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Title: India, Its Life and Thought
Author: Jones, John P. (John Peter), 1847-1916
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: A HOLY MAN OF INDIA]



INDIA

ITS LIFE AND THOUGHT



BY

JOHN P. JONES, D.D.

SOUTH INDIA

AUTHOR OF "INDIA'S PROBLEM, KRISHNA OR CHRIST,"
ETC., ETC.



New York

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

1908



COPYRIGHT, 1908,

BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

       *       *       *       *       *



Dedicated

TO MY DEAR CHILDREN

WHO HAVE

BRAVELY AND CHEERFULLY ENDURED

THE SEPARATION AND THE LOSS OF HOME

FOR THE SAKE OF INDIA

       *       *       *       *       *



PREFACE


To the people of the West, the inhabitants of India are the least
understood and the most easily misunderstood of all men.

It is partly because they are antipodal to the West--the farthest
removed in thought and life. They are also the most secretive, and
find perennial delight in concealment and evasion.

According to Hindu teaching, the Supreme Spirit forever sports in
illusion. It continuously manifests itself through unreal and false
forms, which delude and lead astray ignorant man. In harmony with this
philosophy of the Divine--and may it not be as a result of it?--the
people of India too often delight in unreal and deceptive exhibitions
of themselves. At any rate, it is exceedingly difficult for a man of
the West, especially he of the Anglo-Saxon type, to apprehend the full
significance and the correct drift of life and thought of this land.

It is amusing, when not discouraging, to witness travellers, who have
rushed through India in a winter tour, publish volumes of their
misconceptions and ill-digested theories about the people with an
oracular emphasis which is equalled only by their ignorance.

The author of this book makes no claim to a right to speak _ex
cathedra_ upon this subject. Nevertheless, thirty years of matured
experience in this land, living in constant touch with the people and
studying with eagerness their life and thought, gives him an humble
claim to speak once more upon the subject.

Even now, however, his pride of knowledge is chastened by the
oft-recurring surprises which the Oriental nature and life still bring
to him. And he does not cease to pray, with a western saint, who, at
the end of a half century of work for the people of India, daily cried
out,--

"O Lord, help me to know these people and to come into intimate
relations of life with them!"

If, in these pages, he can help others of the West to come face to
face with the immense and intricate problems which confront all who
desire to know, to help, and to bless India, and shall enable them to
understand better the conditions and characteristics of life in the
Land of the Vedas, he will feel amply repaid for his labours.

I express my deep gratitude to the Rev. J. L. Barton, D.D., for his
kind encouragement in the publishing of this book; and also to the
Rev. W. W. Wallace, M.A., for his generous aid in the proof-reading.

J. P. JONES.

       *       *       *       *       *



CONTENTS


CHAPTER

I. INDIA'S UNREST

    i. Extent of the Movement

    ii. Causes of Unrest

    iii. Conditions of Unrest

    iv. Results

    v. How shall the Unrest be Removed


II. THE HOME OF MANY FAITHS

    Hinduism--Madura and Benares

    Demonolatry--Madura

    Christianity--Travancore and Cochin

    Judaism--Cochin

    Parseeism--Bombay

    Jainism--Bombay

    Mohammedanism--Agra and Delhi

    Buddhism--Delhi, Sarnath

    Sikhism--Amritsar


III. BURMA, THE BEAUTIFUL

    The Extent of the British Empire

    Burma's Triple Produce

    The Land of Pagodas

    Mandalay

    A Land where Woman is Honoured

    A Land where Caste is Unknown

    The American Baptist Mission

    The Karens and their Conversion

    Ko San Ye


IV. THE HINDU CASTE SYSTEM

    What is Caste

        i. Origin of Caste

                (_a_) Religious Theory

                (_b_) Tribal Theory

                (_c_) Social Theory

                (_d_) Occupational Theory

                (_e_) Crossing Theory

        ii. Characteristics of Caste

                Intermarriage

                Inter-dining

                Contact

                Occupation

        iii. Penalties of Caste

                Boycott

                Caste Servants Interdicted

                Domestic Isolation

                Prayaschitta. (Travelling)


V. THE HINDU CASTE SYSTEM (_Continued_)

        iv. Occasions of Punishment

                Change of Faith

                Marrying a Widow

                Beef-eating

                Officiating as Priest to Outcasts

                Marrying outside of One's Caste

         v. The Results of the Caste System

                Possibilities of Good

                It arrays Caste against Caste

                It narrows the Sympathies

                It degrades Manual Labour

                It opposes Commerce

                A Foe to Nationality

                A Foe to Individualism

                It is Unethical

        vi. The Dominance of Caste

                Seen even among Christians

                Roman Catholicism and Protestantism

                Signs of its Decadence

                Opposed by Western Progress

                Government Opposition

                Christianity its Foe


VI. THE BHAGAVAD GITA--THE HINDU BIBLE

        i. What is this Song

        ii. What are its Purposes and Contents

                1. Its Teaching concerning God

                        Incarnation

                2. The Doctrine of the Living Soul

                3. The Doctrine of Liberation

                        (1) Through Knowledge

                        (2) Through Asceticism

                        (3) Through Works

                                Caste

                                Detachment

                                Bhakti

                        (4) Altruism.

                4. The Doctrine of Salvation

                        Reincarnation

        iii. Conclusion


VII. POPULAR HINDUISM

        i. The Higher Faith

            The Evolution of Faith

        ii. Popular Hinduism

            1. Caste

            2. Polytheism

            3. Idolatry

            4. Devil-worship

            5. Fetichism

            6. Immorality

            7. Treatment of Woman

            8. The Hindu Ascetic

            9. Hindu Pessimism

            10. Astrology


VIII. HINDU RELIGIOUS IDEALS

        i. The Ideal of God

        ii. Ideal of Incarnation

        iii. Ideals of Life

                Asceticism

                Ceremonialism

                Quietism

       iv. Ultimate Salvation

                Transmigration

                Absorption


IX. THE HOME LIFE OF HINDUS

        The Home Sanctuary

        The Building of the House

        The Joint Family System

        Priest and Astrologer

        Place of Woman in the Home

       The Devotion of Woman

        The Influence of Woman

        Marriage in the Home

        The Hindu Widow

        Mother-in-law and Daughter-in-law

        Love of Jewellery

        Clothing and Cuisine

        Sickness and Death

        Funeral Obsequies

        Shradda


X. KALI YUGA--INDIA'S PESSIMISM

        i. The Astounding Length of the Chronological System

                History and Legend in India

        ii. The Cyclic Character of Hindu Chronology

                No Progress in Time

                The Source of Pessimism

        iii. The Moral Characteristics of the Time System

                Every Yuga has its Own Character

                The Evil Character of Kali

                _Cui Bono_

                Astrology

                Lucky Days


XI. ISLAM IN INDIA

        i. The History of Islam in India

        ii. The Present Condition of this Faith in India

                Ill-adapted to India

                Its Conception of Deity

                Intolerance and Tolerance

                Contact with Hinduism

                Compromise

                Islam's Attempt at Reform

                Islam's Redeeming Qualities

                Muslim Sects

        iii. The Mohammedan Population

        iv. Christian Effort for the Mussulman


XII. THE CHRIST AND THE BUDDHA

        i. The Conditions of their Lives

        ii. The Common Principles which controlled Them

                Sincerity

                Ethics

                Universal Charity

        iii. The Teachings which differentiate Them

                1. Teaching concerning God

                2. Their Conceptions of Human Life

                3. Their Ideals of Life

                        Character and Wisdom

                        Final Consummation


XIII. MODERN RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT

        Hindu Reformers

                i. Hindu Sects

                ii. Modern Movements

                        Ram Mohan Roy

                        Brahmo Somaj

                        Chunder Sen

                        Âthi Somaj

                        Sâdhârna Somaj

                        New Dispensation

                iii. Progress of the Movement

                        Weak in Numbers

                        Indian Spirit

                        Christian Basis

                        "The Oriental Christ"

                        Chunder Sen's Words.

                        Other Testimony

                        The New Dispensation

                iv. The Arya Somaj

                        Its Progress

                        Its Principles

                        Its Antagonism to Christianity

                v. The Theosophical Society

                        Its Reactionary Spirit

                        Mrs. Besant

                        The "Masters"


XIV. THE PROGRESS OF CHRISTIANITY IN INDIA

        i. Early History of Christianity

                Converts

                The Character of the Christian Community

                Influence of Christianity

                "Swadesha"

                Protestant Effort

        ii. Ultimate Triumph of Christianity

                Not the Western Type

                The Kingdom of God

        iii. A Conquest of the Spirit

                1. Conquest of Principles

                2. Conquest of the Christ Ideal

                3. Conquest of the Incarnation of Christ

                4. Conquest of the Cross of Christ

                5. Conquest of the Christian Conception of Sin


INDEX

       *       *       *       *       *



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


A HOLY MAN OF INDIA             _Frontispiece_

THE GOLDEN LILY TANK IN THE MADURA TEMPLE

TAJ MAHAL, AGRA

MARBLE SCREEN IN TAJ MAHAL

SHAH JEHAN'S FORT, AGRA

AKBAR'S TOMB

KUTAB-MINAR, DELHI

CASHMERE GATE, DELHI

SCHWEY DAGON PAGODA, RANGOON

THEEBAW'S PALACE, MANDALAY

JUNGLE PEOPLE OF INDIA

A DRAVIDIAN SHRINE, SOUTH INDIA

TWO HINDU IDOLS, SOUTH INDIA

HUMAYAN'S TOMB, DELHI

THE GREATEST IMAGE OF BUDDHA

A CHRISTIAN VILLAGE SCHOOL IN SOUTH INDIA

       *       *       *       *       *



INDIA: ITS LIFE AND THOUGHT

CHAPTER I

INDIA'S UNREST


India has been called the land of quiet repose, content to remain
anchored to the hoary past, and proud of her immobility. Invasion
after invasion has swept over her; but--

    "The East bowed low before the blast,
      In patient, deep disdain;
    She let the legions thunder past,
      And plunged in thought again."

Yet this same India is now throbbing with discontent, and is
breathing, in all departments of her life, a deep spirit of unrest.
This spirit has recently become acute and seemed, for a while, in
danger of bursting into open rebellion, not unlike the Mutiny of half
a century ago.


I

This movement is but a part of the new awakening of the East. The
world has seen its marvellously rapid development and fruitage in
Japan. It is witnessing the same process in China and Korea. The
people of India, likewise, have been touched by its power and are no
longer willing to rest contentedly as a subject people or a stagnant
race.

This movement is not only political, it permeates every department of
life; and it partakes of the general unrest which has taken possession
of all the civilized nations of the earth. It is really the dawning of
India's consciousness of strength and of a purpose to take her place,
and to play a worthy part, in the great world drama.

This spirit found its incarnation and warmest expression in the
opposition to the government scheme, two years ago, under Lord Curzon,
for the partition of Bengal. The Bengalees keenly resented the
division of their Province; for it robbed the clever Babu of many of
the plums of office. He petitioned, and fomented agitation and
opposition to the scheme. Then, in his spite against the government,
he organized a boycott against all forms of foreign industry and
commerce. This has been conducted with mad disregard to the people's
own economic interest, and has, moreover, developed into bitter racial
animosity.

The Bengalee has striven hard to carry into other Provinces also his
spirit of antagonism to the State. Though he has not succeeded in
convincing many others of the wisdom of his method, he has spread the
spirit of discontent and of dissatisfaction far beyond his own
boundary. Even sections of the land which denounce the boycott as
folly, if not suicide, have taken up the political slogan of the Babu
(_Bande Mataram_--Hail, Mother!) and are demanding, mostly in
inarticulate speech, such rights and privileges as they imagine
themselves to be deprived of.

The movement is, in some respects, a reactionary one; and race hatred
is one of its most manifest results. It is not merely a rising of the
East against the West; it is also a conflict between Mohammedans and
Hindus. In Eastern Bengal, where the Mussulmans are in a large
majority, and where the Hindus have become the most embittered, the
former have stood aloof from the latter and have opposed the boycott.
This has led to increasing hatred between the members of these two
faiths,--a feeling which has spread all over the country, and which
has carried them into opposing camps. This is, in one way, fortunate
for the government, since it has given rise to definite and warm
expressions of loyalty by the whole Mohammedan community.

Disgruntled graduates of the University and school-boys take the most
prominent place in this movement. The Universities annually send forth
an army of men supplied with degrees--last year it was 1570 B.A.'s;
and it is the conviction of nine-tenths of them that it is the duty of
the government to give them employment as soon as they graduate. As
this is impossible, many of them nurse their disappointment into
discontent and opposition to the powers that be. Many of them become
dangerous demagogues and fomenters of sedition. Not a few such are
found in every Province of the country. And they find in the High
School and College students the best material to work upon. These boys
have been the most numerous and excited advocates of this movement. As
in Russia, so in India the educational institutions are becoming the
hotbeds of dissatisfaction and opposition to the State. But there is
this difference. In Russia the University student is much more truly
an exponent of public sentiment, and more ready to suffer for that
sentiment, than are the dependent youth of colleges in India.

This movement has not, to any considerable extent, reached the
masses. Nine-tenths of the population of India are satisfied with the
government and have no desire to change the present order of things.
Indeed, they are deeply ignorant of the grievances which the higher
classes nurse into bitterness. And yet it should not be forgotten that
the ignorance of the people, coupled with their narrow superstition
and lively imagination, make them very inflammable material under the
influence of eloquent demagogues.


II

One of the most marked causes of this activity and discontent is the
recent victory of Japan over Russia. It is hard for the West to
realize how much that event has stirred the imagination and quickened
the ambition of all the people of the East. They regard that war as
the great conflict of the East and the West. India had not the
slightest idea that Japan would come triumphant out of that conflict.
But the victory of Japan instantly suggested to all men of culture in
India the question, "Why should our land be subject to a far-off, and
a small, western country? Why should we be content with our dependence
and not reveal our manhood and our prowess, as Japan did?" These are
inquiries which have opened up new visions of power and greatness to
the people of India. Japan and its people have been immensely popular
in India since their recent victory. And Hindus believe that the peace
perfected at Portsmouth was the harbinger of a new era of liberty and
independence for all the East.

The growing influence of western education in India has had much to do
with the present state of things. It is true that India is still a
land of ignorance. It is a lamentable fact that only 1 in 10 of the
males and 1 in 144 of the females can read. Only 22.6 per cent of the
boys of school-going age attend school, and only 2.6 per cent of the
girls. And yet the enrolment of more than five million scholars in the
public schools is a significantly hopeful fact as compared with the
past history of India.

This education is distinctly on _western_ lines. And connected with
the five Universities of India there are many thousands of young men
and women who are devoting themselves to a deep study of western
thought and of western ideas of liberty. The Calcutta University alone
has, in its affiliated colleges, more students registered than
Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Toronto combined. In that city, which is
the centre of the present unrest, there are 12,000 young men in the
Colleges, and 30,000 pupils in the High Schools. This host of young
men and women are imbibing modern ideas of manliness, independence,
and liberty such as India never knew in the past; and they go out into
the world with new ambitions for their country and inspired with not a
little "divine unrest."

In close connection with this educational influence is that of western
civilization and Christian ideals. The government of this land is
built upon Christian principles and is animated by that spirit of
civilization which dominates the West. And we know that these make for
manhood and independence everywhere. It would be a sad thing for Great
Britain, as it would be for the Christian missionary in India, if
these lofty principles, which they inculcate, did not acquire
increasing power over these youth.

And it should not be forgotten that an increasing number of the elect
youth of India go to England for the completion of their training, and
return well equipped with Anglo-Saxon ideas of human rights and of
manhood's claims.

Nor is this merely a movement of the people of India. There is a
strong body of Englishmen, several of whom are members of Parliament,
banded together in England, for the purpose of promoting the political
influence of the people of India in the conduct of the affairs of
their own country. These men believe that India has a right to a much
larger meed of self-government than she now enjoys. And they seize
upon every opportunity to urge upon the Home Government the duty of
granting added power to the people, and also to advise the leaders of
Indian thought as to their wisest methods of procedure. There are not
a few radicals in Britain who believe that India should govern herself
as an independent colony. And they rouse within Hindu youth who go to
England a radical spirit of discontent and disloyalty. It was only the
other day that Lord Ampthill warned these men, because of the
insidious influence which they were exercising for the overthrow of
the British power in the East.

The National Congress, which has just reached its majority, has a
profound influence in the development of a national consciousness, and
in the furtherance of the cause of independence and political power in
the land. The very existence of this institution is one of the highest
compliments to British rule in India. It would be impossible for one
to imagine the Russian government permitting such a body of men to
gather every year in solemn conclave to devote several days to a
vehement criticism of all the principal acts of the State, to give
vent to disloyal sentiments, and to promote the spirit of disaffection
throughout the country. This Congress has devoted nearly all its time
to a denunciation of the powers that be; and during these twenty-one
years the writer has not seen one word of commendation or one vote of
appreciation of the State in the reports of the proceedings of the
Congress. And the demands of the Congress, inspired as they are by
Anglo-Saxon friends in Great Britain, are becoming annually more
definite and urgent.

Until the meeting of 1906 there was no divergence of sentiment among
Congress-wallahs. No dissentient voice or conflicting opinions were
allowed. It is to the honour and highest interest of the Congress that
this stage has now been passed and the healthy rivalry of parties is
felt and heard in Congress councils. It is to be regretted that at the
last Congress meeting, in Surat, these two parties--the Moderates and
the Extremists--came into bitter conflict. It was largely due to the
past supineness of the Moderates who permitted the other party (which
is a small but noisy minority) to resort to bluster in order to force
their pet and bitter schemes of disorder upon the Congress. When,
ultimately, the Moderates determined to exercise the rights of the
majority, the others resorted to force and caused the Congress to be
suspended in disorder, thus revealing the sad spectacle of the present
incapacity of the leaders of the people to govern themselves and the
country.

This is, however, perhaps the best thing that could have happened for
the highest interest of the Congress itself. The two parties are now
clearly defined--the one seeking, through constitutional agitation,
self-government on colonial lines, like Canada; the other determined
to overthrow the government of the foreigner and to establish its own
upon the ruins. And agitation in this behalf is to be conducted in
every possible way, constitutional or otherwise.

The Moderates are now thoroughly roused and have driven out from their
councils the irreconcilables and fire-eaters, and can now work with
more harmony and success for the attainment of their wiser plans and
more reasonable aims.

A few years ago, the State ignored, when it did not ridicule, the
National Congress. To-day none recognizes its power more than does the
government.

And it is most suggestive and instructive to see this body, of fully
three thousand men, gathered together from all parts of this great
peninsula--men who represent peoples that speak more than four
hundred languages and dialects! They conduct their sessions in
English, which is the only universal tongue of the country. And a
purer English is hardly spoken in any deliberative or legislative body
in any other land; and some of the addresses are delivered with a
force, and are adorned with a logic and a rhetoric, which are truly
eloquent. Verily, the weapon of popular power, though largely used
against the government, is the best compliment possible to the State
which has created it.

The Press also has marvellously grown in power and in dignity during
the last quarter of a century. At the present time there are scores of
dailies, and many more weeklies and monthlies, published in the
English tongue by the natives of the land. And they discuss, with
intelligence and discrimination, if not with moderation, all matters
of State and of political interest. Recently some of these papers have
become thoroughly radical and oppose the government at all points.

But it is the vernacular Press, representing, as it does, hundreds of
newspapers in all the tongues of India, that carries its influence
into the villages and homes of the uneducated millions. The present
condition of discontent with the government has been disseminated
among the common people more by these vernacular papers than by any
other agency. Many of these are thoroughly disloyal and seditious.
Very occasionally they are prosecuted for their inflammatory
editorials, and their editors are imprisoned.

As a matter of fact, there is hardly any country where the Press has
greater liberties than in India; and there is no land on earth where
that liberty is more abused. The very toleration of the government is
turned as a keen weapon against it.

The same thing is true of the freedom of public speech. There is not
another land, save perhaps America, whose citizens have greater
privileges in this matter. The seditious speeches which have been made
in many parts of India during the last two years, by Bengalees
specially, and by a few other radicals, have been such as would in
Europe lead to imprisonment if not to deportation. Bepin Chandra Pal,
of Calcutta, has just closed a tour during which he has made many
addresses, attended, in all cases, by thousands of students and
disaffected members of the community, and has not only denounced the
government as the very incarnation of unrighteousness and cruelty, but
has also urged the people to do all they can, both constitutionally
and otherwise, to defeat and overthrow it and to establish a native
rule upon its ruin. Any government, in order to ignore such language
uttered in immense public assemblies, must feel very secure in its
power. Mr. Pal is only one of many who have thus far been granted
absolute freedom to sow broadcast the seed of revolution.


III

What is there in the recent condition of the country and of the
people, which warrants this unrest and discontent?

Disinterested persons will not say that the State is unprogressive or
is administering its affairs unwisely. In its recent Annual Financial
Statement we discover evidences of prosperity in all departments of
State. There is no extensive famine to distress the people and harass
the government. The revenue of the year exceeds, by nearly 30 million
rupees, the estimates; there was a surplus at the end of the year of
20 million rupees. Owing to this the government has reduced the opium
cultivation, which has wrought, for many years, so much injustice to
China. It has also increased postal facilities, which renders them
cheaper and more convenient than in any other land. Moreover, the
obnoxious salt tax has been reduced by 50 per cent; and it is hoped
that the whole tax will be remitted shortly. The grant for education
is also much enhanced beyond any former year, and the State is even
planning for the introduction of a Free Primary Education, which will
be an unspeakable boon to the people.

And when it is said that taxation in India has been reduced, we should
also remember that in this land "the taxation per head is lighter than
in any other civilized country in the world. In Russia, it is eight
times as great; in England, twenty times; in Italy, nineteen; in
France, twenty-five; in the United States and Germany, thirteen
times." In other words, taxation in India comes to only one dollar, or
three rupees, per head.

But it is claimed that India is a land of deepest poverty. This is
perfectly true. But it is not true that her poverty is increasing. The
Parsee Chairman of the Bombay Stock Exchange, in his last annual
address, said that "it was the conviction of merchants, bankers,
tradesmen, and captains of industry that India is slowly but steadily
advancing along paths of material prosperity, and for the last few
years it has taken an accelerated pace." The poverty of the people is
a very convenient slogan of the political party; but there is
everything to prove that the condition of the people, deplorable
though it be, is, nevertheless, slowly improving.

The State is, moreover, constantly yielding to the growing demand of
the people for a larger share in the conduct of public business and in
the emoluments of office. Even at the present time the Secretary of
State for India has introduced a scheme, at the instance of the
government, which will add materially to the power of India in the
conduct of its own affairs.

The British were never more firmly entrenched and possessed of more
power in India than at the present time. The lesson of the Mutiny, of
a half-a-century ago, was not lost upon the administrators of India.
Since then, no Indian regiment can be stationed within a thousand
miles of its own home, and thus be able to enter into collusion with
the people. And the artillery branch of the army is entirely in the
hands of the British force. Moreover, as we have seen, the Mohammedans
and the Sikhs are loyal to the government, and would stand with the
British against the Hindus in any conflict of arms.

The Hindus themselves realize this situation perfectly well. One of
the best-known Hindu gentlemen recently wrote as follows: "The truth
is in a nutshell and may be described in a few words. The British
cannot be driven out of India by the Indians, nor by any foreign
Power. This fact is known to more than 90 per cent of the people. Of
all the foreigners, the British are the best. We, as we are now, are
the least able to govern India, being not equal to the worst and
weakest foreign Power."

The best class of Hindus are not only sensible of their own weakness,
from a military standpoint; they are also dissatisfied with the action
of extremists and believe that the present unrest is evil. A
well-known Hindu writer describes the situation in the following
words: "The class of people the Indian Extremists appeal to, consists
of irresponsible and impressionable students and the ignorant
populace; and the agitator, who is thoroughly cognizant of this fact,
uses it for his purposes. He appeals to their feelings, and succeeds
in making them believe in the soundness of his fallacies and
mischievous preachings. The authorities have therefore to see that
this class of people is protected from the insidious appeals of
mischievous pseudo-patriots. After over a century of beneficent
British rule in India, it is scarcely necessary to attempt to justify
its existence or continuance. At the same time, it has to be
recognized that discontent prevails among the people; though, speaking
generally, it does not by any means partake of the character of
disaffection or disloyalty. Discontent is by no means inconsistent
with loyalty to government. On the other hand, it may even be said,
with a certain degree of truth, that the deep-rooted and abiding sense
of loyalty in the people has engendered the spirit of discontent, the
healthy discontent with their lot."

It should also be remembered that the Hindu caste system is an
insuperable barrier to the progress of the people toward independence.
The unity of the Mohammedans of India, who are only one-fifth of the
population, is in healthful contrast to the myriad caste divisions and
social barriers which separate Hindus one from another. One must be
compelled to deny the sincerity of many who claim that this people is
a nation which prides itself upon its patriotism, so long as the caste
system dominates them and their ideas. The only tie which binds
together these people is the spirit of opposition to this foreign
government. Among the classes and the masses there is absolutely no
coherence or unity of sentiment in any line of constructive activity.
So that in the matter of self-government they would prove themselves
to be sadly incompetent.


IV

The action of the Indian government, in view of the present situation,
has been the subject of criticism. Anglo-Indians feel that the Viceroy
and his Council have, for some reason or other, been too deliberate in
their action. For two years things have been going from bad to worse.
When, recently, Sir Bampfylde Fuller, the Lieutenant-Governor of East
Bengal, took prompt and vigorous action to suppress the uprising in
his Province, which was the centre of trouble, the Indian government
declined to support him. He therefore resigned, and India lost one of
the men who are the most competent to deal wisely and well with
sedition-mongers. The State may have thought, and was probably right
in thinking, that while the Bengal Babu is capable of unlimited noise,
he has a mortal aversion to converting his noise into action. So the
government preferred patiently to endure odium rather than suppress
the movement.

It was different in the Panjaub, whose people are less talkative, but
are more given to action. These warrior tribes were being rapidly
disaffected by political agitators; and they doubtless had definite
grievances of their own to agitate them. The time came when government
was compelled to do something to suppress the rising tide of feeling.
It decided to act upon a law of nearly a century ago, and deported two
of the leaders of the movement. They were at once sent to Burma, where
they were held in surveillance for six months and then released. This
action of the State was effective; for it quieted the people and
nipped what promised to be a rebellion, in the bud. But it raised a
storm of denunciation from all the Hindu papers, which spoke of it as
a violation of the Queen's Proclamation and an act subversive of the
most sacred rights of the people of the country and of the most
elementary form of justice! One writer claims that "the meanest
British subject is entitled to a writ of _Habeas Corpus_, and thus
secure an effective protection against arbitrary imprisonment and
arrest by the government." This is certainly true in ordinary times of
peace; but the government had every reason to believe that the state
of things in the Panjaub was anything but peaceable, and that it must
act in view of the extraordinary condition of the Province. And its
method of procedure has proved itself to be the most bloodless and
inexpensive possible. It has been claimed that the chief deported man,
Mr. Lala Rajpat Rai, is not an extremist; but this has to be proved,
and it may be presumed that the government was more conversant with
his acts and their influence upon the people, and the native army,
than some of his defenders are. All must regret the necessity of so
unconstitutional a method of dealing with this great evil; but when
such a man as the Hon. Mr. Morley, the Secretary of State for India,
agrees with the Indian government in this matter, it may be presumed
to have been necessary.

The government has also proclaimed and prohibited the assembling
together of the people for political purposes in the most disaffected
parts of the country, and more especially where the Hindus and
Mohammedans are fighting each other. None can question the wisdom of
thus saving the people from bitter feuds and the power of agitators.

Another very important action of the State has been to warn the
students of the Universities against participating in political
agitation, and to threaten the withdrawal of affiliation from
institutions of learning in which political agitation is encouraged.
Nobody will dispute the wisdom of this action; for the school-boys of
India seem as disloyal as they are irresponsible, and are the most
pliant tools of radical demagogues.

The Press also is receiving the attention of the government. The
vernacular Press is in special need of being taught the lesson of its
responsibility to the people and to the State. And the best elements
of the community, both Anglo-Indian and Indian, believe heartily that
editors and proprietors of papers should be brought to account for
their seditious utterances.


V

Many are now asking, "How shall this trouble be removed and peace and
good-will be restored to the land?"

Nothing is more necessary than the cultivation of mutual understanding
between the two races. It is very unfortunate that, in this matter,
the situation has not improved during the last quarter of a century.
Indeed, the racial problem is more acute now, as it is in America,
than it was ever before. All seem too ready to accept, as conclusive,
the statement of Kipling,--

    "O! the East is East and the West is West,
      And never the twain shall meet,
    Till earth and sky stand presently
      Before God's great judgment seat."

And they too easily ignore the other part which conveys his lesson,--

    "But there is neither East nor West,
      Nor border, nor breed, nor birth,
    Where two strong men stand face to face,
      Though they come from the ends of the earth."

The parties concerned in India to-day must learn the lesson of mutual
forbearance and study to understand each other's peculiarities and
enter more fully into each other's thoughts, sentiments, and
idiosyncrasies.

The Anglo-Indian stands most in need of this lesson of aptitude. The
Anglo-Saxon is notoriously conceited and given to thinking that he has
nothing to learn from other people, especially those who are
politically subject to him. He looks with contempt upon the "mild
Hindu," and maintains that it is the business of Brahman and Sudra
alike meekly to submit to, and obey, his lordship. He tramples upon
their sensibilities and declines to learn any lessons of wisdom from
them. On the other hand, Brahman and Sudra have ineradicable
prejudices, which they nurse with extraordinary fondness and cherish
with unyielding tenacity. The leader of this people, the Brahman, is,
in his way, even more haughty than the Anglo-Indian.

This situation is full of difficulty. Here we have two races, the
Aryan of the East and the Aryan of the West, standing face to face.
Each in its way claims dominance. The Westerner claims superiority by
right of conquest and of advanced civilization and general progress.
And he is not backward in presenting his vaunted claims! The
Easterner, on the other hand, has ruled India by right of intelligence
and by every claim of social and religious distinction, for at least
thirty centuries. He stands to-day a match for any individual, East or
West, in intellectual prowess. But, more than this, socially and
religiously he regards himself as the first son of heaven. Contact
with an Englishman, even with the King-Emperor himself, is for him
pollution, which must be removed by elaborate and exacting religious
ceremonies. To eat with any such would be a sin of the deepest dye.
How can one expect such a man to meet with a foreigner on even terms,
or to treat him with equality and true friendship? Before India loves
its conquerors, and sympathy and good understanding are established
between them, both parties need to be born again. At least they must
endeavour to lay aside their prejudices and to cultivate the kinship
of their united destiny. The writer recently listened to an eloquent
address delivered by a cultured Hindu gentleman, in which he implored
Anglo-Indians to cultivate their friendship and to forget the
different shades of their complexion. The prejudice of colour is, he
maintains, as strong in India as it is in America, and is perhaps more
bitter than ever. A man, said he truly, should not be condemned by his
brother because of his slightly different shade of colour, which is
only skin deep.

It is also certain that Great Britain should and must give to the
inhabitants of this land more influence and higher position in the
direction of the affairs of the State. After a training of more than a
century by England herself, India is prepared for a larger place in
the direction of her own political destiny. Western civilization,
western education, and the Christian religion have wrought wonders in
India in the development of a new life and a new consciousness among
many of the people. There are thousands of men, to-day, who are in
every way competent to occupy high positions in government. And it is
impossible that they should be kept loyal and contented under a régime
which constantly reminds them of their subjection and their lack of
worthiness to fill any but subordinate positions. It is true, as we
have seen, that government is extending the privileges and multiplying
the opportunities of such men. But it is not doing this with the
pace, the grace, and the heartiness that circumstances demand.

On the other hand, Indians must seek, increasingly, to cultivate
social and moral aptitude, rather than to be forever claiming and
demanding rights. The best friends of India believe that she has just
as many political rights as she is able wisely to exercise.
Representative Institutions have already been established here both in
the conduct of Municipalities, District Boards, and of the Provincial
and the Imperial Governments. The people are being trained for the
wisest exercise of political rights. But many who have carefully
observed the political corruption which they reveal in the exercise of
already acquired rights, think that no greater evil could befall India
than that of a sudden bestowal, by the State, of a great extension of
these privileges.

The root of India's present incapacity for self-government is not
intellectual, but social and moral. No one doubts that there is
ability enough; but many believe that India must develop much upon the
lower ranges of domestic sanity and social ethics before it is
prepared for enhanced political privileges. The ignorance and the
disabilities of women in India are a crying injustice, whose influence
penetrates every department of Indian life, and for the removal of
which educated Indians will hardly raise a finger.

The caste system, with its numberless stereotyped divisions, its
myriad insurmountable barriers between class and class, and its
countless petty jealousies and mutual antagonisms, is well known to
all. And so long as Hindus continue to worship this demon, caste, it
is impossible for them to become a united body to which, with any
courtesy, the name Nation can be applied. Nor can they blend into such
action as can in any sense be called National or patriotic. India is
wofully lacking in the first essential of self-government--public
spirit.

In other words, the most urgent need of India at present is social
reform, which depends entirely upon the people, and not political
reform, which must come from the State. And yet the social reform
movement in India is less rapid to-day than at any time during the
last quarter of a century. And those who cry loudest for political
rights are the ones who cast a sinister eye upon the social reform
movement.

And it must be remembered that the people who cry most loudly for
national independence to-day are the very ones whose antecedents and
whose fundamental conceptions of life and of society would forbid
them to grant even the most elementary social, not to say political,
rights to one-half of the population of the land. The way the Brahman
and the higher Sudras, who are clamouring for what they regard
God-given rights from the British government, deny in principle and
practice, to their fellow-citizens, the so-called outcasts and other
members of the community, the most elementary principles of liberty
and privilege which they themselves now enjoy, is a significant
comment upon their political sanity and sense of congruity.

In connection with this same problem, Indians should not forget that
in the multiplicity of antipathies which exist between the many races
of India, and in the religious conflicts, which too often arise, there
is need, and there will be need for many years, of one supreme power
which has the ability to hold the balance of justice evenly between
race and race, and to command social and religious liberty to the
three hundred millions of the land. And this is what Great Britain has
done and is doing for India. _Pax Britannica_ has been one of the
greatest boons that the West has conferred upon the East.

It may also be well to add that Indians should have regard to the
limits of the rights of a subject people. It is useless to talk of
self-government, until they are able to exercise the same; and even
the most rabid Hindu cannot dream that India is ripe for
self-government and could maintain it for a month if the British were
to leave the country. And if the British must remain here at all, it
must be as the dominant power. Canada and Australia, in their
independence, may be ideals for India to pattern after; but India
cannot enjoy the rights of those two independent colonies until her
character becomes as steady, her ideas of liberty and her practice of
social equality and her conception of human rights become as
clarified, as they are in those two countries.

The recent proposal of the Government of India to enlarge the
Legislative Councils and to create an Imperial Advisory Council
reveals the purpose of the State to grant to the people all that is
consistent with the paramountcy of the British in India. But it is
this very paramountcy which the extremists deny to Great Britain.
Herein lies the gist of the trouble. It will erelong create a serious
_impasse_.

Great Britain cannot remain in this land and efface herself. At the
same time, when India is prepared for absolute self-government, she
will receive the blessing, and Great Britain will leave the land with
a blessed consciousness that she has wrought for India the greatest
blessing and the noblest achievement that any people has wrought for
another and a foreign people in all the history of the world. And
until that time comes, both India and Great Britain need to thank God
that He has so strangely blended together their destinies for the
highest elevation of both races.



CHAPTER II

THE HOME OF MANY FAITHS


The land of the Vedas justly boasts of being the mother, or the
foster-mother, of nine great religions.

It has given birth to the greatest ethnic religion the world has seen;
it is also the motherland of one of the three great missionary faiths
of the world. These two religions--Hinduism and Buddhism--count among
their followers more than a third of the human race, and are, in some
respects, as vigorous now as at any time in their history.

It is the foster-mother of Mohammedanism and counts among her sons and
daughters more of the followers of the Prophet of Mecca than are found
in any other land.

It has also been the asylum of many followers of the Nazarene for at
least sixteen centuries; many even claim that Christianity has found a
home here since apostolic days.

There is no land comparable with India in the variegated expressions
of its beliefs which add picturesqueness to the country and diversity
to the people.

I purpose to take the reader with me on a tour with a view to
furnishing glimpses of these religions at those places where they
reveal special interest to the tourist.[1]

[Footnote 1: The principal faiths of the land, with their adherents,
were as follows, according to census of 1901:--

Hindu               207,147,026

Sikh                      2,195,339

Jain                      1,334,148

Buddhist               9,476,759

Parsee                       94,190

Mohammedan      62,458,077

Jewish                        18,228

Christian                2,923,241

These figures include Burma.]

India is a land of immense distances. But its thirty thousand miles of
railroad will enable the traveller, within a couple of months, to scan
all its points of interest, and to feast his eyes upon visions of
Oriental charm and splendour, of architectural beauty and grandeur,
and of such monuments of religious devotion as no other land can
present to the traveller and student.

