In transcribing the following paragraphs from the Internet Archive online version of The Imperial Gazetteer’s entry on Hindustan, I have expanded the abbreviations for easier reading and added paragraphing and links. This mid-Victorian reference work has substantial sections on both India and Hindustan, and it is not always clear how Victorians distinguished between the two. The title-page bears the date 1856, but internal evidence in various entrees makes clear that the text dates from 1851 or 1852. This discussion of British India has particular importance because it immediately precedes the 1857 Mutiny.— George P. Landow]
Buddhism, which now prevails over all Central and east Asia, appears to have originated in Hindoostan, but it is now all but extinct there. Various traces, however, exist of its former supremacy, especially at Buddha-Gaya, in Bahar, in the cave temples of India, and even at the temple of Juggernaut, which is resorted to by vast numbers of Brahminical pilgrims, but within the precincts of which no recognition of caste exists a distinguishing characteristic of the Buddhist faith. (For an account of Buddhism, see TIBET.)
The Jains, a numerous sect, in habiting the west part of the peninsula, especially Gujerat, Candeish, &c., are supposed to have been an offset of the Buddhists at the time that Buddhism was extirpated in Hindoostan; they, also, do not recognize caste, and, with the addition of worshipping a small number of deified saints, their form of religion presents some striking similarities to that of Buddhism.
The Seik or Sikh religion is confined to the Punjab and adjacent territories; it is an heretical form of the Brahminical religion, which originated in the 15th century, and its chief characteristics are perhaps the intolerance of its followers, and their perfect abstinence from eating the flesh of the cow (see PUNJAB).
The Mahometans, who form about one-fifteenth of the entire population of India, are of Afghan, Persian, Toork, Belooch, and Arabic origin, being the descendants of the numerous invaders who have entered Hindoostan from the northwest since the commencement of the llth cen tury. Singular to say, they are not most numerous around Delhi, Agra, &c., which were the chief seats of the Moslem empire in India; but in many parts of Bengal, which was at the extremity of that dominion, they constitute the majority of the inhabitants; and the same is the case in various part s of the Deccan. Of the sovereign states they established, the principal now existing is that of Hyderabad or the. Nizam.
At Bombay, Surat, &c., Parsees are numerous; they are the descendants of the ancient Persians, expelled from the table-land of Iran at the Mahometan conquest of Persia, and preserve the worship of fire and the sun, with other ancient customs, in great purity : they are mercantile, industrious, often learned, and many of them are amongst the opulent individuals in India.
In the south of the peninsula are a great number of native Christians; in many localities they predominate, in point of numbers, over the rest of the popula tion, particularly on the coasts, where they are chiefly engaged in fishing and maritime traffic. They are partly Nestorians, or of the Syrian church, the doctrines of which appear to have been introduced into India in nearly the earliest ages of Christianity; and partly Roman Catholics, especially on the Coromandel coast.
Abyssinians in Gujerat, Armenians, Jews, Tartars, some Malays, and Europeans of various nations, with .1 considerable number of native descendants of Portuguese settlers, make up nearly the remainder of the motley popula tion of India. Goa, I>amaun,and Diu, all in west India, belong to the Portuguese; Pondichery, Chandernagore, and a few smaller settlements on the Coromandel coast, to the French; and Tranquebar, on the same coast, to the Danes; but, with these exceptions and Nepaul and Bootan, states which are still independent, as well as Buddhist the whole of India is substantially under the British dominion. >/p>
Blackie, Walker Graham. The Imperial Gazetteer: A General Dictionary of Geography, Physical, Political, Statistical and Descriptive. 4 vols. London: Blackie & Son, 1856. Internet Archive online version of a copy in the University of California Library. Web. 7 November 2018.
Last modified 10 December 2018