Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/44

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CHAPTER III.

The non-Aryans.

The non-Aryans or Aborigines.—The oldest dwellers in India consisted of many tribes, who, in the absence of a race-name of their own, are called the non-Aryans or Aborigines. They have left no written records; indeed, the use of letters, or of any simplest hieroglyphics, was to them unknown. The sole works of their hands which have come down to us are rude stone circles, and the upright slabs and mounds beneath which, like the primitive peoples of Europe, they buried their dead. From the remains found in these tombs, we only discover that, at some far distant but unfixed period, they knew how to make round pots of hard thin earthenware, not inelegant in shape; that they fought with iron weapons and wore ornaments of copper and gold. Earlier remains prove, indeed, that these ancient tomb-builders formed only one link in a chain of primeval races. Before them, India was peopled by tribes unacquainted with the metals, who hunted and warred with polished flint axes and other deftly wrought implements of stone, similar to those found in Northern Europe. And even these were the successors of yet ruder beings, who have left their agate knives and rough flint weapons in the Narbadá valley. In front of this far-stretching background of the Early-Metal and Stone Ages, we see the so-called Aborigines being beaten down by the newly-arrived Aryan race.

The non-Aryans as described by the Aryans.—The victorious Aryans from Western or West-Central Asia called the earlier tribes whom they found in India Dasyus, or 'enemies,' and Dásas, or 'slaves.' The Aryans entered India from the colder north, and prided themselves on their fair complexion. Their Sanskrit word for 'colour' (varna) came to mean 'race' or 'caste.' The old Aryan poets, who composed the Veda at least 3000 and perhaps 4000 years ago, praised their bright gods, who, 'slaying the Dasyus, protected the Aryan colour';