Let not the Westerner indulge his fears about the discomforts and
dangers of travel in this tropical land. To an English-speaking
tourist there are a few lands only which furnish more conveniences and
facilities for travel than this same India; and travelling is cheaper
here than in any other country. Comfortable second-class travelling
rarely costs more than one cent a mile. And many, like the writer,
have travelled thousands of miles in third-class compartments at less
than half a cent a mile, and without much other inconvenience than an
excess of dust and stiffened bones. The writer has seen many
globe-trotters pass through India of whom few were not surprised at
the relative comforts of travel here during the winter months, and no
other time of the year should be chosen for travelling in India.

It will be convenient to start upon our tour from Madura, the
missionary home of the writer. It is a large, wide-awake centre of
enthusiastic Hinduism in the extreme south of the peninsula. In the
heart of this town, of more than a hundred thousand people, stands its
great temple, dedicated to Siva. The principal monuments of South
India are its temples. They are the largest temples in the world. The
Madura temple is only the third in size; but in its upkeep and
architectural beauty it far surpasses the other two, which are larger.
It covers an area of fifteen acres, and its many _Gopuras_, or
towers, furnish the landmark of the country for miles around. It is
erected almost entirely of granite blocks, some of which are sixty
feet long. Its monolithic carving is exquisitely fine, as it is most
abundant and elaborate. Hinduism may be moribund; but this temple
gives only intimation of life and prosperity as one gazes upon its
elaborate ritual, and sees the thousands passing daily into its shrine
for worship. It represents the highest form of Hindu architecture,
and, like almost all else that is Hindu, its history carries us to the
dim distance of the past. But the great Tirumalai Nayak, the king of
two and a half centuries ago, spent more in its elaboration than any
one else. And it was he who built, half a mile away, the great palace
which, though much reduced, still stands as the noblest edifice of its
kind south of a line drawn from Bombay to Calcutta.

In this same temple we find, transformed, another cult. It is called
the Temple of Meenatchi, after its presiding goddess, "the Fish-eyed
One." When Brahmanism reached Madura, many centuries ago, Meenatchi
was the principal demoness worshipped by the people, who were all
devil-worshippers. As was their wont, the Brahmans did not antagonize
the old faith of the people, but absorbed it by marrying Meenatchi to
their chief god Siva, and thus incorporated the primitive
devil-worship into the Brahmanical religion. Thus the Hinduism of
Madura and of all South India is Brahmanism _plus_ devil-worship. And
the people are to-day much more absorbed in pacifying the devils which
infest every village than they are in worshipping purely Hindu
deities.

The prevailing faith of the Dravidians, therefore, is demonolatry; and
the myriad shrines in the villages and hamlets, and the daily rites
conducted in them, attest the universal prevalence of this belief and
the great place it has in the life of these so-called Hindus.

A run of a hundred and fifty miles directly south brings us to Cape
Comorin, the southernmost point of India. It is also the extreme south
of Travancore, "the Land of Charity," and one of the richest and most
charming sections of India. It is a Native State under the control of
the Brahmans.

[Illustration: THE GOLDEN LILY TANK IN THE MADURA TEMPLE]

It is unique in the large proportion of Christians which are among its
inhabitants. Though the Christian community in India averages only one
per cent of the population, in the State of Travancore it amounts to
25 per cent. It is here that we find the ancient Syrian Church, with
its three hundred and fifty thousand souls. Though it calls itself
"the Thomasian, Apostolic Church," and though the Romish Church
accepts the legend, modern historians deny its apostolic origin, and
claim that it was founded no earlier than the third century. Even
thus, it furnishes an intensely interesting study. The writer was
deeply interested to see and enter its two churches at Kottayam, both
of which are at least eight hundred years old.

Four centuries ago, Roman Catholicism used all the resources of the
Inquisition in order to absorb this Church. They succeeded only too
well, and half of the Indian Syrian Church is now subject to Rome.
Nearly a century ago, the Church Missionary Society of England lent a
helping hand to the Syrian Church, and has brought new life and
progressive energy, and a new spiritual power and ambition, into a
portion of that decrepit type of ancient Christianity.

Furthermore, a century of work given by the London Missionary Society
and the Church Missionary Society has created a Protestant Christian
community of more than one hundred thousand souls in that little
kingdom alone.

We pass from Travancore into the little State of Cochin, on the
north. We are impressed by the colossal Christian church in the town
of Cochin, in which, however, only a small handful of English people
worship every Sunday evening. It was erected by the Portuguese four
centuries ago, and is a charming study. It is here, shortly after
Vasco da Gama had completed the first round-the-Cape journey, that
this house of God was erected by his followers. Two centuries later,
the Dutch came, conquered the Portuguese, occupied their house of
worship, and desecrated their tombs. In that church to-day one can
find tombstones inscribed on one side by the Portuguese to their
departed friends, and, on the other side, in Dutch, to commemorate
departed Hollanders.

But the most interesting sight, by far, in this quiet old Indian town,
is the community of white Jews who live on its southern side. No one
knows when they came here. They probably arrived at the Dispersion of
the first century of our era; or it may be later. But the community
must have been reënforced from time to time, as they have maintained,
in a marvellous way, the fairness of their complexion. It will not
require much imagination, as one enters their synagogue, to think of
the synagogue of Nazareth of old. As we ascend the stair-way into the
little schoolroom above, and hear the little ones reciting, in pure
Hebrew, passages from the Pentateuch, we can easily imagine that we
are listening to the voice of a dear little Boy, nineteen centuries
ago, reciting to His master those same passages in that same tongue in
Palestine. There is hardly a place on earth where Judaism has met with
fewer vicissitudes and changes than on this western coast of India.

It is only a couple of hundred yards farther away that we find the
synagogue of the black Jews--the descendants of those who were given
by the ancient king to be slaves to the white Jews. They adopted the
religion of their masters, and are still praying, like their masters,
for the coming of the Messiah, of whose arrival and triumphs in India
they seem to be oblivious.

Leaving Cochin, we pass along the coast as far as Bombay, which has
been called the "Eye of India," and also the "Gateway of India," two
names which are equally appropriate to this beautiful city. There is
hardly another city on earth where more races and religions blend. And
its streets are made exceedingly picturesque by the many costumes of
its polyglot population. Before the arrival of the plague, some eight
years ago, Bombay was perhaps the most populous city in India. But
this fell scourge has decimated its population and has robbed it of
much of its ambition.

Perhaps the most interesting people that we see here are the Parsees,
with their "Towers of Silence." According to their belief, earth is
too sacred to be contaminated, and fire too divine to be polluted, by
the bodies of their dead, which, therefore, they expose in the towers,
erected upon an adjacent hill, to be consumed by a crowd of hungry,
expectant vultures. One usually sees forty or fifty of these filthy
birds standing around the edge of each tower, watching the funeral
cortège as it slowly winds its way up the hill, eager to pounce upon
the body as soon as exposed by the bearers in the centre within. And
from the time of exposure it takes hardly ten minutes before every
particle of flesh has been consumed.

The one hundred thousand Parsees of Bombay are almost the only
representatives of the ancient faith of Zoroaster, perhaps the purest
of all ethnic religions. They were driven out of their home land of
Persia in the early onrush of Mohammedan fury, and fled, twelve
centuries ago, to India, where they found asylum.

The Parsees have the distinction of being the most advanced people of
India, alike in wealth and philanthropy, in their treatment of woman,
and in education and general culture. Their influence throughout the
land is far beyond their numbers. And yet they are so narrow in their
conception of their faith, that they declined, the other day, to
receive into their fold the English bride of one of their number. Thus
they decided that there is no door of entrance into their religion for
any one who is not a born Parsee.

It is in this city, also, that we find a large representation of
another ancient cult--Jainism.

Jainism is closely kin to Buddhism. It represents the same type of
reaction from a debased Brahmanism. As its name indicates, it is a
cult for the worship of "The Victorious Ones," that is, men who by
self-discipline have triumphed over their passions and have attained
perfection. Buddhism succumbed to, and was absorbed by, a new militant
Brahmanism, which we call Hinduism. Jainism, on the other hand, has
maintained itself as a distinct faith and now has 1,334,148 followers.
Like Buddhism, it is an agnostic religion, knowing no object of
worship save the seventy-two Victorious Ones.

One of the leading characteristics of Jainism is its love of life,
even in its lowest manifestation. Their devotion to this article of
their faith is carried to such an extent that the devout will sweep
the road lest they step upon insects, and cover their mouth with gauze
cloth lest they swallow and destroy minute forms of life. In the city
of Bombay, Jains have a hospital for animals, for the maintenance of
which they spend large sums of money annually. Maimed cattle, stray
dogs and cats, and decrepit animals of all kinds are sought and
brought here for asylum and care. It is even said, I cannot say with
how much truth, that they employ men to come and spend nights here
with a view to furnishing food for the many kinds of vermin which
infest the place.

[Illustration: TAJ MAHAL, AGRA]

In a sumptuous through train we now pass rapidly over nearly one
thousand miles of a country which is intensely interesting,
historically and ethnologically, and finally arrive in the famous city
of Agra, which stands supreme among Indian cities as a centre of
architectural beauty. We have here come into a distinctively
Mohammedan region; and the edifices which crown the city with glory
are not only connected with the Mohammedan faith, they are also the
masterpieces of the greatest minds of the Mogul Empire, and culminate
in the Taj Mahal, which is the most valued gem of Mohammedan
architecture, and, perhaps, the most beautiful edifice in the world.
We first turn our face toward the Fort, which is one of the
magnificent fortresses of India. Two and a half centuries ago, Shah
Jehan was the ruling Mogul. He was not only one of the greatest rulers
of the dynasty; he had also a passion for building, and was a man of
rare taste as an architect. The Agra Fort, whose stern walls of red
sandstone extend about a mile and a half, represents to us, at
present, not strength and protection, but an enclosure within which
the emperor built his great palace, which is a marvel of beauty and of
superb architectural workmanship. The most attractive of the many
parts of this palace is the Pearl Mosque, which "owes its charm to its
perfect proportions, its harmony of designs, and its beauty of
material, rather than to richness of decoration and ornament. In
design it is similar to most temples of this kind; a court-yard with a
fountain in the middle, surrounded on three sides by arcaded
cloisters; while on the entrance side and that facing it are
exquisitely chaste marble screens." "Into the fair body of the India
marble the Moguls could work designs and arabesques borrowed from the
Persia of ancient history, and flowers of exquisite hue and symmetry
suggested by the more advanced and civilized Florentine artists, who
were tempted over by the well-filled coffers of Shah Jehan." As the
Pearl Mosque was a part of the palace, it was only used by the royal
court. Days of pleasure and improvement could be spent in the study of
the various parts which have been preserved of this ancient palace.
But we pass on a few miles to the Taj Mahal, which, like most of the
best buildings of Mohammedan art in North India, is a mausoleum and
was erected by Shah Jehan to his favourite wife, Mumtaz-i-Mahal. The
Taj is erected in a beautiful garden, the gateway into which is
perhaps the finest in India and is "a worthy pendant to the Taj
itself." The garden is exquisitely laid out, with a view to setting
off the unspeakable charms of that "dream of loveliness embodied in
white marble." The Taj has well been described as a work "conceived by
Titans and finished by jewellers." The grandeur of the conception and
the wonderful delicacy of the workmanship cannot fail to impress even
the most unlearned in the architectural art. Much has been written,
and all in unstinted praise, of this incomparable edifice; and yet,
like the writer, every visitor comes to its presence, feels the
growing thrill of its beauty, and exclaims, "The half was never told!"
And few leave the place without returning to be enthralled once more
by a moonlight view of this thing of beauty. How great, indeed, must
have been the love of that otherwise cruel monarch for his departed
empress that he should have exhausted so much of wealth (some say that
the Taj cost thirty million rupees) and conceived so much of beauty
wherewith to embalm her memory. And as we enter the mausoleum and
stand in the presence of the lovely shrines which it encases,--that of
Mumtaz-i-Mahal, and that of the emperor himself,--the mind is awed and
may find expression in Sir Edwin Arnold's poetic fancy,--

                    "Here in the heart of all,
    With chapels girdled, shut apart by screens,
    The shrine's self stands, white, delicately white,
    White as the cheek of Mumtaz-i-Mahal,
    When Shah Jehan let fall a king's tear there.
    White as the breast her new babe vainly pressed
    That ill day in the camp at Burhanpur,
    The fair shrine stands, guarding two cenotaphs."

[Illustration: MARBLE SCREEN IN TAJ MAHAL]

And upon a panel of his own shrine the mourning emperor had inscribed
these significant words from ancient traditions: "Saith Jesus, on whom
peace be, this world is a bridge. Pass thou over it, but build not
upon. This world is one hour; give its minutes to thy prayers, for the
rest is unseen."

We cannot but feel that the Taj is the highest expression of art that
human affection and domestic affliction have ever achieved. This is
not religion; but it is closely kin to it.

Not far from the Fort is found another great mosque, or _musjid_,
where the Mohammedans crowd for worship. This, also, is a wonderful
specimen of art, and in its combination of simplicity and beauty is
well calculated to rouse to enthusiasm the many worshippers of Allah.

About six miles away from Agra is another specimen of architectural
genius. It is the tomb of Akbar the Great. Some believe it to be
almost equal to the Taj. It commemorates with great beauty the noble
name of that most distinguished man of the whole Mogul dynasty,--a man
who was famed for his breadth of view and sympathy, his wise
statesmanship, and religious tolerance. He did more than any other to
create sympathy between Hindus and Mohammedans. It was in this
mausoleum that the famous Kohinor diamond found its place and was
exhibited for years. It is a striking fact that this precious stone
was undisturbed there, in the open air, for over seventy years,
until the Shah of Persia, in 1739, invaded India and sacked the palace
of the Moguls, and, with other fabulous wealth, carried this diamond
also back to his own country.

[Illustration: SHAH JEHAN'S FORT, AGRA]

Delhi is only a few hours' ride to the north from Agra. It is perhaps
the most interesting city in all India. From the earliest times of
Brahmanic legends down to the present, it has been the centre of war
and conflict, of royal display, extravagance, and treachery. Here,
again, Mohammedanism has, from the first, exercised its power and
revealed its religious warmth and enthusiasm. The Mohammedan mosques
are equal to any in the land. And though the Persian sacked the city a
hundred and seventy years ago, and robbed it of most that was
beautiful and valuable, there still remains a part of what was
probably the loveliest palace that was ever erected. It reveals to us
also "the imperial grandeur of the Moguls, whose style of living was
probably more splendid than that of any monarchs of any nation before
or since that time. Their extravagance was unbounded. Their love of
display has never been surpassed." It is claimed that the Peacock
Throne of this Delhi Palace was of sufficient value to pay the debts
of a nation. The marble walls are richly adorned with exquisite
mosaics. Indeed, they are regarded as incomparable specimens of the
art. One can pardon the builder who engraved over the north and south
entrances to this palace of the Moguls the following lines:--

    "If there be a Paradise on Earth,
    It is This! It is This! It is This!"

Eleven miles from the city are found splendid ruins which are crowned
by the celebrated tower known as Kutab-minar, which is another of the
most ancient and interesting monuments of India. Originally, this
remarkable structure was a Hindu temple, and was erected probably in
the fourth century of our era. But upon the invasion of the Mussulmans
the temple was converted into a Mohammedan mosque, and the famous
tower, which is 238 feet high, and is one of the most beautifully
erected in the world, was allowed to stand. "The sculptures that cover
its surface have been compared to those upon the column of Trajan in
Rome and the Column Vendome in Paris; but they are intended to relate
the military triumphs of the men in whose honour they were erected,
while the inscription on the Kutab-minar is a continuous recognition
of the power and glory of God and of the virtues of Mohammed, his
Prophet."

[Illustration: AKBAR'S TOMB]

It is in this city that one is impressed most thoroughly with
memorials of the great Mutiny of half a century ago, where the British
were so hard pushed and suffered so terribly in those days of
bitterness which tried men's souls. And there is no memorial of this
bitter struggle, to which the British refer with so much of pride and
glory, as they do to the Cashmere gate, which they blew up and thereby
forced an entrance into the city, with a loss of much precious blood.

But it was not the Mutiny nor the massive and gorgeous emblems of
Mohammedanism which impressed the writer most in this city. It was a
vision just outside the walls of the city--a vision of great
simplicity--which thrilled his heart a few years ago. It was a very
unattractive little ruined tower, from the centre of which rose a
polished granite pillar, some thirty or forty feet high. It was
inscribed from top to bottom, and the inscription was quite legible.
It spoke not of the triumphs of war nor of the glory of human rule and
conquest. It is one of the most eloquent testimonies to the nobility
of the Buddhist faith. It was carried here only a few centuries ago by
an enlightened Mohammedan monarch from the far-off plains of the
north. It is one of the celebrated "Asoka Pillars." Asoka was the
emperor of twenty-two centuries ago who wrought for Buddhism what
Constantine the Great, at a later day, wrought for Christianity. He
was converted to Buddhism and at once became the devout propagator of
that faith. As the great emperor of his time, he exalted Buddhism and
made it the State religion of India. He not only sent his missionaries
all over the land; he decreed that its principal teachings should be
everywhere inscribed upon rocks and upon pillars; and that these
pillars should be erected in public places for the instruction of the
people. This pillar in Delhi is one of about a dozen already
discovered and preserved in North India. And it is, perhaps, the most
fully inscribed of all that have been found. And of the fourteen
Asokan edicts inscribed, most of them inculcate a high morality, and
some of them a noble altruism. For instance, the first is a
prohibition of the slaughter of animals for food or sacrifice. The
second is the provision for medical aid for men and animals, and for
plantations and wells on the roadside. The third is a command to
observe every fifth year as a year of mutual confession of sins, of
peace-making, and of humiliation. The ninth is the inculcation of true
happiness as found in virtue. In all these inscribed edicts of that
most tolerant and cosmopolitan Buddhist emperor, we see nothing of
which Buddhism should be ashamed, and much of which it may be proud,
in the way of ethical injunction. It is more than ten centuries since
Buddhism, which had been the common faith of India for a thousand
years, was absorbed into a new militant Hinduism and ceased to exist
as a separate faith in this land. To-day, India proper has hardly half
a million Buddhists. And yet we behold these mute prophets of far-off
days scattered in many parts of the land, still pressing their
message, but vainly, indeed, upon a people of unknown tongues. Buddha
himself is now a part of the Hindu Pantheon; and his principal
teachings have become an essential part of the faith which he tried to
overthrow. But these pillars stand for Buddhism that was tolerant
toward all save, perhaps, the Brahmanism which it existed to
overthrow.

[Illustration: KUTAB-MINAR, DELHI]

From Delhi we pass on northward to the beautiful city of Amritsar,
which is comparatively a modern town of one hundred and fifty thousand
people. In the heart of this town stands the far-famed Golden Temple
of the Sikhs, built by Ranjit Singh,--"The Lion of the Panjaub." The
temple is not a large one, being only fifty-three feet square, and is
built in the centre of a water tank, called "The Pool of
Immortality." The peculiar external feature of the temple is that it
is largely covered with gold plate; hence its name. It is a beautiful
object to behold; and we are in haste to take off our shoes, which are
prohibited in the sacred precincts, and to put on the shapeless holy
slippers presented to us! We enjoy perfect freedom in passing through
all parts of the temple, while devotees, under the guidance of the
priests, sing their songs of praise with devout impartiality to their
god and to their bible.

The temple is the centre and inspiration of the Sikh religion. The
Sikhs are an interesting people. They rallied round one of the
multitude of the Hindu religious reformers, named Nanak Shah, who
established this cult about the end of the fifteenth century. It may
be called an amalgam of Mohammedanism and Hinduism. It unites the
monotheism and the stern morality of the former with much of the petty
ritual of the latter. It does not observe caste. Still, in outer
matters of observances, Sikhs are not easily distinguishable from
ordinary Hindus. They, also, have bound themselves into a military
order, which gives them almost the distinction of a nation. For this
reason they are among the very best material which the country
furnishes for the native army, and are worthy to stand shoulder to
shoulder with European soldiers.

[Illustration: CASHMERE GATE, DELHI]

This religion is peculiarly a _book_ religion. It has degenerated into
a species of bibliolatry. Their bible contains the teachings and
sermons of the founder of the faith; and it presents the highest
standard of morality and courage, and appeals with special power to
this sturdy tribe of the north. This book is called "Granth," and is
generally spoken of as "Granth Sahib," which we may translate as "Mr.
Book"! That is, they give it a dignity and a personality which is
unique in any faith; and the Golden Temple is largely used as the
receptacle of the "Granth," of which they keep a few copies protected
by covers, which, however, they remove in order to show them to us as
we pass by.

In several particulars this faith is unique. They have no idols or
altars, but meet once a week for prayer and praise. Their preacher
reads passages from the "Granth" and prays to their god, who may be
reached through the intercession of Nanak Shah, his prophet and their
redeemer. They sing hymns similar to those used in Protestant worship,
and celebrate communion by partaking of wafers of unleavened bread.
Their congregation do not object to the presence of strangers, but
usually invite them to participate in the worship. There are about
two and a quarter million Sikhs in the Province of the Panjaub,--the
land of the "five rivers."

While in this city, one is tempted to look at the Khalsa College, one
of the institutions established by government in different parts of
the land for the suitable training of native princes. Here one may
find young Sikh nobles and wealthy landlords, to the number of five
hundred, being qualified for the high responsibilities which are
before them.

We hurry back from the north in a southeastern direction over a
distance of eight hundred miles and reach the city of Benares, on the
river Ganges. There is hardly a river in the world which produces more
fertility and which brings sustenance to more people than the divine
Ganges. The river is not only deified, but is regarded as one of the
most potent deities of India.

From time immemorial, Benares, or "Kasi," which is built upon the
banks of the Ganges, has partaken of the sanctity of the river, and is
regarded by devout Hindus as the most sacred spot in the world. To die
within the radius of ten miles from its centre is sure and eternal
bliss, even to the outcast and the defiling white man! Many thousands
are brought annually from all parts of the land to die at this sacred
place, and have their ashes scattered upon the waters of the holy
river. Many thousands of others who die in all parts of the land have
their bodies burned and their ashes brought, by loving relatives upon
pilgrimage, to this city to be sprinkled upon the tides of the Ganges,
which insures eternal rest to the departed souls.

What Mecca is to Mohammedans, more than Jerusalem is to Jews, is
Benares to devout Hindus. It has more temples and shrines than any
other equal area in the world. Its priests, who are called
_Gangaputhira_ ("the Sons of the Ganges"), are legion. They have their
emissaries at principal railway stations for hundreds of miles from
the city, always on the lookout for pilgrims, and gathering up pilgrim
bands to lead them on with ever increasing numbers to their temples.
The idols of this city are legion.

But there is nothing here which impresses one more than its squalid
filth, and the abject degradation of the people which crowd its
streets. The temples are extremely dirty. There is not one of imposing
size or of decent attractiveness. There stands the monkey-temple,
where scores of mangy, tricky brutes are daily sumptuously fed by
devout pilgrims. On one side of the precinct a clever butcher-priest
severs with one stroke the heads of goats which are brought for
sacrifice to the thirsty deity. As in Madura, so in Benares, the great
god of the Hindu is Siva. But the character of the worship which is
rendered to him and to others of his cult is far from ennobling when
not actually revolting. And the phallic emblem of this god is
everywhere found in his temples and is suggestive of definite evils
connected with his worship.

The saddest and most grewsome of all objects which impress one in this
centre of Hinduism is its burning Ghaut. To the side of the river many
bodies are brought daily, each wrapped in a white cloth, and are
deposited just where they are half covered by the water. Within ten
feet of this place we see parties of pilgrims bathing in and drinking
of the sacred water of the river, utterly regardless of the proximity
of corpses above stream! From time to time corpses are picked out of
the water and placed upon piles of wood near by. Each pile is ignited
and the body reduced to ashes. These ashes are carefully collected,
later on, and sprinkled, with appropriate ceremonies, on the face of
the river. Day after day, and year after year, this ceaseless
procession of the dead takes place, while up stream and down stream
the bank of the river is covered with men and women who fatally
believe that by bathing in this dirty stream they are washing away
their sins and preparing themselves for final absorption and eternal
rest in Brâhm!

Benares reminded the writer of Rome. He never realized the degradation
possible to Christianity until he visited "The Eternal City," with its
huge shams and ghastly superstitions. He never saw Hinduism with its
myriad inane rites and debasing idolatry half so grotesque, idiotic,
and repulsive, as in this city of Benares, where one ought to see the
religion of these two hundred odd million people at its best, and not
at its worst.

It is a positive relief to go out of the city, a distance of four
miles, to Sarnath, where the great Buddha--"The Enlightened
One"--spent many long years in establishing his faith and in
inculcating his "Doctrine of the Wheel." It is a beautiful drive to
the birthplace of one of the greatest world faiths. Very little but
ruins meets the inquiring gaze of the visitor. Some of these, however,
are very impressive, especially the great _stupa_, or tower. It now
stands a hundred and ten feet high and ninety-three feet in diameter.
It was very substantially built, the lower part faced by immense
blocks of stones which were clamped together with iron. And this
facing was covered with elaborate inscriptions. The upper part was
built of brick. At the foot of this striking ruin, built in the remote
past as a monument to an ancient faith, devout Buddhists from all
parts of the world come for worship and meditation upon the vanity of
life. The day before the writer arrived, the Lama of Tibet spent here
a few hours worshipping and seeking the blessing of the "Enlightened
One." Near by, government is making a series of excavations and is
discovering very interesting relics connected with this ancient
monastery founded by the Buddha. Already a beautiful specimen of an
Asoka pillar and a variety of interesting sculptures have rewarded
their industry. One can imagine no place more dear to the
contemplative Buddhist than this centre of the activities of his great
Master, where he spent many of the best years of his life in
expounding the teachings of his new cult, and in leading many souls
toward the light for which he had struggled with so much of heroic
self-denial, and which had ultimately dawned upon him under the sacred
Boh tree at Buddha Gaya.

In this extended pilgrimage, during which we have sought ancient and
modern expressions of the many faiths which have dominated, or which
now dominate, the people of this land, we have come into touch not
only with those tolerant faiths which have found their origin here, or
which have found refuge and popularity in this peninsula,--such as
Hinduism, Demonolatry, Buddhism, Jainism, Zorastrianism, and Sikhism.
We have also come into touch with the three most intolerant faiths of
the world,--Christianity, Mohammedanism, and Judaism. There is no land
where these three religions have suffered less of opposition than in
India. Indeed, it is not from persecution and opposition that they
have stood in most danger, but from fraternal contact, growing
appreciation, and ultimate absorption. The Hindu mind, like the Hindu
faith, has a fatal facility for accepting, semi-assimilating, and
finally absorbing, all of religious belief and conviction that may
come into contact with it. And this never necessarily involves the
abandoning of the old beliefs.



CHAPTER III

BURMA, THE BEAUTIFUL


In order to appreciate the wide extent of the British Empire in the
East, one needs to travel over the main lines of India and then steam
a thousand miles across the Bay of Bengal to Burma. Landing at
Rangoon, which is the doorway of the land, he reëmbarks upon one of
the sumptuous Irrawady River boats and steams northward another
thousand miles into the very heart of the country. Thus without
leaving the eastern empire one can spend weeks of most interesting
travel, and pass through territories inhabited by peoples of separate
racial types and of totally different tongues. Perhaps no other region
of the world can furnish such a variety of climes and such marked
contrasts of national habits and costumes. And yet, all this vast
territory has been brought into subjection to the British crown and
furnishes facilities and conveniences of travel which are really
marvellous in the East. Burma is politically and industrially a part
of India.

It is a rich country, with four magnificent rivers reaching nearly its
whole length, furnishing abundant facilities for cheap travel and
commerce, and carrying fertility into all sections of the land.

It is the land of rice, of teak, and of oil. These are the triple
sources of Burmese industry, commerce, and wealth. Never was a land
richer than this in alluvial soil, in refreshing rains, and in
bountiful rivers. It is one great expanse of living, paddy green. The
teak timber furnished by the mighty forests of this land is carried to
many lands. The extent of this trade may be imagined from the
statement that the Bombay-Burma Trading Company in Burma employs three
thousand elephants for hauling its timber to the river. Every two
elephants are under the care of three men; so that there are
forty-five hundred men in charge of these animals alone.

Burma is called the "Land of Pagodas." The first object which attracts
the eye soon after the ship enters the river, and while still twenty
miles from the harbour, is the far-famed pagoda of Schwey Dagon, in
Rangoon. Buddhism is preëminently the faith of Burma. All the people
have been for many centuries its adherents. And the pagoda is the
outward emblem of that faith. What the church is to Christianity, and
the temple is to Hinduism, the pagoda (sometimes called "dagoba") is
to Buddhism. It is the farthest removed from the Christian conception
of a place of worship. In Christianity, large edifices are erected
where the multitude can meet to unite in public worship. In Hinduism,
a temple is largely the abode of the idol, which is the outward emblem
of their god. In it there is no place for public worship or for an
assembled audience. In Buddhism, there is not even a god to worship,
so that there is no interior to the pagoda. It is like the pyramid of
Egypt, one massive solid structure, but of an elongated bell shape.
The highest part of it, corresponding to the handle of the bell, is
called "hti," and is usually covered with precious metal. It is a
reliquary rather than a place of worship; and every pagoda of note is
supposed to be the receptacle of a few hairs or bones of the Buddha!
Indeed, if one believe the members of that faith, the anatomy of that
great man was marvellous and is still very promiscuously distributed
through various lands of the East!

[Illustration: SCHWEY DAGON PAGODA, RANGOON]

The Schwey Dagon pagoda is a very prominent object; for it is not only
three hundred and seventy feet high, but is also built on an
artificial mound which is a hundred and seventy feet in height. It is
elaborately decorated, and its "hti" is mostly of solid gold,
encrusted with precious stones presented to the pagoda by King Mindoon
Min. But while the pagoda itself impresses one with its massive
proportions, it is the exquisite group of numberless little shrines or
temples which surround the pagoda, every one of which holds one or
more large images of the great Buddha, that furnish the rich sense of
beauty and charm which prevail. These little shrines are either built
of marble or of richly carved teak, or of glass mosaic; and every one
tries to excel every other in its delicate charm. And upon nearly
every one of these shrines there are sweet little bells, which, as the
wind blows, seem to respond to spirit hands and ring forth their
gentle peals of sacred music to the great founder of the faith.

Here, also, is a massive bell of forty tons,--the third in size in the
world. It was once carried away by the British and lost in the Rangoon
River. But the people later received permission to search for it. They
found it, and with genuine pride and triumph raised it and restored it
to their pagoda.

It is one of the peculiar ironies of history that in this land of the
Buddha, who was the greatest iconoclast, and who not only abhorred
idolatry but also ignored deity, there should exist to-day numberless
images of him in every town and hamlet. These are of all sizes, from
the immense reclining Buddha of Pegu, which is a hundred and
eighty-two feet long, and is built of brick and mortar, down to the
tiniest figures carried on the persons of individuals. There is no
pagoda or shrine in Burma around which is not found a large number of
these images. They have not the hideous deformity of Hindu idolatry;
but present either the benign and complacent, or the calm and
contemplative, expression which cannot fail to impress itself upon the
national character of the people. And one may say, with confidence,
that in this matter the truth of the proverb is verified,--"Like god,
like people."

One may leave Rangoon in a comfortable train, and in about eighteen
hours reach the old capital of Upper Burma, the beautiful Mandalay,
which is nearly four hundred miles distant. The same journey may be
taken by the river Irrawady if one has more leisure and means; and he
may thus enjoy one of the most beautiful and sumptuous river journeys
in the world.

It was only twenty years ago that this part of the country was seized
by the British without bloodshed, and the foolish and dissolute King
Theebaw was made prisoner for his stupid insolence, and deported, with
his two wives, to India, where they are still spending their days in
retirement. Upper Burma has, however, put on new beauty and prosperity
since the British have taken it over; and the people are abundantly
satisfied with the new régime. Mandalay has also its famed Arrakan
pagoda, which claims to have the only contemporary likeness of Buddha
on earth. It is an immense brazen image; and it is the occupation of
the devout to gild the same with gold-leaf. At least a dozen men and
women can be seen thus constantly expressing their devotion. In a few
years there will be tons of gold thus pasted upon his sacred body! But
alas for the vandalism which lights up its shrine and the calm face of
Buddha by electricity!

Another famous pagoda of Mandalay is the so-called "Four Hundred and
Fifty Pagodas of the Law." This is a kind of Buddhist bible in stone.
It has four hundred and fifty small shrines, every one of which has a
large polished granite slab, upon which is engraved a precept of the
faith; and the whole make up a complete body of the law, which every
member of the faith may come and read at his leisure.

Here, as at all shrines, we notice the beautiful custom of these
Burmese people in practising their public devotion with bouquets of
flowers in their hands. It is touching to see this constant blending
of beauty with piety. The abundant use of the candle, also, in their
worship reminds us of the Romish ritual.

We are taken through the royal gardens and the deserted palaces of
Mandalay, which are constructed largely, as many of the houses of
Burma are, of exquisitely carved teak, rising here and there in
pointed spires, which are indeed beautiful, but which give the
impression of the so-called gingerbread style of architecture.

Upon one who has lived for many years in India there are two things in
Burma which make a deep and a very pleasing impression.

[Illustration: THEEBAW'S PALACE, MANDALAY]

In the first place, the charm of the Burmese woman is marked. She has
none of the cringing, retiring, self-conscious mien of the Hindu
women. She is possessed of liberty and of equality with man. Her
appearance in society is both modest and self-respecting. She is
conscious of her own beauty, and knows how to enhance it with
exquisite taste. She is a great lover of colours, as is the Hindu
woman. But the latter loves only the primitive and elementary colours;
the former, on the other hand, cultivates the delicate shades, and
adorns herself with silks of various tints, such as attract and
fascinate. It is for this reason that Burma is called "The Silken
East." Her dress is clumsy and uncouth in form, and, in this respect,
is incomparably inferior to the graceful cloth of India. But the woman
herself is lovely, and the taste which she displays in her personal
adornment is very attractive. It does not surprise one to know that
not a few Europeans marry these Burmese ladies of beauty. But above
her beauty is that pose of freedom and self-respect which commends her
everywhere. Nor is this assumed. The woman of Burma is "the man of the
family." In business, and in all forms of trade, she is far superior
to her lord, and much of the support and the honour of the family
depends upon her industry, cleverness, and independence. Certainly
Buddhism has produced, in many respects, a higher type of womanhood
than has Hinduism.

Another aspect of life in Burma is one that instantly captivates one
who goes there from India. It is a land free from the trammels of
caste. The trail of this serpent is upon all things in India. It
divides men at all points, and robs social life of much that is sweet
and beautiful in other lands. The great Gautama vehemently attacked
the Brahmanical caste system, and one is glad to see in Burma that
that faith has adhered to this primitive enmity. One rejoices to see
at the temples and on the public streets, everywhere, common eating
and drinking houses, where the people meet for refreshment and for
quiet social chat, without any thought of caste to disturb their
relationship and mar their convivial pleasures.

That which impresses the observant Christian visitor to that land is
the triumph and wonderful achievement of missionary effort there
during the last half century.

All know the works, the sufferings, and the results attained by that
great prophet of Burma, Adoniram Judson. He was a saint of the heroic
mould, and his influence will affect the history of that people for
centuries to come.

The American Baptist Mission overshadows, by its numbers and success,
all other bodies of missionaries in the land. And at the present time
their splendid force of workers is making a deep impress upon the
community.

But their success has been mostly achieved among a very peculiar
hill-tribe of that country,--the Karens. It was long after the
Baptists had begun work there that this low hill-tribe, of less than
two million people, was in the lowest depths of barbarism. Their
language was not reduced to writing, and consequently, they had no
literature whatever. But they had one interesting tradition. It had
come down to them, generation after generation, that their bible had
been lost, and that some day the Great Spirit would send a fair
brother from the West to restore unto them the message of God which
had disappeared. The "Fair Brother" came in the person of the American
missionary; and his message was received in the assured faith that it
was divinely sent and was the long-lost tradition of their tribe. From
that day forward, thousands of the Karen tribe have everywhere
accepted the Gospel of the Christ, until there are, at the present
time, connected with that mission alone, more than one hundred and
fifty thousand Karen converts.

And this is by no means all of the wonderful story of the regeneration
of this barbarous tribe. Either by a very wise missionary
statesmanship, or by a rare inspiration, such as we do not see
elsewhere in the East, these people have almost entirely assumed the
financial burdens of their own religious training and institutions,
and are always quick, even beyond their means, to respond to every
Gospel claim upon their purse. The story of their offerings, in view
of their extreme poverty, is marvellous in its self-denial and
outgoing generosity. The writer spent a few days at the missionary
centre in the outskirts of Rangoon. Upon that compound there was a
memorial church that had cost $30,000, of which the Karen Christians
had given all, save a grant made by government for a few adjoining
class-rooms. Three bungalows and other buildings of value are also
found there, and the whole property is owned, not by the mission, but
by the Karens themselves. Ten miles away from this is the largest
theological seminary in the East, with more than one hundred and forty
students under training. For the maintenance of this, again, those
poor Karen Christians gladly impose upon themselves a family tax, and
have the sweet consciousness that their youth are being trained for
Christian service through their own self-denying endeavour.

