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 Megasthenes divides the philosophers again into two kinds, the Brachmanes1 and the Garmanes.2 The Brachmanes are held in greater repute, for they agree more exactly in their opinions. Even from the time of their conception in the womb they are under the care and guardianship of learned men, who go to the mother, and seem to perform some incantation for the happiness and welfare of the mother and the unborn child, but in reality they suggest prudent advice, and the mothers who listen to them most willingly are thought to be the most fortunate in their offspring. After the birth of the children, there is a succession of persons who have the care of them, and as they advance in years, masters more able and accomplished succeed. The philosophers live in a grove in front of the city within a moderate-sized enclosure. Their diet is frugal, and they lie upon straw pallets and on skins. They abstain from animal food, and from sexual intercourse with women; their time is occupied in grave discourse, and they communicate with those who are inclined to listen to them; but the hearer is not permitted to speak or cough, or even to spit on the ground; otherwise, he is expelled that very day from their society, on the ground of having no control over himself. After living thirty-seven years in this manner, each individual retires to his own possessions, and lives with less restraint, wearing robes of fine linen, and rings of gold, but without profuseness, upon the hands and in the ears. They eat the flesh of animals, of those particularly which do not assist man in his labour, and abstain from hot and seasoned food. They have as many wives as they please with a view to numerous offspring, for from many wives greater advantages are derived. As they have no slaves, they require more the services, which are at hand, of their children. The Brachmanes do not communicate their philosophy to their wives, for fear they should divulge to the profane, if they became depraved, anything which ought to be concealed or lest they should abandon their husbands in case they became good (philosophers) themselves. For no one who despises alike pleasure and pain, life and death, is willing to be subject to the authority of another; and such is the character of a virtuous man and a virtuous woman. They discourse much on death, for it is their opinion that the present life is the state of one conceived in the womb, and that death to philosophers is birth to a real and a happy life. They therefore discipline themselves much to prepare for death, and maintain that nothing which happens to man is bad or good, for otherwise the same things would not be the occasion of sorrow to some and of joy to others, opinions being merely dreams, nor that the same persons could be affected with sorrow and joy by the same things, on different occasions. With regard to opinions on physical phenomena, they display, says Megasthenes, great simplicity, their actions being better than their reasoning, for their belief is chiefly founded on fables. On many subjects their sentiments are the same as those of the Greeks. According to the Brachmanes, the world was created, and is liable to corruption; it is of a spheroïdal figure; the god who made and governs it pervades the whole of it; the principles of all things are different, but the principle of the world's formation was water; in addition to the four elements there is a fifth nature, of which the heavens and the stars are composed; the earth is situated in the centre of the universe. Many other peculiar things they say of the principle of generation and of the soul. They invent fables also, after the manner of Plato, on the immortality of the soul, and on the punishments in Hades, and other things of this kind. This is the account which Megasthenes gives of the Brachmanes.
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