from the Missions Estrangers. The absolute retirement of the Abbé from European society for a long series of years after his arrival in India, though it qualified him, as was said when his work first appeared, for penetrating into the dark and unexplored recesses of the Hindu character,’ also veiled him in an equal degree from the curiosity of his readers. Major Mark Walks, the accomplished historian of my sore, who in those days was British Resident in that province, in introducing the Abbe’s work to the notice of the Government of Fort St. George, remarked: Of the history and character of the author, I only know that he escaped from one of the fusillades of the French Revolution and has since lived amongst the Hindus as one of themselves: and of the respect which his irreproachable conduct inspires, it may be sufficient to state that when traveling, on his approach to a village, the house of a Brahmin is uniformly cleared for his reception, without interference, and generally without communication to the officers of Government, as a spontaneous mark of deference and respect.’ Subsequently, however, Major Walks became much more intimate with the Abbé, and the latter speaks of him years afterwards in terms of great affection as his patron and friend. With regard to the circumstance mentioned above as having induced him to leave France and come to India, the Abbé remarked afterwards: ‘It is quite true that I fled from the horrors of the Revolution, and had II remained I should in all probability have fallen a victim, as did so many of my friends who held the same religious and political opinions as myself; but the truth is I embarked for India some two years before the fusillades referred to rook place.

Be this as -it may, I have ascertained that the Abbé was ordained in the diocese of Viviers in 1792, at the age of twenty-seven, and left France in the same year. He entered on his Mission work under the guidance of-the Missions Estrangers. On reaching India he was attached to the Pondicherry Mission; and for the first few years he seems to have labored in what are now the Southern Districts of the Madras Prescience. He must have quickly made for himself a name, for on the fall of Seringapatarn he was specially invited, on the recommendation, it is said, of Colonel Wellesley afterwards Duke of Wellington, to visit the capital of My sore in order to reconvert and reorganize the Christian community which had been forcibly perverted to Mohammedanism by Tippu Sultan. En passant, I may mention that, through the influence of the Abbé in My sore, not a single priest of the Missions Estrangers was persecuted by Tippu. For these apostates, we learn, he pleaded eloquently before Mgr. Champions, the Bishop, and with such good effect that he once more gathered the lost sheep, of whom there were 1,800 in Seringapatam alone, into the Christian fold, and established on a permanent basis the Roman Catholic Church in the province of My sore. Of the practical farsightedness which guided him in his work, we may judge by two incidents that have been incidentally recorded of him. He met the problem of the poverty of the people committed to his care by founding agricultural colonies on the lines that have during these past few years been advocated by the Salvation Army and others, his principal colony being at Sathalli, near Hessian; and he used his influence to such good effect in preventing epidemics of small-pox by promoting vaccination (then, be it remembered, a comparatively novel idea) that he was afterwards granted a special pension by the East Indian Company. ‘The literary reputation which M. fly boys have, acquired in this country’, wrote one of his colleagues, M. Mottet, in 1823, ‘is the least of his merits. He has honored and sired the mission in every way, and perhaps more they any one of us. The Indians had the greatest attachment, confidence and respect for him.’M. Launay, in his recently published Histoire des Missions de. I’Inde, remarks: ‘Among other benefits which he: Conferred upon his flock, may be mentioned his zeal in establishing agricultural colonies, and also introducing vaccination to stay the ravages of small-pox; in which, in spite of the extraordinary tenacity of native prejudice, he succeeded so fully that in 1803-4 a total of 25,432 natives were vaccinated and registered; in memory of which the natives still remember him by the title of “Doddhaswa-miayavaru,” or “Great Lord.” M. launay adds that in some parts, especially at Karumattampatty, he is spoken of to this day as ‘the prince’s son, the noblest of Europeans.’


Editor's Preface to Third Edition V-VI
Prefatory Note By Max Muller VII-IX
Editor's Introduction Author Preface X-XXX
Part 1: General View of Society In India and General Remarks on the Caste System
1 Division and Subdivision of Castes. 15-29
2 Advantages Resulting From Caste Divisions. 30-41
3 Expulsion from Caste. 41-48
4 Antiquity and Origin of Caste. 48-59
5 The Lower Classes of Sudras 53-89
6 The Poverty of The Hindus 89-109
7 The Mythical Origin of the Brahmins . 109-121
8 Different Kinds of Brahmins 121-124
9 The Different Hindu Sects 124-137
10 The Gurus or Hindu Priests. 138-150
11 Purohitas or Priests Who Officiate at Public and Private Ceremonies 150-155
12 Mantrams 155-161
13 Explanation of the Principal Ceremonies of the Brahmins and of the other castes. 161-174
14 Ceremonies to be observed after a Woman,s Confinement 174-179
Part 2: The Four States of Brahminical Life
1 The Brahmachari 180-192
2 Conduct of the Brahmachari 192-201
3 External Defilements 201-209
4 Internal Defilements 210-219
5 Defilements of the Soul and the Means of Purification. 219-231
6 Marriage amongst Brahmins and other Hindus. 231-265
7 The Second or Grahastha Status of Brahmin 266-303
8 Brahminical Fasts 304-318
9 The Kinds of Food Expressly Forbidden to Brahmins 318-325
10 The Various Occupations of Brahmins 326-333
11 Religious Tolerance amongst the Brahmins 333-345
12 The Morality of Brahmins 345-356
13 The Outward Appearance of Brahmins and other Hindus 357-368
14 Rules of Etiquette amongst Brahmins and other Hindus 368-374
15 The Ornaments worn by Hindus 375-379
16 Brahmin Wives 379-388
17 Rules of Conduct for Married Women 388-395
18 Mourning 395-401
19 The Custom Which at Times obliges Widows to allow themselves to be burnt alive on the Funeral Pyre of their Deceased Husbands 401-415
20 Adoption 415-425
21 The Learning of the Brahmins 425-443
22 The Poetry of the Hidus 443-453
23 Brahmins Philosophy 453-468
24 Chronology of The Brahmins 469-474
25 The Epistolary Style of the Brahmins 474-488
26 Hindu Fables 489-508
27 Hindu Tales 508-535
28 Niti Slokas Moral Stanzas 535-544
29 The Funeral Ceremonies of Brahmins 544-552
30 The Various Ceremonies Observed after Burial in Honour of the Dead 552-565
31 The Third Condition of Brahmins, Viz Vanaprastha or Dweller in the Jungle 565-575
32 Sacrifices of the Vanaprastha Brahmins 575-585
33 Penance as a Means of purifying the Soul 585-590
34 The Fourth State of the Brahmins that of the Sannyasi 590-596
35 A Sannyasi Principal Duties 596-608
36 The Funeral Ceremones of Brahmin Sannyasis 608-612
Part 3: Religion
1 Origin of the Trimurti and the the Primitive Idolarty of the Hindus 613-628
2 Metempsychosis 628-641
3 Hindu Feasts 641-652
4 Hindu Temples 652-692
5 The Principal Gods of the Hindus 692-719
6 The Worship of Animals 719-732
7 Inanimate Object of Worship 733-739
8 The Administration of Civil and Criminal Justice 739-755
9 The Military System of the Hindus 755-775
Appendix 1 : The Jains 776-794
Appendix 2: The Eka-Dasi or Eleventh Day of the Moon 794-801
Appendix 3: Siva Ratri or Siva's Night 801-803
Appendix 4: Rules of Conduct for Women during their Periodical Uncleanness 803-805
Appendix 5: Remarks on the Origin of the Famous Temple of Jagnnath 805-812
Appendix 6: Trial by Ordeal-Its Different Forms 812-819
Index 821-842
**Contents and Sample Pages**

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