These people were in social scale so low that they had practically no
music of their own. They have therefore readily taken to western
music. And it is astonishing to hear how well they sing our western
tunes, and even render solos and quartettes at public European
functions in a way that calls forth hearty encores. It is verily the
birth of a nation in a day. So that in this land of many wonders the
movement among the Karen people seems to be the most wonderful of all.

Among the Karens, Ko San Ye stands forth as a unique figure of intense
interest. He has been called the "Moody" of Burma. He is absolutely
illiterate. When about thirty years old, he lost his wife and his only
child; and finding no comfort in his ancestral demonolatry, he turned
to Buddhism for relief and retired to a mountain retreat and became
known and esteemed among his people as a devout ascetic and a holy
man. With the offerings of his people he built two pagodas and a
monastery. But his soul found no rest there. In 1890, he was baptized
as a Christian, with one hundred and forty of his followers. He then
obtained a grant of twenty thousand acres of waste land from
government, and established a village which now numbers several
hundred houses. His influence over his own people is amazing, and is
the result of superstitious reverence and awe.

He regretted that his ignorance prevented him from preaching the
Gospel; but he thought that his influence over the people should be
rightly used in the Lord's service. So he devoted himself to the
collection of funds for religious purposes among his people. And in
this work he has had almost fatal success, for his fellow-Christian
Karens have responded to his appeals for money to the extent of at
least $130,000. In view of the exceeding poverty of the people, this
sum seems almost fabulous. Mr. Ko San Ye is known by all to be
perfectly disinterested in the use of the money intrusted to him. Not
a cent sticks to his hands; and he reverently and truthfully speaks of
it as the "Lord's money." But his judgment is not commensurate with
his piety. Even the most friendly cannot say that he has wisely
administered this sacred trust of his poor brethren. He has erected
churches, schools, and rest-houses which are altogether too sumptuous
for the people. He spent thousands in the purchase of a fine
steam-launch for the convenience of his people on the river side. He
then purchased a rice-mill which brings a fair income to the mission.
He has added to these two fine and expensive automobiles, in the
smaller of which the writer had, for him, the unique pleasure of a
delightful spin through the city of Rangoon and its suburbs, under the
guidance of a Karen chauffeur! It was his first automobile ride; and
to think of it as being enjoyed in a vehicle bought by poor Christians
of Burma! Strange to say, the people continue to repose implicit
confidence in him, even to the extent of mortgaging their property, in
order to add to this public fund. It is to be hoped that this good man
may soon submit more to missionary guidance.

Ko San Ye is but an interesting episode in the wonderful progress of a
nation from the depth of barbarism to Christian privilege and
civilized life. The missionaries often dare not have him present
during the baptism of new converts, lest they should think that they
were baptized in the name of Ko San Ye rather than in the name of
Christ! And yet it is said that the two leading characteristics of
this strange man are his humility and his unselfishness!

The Karens, with all their lowliness and barbarous antecedents, are
excellent material to work upon, and are responding with wonderful
eagerness to the missionary endeavour made in their behalf, and are
already, in many noble qualities, revealing to the native Christians
of the East the way of ascent to nobility of character and to the
highest Christian possession.



CHAPTER IV

THE HINDU CASTE SYSTEM


The word "caste" is derived from the Latin term _castus_, which
signified purity of breed. It was the term used by Vasco da Gama and
his fellow-Portuguese adventurers, four centuries ago, as they landed
upon the southwestern coast of India and began to study the social and
religious condition of the people. The word expressed to them the
remarkable bond which held the people together; the subsequent
generations of foreigners and English-speaking natives have adopted it
as the most appropriate term to express the unique system which
prevails all over India. No other people, in the history of the world,
have erected a social structure comparable to this of India. For
twenty-five centuries it has controlled the life of nearly one-sixth
of the human race. Other countries have, or have had, tribal
connections, class distinctions, trade unions, religious sects,
philanthropic fraternities, social guilds, and various other
organizations. But India is the only land where all these are
practically welded together into one consistent and mighty whole,
which dictates the every detail of human relationship and controls the
whole destiny of man for time and eternity. For it should be
remembered that India has consistently declined to recognize any
distinction between the social and the religious. These are the
reverse and the obverse of life; they are brought to the same rules
and must yield obedience to the same authority. Religion, to the
Hindu, permeates the whole social domain; and social order draws its
sanctions from, and is enforced by the penalties of, religion. To
marry outside one's caste, to eat food cooked by an outcast, to cross
the ocean, to delay unduly the marriage of a daughter,--these, and a
thousand other delinquencies which may seem absolutely harmless to a
Westerner, are not only regarded as social irregularities, but also as
sins whose penalties will harass the soul beyond the grave or
burning-ground. Herein does caste reveal its uniqueness, and from this
does it pass on to the exercise of its extraordinary tyranny over the
people.


I

The origin of caste is a subject of much uncertainty and debate. In
ancient Vedic times, caste was unknown. Society, in those days, was
more elastic and free, and resembled that of other lands. And yet it
showed a tendency toward a mechanical division which later grew into
the caste system. It was not until the time of the great lawgiver,
Manu, about twenty-five centuries ago, that the system crystallized
into laws, and the organization became so compact as to force itself
upon all the people and become an integral part of recognized Hindu
law. Manu and other lawgivers found the basis of caste rules in the
traditions of an ancient Brahman tribe. These they elaborated and
enforced.

The ancient name for caste was _varna_, which means "colour." This
name is suggestive, and has led many authorities to trace back the
whole system to original race-purity, as indicated by the colour of
the skin. The first incursion of the fair Aryans from the northwest
settled down, it is claimed, in the northern portions of the country.
They gradually mingled and intermarried with the dark-skinned
Dravidian and aboriginal population, with the natural consequence of
a loss of race-purity and of whiteness of complexion. A subsequent
descent of a new Aryan host upon the plains of northern India found
the descendants of their predecessors of darker hue than themselves,
which bespoke their race degeneracy; so they kept aloof from them.
Later, however, they began to mingle with the former inhabitants, so
that their descendants partly lost the ancestral complexion. A still
later Aryan incursion declined to have intercourse with the
descendants of those who last preceded them. Thus we have four classes
divided upon the basis of colour, or _varna_, which may correspond
with the four great original castes of India.

The traditional theory of the Hindus themselves, in reference to caste
origin, is admirably simple and quite adequate to satisfy ninety-nine
per cent of the devotees of that faith to-day. Brahmâ, the first god
of the Hindu triad, the Creator, was the immediate source and founder
of the caste order; for he caused, it is said, the august Brahman to
proceed out of his divine mouth, while the warlike and royal Kshatriya
emanated from his shoulders, the trading, commercial Vaisya, from his
thighs, and the menial Sudra, from his feet. And from these four
primal classes have descended, through myriads of permutations and
minglings, the present hydra-headed caste organization.

But modern and scientific students of the social order of India
entirely discard and ignore all Hindu mythical explanations and
_Puranic_ legends concerning this subject, and endeavour to trace the
present system to its sources and primal causes through patient
historic research and through a most elaborate system of
anthropometric and ethnographic examinations conducted all over the
land. The subject, however, is so vast and complicated that
authorities upon the subject are still considerably at variance in
their theories of origin. We may conveniently classify the prevailing
theories, according to their emphasis, as follows:--

(_a_) _The Religious Theory._--This gives emphasis to the religious
influence as the dominant one in the formation of the social order of
the land. It is maintained that the clever and unscrupulous Brahman
has, to a large extent, originated it and nursed it into its present
wonderful proportions, in order to create and perpetuate his own
supremacy among the people of India. As the spiritual head of
Hinduism, and the recognized source of religious power among its
devotees, he required and devised this organization, with himself as
its undisputed head, and with a distinct recognition by all others of
his supremacy in the Hindu faith as a _conditio sine quâ non_ of their
admission as castes into the Hindu system. Up to the present day, the
public acceptance of the supreme religious authority of the Brahman is
one of the two conditions which qualify any people to admission into
the sisterhood of Hindu castes. The other condition is separation from
all other peoples in matters which will be hereafter mentioned.

There are potent reasons for accepting this theory; for the strongly
entrenched position which religion still holds in the system, both as
a basis and as a regulator, notwithstanding other antagonizing
influences, is a testimony to its original place and power therein.
Any social order whose direction is regulated by social injunctions
and whose forms and ritual are enforced by religious penalties must be
recognized as a mighty religious system.

(_b_) _The Tribal Theory._--Moreover, there were many aboriginal
tribes which entered the ranks of Hinduism through the formation of
new castes. Mr. Risley, in the Census of 1901, refers to such. (See
Vol. I, p. 521). They gradually abandoned their old tribal customs and
entered upon new paths which brought them into conformity with Hindu
usages. Or in some cases they preserved tribal habits and even their
tribal _totems_, and baptized them into the new faith and thus became
separate castes in the Hindu order.

As in the past, so "all over India at the present moment there is
going on a process of the gradual and insensible transformation of
tribes into castes. The stages of this operation are in themselves
difficult to trace.... They usually set up as Rajputs, their first
step being to start a Brahman priest, who invents for them a mythical
ancestor, supplies them with a family miracle connected with the
locality where their tribes are settled, and discovers that they
belong to some hitherto unheard-of clan of the great Rajput
community." (Census 1901, Vol. II, p. 519.) It is precisely the same
process which brought the many Dravidian and even more primitive
tribes of South India into the Hindu fold; and it is a curious fact
that these same people are to-day the greatest sticklers in the land
for caste and its myriad rules.

(_c_) _The Social Theory._--Some hold with Sir Denzil Ibbetson, in the
Census Report of 1881, "that caste is far more a social than a
religious institution; that it has no necessary connection whatever
with the Hindu religion, further than that under that religion
certain ideas and customs common to all primitive nations have been
developed and perpetuated in an unusual degree." This is acknowledged
to be an exaggerated statement. It may possibly be true that "caste
has no _necessary_ connection with Hinduism," but it is emphatically
true that caste, as understood by all, does not exist apart from that
faith.

It is, however, a fact that divisions have occurred within castes,
owing to the development of slight social differences between the
members. For instance, several castes have been created by the
degradation of members of the existing castes on account of their
marriage of widows. The Pandarams of South India are held in
distinction among the begging castes because of their abstention from
meat, alcohol, and widow marriage. Indeed, it is interesting to note
that a former caste status has been more frequently lost by, and
degradation to a new caste has been consequent upon, the adoption of
widow marriage, than through almost any other act. And, at present,
this prohibition of the marriage of widows, including child widows, is
the most tenaciously and unrighteously enforced caste custom in India.

(_d_) _The Occupational Theory._--All regard fellowship in the same
trade, or occupation, as the most prolific source of caste alignment,
in modern times at least. Ibbetson contends that "the whole basis of
diversity of caste is diversity of occupation. The old division into
Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya, Sudra, and Mlechha, or outcast, who is
below the Sudra, is but a division into the priest, the warrior, the
husbandman, the artisan, and the menial.... William Priest, John King,
Edward Farmer, and James Smith are but the survivals in England of the
four _varnas_ of Manu." (Census of 1881.) This statement needs serious
qualification. Farming, which is followed to-day by a majority of the
population of India, is an occupation which is subsidized by no caste
and is followed practically by the members of all castes. The Brahmans
are the only ones who are degraded by following the plough. And there
is a growing number of trades, introduced by modern civilization,
which have not yet been touched by the caste system, and which the
enterprising youth of different grades of Hindu society are entering
with eagerness. And yet, while this is a fact, it is equally true that
the functional type of castes is developing and spreading much more
rapidly than any other. In the town of Madura, a few of the families,
from the weaver caste, opened a remunerative trade in the manufacture
of fireworks. They at first began it as an extra, to add to their
very meagre income. Gradually it encroached upon their time until it
became their sole occupation. To-day they are prospering in their new
trade. But to them and their castemen their change of trade involves
the transfer of caste relations. No longer being weavers, they do not
see how they can continue to be bound by ties to their former castemen
or former fellow-tradesmen; hence the old connubial and convivial
bonds of caste are relaxing, and the weavers decline to have
fellowship with them as formerly on these lines. Thus, in all parts of
the land, we have present-day illustrations of the creation of
functional castes. And it is an interesting inquiry whether this mania
for creating a new caste for every rising trade and occupation will
finally overcome and absorb all occupations created by the demands of
modern life and advancing civilization, or whether it will in time
succumb to the spirit of modern progress until all occupations shall
be emancipated from the tyranny of caste and shall be open to all men
who desire to enter them.

(_e_) _The Crossing Theory._--According to Manu's _Dharma Sastra_ one
might be led to believe, as Hindus do stoutly maintain, that nearly
all modern castes have been created by interbreeding. Those caste laws
of twenty-five centuries ago taught that the offspring of the union
of a woman of higher with a man of lower caste could belong to the
caste of neither parent, and therefore formed a new and a separate
caste. The names of castes thus formed are given with much detail in
Manu's works. But it does not require much wisdom for one to perceive
the absurdity of the working out of such a system, and the
impossibility connected with it as an adequate basis for the caste
organization of the present day. Yet interbreeding has doubtless been
an important element in the elaboration of the stupendous caste
organization. We have abundant illustration of this very process and
its results in modern times. Among the Dravidians, especially, there
are many castes which trace their origin to miscegenation. Among the
Munda tribe we find nine such divisions; also five among the Mahilis,
who themselves claim their descent from the union of a Munda with a
Santhal woman.

This will not be unexpected when it is remembered that endogamy is the
prime law of most Hindu castes; and this, too, in a land where
immorality and adultery are so prevalent. Other sources of Hindu
castes are mentioned. Some, like the Mahrattas, have behind them
national traditions, and a history to which they refer and of which
they are proud. Others, still, have, by migrating from the home of the
mother caste, severed their connection from the parent stock and have
formed a separate and independent caste.

It is unnecessary to state that not one of the above theories is
adequate to account for all the existing castes of the land. These
forces have entered, with varying degrees of efficiency, into their
structure,--one being dominant as a causal power in one, and another
in another. And yet it may be stated that of all these caste-producing
forces religion and occupation have had marked preëminence; and they
are more influential to-day than ever before.


II

We shall next consider the various Characteristics or Manifestations
of Caste. The system is a very flexible one; and yet its
characteristics are practically the same in all parts of the country.
Perhaps the best way to clearly describe these to a western reader is
to quote at length what we may call Mr. Risley's capital western
paraphrase of the system in _Blackwood's Magazine_, a decade ago. "Let
us," he writes, "imagine the great tribe of Smith ... in which all the
subtle _nuances_ of social merit and demerit have been set and
hardened into positive regulations affecting the intermarriage of
families. The caste thus formed would trace its origin back to a
mythical eponymous ancestor, the first Smith, who converted the rough
stone hatchet into the bronze battle-axe and took his name from the
'smooth' weapons that he wrought for his tribe. Bound together by this
tie of common descent they would recognize as the cardinal doctrine of
their community the rule that a Smith must always marry a Smith, and
could by no possibility marry a Brown or a Jones. But, over and above
this general canon, two other modes or principles of grouping within
the caste would be conspicuous. First of all, the entire caste of
Smith would be split up into an indefinite number of in-marrying
clans, based upon all sorts of trivial distinctions. Brewing Smiths
and baking Smiths, hunting Smiths and shooting Smiths, temperance
Smiths and licensed victualler Smiths, Smiths with double-barrelled
names and hyphens, Smiths with double-barrelled names without hyphens,
Conservative Smiths and Radical Smiths, tinker Smiths, tailor Smiths,
Smiths of Mercia, Smiths of Wessex,--all these and all other
imaginable varieties of the tribe Smith would be, as it were,
crystallized by an inexorable law forbidding the members of any of
these groups to marry beyond the circle marked out by the clan
name.... Thus a Hyphen-Smith could only marry a Hyphen-Smith, and so
on. Secondly, and this is the point which I more especially wish to
bring out here, running through this endless series of clans we should
find another principle at work breaking up each clan into three or
four smaller groups which form a sort of ascending scale of social
distinction. Thus the clan of Hyphen-Smiths, which we take to be the
cream of the caste--the Smiths who have attained the crowning glory of
double names securely welded together by hyphens--would be again
divided into, let us say, Anglican, Dissenting, and Salvationist
Hyphen-Smiths, taking ordinary rank in that order. Now the rule of
these groups would be that a man of the Anglican could marry a woman
of any group, that a man of the Dissenting group could marry into his
own or the lowest group, while the Salvationist Smith could only marry
into his own group. A woman could, under no circumstance, marry down
into a group below her. Other things being equal, it is clear that
two-thirds of the Anglican girls would get no husbands, and two-thirds
of the Salvationist men no wives. These are some of the restrictions
which would control the process of match-making among the Smiths if
they were organized in a caste of the Indian type. There would also
be restrictions as to food. The different in-marrying clans would be
precluded from marrying together, and their possibilities of
reciprocal entertainment would be limited to those products of the
confectioners' shops into the composition of which water, the most
fatal and effective vehicle of ceremonial impurity, had not entered.
Fire purifies, water pollutes. It would follow in fact that they could
eat chocolates and other sweetmeats together, but could not drink tea
or coffee, and could only partake of ices if they were made without
water and were served on metal, not porcelain, plates."

Mr. Risley might have added considerably to these restrictions and
limitations without exhausting the catalogue.

Let us briefly enumerate those elements which enter into caste. The
first and the most important is intermarriage within the caste. None
except members of totemistic castes can, with impunity, look beyond
the sacred borders of their own caste for conjugal bliss. So long as
castes remain endogamous they will preserve their integrity, and their
foundations will never be removed. This is the _fons et origo_ of
caste perpetuity. All other characteristics may pass away; if this
remain, all is well with the organization. And it is this which
remains with devilish pertinacity and mischief-working power in the
infant Native Christian Church of India. It is this same extreme evil
which the social reformers of India are trying to puncture. But all
that they dare to struggle and hope for is the right of members of
subdivisions of any caste to intermarry. A generation ago, there were
1886 divisions in the Brahman caste alone, no two of which could enjoy
connubial or convivial privileges together. It is not up to the most
sanguine reformer of India to seek that all Brahmans enjoy the right
of intermarrying,--he only asks that the divisions among the Brahmans
may be reduced, and intermarriage may be sanctioned among
subdivisions. Yet even this meagre quest is not likely to be
gratified. This is not surprising, for the defenders of the system
well know that if this stronghold of caste is at all weakened, the
whole will speedily yield to modern attack. This, doubtless, is the
reason why orthodox Hindus are so vehement in their opposition to any
and all endeavour to remove the many disabilities and cruelties which
the marriage regulations of the land inflict upon Hindu women. There
is no land under the sun whose weaker sex suffer more from marital
legislation than India; and yet the people can do nothing practically
to remedy the crying evils of the same, simply because the mighty
engine of caste is arrayed against them. Its perpetuity is linked
closely with the resistance of all efforts at reform.

Next in importance to the connubial is the convivial legislation of
caste. It is the business of every member of a caste to conserve the
purity of his _gens_ by eating only with his fellow-castemen. Under no
circumstance can he inter-dine with those of a caste below his own.
The dictates of caste in this matter are sometimes beyond
understanding. Not only must a man eat with those of his own
connection; he must be very scrupulous as to the source of the
articles which he is about to eat; he must know who handled them, and
especially who cooked them. Some articles of food, such as fruit, are
not subject to pollution; while others, preëminently water, are to be
very carefully guarded against the polluting touch of the lower
castes. The writer has entered a railway car and accidentally touched
a Brahman's water-pot under the seat, whereupon the disgusted owner
seized the vessel and immediately poured out of the car window all its
contents. It has been truly said that that monster of cruelty, Nana
Sahib of Cawnpore, was able, without any violation of caste rules, to
massacre many innocent English women and children at the time of the
great Mutiny; but to drink a cup of water out of the hand of one of
those tender victims of his treachery and rage would have been a
mortal sin against caste, such as could be atoned for only in future
births and by the fiery tortures of hell! The rationale of this
interdiction is doubtless the desire to preserve the purity of caste
blood. As food becomes a part of the body, and, as the Hindu thinks,
of the life, it is imperative that all the members of a caste shall
eat only the same kind of food, and also that which has not been
subjected to the ceremonially polluting touch of outsiders.

This urgency is increased by the fact that different castes proscribe
different articles of diet. The _Sivar_, so-called, are strict
vegetarians, and will have absolutely no communion in food with
meat-eaters, even though the latter may belong to a higher caste than
themselves. Meat of any kind is an abomination to them. Other
respectable castes will touch only chicken meat, others mutton, a very
few pork, while no caste will permit its members to eat beef. No sin
is regarded by the orthodox with more horror than that of killing and
eating the flesh of the cow,--the most sacred and most commonly
worshipped animal of India.

These convivial rules of caste are the greatest obstacles to social
union and fellowship among the people of India. Westerners hardly
realize the extent to which their communion is based upon the
convivial habit. Many times a friendship which lasts a lifetime is
formed by strangers sitting together at the common dinner table. And,
in the same way, are the old friendships of life generally renewed and
cemented in the West. And it is a significant fact that the Christian
faith antagonizes Hinduism at this very point by enacting that its
great Sacrament of love and communion of life in Christ be embodied in
a perpetual and universal "drinking of the same cup and eating of the
same bread." In nothing is Hinduism becoming more manifestly a burden
to the educated community than in this restriction about inter-dining;
and in nothing are they more ready, as we shall see later, to violate
caste customs than in this matter.

Then comes, as a natural consequence of the above, limitations to the
contact of persons of differing castes. If a Brahman cannot eat with a
Sudra, because it supposedly brings a taint to his pure blood, no more
can he, with impunity, come into personal contact with him. The touch
of such is pollution to his august and pure person; and the very air
the low castes breathe brings to his soul and body taint and poison.
This idea of ceremonial pollution by contact causes great
inconvenience and trouble, and for that reason has been considerably
mitigated or modified in recent times. The Rajah of Cochin, who lives
temporarily near the writer, and who is evidently a stickler for caste
observances, receives calls from European friends only before nine
o'clock in the morning, for the obvious reason that that is the hour
of his daily ablution. The Maharajah of Travancore bathes at 7 A.M.
daily; hence, intending European guests find reception only before
that early hour. In the State of Travancore, in which Brahmanical
influence is great, even the high caste _Nair_ cannot touch, though he
may approach, a Namburi Brahman. A member of the artisan castes will
pollute his holiness twenty-four feet off; cultivators at forty-eight
feet; the beef-eating Pariah at sixty-four feet. Like the Palestinian
leper of old, the low-caste man of that part of India was, until
recently, expected to leave the road when he saw a Brahman come, and
remove his polluting person to the required number of feet from his
sacred presence. Low-caste witnesses were not allowed to approach a
court of justice, but standing without, at the requisite distance, to
yell their testimony to the Brahman judge who sat in uncontaminated
purity within. The falling of the shadow of a low-caste person upon
any Brahman in India necessitates an ablution on the part of the
latter. It is this frequency of contaminating and polluting
contingencies in the life of the Brahman which requires of him so many
ablutions daily, and which renders him perhaps the cleanest in person
among the sons of men. So many are the dangers of contamination which
daily beset him in the ordinary pursuits of life that relief in the
form of dispensations is granted him, so as to reduce the ceremonies
and diminish the extreme burden of religious observance. This law of
contact and pollution must weigh heavily upon any genuine Hindu of
high caste. The relation of the Maharajah of Travancore to his Prime
Minister, who is a Brahman, is an interesting illustration. The Rajah
is not a born Brahman; he is by many of his people regarded as a
manufactured Brahman. But His Highness himself does not regard himself
as equal, in sacred manhood, to his Brahman Prime Minister; hence he
will never be seated in his presence. Nor will the Brahman Dewan
deign to sit in the presence of his royal master, the Maharajah. Hence
all the business of State (sometimes requiring conferences of three
hours a day) is transacted by them while standing in each other's
presence.

Occupational limitations are observed, as we have already seen, by
many modern castes. Trade castes not only prescribe the one ancestral
occupation to their members; they also, with equal distinctness and
severity, prohibit to all within their ranks any other work or trade.
So in all those legion castes not only has a man his social sphere and
status assigned to him, he is also tied to the trade of his ancestors;
yea, more, he is expected to confine himself to ancestral tools and
methods of work in that narrow rut of life. One day the writer was
accosted by a weaver who was in a famishing condition. He made a
pathetic plea for charity. Manchester cloths were flooding the market;
they therefore could not sell the products of their labour at living
rates. It was suggested that they take up some other trade that could
furnish them a decent living. He lifted up his hands in horror at the
impious suggestion, that they abandon their caste-prescribed
occupation! He felt that he and his were ground between the upper and
nether millstones. To suggest to him that they even change the kind or
style of article which they prepared upon their looms for the market
would have been equally impossible. Out in the villages, where these
people live, it would seem almost as absurd for the weaver to become a
carpenter as for the weaver who uses only cotton thread to become a
silk-weaver, or for those who weave coarse white cloths to produce the
finer coloured cloths worn by the women. No; for generations their
people have given themselves to the production of only one article.
"It is the custom of our people" is the final word. And what has
become customary is by caste enactment made obligatory. And woe be to
him who defies caste. And thus the caste-prescribed trade becomes the
be-all and the end-all of life.

These four--the connubial, the convivial, the contactual, and the
occupational--are the constant factors of the caste existence and
activity in India. But in addition to these, caste takes other
functions and assumes other forms in certain localities and under
certain circumstances. Definite forms of religious observance are
often enjoined, certain places of pilgrimage are sanctioned, marriage
forms prescribed, marriage obligations defined, divorce made possible
or impossible, and the limit of marriage expenses set. There is hardly
a department of life or a duty which men owe to their dead which does
not enter the domain of caste legislation somewhere or other.

A strange and very interesting peculiarity of certain castes is their
totemistic aspect. This characteristic has only recently been
discovered. "At the bottom of the social system, as understood by the
average Hindu, we find, in the Dravidian region of India, a large body
of tribes and castes each of which is broken up into a number of
totemistic septs. Each sept bears the name of an animal, a tree, a
plant, or some material object, natural or artificial, which the
members of that sept are prohibited from tilling, eating, cutting,
burning, carrying, using, etc." (See Census of 1901, Vol. II, pp.
530-535.)

Mr. J. G. Frazer, in the _Fortnightly Review_, gives the following
description of the totem: "A totem is a class of natural phenomena or
material objects--most commonly a species of animals or
plants--between which and himself the savage believes that a certain
intimate relation exists.... This relation leads the savage to abstain
from killing or eating his totem, if it happen to be a species of
animal or plant. Further, the group of persons who are knit to any
particular totem by this mysterious tie commonly bear the name of the
totem, believe themselves to be of one blood, and strictly refuse to
sanction the marriage or cohabitation of members of the group with
each other. This prohibition to marry within the group is now
generally called by the name Exogamy. Thus totemism has commonly been
treated as a primitive system, both of religion and of society."

In absorbing the Dravidian tribes, Brahmanism appropriated the
totemistic cult and incorporated it into the caste system. And many
Dravidian castes which are identified with this cult have the striking
peculiarity of being exogamous as contrasted with the endogamy of the
Aryan section of Hindu castes.


III

The penalties which are inflicted by caste for violation of its rules
are many and very severe. It is hardly too much to say that there is
not on earth an organization more absolute in its power, more
wide-reaching in its sweep of interests, and more crushing in its
punishment, than is caste. In the first place, it so completely hems
in the life of a man, imperatively prescribes for him the routine of
life, even down to the most insignificant details, and thus shuts him
up to his own clan, and with equal completeness cuts him off from the
members of other castes, that it can reduce any recalcitrant member to
certain and speedy obedience, simply because there is no one to whom
he can flee for sympathy and refuge. Even if this whole system had
not, as its first aim and achievement, the alienation of members of
different castes, who is there among Hindus that would interfere with
this function of a caste to discipline its members? For is not "Thou
shalt obey implicitly thy caste," the first law of the Hindu
decalogue, and the one most sincerely believed by all Hindus? The
following are among the penalties inflicted upon one who is under the
ban of his caste:--

All the members of his caste are prohibited from accepting his
hospitality. Not even his own household are permitted to dine with
him. He is boycotted, absolutely, by all his best friends, associates,
and companions. Not one of them dares, under penalty of complete
ostracism, to harbour or favour him. Nor will he be invited to their
homes. They dare not receive him under the shelter of their roofs nor
offer him food. More than once the writer has seen the bitter tyranny
of caste brought to bear upon those who had abandoned caste by
becoming Christians. Here is a youth known to the writer. He is a
member of a respectable caste. He accepts the religion of Christ
publicly as his own. His parents and brothers and sister will cling to
him with the hope of bringing him back to the ancestral faith. But
caste authority steps in. It forbids the family to receive the son and
brother, or to offer him a morsel of food. In that household a sad war
of sentiment is inaugurated. Parental love and family tenderness cling
to the Christian youth; and is he not the hope of the family for the
years to come? But to harbour him means to be outcast as a family; and
how can they endure that? And are they not at heart loyal to the caste
of their fathers? So the conflict runs on for months. One night only
the tender heart of the sister compels her to defy caste to the
extent, not of eating with the dear brother and companion of her
youth, but so far as to bring him the remnant of their meal, not in
one of the home vessels from which he had eaten so often as a Hindu in
the past, but on a plantain leaf and behind the house!

Then, of course, comes the connubial ban whereby all the members of
the caste are prohibited from giving any of their children in marriage
to those of his household. To the Hindu who believes that marriage is
not only the God-given right of every human being, but who also
implicitly believes that it is a heavenly injunction whose fulfilment
rests as a duty upon every father in behalf of his children, this
interdict is the most oppressive of all. But it is enforced with
heartless severity in every case; and any family which may defy the
caste in this respect by entering into conjugal relationship with that
of the one under ban, is at once outcast.

Another mighty resource of the organization, in this connection, is to
interdict to the recreant member the use of all caste servants. For
instance, the caste barber and washerman are commanded to serve him
and his no longer. The severity of this interdiction cannot possibly
be realized by westerners, who are not always dependent upon these
functionaries. But in India every one depends upon the barber and
washerman for their service even more than a westerner does upon the
service of the butcher or the doctor. The Hindu never dreams of the
possibility of doing for himself the duties performed by these caste
servants for him. Moreover, the barbers and washermen of other castes
would, under no circumstance, be allowed to render him the service
thus prohibited to him by his own caste.

Add again to these inflictions the further one of complete isolation
in times of domestic bereavement. Should a member of his family die,
not one of the caste members is permitted to help in the last sacred
rites for the dead. Even at that moment, when one would expect the icy
barriers to melt away, the heart of caste is as hard and its severity
as rigid as ever. The helplessness of a family under these
circumstances is, to any one who is not a slave to the whole accursed
system, most pitiful and heartrending.

Another caste penalty which has received undue public prominence of
late is called _prayaschitta_, which means atonement. It is usually
applied as punishment to those who have had the temerity to cross the
ocean for foreign travel, business, or study. More correctly, it is
rather a process of cleansing and ceremonial rehabilitation than an
act of punishment. The exclusiveness of caste delighted in calling all
foreigners Mlechhas, which, though perhaps not as vigorous a term as
the Chinese sobriquet, "black devils," connoted, and still connotes,
to the caste Hindu, "unclean wretches," contact with whom brings
ceremonial pollution and sin. He who crossed the ocean would
necessarily be debased by these defiling ones and would be, as a
matter of course, engulfed in the pollutions of their life! To
prohibit travel, which necessarily involved such sin and degradation,
became therefore the concern of the ancient lawmakers of India. Hence
the _prayaschitta_, under which the educated community of India chafe
so much at the present time. For many of the best and most promising
youth of India travel abroad or reside temporarily in England, with a
view to perfecting their educational training so as to qualify
themselves for highest positions of usefulness in the homeland. Others
go abroad on business or to behold and study the wonders of western
life and civilization. All men of culture and power in India, at the
present time, are convinced of the evil and absurdity of this caste
law, which is common to all castes, because it is a part of the
general legislation of their religion. They decline to believe that it
is either sin or pollution to go in search of the best that the West
and the East have discovered and can bestow upon one, and that which
is to-day doing most in the elevation and redemption of India herself.
And many of them are defying this obsolete and debasing law of their
faith. Many others are crying for a modern interpretation of the
law--an interpretation which will explain away its bitterness and
render it innocuous. For it is not simply or chiefly the reactionary
and absurd character of this legislation which exasperates the
intelligence of the land; it is the very offensive and revolting
_nature_ of the expiation which preëminently stirs up the rebellion.
In former centuries of darkness, Hindus may have been willing to
submit to the humiliation of eating the five products of the cow as an
atonement for the supposed sin of sea-travel. The culture and
intelligence of the present time is neither so abject nor so
superstitious as to submit to this, without, at least, a vigorous
protest. And yet, what the culture of India seeks to-day is not the
abolishing of this law, which is equally repulsive to their taste and
to their intelligence; it asks only that some way of avoiding the
penalty may be found! And all that Hinduism and caste require of these
foreign-travelled men is not an intelligent submission to its behests,
but an outward observance of them. So the faith and its conservative
defenders are satisfied to see these men of culture, as they return
with the acquired treasures of the West, submit outwardly to this
offensive rite, while their sensitive nature rises in rebellion
against it. And these young scions of the East willingly practise this
hypocrisy and submit to this indignity in order to live at peace with,
and indeed to live at all in, their ancestral caste! It is only an
illustration of the hollowness of the major part of the life of the
educated community in this great land. Well may one exclaim, what can
be expected from a people whose leading men of culture are living this
double and mean life! This is verily "peace with dishonour"!



CHAPTER V

THE HINDU CASTE SYSTEM (_continued_)


IV

The agency through which, and the occasion upon which, caste penalizes
its members are manifold.

Formerly, Hindu kings, under instruction from their pandit ministers,
would enforce caste observances. But under the present non-Hindu State
no such action could be expected. In many instances pandits have to be
consulted both as to whether a member has really violated _shastraic_
injunctions and as to the penalty which should be inflicted in that
special case. In doubtful cases, pandits of various trainings and
leanings are called who present conflicting opinions which end in
confusion.

In Southern India important cases of caste violation among
non-Vishnuvite Hindus are under the jurisdiction of the Superiors of
Sankarite monasteries. Some of these assume and exercise Papal
authority in such matters among their people. Usually, however, each
local caste organization deals directly with infractions of its own
rules, and is competent to deal drastically, and as a court of final
resort, with all cases of caste infringement within its own
membership. It may be done in public assembly, when all male members
are present and have a voice; or the caste _panchayat_, or council of
five, may sit in judgment upon the case and have right of final
action. This latter tribunal is the more common in South India, and is
more in harmony with the spirit and methods of the land.

There are a number of courses of action which are adequate as causes
of removal from caste.

One of these is a change of faith. The abandonment of the ancestral
religion, which is the mother of caste spirit and organization,
especially when the newly accepted faith repudiates openly caste and
all that belongs to it, inevitably leads to expulsion from caste. In
most cases this has resulted upon conversion to either Christianity or
Mohammedanism. But this is not as universal as we could wish or as
many suppose, as we shall see later on. It may be seen how, in a mass
movement of a large body of men toward Christianity, for instance, the
people may easily, and would naturally, carry with them into the new
faith many of their old customs and habits, including much that
pertains to, and is of the essence of, caste.

Roman Catholicism has interpreted caste chiefly from a social
standpoint, and has therefore regarded it as a social institution
which can be adapted to, and adopted into, the Christian religion.
Protestantism, or, at least, Anglo-Saxon Protestantism, has regarded
caste as primarily and dominantly a religious institution, whose
spirit antagonizes fundamentally our faith, and which must be opposed
at all points. Hence it is a part of the pledge of every one who
enters into the Protestant fellowship in India that he will eschew and
oppose caste at all times. And it may be said that, though Hinduism
loves dearly compromise and evasion, it has in the main held that a
man who has accepted the Christian faith and has been publicly
baptized into its conviction of the "fatherhood of God and the
brotherhood of all men," has no place in its own caste system, and it
consistently deals with him as with an outcast. As we have already
seen, every man who has travelled abroad has lost thereby caste and
has to undergo expiation before reinstatement. It matters not how
thoroughly he has tried to preserve caste customs during his travels
and in the foreign land, he is regarded by all as a _de facto_
outcast.

Marrying a widow is also an act which severs caste ties and places a
man under the ban. Of course, this applies not to the few castes which
allow widow-remarriage. But as the bulk of Hindus deny the right of a
widow to remarry (though there is no caste obstacle to a widower
taking unto himself a new virgin wife every year of his life), a man
cannot enter into an alliance with a widow without losing caste
thereby.

Beef-eating is regarded as so heinous a sin that no member of a
respectable caste would expect consideration for a moment. And yet Dr.
J. H. Barrows has said that the famous Swamy, Vivekanantha, when with
him at Chicago, ate a whole plateful of beef in his presence and with
a great deal of relish. But he, of course, had graduated out of the
ordinary level of Hindu-hood into the sacred heights of Swamyhood, in
which a man is exempt from the mean limitation of caste, and when the
vulgar sins of common Hindu life are transmuted into the ordinary
blessings and privileges of saintdom.

