circumstance that many of them are devoted to this or some
other modification of the Buddhist faith. When, therefore, a
Bania or Brahmin leper denies ever having eaten fish, it is
at least possible from what is known of the habits and customs
of these communities. This is especially true of Agra and the
North-West Provinces, so far as the Banias are concerned.15
The Jains form one of the richest communities in India, yet
the disease, though rarely, is found amongst them. Thus, at
Hoshiarpur two of the Commissioners gathered, through the
kindness of the Civil Surgeon Dr. Datta, reliable information
concerning a leper from the Bhabra class, in whose case the
cause of the disease could certainly not be ascribed to fish-
It is not claimed that the fact of a man calling himself a
Brahmin or a Bania is identical with saying that he has never
eaten fish. It has already been said that many of the former
consume animal food, and the latter include amongst their
numbers many castes whose laws do not prohibit such a diet.
This short exposition is meant to show that many of these
people do never touch fish, and that, therefore, if a leper
belonging to either class denies ever having done so, there is a
fair probability of his statement being true.
Now Mr. Jonathan Hutchinson16 objects and says: "In
recording the denial on the part of leprosy patients that they
have been fish consumers, caution must be exercised. Those
who belong to castes which are forbidden to eat animal food
will naturally be prone to deny that they have deviated from
the rule. The temptation to eat fish as a condiment must, in
the case of those restricted to an exclusively vegetable diet, be
very great. It is, under those circumstances, precisely those
who eat it most seldom (dwellers far inland, for instance) who
are likely to receive it in its most dangerous state of decom-
(15) M. A. Sherring : Hindu Tribes and Castes, 1872, pages 285-299.
(16) Journal of the Leprosy Investigation Committee, No. 1, August 1890, page 79.