"363. The subsequent history of the Scythians during the middle ages consists of little more than a repetition of inroads and invasions similar to those just narrated. These invasions will he considered under General Modem History. At the present day the Scythians exhibit nearly the same characteristics as those which distinguished them more than 2000 years ago. In Eastern, Central, and Northern Asia are the Mongolian Scythians, grouped under several comprehensive denominations — such as, the Mantchoos, the Mongolians Proper, the Thibetans, and the Calmucks, subject to the Chinese empire ; and the Calmucks, the Samoyeds, the Ostiaks, the Yakoots, the Yukahiri, the Finns, and other Siberian nations, subject to the Russian empire. The remains of the ancient Caucasian Scythians, on the other hand, are either aggre gated in Independent Tartary, or attached as subjects to the Turkish, Russian, and Persian governments. The only event of importance that has happened among these Scythians since the fall of the Roman empire has been the introduction among them of two new forms of religion in lieu of their primeval paganism — the introduction of Buddhism, a religion of Indian origin, among the Mongo lian Scythians, and the introduction of Mohammedanism among the Caucasian Scythians." Page-242
"388. Although Brahminism, however, has been from time immemorial the dominant religion of the Hindoos, there existed in ancient India, both before and during the invasion of Alexander, another native religious system different from and antagonistic to it. This was the system of Buddhism, of the origin of which various accounts are given. By some it is supposed to have been the primitive religion of India, afterwards dispossessed by Brahminism ; by others it is represented as a heretical offshoot from Brahminism, or protest against it. This latter opinion is maintained by the Brahmins themselves, who say that the god Vishnu, after his eighth avatar, when he appeared as Krishna, and ushered in the golden age of India, reappeared again (about 1 000 b. c.) in his ninth form as Buddh (' wisdom') or Buddha, a sceptical philosopher, who taught men to reason, and drew them away from the ancient Brahminical faith. His purpose in this was beneficent ; for seeing that, in the golden age, the very enemies of the gods were becoming religious, he deemed it right to appear in a philosophic form, so as to discriminate between knowledge and simple faith. Accordingly, so long as the ninth avatar of Vishnu shall last, men, say the Brahmins, will doubt and dis believe. 389. The legend or historical account of the origin of Buddhism traces it to the son of a Hindoo king, whose era is variously fixed at from 2000 to 543 b. c. When he was born, it is said, he was heard to exclaim : 'I am the noblest of men ;' and during his infancy and youth he displayed a wisdom and a corporeal grace and beauty beyond all that had ever before been seen in a mortal. In his twentieth year he married ; but after having begotten two children he withdrew himself to the banks of a river to meditate on the wicked ness and misery of mankind. After six years, he returned to the world; and appearing at Benares, announced himself as a prophet. Men at first thought him mad ; but by degrees he gained disciples; and having been invested with the name of Buddha, or ' The Sage,' he lived to see his doctrines preached over all India. He died in the eightieth year of his age ; and Buddhism continued to progress." Page261-262
" 391. In the time of Alexander the Great there were, therefore, two rival religions in India — Brahminism and Buddhism ; the former a complicated and ceremonious system, professed by the majority of the Hindoos ; and the latter a simpler, and, in some respects, more rational form of worship, followed by a considerable minority in various parts of Hindostan. The island of Ceylon seems at that time to have been the principal seat of Buddhism. 392. While the ancient Indians gratified their religious feelings, and their singular propensity to fanciful specu lation, by producing and believing such mythological systems as Brahminism and Buddhism, they were by no means inattentive to the business of this life, or careless of the industrial arts." Page 263-264
"403. Meanwhile the internal condition of India remained essentially unchanged. The Parthian monarchs made incursions into the plain of the Indus, and in some cases assumed the title of Kings of India ; but their conquests were confined within narrow limits, and the mass of the Indian population continued to lead, under their native rajahs, their hereditary and stereotyped mode of life. Only two events are worthy of notice in the long course of native Indian history during the era of the Roman power. These were the introduction of Christianity into India, and the persecution of the Buddhists by the Brahmins. Christianity was introduced into India as early as the first century after Christ; and there is a singular con currence of testimony to prove that the first Indian missionary was the Apostle Thomas. Having proceeded to Malabar, then the seat of Roman commerce, he is said to have laboured there for some years; thence to have gone into the Eastern Peninsula; and finally, on his return, to have been martyred on the Coromandel coast, where his grave is still pointed out at a spot called St Thomas's Mount. Contemporaneous with the introduction of Christianity into India, and not improbably connected with it, though the connection cannot now be traced, was the persecution of the Buddhists. During the first, second, and third centuries after Christ, the Brahmins, roused to an extraordinary degree of fanaticism in behalf of their religion, began a vehement controversy with the heretical Buddhists, whom they denounced as atheists. The Buddhists, who seem at this time to have borrowed some of those forms of Christian worship which are still to be discovered in their ritual, retaliated by attacking the obscenities and superstitions of Brahminism. After a certain time, the Brahmins prevailed ; and Buddhism in India was almost extirpated by a series of bloody wars and persecutions (300-600 a. d.) Driven from India, the Buddhists who remained faithful to their creed dispersed themselves through China, the Eastern Peninsula, Japan, Thibet, Tartary, and Siberia ; into some of which countries Buddhism had already penetrated. Possessing some sin gular adaptation to the Mongolian character, the Indian- born religion was almost instantly embraced in all the Mongolian parts of Asia. In the Eastern Peninsula Buddhism retained its Indian name, and its priests were called Talapoins ; in China and Japan, Buddh was called Fo, and his priests, both male and female, Bon'zes ; in Thibet, Buddhism was modified into a system called Lamaism, its priests taking the name of Lamas ; and in Siberia and the northern Mongolian countries, Buddhism assumed the name of Shamaism. Buddhism is at the present day the most widely-diffused religion on the earth. 404. Scarcely were the persecutions of the Buddhists ended, when India was threatened by a foreign enemy more formidable than any that had yet invaded her soil. The Arabs, who had been formed into a great conquering power by their Prophet Mohammed (600-630 a. d.), had become, under the caliphs or successors of Mohammed, the masters of the whole of "Western Asia, including Egypt. By their possession of Egypt they had transferred to themselves the maritime traffic so long carried on between that country and India ; while by the extension of their dominion over Persia and the other countries of Iran, they were brought into contact with the Indians of the Punjab and of Scinde. Accordingly the caliphs, and their successors the Turkish sultans, became the rulers of these parts of India which had successively been subject to the Persians, the Greeks, and the Parthians. About the year 1000 a.d., however, Mahmood or Mohammed, the sovereign of the Mohammedan state of Ghizni in Cabool, which had declared itself independent of the empire of the Turks, began a series of invasions with the view of conquering the whole of India on his own account, and establishing the Mohammedan faith among the Hindoo populations. Thus was commenced an enter prise which terminated in the dissolution of a number of the native rajahships of Hindostan, and their union into a great Mohammedan empire. The narrative of these Mohammedan conquests in India, and of their effects on the condition and civilisation of the native Indians, as also the narrative of those subsequent conquests by which the British slowly established their own power, and produced in India that state of things which still exists, belong to the departments of Modern and British History. The ancient or native history of India may be said to close with the year 1000 A.D."
BY W. AND R. CHAMBERS
EDINBURGH: PUBLISHED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS. 1851.