In like manner, vegetarian castes punish their members for the eating
of any meat. The Hindu aversion to meat is very common; it is also
sanitary and wholesome; for meat-eating in the tropics is neither
necessary nor conducive to health. And yet the Pariah outcast has no
scruples in this matter. It is indeed true that he would deem it a sin
to butcher a cow or an ox; but he will not hesitate to poison his
neighbour's cattle, that he may thereby have enough carrion to eat.
For the carcases of the dead cattle of the village are the perquisite
of the Pariah; and it is upon finding such that he enjoys his only
feasts of plenty. But to the ordinary Hindu all bovine kind are
divine, and the flesh of the same is strictly and vehemently tabooed.

Punishment is also dealt out, as we have seen, to those who eat any
food cooked by an outcast, whether he be Christian, Mohammedan, or
Pariah. And the same is true of eating with an outcast, or with one
who is of a lower caste than himself. Indeed, so far is this spirit
carried by certain high castes that to be seen eating by a member of a
lower caste, or to allow the shadow of a stranger to fall upon one's
prepared food, is pollution. Hence the care with which all Hindus seek
privacy and avoid the gaze of men during mealtime.

Officiating as a priest in the house of a low-class Sudra is strictly
prohibited to a Brahman, and he loses caste thereby. He and other
"twice born" are also driven out of caste if they throw away the
sacred thread which is the outer badge of their second birth and
dignity.

A woman, when found in open sin with a man of another caste, and a
widow, when she can no longer hide the consequence of her immorality,
are no longer in caste.

It is hardly necessary to mention that marrying outside of one's own
caste is a sin which finds no countenance, but severest punishment, in
nearly all castes.

Generally speaking, we may say that caste authority is exercised only
in cases where ceremonial observance and social usages are violated.
In matters that are purely ethical, and which bear upon the character
and moral elevation of the individual and the clan, caste rarely acts;
for it does not consider that its honour is compromised or its organic
life impaired by such conduct.

It should also be mentioned that caste is not even in the distribution
of its dispensations and punishments. A man of wealth and social
influence succeeds in staving off many acts of caste displeasure which
would fall heavily upon the poor and friendless man. Such a man may,
and often does, trample under foot every command of the decalogue,
and at the same time defy and violate a good moiety of the injunctions
of his caste. And yet, because of his wealth and general importance in
caste councils, he stands unimpeached and unrebuked.

In matters of caste observance and discipline, villages are much more
conservative and strict than cities. In the latter, as we shall see,
caste observance is much relaxed, and life is more on modern lines.


V

The results of the caste system in India are many and manifest. It has
sown its seed for many centuries and to-day reaps a rich harvest in
life and conduct. It should not be assumed, and it cannot be asserted,
that this great system has always been an unmixed evil to the people
of this land.

No organization which has bound by its fetters for eighty generations
nearly a sixth of the population of the globe, and which continues to
grip them to-day with tyrannical power, can be devoid of any redeeming
feature. The very perpetuity and prosperity of the scheme argues for
its possession of some rational features, originally connected with
it, which gave it sanction to the myriads who have submitted to its
reign over them. But it is exceedingly difficult to discover that
excellence which originally commended it to the people of this land.
Nor do the writings of those who have striven to defend the system
assist us in making this discovery. A modern Brahman defence by
Jogendra Nath Bhattacharya (see "Hindu Castes and Sects," pp. 1-10)
gives only one ray of light upon the subject when he observes that
"the legislation of the Rishis was calculated not only to bring about
union between the isolated clans that lived in primitive India, but to
render it possible to assimilate within each group the foreign hordes
that were expected to pour into the country from time to time." In
those remote days when weakness through isolation threatened their
very existence, and when there was no possibility of a general union
of all the people for defence, thorough organization of clans into
castes brought strength and confidence and was a conspicuous blessing.
It was in those days a convenient and effective way of enforcing
religious obligations upon the heterogeneous clans. It also was then
probably useful in preserving purity of blood among the higher races,
and in conserving the nobility of the Aryan who was destined to rule
the mixed races of India for many centuries.

Nor is the system without possibilities of good in modern times, as
was illustrated recently by the action of a prominent North India
caste in prohibiting large expenses in marriage and in raising, by
legislation, the limit of the marriageable age of its girls.

But, alas, any good that may possibly inhere in the system has largely
remained _in posse_ rather than _in esse_. The history of caste has
been one of evil, and it is no wonder that such a fair-minded writer
as Mr. Sherring, who has probably made a more thorough study of the
subject than any other man, should call the organization "a monstrous
engine of pride, dissension, and shame" (see Preface to his "Hindu
Tribes and Castes"). Considering the subject, therefore, in its
bearing upon the life of India to-day, and studying its results as we
now find them among all classes of the people and in their definite
bearing upon the future of the land, we are compelled to pronounce
against it at all points.

It is, in the first place, the source of interminable discord and
dissension all over the land. It not only arrays caste against caste;
but bitter animosity is the order of the day among the subdivisions of
castes. In every one of the numberless castes in the land there are
divisions and subdivisions galore. And while the Sudras acknowledge
the supremacy of the "twice born," among the myriad clans of the
Sudras themselves there is endless assumption and contention, every
one, fomented by pride, claiming primacy and distinction above the
others. Recently, in South India, this feeling led to a serious riot,
in which not a few lives were lost and villages devastated.

It also narrows the sympathies of the people in a most lamentable way.
Among the common people of India it is held that a man's duties to his
caste embrace his whole obligation. When a fellow-being is in
difficulty and his condition strongly appeals for sympathy, the first,
and often the last, question asked is, "Is he a member of my caste?"
If not, like the priest and the Levite of old, his conscience allows
him to "pass by on the other side." Recently a woman perished in the
streets of a town near Madura. She was a resident of a village some
twenty-five miles away, and was, therefore, a stranger in this town,
where she sickened and was carried to a public rest-house. But when
her condition became serious and no relatives or caste friends came to
her support, she was put out into the street, where she lay helpless
for three days in the rain and sunshine. Hundreds of people saw her
dying agonies as they passed by during those days; but no heart of
sympathy went out to her; for was she not a stranger? And it was left
to an American, who happened to pass that way on the third day, to
demand of the town officer that she be put back in the rest-house,
where she shortly afterward died. Let it not be thought that this is
an isolated case. He who is familiar with Indian life knows it is not,
for daily he has to witness the woful limitations which caste imposes
upon human sympathy.

Caste has also degraded manual labour. The loss of caste by any
Brahman who follows the plough is only an application of this rule in
the highest quarters. Caste has taught the people of this land that
humble toil, however honest it may be, is more than mean; it is
sinful. There are millions of the higher castes of India who deem it
honourable to beg, and dignified to spend their years in abject
laziness, but who would regard it as unspeakable degradation to take
a hoe or a hammer and earn an honest living by the sweat of their
brow. Nor will their caste rules permit of their undertaking such
work. And this spirit has passed down the ranks until it pervades the
whole of society in India, with the consequence that manual labour is
universally regarded as degrading, and with the further natural result
that a horde of five and a half millions of lazy, wretched, immoral,
able-bodied, religious beggars are burdening this land. And thus
mendicancy is made honourable at the expense of honest toil. It should
be further remarked that there are a number of begging castes, in
which all work is proscribed and mendicity exalted into a divinely
ordained profession!

Moreover, caste makes it impossible for India to become a commercial
country. So long as foreign travel is banned and contact with other
lands is regarded as a sin against heaven and caste, there is little
hope that the people of this land will distinguish themselves in that
kind of trade and commerce which has made India's mistress, Great
Britain, so illustrious in wealth and dominion.

And it is this caste spirit which so easily made the great peninsula
of India a prey to the "tight little island" many thousands of miles
away. For not only has caste made the Hindus an insular people, it has
also so divided them that they do not realize any common sentiment,
save that of opposition to the State, or seek any common good. Hence
they have for many centuries been the easy prey of any adventurers who
sought to overcome and despoil them. A genuine national feeling and a
patriotic sentiment are all but impossible in the land. And all
intelligent Hindus acknowledge this sad condition at present, and many
of the best of them publicly maintain that national consciousness,
self-rule, and a glowing, triumphant patriotism can be built only upon
the ruins of the caste system.

And even as it is a foe to nationality, so is it the mortal enemy of
individualism. The caste system is really a glorification of the
multitude as against the individual. Individual initiative and
assertion, liberty of conscience, the right of man to life and the
pursuit of happiness,--all these are foibles of the West which it has
been the chief business of caste to crush; and upon their ruin it has
erected this mighty tower of Babel. In India, it has been the business
of men, from time immemorial, not to do what they think to be right,
nor to find out, every one for himself, what they consider to be the
best and to act according to the dictates of conscience; it has rather
been submission to caste dominance. And it is the unblushing teaching
of the _Shastras_ that obedience to caste is the fulfilment of duty
and the _summum bonum_ of life. So omnipotent and omniscient is the
arm and head of caste that men dare not defy it. Hence we are
compelled to look in India to-day upon the saddest spectacle of abject
manhood the world has known. To those who, like the writer, have spent
a lifetime in trying to raise the outcasts and the lower strata of
Indian society, the most difficult and discouraging obstacle is the
inertia and the abjectness of the people themselves. Through a bitter
experience of many centuries they have learned that it does not pay
for the individual to assert himself against the dictates of the
caste, or for the lower castes to rise in rebellion against their lot.
They discovered that they were merely butting their heads against an
adamantine rock. So they have lost every ambition and hope; and he who
would lift them up must first remove that leaden despair which rests
upon them like a mighty incubus.

Nor is it much better with the educated classes of India. There are
hundreds of thousands of these men of western university training who
annually assemble in Congress and in Convention, and who in spotless
English of Addisonian accent and in the sonorous phraseology of a
Macaulay, discourse upon human rights and who denounce the bondage of
caste tyranny. And yet they submit, in their own homes, to that same
accursed tyranny and are in life as abject as the meanest Pariah in
the face of caste edicts which they know to be unrighteous and
demeaning to the core.

It should also be remembered that caste is the foster-mother of all
the manifold social evils of the land. In pre-caste days in India such
evils as child marriage, prohibition of widow remarriage, temple
women, excessive marriage expenses, etc., did not exist. They are a
part of the caste régime supported and perpetuated by its authority.
Remove this mighty compulsion, and these institutions would soon
become things of the past.

Another evil of this organization is that of ignoring the ethical and
spiritual standard and of measuring everything from a purely formal
and ceremonial standpoint. All life is reduced into an unceasing
ritual under the perpetual priestly surveillance of caste. All that it
asks of man is outward conformity. He may disbelieve and hate every
commandment of his faith; but if he conforms, he is a faithful son. On
the other hand, he may be a man of unblemished character, and he may
even intend to be obedient to caste; but if, some night, a few enemies
were to thrust into his mouth and compel him to swallow a piece of
beef, no power could save him from the dreadful punishment that would
follow. A man may write a tract in condemnation and ridicule of all
the gods of the Hindu pantheon and still remain an acceptable Hindu;
but if, in the agony of a burning fever, he should drink a spoonful of
water from the hands of a Christian or of a Pariah, his caste would
doom him to perdition for it.

In other words, the whole system directly cultivates, in all the
people, a hollowness of life which does more than anything else to rob
India of her manhood and which makes nobility of character and ethical
integrity most difficult things among the Hindu community. A Brahman
gentleman described the whole system as a "vast hollow sham." And such
it is.


VI

Paradoxical though it may seem, caste spirit is more prevalent and its
influence more dominant in India at the present than in the past; yet
there is more defiance and violation of caste rules and more frequent
and sure evidences of the speedy termination of its reign than at any
previous time.

It has ruled so long and so supremely in this country that the Hindu
accepts it without questioning; and it has become more than a second
nature to him, even a necessity of his being. What would be
intolerably irksome to a Westerner is to the Hindu a matter of course.
To the rank and file of the Hindus, caste has ceased to be a matter of
question. It is the only order of life with which he is conversant;
and while he may be convinced by arguments which prove its cruelty and
its many evils, he still clings to it as the only system under which
he knows how to live and which he cares to obey.

As we have already seen, the ramifications of caste are more numerous
and its authority more general to-day than at any former time. Many
Hindu reformers, especially of the Vishnu sects, have followed in the
steps of the great Buddha, by denouncing caste, root and branch, and
have established their own sects during the last ten centuries on a
non-caste basis. But they have all succumbed to the demon which they
antagonized and now generally observe caste rules with the same
devotion as other Hindus.

The lower the caste spirit has descended to the "submerged tenth" of
the land, the more vehemently have they become inoculated with its
virus. The outcast Pariah is not to be outdone in this matter; and so
we have Pariahs and Pariahs. Many divisions are found among this
wretched class, and they are more exclusive in their divisions and
more rigid in their narrowness than are many of the high castes.

Even those who have abandoned the Hindu faith and professed another,
do not leave behind them this divisive spirit. Perhaps the converts
from Mohammedanism have eschewed Hindu caste more than converts to
other faiths.

Among Christian converts, though caste is professedly abandoned, it
clings with vital tenacity and almost unconquerable persistence to
their sense of the fitness of things. Their deepest prejudices and
unconscious tendencies, even against their intellectual convictions
and sincere professions, unceasingly sway the vast majority of them
and lead them into affiliations and narrow sympathies which are Hindu
and not Christian. It is true that the oldest Christian community in
India, the Syrian Church of Malabar, has long abandoned the Hindu
caste organization, with even its mean remnant of caste titles. And
yet that community settled down for many centuries into the
conviction that it was merely one caste among the many of that region
and must keep itself aloof from and untainted by the surrounding
castes. Roman Catholicism, which has still the most numerous Native
Christian community in India, has largely adopted the Hindu system and
tries to utilize it in the furtherance of Christianity in the land! No
greater mistake was ever made than this of trying to uphold and
promulgate the meekness, the humility, the love, and the fellowship of
Christ by means of the haughty pride, the cruel hate, and the bitter
divisiveness of caste.

[Illustration: JUNGLE PEOPLE OF INDIA]

Protestant Christianity is to-day the pronounced foe of caste. It is
war to the death between them, and the missionaries have not yet found
a foe to their cause so subtle, deceptive, deep-rooted, persistent,
and pervasive as this. It is fortified by a thousand ramparts and
presents more discouragement to the Christian worker than all other
obstacles combined. Even Buddhism and Jainism, the former of which was
the ancient protest against Hindu caste, have fallen oft-times a prey
to the subtle and damning wiles of this system. In Bengal, a number of
Hindu castes are known to have been formerly members of the Jain and
Buddhist communities (see Census 1901, Vol. II, p. 523).

However, notwithstanding this growing prevalence and the marvellous
tenacity of caste throughout the land, there are encouraging signs of
its decadence. Its grip is certainly relaxing in many ways, and its
asperities are softening.

It may not untruthfully be said that the growing multiplicity of
castes is one of the sure harbingers of the downfall of the system.
For the divisions of caste are already beyond computation. The
population is cut up into so many minute sections that the caste
edifice overtowers everything else, so that it is in imminent danger
of toppling over. It is claimed that war among civilized nations will
soon become an impossibility because of the growing devastating power
of modern weapons of warfare. In like manner, caste is speedily
passing through its very excesses to a _reductio ad absurdum_; its
spirit is so rampant, and its gross evils are becoming so intolerable,
that even the patient inhabitants of India will soon cease to endure
the ruin which this monster of their own creation carries on among
them.

Educated Hindus are already denouncing it with great vehemence and
with considerable unanimity. They are convinced that India can never
win independence and power under the régime of caste; and they
proclaim their convictions upon the house-top. It is true, as we have
seen, that caste has so powerfully thrown its spell over them, its own
children, that they are too abject to withstand it openly and
unitedly. But I believe that they will erelong be driven to action.
Further, obedience and submission will mean ruin to them, their
families, and their country.

Even now, among the educated, especially in Bengal, caste restrictions
upon dining are being increasingly ignored. A Bengalee gentleman
enjoys ordinary hotel fare with apparently none to interfere with his
liberties. In Madras, the writer has more than once rubbed shoulders
with Brahman lawyers and others eating together the common fare of a
well-known restaurant of the city. And he has known Brahman patients,
high in society, who did not object even to buy and use nourishment in
the form of "Liebig's Beef-extract," so long as they could cover its
offensiveness to the women of their household by the euphemistic name
"meat-extract."

And to this they are being rapidly carried by a conjunction of many
forces which are increasingly dominating the land.

In the first place, they have the potent example of a host of western
lives among them. This body of white people, from the far-off lands,
is distributed all over India. They are the rulers of the land. A
Brahman may deem their touch pollution. But that same Brahman is often
glad to undergo that ceremonial taint if thereby he can only enjoy the
white man's cultured society. He beholds in these people from the West
a freedom from irksome caste restraints. He notices conjugal relations
among them, such as furnish richest home blessings. Their social
relations are untrammelled and abound in convivial privileges such as
are denied to Hindu society. All this creates in him an uneasiness. If
he is a man of culture and resides in some city of importance, he will
wish to meet English friends upon lines of social equality; but this
he will find to be impossible apart from his defiance of caste rules;
for, to the man of the West, the common cup and the festal board are
the essential conditions of true friendship and intimacy. Thus the
life of the ruling race in India is a constant rebuke to the
narrowness of caste and a source of discontent to the caste-ridden
people, because it reveals to them a different and a better way of
living.

Nor is it merely this new type of non-caste western life that appeals
to them. The modern civilization of the West, with its humanizing
laws, its exaltation of the individual, its religious freedom, its new
and broadening education and culture, its equal rights to every man,
its many institutions through every one of which there breathes the
Anglo-Saxon's blessed love of liberty, the home with its sanctified
affection and its glorified womanhood, philanthropy which carries with
an even hand its sweet services to the high and the low--to Pariah as
to the Brahman,--all these institutions and influences are at work
like a mighty leaven in the mind and heart of India. And the people
cannot be blind to this influence; and it is gradually transforming
their ideals and ambition.

Connected with these more subtle western civilizing agencies are found
the material agencies which are the dread foes of caste exclusion. The
chief among these is the railroad, the thirty thousand miles of which
are so many tongues to proclaim the doom of past narrowness. The
Brahman, with all his mean pride, cannot forego the wonderful
conveniences of the "iron road and the fire-carriage"; but in order to
avail himself of them, he must sit an hour at a time cheek by jowl
with a low-caste--it may be a Pariah--fellow-passenger. The railroad
gnaws at the vitals of caste life and convictions.

Next to it come the schools. Millions of youth are trained in them
daily to regard caste as an unworthy classification. All sections are
taught in the same classes; they play in the same playground. In both
places the lower often excels the higher caste boy. The seeds of
equality and a common regard are thus constantly sown among the youth
of all sections of the land. If it astonished the recent educational
(Moseley) Commission which went from England to the United States to
study the educational conditions there, when it saw the children of
the President of the country studying side by side with the children
of day-labourers, so must it seem wonderful, and wonderfully good, to
a student of social conditions in India, to behold the child of a
Pariah and that of a Brahman preparing, side by side, in the
schoolroom, for the responsibilities and the blessings of life.

Many other agencies similar to the above are doing their benign
levelling work.

The government, however, is the great leveller. In all its gifts of
offices, in all posts of honour and influence, it distributes its
blessings with strict impartiality, so far as caste is concerned. It
wisely ignores all social distinctions and depends upon qualifications
of culture and character when it seeks men to conduct its affairs.
This is something unprecedented in the land of Manu. That the outcast
should stand an equal chance with the high castes for positions of
honour and emolument was unknown in this land of sharp distinctions.

And even more fundamental than this is the blessing of equal personal
and political rights. In ancient India, such an idea was never
entertained. Before British rule entered the land it was never dreamed
that priest, prince, and beggar--and that Brahman and Pariah--had
equal rights before the law. To-day they all recognize the justice of
this and expect it.

Finally, the advent of Christianity, with power, into the land has
brought a new death-knell to caste supremacy. We have seen that Indian
Christian converts abandon all other customs and superstitions with
greater facility than they do those of caste. Its roots have sunk
deepest into the soil of their nature. But let it not be thought that
they do not grow stronger against caste than they used to be. In the
Indian Christian community there is developing a most encouraging
movement toward the complete eradication of caste sentiment and
observance within the Church itself. They are more sensible than ever
before of the gross inconsistency of a man's taking upon himself the
sacred name of Christ and at the same time submitting to the dominance
of caste. Indian Christian anti-caste organizations are now at work
seeking to drive out of the Church of God in India this Antichrist,
and to cultivate the true spirit and amenities of Christian fellowship
and fraternal communion.

The spirit of Christ is abroad in the land in regenerating and
transforming power. His great message to the world was the common
fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. And the Christian Church
is growing increasingly true to the message of its Leader and Lord in
this country. Men may not accept the Christian call to believe and to
be baptized; but they cannot be blind and deaf to the work and call of
the Spirit of Christ in these modern times of thrilling changes and
opportunities.

It is this Christian ideal which is running athwart the most ancient
and cherished institutions and customs of India, and has precipitated
a conflict such as the land has never before known.

But the end is not yet, and caste will not be hurled down from its
high pedestal in a day. It is a mighty institution which has its root
in deepest sentiments and is sustained by cherished antiquity and by
the strongest passions and prejudices. These will not succumb in a
brief generation. And even when Christianity shall have triumphed and
shall have driven out its rival faith from the land, as we have every
reason to believe that it will, let it not be supposed that the
Christianity of the East will have the social complexion of that of
the West. In the earliest days of Christianity, we are told by the
great Apostle to the Gentiles that there were "heresies" in the
Church. These were _social_ heresies or class divisions. It was later
in the West that "heresy" became an error of _belief_. The Indian
Church will also have heresies of life rather than of thought. The
caste spirit will not vanish entirely from India, even when it becomes
Christ's land; because while India is always indulgent and tolerant
concerning beliefs, she is particular about class distinctions. And
this, doubtless, will be the weakness of the Indian Church of the
future. But she will have her strong points, also, and in these she
will glory and through them glorify her exalted Lord.



CHAPTER VI

THE BHAGAVAD GITA--THE HINDU BIBLE


The Bhagavad Gita (translated "The Song of the Adorable One" and "The
Divine Lay") is rightly regarded as the gem of all Hindu sacred
literature. Hindus maintain (and few will question them) that in
beauty of language and in elevation of thought it stands supreme among
their _Shastras_, or sacred writings.

Educated Hindus proudly claim for it superiority to all sacred books
of other faiths.

Of all ancient Brahmanical writings it is to-day the most cherished by
the members of that faith. The ancient Rig Veda is at present only a
book of antiquarian interest. The Upanishads, which are the
fountainhead of Hindu thought and philosophy, are only the text-books
and treasure-houses of philosophers and metaphysicians. But the Divine
Lay is extolled and used alike by men of western culture, by
conservative pandits, and by the masses as their highest book of
doctrine and their richest treasury of devotion.

Even many Hindus who have come under the fascination of the Christ,
carry with them upon their journeyings the New Testament in one pocket
and the Bhagavad Gita in the other, as the common guide and
inspiration of their quiet hours of meditation.

It is thus universally recognized that there is no book which wields a
larger influence than this in the religious life of the two hundred
and thirty millions of Hindus to-day; and there is none which is more
worthy to be called the Hindu Bible.


I

In strange contrast with the bulky tomes of Brahmanism and of the
great epic, Mahabharata (which, with its two hundred and forty
thousand lines, is the longest epic ever written, being eight times as
long as the Odyssey and the Iliad put together), the Bhagavad Gita
contains only seven hundred _slohams_, and is not as long as the
Gospel of St. Mark.

The date of the origin of the Song is very much disputed. There are
Hindu authorities who would carry it back to the fifth century B.C.,
the time which is assigned for the first recension of the Mahabharata,
of which the Bhagavad Gita is a very small part. But the highest
authorities find conclusive proof that it originated about the second
or third century of our era, and was then inserted as a part of an
episode in the narrative of the great epic.

The Mahabharata is a great poetic narrative of a conflict between the
two branches of the Bharata family--the Pandavas and the Kauravas--for
the petty kingdom of Hastinapura, near the modern city of Delhi.

The two forces are already, in counter array, eager for the fray on
the battle-field of Kuruchetra. The call to battle has already been
blown upon the miraculous conchs of the leaders of both sides, who are
seated in their chariots drawn by white horses. Over each one waves
his personal ensign. Arjuna, the noblest of the five brave Pandava
leaders, is a man of heroic traits of character; and yet within him
breathes the tenderest sentiment of humanity. He pauses a moment ere
he leads his mighty hosts against the enemy; and, as he looks upon his
own kith and kin in the opposing ranks, he is overcome by the stern
voice of conscience blending with humanitarian impulses. Is it right,
can it _possibly_ be right, for him to go forth to destroy his own
friends and relatives; shall he shed the blood of those who are
nearest and dearest to him upon the earth? This is the agonizing
doubt which seizes upon him at this time. And in his distress he turns
to his friend and relative, Krishna, who has declined to participate
in the war, but who had volunteered to act as Arjuna's charioteer. And
he says unto him: "Seeing these kinsmen, O Krishna, standing (here)
desirous to engage in battle, my limbs droop down; my mouth is quite
dried up; a tremor comes on my body; and my hairs stand on end; the
Gandiva (bow) slips from my hand; my skin burns intensely; I am
unable, too, to stand up; my mind whirls round, as it were. Even those
for whose sake we desire sovereignty, enjoyments, and pleasures, are
standing here for battle, abandoning life and wealth--preceptors,
fathers, sons as well, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law,
grandsons, brothers-in-law, as also other relatives. These I do not
wish to kill, though they kill me, O destroyer of Madhu! even for the
sake of sovereignty over the three worlds, how much less than for this
earth (alone)?"

Krishna replied, with a view to soothe Arjuna's perturbed mind, and to
urge him on to battle.

It is this dialogue between the hero and the god which constitutes the
Bhagavad Gita. And yet one can hardly call it a dialogue, since
Krishna's remarks make up more than nine-tenths of the book.

The dialogue is one of the favourite forms of Hindu literature. Most
of the Puranas and the Tantras are cast in that form.

It seems very strange that this book, which is the favourite exponent
of a faith whose very essence is non-resistance, whose genius is to
inculcate the passive virtues, should have found its motive in the
purpose of the god Krishna to overcome, in the warrior Arjuna, those
worthy, humane sentiments of peace and kindness and that noble
resolution to forego even the kingdom rather than to acquire it
through the shedding of the blood of his relatives. How incongruous to
build up the lofty structure of a faith upon so unethical, unsocial,
and cruel a foundation!


II

The Song evidently belongs to the _tendensschrift_ school of
literature. It is written with a definite aim and purpose. It is the
highest exponent of Hindu Eclecticism. The three great schools of
Brahmanical thought and philosophy--the Sankya, the Yoga, and the
Vedanta--were founded more than twenty-five centuries ago and have
wielded resistless power in the shaping of religious thought in
India. And perhaps this power was never more manifest than at the
present time.

But these schools are, in their main issues, mutually antagonistic.
The Sankya philosophy is severely dualistic and even has little use,
if indeed it has any place, for the Divine Being. On the other hand,
the Vedanta is uncompromisingly monistic. Its pantheism is of the
highest spiritualistic type and is radically opposed to the
materialism of the Sankya school. In one school the Divine Being is
nothing and materialism has full sway; while in the other Brâhm is
everything, and all that appears to men--the phenomenal--is false and
illusive.

Again, as to the method of redemption, the Yoga philosophy advocates
renunciation, self-effacement, and all the forms of asceticism. On the
other hand, the Sankya philosophy inculcates action as the embodiment
of the duty of man, through which alone he can attain unto absorption.

Even to the present time these different schools of thought not only
prevail; they have also begotten and are nourishing different schools
of religious life and practice which present different ideals and
enforce different methods.

The Brahman author, or authors, of the Bhagavad Gita was inspired with
the laudable ambition of harmonizing these conflicting teachings and
of blending their peculiarities into one consistent whole, which would
appeal to all the followers of the many-sided Brahmanical faith. This
he accomplished with rare beauty of language, and with a success which
has won admiration and acceptance by nearly all the people of India.
And this is the more remarkable since the worship of Krishna is
distinctly a part of the Vaishnavite cult of Hinduism, and as such
does not appeal to the Saivites, or the worshippers of Siva.

But the author, naturally and inevitably, failed to produce a
congruous scheme of saving truth and religious appeal. The result is
that we see, on almost every page, contradictory teachings and
conflicting methods of salvation. This, of course, is by no means
fatal to it in the estimation of Hindus, with whom consistency has
never been a foible, and in the eyes of whom two mutually
contradictory teachings can rest peacefully side by side.

Here we find dualism and monism locking hands together, and the three
ways of liberation--that of ritual, of asceticism, and of
knowledge--not only find full expression, but are also supplemented by
the inculcation of faith and of the obligations of caste. To a
Westerner, this jumbling together of such antagonistic ideas and
methods would be as repulsive as it would be absurd. But the Oriental
mind works on different lines from the Occidental, and is never
hampered by logical inconsistency.

The Song of the Adorable One is divided into three chapters, of six
divisions each.

The first extols the benefits of the Yoga method; but it also adds
that action should be supplemented to Yoga for the speediest
attainment of beatification.

In the second part, the pantheism of the Vedanta is inculcated, and
Krishna identifies himself with the universal Spirit and claims
adoration as such.

In the third part, an effort is made to blend the Sankya and the
Vedanta conceptions, an effort which largely permeates the whole book.
That is, it claims that _prakriti_, or elemental nature, and the soul,
or _âtma_, find their source in Brâhm; and thus it practically
vitiates the fundamental teachings of both systems. At the same time,
it also teaches the separate existence of individual souls, which is
anti-Vedantic.

As we study carefully the contents of this remarkable work, we are
impressed equally with its excellences and defects, with its sublime
teachings and absurd contentions. Generally speaking, it may be said
to be characterized by notions which are, at the same time, supremely
attractive to the East and unintelligible and repellent to the West.

1. Considering first its teaching concerning God, we find emphasized
that monistic teaching of Hindu Pantheism which has been the dominant
note in the faith of India from the first. But it is not the strictly
spiritual and the unequivocal Pantheism of Vedantism, which is purely
idealistic and which bluntly denies the existence of everything but
Brâhm itself. It is rather a mixture of the dual and the non-dual
teaching of the two dominant, contending philosophies of the land.
Krishna tells us that he is not only the supreme Spirit, but also that
the material universe is a part of himself. "O Son of Pritha! I am the
Kratu, I am the Yagna, I am the Svadha, I am the product of the herbs,
I am the sacred verse. I too am the sacrificial butter, I the fire, I
the offering. I am the father of this universe, the mother, the
creator, the grandsire, the thing to be known, the means of
sanctification, ... the source and that in which it merges, the
support, the receptacle, and the inexhaustible seed.... All entities
which are of the quality of goodness, and those which are of the
quality of passion and of darkness, know that they are, indeed, all
from me; I am not in them, but they are in me. The whole universe,
deluded by these three states of mind, develops from the qualities,
does not know me who am beyond them and inexhaustible; for this
delusion of mine, ... is divine and difficult to transcend."

"There is nothing else higher than myself; all this is woven upon me
like numbers of pearls upon a thread. I am the taste in water, I am
the light in the sun and the moon."[2]

[Footnote 2: The translation which I follow here is that of Mr.
Telang, in "The Sacred Books of the East," which is, on the whole,
both exact and more intelligible than most other translations.]

These and many other similar expressions represent an evident effort
to graft the materialistic conceptions of the Sankya upon the Vedanta,
which is in nothing more emphatic than in denying the existence of all
that is phenomenal and material.

Krishna gave to Arjuna, at the latter's request, a vision of his true
Self separate from, and infinitely higher than, the humble and
illusive garb of his incarnation. And it was to him "as if in the
heavens the lustre of a thousand suns burst forth all at once." And
what a vision! Gazing upon it, Arjuna exclaims, "O God! I see within
your body the gods, as also all the groups of various being; and the
lord Brâhm seated on his lotus seat, and all the sages and celestial
snakes. I see you, who are of countless forms, possessed of many arms,
stomachs, mouths, and eyes on all sides. And, O Lord of the Universe,
O you of all forms! I do not see your end, middle, or beginning.... I
believe you to be the eternal being. I see you void of beginning,
middle, or end--of infinite power, of unnumbered arms, and having the
sun and the moon for eyes, and having a mouth like a blazing fire and
heating the universe with your radiance. For this space between heaven
and earth and all the quarters are pervaded by you alone. Looking at
this wonderful and terrible form of yours, O high-souled one! the
three worlds are affrighted. For here these groups of gods are
entering into you.... Our principal warriors, also, are rapidly
entering your mouths, fearful and horrific by reason of your jaws. And
some with their heads smashed are seen stuck in the spaces between the
teeth. As the many rapid currents of a river's waters run toward the
sea alone, so do the heroes of this human world enter your mouths
blazing all around. As butterflies, with increased velocity, enter a
blazing fire to their destruction, so too do these people enter your
mouths with increased velocity, only to their destruction. Swallowing
all these people, you are licking them over and over again from all
sides with your blazing mouths!"

Here we verily have a fine combination of the sublime and the
ridiculous! The Apostle of Jesus was given to witness a vision of
heavenly things such as could not be uttered. This disciple of Krishna
does not hesitate to paint in such glowing terms a vision of the
divine, that, to all but a Hindu, the picture seems not only
incongruous but highly absurd and disgusting. One can hardly imagine
that any mortal, to whom a vision of the divine being had been
granted, could fail so utterly to furnish us with an edifying
description of the same.

In this Song, Krishna claims to be, at the same time, absolute Deity
and the supreme incarnation. In nothing do the East and the West
differ more radically than in their teaching concerning incarnation or
"descent." In Christianity, God only once became incarnate; and in
that Incarnation every believing soul has found its needs fully
satisfied. Never, in all these two thousand years, did our Lord Christ
satisfy more completely the human soul and bring rest to more human
hearts than at the present time.

To the Christian, Jesus represents the ultimate of God's earthly
manifestation, as He does the complete realization of human salvation.

But in Hinduism, incarnation is presented as a continuous passion of
the Deity. The absolute Spirit forever amuses itself with the "sacred
sport" of ever changing emanations and manifestations. Myriads of
"descents" are recorded in their sacred books, of all degrees and
forms of grotesqueness, and not a few of unblushing vileness. It is an
interesting fact that the same Krishna who poses, and by millions of
Hindus is accepted, as the Supreme Deity, is nevertheless represented
in the most popular books of Hinduism to-day--the Puranas, which are
known in their legends to all Hindus and which wield a supreme
influence over them in their life--as a very different being. In these
books the story of Krishna is one of fetid, unblushing immorality and
voluptuousness. The publishing of these narratives in the English
language in a western land at the present time would be considered a
crime punishable with imprisonment. And thus this Hindu god, who is
the most popular in India and who appeals most to the imagination of
the people, led a life upon earth whose record is a story of
immorality which brings a crimson blush to the pure.

But, to return to the Hindu conception of incarnation, it must be
remembered that it is unique in this particular; viz. that it regards
the Deity as continually returning to the world to visit and to help
human beings. In the Gita, Krishna remarks:--

     "Whensoever, O Descendant of Bharata! piety languishes and
     impiety is in the ascendant, I create myself. I am born, age
     after age, for the protection of the good, for the
     destruction of evil-doers, and the establishment of piety."

The inadequacy of any one incarnation is here proclaimed, and the idea
of constant communication with and impartation of himself to humanity
through repeated _descents_ is here inculcated. And it is a
fundamental conception of Hinduism--a conception which differentiates
it essentially from the Christian religion.

From this remark of Krishna, who speaks here as the Supreme Being, one
would suppose that Hindu incarnations have been, and still are,
definitely intended to enhance human piety upon earth, and have been
such as to accomplish this purpose. As a matter of fact, the historic
or legendary incarnations of India, as they are now recorded in their
sacred books, have practically no ethical or spiritual content. I defy
any Hindu to take the narratives of these descents, as found in the
Puranas and other books, and show from them that there was anything
more than physical and social relief to men intended by them or
accomplished through them. I have yet to find, in those narratives,
the conception of human sin and moral depravity and of the purpose of
the incarnation to break the fetters of sin and to bring spiritual
light and moral beauty to those among whom it manifested itself. The
gulf which thus stands between the Hindu ideal of incarnation and the
real incarnations which are recorded in Hindu literature, including
that of Krishna himself, is wide and impassable. One has well said
that the incarnation of Krishna is an incarnation of lust, and the
record of his 16,100 wives and 180,000 sons is but a suggestion of the
correctness of this estimate. Even the incarnation of Buddha, which,
doubtless, is the highest and best among those incorporated into the
Hindu Pantheon, is expressly stated by Hindu authorities to be for
the purpose of deceiving and destroying the people.

When one begins to compare the picture of the Christian Incarnation
with that of any and of all those that occupy the Hindu mind, and fill
many volumes of Hindu literature, we pass from noon-day light into
Egyptian darkness.

