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We cannot say in what part of the world man first came into existence, nor do we know where the first human settlements were. Perhaps men came into existence in several parts at more or less the same time. It is likely, however, that when the great glaciers of the Ice Age were melting away and going back towards the north, men lived in the warmer regions. When the ice went, there must have been vast steppes, something like the tundras which we have in Siberia now. These must have become grasslands, and men must have wandered about them as they wanted grass for their cattle. These people who have no fixed place to live in and are always wandering about are called 'nomads'. Even now, we have some nomads in many countries, including India, like the gypsies.
People must have settled down near great rivers, for the land near the rivers was very rich and good for agriculture. There was plenty of water and it was easy to grow food on the land. So we suppose that
We have seen how the Aryans spread out over many countries, and carried their language, whatever it was, wherever they went. But different climates and different conditions produced many differences in various groups of the Aryans. Each group went on changing in its own way with new habits and customs. They could not meet the other groups in other countries as it was exceedingly difficult to travel about in those days. Each group was cut off from the others. If the people of one country learnt something new, they could not tell it to the people of another country. So changes came in, and after some generations the one Aryan family became split up into many. Perhaps they even forgot that they all belonged to one large family. Their one language became many languages, which seemed to differ greatly from each other.
But although they seemed so different there were many common words and similarities. Even now, after thousands of years, we can find these common words in
I am going to tell you something about the early civilizations. But before I do so, we must try to form some idea of what civilization means. The dictionary will tell you that to civilize means to better, to refine, to replace savage habits by good ones. And it especially refers to society or a group of people. The savage condition of people when men are little better than beasts is called barbarism. Civilization is the reverse of that. The further away we get from barbarism, the more civilized we are.
But how can we find out if a person or a society is barbarous or civilized? Many people in Europe think that they are very civilized and the people of Asia are quite barbarous. Is this because the people of Europe put on more clothes than the peoples of Asia and Africa? But clothes depend on the climate. In a cold climate men put on more clothes than in a hot climate. Or is it because a man with a gun is stronger than the man without a weapon and is therefore more
I have told you in my previous letters how man was very much like an animal when he first appeared on the earth. Slowly, over thousands of years, he developed and became something better. At first he must have hunted all by himself, like some of the wild beasts today. Then he found that it was wiser and safer to go about in herds with other men. If many men kept together, they were stronger and could defend themselves better against the attacks of beasts and maybe of other men. Even the animals go about in herds in this way for their own safety. Sheep and goats and deer and even elephants move about in herds. When the herds sleep, some of them remain awake and watch over them. You must have read stories of packs of wolves also. In Russia, in winter, these wolves go about in packs and when they are hungry, as they often are in winter, they attack men. One wolf would seldom attack a man, but a crowd of them feel strong enough to attack a party of men. And the men have to fly for
In the last letter, I told you how the early men were afraid of everything and imagined that every misfortune was caused by angry and jealous gods. They saw these imaginary gods everywhere-in the jungle, in the mountains, in the river, in the clouds. Their idea of god was not of a kind and good person but of a very irritable person who was always losing his temper. And as they were afraid of his anger they were always trying to bribe him by giving him something, chiefly food. Sometimes if a disaster came, like an earthquake or a flood or disease which killed large numbers of people, they would become very frightened and think that the gods were angry. And to please them they would go so far as to sacrifice men and women, even kill their own children, and offer them to the gods. This seems horrible but a man who is afraid will do anything.
This must have been the beginning of religion. So religion first came as fear, and anything that is done because of fear is bad.
In my last letter, I told you something about the division of labour. Right at the beginning, when men used to live by hunting only, there was very little division of work. Everybody hunted and they could, with difficulty, get enough to eat. The division of work or labour must have begun between men and women- the men hunting and the women staying at home and looking after the children and domestic animals.
When people learnt about agriculture, many new developments took place. There was, firstly, a greater division of labour. Some people hunted, others looked after the fields and ploughed. Then again, as the time went on, people learnt new trades and specialized in them.
Another interesting result of tilling land was that men began to settle down in villages and towns. Before agriculture came, people used to wander about and hunt. It was not necessary for them to live in one place. They could hunt wherever they went. And often they had to move about from
I am afraid my letters are getting a little complicated! But the life we see around us is itself very complicated. In the old days it was much simpler, but we are now considering the time when complications first began. If we follow up our inquiry slowly, and try to understand the changes in life and society as they came in, we shall find it easier to understand many things today. And if we do not try to do so, we shall never be able to understand all that is happening around us. We shall be like children lost in a dark forest. It is for this reason that I am trying to take you right back to the edge of the forest so that we may be able to find a way through it.
You will remember that you asked me in Mussoorie about kings, and what they were, and why they became kings. We are now going to have a little peep in those far-off days when kings began. They were not called kings to begin with. But if we try to find out something about them, we shall know the origin of
I hope you do not find my account of the old tribes and their patriarchs very dull. I told you in my last letter that everything in those days belonged to the whole tribe and not to each member separately. Even the patriarch had nothing special to himself. As a member of the tribe, he could only have a share like any other member. But he was the organizer and he was supposed to look after the goods and property of the tribe. As his power increased, he began to think that these goods and property were really his own and not the tribe's. Or rather he thought that he himself, being the leader of the tribe, represented the tribe. So we see how the idea of owning things for oneself began. Today we are always thinking and talking of this thing being 'mine' or 'yours'. But, as I have told you, the men and women of the first tribes did not think in this way. Everything then belonged to the tribe.
The old patriarch, however, began to think that he was the