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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/109

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Part II.
77
INTRODUCTION.

Even in later times, when their blood has become less pure, and their feelings were influenced by association with those among whom they resided, the religion of the Aryans always retained its intellectual character. No dogma was ever admitted that would not bear the test of reason, and no article of faith was ever assented to which seemed to militate against the supremacy of intellect over all feelings and passions. In all their wanderings they were always prepared to admit the immeasurable greatness of the one incorporeal Deity, and the impossibility of the human intellect approaching or forming any adequate conception of His majesty.

When they abandoned the domestic form of worship, they adopted the congregational, and then not so much with the idea that it was pleasing to God, as in order to remind each other of their duties, to regulate and govern the spiritual wants of the community, and to inculcate piety towards God and charity towards each other.

It need hardly be added that superstition is impossible with minds so constituted, and that science must always be the surest and the best ally of a religion so pure and exalted, which is based on a knowledge of God's works, a consequent appreciation of their greatness, and an ardent aspiration towards that power and goodness which the finite intellect of man can never hope to reach.


Government.

The most marked characteristic of the Aryans is their innate passion for self-government. If not absolutely republican, the tendency of all their institutions, at all times, has been towards that form, and in almost the exact ratio to the purity of the blood do they adopt this form of autocracy. If kingly power was ever introduced among them, it was always in the form of a limited monarchy; never the uncontrolled despotism of the other races; and every conceivable check was devised to prevent encroachments of the crown, even if such were possible among a people so organized as the Aryans always have been.

With them every town was a municipality, every village a little republic, and every trade a separate self-governing guild. Many of these institutions have died out, or else fallen into neglect, in those communities where equal rights and absolute laws have rendered each individual a king in his own person, and every family a republic in itself.

The village system which the Aryans introduced into India, is still the most remarkable of its institutions. These little republican organisms have survived the revolutions of fifty centuries. Neither the devastations of war nor the indolence of peace seems to have affected them. Under Brahmin, Buddhist, or Moslem, they remain the same