2. The doctrine of _âtma_, or the human self, or soul, is more in
accordance with the Sankya than the Vedantic school. The individual
soul is represented, not as a part of the Supreme Soul, which is the
distinct doctrine of the _Adwaitha_ philosophy, but as a separate
entity which is immutable and eternal. Listen to Krishna's argument to
Arjuna, in order to urge him into battle and to shed the blood of his
friends: "Learned men grieve not for the living nor the dead. Never
did I not exist, nor you, nor these rulers of men; nor will any of us
ever hereafter cease to be. As in this body, infancy and youth and old
age come to the embodied self, so does the acquisition of another
body; a sensible man is not deceived about that.... There is no
existence for that which is unreal; there is no non-existence for that
which is real.... These bodies, appertaining to the embodied self
which is eternal, indestructible, and indefinable, are said to be
perishable; therefore do engage in battle, O descendant of Bharata! He
who thinks it to be the killer and he who thinks it to be killed, both
know nothing. It kills not, is not killed. It is not born, nor does it
ever die, nor, having existed, does it exist no more. Unborn,
everlasting, unchangeable, and primeval, it is not killed when the
body is killed.... But even if you think that it is constantly born,
and constantly dies, still, O you mighty man of arms! you ought not to
grieve thus. For to one that is born, death is certain; and to one
that dies, birth is certain."

There is a great deal more in this line of the indestructibility of
the soul; but nothing is said of the Vedantic idea that the soul has
no real, separate existence, and that even this illusory existence, in
human conditions, will terminate when the self shall be recognized to
be, as it really is, an unsevered and inseparable part of the Supreme
Soul.

The eternal existence of the soul is posited by every school of Hindu
thought. In the Sankya philosophy, the human self, as we have seen, is
a separate, uncreated entity; and the teaching of the Divine Lay
concerning it is in harmony with this. And it must be confessed that
in many respects this doctrine is inferior to the Vedantic, which
emphasizes the spiritual character, and the divine origin and destiny,
of the soul.

3. The doctrine of Liberation, or of Redemption, as found in the
Bhagavad Gita, is a strange combination of all the ways which
Brahmanism has inculcated through its many schools, with other ways
here added. "In every way men follow in my path," declared Krishna. In
the pursuance of any religious practices whatever, men were assured
that they would be acceptable if they were only Krishna-olaters.

(1) But the highest path which leads unto God is the path of knowledge
(_Gnana_). "Sacrifices of various sorts are laid down in the Vedas.
Know them all to be produced from action, and knowing this you will be
released from the fetters of this world. The sacrifice of knowledge is
superior to the sacrifice of wealth, for action is wholly and entirely
comprehended in knowledge.... Even if you are the most sinful of all
sinful men, you will cross over all trespasses by means of the boat of
knowledge alone. As a fire well kindled, O Arjuna! reduces fuel to
ashes, so the fire of knowledge reduces all actions to ashes. For
there is in this world no means of sanctification like knowledge, and
that one perfected by devotion finds within one's self in time. He who
has faith, whose senses are restrained, and who is assiduous, obtains
knowledge. Obtaining knowledge he acquires, without delay, the highest
tranquillity.... Therefore, O descendant of Bharata! destroy with the
sword of knowledge these misgivings of yours which fill your mind, and
which are produced from ignorance." "He who is possessed of knowledge,
who is always devoted, and whose worship is addressed to one only, is
esteemed highest. For to the man of knowledge I am dear above all
things, and he is dear to me. All these are noble, but the man
possessed of knowledge is deemed by me to be my own self."

From time immemorial Indian sages have looked upon God as the Supreme
Intelligence; He is the absolute Wisdom, and to know Him or it, and to
know that "I am it" (_Tat twam asi_), this is the highest wisdom
(_Brahma Gnana_), and it gives immediate entrance into the heaven of
beatification or of absorption. And the only sin which such a man, and
which this system of thought, recognizes is the sin of ignorance
(_Avidia_); that is, the folly, or stupidity, of thinking that one's
soul is separate from the divine Soul. To know, under these mundane
conditions of delusion (_Maya_), and while under the tyranny of
passion and of action (_Karma_), that I am, after all, identical with
the divine Spirit, and that the thought of a separate existence is a
snare and a bondage,--this is the immediate shattering of my earthly
bondage and the full entrance of my soul (like a drop of water to its
mother ocean) into the eternal peace and tranquillity (_Sayutcha_) of
the godhead--a state of unconscious calm which shall never after be
disturbed.

Thus the highest way of salvation, as taught by Hindus of all classes,
is the way of knowledge. It is the highest step in the progress of
human redemption. All other ways of salvation are but preliminary, or
stepping-stones, to this. There is no return to the bondage of this
world of Him who has crossed the river of death "in the boat of
knowledge." All others must again return and further, by new births,
the cause of the soul's emancipation.

(2) The second path of liberation here inculcated is that of
self-restraint, of asceticism. From time immemorial the ascetic has
been India's ideal of a man of piety. He is a man who has turned his
back upon the pleasures of the world, even its harmless amusements and
physical enjoyments, and has given himself to stern rigid self-denial.
By thus denying himself every pleasure that body can bring and every
satisfaction that human society can furnish; yea, more, by a
renunciation of everything worldly to the extent of supreme physical
pain and social deprivation, he separates and weans himself from all
that is temporal, that he may pass on in sadness up the pathway of
redemption. This is the way of Yoga; and the Yogi to-day finds highest
admiration in India as its ideal of life.

In the Divine Lay also this pathway of Yoga finds emphasis and
exaltation.

"The devotee whose self is contented with knowledge and experience,
who is unmoved, who has restrained his senses, and to whom a sod, a
stone, and gold are alike, is said to be devoted.... A devotee should
constantly devote himself to abstraction, remaining in a secret place,
alone, with his mind and self restrained, without expectations and
without belongings. Fixing his seat firmly in a clean place, not too
high nor too low, and covered over with a sheet of cloth, a deerskin,
and kusa grass--and there seated on that seat, fixing his mind
exclusively on one point with the working of the mind and sense
restrained, he should practise devotion for the purity of self....
Thus constantly devoting himself to abstraction, a devotee whose mind
is restrained attains that tranquillity which culminates in final
emancipation and assimilation with me.... The self-restrained,
embodied self lies at ease within the city of nine portals, renouncing
all actions by the mind, not doing or causing anything to be done."

This path of abstraction and asceticism leaves the soul to theosophic
knowledge, which is consummated in the supreme bliss of assimilation
with the Divine.

So enamoured has India been of this method of life throughout the
centuries that Yoga has been reduced to a science, and has been
elaborated to a degree which is ridiculous and almost idiotic. Listen,
for instance, to Krishna's instructions where he speaks of the ascetic
as "holding his body, head, and neck even and unmoved, remaining
steady, looking at the tip of his own nose," etc. These ridiculous
posturings and idiotic attitudes cannot, as has been well said by
Barth, but lead to idiocy or to a loss of all mental aptitude.

The ultimate aim of Yoga is to reduce the soul to tranquillity and
quiescence, by abstracting the mind from all things earthly, and thus
leading to cessation from action; for action is said to lead to new
fruit, which must be eaten by the soul; and for this purpose new
births are necessary, which delay final absorption in the deity.

The spirit of Hinduism is thus evident in its exaltation of this
method of life. It has made the path of abstraction and the
elimination of every thought, emotion, and ambition, its ideal. In
other words, man, by self-repression and the effacement of every
faculty of mind and body, is to attain unto final beatification or
emancipation. This is an end in itself, according to the Hindu plan of
life.

In Christianity, on the other hand, self-realization and not
self-effacement must be the consummation of life. The way of the
Cross, that is, the path of self-denial, is indeed most rigidly
enjoined; but it is the denial of the lower self, the meanest passions
of the soul, in order that the highest faculties may find complete
realization. Thus, in Christianity, also, asceticism has a place of
value; but it is as a means to a higher end, and that is, perfect
growth and development of the man unto the "measure of the stature of
the fulness of Christ."

(3) It also possesses the distinction of emphasizing works or action
as necessary to salvation. Indeed, the Bhagavad Gita is unique among
the books of India in teaching that action is superior to
renunciation.

Sri Krishna says: "Renunciation and pursuit of action are both
instruments of happiness. But of the two, pursuit of action is
superior to renunciation of action."

This is, indeed, strange teaching in the realm of Hindu literature,
where action is universally taught to be both in itself an evil and to
be the cause of sin. Krishna, by some magic of his own power, here
reverses the ordinary Hindu teaching. "He who has controlled his
senses and who identifies his self with every being, is not tainted,
though he performs actions." "He who, casting off all attachment,
performs actions, dedicating them to Brâhm, is not tainted by sin, as
the lotus leaf is not tainted by water." Indeed, we are told that some
"perform actions for attaining purity of self." Thus we see inculcated
the peculiarly un-Hindu doctrine that he who works for God is for that
reason absolved from the fruit of his action; yea, more, by his very
acts attains unto purity, and approaches the consummation of
absorption. Still more, the very motive of Krishna, in this Divine
Song, is to stir up the warlike courage of Arjuna and to lead him into
the bloody activities of war. "Therefore do you, too, perform
actions, as was done by men of olden times."

But action, in order that it may be effective, must be according to
prescribed rules. Any work which is inculcated in the sacred books is
both sacred and useful in the scheme of redemption. And among these
prescribed works, few are more useful than the performance of
sacrifice. Men "have their sins destroyed by sacrifice. Those who eat
the nectar-like leavings of the sacrifice prepare for the eternal
Brâhm. This world is not for those who perform no sacrifice. Thus
sacrifices of various sorts are laid down in the Vedas. Know them all
produced from action, and knowing this you will be released from the
fetters of this world."

Idolatry, also, is a part of this sacred duty. "Desiring the success
of action, men in this world worship the divinities, for in this world
of the mortals, the success produced by action is soon obtained."
"Those who worship the divinities go to the divinities, and my
worshippers, too, go to me." "Even those, O Son of Kunti, who being
devotees of other divinities worship with faith, worship me only, but
irregularly. For I am the enjoyer as well as Lord of all sacrifices.
But they know me not truly, therefore do they fall," _i.e._ they
return to the world of mortals. This teaching may be called polytheism
rather than idolatry. And yet at the time this book was written,
polytheism had already degenerated into idolatry.

The most definite and multitudinous courses of action are those
enforced by the caste system. And these also are emphasized in this
song. Krishna here informs us that he is the author of the caste
system. "The four-fold division of castes was created by me according
to the apportionment of qualities and duties." Elsewhere, in Hindu
writings, we are abundantly informed that Brâhm created these four
divisions of men from his head, his shoulders, his loins, and his
feet, respectively.[3]

[Footnote 3: See Chapters IV and V, on Caste.]

He only lives well and works worthily who lives in strict accordance
with caste rules, and who works in obedience to the dictates of caste
tyranny. We are here informed that "one's own duty, though defective,
is better than another's duty well performed. Death in performing
one's own duty is preferable; the performance of the duty of others is
dangerous." Here, of course, "one's own duty" is the duty prescribed
to a man by the Hindu caste system. "The duties of Brahmans,
Kshatriyas, and Vaisyas, and of Sudras, too, O terror of your foes,
are distinguished according to the qualities born of nature.
Tranquillity, restraint of the sense, penance, purity, forgiveness,
straightforwardness, also knowledge, experience, and belief in the
future world, this is the natural duty of the Brahmans. Valour, glory,
courage, dexterity, not slinking away from battle, gifts, exercise of
lordly power, this is the natural duty of Kshatriyas. Agriculture,
tending cattle, trade, this is the natural duty of Vaisyas. And the
natural duty of Sudras, too, consists in service. Every man intent on
his own respective duties obtains perfection." And, again, "One's
duty, though defective, is better than another's duty well performed.
Performing the duty prescribed by nature one does not incur sin. One
should not abandon a natural duty though tainted with evil."

Thus the most stupendous system of social and religious evil that the
world has ever known--the Hindu caste system--is here boldly taught
and inculcated as the most sacred duty of life. One man is born for
pious leadership, another born to fight, another born for menial
service; and woe be to any one of them who abandons this so-called
"natural duty" and strives for a betterment or a change of life! This
is the divinely inculcated system of bondage which has enthralled
India for twenty-five centuries.

But it is gratifying to know that, though taught and inculcated in
this highest book of their faith, Hindus are beginning to denounce the
whole system. Both a social and a religious consciousness are
beginning to rebel against its very existence.

But we pass from this lowest aspect of "action" to the highest when we
remark that all acts should, according to Krishna, be free from
attachment. No duty is more frequently enforced in the Bhagavad Gita
than that of detachment in religious activity; nor is there any higher
than this within the whole compass of this Song. It is the duty of man
to work out righteousness and to exercise virtue without regard to the
results or the fruits of his action. It is the high-water mark of the
teaching of the book.

"Your business is with action alone; not by any means with fruit. Let
not the fruit of action be your motive to action." "Wretched are those
whose motive to action is the fruit of action." Therefore, perform all
action, which must be performed, without attachment. For a man,
performing action without attachment, attains the Supreme. "Forsaking
all attachment to the fruit of action, always contented, dependent on
none, he does nothing at all, though he engages in action. Devoid of
expectations, restraining the mind and the self, and casting off all
belongings, he incurs no sin."

We must not, however, give to this detachment a Christian value. For
it is a part of Hindu thought to condemn every emotion and sentiment,
however lofty as an asset of life. It regards every desire, however
noble in itself, and every sentiment, however exalted, as essentially
evil; for it is a momentary barrier to that equilibrium and quiescence
of soul which the Hindu has always maintained to be the highest
cultivation of the self. Therefore, action, in order to be of any
permanent value, must be severed from every passion, desire, or
expectation. And thus the Hindu does not here seek so much the
existence of pure altruism as he does the absence of desire, which
means soul unrest and the removal of one of the barriers to soul
emancipation. It is, he says, when love and every other passion cools
off into a quiet intellectual calm, and the soul is animated, not by
sentiment, but by clear vision, that _Sayutcha_, or absorption into
the Brâhm, is attained.

If, then, detachment is a keyword to Higher Hinduism and man is
forbidden to seek after any good, even the highest, in connection with
his religious activities, what then can be an adequate motive to a
religious life of good works?

Here is introduced another keyword of this Eclecticism--the word
_Bhakti_.

The doctrine of Bhakti finds a supreme place in the Divine Song.
_Bhakti_ means devotion or love to Krishna himself. Perhaps the
Christian word "Faith" best expresses the full meaning of the word
_Bhakti_. Krishna says, in substance, Have no attachment to the
results of your acts; but be attached to me who am the supreme God,
and live and act according to the noble impulse of that attachment.

"Among all devotees, he who being full of faith worships me, with his
inmost self intent on me, is esteemed by me to be the most devoted."
"Even if a very ill-conducted man worships me, not worshipping any one
else, he must certainly be deemed to be good, for he has well
resolved." "Place your mind on me, become my devotee, my worshipper;
reverence me, and thus making me your highest goal, and devoting
yourself to abstraction, you will certainly come to me." "On me place
your mind, become my devotee, sacrifice to me, reverence me, you will
certainly come to me. I declare to you truly, you are dear to me. I
will release you from all sins. Be not grieved." "No one amongst men
is superior to him in doing what is dear to me."

It is probable that the Bhagavad Gita was the first to introduce this
doctrine of faith. It is, of course, a doctrine possible only in
connection with a _personal_ God, and was doubtless introduced through
the new cult of Krishna-olatry. It is foreign to Vedantism, whose God
is the Impersonal and the Ineffable One; foreign also to the Sankya
school, where God is neither known nor needed. It is essentially a new
teaching, and is a peculiar feature of the worship of the incarnations
of Vishnu.

But, introduced by this Song of the Adorable One, it has been
incorporated into the Hindu religion, and figures now as one of the
most powerful motives of that faith. And this new doctrine brings the
Hindu religion into warmer relationship to Christianity than at any
other point. Sir Monier Williams truly claims that Hinduism, in no
other teaching, so closely approaches Christianity as in the doctrine
of faith.

But, like all other teachings of Hinduism, this doctrine also has been
considerably distorted in the process of appropriation; so that
"faith" in the worship of Vishnu's incarnations, to-day, is more
potential as an act than is "faith" in Christianity. For, in Hinduism,
it matters not on what god or ritual the _Bhakthan_ places his faith,
it has power to redeem him from all troubles.

It should be remembered that _Bhakti_ is perhaps the most distinctive
and mighty influence in Vaishnavism, if not in all Hinduism, at the
present time.

(4) Little is said in Hinduism with a view to inculcate and to reveal
the efficiency of altruism, or the love of man for man. In the Bhagavad
Gita hardly any reference is made to this which is so dominant a note in
the Christian faith. Krishna does remark that one should have "regard
also to keeping people to their duties," in performing action. "Whatever
a great man does, that other men also do; ... wise men should not shake
the convictions of the ignorant who are attached to action, but acting
with devotion should make them apply themselves to all action." "He who
identifies himself with every being is not tainted, though he performs
actions." "The sages who are intent on the welfare of all the beings
obtain the Brahmic bliss."

This certainly is neither very clear, nor at all adequate, as the
inculcation of the most fundamental of all duties, the love of our
fellow-men and the sacrifice of self in the interest of common
humanity. The Vedantin claims that the unity of all being, as taught
by him, is a strong injunction upon him to love all the parts of that
unity. But the Bhagavad Gita does not teach clearly even this Vedantic
doctrine. Selfishness is too much stamped upon the Hindu faith. It is
too exclusively an individualistic religion. It is every one for
himself in the great struggle of man for redemption. It pre-eminently
tends to cultivate in man both pride in his own achievement and an
exclusively selfish devotion to the consummation of his own
redemption.

4. In the Bhagavad Gita little is said of the character of the
salvation which is to be achieved by the devotee of Krishna. Indeed,
the nature of this consummation is left very much in mystery. We are
told that Krishna's worshipper will come to him. "He who, with the
highest devotion to me, will proclaim this supreme mystery among my
devotees will come to me freed from all doubts." Again we are taught
that such a devotee, "understanding me, truly enters into my essence."
This carries the definite and universal thought of Hinduism, that man
will be absorbed in the Deity. In another place we are told that the
worshipper "who is purified by the penance of knowledge has come into
my essence."

This is the eschatology of all Hindu _Shastras_. The peculiar teaching
of the Bhagavad Gita concerning action and its emphasis upon a
strenuous life in this world would have led us to expect the teaching
of a future of some kind of activity. Instead of that, it falls back
upon the old and hackneyed pantheistic idea, that the human soul,
being ultimately divested of its human bodies, both gross and fine,
passes on in its nakedness into oneness with the Absolute, and thus
loses all the faculties which, so far as we know, constitute its
greatness, power, and glory. In this condition of absorption the human
soul is not only deprived of its separate existence, but also of all
self-knowledge, which is the true basis of personality.

As to the process of this salvation we are here taught, as in all
Hindu writing, that it is attained through metempsychosis, or
reincarnation. The human soul, like the divine, in Brahmanism, passes
through many incarnations (some writers say 8,400,000) before it
receives the crown of perfection, or of absorption. Krishna says: "As
a man, casting off old clothes, puts on others and new ones, so the
embodied self, casting off old bodies, goes to others and new ones."
"I have passed through many births, O Arjuna, and you, also," says
Krishna; "I know them all, but you, O terror of your foes! do not know
them."

This devious and tedious path of reincarnation is the one over which
every soul must pass. And between every incarnation and that which
follows, the soul, clothed upon with a subtle body, passes through
many heavens and hells in order to eat the fruits of its past actions.
And there is a remnant of these fruits left which necessitates the
return to a new body and a new human existence.

These upper and nether regions through which the soul passes and
settles its accounts with the past, are not in any sense permanent.
Concerning this, the Bhagavad Gita says that men, "reaching the holy
world of the Lord of Gods, they enjoy in the celestial regions the
celestial pleasures of the gods. And having enjoyed that great
heavenly world, they enter the mortal world when their merit is
exhausted." After, perhaps, millions of these human incarnations (and,
indeed, the incarnation may be of lower animal and of vegetable), the
self will gradually be perfected, they say, and will pass on into the
calm essence of the supreme Soul, as a drop of water descends in rain
and blends again with the ocean. I see absolutely no reason why this
interminable process of metempsychosis should lead to the perfection
of the soul rather than to its complete demoralization. Indeed, there
is nothing ethical at all in the character of these reincarnations, so
far as they are described by Hindu writers.


III

This, then, is the "Divine Lay" of the Hindu religion, the book most
cherished and most highly extolled by more than two hundred and thirty
million Hindus.

We are, first of all, impressed by the many contradictions which
disfigure the book. Hardly a page is free from conflicting doctrines
and methods of life. It could not be otherwise in any effort to
harmonize the mutually contradictory teachings of the conflicting
schools of religious thought and practice in this complicated faith.

On the other hand, we see in this Song an honest and an able attempt
to bring the many tenets of that faith into a consistent whole. And we
cannot help feeling that, while the view of God and man here
presented, and the ways of salvation here enunciated, are not
satisfactory, yet we find scattered through its pages gems of thought
and beauties of religious conceptions and instruction which are beyond
cavil, and which to-day _seem_ to satisfy many millions of our
fellow-men.

But, at the close of a careful perusal of the book, one feels that it
is radically unsatisfying.

In the first place, it is wanting in any power for life. In order to
feel this, one has only to compare it, for a moment, with the Gospels
of Christianity. We find here philosophical disquisitions on the
Divine Being which few men can understand and none can hope to
harmonize. In the Gospels, on the other hand, we see presented a
scheme of life which, at the same time, satisfies the highest
philosophy and is perfectly intelligible to the most simple-minded.
Here a bewildering number of mutually contradictory ways of life are
urged upon us, not one of which can appeal in fulness and power to the
common man. There do we find one clear way of salvation--the way of
faith in Christ; and in order to walk in that way the power of the
Divine Spirit is promised to every one, even to the humblest soul and
to the greatest sinner, that he might accept the Christ and live in
and through Him a holy and a righteous life.

Above all, we have here represented an incarnation the records of
whose doings, in the sacred writings of the Hindus, shock us by their
immorality and disgust us by their coarseness. And yet he arrogates to
himself the nature and the functions, as he makes upon us the demands,
of the supreme Deity. There, on the other hand, we witness the
spectacle of the Christ who so lived the divine life, and whose
immaculate holiness is so overwhelming, that His claim to be one with
the Godhead brings no shock or sense of incongruity to any one to-day.
He has so impressed men of all generations that untold millions, in
all lands, have felt no hesitation in believing Him when He says, "He
that hath seen me hath seen the Father." Here do we indeed find the
supreme contrast between the manual of Hindu faith and the Gospels of
Christianity; and it is a contrast at the most vital point of
religion.



CHAPTER VII

POPULAR HINDUISM


In the last chapter we dwelt upon what may be called the Higher
Hinduism--that system of thought and religious exercise which engages
the attention, attracts the thought, and invites the devotion of the
thinking classes of the Hindu fold. The Bhagavad Gita is only one of
many writings which seriously present to the thoughtful Hindu some of
the higher conceptions and deepest yearnings of the soul. Of all the
faiths of the "Far East" none dwells so much upon these profound
religious realities, or engages in such lofty flights of spiritual
aspiration, as does this religion of the Brahmans. And no one can
study these products of the greatest minds and most sensitive
religious souls of India without entertaining a great and growing
admiration for them.

But it is well to remember these are not all of Hindu literature; nor
do they represent the current thought or the general religious life of
the people.

[Illustration: A DRAVIDIAN SHRINE, SOUTH INDIA]

They indeed reveal the highest and the best that has ever come to
light in the thought and spiritual culture of this people. For that
reason, the Bhagavad Gita is worthy of the name we gave it--the Hindu
bible.

In view of all these things, who would say that God did not visit this
people, or left Himself without witness among them? While He was
leading the Hebrews in the time of Moses, He was also stirring this
people through its old rishis, or sages. While He was rebuking the
degenerate Jewish people through their later prophets, He was raising
and inspiring the great prophet of India, the Buddha, to protest
against a debased Brahmanism.

But let it not be supposed that this literature of "Higher Hinduism"
is, in any sense, popular in India. Those religious books which engage
the mind of the masses are of a very different class. They are the
wild legends of the Puranas, and inane dialogues and lying
incantations of the Tantras--two classes of works which are both the
most popular and are lowest in the range of their ideas and most
demoralizing in the cults which they present.

These books were ostensibly written for the common people and for
women. And the common people delight in them and are intoxicated by
their religious exaggerations and excesses.

Thus the faith of the people, as a whole, is far removed, in its
grovelling thought, its idolatrous practices, and its thousand-headed
ritual, from the teaching of Higher Hinduism.

Above all, we must remember that the Hinduism of to-day is not the
Brahmanism of thirty centuries ago. It has been the passion of that
faith, from the beginning, to absorb all cults and faiths that have
come into contact with it. Hinduism is an amorphous thing; it has been
compared to a many-coloured and many-fibred cloth, in which are mixed
together Brahmanism, Buddhism, Demonolatry, and Christianity. And all
these, utterly regardless of the many contradictions which they bring
together, form modern Hinduism.

This is true also of the gods of India. The earliest of the Vedic gods
had elements of nobility in them. The most universally recognized of
their divinities in primitive times, Varuna, is free from the vain
passions and moral obliquities of more recent gods. Indeed, as one
follows the course of time and the consequent multiplication of
deities in India, one sees in their pantheon a steady deterioration of
character, until we come to the most popular of modern Hindu deities,
Krishna and Kali, the one well-called "the incarnation of lust," and
the other "the goddess of blood." One is the deification of human
passion, while the other is an apotheosis of brute force. And yet the
cults of those two deities have attained, at the present time, the
maximum of popularity throughout the land.

The same fact is manifest in connection with the customs of the
people. In early Vedic times, hardly one of those institutions which
now so disfigure this religion existed among the people. Idolatry, the
caste system, and the many forms of degradation of women are of later
growth. Never, in all the history of the country, did they exist and
flourish as they do at the present time.

Thus it will be seen that, while the religion of the Brahmans in its
earliest, primitive stage was merely an ethnic faith and largely the
echo of the spiritual yearning of the human soul, its development has
neither added to its power nor broadened its horizon. On the contrary,
it grows weaker and has, age after age, added superstition to
superstition, until it has reached its maximum of error and of evil at
the present time.

It is wise neither to ignore nor to underestimate the best that is in
a faith; nor is it fair to shut one's eyes to its achievement as
revealed in the life of the common people.

Indeed, the religious life of the masses is the truest index of the
real value of a religion, if it has wrought upon them many centuries,
as Hinduism has, in this land.


I

In the West the national evolutionist says to us, "Let the people of
India alone, that they may evolve their own faith. It is not by
cataclysmic change, but by growth, that they will ultimately find
their true redemption." Others, who have listened perhaps to the
pleasing words of a clever, yellow-robed Hindu Swami, ask the
question, "Why should we spend our money in sending the Gospel to
these wonderfully bright people of the East; are they not able to take
care of themselves; and is not their faith adequate to their needs?"

To this we simply say: "Come with us to India and see for yourselves.
Live, as some of us have, for a third of a century in this land, and
see, hear, feel, and understand what this Hinduism is. And, having
understood the situation, ask yourselves whether this ancestral faith
of India has in itself real saving power and redeeming efficacy for
any one." I maintain that, to know Hinduism, is to feel a deep
sympathy with the people who have inherited it as their faith, and to
desire to bring to them the Gospel of life and of salvation in Christ
Jesus. The people of India are, perhaps, the most religious upon
earth. In this respect they are very unlike the Japanese and Chinese,
who are worldly, prosaic, practical. Hindus are poetic, other-worldly,
and spiritually minded. They have a keen instinct for things of the
spirit. They are, also, very unlike the people of the West. Among
Westerners, religion is largely an incident in life. It has for them a
separate department, a small corner, in the life. In the East, on the
other hand, religion enters into every detail of life. There is hardly
a department or an interest in life which is not subsidized by faith
and which has not to be conducted religiously.

Moreover, the people of India thought out and elaborated most profound
systems of theosophic thought in the far, remote past. When our
ancestors were in the depths of savagery, Indian sages were indulging
in metaphysical disquisitions which are even to-day the admiration of
western sages. And there were many among those ancient Hindu rishis
whose self-propelled flight toward God and divine things, and whose
spiritual aspirations and yearnings were so beautiful that we can but
speak with profound respect and entertain the highest admiration of
them. Religion is not merely a philosophy, or even an aspiration; it
is something vastly more than this.

The Hindu Swami will visit the West and discourse sweetly, in
persuasive English, upon Hindu philosophy. But he will not practise
his religious rites or reveal his idolatrous habits and his bondage of
caste to those western people who admire him. These things would at
once create a revulsion of feeling against him and his philosophy. And
yet these are much more an essential part of his faith than all his
moral platitudes and eloquent disquisitions.

And it should not be forgotten that this same Swami, in the very act
of crossing the oceans to visit the West, violates one of the most
prominent commands of his faith.


II

_What, then, is Popular Hinduism?_

I shall endeavour to analyze it and present some of its outstanding
features, such as are witnessed all over the land.

1. That which obtrudes itself upon all sides and which is, perhaps,
its most determining factor is its caste system. In other lands, mean
social distinctions obtain and divide the people. In India only, Caste
is a religious institution, founded by the authority of Heaven,
penetrating every department and entering into every detail of life,
and enforced by strictly religious penalties. One has well said that
Hinduism and caste are convertible terms.

2. Another outstanding feature of popular Hinduism is its Polytheism.

While pantheism is the essential philosophy of the land,--a pantheism
which denies the existence of all beings and everything save Brâhm
(the Supreme Soul),--nevertheless this pantheism has, in the popular
mind, degenerated into the greatest pantheon the world has ever known.
Even ten centuries ago its gods were said to number three hundred and
thirty millions! And this army of deities has been multiplying ever
since. Even twenty-five centuries ago, the fertile imagination of the
Brahman had so peopled this world with gods and godlets of all grades
that the stern and sensible mind of the great Buddha became disgusted
with the whole pantheon; and he established his new faith as a
reaction from the old to the extent of ignoring _any_ Divine Being.

If, in these earlier days, such a man was unable to endure this
manifestation of human folly, what can we not say in these days, when,
in addition to the acknowledged host of well-known Hindu deities,
every family has its god, and every hamlet its protecting demons; and
when trees, rivers, mountains, and a thousand other objects represent
to the popular mind separate godlets? One can well say that India has
gone mad in its passion for populating the world with gods.

3. Moreover, this pantheon has been incarnated. It has descended into
a wild and hideous idolatry. There is no other land on earth where
idolatry is so rampant as it is in India. Images are found everywhere.
If the gods are numberless, how much more the idols which represent
them, and which are found in every hamlet and house and upon
roadsides!

In addition to those idols which are made for regular and permanent
worship, there are myriad others which are made of clay and other
perishable substances, to be used for the time only, and then to be
thrown into the river or to be washed away by the rain.

And what hideous objects these idols of India are! The images of the
gods of the ancient Greeks were beautiful, and one feels sometimes
almost inclined to excuse an image-worship where ignorance weds art
to religion and combines beauty with devotion.

But there is no such excuse for the idolatry of India. In all my
travels through this great land I have hardly seen an image, or an
idol, which is what may be called an artistically beautiful object. On
the other hand, many of them are peculiarly gross and revolting in
appearance. The most universally worshipped god in all India is
Ganesh. His idols are found all over the land, not only in temples and
shrines, but on roadsides, and in all places where people assemble.
And this Ganesh, the son of Siva, is represented by the grossest and
most hideous idol. This "pot-bellied god" has his body crowned with an
elephant head!

Of course, Hindu taste cannot be judged by western standards. One
cannot fail to recognize this fact in trying to judge types of human
beauty in this land. But even Hindu types of beauty are not at all
realized in their idols. It would often seem as if that which was most
revolting in appearance is that which appeals most strongly to the
Hindu, as an outward expression of the divine. In any case, it is true
that the idolatry of India is farthest removed from the chaste, the
beautiful, and the elevating.

And this evil is intensified by the fact that all worshipped idols are
bathed with oil, and therefore attract all the dust, dirt, and grime
of the immediate vicinity.

Educated Hindus, though they tell you that these idols are only for
the ignorant masses, rarely decline to unite with their families in
bringing their offerings to, and in worshipping, the same.

Some will tell us that in idolatry people do not worship the idol
itself, but the god who is supposed to reside within it. Even if this
were true, one could not admire such a worship did he know the
character of the god which is supposed to reside therein. But their
statement regarding this is not true. I have personally inquired of
many of the common people who are idolaters, and I have never yet
found a man whose mind, in worship, passes beyond the idol itself. I
admit that the educated mind may leap in thought behind the image; but
the masses of the people do not. It is, at best, a debasing worship,
and drags the people down to the level of the hideous objects before
which they prostrate themselves.

[Illustration: TWO HINDU IDOLS, SOUTH INDIA]

A well-known Hindu writer said recently, in the _Christian College
Magazine_:--

"I do urge most emphatically that, whatever may have been the
original intention, and whatever may be the esoteric meaning, the
millions that perform idolatrous practice in this country see nothing
symbolic behind the image and take the whole show quite literally. And
can anything be more degrading to an intelligent human being? We know
that all religions are necessarily more or less anthropomorphic. But
our popular Hinduism surpasses everything else in this respect, too.
There is a famous shrine in this Presidency where the deity's _chota
hazri_ [early meal] begins with bread and butter, and he goes on
eating without respite till midnight, when he appropriately takes a
decoction of dried ginger to help his digestion before he retires to
his bedroom with his consorts; there is another famous shrine where a
cigar is left in the bedroom every night for his godship to smoke; in
another shrine, under the management of a nominal ascetic, fetters are
applied to the god's feet whenever the temple's exchequer runs low, to
extort money offerings from the devotees and pilgrims; in numerous
other shrines the deity is taken out in procession and whipped
publicly for having committed petty thefts; in one shrine the whole
process of a high-way robbery is acted out in detail during the
annual festival; births, marriages, deaths, and similar occurrences
are, of course, as common and frequent in our temples as in our homes.
Gentlemen, can any amount of esoteric whitewashing justify these
disgraceful and fairly incredible practices? Then there are the _deva
dasies_, our 'vestal virgins,' of whom even small and poor temples
have one or two to boast. They are the recognized prostitutes of the
country, and many sociologists are of opinion that no 'civilized'
human society can completely get rid of such a class. Is that any
reason why we should associate them with our religion and tempt the
devil himself with their presence in our holiest places and shrines?"

4. Another marked feature of modern Hinduism is its devil-worship.
This is peculiarly manifest in South India. In the Madras Presidency,
whose fifty million population is mostly Dravidian, nine-tenths of the
people follow the faith of their ancestors, which is Demonolatry.

When Brahmanism came to South India, many centuries ago, it found
intrenched among the people, everywhere and universally, this ancient
cult. The Brahmans, recognizing this, did what they have always done;
they said to the people: "We have not come to destroy your religion;
we will take your demons and demonesses, marry them to our gods, and
give them shrines and worship in our temples. Come with them and be a
part of our religion. We will give to you the privileges, and confer
upon you the dignity and blessing, of our great religion." The people
were impressed by this offer, accepted the situation, and were
absorbed, with their religion, into the Brahmanical faith. From that
time forward they have been recognized as Hindus, and have, after a
fashion, been loyal members of that faith.

But let it not be supposed that, by becoming Hindus, they have
deserted their ancestral religion, and have ceased to be
devil-worshippers. Far from it. Hinduism proper is to them a mere
plaything, or a festival pastime. On special Hindu holidays, and
perhaps on occasions of pilgrimage, they will visit these Hindu
temples and bring their offering to the deities of Brahmanism. But
their chief concern and their daily religious occupation is found in
the appeasing of the many devils whose abode is supposed to be in
their countless village shrines and under well-known trees in their
hamlets. They have not abated one jot of their belief in the supremacy
of these devils in their life-affairs; and they always stand in fear
of them, and do what they can to satisfy their bloody demands.

Thus at least nine-tenths of the people of South India are, first of
all, demonolaters, and secondly, but a long way behind, are Hindus.
And yet a great many people in the West think of these people as the
pure worshippers of the highest type of the Brahmanical faith!

And it should not be forgotten that all over India there are probably
fifty millions of people who are the so-called outcasts of the land,
the miserable product of the caste system of Hinduism. They are "the
submerged tenth" of India. They are not only socially ostracized, they
are under the definite ban of the Hindu faith. They are the hewers of
wood and drawers of water of Brahmanism. They have no place in
Hinduism proper; they are not permitted to enter any of its temples.
They have no right to receive whatever comforts religion may confer;
its rights and its privileges are entirely denied to them. But the
tyranny of the religion has been such, during the many centuries of
the past, as to keep this class of people not only in absolute social
servitude, but also in religious dependence; and has taught them
(because it has compelled them) to be satisfied with the spiritual
crumbs which are the meanest remnants of what the religion professes
to give its members.

I have often felt, as I have talked with these poor, miserable
Pariahs, that I was incapable of understanding their willingness to
remain thus loosely attached to a faith which denied to them its most
elementary comforts and blessings. The mystery is doubtless to be
explained by their supreme abjectness and helplessness, which have
been ground into them by many centuries of bondage. The consequence
is, that while these many millions of outcast people are numbered
among the Hindus, and regard themselves as Hindus, Hinduism itself has
for them nothing but curses, and, more than all others, they must be
satisfied with the devil-worship of their fathers.

