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We saw in our last letter that five different classes were formed. The biggest class was that of the peasants and labourers. The peasants ploughed the, land and tilled the soil and grew the food. If the peasantry had not done so and no one else had worked on the land, there would have been no food, or at any rate very little food. So the peasants were very important. Without them, everybody would have starved. The labourers also did useful work on the land and in the towns. But although these people did such important work, and were so necessary to everybody, they got very little out of it. Most of what they produced went to others, especially to the king and his class of people, including the nobles. The king and his class, as we have seen, had a great deal of power. During the days of the early tribes the land belonged to the whole tribe, and not to anyone person. But as the king's class grew in power, they said that the land belonged to them. They became the landlords, and
Are you not quite tired of my letters! I think you deserve a rest. Well, I shall not write to you anything new for some time. I want you just to think over what we have already done. We have rushed through millions of years in a few letters. Starting from the time when the earth was a bit of the sun, we saw how it separated and slowly cooled down. The moon then shot off. For long ages, there was no life. Then during millions and millions of years-have you any idea how long a time a million years is?-life grew very slowly. It is enormously difficult to be able to form an idea of millions of years. You are only ten years old and how grown-up and old you are! You are a jeune fille, n'est-ce pas? A young lady! A hundred years to you is a terribly long time. And then a thousand! And a million, which is a thousand times thousand! I am afraid we cannot get this in our little heads properly. We imagine that we are so important and little things annoy us and worry us. But what are these
I have not written to you for a long time. In my last two letters, we were looking back on ancient periods which we have been considering in our letters. I sent you some picture postcards of fossil fishes to give you some idea of what these fossils were like. In Mussoorie, when we met, I showed you pictures of other fossils. You may remember especially the fossil reptiles. Reptiles are usually animals which crawl, like the snakes, lizards, crocodiles and turtles, which we have today. The reptiles in old days belonged to the same family but were very different and were very big. You will remember the enormous brutes we saw in the South Kensington Museum. One of them was thirty to forty feet long. There was also a kind of frog bigger than .a man, and a tortoise almost as big. Enormous bats used to fly about, and one animal, the iguanodon, when it stood ~ up on its feet was as big as a small tree. You also saw fossils of old plants. There were beautiful fern markings in the rock, and
So far we have discussed very, very old times. We shall now see how man developed and what he did. All these old times are called pre- historic, that is before history, as we have no real history of that period. We have to guess a lot. We are now on the verge or edge of history. Let us see what happened in India first. We have already seen that in the very old times India, like Egypt, had a civilization. There was trade, and ships carried Indian goods to Egypt and Mesopotamia and other countries. In those days the people who lived in India were called Dravidians. They are the people whose descendants live in South India now, around Madras.
The Dravidians were invaded by the Aryans from the north. There must have been enormous numbers of these Aryan peoples in Central Asia and not finding enough food there for all, they spread out to other countries. They went in large numbers to Persia and even to Greece further west. They also came to India in crowds over the
The Aryans must have come to India five or six thousand years ago, or perhaps even more. Of course they did not all come in a bunch. Army after army, tribe after tribe, family after family, must have come for hundreds of years. Imagine them travelling in long caravans with all their household goods laden on carts or on the backs of animals. They did not come as tourists do nowadays. There was no going back for them. They came to stay, or fight and die. Most of them, as I have told you, came over the mountains of the north-west. But perhaps some came by sea also from the Persian Gulf and went in their little ships up the river Indus.
What were these Aryans like? We can find out a lot about them from the books they wrote. Some of these books, like the Vedas, are perhaps the oldest books in the world. Probably they were not written down to begin with. They were learnt by heart and recited and chanted to others. They are written in such beautiful Sanskrit that you can
After the Vedic Age in India, when the Vedas were written, came what is called the Epic Age. It is called the Epic Age because two great epics, that is long poems telling us the stories of great heroes, were written then. These two books were the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, which you know.
During the Epic Age, the Aryans had spread out all over Northern India up to the Vindhya mountains. All this land was called 'Aryavarta', as I have told you. What is the United Provinces now was called the Madhyadesha, the middle country. Bengal was called Vanga.
Now there is an interesting fact which you may like to know. If you look at the map of India and imagine where Aryavarta must have been, between the Himalayas and the Vindhya mountains, you will see it is rather like a crescent moon. Therefore Aryavarta was also called the land of the Moon. Indu means moon and so Aryavarta was Indu- land.i The Aryans were very fond of the crescent moon. They considered