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ordinarily one who buys, or lends money on the security of a piece of land, say a flourishing Zamīndārī, does a most hazardous thing, and may, not improbably, lose all his money and, in addition, be plunged into ruinous litigation. And, further, I unhesitatingly affirm that there must be an immense nuinber of persons in the Madras Province who, in consequence of such judgments, are quite unable to know whether they, or their relatives, have been legally begotten, adopted, or married.

Unquestionably, the principal and most fruitful error in the administration of Hindū law in Madras has been that of supposing that positive law, in its most strict sense, applicable to every inhabitant of India, whether dark-skinned or fair, whether Brahman or non-caste, and to every conceivable case, is to be found by adequate research somewhere in the pages of certain Sanskrit works, such as the Mānavadharma-çāstra, the Mitākṣarā, and others ; and that such law must always prevail in judicial controversy when opposed to local usages and customs.

How grievously the Madras High Court has erred in this respect may be imagined when Mr. Innes, in strenuously attacking my writings, has felt himself compelled to make the following painful confession (at p. 92):

* It may however be that whereas the Hindū law recognises the existence of peculiar customs in different parts of India, and directs (especially in the case of those not belonging to the four castes) that their customs shall be respected, the High Court has laid down rules in regard to customs which practically prevent their recognition to the extent to which they ought to be recognised, and has in this respect, unintentionally perhaps, failed to carry out the Hindū law in its true spirit, and imposed much inconvenience on families who have governed themselves by customs recognised in their community as legal.'

I was even more surprised than gratified by this confession, coming from such a quarter. But, at the end of his letter Mr. Innes shows plainly that, at all costs, the Madras High Court intends to continue to perform its self-imposed duty of civilising the • lower castes’ of Madras, that is to say, the great bulk of its population, by gradually destroying their local usages and customs, the safety of which the royal proclamation of November 1, 1858, by express words, guarantees. It was Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen who said, “We disclaim alike the right and desire to impose our convictions on any

of our subjects. ... We will that generally in framing and administering the law due regard be paid to the ancient rights, usages, and customs of India.' Mr. Innes, however, as the representative of the Madras High Court, has announced (at p. 110) :

• To adopt Mr. Nelson's suggestions, whether as regards the higher or lower castes, would commit us to chaos in the matter of the Hindū law we are now called on to administer. What is contemplated would result in our abdicating the vantage ground we have occupied for nearly a century, in which, if we continue to hold it, we may hope gradually to remove the differentiations of customary law, and bring about a certain amount of manageable uniformity. It would be to commit us to the investigation and enforcement of an overwhelming variety of discordant customs among the lower castes, many of them of a highly immoral and objectionable character, which if not brought into prominence and sanctioned by judicial recognition, will gradually give place to the less objectionable and more civilised customs of the superior castes.'

If the Government of Madras had called upon me for an explanation of my conduct in constantly 'calling in question the administration of the Hindū law by the High Court of Madras,' this announcement of Mr. Innes would alone, I conceive, have been held to be an ample justification of anything I may have published in this behalf. For, what can be politically more dangerous in these times, to say nothing of the injustice of it and the cruelty, than thus to set about destroying gradually and methodically the local usages

and customs of by far the greater part of over thirty millions of people? If the thing to be destroyed were the local usages and customs of the (relatively) educated and influential small minority, consisting of Brahmans and others, the intended action of the court might be less dangerous, in that it would at once provoke and arouse adequate opposition. But the dumb masses of South India will make no sign under any oppression they may suffer, so long as it continues to be anyhow tolerable, and we may know nothing of their feelings till, in a moment

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of excitement, they begin to work incalculable mischief.

Usage is highest dharma (it is) mentioned in the Vedas, and approved by tradition ; therefore, a prudent twice-born (man) should ever be intent on this,' is a most important maxim of Manu (I. 108); perhaps the most important of all the Aryan maxims that have come down to us. I purpose devoting a chapter or two to an examination of its meaning and teaching. For the present it is enough to state my belief tbat the right interpretation of it suffices in itself to prove that our entire system of administration of Hindū law is erroneous, and, indeed, absurd.

Next, perhaps, in importance to the error of looking for positive law in the Sanskrit çāstras comes the error of supposing that all the inhabitants of South India who are not Brahmans or Mahomedans, are either Kşatriyas, Vaiçyas, or Çīdras, and as such are amenable to the above-mentioned law, or at all events to the greater part of it.

I have already dealt with this matter at some length in my View and Prospectus, and have nothing new to add in the way of information. It may be useful, however, to say a few words with reference to Mr. Innes' observation at p. 91: 'There have been, so far as I am aware, no cases before the High Court in which people of the lower castes or tribes, vulgarly classed as Hindūs, have repudiated that classification, or claimed or pleaded under a different law of succession, inheritance, caste, religious usage or institution from that of the Hindū.' I would observe as to this that the circumstance, if existent, is not to be wondered at, or considered incapable of explanation, on the hypothesis that the great bulk of the population of the Madras Province are not true Hindūs, and therefore are not subject to the general law of the Sanskrit çāstras. Maravans and Kallans, and all ordinary ryots, of course, are exceedingly ignorant and helpless, and but little given to generalisation ; and probably none of them has ever yet reflected upon his racial, or religious, or legal status. Moreover, the word “Hindū' either is not known to them, or is barely known only in the sense of non-Muhammadan ; so that if a low-caste suitor were asked whether or no he was a 'Hindū,' in the full scientific sense of the word, he would have no idea what was meant by the question, however ingeniously it might be framed. Or, if by any possibility he could be made to understand what was meant, he would, of course, claim to be a Hindū of the highest rank, just as every London shopman nowadays claims to be a gentleman, and for very similar reasons.

An excellent illustration of the ignorance and apathy of suitors in this respect occurs to me out of my own judicial experiences. At Combaconam, about the year 1868, I was rehearing a case that had been dealt with by my predecessor as an ordinary case of Hindū law, when, by accident, it came out that the parties were not Hindūs, in any sense of the word, but Jains. I asked the pleader engaged by one party what was to be done, and he said he supposed the

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