5. Beneath all these lower aspects of popular Hinduism is still found
what may be called its lowest stratum--Fetichism. There are many
people and tribes in India who have not ascended sufficiently high, in
religious conception, to make for themselves definite images of the
gods they worship. Like the African, they are content to take natural
objects, such as a rock or a stone, and regard it as possessed of some
spirit and worship it. Sir Alfred Lyall, that well-known authority on
India, has told us that one can find in India, as in no other land,
religion of all forms and in all grades of development,--from the
lowest step of animism to the most spiritual and abstruse pantheism. I
myself have seen, within the area of one acre of land in South India,
the instruments of these varied forms of worship, from a greasy, round
stone, before which the lowest classes prostrated themselves, to an
image of one of the supreme gods of Hinduism. There is not a phase of
worship, however high or mystic, or however mean or degraded, which
has not its devotees in this land.

6. Modern Hinduism is also guilty of harbouring and fostering
immorality.

This is a cruel statement to make concerning any faith. But justice
compels me to add this as one of the characteristics of Hinduism. Some
of the most revered and popular writings of this religion are so full
of obscenity and impure suggestion, that, to publish them in a
Christian land, in the English tongue, would make the publisher liable
to imprisonment. When, years ago, Lord Dalhousie, the Viceroy of
India, enacted a law punishing obscenity, the leaders of the Hindu
religion were so exercised by it that the government had to exempt
religious writings of Hinduism, and emblems of that faith, from the
action of the law. There are many religious books in India to-day
which are classical in the beauty of their language, but which the
Universities of India decline to use as text-books because of their
gross obscenity.

Among the most demoralizing institutions to the youth of India are the
temple cars, which are found in every village of any consequence
throughout the land. They are erected at great expense, by temple
authorities, are most elaborately carved, and are used for the
conveyance of the gods through the village streets upon festival
occasions. There is hardly one of these cars, in South India at any
rate, which is not disfigured by grossly sensual carvings such as
ought to bring blushing shame to any decent and self-respecting
community. They are open to the public gaze, and children of the
village play under their shadow, and gaze daily upon their vile and
disgusting sights. The government would forbid the erection of such
cars to-morrow, if they had not pledged themselves not to interfere
with the religion of the people!

In the Vaishnava cult of Hinduism there is at least one sect, well
known throughout the land, whose worship is loaded with impurity, and
whose worshippers, at certain festivals, specially, yield themselves
to all forms of sexual practices such as cannot be mentioned.

Sakti worship, or the worship of the goddesses, lends itself
definitely to this gross evil; and the leading Tantraic books of this
cult are so filthy that they are not fit to be translated. In Bengal,
where the worship of Durgai, the wife of Siva, is dominant, the Hindus
themselves are beginning to protest against the lewdness, obscenity,
and licentiousness which prevail at their great Holi festival, which
is the annual festival of the goddess.

Another institution connected with the temple worship of India, and of
which Hindus ought to be heartily ashamed, is that of dancing-girls.
Little girls in their infancy are devoted and dedicated by their own
mothers to the temples. They are supposed to be married to the gods of
the temple, and are called "the servants of the gods." They dance in
attendance upon the gods, upon festival occasions, and are an inherent
part of the temple worship. But the sad thing about these women is
that their own mothers knew, when they dedicated them in infancy, that
they were binding them to a life of shame. For the dancing-girls are
the professional prostitutes of India. There are a host of these women
(twelve thousand in South India alone) who, without their own consent,
and in the sacred name of religion, have been handed over to this
life of shame, to corrupt and debase the youth of the land. Their life
is a loud cry against their mother-faith, which systematically devotes
them to destruction of soul and body. Some educated men of the land
denounce this as an evil which should be stopped. But the leaders of
the faith turn a deaf ear to all such cries.

7. The treatment of woman within Hinduism is worthy of attention.

Hinduism has never looked with kindness or consideration upon women.
It seems to have been its settled policy to treat them with contempt
and unkindness. The consequence is that the girl babe is never welcome
in the Hindu family. And from the cradle to the grave woman has no
independence or right within the pale of this faith. During childhood
she is in bondage to her father, during her marriage she must give
implicit obedience to her husband, and as a widow she remains the ward
of her sons.

Look at the disabilities under which the Hindu woman labours to-day.

She is held in ignorance. Only six Hindu women out of one thousand are
able to read and write. She has never been regarded as worthy of
education. Her ignorance has been regarded as her safety, and has
been the studied policy of Hinduism.

She has never been regarded as worthy to know the sacred books of her
own faith. It is a sin in Hinduism to-day for any man to teach a woman
the most sacred truths of the faith. Her mind is not a fit receptacle
for such truths.

While she has nothing to do in choosing for herself a husband, she is
bound in infancy, through holy wedlock, to a child like herself. Her
child husband may die before he attains manhood, when she becomes a
widow. And, because her stars are supposed to have had influence in
his death, she is treated with cruelty and is regarded as the evil
star of the home.

Owing to this evil custom of child marriage, there are to-day
twenty-six million widows in this land, of whom four hundred thousand
are under fifteen years of age. It is not simply that the lot of these
poor women is one of greatest hardship and contempt; they also become
the prey of lustful men and fall into grossest sins. In modern times
the government has tried to lighten the burdens of womanhood in the
land; but the representatives of Hinduism, and its custodians, all
stand in the way of any helpful legislation, and are determined to
keep woman in servitude at all hazards.

8. The religious ascetic represents one of the characteristic features
of modern Hinduism.

Religious asceticism has been the ideal of the Hindu life from time
immemorial. The man who has given up all earthly pursuits and wanders
with beggar's cup in hand from place to place, making pilgrimages to
the holy places of India, or who separates himself entirely from men
and devotes years to the solitude of the wilderness in the cultivation
of piety,--he it is who is the admiration of the whole Hindu
community. And it is for this very reason that so many men in India
to-day don the yellow robe of this profession, and make capital out of
this sentiment of the people.

There are millions of these religious mendicants who are entirely
non-productive and live upon the common people. A few of them,
doubtless, are sincere and are seeking after communion with God. But
the vast majority are lazy and rotten to the core. Their life is known
to be utterly worthless, and they are morally pestiferous in their
influence upon the whole community. And yet the people accept them as
the highest types of piety in the land. Even the poorest among them
would give his last morsel to these worthless men. There are, indeed,
very few in the community who would dare to refuse an offering to
these beggars, because they are so ready to invoke dreadful
imprecations upon those who decline to give anything to them. There
are few things that an orthodox Hindu dreads more than the curse of a
religious ascetic.

Thus, though these men are known to trample under foot every law of
God and are utterly useless to the whole community, the people
nevertheless regard them very highly and shower their blessings upon
them.

In any land the maintenance of such an army would be a great burden
upon the people; in India, where they are so poor, how heavy this
burden must be, and how great must be the curse of such a host preying
both morally and physically upon the rest of the community!

It is equally disastrous to the conception of the common people
concerning their faith that so large a body of recognized hypocrites
should, nevertheless, be so highly esteemed as types of piety.

The existence of this class of worthless men reveals, also, another
striking fact which characterizes the religion of India, and that is
the utter divorce of faith and morals. Hinduism has never recognized
any connection, and least of all any essential union, between piety
and ethics. As we have seen, the most pious men in the land, according
to Indian ideas, may be the most immoral. This has been one of the
fatal defects of Hinduism from the earliest times. Conscience has
found very small place in this religion of the Brahmans.

9. Modern Hinduism, also, inculcates the spirit of pessimism among its
people. The Puranas tell us, and the people universally believe it,
that we are now living in _Kali Yuga_, the iron age, in which all
things are evil, and in which righteousness is a thing largely unknown
to the people. All the forces of this age are against the good, and it
leaves no encouragement to any one to try to do, and to be, good.[4]

[Footnote 4: See Chapter X, Kali Yuga.]

10. Add to this the even more potent belief of the people in
astrology. The planets and the stars, the moon and the nodes are
living gods, they say, which wield an influence over the life and
destiny of human beings. The astrologer is perhaps the most important
functionary in the social and religious life of the people. No
marriage can be performed unless the horoscope of the bride and the
bridegroom harmonize. No social or domestic event of importance, and
specially no religious ceremony of any consequence, can be carried on
save during what are called auspicious days and moments. Astrology is
the right hand of Hinduism, and it has supreme authority in the
direction of most of its affairs.

Add to this the belief in omens, which enters very largely into human
life and thought. A Hindu will not start upon a journey save on what
is astrologically an auspicious day; and if even a crow crosses his
path from left to right, after he has begun his journey, it is
regarded as an ill omen, and he will at once return home. He spends
much of his time in watching such omens; even an ass's bray carries a
significance to him. If it is heard in the east, his success will be
delayed; in the southeast, it portends death; in the south, it means
wealth; etc. It matters not how important it may be that a man should
undertake a journey or a task at a certain time, he will not do it at
that time if he finds it to be inauspicious. When the new governor of
Madras recently arrived at his destination, the reception to be given
to him by the Hindus had to be postponed because it was ignorantly put
at an hour which was _Rahu Kala_--an inauspicious hour!

In a thousand similar ways, the Hindu people are controlled and
handicapped by silly superstitions which make life a burden to them
and which rob them of efficiency and sanity.

This, then, is the Hinduism of the masses; and no other people devote
themselves so faithfully to their faith as do these. And none, for
this very reason, are more worthy of our sympathy and of our
assistance to rise to better things in the realm of faith.



CHAPTER VIII

HINDU RELIGIOUS IDEALS AS THEY AFFECT THE PROGRESS OF CHRISTIANITY


To the student of comparative religion there appear many striking
consonances between Hinduism and Christianity. Many a deep note in
religious thought and life finds common expression in these two great
faiths. Yet their dissonances are much more marked and fundamental.

In nothing are Christianity and Hinduism more antipodal than in the
ideals which they exalt, respectively, before their followers; and
this conflict of ideals is the most stubborn, as it is the most
pervasive, that Christianity has to face in India. The vision of God
and of man, of human life and attainment, which we present before an
orthodox Hindu, does not impress him as it should, simply because it
does not fit into his thinking. It antagonizes his inherited
prepossessions; it violates many of the most cherished ideals of
religious life and spiritual endowment, which, from time immemorial,
have been handed down to him.

It is an interesting question how much of this difference is of the
essence of the two religions, and how much is the product of the
mental and spiritual make-up of the tropical East, on the one hand,
and of the more northern West, on the other. The climatic and national
idiosyncrasies are more potential in the complexion of the two faiths
than we are wont to think.

But whether these different ideals are, or are not, essentially
characteristic of the two faiths, is not a question quite germane to
my present purpose. It is enough to remember that the western
conception of Christianity, which the missionary has inherited and
which he is eagerly presenting, and can hardly avoid presenting, to
the people of this land, is far removed from what the Hindu has always
been taught to believe that a religion should bring into a man's life
and possession.

It is easy enough to prove to the man of ordinary intelligence the
debasing influence of idolatry, the accursed slavery of the caste
system, the gross immorality of the Hindu pantheon, and the dwarfing
and degrading character of the ceremonialism of modern Hinduism.

But behind and above all these, the Hindu has inherited a number of
ideals which allure and command him. They are his ultimate criteria
and resort, and they conflict with those which the supplanting faith
presents as the _summum bonum_ of life. It is not until the Christian
teacher can show to him, in a way that will move him, the excellence
of the supreme ideals of Christianity above those of the old faith,
that his work can be said to have achieved a triumph in his life.

Hence the great--I might almost say the transcendent--importance of
mission schools of all grades through which are sown the seed of a new
philosophy of life. Herein also lies the even more valued service
which a sane and a strong Christian literature in English and in all
the vernaculars of the land can render, and is rendering, to the cause
of Christ in India. For the fight in India is, more than it is or has
been in any other land, one that gathers around basal conceptions and
fundamental postulates about God and man and life; and Christianity
can never seem attractive to an intelligent Hindu until it has
conquered his assent at these points of vital importance.

Let us consider a few of these ideals which everywhere and always
obtrude themselves upon us in India.


I

_The Divine Ideal_

In the conception of the Godhead which obtains in Christianity and
that which dominates modern Hinduism there is found a difference of
emphasis which amounts almost to a contrast. To the Hindu, the Supreme
Soul or Brâhm is idealized Intelligence; to the Christian God is
perfect Will. To the former, He is supreme Wisdom; to the other, He is
infinite Goodness. The devotees of each faith aspire to become like
unto, or to partake of, their Divine Ideal. Hence the goal of the one
is _brahma gnana_ (Divine Wisdom); of the other, it is supreme love or
goodness. Thus at its foundation the religion of India has always
placed _perfect intelligence_ as its corner stone, while the basis of
the rival faith has been an ideal of _ethical perfection_. Hence, that
process of intellectual gymnastics which so markedly characterizes the
higher realms of Hindu sainthood and effort, on the one hand, and the
altruistic fervour and outgoing charity of the ideal Christian, on the
other. For this reason, also, the great root of bitterness which
Hinduism has, from the first, sought to remove has been ignorance
(_avidia_)--that intellectual blindness which persists in maintaining
that the self and the Supreme Soul are separate realities and which is
the only barrier to the self's final emancipation and final absorption
into the Divine. To the Christian, on the other hand, the dread enemy
is sin--that moral obliquity which differentiates the soul from the
perfect ethical beauty of God. In consonance with this, the salvation
which is exalted as the _summum bonum_, to be forever sought by the
one, is self-knowledge, by the other self-realization in conformity to
the Divine Will. I would not affirm that moral rectitude is absent as
a desideratum from the ambition of the Hindu, nor that the Christian
does not accept with his Lord that "this is eternal life to _know_
God," and that he does not aspire with the great Apostle "to know even
as I am known." But the supreme emphasis which is given by the one to
nescience as the evil to be removed, and to wisdom as the crowning
grace to be achieved, and, by the other, to rebellion of heart against
God as the great sin, and to transformation to His moral image as
perfected salvation, is much too marked to be overlooked by the
student of these two faiths, and by the Christian missionary in the
land.

And all of this comes as a natural consequence from the different
concepts which the two religions have of God Himself. Indeed, these
two standpoints from which the Godhead is conceived account for the
deepest divergencies of Hindu and Christian philosophy and theology.


II

_The Hindu and Christian Conceptions of Incarnation are similarly
Divergent_

Incarnation is a fundamental doctrine of the religion of Jesus. It is
also an overshadowing tenet of modern Hinduism. For this reason, the
Christian missionary finds in this doctrine the best leverage
wherewith to raise the Hindu to our faith. Yet at this very point his
efforts are largely frustrated by the very different conceptions which
obtain in the two religions. The Christian incarnation must be, and
is, first of all, of a perfect ethical type--an ideal of transcendent
moral beauty and spiritual excellence. The least flaw or crookedness
in His character would vitiate His pretensions, and would be the
death-blow to the doctrine of His incarnation and divinity. In
Hinduism, on the other hand, moral criteria have no application to
the "descents" or incarnations of Vishnu. To his three first
incarnations (of the fish, the tortoise, and the boar), moral tests
are, of course, out of place; nor are they any more applicable to the
grossly sensual Krishna, who is the only "full" incarnation of the
god, and who is the supremely popular modern incarnation of the Hindu
pantheon. Hindus have never dreamt of squaring the "going" of their
incarnations with ethical demands and standards.

Whatsoever of good Vishnu, in his descent, is said to have come to
achieve in the world, it certainly was not a moral or a spiritual
good. So an appeal to the moral excellence, or to the atoning work and
purpose, of the Christ does not, at first, in any way impress them as
an argument for His divine character or heavenly origin, any more than
the moral obliquity of their own "descents" argues to the contrary.

Moreover, the Hindu conception of incarnation largely resembles the
Jewish. It must be a triumphant descent. Vishnu, in all his
incarnations, came to destroy rather than to suffer himself to be put
to death. A suffering and a dying god is to-day, to the Hindu, what it
was twenty centuries ago to the Jew and Greek--a stumbling-block and a
foolishness. It is true that Buddha, who was in more recent times
adopted as an incarnation, in order to win over to modern Hinduism the
followers of his faith, is somewhat of an exception to this rule. But
not, according to the Hindu interpretation of it.

So the two elements of glory in the incarnation of Christ--His
spotless character and His Cross and death--do not ordinarily appeal
to the inhabitants of this land as in any sense necessary or
important.


III

_Ideals of Life_

From the above considerations it will be natural to conclude that the
ideals of life entertained by the East and West are far removed. The
conflict of these ideals is the primary cause of the many strange
religious and social movements which to-day send their ramifications
into every town and hamlet of this land; and it creates the mighty
revolution now at work in India.

Consider first the religious ideals which dominate this land and the
"Far West." Hinduism has exalted asceticism as the highest type of
life and the best method of holy attainment. From time immemorial the
religious mendicant, with his ideals of self-renunciation and ascetic
practices, has found universal admiration among this people, and his
motives and methods stand as the most highly approved in all the
annals of this religion.

It is true that this was universally exalted above all other forms of
life among Christians also at one time, as it continues to be among,
perhaps, the majority to-day. And is not the Cross, which is the
emblem of self-renunciation and self-effacement, the motive power of
our faith, as it is also the embodied ideal of our Life? True; but
there is this marked difference between the two faiths. In
Christianity the Cross is only a means. The Cross of self-effacement
is the pathway of Christ and of the Christian to the crown of
self-realization. We despise the lower good in order that we may
attain unto the higher.

In Hinduism, the rigours of asceticism are, indeed, sometimes a means
to an end; but that end is not character or any spiritual achievement,
but power with the gods. Nearly all the notable instances of religious
austerities and self-torture practised by _yogis_, and recorded in
Hindu legend and history, were undertaken for the purpose of
accumulating thereby a great store of merit through which power might
be acquired over men or gods. Thus many an ascetic is said to have so
subdued and afflicted his body that nearly the whole Hindu pantheon
trembled in the presence of the power thus acquired by him.

But when the Hindu ascetic has not this object in self-renunciation,
his austerities are an end in themselves. He renounces all--not simply
the mean things of life, but also the noblest ambitions and the most
heavenly sentiments--because they are a fetter which bind him to the
world. He indeed calls a good deed, or a holy thought, a "golden
fetter," but it is, just the same, regarded by him as an evil which
prolongs his human existence; and these human conditions must be ended
as soon as possible.

The Christian, on the other hand, suppresses his passions in order
that his holy desires may prevail; the Hindu struggles equally against
the worst passions and the noblest sentiments of his heart; for they
all delay that calm equilibrium of the _self_ which is the doorway
into _sâyutchia_ (absorption). Thus character, or the prevalence of
the nobler sentiments of our nature above the meaner, is not, and
never has been, the aim of Hindu asceticism. And in consonance with
this fact is the other, namely, that nine-tenths of the five and a
half million ascetics, sadhus, and fakhirs of India are universally
recognized as pestilential in their morals, and as distinguished
examples of what the laity of the land should avoid being or becoming.

The Christian seeks, as his ideal, the perfect blending of the ethical
and the spiritual in his life; in Hinduism, faith has always been
divorced from morality, and there has never seemed to be any
incongruity, in their minds, in the act of ascribing true saintliness
and spiritual excellence to those who are known daily to trample under
foot every command of the Decalogue.

Thus the ideal life which has captivated India from time immemorial,
and which at this present wields a mighty influence over the people,
is not the generous, the upright, and morally spotless life, so much
as the wandering, the monastic, or the secluded forest life of the
ascetic, regardless of its spiritual character. In other words, it is
not a stern and noble victory over sin and worldliness in the common
relationships of life, but a fleeing from the sin and duties and
responsibilities of life into the _mutt_, or wilderness, which has
fascinated the inhabitants of this peninsula as the best type of life
possible.

Now, in view of all this, what shall the Christian teacher do in this
land? Shall he also exalt this ideal and temper it with Christian
wisdom and chasten it with Christian meaning? Doubtless the wise
missionary will consider well the amount of emphasis which this aspect
of life requires in India, in view of the ideal which Hinduism has
presented to the popular mind. He will also, I think, hesitate, on the
one hand, to bring his faith into comparison with Hinduism in the
matter of mere ascetic rigour and severe self-mortification, in which
the Christian has always lagged far behind the Hindu devotee and monk.
On the other hand, he will not be likely to exalt over-much this type
of life in a land in which, for more than three thousand years, it has
ruled supremely but has had so little of moral significance and has
achieved such meagre spiritual results.

Another phase of life which furnishes to the people an ideal is the
_ceremonial_. Among the myriad gods of the Hindu pantheon and all the
sages of its history and legend, there is not one who is worthy to be
exalted as an ideal of character. The reason is not far to find. With
this, however, we are not at present concerned. It is enough if we
remember that this absence of an incarnate ideal in the religion has
led to the exaltation of rules and ceremonies as the safeguards
of--yea, more, as the very essence of--a worthy and noble life. There
is no sadder fact in India at present than that of this great
religion, of two hundred and thirty million souls, being largely
emptied of moral content as related to the common life, and built up
of numberless petty external ceremonies which harass the individual,
and grip the life with a dead hand at all points. The ceremonialism of
the Scribes and Pharisees in the days of our Lord and which excited
His supreme wrath, was not a consequence as compared to that of
Hinduism to-day. From conception even to the burning-ground, every
detail of life, individual and communal, religious and social (there
is no social as apart from religious life in Hinduism), is cast into a
mould of ceremony or ritual which robs it of ethical content, and
makes it into what an indignant Brahman writer recently called "a huge
sham." To the ordinary Hindu, all of life's values are measured in the
coin of external rites. Let one be an atheist if he please, or even a
libertine or a murderer, and his status in Hinduism is not impaired.
But let him eat beef, even unwittingly, or let him ignorantly drink
water which has been touched by a man of lower caste than himself, and
his doom is irrevocably sealed! Through this whole system the Hindu
conscience is perverted, and the true distinction between right and
wrong is buried deep under this greatest and most elaborate mass of
ceremonial that the world has ever known. To a people who have thus
inherited the ceremonial instinct, who are Pharisees by a hundred-fold
heritage and by sweet choice, it is not an easy thing for the man of
the West, with his natural distrust of all that is formal and outward
in life, to present effectively his Lord, whose bitterest woes were
pronounced against the formalists of His time, and whose commands are
always ethical, and whose life is, first of all, and last of all,
spiritual.

Another ideal of life which has too exclusive emphasis in this land is
that which is denominated _quietism_--an ideal which extols the
passive virtues as distinguished from the manly, aggressive ones. I
would by no means claim that these two ideals are Hindu and Christian,
respectively. They are rather begotten of the countries and climes
under which the two religions have been, for many centuries, fostered.
To the eastern and tropical Christian, the teaching of our Lord
furnishes abundant warrant for a glorifying of the passive and
non-resisting virtues. And I am inclined to believe that we of the
West have few things of greater importance and of deeper religious
significance to learn from the East than the appreciation of such
graces of life as patience and endurance under evil. We stand always
prepared to fight manfully for our convictions, and to obtrude them at
all points upon friend and foe alike. It is not in the nature of the
East to do this. We say that he has no stamina. We call him, in
opprobrium, "the mild Hindu." But let us not forget that he will
reveal tenfold more patience than we under very trying circumstances,
and will turn the other cheek to the enemy when we rush into gross sin
by our haste and ire. His is one of the hemispheres of a full-orbed
character. Ours of the West is the other. Let us not flatter ourselves
too positively that our assertive, aggressive part is the more
beautiful or the more important. Yea, more, I question whether ours is
the stronger and more masculine part of life and character; for is it
not to most of us an easier thing to fling ourselves in vehemence
against an evil in others than it is to sit calmly and patiently under
a false accusation, as our Lord Himself did? At least it must be left
an open question as to whether the impulsive and domineering vigour of
the West is preferable to the "mildness" of the East.

What I wish to emphasize is the dissimilarity between our western type
of life and the eastern, and to warn the Christian worker from the
West against the danger of assuming that Christian life must be
adorned with only those western traits and excellences of character
which are foreign and unpalatable to the East--the very fault which
also characterizes the Hindu on his side, and which makes him feel so
superior at times and so inaccessible to Christian influence. For, let
it not be forgotten that the Hindu regards what we call our foibles of
petulance, arrogance, and intolerance, with the same disapprobation
and disgust as we do their more frequent violation of the seventh,
eighth, and ninth commandments of the Decalogue. And who is to decide
as to which catalogue is the worse and the more heinous in the sight
of God?


IV

_The Hindu Conception of Ultimate Salvation presents Another Point of
Divergence from the Christian Ideal of Life Beyond_

Even in the methods and processes of redemption pursued by the two
religions we see fundamental differences. In Christianity, God is the
prime Agent in human salvation. He worketh for us, in us, and through
us. In our own redemption we are only co-labourers with Him.

In Hinduism, man stands absolutely alone as the agent and cause of his
salvation. And, as the stupendous task rests upon his shoulders, it is
no wonder that he has sought relief in the doctrine of metempsychosis,
whereby it is believed that millions of rebirths furnish to him an
adequate time and a sufficient variety of opportunity for the great
consummation. But he has never given to himself, or to us, the first
reason for believing that this endless fugue of rebirths will
accomplish that which he accepts without questioning; namely, the
ultimate glorification of all souls. There is nothing in this long and
tedious process itself which assures us that any soul will reach final
beatification rather than permanent and irremediable degradation. And
yet the ultimate absorption of all souls into the Divine is assumed as
a matter of course by him. This process, and that of Christianity, are
expressive of the characteristics of the two faiths and of the two
peoples. The slow and patient East, and the faith which it has
begotten, spins out its theory of time and of human existence almost
_ad infinitum_. Multitudinous births alone can satisfy the demands of
the tedious process of human emancipation. But, in Christianity, one
passage through this world, with human hands clasped in the Divine,
suffices to open the door of eternal bliss to the redeemed soul. And
this idea is consonant with the more youthful nature of the West, to
whose people one birth, followed by a life of energy, furnishes an
entrance into eternal joy beyond.

It is equally important that we take note of that which is connoted by
the final consummation offered by each of these two faiths to their
followers. To the Christian there is a conscious, blessed life beyond
death--a separate, personal existence which will last throughout
eternity in the sunshine of the Heavenly Father's presence and in the
ineffable joy and glory of His fellowship. It is the idealized life
built upon the foundation of what is best and most stirring and
beautiful here upon earth. It is _life_, in all that this blessed word
signifies of sweet contemplation, of blissful activity, of
imperishable love, and of unspeakable joy. All the most beautiful and
enticing imagery of earth has been used to portray, or rather to
suggest, the "eternal life" of the Christian religion.

But what is the picture which Hinduism has drawn of the finality of
life to its followers? After the weary fugue of births and rebirths,
with its interludes of many heavens and hells, the "self" passes on
into final union with the Divine Soul. It loses all consciousness and
self-knowledge; every vestige of personality and all that this implies
is swept away; it is incapacitated for every emotion of joy and for
every act of service. There is nothing that we associate with life at
its best and sweetest which does not find here negation. It is a calm
blank, a rest, indeed, but from every struggle of thought, will, and
emotion. This is the consummation which India has for many centuries
held aloft as an attraction to its weary pilgrims.

Here, again, we observe how appropriate to the end in view is the
supreme difficulty of the way. If the highest struggle of the soul in
this world is against existence and its human actions and conditions,
it is to be expected that a complete riddance of life and of all its
accompaniments will be the _summum bonum_ of the final consummation.
And if this struggle for emancipation is to continue through
numberless births and earthly existences, it is natural that the
coveted end should bring a loss of all that life connotes in highest
sentiment as well as basest passion. I need not dwell upon the
contrast between this and the anticipations entertained by every
humble Christian.

This whole eschatological system of Hinduism corresponds, as we have
seen, to the teaching of that faith in reference to God, man, and
earthly life and conditions. And the Christian preacher's or teacher's
vivid portrayal of the Christian's heaven too often denotes to the
Hindu only one of the many purgatorial heavens of his religion, and
rarely suggests to him the supreme test of the value of our faith as
contrasted with his own. The glories of our heaven do not appeal to
the stolid, weary, transmigration-ridden soul of the Hindu as they do
to the youthful, hopeful, buoyant soul of the Christian. And this is a
fact which the missionary would do well to keep in mind at all times.

I might continue the list of the incompatibilities of Hindu and
Christian ideals. But I have gone far enough to show, I trust, that
the two faiths are at many points antipodal, and that their ideals
clash in matters fundamental and crucial.

Further, I wish to repeat that I do not maintain that Christian ideals
are always, or even ever, represented in their fulness, or with the
right emphasis, by us of the West. Hinduism is an ethnic faith, and it
must be weighed and valued by the ideals which the people of this land
have imbibed from it and invariably connect with it. Christianity is
a world faith, and no one nation or continent can be a full exemplar,
or an all-wise interpreter, of its life and ideals. Hence I claim that
one of the considerations which demand closest attention from a
western teacher, as he imparts his faith to the people of India, is
that of the choice and emphasis of ideals which he shall present to
them. Let him neither assume, on the one hand, that Hindu ideals are
unchristian, nor, on the other, that our western ideals, both in their
emphasis and exclusiveness, are the all-in-all of Christian truth and
life. Christianity in the East, when it becomes thoroughly indigenous,
will reveal and glorify a different type of life from that of the
West. It will be less aggressive and assertive, but more contemplative
and more deeply pious and other-worldly than anything we have been
wont to see in the West.

The day has come when missionaries must study with more seriousness
the religion of India, that they may understand its true inwardness
and discover its sources of power. Above all, they must be conversant
with its highest ideals and understand the relationship of the same to
those of their own faith. And they must not forget that they must
approach this study with genuine sympathy and appreciation, in order
to find the best in Hinduism, as well as to be fortified against its
worst features.

Never before did the educated men of this land stand up with more
determination for their old ideals, and this is a matter of serious
concern to our cause. On the other hand, the most encouraging fact in
the realm of Christian work in India at the present time is that of
the marvellous place which our Lord has found among the people of the
land, especially the educated, as the ideal of life. They will have
none of Him as a Saviour, and His death has no significance to them.
But His blessed life has become the inspiration and the ideal of life
to the cultured classes of India, in a way which is transforming their
ethical conceptions and which largely eclipses all other
life-influences among them. Herein lies our hope and assurance for
India. But what they crave, and what they say they _must_ have, is "an
Oriental Christ," a Christ who is not presented in a western garb of
life and thought. Herein do we learn a most important lesson for our
life-work, as Christian missionaries in this land of the East.



CHAPTER IX

THE HOME LIFE OF HINDUS


The home life of a people is one of the most decisive tests of its
character and its state of civilization.

In this chapter I shall attempt only to describe the home life of
Hindus. And even within this limitation I can only refer to the
general characteristics which obtain among nearly _all_ Hindus, and
shall pass by the details, which differ so largely in different parts
of the country and among different castes.

It is in the home that the natural religious bent of the Hindu finds
its full scope and most touching manifestations. Generally speaking,
one may say that the house of a Hindu is his sanctuary, where the
tutelar god has its niche or shrine to which daily worship is
rendered. There is hardly any event connected with home life which is
not religiously viewed and made the occasion of definite family
worship. Of the sixteen events in the life of a man, from birth to
death, there is not one which is not viewed from a religious aspect,
and is not accompanied by an elaborate ritual.

There is hardly a respectable Hindu household in which there is not a
shrine containing an idol of stone or of some metal which corresponds
in value to the measure of the family's wealth. "Every morning and
evening it is worshipped by the hereditary _purohit_, or priest, who
visits the house for the purpose twice a day, and who, as the name
implies, is the first in all ceremonies, second to none but the
_Guru_, or spiritual guide. The offerings of rice, fruits, sweetmeats,
and milk, made to the god, he carries home after the close of the
service. A conch is blown, a bell is rung, and a gong beaten at the
time of worship, when the religiously disposed portion of the inmates,
male and female, in a quasi-penitent attitude, make their obeisance to
the god and receive in return the hollow benediction of the
priest."[5]

[Footnote 5: From "Hindus as They Are."]

Even the building of the house is a matter which must be done
according to the rules of faith. The selection of a site, the correct
orientation of the building, the number and location of the rooms, the
proper material for the structure,--all of these must be determined by
the _Vastu Sastri_, or the architects, who do their business not so
much on scientific lines as upon religious. They have their
_Shastras_, or books of instruction, in architecture, whose basis is
largely a consideration of the supposed sentiments of the gods and a
proper harmonizing in the building of various religious conceits,
crude superstitions, and immemorial customs.

Even the day and hour of entering and dedicating the house must be
fixed by rules of faith, which are as exacting as they are
multitudinous. To enter and consecrate a house at the wrong
astrological moment would bring in its train a number of domestic
disasters. The house may be anything, from a most primitive hut to a
many-aisled palace; but in every case the astrologer must be consulted
as to the time; the spiritual architect must give his rules as to the
structure; and the family priest must make the house habitable by an
elaborate ceremonial and offerings to the god or gods of the family.

It is only after all these have been accomplished that a householder
may, with a clean conscience, enter his new home and expect a blessing
upon his family therein.

To a stranger who passes through the streets of a town or village it
may seem strange that no two adjoining houses have exactly the same
orientation. He may think it an evidence of carelessness, or a want
of taste. But to the Hindu it is the result of pious conformity to the
rules of his faith. To a non-Hindu it may seem peculiar that Hindus
generally enter their new homes in the first half of the year. But to
the Hindu it is the only half when the gods are awake; it would be
unpropitious and almost sacrilegious to dedicate a house in that part
of the year when the gods are supposed to be asleep!

The Hindu home would not be, to a westerner, either pleasant or
convenient. It looks dingy and dark, doors are small and massive,
windows are few and generally closed. This is partly because they are
intended to keep out the tropical glare, and partly because the people
seem averse to occupying an airy room. A westerner would suffocate in
a room in which Hindus would delight to spend a night. It has always
been a wonder to the writer that they thrive on so little fresh air in
their homes.

Hindus, in the main, care very little for elaborate household
furniture. Even in homes of wealth, articles of household furniture
are few and are chosen merely for utility's sake, save in homes where
western ideas are finding their way and a growing desire to ape
western manners takes possession of a family. Some years ago, a
wealthy Hindu gentleman welcomed the writer into his fine new
three-storied bungalow, whose front door was elaborately carved and
had cost Rs. 2000. It was furnished with fantastic articles of
European furniture. Mechanical toys and speaking dolls had places of
prominence; and among the pictures which adorned the walls the place
of honour was given to a framed tailor's pattern-plate! A full-sized
painting of the late British queen was specially honoured by being
kept in a dark closet! The family did not live in this house, but
occupied a comfortable one-storied building in the back yard. It was
adequate to their needs and in harmony with their tastes.

Hindus generally sleep on the floor. They spread a mat under them, and
this suffices for the ordinary man. Many add to this a dirty pillow,
which is a mark of extravagance and an evidence of degeneracy. The men
of the house may sleep anywhere within, or in the verandah without,
according to the season of the year. Recently, western ideas have
encroached upon this primitive, sanitary custom, and cots are finding
an ever increasing place in the household economy.

The Hindu family system is widely different from that of the West.
Among them the Joint Family System prevails universally. It is built
on the old patriarchal idea, according to which three generations
generally live under the same roof and enjoy a community of life and
of interest. When a man and wife have reared a family, the sons bring
to the paternal home their wives and live together and raise their
families in the common home of their father. The supreme authority, in
the direction of all their affairs, rests with the father. And the
mother generally takes charge of the household commissariat. The whole
income of all the members of the family is brought into the common
treasury, out of which all expenses are met. There is no individual
property, and no rights and privileges which any one can claim apart
from another's in that home. In large Hindu families there is often
found a small colony thus living together and dependent for guidance
and instruction upon the father. This system entails a great deal of
responsibility upon the head, whose authority is supreme. And so loyal
is every Hindu to paternal authority that there is never any question
raised by any one as to obedience to his commands.

This system has its advantages. In early times, it brought strength
and security to households thus consolidated. It is doubtless
favourable to general economy. And it has the peculiar merit of
developing a strong sense of responsibility in the whole family for
its every member, however incapacitated she or he may be for
self-support. The weak and the sick and the feeble-minded have the
same claim upon the resources of the family as have the others, and
the claim is universally recognized. For this reason, poor-houses are
not needed in India.

On the other hand, Hindus themselves are coming to regard this system
as being out of joint with modern life, under the ægis of a
progressive, civilized government. One of its chief defects is its
encouragement of laziness in members of families. No one feels that he
is responsible for his own maintenance. And no matter how industrious
a member may be, the product of his labour is not his own--it belongs
to the family. Such a system saps the foundation of industry and
enterprise. It furnishes constant temptation to slothfulness and
inactivity. In former times, this may not have been so manifest; but
at present, when opportunities open wide their inviting doors, and
means of accumulating wealth and influence multiply, the system has
become a source of discontent and of serious difficulty in the
community.

A few years ago the educated Hindus of South India were so exercised
over the injustice of the situation that they urged upon the Madras
Legislature a new act, called "the Gains Learning Bill," whereby every
man might claim the financial results of his own labours and
accumulate wealth apart from the property of the family. The matter
was fully argued in the Legislature, and the injustice of the Joint
Family System was so clearly revealed in this matter, that the bill
was carried through. Thereupon, orthodox Hindus raised such a storm of
opposition to the bill and decried it so vehemently, as a subversion
of their faith and an overthrow of their most ancient and cherished
institution, that the governor never signed the bill; and it has
therefore never become law.

Nevertheless, the agitation against the system is increasing, and the
incongruity of the Joint Family System with modern social conditions
is becoming so marked that the day of its overthrow is approaching.

