Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/43

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45 millions. These made up the 200 millions of the people under British rule in 1872. Since then the population of British India has grown to over 221 millions in 1891. All the four sections of the population above mentioned have contributed to this increase. But many of the non-Aryan or Aboriginal tribes have during the past twenty years been converted to the Hindu religion, and are now reckoned in the Census as Hindus. The same fourfold division applies to the population of the 66 millions in Feudatory India, but we do not know the numbers of the different classes.

The Two Chief Races of Prehistoric India.—The great sources of the Indian population were, therefore, the non-Aryans and the Aryans; and we must first try to get a clear view of these ancient peoples. Our earliest glimpses of India disclose two races struggling for the soil. The one was a fair-skinned people, which had lately entered by the north-western passes,—a people who called themselves Aryan, literally of 'noble' lineage, speaking a stately language, worshipping friendly and powerful gods. These Aryans became the Bráhmans and Rájputs of India. The other race was of a lower type, who had long dwelt in the land, and whom the lordly new-comers drove back into the mountains, or reduced to servitude on the plains. The comparatively pure descendants of these two races are now nearly equal in numbers; the intermediate castes, sprung chiefly from the ruder stock, make up the great mass of the Indian population. We shall afterwards see that a third race, the Scythians, also played an important part in India, about the beginning of the Christian era. The Muhammadans belong to a period a thousand years later.

Materials for Reference.

Full particulars as to the population of India, according to their birthplace, sex, race, age, religion, their distribution into town and country, and their ability to read and write, are given in the Appendices to my Indian Empire (Third edition, 1893).