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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/292

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268
Reviews.

in what is now the native state of Nepal. Within and on their western boundary the Musalman conquerors had the chief seats of their power. Mr. Crooke writes of them with the authority of a profound and sympathetic student of the people and their history, as a painstaking and experienced administrator. This book, therefore, appeals to all who are interested in the good government of India (and what Briton can afford to be indifferent to that?), and affords an excellent introduction to scientific students of the races of India.

The basis of the population is Dravidian, a prehistoric Negritic race, "conquered or absorbed by successive waves of invaders of the Aryan or Skythian race." The process occupied "an enormous period of time—the result being the population of the present day." "What it is really important to grasp," Mr. Crooke goes on to say, " is that the Dravidian element was prepotent, and that the so-called Aryan conquest was more social than ethnical, more the gradual enlightenment of the indigenous peoples by scattered bands of missionaries and teachers, whose civilisation was of the peaceful, unwarlike, and intellectual form rather than the upheaval and wreck of the existing polity by an army of conquerors who forced their law and civil institutions on the necks of their slaves." The old-fashioned theory of conquest, founded on the Vedic hymns and the earlier literature, must therefore be abandoned as an inadequate explanation of the phenomena. Invasions indeed there were, but they were those of missionary-colonists, who introduced the Vedic nature-worship; and who, by identifying their own gods with the chief divinities they found already in the country, absorbed a large part of the native religion. Of this religion, thus amalgamated with their own, they established themselves as priests, and by virtue of their superior culture and the intimate knowledge of divine things they were believed to possess, obtained a permanent ascendency over the people, which is even yet unbroken after the vicissitudes of three thousand years.

The intimate relations between the problems of government and ethnology are illustrated on every page of this fascinating work. The author, perhaps wisely, avoids drawing the moral; but none the less the pressing need for a systematic study by government officials of the racial characters, the tribal institutions, the superstitions, the beliefs—in a word, the folklore of the people—is irresistibly suggested. A notable example of this is found on pp.