Bhikshu in the religion of India, is the highest of the four grades of the castes of Brahmins, into which every Brahmin enters in his seventy-second year, if he can meet the ascetic requirements necessary for admission to this honor. He is then looked upon as a perfect saint, whom nothing separates from entering Paradise save death, and whose departure from this world is not mourned, as the gate of everlasting bliss has opened for him. In order to become a Bhikshu, the Brahmin renounces all his property, has his hair cut off as a sign that he is no more a priest, wears a linen cloth and the skin of a tiger in honor of Siva, and performs the sacrifice Homa; whereupon he is instructed in the duties of the new grade. As a Bhikshu he must wash his linen himself, and continually hold a brass vessel in his hand, in order to cleanse the food that he has begged; he is further compelled to carry the staff Damdam, which protects him against all influences of evil genii. He is obliged to battle against all evil lusts, bathe three times a day, mark his forehead and breast three times a day with the ashes of sacred cow-dung, and wander about the country begging by stretching forth his hand, not with words. There are thousands of such Brahmins, living on the kindness of the people, who worship them as gods and look upon them as perfected beings. They are buried in graves filled with salt, in a standing posture. Their head is broken by a cocoanut, and parts of the skull are distributed to those standing around.

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