A well-known Hindu writer describes the injustice of this system as
follows: "As one of the usual consequences of a patriarchal system, a
respectable Hindu is often obliged to support a number of hangers-on,
more or less related to him by kinship. A brother, an uncle, a nephew,
a brother-in-law, etc., with their families, are not infrequently
placed in this dependent position, notwithstanding the trite apothegm,
which says, 'it is better to be dependent on another for _food_ than
to live in his _house_.'"

Moreover, this system fosters family dissension. It requires an ideal
family, under the strong guidance of an ideal head, to live in peace
and harmony under this system. The writer above quoted, himself a
Hindu who had long lived under the system, expressed himself strongly
upon the subject: "The millennium is not yet come. Seven brothers
living together with their wives and children, under one and the same
paternal roof, cannot reasonably be expected to abide in a state of
perfect harmony, so long as selfishness and incongruous tastes and
interests are continually working to sap the very foundation of
friendliness and good-fellowship. Union is strength, but harmonious
union, under the peculiar régime indicated above, is already a
remarkable exception in the present state of Hindu society. On careful
inquiry it will be found that women are at the bottom of that
mischievous discord which eats into the very vitals of domestic
felicity. Separation, therefore, is the only means that promises to
afford relief from this social incubus; and to separation many
families have now resorted, much after the fashion of the dominant
race, with a view to the uninterrupted enjoyment of domestic
happiness."

Outside of the family itself, perhaps the two most important
functionaries are the family priest and the astrologer. And of these
two the latter is doubtless the more influential. It is well known, as
I have written on another page, that Hindus are not only firm
believers in astrology, but also the abject slaves of this science,
falsely so-called, in all the affairs of life. It is wonderful how
many events in the life of a family come within the realm of
astrological guidance and control. From birth to death, most of the
important transactions of life are controlled by astrological
considerations.

And with the astrologer we naturally join the sooth-sayer, who is
frequently in demand to pronounce his incantations and utter his
_mantras_, to remove all kinds of maladies and misfortune that may
overtake members of the family. It is impossible for a Westerner to
realize how much of the life of the Hindu, in the home and in society,
is circumscribed by superstitions and directed by omens only. In the
case of a man setting out upon a journey forty-three different things
may happen which prognosticate good, and thirty-four which forebode
evil. In household matters, the eye of the Hindu man, and very
specially of the Hindu woman, is ever open to any one of a thousand
indications that may reveal the will of the god or the demon as to
conduct on the occasion.

The position of women in the Hindu home is fundamental, and much
misunderstood by the people of the West.

It is sadly true that woman in Hinduism has suffered, throughout the
centuries, gross injustice, and has laboured under a thousand
disabilities. But it does not follow from this, as those not familiar
with Hindu lives are too apt to conclude, that woman is therefore a
nonentity and a mere helpless drudge in the family.

It is true that the great lawgiver, Manu, said, "No sacrifice is
allowed to women apart from their husbands, no religious rite, no
fasting; as far only as a wife honours her lord, so far is she exalted
to heaven." In accordance with this, Hinduism has always consistently
maintained that woman's well-being is entirely derived from her
relationship to man. Her salvation is to be acquired through him. Her
glory upon earth and her bliss in heaven and final emancipation
depend upon her attitude to him, specially her obedience and
devotion.

It is also true, that in no stage of her existence can she be regarded
as independent. She is dependent upon her father in childhood, the
slave of her husband so long as he lives, and subject to her son
during the days of her widowhood. Hinduism leaves her no opportunity,
in this human existence, for liberty and independence.

Hindu ideas of womanhood have always been low and unworthy. Rather
than being considered a help-mate to man, she has ever been regarded
as his tempter and seducer. The proverbs of India are full of these
base insinuations concerning womanhood. "What is the chief gate to
hell? Woman." This is only one of a host of common sayings which brand
the womanhood of India with shame.

It is for this same reason that woman has always been held unworthy of
education. To educate a woman is compared to placing a knife in the
hands of a monkey. The ignorance of the women of India to-day is not a
matter of careless neglect, but rather of studied purpose to deny to
them that which might change their relationship of subjection to man.

One might suppose that in matters of religion, which is the peculiar
consolation of the woman of India, a wide door of opportunity might be
given to her. But here again Manu says, "Woman has no business with
the texts of the Vedas; thus is the law fully settled. Having
therefore no evidence of law, and no knowledge of expiatory texts,
sinful woman must be as foul as falsehood itself; and this is a fixed
rule."

There are texts which command kindness and respect to womanhood. But
the above quotations represent the tenor of Hindu literature.

All of these represent the attitude of man toward woman in the home.
In society, she has had no recognized place whatever, until the
present, when, under the influence of western civilization, she is
beginning to find a very limited scope for her legitimate activities.

Nevertheless, in the seclusion of her own home, and inheriting the
burden of this deep reproach heaped upon her from time immemorial by
men, woman has created for herself a place of power in the Hindu home.
Within this sanctuary she has erected her throne and reigns a queen.
Has man kept her in ignorance? She will therefore apply herself the
more assiduously to works of faith and piety. Has he heaped upon her
abuse and called her "donkey" and "buffalo"? She has repaid the insult
by a loving devotion to her lord, such as has conquered his pride.
Whether it be as wife or mother, the women of no other land wield
greater power than the much-abused women of India. There is no woman
on earth who reveals, at this present time, more devotion and
attachment to her husband than does the Hindu wife. The old system of
_Sati_, whereby a woman immolated herself on the funeral pyre of her
dead husband, what was it? It was, indeed, a custom instituted by man,
enforced by religious rewards and penalties, with a view to reveal the
woman as the abject subject of her husband. And yet she glorified that
custom and often transmuted it into the most sublime exhibition of
wifely devotion. Hear the description of a _Sati_, given by a Hindu,
the subject of which was his own aunt. "My aunt," writes he, "was
dressed in a red silk _sari_, with all the ornaments on her person;
her forehead daubed with a very thick coat of _sindur_, or vermilion;
her feet painted red with _alta_; she was chewing a mouthful of betel;
and a bright lamp was burning before her. She was evidently wrapped in
an ecstasy of devotion, earnest in all she did, quite calm and
composed as if nothing important was to happen. In short, she was
then at her _matins_, anxiously awaiting the hour when this mortal
coil should be put off. My uncle was lying a corpse in the adjoining
room. It appeared to me that all the women assembled were admiring the
virtue and fortitude of my aunt. Some were licking the betel out of
her mouth, some touching her forehead, in order to have a little of
the _sindur_, or vermilion; while not a few, falling before her feet,
expressed a fond hope that they might possess a small particle of her
virtue.... In truth, she was evidently longing for the hour when her
spirit and that of her husband should meet together and dwell in
heaven. She had a _tulsi mala_ (string of basil beads) in her right
hand, which she was telling, and she seemed to enjoy the shouts of
'Hari, Hari-bole,' with perfect serenity of mind. We reached Nimtalla
Ghat about twelve; after staying there for about ten to fifteen
minutes, sprinkling the holy water on the dead body, all proceeded
slowly to the Kultalla Ghat, about three miles north of Nimtalla. The
dead body, wrapped in new clothes, being placed on the pyre, my aunt
was desired to walk seven times round it, which she did while strewing
flowers, cowries (shells), and parched rice on the ground. It struck
me at the time that, at every successive circumambulation, her
strength and presence of mind failed; whereupon the Darogah
(government representative) stepped forward once more and endeavoured,
even at the last moment, to deter her from her fatal determination.
But she, at the very threshold of ghastly death, in the last hour of
expiring life, the fatal torch of _Yama_ (Pluto) before her, calmly
ascended the funeral pile and, lying down by the side of her husband
with one hand under his head, and another on his breast, was heard to
call in a half-suppressed voice, 'Hari, Hari,'--a sign of her firm
belief in the reality of eternal beatitude. When she had thus laid
herself on the funeral pyre, she was instantly covered, or rather
choked, with dried wood, while some stout men with bamboos held and
pressed down the pyre, which was by this time burning fiercely on all
sides. A great shout of exultation then arose from the surrounding
spectators, till both the dead and living bodies were converted into a
handful of dust and ashes."[6]

[Footnote 6: "Hindus as They Are."]

The custom of Sati has been outlawed; but the spirit of Sati still
dominates the womanly heart of the Hindu wife.

It is this beautiful blending of piety and wifely devotion which has
been the song of Hindu poets, and the admiration of the Hindu
community, from time immemorial. It is true that a wife dare not utter
the name of her husband. The name of the husband of a Hindu woman was
Faith. When she came to read the Bible, she skipped this word every
time it occurred in her reading. Why should she demean her lord by
pronouncing publicly his sacred name?

And yet, when it comes to matters of religion, her stern piety and her
religious devotion in the home are the most potent factor of the
household; and husband and father will bow to her supremacy in this
realm. All public life and social functions have been proscribed to
her; therefore, does she see to it that in her narrow home sphere,
both religiously and in the training of her children, her influence
shall be supreme. And it is.

It is here that the progress of Christianity is much impeded in India.
A man is often found ready to change his faith, and to abide the
consequence of the same. It is much more difficult for a woman to
transfer her affection. But the conversion of the husband will not
abide in permanence so long as the wife persists in her devotion to
the ancestral faith. The writer has often seen illustrations of this
supremacy of the influence of the woman. But it is not always so. In
1823, a Brahman child was born in Calcutta. When six years old, he
lighted, by torch, the funeral pyre of his dead father and living
mother. When he attained manhood and had received a University
education, he became a Christian. He was then not only renounced by
his family, but his young wife also spurned and denied him. In
accordance with her faith, she regarded and treated him as dead,
performed his funeral rites, and, with shaven head, unjewelled body,
and the widow's white cloth, mourned his decease as if he had actually
died. For Christ's sake he had been an outcast from his people and was
twice dead to his beloved. This experience has been repeated a
thousand times in India in the case of Christian converts. But, in
this particular instance, there was a remarkable dénouement. The young
man, deserted, divorced, and ceremonially buried by his wife, married
a Christian woman, with whom he lived happily for many years. But
after her death he returned to his first love and _remarried the
widow_ of his youth, who, in the meanwhile, had relented and become a
Christian. This was the experience of Professor Chuckerbuthy, of the
General Assembly College, in Calcutta, who died in 1901.

Marriage among Hindus differs in many respects from the same compact
among western people. It is in no instance dependent upon the
initiative of the contracting parties, if such the bride and the
bridegroom may be called in India. Neither of them is a direct
participant in the arranging of the contract. It is all done by the
parents or the guardians of the boy and girl. It is entirely a
business, and not a sentimental, affair. No other system would be
possible under past and present conditions in India. In the case of
infant marriages, the children concerned have, of course, neither
knowledge of, nor special interest in, the matter. Even in cases where
the future bride and bridegroom have attained puberty, no sentiment is
ever allowed to enter, as a consideration, into the matter. The first
question asked is whether the parties belong to the same caste and are
connected by family ties. If so, the marriage may be a suitable one.
It is strange that the children of brothers and sisters furnish the
most suitable marriage relationships. But the children of brothers, or
those of sisters, furnish a prohibited relationship! It is regarded as
improper for a boy to marry the daughter of his mother's sister, or of
his father's brother, as it would be to marry his own sister. The
marriage of those remotely connected by blood is rarely considered;
the marriage of those not at all connected by blood relationship,
never.

The next matter of paramount importance is a consideration of the
horoscope of the parties. Were the boy and girl born under
astrological conditions which harmonize; or does her horoscope so
conflict with his that their dissonance would bring evil and misery to
the family? In the latter case, a marriage will be impossible, even
though all other conditions are most inviting.

Then follows the question of dowry; and here comes the great struggle.
The girl's parents have to furnish, with the bride, a considerable
dowry, whose size is directly related to the affluence of the boy's
family, or to his education and prospects in life. The bickerings
which take place in this matter are most unseemly; and the marriage
compact is degraded into a sordid, mercenary transaction. Fathers of
girls involve themselves in debts which they can never clear, in order
to marry their darlings to sons of high families of good connection.
It is this difficulty of marrying daughters, save at an intolerable
expense to the family, which largely accounts for the universal and
keen disappointment of Hindu families when they discover, at
childbirth, that a daughter, and not a son, has been born.

The contract having been sealed by definite religious ceremony, the
children wait until the girl attains puberty, which may take place at
any time, from the age of ten to fourteen. Then the rites of
consummation are performed, and they live together as man and wife.
Until the marriage is consummated, it is the height of propriety that
the parties shall be apart and strangers to each other.

It is very often the case that there is much disparity between the age
of man and wife. A married woman is supposed to belong to her lord for
time and eternity. A widow is therefore ineligible for remarriage,
even though her husband may have died when she was an infant. The man,
on the other hand, may contract any number of marriages. The rapidity
and the businesslike way with which he proceeds to arrange new
nuptials after the death of his wife seems appalling to a Westerner!
It matters not how many wives he may have had, nor how old he has
become, none but the very young is eligible to become his spouse. The
consequence is that many men of matured, and even of old, age are
wedded to mere girls.

This is partly owing to the fact that the Hindu has not yet realized
the need, or importance, of companionship between man and wife. This
is very marked among the educated men of the Hindu community. Not only
by age, but also by educational and other qualifications, a wife is in
no condition to be a sympathetic companion to her spouse. So that the
relationship has, to them, little of mutuality in it.

The lot of the Hindu widow is, proverbially, a hard one. She is
despised and hated, even though she be but a child, because her
husband's family persist in believing that his death was caused by her
adverse horoscope. She suffers every obloquy in her husband's home, is
deprived of her jewels, has her head shaven, and is clothed only with
a coarse white cloth. Her fastings are long and severe, and she is not
allowed to attend any festivity; for the presence of a widow would be
deemed an evil omen and a curse.

Moreover, she is the object of suspicion, and is frequently the prey
of men's passions. It is a strange comment upon the religious
perversity of a people of the tender domestic nature of Hindus, that
they should deal with so much cruelty and such apparent indifference
to the bereavement and suffering of the unfortunate widow who bears
so tender a relationship to them. Religion has never wrought greater
cruelty and injustice to any one than to the Hindu widow, specially to
the child widow. And, notwithstanding the fact that these suffering
ones are a great host in this land, there are few of their people who
raise their voice in their defence or strive for their relief.

The relationship of son-in-law and mother-in-law is always a strained
one. The wife's mother may live with her under very decided
limitations. It is not permitted to her to eat in the presence of her
son-in-law, or to enter a room where he happens to be!

The situation is still worse between the daughter-in-law and the
mother-in-law. The vernaculars of India abound in proverbs which
illumine this relationship and reveal its strange character. The
husband's mother apparently delights in nothing more than in
exercising a cruel restraint over her son's wife. Nothing that the
young woman can do will please her. And the husband too often sides
with the older against the younger woman. When, however, the situation
becomes intolerable to the wife, she takes French leave, and goes home
to her parents. This soon brings her husband to terms; and it is
etiquette that he go and ask her to return, apologizing for the
troubles that she has endured. And so the situation is improved, for a
while, until another visit to her parents becomes imperative. It is
natural enough that the mother-in-law should thus deal harshly with
her daughter-in-law; for is it not her revenge for the similar
treatment which she received many years ago as daughter-in-law? The
real attitude of the Hindu toward his wife is doubtless more cordial
than it appears to a Westerner. He seems to delight in revealing an
indifference to her feelings and a contempt for her position. In the
household, she is not permitted to eat with him; she must wait upon
his lordship and take the leavings of his meal. Upon a journey, it
would be gross impropriety for her to walk by his side. Etiquette
demands that she walk behind him at a respectable distance of, say,
ten paces.

The love of jewellery is a marked passion with the women of India.
Millions of money are expended every year in the manufacture of female
adornments. And in this work there are more than four hundred thousand
goldsmiths constantly employed. The wealth of a family, especially
among the middle classes, is largely measured by the amount of
jewellery which the women of the household possess. No one would
grudge to these women a certain amount of these personal ornaments;
but when it becomes a mad craze to convert all their wealth into such
vanity, and thus to render their wealth entirely unremunerative, it
becomes a serious matter. The loading down of a woman or a girl with
precious stones, gold, silver, or cheaper metal, adds anything but
attractiveness to the person. It gives them a gross conception of
personal attractiveness as well as a monetary value to beauty, which
degrades the ideals of the country. When a woman's ears and nose, the
crown of her head, her neck, arms, hands, waist, ankles, and toes are
made to sparkle with the wealth of the family, and to bear down the
frail body of the proud victim, they cease entirely to set off the
personal beauty of the woman herself, and become rather a counter
attraction; and she is admired not for what she is, but for what she
carries.

Moreover, it is well known that these women are not satisfied, on
public occasions, to wear their own jewels only; they borrow also
those of their neighbours and shine with a borrowed light, which
reflects a great deal more their vanity than their beauty. Many a time
has the writer seen bright little Brahman girls carrying upon their
person the combined glittering wealth of several families upon
festive occasions. Add to this again the fact that there are thousands
of women and children murdered in India every year for the sake of
these personal ornaments which they flaunt before the public, and with
which they tempt criminals.

It is claimed that higher-class Hindus are cleaner in their personal
habits than almost any other people on earth. This is probably true,
so far as a multiplicity of ablutions can make them. The religious
washings of the Brahman are so frequent as to make him largely immune
to epidemics of cholera and other filth diseases. And yet the lower
classes of the people, in their homes and elsewhere, have little to
boast of in the line of cleanliness. They all aspire to the weekly
oil-bath, which is doubtless a wholesome thing in the heat of these
tropics, where, through paucity of clothing, the skin is much exposed
to the sun's rays. But oil has well-known attractive powers for dust,
filth, and vermin too!

It must also be remembered that the Hindu is given much more to
seeking ceremonial than sanitary cleanliness. It matters not how
filthy the water may be, chemically; if it be ceremonially clean, he
uses it freely. If it be ceremonially polluting, it is eschewed. As
one sees a village community make all possible uses of the village
pond, he wonders why the whole village has not been swept away by
disease. They are saved from their folly, doubtless, by the piercing,
cleansing rays of the tropical sun.

Hindu clothing is both beautiful and admirably suited to the tropical
climate. The one cloth of the Hindu woman, which she so deftly winds
around her body, and which is usually of bright colours, is perhaps
the most exquisitely beautiful garment worn by any people. And this is
altogether adequate to her needs. Unfortunately, western habits are
now coming into vogue, and, in the case of men and women alike, the
clothing of the West is partially supplanting that of the East.
Nothing could be more unfortunate, from the standpoint of health,
beauty, and economy.

The culinary arrangements and the cuisine of the Hindu home are
somewhat elaborate. Well-to-do Hindus, notwithstanding many caste
restrictions, are somewhat epicurean in their tastes, and live well.
As we have seen in the chapter on Caste, there are many limitations
placed upon the selection of food, the method of its preparation, and
of eating. Meat is entirely banned by the highest castes. None will
touch the meat of the bovine kind, save the outcast Pariah. All are
very particular in seeking seclusion for their meals. This is perhaps
the reason why the Hindu home is, generally speaking, so much more
secluded than that of other people. Hindus believe that fingers were
made before knives, forks, and spoons. Consequently they eat their
food entirely with their fingers. It seems offensive enough to
Westerners. It has often taken away the writer's appetite as he has
feasted with them, to have the cook dole out his rice to him with his
bare hands! They eat entirely with their right hand, and never touch
the food with the left, reserving that hand for baser purposes.

In wealthy families, household duties are performed by many servants.
It is amusing to see how many servants are required in India to
perform the ordinary functions of one able-bodied servant in the West.
The services which a Hindu will demand from his menials are far
greater than those of a healthy Westerner. His languid nature and
general effeminacy make him entirely dependent upon his servant for
most of the activities and amenities of life. Recently the writer
heard a Hindu companion in a railway car call his servant at night
from an adjoining car to come and turn the shade over the compartment
lamp that he might have a nap! A well-known writer, in describing the
life of a Babu, says: "The _Khansama_ of a Babu is his most favourite
servant. From the nature of his office he comes into closest contact
with his master; he rubs his body with oil before bathing, and
sometimes shampoos him,--a practice which gradually induces idle,
effeminate habits and eventually greatly incapacitates a man for the
duties of an active life. Indeed, to study the nature of a 'big native
swell' is to study the character of a consummate Oriental epicure,
immersed in a ceaseless round of pleasures, and hedged in by a body of
unconscionable fellows, distinguished only for their flattery and
servility."

During times of sickness, the native doctor is in requisition. This
functionary is not without his merits; for it is a hereditary
profession, and not a little medical wisdom and experience have been
transmitted from father to son down the centuries. Nevertheless, as
compared with modern science, the ignorance of these men is woful, and
the unnecessary loss of life through that ignorance is lamentable.
Their pharmacy is as defective as many of their remedies are absurd
and disgusting. The present government, by multiplying its hospitals
and dispensaries, has done much to arrest disease and remove
suffering. And yet the remedies do not reach one-tenth of the
population. And many of the one-tenth are so suspicious of western
science that in their extremity they will pass the well-equipped
government hospital and its diplomaed attendants in order to consult
the native doctor and to partake of his concoctions. One of the
reasons for this prejudice is the largeness of the dose which the
Indian doctor invariably supplies. How can the diminutive doses of the
white man and his establishment remove important difficulties and heal
serious diseases? The writer has known not a few well-educated Indian
Christians living under the shadow of a well-equipped missionary
hospital which furnished its medicines free, sneak away a few streets
beyond to consult the man who is a compound of a quack and an
astrologer. And yet, doubtless, the new pharmacy of the West brings
healing in its wings to millions of this people annually; and it is
one of the causes for the rapid increase of the population.

At childbirth, the barber's wife is always called. She is the midwife
of India, and the poor Hindu wife who is about to become a mother is
the victim of the ignorance and stupidity of this woman. It is no
wonder that so many die in childbirth or survive only to become
invalids through the remainder of their lives. To remove this serious
evil, government is putting forth strenuous efforts to bring
intelligent relief to the mothers of India.

The entrance of death into a Hindu family brings, as elsewhere,
inexpressible sorrow. The women of the family resign themselves to
their grief, which is expressed by loud wailings, with beating of
their breast and tearing their dishevelled hair. While professional
wailers are rare, nevertheless friends and relatives congregate and
add volume to the dirge of sorrow. The leading women mourners will
often express in weird chant and appropriate words their praises of
the virtues and the beauties of the departed ones. The men of the
household mourn in silence, as it is not fitting that the man should
audibly express his sorrow in public.

Hindus make immediate arrangements for burning or burial as soon as
death has occurred; so that, usually, the funeral services are over
within twelve or eighteen hours after death. This is desirable,
because of the Hindu custom of fasting so long as a corpse remains in
the house; and is also necessary because of the speedy decomposition
of the body in the tropics. It is also made possible by the fact that
Hindus do not use coffins.

It is the custom of most of the higher-caste Hindus to cremate their
dead; while many of the lowest castes and outcasts resort to burial.
Cremation would doubtless be the more sanitary method, if the fire
were not so inadequate in many instances. The Hindu burning-ground is
a place of ghastly and disgusting interest.

Funeral ceremonies do not terminate with the burning or with the
burial of the body in Hinduism. The ritual connected with the dead,
which is called _Shradda_, is, among the higher classes, a most
elaborate and complicated one, and lasts, with intermissions, for a
year. These are conducted with much effort by, and at great expense
to, the oldest son of the family. And a great significance is attached
to their rigid performance. It may be regarded as a part of the great
ancestral worship of the East.

The function of this ceremony is also kindred to that of Roman
Catholicism, which, through prayer and offerings, seeks the release of
souls from Purgatory. By this ritual, which involves also gifts to
Brahmans and priests, the son makes more easy the pathway of the
departed parent through the shades into the realms beyond, and
relieves the departed soul of its encumbrances and facilitates its
progress toward bliss. By some it is claimed that these ceremonies,
when rightly performed, render unnecessary his suffering in hell or
his returning to this world for rebirth. It is more likely that the
purpose is to reduce the suffering and to enhance the progress of the
soul between this birth and the next. In any case, all orthodox Hindus
regard the _Shradda_ ceremonies as possessing great virtue and high
importance. And this is one of the principal reasons why every Hindu
man and woman is so eager for the birth of a son in their family.
Without a son, who is there to relieve their soul from destruction,
and to bring to them future peace and rest through the _Shradda_
ceremony? Thus parents ever pray for male offspring; and the greatest
disappointment in the life of a Hindu woman is not to be able to
present her lord a son to solace him in this life and to assist him
through the valley of death. One of the questions asked by the dutiful
son, as he performs this laborious ritual, is,--

    "O my father, my grandfather, my great-grandfather!
    Are you satisfied? Are you satisfied? We are satisfied."

If any son, by the dutiful performance of offering and ritual here
upon earth, can bring help and peace to his dead ancestors, the Hindu
son may be expected to succeed.

The following, taken from an ancient Sutra, is regarded as a Hindu
burial hymn:--

    "Open thy arms, O earth! receive the dead
    With gentle pressure and with loving welcome.
    Enshroud him tenderly, even as a mother
    Folds her soft vestment round the child she loves.
    Soul of the dead, depart! take thou the path--
    The ancient path by which our ancestors
    Have gone before thee; thou shalt look upon
    The two kings, mighty Varuna and Yama,
    Delighting in oblations; thou shalt meet
    The fathers and receive the recompense
    Of all thy stored-up offerings above.
    Leave thou thy sin and imperfection here;
    Return unto thy home once more; assume
    A glorious form."



CHAPTER X

KALI YUGA--INDIA'S PESSIMISM[7]


Many nations, during the period of their infancy and ignorance, have
given to Time and its divisions the power and qualities of life and
have clothed them with moral purpose and attributes. Chronos was to
the Greeks of old the god of time, in whose hands were the destinies
of men. Even up to the present day not a few ignorant people of
Christian lands are influenced, to some extent, by an inherited
superstition about "lucky" and "unlucky" days. But I know of no land
which is suffering more than India from traditional, false, and
injurious conceptions of chronology. Time is here endowed with life
and enthroned among the gods. Sivan is "_Maha-Kalan_," the great
incarnation of Time, and the mighty destroyer of all things. It is
also said that "Time is a form of Vishnu."

[Footnote 7: This chapter is a modified form of a lecture delivered to
Hindus.]

We are told that we are living in _Kali yuga_, and that we are subject
to all the evil which is the permanent characteristic of this iron
age. I believe that there are few things in India which so thoroughly
influence the life, habits, and character of the people as do their
many conceptions about chronology. And I am convinced that
incalculable good would come to the country if all these old and
exploded ideas were to give way to more rational ones--such as are in
harmony with modern intelligence and civilization.

Consider, then, the various aspects of the chronology which all but
universally prevails in India in order that we may see wherein it
touches the life and moulds the thought of educated and uneducated
alike.


I

_The Astounding Length of the Chronological System_

In ancient Vedic times there obtained here, so far as we can see, much
more sober views of chronology than at present. It was much later that
the imagination of Hindu writers took full wing and carried the people
into the all but infinite reaches of Puranic chronology. One must wait
for the elaboration of Vishnu Purana, for instance, in order to meet
that apparent sobriety of mathematical detail which is utilized to add
credibility to the most fantastic time system that imagination ever
devised.

Christians of the West have doubtless erred on the side of excessive
brevity in their theories and beliefs about the beginnings of history
and especially in their attempt to locate the origin of the human
race. Until recently, it was thought that our human progenitor, Adam,
was created no more than sixty centuries ago, and that the whole
history of mankind is consequently confined to that brief space of
time. In the same way the practical mind of the West has pictured to
itself the termination of human life and history upon earth at some
not very remote date in the future. Science has already shown the
error of the former, as history is likely to demonstrate the falsity
of the latter theory.

But India has, with much greater daring and with more of unreason,
carried back many billions of years the origin of mankind and has
painted vividly a future whose expanse is as the boundless sea.

We are now, it is said, at the close of the first five thousand years
of _Kali yuga_. And this same _yuga_, or epoch, has 427,000 years
still in store for us and our descendants! Before it arrived, the
other three _yugas_--_Kritha_, _Tretha_, and _Dwapara_--had passed on;
and these, together, were equal to more than ten thousand divine
years, or to nearly four million human years! These four epochs equal
a total of 4,320,000 human years, and this is called a "_maha-yuga_."
This in itself would stagger the practical mind of the West. But it is
only the very threshold of Hindu chronology! There are seventy-one of
these great epochs in a "_Manuvanthara_," or the period of one Manu,
or human progenitor. And there are many of these Manus with their
periods. For instance, there are fourteen of them required in order to
cover the time called "_Karpa_," or one day in the life of Brahmâ. And
after Brahmâ has spent his modest day everything is destroyed and his
godship spends an equal period in sleep and rest. Then begins another
Brahmâic day, in which a new succession of Manus spend, with their
progeny, their interminable epochs. And thus one series of epochs
follows another, sandwiched in by equally long spaces of lifeless
darkness. And this goes on until Brahmâ has completed his divine life
of one hundred years; and then comes the final dissolution. Having
gone on as far as this, there is no reason why the imagination should
rest at this point; and so Vishnu _Purana_, which, of course, is
composed in praise of that god, claims that one day of Vishnu is equal
to the whole life of Brahmâ!

No one can bring within the range of his thought or imagination one
tithe of the years, divine or human, which are included in this
marvellous chronology. A billion years are but as a day to the Hindu
mind.

And if any one is anxious to know the exact place at which we have
arrived in this chronological maze, the same _Purana_ informs us that
we are five thousand years advanced in the _Kali yuga_ of "_Varâha
karpa_," or the first day in the second half of Brahmâ's life. And
thus we are supposed to live not far (say a few billion years!) from
the middle of the Hindu chronological system. One may better realize
the length of the system if he remembers that we have yet to spend of
the present _Kali yuga_ alone more than seventy times the whole of the
old Christian chronology from Adam to the present time! And yet, as
compared with the whole system described above, _Kali yuga_ is less
than one day in a thousand years. And that largely measures the
difference between the imagination of the West and the same developed
faculty in the East!

It is quite unnecessary to say that the prehistoric Manus of previous
_yugas_ are absolutely imaginary creatures, since history can tell us
practically nothing about the head of our race, even in the present
Hindu dispensation. There is not a line of history or of reliable
tradition that will enable us to reach farther back than five or six
thousand years in this quest for the origin of our race. There was, of
course, a beginning of human life on earth; and we may, just as we
please, call the progenitor "Manu" or "Adam." But, according to the
Hindu chronological system, six thousand years only carries us just
back into the last _yuga_, and is as but yesterday in the march of the
divine æons of the past. Certainly, writers whose productions are
unreliable as a guide to the events of the past century or two are
only indenting upon their imagination when they descant upon the
chronological data of the _Puranas_.

One of the principal evils connected with this measureless time system
is found in the fact that it helps to destroy the confidence of all
intelligent men in the historicity of characters and events which
would otherwise be worthy of our credence. For example, the question
is asked whether such a man as Rama Chandra ever existed. We at once
reply in the affirmative; for does not the Ramayana dwell upon his
exploits, and are there not other reasons for believing that such a
hero lived in ancient times in this land?

And yet when the _Puranas_ tell us that this same Rama received his
apotheosis and appeared as an incarnation of Vishnu in the _Tretha
yuga_, say one or two millions of years ago, we are astounded at the
credulity of those who could write such a statement as well as those
who can accept it; and we are led to question whether, after all, Rama
ever existed or is simply a poetic conception carried far away into an
imaginary time. Thus the chronology of the land tends to cast a cloud
of doubt and suspicion over all that is historical, traditional, or
legendary in the literature of the people.

Still greater than this is the unfortunate influence of such a system
upon the people themselves, in helping to destroy any appreciation
that they would otherwise have of historic perspective. It is well
known that the people of India have throughout the ages been the most
wanting in the ability to write and soberly to appreciate historic
facts.

They are great thinkers and wonderful metaphysicians, but they are not
historians. The meagre history of India which has come down to us was
not written by the people themselves. Not until recently, and then
under the influence of western training, did any reliable book of
history emanate from the brain and hand of a native of this land. All
that we know of the ancient history of India comes to us in two ways.
It is known indirectly through the language and literature and ancient
inscriptions of the past. Historians of to-day have to study the
science of language, and especially the growth of the Sanscrit tongue;
and, through an intimate knowledge of the same, they arrive
approximately at the time in which many of the most important books of
the land have been written and at the dates of the events narrated in
them. Or they may be helped, to some extent, to learn this history by
a study of the teachings of the books themselves, which may indicate
the time in which they were written. A few inscriptions and coins give
the dates of certain reigns, which thus bring us directly and briefly
into the correct era of certain important events.

But the bulk of the history of India comes through foreigners. At
different periods in the history of the land men of other
nationalities visited India and then recorded their observations
concerning the country and the people. The Greeks were great
travellers and keen observers in ancient times. They came to India and
left in their books such statements about the land as assist us to
understand its condition at that period. Then the Chinese, in the
early centuries of the Christian era, visited this land and recorded
in their works much of interest about the social and religious
condition of the people. Later, the Mohammedan conquest brought many
foreigners into India, and some of the writers of Islam give us
further insight into the affairs of the country. From the fifteenth
century the Romish missionaries have conveyed, through their reports
to Rome, much of information concerning the people and their life. And
thus the history of India has largely depended upon the keen and
careful observations and statements of men of other lands who came
here for travel, trade, or religion. But Indians themselves have, at
no time, contributed to this most important department of literature.
We may search in vain for even one volume of reliable history out of
the myriad tomes of embellished narratives which have emanated from
the fertile brains of the men of India. How shall we account for this
strange and very striking fact? It must be, in part, owing to the
innate passion of India at all times for poetic embellishment and
exaggeration. A cool, scientific, unadorned statement of a fact or of
an event has never satisfied the soul of the children of the tropics.
Hence, the history of the past becomes legend, human heroes are
painted as divine, and epochs and eras are lengthened out to almost
eternal proportions.

Now the most serious result of all this is that the people have come
firmly to believe that these wild exaggerations, which were written by
some dreamy poets of the past, are the sane and cool expressions of
simple historic fact; and thus they have largely lost the true sense
of historic perspective, are unable to distinguish between fact and
fancy, and are strangers to the lessons of the past. For it must be
remembered that the teachings of former ages, and especially the
life-lessons and character-influences of those generations of men,
have less and less of significance to us the farther we throw them
back into the dim and hazy realm of the prehistoric and legendary. The
near past, with its familiar voices and its heroes of real flesh and
blood, brings to us an appeal to life and noble endeavour to which we
are always glad to respond; while the remote characters of myth and of
legend neither impress us with their reality nor inspire us to a
higher and better life.

And, in the same way, these immensely drawn-out æons of the past make
it impossible for those who believe in them rightly to appreciate the
significance and importance of the present. One's presence in the
world and the value of his best activity for the world's good can mean
something to him if he appreciate the fact that there is no great
distance to the very beginning of human history. Though his span of
life is small, it nevertheless has a definite relationship to the
whole of history, and there is some encouragement for a man to work
for the good of his race. But this encouragement dwindles into
nothingness when a man believes in those many æons of human life, each
æon being in itself an immense reach of billions of years.


II

_The Cyclic Character of Hindu Chronology_

A very unique thing about this chronology is that it revolves in
cycles. Each _maha-yuga_ is composed of four _yugas_, and these are
ever the same series and of the same character. We pass on through the
long vista of _Kritha_, _Tretha_, _Dwapara_, and _Kali_ only to begin
once more on the same series; and thus forever we move in this
four-arc circle without ever getting outside of it. It is claimed
that this cycle of _yugas_ has already revolved about twenty million
times and will go on spinning twenty million times more, attaining
nothing and going nowhere. It is enough to make one dizzy to think of
this mighty chronological wheel, spending 4,320,000 years for every
one of its forty million revolutions, with nothing to vary the
monotony of these ever recurring epochs!

The first question which one would naturally ask, after assuming the
truth of this breathlessly long system, is whether it could forever
return upon itself after this fashion. Is there no _progress_ in time?
Is it true, in this sense also, that "there is nothing new under the
sun"? While other people are refreshed by the sense that they are
moving forward and upward in the fulfilment of some great destiny, are
ever adding new increments to their wisdom, and are rising higher upon
"their dead selves" to ever nobler achievements, is it right that the
people of this great land should be doomed to think that there is no
permanent advance for India, but that she alone must forever return
whence she started and repeat the weary cycle of the past?

As a matter of fact, no people can be thus tied down to any mechanical
order of time. Every race and nation is either making for progress or
for degeneracy. It will never return to its old moorings. The past has
told upon it. It has accumulated some wealth of knowledge, of
experience, of character, which, as the centuries roll, brings it
farther on in its career. It is true that a nation, like a man, may
have lapses by which it may fall down a step or more in the ladder of
its upward progress. But this cannot be a necessity of its nature or a
relentless law of its being.

This chronological system also accounts for much of the pessimism that
pervades the minds and depresses the heart of the people of India
to-day. It is everywhere claimed that the best things of India were
found in the remote past. But, you ask, will not the _Sattia
yuga_--the golden age--return again? Oh, yes, it is next in the
procession, we are told. But we must not forget that there are about
427,000 long years before this _Kali yuga_ comes to an end. Even
supposing that the doctrine of transmigration is true, and that the
soul of man must pass through many reincarnations; who can be expected
to hold on to courage and hope through nearly half a million years of
dreary existence? What India sorely needs to-day is a conviction that
she is moving onward--that there is but one _yuga_ in her calendar,
and that that is the _yuga_ of _opportunity to rise to higher things_.
Thus alone can she be stimulated to her best efforts and most worthy
activity.

