In the most developed forms, such as the offering of soma, they assumed a great importance; (r) the sacrificer had to pass from the world of man into a world of the gods; consequently he was separated from the common herd of mankind and purified; he underwent ceremonies emblematic of rebirth and was then subject to numberless taboos imposed for the purpose of maintaining his ceremonial purity.
That which we term the Record of the Past comprises the " taboos,' the customs, the traditions, the beliefs, the knowledge which are handed on by one generation to another independently of organic propagation.
While the Roman cults were amply protected by taboos, there was no comprehensive term in Roman law for religious violations and profanations in general.
The scale of social precedence as recognized by native public opinion is concisely reviewed (ib.) as revealing itself" in the facts that particular castes are supposed to be modern representatives of one or other of the original castes of the theoretical Hindu system; that Brahmans will take water from certain castes; that Brahmans of high standing will serve particular castes; that certain castes, though not served by the best Brahmans, have nevertheless got Brahmans of their own whose rank varies according to circumstances; that certain castes are not served by Brahmans at all but have priests of their own; that the status of certain castes has been raised by their taking to infant-marriage or abandoning the remarriage of widows; that the status of others has been modified by their pursuing some occupations in a special or peculiar way; that some can claim the services of the village barber, the village palanquin-bearer, the village midwife, &c., while others cannot; that some castes may not enter the courtyards of certain temples; that some castes are subject to special taboos, such as that they must not use the village well, or may draw water only with their own vessels, that they must live outside the village or in a separate quarter, that they must leave the road on the approach of a highcaste man and must call out to give warning of their approach."
Nevertheless these non-moral taboos or restraints may have played a part in building up in us that faculty of preferring the larger good to the impulse of the moment which is the note of real civilization.
Only when the holy man's duty to preserve his holiness binds him hand and foot in a network of taboos does his temporal power tend to devolve on a deputy.
Meanwhile, the primitive meal is always more or less of a sacrament, and there are many food-taboos, the significance of which is, however, not so much that certain foods are unclean and poisonous as that they are of special virtue and must be partaken of solemnly and with circumspection.
The savage who finds himself encompassed by taboos which he dare not break, lives up to his religion with a faithfulness which many professing Christians fail to reach.