You're using an outdated version of Internet Explorer.DOWNLOAD NOW
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
The old patriarch has taken up a lot of our time, has he not? We shall finish with him soon, or rather he will change his name. I started by promising to tell you how kings came and what they were. And in order to understand kings one has to go right back to the patriarchs. You must have guessed that these patriarchs became later on kings or raja and maharaja. The word patriarch comes from the Latin 'Pater' or father. He was the leader and father of his tribe or people. 'Patria', which means fatherland or one's own country, comes from the same Latin word. You know that in French it is 'Patrie'. In Sanskrit and Hindi, we think of our country as the mother or motherland-Matribhumi, the motherland. Which do you prefer?
When thS patriarch's office became hereditary, that is son succeeded father, there was little difference between him and a king. He developed into a king and the king got the strange notion that everything in the country
We have said enough about patriarchs and kings for the time being. Let us now go back a little and consider the early civilizations and the kind of people who lived in those days.
We do not know very much about these early peoples, but we know much more about them than about the Palaeolithic and Neolithic man.
We have got even now huge buildings in ruins which were built thousands of years ago. And looking at these buildings and temples and palaces, we can form some idea of what the early people were like and what they did. Specially helpful to us are the sculptures and carvings in these old buildings. From these sculptures we can find out sometimes what kind of dress they used to wear and many other things.
We cannot say definitely where men first settled down and developed a civilization. Some people say that there was a great country, which they now call Atlantis, in the Atlantic Ocean. In this country, it is said, people lived and were
big rivers and in fertile valleys where food and water were abundant. Their big cities were on the banks of the rivers. You may have heard the names of some of these famous old cities. In Mesopotamia, there were Babylon and Nineveh and Assur. But all of these have long ceased to exist and people sometimes find remains of the cities if they dig deep enough in the sand or earth. In thousands of years, they were covered up completely by sand and earth and no trace of them could be seen. In some places, new cities were built right on top of the old ones which were covered up. People who have been trying to find out about these old cities have had to dig deep, and sometimes they have found several cities one ontop of the other. Of course, they did not exist like this at the same time.
One city probably existed for hundreds of years and people lived in it and died, and their children and children's children lived and died. Gradually, the city became deserted and fewer
What kind of people lived in these cities and villages of early times? We can find something about them from the great buildings and structures that they made. Also from the writing on stone tablets which they left. Then we have a few very old books which tell us a great deal of those times.
In Egypt we still have the great pyramids and the Sphinx and ruins of enormous temples at Luxor and other places. You have not seen these although we were not far from them when we passed through the Suez Canal. But you have seen pictures of them and probably you have got picture postcards of them. The Sphinx is a lion with a woman's head. It is an enormous thing. Nobody knows why it was made and what it represents. The woman's head has got a strange faint smile and people wond~r what this smile is about. To say that a person is like the Sphinx means that you do not understand him.
In Egypt also, in those days, they made fine canals and lakes to take the water
We have seen that the early civilizations began and developed in Mesopotamia and Egypt and the little island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea. About the same time, in China and in India also, great civilizations began and developed in their own way. In China, as elsewhere, people settled down in the valleys of great rivers. These people were what are called the Mongolians. They made beautiful vessels out of bronze and later of iron. Canals and fine buildings were made, and a new way of writing was evolved. This writing was quite different from our writing in Hindi or English or Urdu. It was a kind of picture writing. Each word and sometimes even a short sentence was a picture. In ancient Egypt and in Crete and Babylon also, there used to be picture writing. This is now called hieroglyphic writing. You must have seen this writing in the museums and in some books. In Egypt and in the West this writing is only found in very old buildings. Nobody has used this writing there for a very
Another interesting people of ancient times were the Phoenicians. They belonged to the same race as the Jews and Arabs. They lived on the western coast of Asia Minor-the Turkey of today. Their chief towns were Acre, Tyre and Sidon on the Mediterranean Sea coast. They were famous for their long journeys by sea for trading purposes. They went all over the Mediterranean Sea and right up to England by sea. They may have come to India also.
We see now two interesting beginnings of great things-sea travel and trade. Each helped the other. There were not, of course, in those days fine steamers and ships like you see today. The first boats must have been simple tree trunks hollowed out. Oars were used with them and sometimes sails to catch the wind. Sea voyages must have been interesting in those days and very exciting. Imagine crossing the Arabian Sea on a' little boat with oars and sails! There must have been very little room to move about in it, and the least bit of
We have already considered the vanous languages and how they are related to each other. Let us think for a while how language must have begun. We find among some animals that there are some words used. The monkeys, it is said, have a few cries or words for simple things. You can also notice the peculiar cries that some animals make when they are frightened and want to warn others of their kind of danger.
Perhaps language started in the same way in man. There must have been very simple cries to begin with-cries of fear and warning. Then, it may be, came what are called labour cries. When a number of people work together they usually make a noise together. Have you not noticed people pulling together at something? Or lifting a great weight together? It seems that all crying together helps them a little. Their labour cries might have been the first words that man used.
Gradually other words must have come in- simple words like water, fire, horse and bear. Probably
Boys and girls, and even grown-ups, are often taught history in a peculiar way. They learn the names of kings and others, and dates of battle and the like. But surely history does not consist of battle and a few persons who became kings and generals. History should tell us of the people of a country; how they lived, what they did, and what they thought. It should tell us of their joys and sorrows; of their difficulties and how they overcame them. And if we study history in this way we can learn a lot from it. If we have to face the same kind of difficulty or trouble, our reading of history may help us to get over it. Especially, our study of past times will help us in finding out if people have been getting better and better or worse; if there has been progress or not.
Of course, one must try to learn something from the lives of great men and women of past times. But we must also try to learn what the condition of various kinds of people in olden days was.