In this connection we must not forget another aspect of these changing
and ever recurring ages of the _puranas_. Each _yuga_, _maha-yuga_,
and _karpa_ is followed by a period of more or less complete
destruction. The achievements of each period are forgotten, because
its results are obliterated or consumed by a mighty cataclysm. And
thus no gain acquired in any past age is available for the coming
epoch. In this way, the whole idea of the puranic chronology is the
most effective ever devised by man in any land to bring discouragement
and despair into the heart of the people who live under it. Whether we
look at the absurd length, the discouraging cycles, or the destructive
cataclysms which are an essential part of the system, one and all
bring in their train depression, stagnation, and the spirit of
reckless waste. While we recognize that this chronology is a natural
product of the dreamy, patient soul of the East, the most important
fact for us to remember is that it also perpetuates and accentuates
the very evil which gave it birth.


III

_The Moral Characteristics of the Hindu Time System_

This, doubtless, is the most striking feature of this chronology and
gives it a larger influence than any other in the thoughts and life of
the people of this land. And I really believe that it is more
deleterious in its influence upon the Hindu character than anything
else connected with this system.

According to this chronology, in its most elaborated form, every day,
yea, every hour as well as every _yuga_, or epoch, has its peculiar
moral character assigned to it. It is well known that the first era in
the _maha-yuga_ is called _Sattia yuga_, or the era of truth. During
this period the cow of righteousness stands upon four legs, and all
living beings are good, beautiful, and happy. This indeed is the
golden age of Hinduism. But, alas, its last departure was some four
million years ago, and it will not return, they say, for nearly half a
million years more. Then it is followed by "the silver age," in which
the cow is said to stand on three legs only! In other words, virtue
and happiness have suffered diminution, and evil and misery have crept
into human life. If in the previous age asceticism was the crowning
glory, in this second age knowledge is supreme. This is said to be
the time of Rama's exploits and trials.

We then come into the bronze era, the so-called period of Krishna's
incarnation and "goings." The poor cow of virtue has suffered still
further limitations and has but two legs to stand upon in this _yuga_!
This is called the age of sacrifice--the time when sacrifice has
preëminence as a source of power in salvation.

Then we come down to the iron age in which we have the supposed
infelicity to live. This is the time of evil, _par excellence_, in
which the cow has been reduced to the last extremity and has to stand
upon one leg! The gradual deterioration of the ages finds here its
culmination. Of this fourth age there is a description in the
Vishnu-purana, which is translated as follows:--

    "Hear what will happen in the kali yuga.
    The usages and institutes of caste, of order and rank, will not
        prevail,
    Nor yet the precepts of the triple Veda.
    Religion will consist in wasting wealth,
    In fasting and performing penances
    At will; the man who owns most property,
    And lavishly distributes it, will gain
    Dominion over others; noble rank
    Will give no claim to lordship; self-willed women
    Will seek their pleasure, and ambitious men
    Fix all their hopes on riches gained by fraud.
    The women will be fickle and desert
    Their beggared husbands, loving them alone
    Who give them money. Kings, instead of guarding,
    Will rob their subjects, and abstract the wealth
    Of merchants, under plea of raising taxes.
    Then in the world's last age the rights of men
    Will be confused, no property be safe,
    No joy and no prosperity be lasting."

"Women will bear children at the age of five, six, or seven, and men
beget them when they are eight, nine, or ten. Gray hair will appear
when a person is but twelve years of age, and the duration of life for
men will only be twenty years."

Now the idea in all this is that each _yuga_, or era, has its fixed
character. Rather than that the men of a _yuga_ should impart their
character to the age in which they live, the age itself has a
pronounced moral bent which is transferred to all who happen to live
under it. Thus we see in the theory a perversion and contradiction of
the facts; for an ethical character is assigned to days and hours
rather than to moral beings, who alone are capable of such values.

Therefore, for a thorough consideration of the system as a whole, it
is only necessary that we consider the character assigned to this evil
age in which we live. There is nothing more deeply wrought into the
consciousness of the people of this land at the present time than the
conviction that this time in which we live is indeed _Kali yuga_, that
it is irremediably bad, and that it taints with its own character
everything that has life.

Pandit Natesa Sastri remarks: "In India when a young boy or girl
happens to break, in eating or dress, the orthodox rules of caste, his
or her parents will say, 'Oh! it is all the result of the _Kali
yuga_.' If a Hindu becomes a convert to any other religion, or if any
atrocious act is committed, the Hindu will observe, 'Oh! it is the
ripening of Kali.' Every deviation from the established custom, every
vice, every crime, in fact, everything wicked, is set down by the
ordinary Hindu to the ascending power of the Lord of the Kali age."

Nor is this merely a superstition of the ignorant. We remember how, in
the year 1899, when it was said that great calamities were due, the
Dewan of Mysore promised to place the matter of preparing for these
calamities before the Maharajah. For was it not the five thousandth
year of _Kali yuga_?

Now it does not occur to one in ten thousand to ask whether this is
really so. It is accepted as a dogma which must not be questioned; and
all the evil and falsehood which this involves must be a dread of the
soul and a bondage of the mind whether it become a fact of experience
or not.

But, accepting the universally received belief of India that _Kali
yuga_ is now five thousand and eight years old, who can tell us what
was the condition of things in India before this? Everything before
that time is absolutely prehistoric. The best authorities, and indeed
all authorities, claim that the Vedas were first sung, that the Rishis
of India came into existence, that the Sanscrit tongue and the Indian
Aryans who spoke it and the religion of Hinduism which they brought or
cultivated,--all of these find their origin during the last five
thousand years. All the evidences of history unite to assure us that
there is practically nothing existing at the present time in this land
which is not in some way the child of these last fifty centuries of
_Kali yuga_. Who, then, can dogmatically tell us that these centuries
have been better or worse than the eras preceding them? We know no
more about the _Dwapara_ and the other previous eras, if any such ever
existed, than we know about the inhabitants of other planets, if such
there be. It is therefore futile, yea more, thoroughly wicked, to
impose upon the people a chronological system which is so pessimistic
and hopeless in its tenor as this.

But even looking back through the probably four thousand years which
embrace all that we really know about India, what do we see to
encourage this pessimistic view of our era?

Let it not be assumed that the people of India in the days of the
Rishis of old were purer in life or loftier in ideals than many who
live in India to-day. It is true that such evils as caste, infant
marriage, and many similar customs did not exist at all in Vedic days.
But it is also true that not a few serious evils of ancient times,
such as drunkenness, human sacrifice, and slavery, do not generally
exist in India to-day.

But if we desire to know what the condition of the present time is, we
should compare this beginning of the twentieth with the beginning of
the eighteenth century and see what progress has been achieved. During
the last two centuries numberless crimes and evils have been swept
away. I need only mention such enormities as _thuggee_, _sattee_,
infant murder, etc., all of which were thriving even a hundred years
ago, but which are now things of the past. And what shall I say of a
horde of other customs that have cursed the land, such as infant
marriage, _thevathasis_, caste, all of which are beginning to yield to
the enlightened thought of the present and will soon be driven out of
the country?

I need not add, however, that all of these wonderful changes and
progress have not come out of Hinduism. They have been carried out and
are progressing in the teeth of constant opposition from the orthodox
defenders of the ancestral faith. It is the new light of the West that
has dawned upon India and has brought to it a new era. Even while the
people are insisting that they are in the midst of _Kali yuga_ and are
confident that the days are "out of joint," they are nevertheless
witnessing such a revolution in religious, social, and intellectual
life all around them that any people who were not under the blind
spell of the Hindu time-fallacy would rejoice with exceeding joy to
see it.

And herein do we find one of the great evils of this chronology: It
incapacitates the people to accept or to appreciate any blessing which
has or may come to them through religious and social advancement.
They think that everything must be bad, as a matter of course, in
_Kali yuga_, and so nothing can appear good to them, however
beneficent and beautiful it may be.

This conviction that things are now out of joint, and the settled
purpose that all will continue an unmixed programme of evil, has more
to do with the sad and universal pessimism of India than anything else
of which I know. It crushes all buoyancy and cheer out of the mind and
rests like a pall upon every future prospect.

Then this expectation for the future robs men of any ambition to
remedy present evils. For, they naturally will say, "Why flee from
ills which are pressing upon us and which by experience we have
learned to endure, if it be only to contract greater troubles in their
stead; for freedom from evil is an impossibility in this age?" Is it
not, to a very considerable extent, the reason why there are so few
whole-hearted reformers in India? Why should a man seek, at the risk
of opprobrium and enmity, to root out of the country some accursed
custom if his inherited belief in the inherent badness of the present
era is still with him? He must feel that all his efforts will be worse
than vain; for even if he and others may succeed in overcoming this
custom, it will be only to give room to another that may be worse.
Hence the universal apathy in the face of crying evils and damning
customs; hence also the helpless "_cui bono?_" to every effort of
others to help the land out of the deep pits of injustice and ancient
ills.

Out of this belief comes another equally portentous danger, viz. that
of easily yielding to the temptations of the time, and of a readiness
to participate in the common sins of the day. For, say many, are not
these immoralities and evils an integral part of the time; and, if so,
what harm is there in our partaking of them? Or, at least, is it not
our best interest to harmonize ourselves with the essentially evil
environment of our age rather than vainly to combat the sins of the
day and to strive to no purpose to remove them?

And thus a belief in the divine order and purpose of the evil of our
time and in the impossibility of changing the character of our age
becomes one of the most prolific sources of sin, of weakness, and of
moral and spiritual apathy in the land to-day. Do not many sin without
fear and with increasing facility because they think it is the only
life that best harmonizes with this _Kali yuga_ in which they live?

Much of this conception of time is connected with the all but
universal belief of the people in astrology. In India, astrology is
still fed by popular ignorance and superstition, and continues to rule
with an iron rod in this last stronghold among the nations of the
earth. It would seem as if it controlled the conduct of individuals,
of families, and of society in general. It claims that for one to be
born under the dominant influence, or spell, of one of the heavenly
bodies is for him to be its slave ever afterwards. And thus the life
of every human being is said to be largely controlled by certain
planets and constellations, some of which are malign, and some benign
in their character and influence.

For it must be remembered that it is not only the _yugas_ that are
possessed of moral attributes; even years, months, days, and hours are
also classified as good and bad, auspicious and inauspicious. For one
to do a thing this month is auspicious, while on the next month it
will be the reverse.

In the same manner, almost every human activity has its "lucky" and
"unlucky" times--occasions when effort is much less, or more safe or
valuable, than at other times. For instance, the Hindu is warned
against going eastward, Mondays and Saturdays; northward, Tuesdays and
Wednesdays; westward, Fridays and Sundays; and southward, Thursdays.
This, we are told, is because Siva's trident is turned against those
points of the compass on those particular days, and one would
therefore be in danger of being transfixed by this divine weapon!

Then a man must not begin any important work on _Rahu-kalam_. This
inauspicious time covers an hour and a half of each day of the week
and is at a different hour every day. The only safe hour is from 6 to
7.30 each morning. That hour is free from the influence of _Rahu_, and
is therefore auspicious. And what is Rahu? It is not a planet at all,
as was thought years ago; nor is it a mighty snake which periodically
swallows the sun or moon. It is merely the ascending node in astronomy
wherein alone the eclipses can take place. And yet this imaginary
monster has a very real place in the life of this great people, and
the foolish dread of it converts a period daily into an inauspicious
occasion for important effort.

I will present only one other illustration with a view to showing how
extensively this moral attribute of time is ascribed and emphasized in
the serious affairs of life in India. For instance, when a man is
engaged in the performance of religious duties, it is regarded as of
supreme moment that he know when certain acts are of no merit, or, on
the other hand, of special merit. Now, there is a regular code of
rules for this special purpose. By observing these rules carefully one
may accumulate religious merit or power with the gods beyond any one
who does not observe them. We are told that a rupee contributed in
charity during the time of an eclipse, or at the time when the new
moon falls upon Monday, brings as much merit to the contributor, with
the gods, as an offering of one thousand rupees at any ordinary time.
Who, then, would not choose the right time for his religious activity
if time alone is the element which adds value to it, and if motive has
evidently so little of importance in giving quality or value to our
efforts in the religious life?



CHAPTER XI

ISLAM IN INDIA


There are sixty-five million Mohammedans in India. This constitutes
more than one-fifth of the total population, and is considerably
larger than the whole population of the Turkish Empire. There are now
under the British Empire more Mohammedans than under any other
government in modern, or in earlier, times. For at least ninety-five
millions of the followers of the Prophet of Mecca are prospering
to-day under the ægis of Great Britain; which is probably five
millions in excess of the Christian population of the same empire.
This is a significant fact.

And this Islamic population in India is growing, too. During the last
decade it increased by 9.1 per cent, while the population of India, as
a whole, increased only by 1.9 per cent.

Of the Mohammedans of India, only a small portion are descended from
the Mussulmans of the West; while the remainder are the results of
conversions from Hinduism.

[Illustration: HUMAYAN'S TOMB, DELHI]

This population is scattered all over India, though North India is the
home of the majority of them. Bengal, also, has a large Mohammedan
element in its population. It is that part of the country where Islam
has gathered in the largest number of converts; for, of the people of
that Presidency, more than one-third (25,264,342) are Mussulmans. And
in certain portions of East Bengal the Mohammedans are in the large
majority.

In South India, too, there is a fair representation of the members of
this faith. One can hardly pass through any section of the country
without seeing and recognizing them by their physiognomy, costume, or
customs.


I

_The History of Islam in India_

It is nearly twelve hundred years since the first military expedition
of this triumphant faith entered this land. It is an interesting fact
that the first attack of Islam (711 A.D.) upon India almost
synchronizes with the end of the millennium of Buddhistic rule in
India. Thus the incoming of the new Hinduism under Sankaracharyar
almost coincides with the first onslaught of the western hordes of the
Arabian Prophet upon the strongholds of India.

It was a pure conquest of the sword which gave to Mohammed in India,
as in other lands, a place and a possession. And those early days of
Mohammedan triumph are, in the main, a record of cruel butchery and of
widespread massacre. They fulfilled, to the letter, the command of the
founder of their faith, which says: "When ye encounter the
unbelievers, strike off their heads, until ye have made a great
slaughter among them; and bind them in bonds; and either give them a
free dismission afterwards, or exact a ransom; until the war shall
have laid down its arms. This shall ye do." (Quran (Koran), xlviii. 4,
5.)

The fanaticism and bigotry of that people carried triumph everywhere;
and their triumph meant to every Hindu the acceptance of the sword,
the Quran, or tribute. For some centuries, indeed, the fortunes of
Islam in India wavered, and its undisputed sway was not recognized
until the time of Baber, the distinguished founder of the great Mogul
Empire in the sixteenth century. It is also true that, among the mild
and patient population of this land, the spirit of that militant faith
gradually softened until the era of Akbar the Great--a ruler who was
not only illustrious as a lawgiver, but also was justly celebrated
for his cosmopolitanism and religious toleration. He was succeeded by
another great name, Shah Jehan, a man of wonderful administrative
powers, but one of narrow sympathies and occasionally given to cruel
bigotry. And yet, if he did not possess the graces for a noble
character, he adorned his realm with religious edifices which still
stand unrivalled in their exquisite beauty.

The cruel Aurangzeeb practically closed the Mogul dynasty by his
weakness, bloodthirstiness, and uncompromising bigotry.

It is strange that during the centuries of cruel dominion, of
uncompromising fanaticism, and of religious intolerance, the whole
population of the land was not absorbed into Islam. But the Mogul
Empire passed away. And, while it left a strong impression on the
country as a whole, and affected somewhat the faiths of this land and
left marvellous monuments of architectural beauty, it did not
seriously change the undercurrents of the life of the whole people.


II

_The Present Condition of this Faith in India_

Like all other faiths in this peninsula, Islam is accepted and
practised in all degrees of purity, from the orthodox worship,
conducted in the grand and beautiful mosques of Delhi and Agra, to the
grovelling, superstitious, heathenish ceremonies which obtain among,
and which constitute the religious pabulum of, the masses of Islam in
remote villages and in distant sections of the land.

Generally speaking, the religion of Mohammed is not calculated to
appeal to the highly poetic mind of India. It is too severe and
prosaic in its character. The mind of India delights in mystical
elaborations and in the multiplication of fanciful incarnations and
other divine manifestations. The Allah of Islam is almost as remote
and as unknowable a deity as is the Brâhm of the Vedantist. But in the
absence of a personal god the Vedantist and Hindus in general have
built up a system of numberless incarnations which "play" upon the
imagination of the votaries and give ample scope to the remarkably
poetic genius of this people.

Mohammedanism has nothing of the kind; it denies even the possibility
of divine "descent," and its animus throughout the centuries has been
one of antagonism to the incarnation doctrine of other faiths.

The Quran is largely wanting in the tropical warmth and legendary
lore which is such a resource and comfort to the Indian mind, and
which therefore abounds in the sacred writings of the Brahmans.

Doubtless, the simplicity and intelligibility of its creed--one God,
one prophet, one book--commends Mohammedanism to the minds of many.
But simplicity is not a foible of the religious mind of India. It has
always craved the complex, the mystical, and the unfathomable. It
delights in inconsistencies, and indulges freely in the irreconcilable
mysteries of faith. Hinduism, being the child of the Hindu mind,
abounds in tropical exuberance of spiritual exercise and "amusements,"
which seem childish and inane to all other people.

The teaching of Mohammed has, therefore, very little that can appeal
with power, carry conviction, and bring contentment to the people of
India.

In nothing, perhaps, is this more manifestly marked than in the
conception of the deity above referred to. Islam is a most
uncompromising form of Unitarianism. It is bitterly opposed to any
doctrine which brings God down to men and renders Him intelligible to
the common mind. It denies the possibility of the divine putting on
human, or any other, nature.

Hinduism, on the other hand, is the very antithesis of all this. At
first, this was not so. But its rigid pantheism gradually necessitated
manifestations of the divine, in order that faith and devotion might
be made possible. And, in later centuries, the doctrine of incarnation
was accepted as a haven of rest to the Hindu mind and soon became a
wild passion of its soul. There is no other people on earth who have
carried the doctrine of incarnation (_Avatar_) to such excess of
imaginings as to create such abundantly grotesque and fanciful
appearances of their many divinities. Normally, then, the Mohammedan
faith, at its very core, must be unsatisfying and even repulsive to
the tropical Hindu mind. It was brought here at the point of the
sword; and, for centuries, it was the faith of a ruling power whose
custom was to tax heavily all people who did not conform, outwardly at
least, to the State religion.

After Islam had become established and secure in its success in India,
when it could relax its grip upon the sword and relinquish something
of the spirit of intolerance which characterized it, it had to meet
and cope with a greater foe than that of the battle-field. Hinduism
has always exercised a great benumbing influence upon all faiths which
have come into contact and conflict with it. It has insinuated itself
into the mind of the conquerors and laid its palsied hand upon every
department of religious thought and life. So that, after a few
centuries of prosperity in India, Islam began to forget its narrow
bigotry and uncompromising severity and fraternized more or less with
the religion of the country. Little by little a latitudinarianism
crept in, which found its culmination in that remarkable man, Akbar
the Great, who entertained the teachers of all faiths and encouraged a
fearless discussion of their respective merits. Dr. Wherry writes:
"The tolerance of Akbar, who not only removed the poll-tax from all
his non-Moslem subjects, but who established a sort of parliament of
religions, inviting Brahmans, Persian Sufis, Parsee fire-worshippers,
and Jesuit priests to freely discuss in his presence the special
tenets of their faith and practice, was remarkable. He went farther,
and promulgated an eclectic creed of his own and constituted himself a
sort of priest-king in which his own dictum should override everything
excepting the letter of the Quran. His own creed is set forth in the
following words of India's greatest poet, Abul Fazl:--

    "O God, in every temple I see those who see thee, and, in every tongue
         that is spoken, thou art praised.
    Polytheism and Islam grope after thee,
    Each religion says, 'Thou art one, without equal,'
    Be it mosque, men murmur holy prayer; or church, the bells ring, for
        love of thee;
    Awhile I frequent the Christian cloister, anon the mosque:
    But thee only I seek from fane to fane.
    Thine elect know naught of heresy or orthodoxy, whereof neither stands
        behind the screen of thy truth.
    Heresy to the heretic,--dogma to the orthodox,--
    But the dust of the rose-petal belongs to the heart of the perfume
        seller."[8]

[Footnote 8: "Islam and Christianity," p. 68.]

This religious cosmopolitanism developed into what has been called an
"Eclectic Pantheism," which welcomed all men and satisfied no one.

Even though Aurangzeeb tried to stem this tide of liberalism and to
rehabilitate the intolerance and cruelty of ancient Islam, his effort
was not only unsuccessful, but was partly instrumental in bringing on
the downfall of the Empire. And the faith of Mohammed in India has
revealed, ever since, the sickly pallor and want of vigour which
tropical life and contact with Hinduism necessarily entail.

When the government of this land ceased to be Mohammedan, and the
sceptre passed into the hands of the British, whose glory it has been,
for centuries, to protect its subjects from the bloody hand of
intolerance and to vouchsafe unto all not only the blessed boon of
_Pax Britannica_, but also the inexpressible right and privilege of
religious liberty,--then passed away, never to return, we hope, from
this motherland of tolerance, the ghastly sceptre of bigotry and
fanaticism. And thus Islam ceased to be enforced and propagated by the
strong arm of law and by the pointed argument of sword and spear of
the legions. It has, since then, enjoyed in this land a free and an
open field for the exercise of its powers of persuasion. But its
increase has not been marked. And what there has been of progress has
been owing to its other characteristics, which we will mention later.

Thus the faith of the Arabian prophet has lost, in India, not only its
vigour, but also its prestige and purity, by contact with the lower
faiths of the land, especially with the ancestral faith of India. From
that religion it has taken unto itself many of the base superstitions,
and not a few of the idolatrous practices, which have characterized
it.

Indeed, the great mass of the converts from Hinduism, and their
descendants, have had but a distorted conception of the lofty faith of
Mohammed, which they have unequally yoked with their ancient
superstitions and errors.

The Indian census of 1901 tells us how the pure monotheism of Mohammed
has been debased by contact with worship at human shrines: "We have
seen in the case of Hinduism that the belief in one supreme God, in
whom are vested all ultimate powers, is not incompatible with the
belief in Supernatural Beings who exercise considerable influence over
worldly affairs, and whose influence may be obtained or averted by
certain ceremonies. Similarly, in the case of Islam, while the masses
have, on the whole, a clearer idea of the unity and omnipotence of God
than the ordinary Hindu has, they also have a firm belief in the value
of offerings at certain holy places for obtaining temporal blessings.
Thus the shrine of Saiyad Salar, at Bahraich, is resorted to, both by
Hindus and Mussulmans, if a wife is childless, or if family quarrels
cannot be composed. Diseases may be cured by a visit to the shrine of
Shaik Saddo, at Amroha in Moradabad; while for help in legal
difficulties Shah Mina's dargah at Lucknow is renowned. Each of these
has its appropriate offering,--a long embroidered flag for the first,
a cock for the second, and a piece of cloth for the third. Other
celebrated shrines are those of Bahauddin Madar Shah at Nakkanpur in
the Cawnpore district, and of Ala-uddin Sabir at Piran Kaliar in
Saharanpur." The same writer, in his report concerning Bengal, says:
"The unreformed Mohammedans of the lower and uneducated classes are
deeply infected with Hindu superstitions, and their knowledge of the
faith they profess seldom extends beyond the three cardinal doctrines
of the Unity of God, the mission of Mohammed, and the truth of the
Quran; and they have a very faint idea of the differences between
their religion and that of the Hindus. Sometimes they believe that
they are descended from Abel (Habil), while the Hindus owe their
origin to Cain (Kabil). Kabil, they say, killed Habil and dug a grave
for him with a crow's beak."

Before the recent crusade against idolatry it was the regular practice
of low-class Mohammedans to join in the Durga Puja and other Hindu
religious festivals, and although they have been purged of many
superstitions, many still remain. In particular, they are very careful
about omens and auspicious days. Dates for weddings are often fixed
after consulting a Hindu astrologer; bamboos are not cut, nor the
building of new houses commenced, on certain days of the week; and
journeys are often undertaken only after referring to the Hindu
almanac to see if the proposed day is auspicious. When disease is
prevalent, Sitala and Rakshya Kali are worshipped. Dharmaraj, Manasa,
Bishahari, are also venerated by many ignorant Mohammedans. Sasthi is
worshipped when a child is born. Even now, in some parts of Bengal,
they observe the Durga Puja and buy new clothes for the festival, like
the Hindus. "Apart from Hindu superstitions, there are certain forms
of worship common amongst Mohammedans which are not based on the
Quran. The most common of these is the adoration of departed _Pirs_."

In Rajputana, the Mohammedans of local origin "still retain their
ancient Hindu customs and ideas. The local saints and deities are
regularly worshipped, the Brahman officiates at all family ceremonials
side by side with the Mussulman priest, and, if in matters of creed
they are Mohammedans, in matters of form they are Hindus."

In Baluchistan, we are told of the Mohammedan that "his practice is,
to say the least of it, un-Islamic. Though he repeats every day that
there is one God only who is worthy of worship, he almost invariably
prefers to worship some saint or tomb. The Saints, or _Pirs_, in fact,
are invested with all the attributes of God. It is the Saint who can
avert calamity, cure disease, procure children for the childless,
bless the efforts of the hunter, or even improve the circumstances of
the dead. The underlying feeling seems to be that man is too sinful to
approach God direct, and therefore the intervention of some one worthy
must be sought."

In South India, also, Hindus and Mohammedans fraternize not a little,
especially in the religious festivities. Mohammedans do not hesitate,
under certain conditions, to bring offerings to particular Hindu
shrines. And it is a very common thing to see Hindus pay their
respects to Mohammedan fakirs. The Mohurram, in South India, is
participated in, at least in its festive aspects, by multitudes of
Hindus. Many Mohammedans are feeling keenly the degradation of this
contact. A well-known Mussulman writer moans over the situation in the
following words:--

"The baneful influence that Hindu customs have had on Mussulmans is
painful to read of. Many a Hindu ceremonial has been incorporated by
the followers of the Prophet. The marriage ceremonies, instead of
keeping to the simple form prescribed by the Quran, have been greatly
elaborated, and include processions. Even in religious matters, Hindu
and Mussulman practices have become curiously blended. Hindus take a
leading part in the celebration of Mohurram. Passages from the Quran
are sometimes chanted in the Hindu fashion; Mohammedan women of the
lower classes break cocoanuts at Hindu temples in fulfilment of vows.
Strangest of all, there is said to be a Hindu temple at a village near
Trichinopoly which is sacred to a goddess called the Mussulmans' lady,
who is said to be the wife of the Hindu god Ranganatha at Srirangam.
These are some of the sad features which the census report has brought
to light. They tend to show that, except in a few dead formalities,
the life of Mussulmans in South India is nothing different from that
of the Hindus. In many cases the followers of the Arabian prophet
would seem to have forgotten even the root principles of their
religion--the unity of God, the formless, and the unincarnate. This
fact alone is more than enough to fill the mind of the true Mussulman
with anxious concern with regard to the future prospects of Islam in
this country. His pious soul can find no rest with the view before him
of hundreds and thousands of his coreligionists sunk deep in the
degrading practices of the heathen around."

In this connection it should not be forgotten that the Sikh faith in
North India is really a compromise between these two faiths. Its
founder, Nanak Shah, possessed the very laudable ambition of producing
a religion possessed of the best elements of both of these faiths. And
though the more than two millions of his present followers have
drifted very much toward Hinduism, which is the drift of all things in
this land, and are hardly to be distinguished from their neighbours in
creed and custom, yet the religion stands as a testimony to the mutual
influence of these two faiths.

Nor should one forget what is now going on on this line among Hindus.
Dr. Grierson tells us, in his recent interesting lecture, that "Allah
the God of the Mussulman--the God of the Jews and ourselves--has
Himself been admitted to the Hindu pantheon, together with His
prophet, and a new section of the never completed Hindu bible, the
'Allah Upanishad,' has been provided in His honour."

Moreover, Hindus charge the Mohammedan faith with being the cause of
the zenana system of this land. The seclusion of women began, they
say, on account of the licentiousness of the Arabs. However this may
be, it is true that the Mohammedan Purdah system, which separates so
thoroughly women from the other sex, found adoption, or at least
emphasis, among the Hindus. In ancient times, so far as we can learn,
the women of Brahmanism found considerable freedom and independence of
life. Probably the truth is that, as Hinduism developed certain types
of doctrine which bore heavily upon the weaker sex, the range of
privilege and opportunity which women enjoyed found gradual limitation
and curtailment which found marked impetus upon the advent of the Arab
hordes.

And it should be remembered that the persistent attitude of
Mohammedans toward slavery and toward polygamy has had a deleterious
effect upon the Hindu people.

Though Islam came to India uninvited, and though its pathway has been
marked with blood, it has not been without great opportunity to
impress the people of this land with its nobility. But, as we have
seen, the opportunity does not seem to have been improved. After
twelve centuries of active propagandism and some centuries of
political rule and religious oppression, this religion is still an
exotic, and finds, on the whole, small place in the affection of the
people. This is owing in part to its want of adaptation and inherent
lack of vital power. As Sir Monier William has said: "There is a
finality and a want of elasticity about Mohammedanism which precludes
its expanding beyond a certain fixed line of demarcation. Having once
reached this line, it appears to lapse backwards--to tend toward
mental and moral slavery, to contract with the narrower and narrower
circles of bigotry and exclusiveness."

Add again to this the fact, already mentioned, that its new
environment in India has been deleterious to the vitality of the
Mohammedan faith. "Mohammedanism, as a quiescent non-proselytizing
religion, could only become corrupt and rotten. The effect of all this
policy on the mass of Mohammedans was to deprive their religious
sentiment of that intolerance which constituted its strength. Its
moral power was gone when it ceased to be intolerant.... These two
religions have thus settled down beside each other on terms of mutual
charity and _toleration_. This does not imply any great change or
deterioration in Hinduism, for its principles admit every belief as
truth, and every religion as a way of salvation. All that it requires
is acknowledgment of the same principle from other religions, and
this is the position which it has practically forced Mohammedanism to
assume in India. But such a position is utterly opposed to the
principles and claims of the latter religion; and in forcing
Mohammedanism to accept it, Hinduism has undoubtedly gained the
triumph."[9]

[Footnote 9: "Hinduism and Christianity," by Dr. Robson, pp. 168,
173.]

And yet let it not be supposed that Islam in India is either dead or
moribund. It is evidently sensible of its defects and has made, from
time to time, efforts to reform itself.

Under the stress of circumstances and the sense of waning power they
have even translated the Quran into Urdu, with a view to reaching the
common people. This is an unique effort on their part. Like Romanists,
in the use of the Latin service, the Mohammedans cling, with deathly
tenacity, to their Arabic bible and Arabic worship, foolishly
believing that to vernacularize their faith is to degrade and corrupt
it. In Madura, where there is a mosque of some pretension, there are
only two or three who can pronounce their Arabic Quran. And while they
have learned to pronounce, in the ancient tongue, their beloved book,
they do not understand the meaning of what they say, and merely parrot
the whole ritual. But a break has been made from this inane method of
worship, and their holy book has now been translated into one
vernacular of India.

Islam has also revealed definite redeeming qualities which seem
distinctive and are worthy of enumeration.

Its prohibition of the use of intoxicating drinks is definite, and its
attitude toward that accursed habit has been consistently and
vehemently antagonistic. Hence, the Mohammedan of India is recognized
as a sober man, faithful to his religion in this matter wherein the
Christian reveals so much weakness. It is true that in some parts of
the country Mussulmans are too often addicted to the use of opiates.
But a drunken member of this faith is rarely to be found. In this,
Islam has joined forces with Hinduism itself in proscribing a habit
which is the curse and ruin of too many Christian lands. And it is a
distinct blot upon the Christian Church in India that many of its
followers, in this land of sobriety and abstinence, so easily fall
into the temptation of the cup and become the victims of intemperance.

Islam also enforces the law of usury among its followers. With the
Jew, the Mohammedan has been strictly forbidden to make money by the
use of money. And though they find ways of evading this law, to some
extent, the ideal which they have before them is a restraint and a
blessing in a land where the usurer is a ubiquitous curse, because of
his rapacity and the expertness with which he draws the common people
into his net and leads millions to financial loss and ruin.

The supreme place given in this faith to the duty of almsgiving, and
the effective way with which it is carried out among its members, is
another praise-worthy feature. At the time of their political rule and
extensive sway there was a well-known tax whose purpose was to carry
relief to the poor and the suffering. And Mohammedans feel to-day that
there is hardly a religious duty which is more sacred and carries with
it more of reward than that of distributing alms to the poor. Far more
than Christianity has it given importance and distinction to this as a
special form of its religious activity.

Moreover, its command to observe the five seasons of daily prayer is
important, with a view to maintaining and enforcing the ordinary forms
and observances of a living faith. Many a time have I been impressed
with the way Mohammedans, in this land, faithfully and boldly observe
this rule and privilege of their faith by spreading their mats in
most unexpected places, even in the presence of gaping crowds, and
prostrating themselves in prayer with their faces Mecca-ward as a
proof of their sincerity and as a testimony to the power of their
religion.

But there is nothing in which Islam exerts a more salutary influence in
this caste-ridden land than in its attitude toward this monster evil of
Hinduism. Islam is neither founded upon race, colour, nor nationality.
It has been well said that in Islam "all believers belong to the highest
caste." It recognizes to the full the brotherhood of all the members of
its faith. Even its slaves have been exalted to its throne and have
achieved highest distinction. The last census correctly says: "On its
social side, the religion of Mohammed is equally opposed to the Hindu
scheme of a hierarchy of castes, an elaborate stratification of society
based upon subtle distinctions of food, dress, drink, marriage, and
ceremonial usage. In the sight of God and of His Prophet all followers
of Islam are equal. In India, however, caste is in the air; its
contagion has spread even to the Mohammedans; and we find its evolution
proceeding on characteristically Hindu lines. In both communities,
foreign descent forms the highest claim to social distinction; in both,
promotion cometh from the West. As the twice-born Aryan is to the mass
of Hindus, so is the Mohammedan of alleged Arab, Persian, Afghan, or
Mogul origin to the rank and file of his coreligionists."

I admit that there are social distinctions and class cleavages among
the members of this faith, as among all peoples. These are in no sense
religious, however, as they are in Hinduism. Among the members of that
faith there is equality of right; and every Islamite, by his own
industry and character, can enjoy that right in this land. It is true
that Islam has yet to learn the brotherhood of man as such, and to
recognize that the non-Mussulman and the Mussulman alike are possessed
of equal rights and favours in the sight of God. But within the faith
itself, caste, as such, is unknown. This is much more than can be said
of the Indian Christian Church at the present day, notwithstanding the
spirit of our religion and its definite injunctions. The Hindu caste
system has been transferred too much into the Christian fold. Most of
the accessions from Hinduism to Mohammedanism at the present time are
from the lowest classes of Hinduism, with a view to securing a
definitely higher social status which Mohammedanism distinctly
promises and invariably confers upon these newcomers. It were well if
modern converts to Christianity from the outcasts could hope for and
receive from the Hindus the same recognized advance in social position
and esteem by becoming members of our religion, as they do by entering
the faith of Islam. This is not the fault of Christianity, but the
folly of its converts, who do not leave their heathenish conceptions
and estimates outside the precincts of Christianity. This difference,
which I have emphasized, is, as might be expected, more marked and
manifest in South India than elsewhere. A Christian worker in this
land cannot help envying Islam the noble stand which it has taken
concerning caste.

At the present time the Muslims of India are divided into two sects,
something like the Catholics and Protestants of Christianity. The
Sunnis are the traditionists, and constitute the large majority of
that faith. The Shiahs are the dissenters. For twelve hundred years
has this division existed, and the two parties are as irreconcilable
to-day as ever. There is also a sect of mystics known as Sufis.

In the seventeenth century a new sect of Purists was formed in Arabia.
They reject the glosses of _Immams_, will not accept the authority of
the Sultan, and make light of the great Prophet himself. They are a
fanatical sect and delight in proclaiming _jihad_, or holy war,
against the infidels. These are the Wahabbis. This sect was introduced
to India by Sayad Ahmed Shah, and it has gained many converts. It is
largely a movement toward reforming the faith from within. In spirit,
it is not very unlike the movement of the fanatics known as Ghazis,
whose zeal burns against all infidels, especially those of the
European Christian type.


III

_What is the Character of the Mohammedan Population in India?_

It will be interesting to appraise them largely by comparing them with
the Hindu population which surrounds them. Generally speaking, they
are morally on a level with their neighbours. In South India,
especially, it is difficult to discriminate between the ethical
standards which obtain among Mohammedans and Hindus. In both cases
they are low and unworthy. This is unexpected, as Islam has always
stood for a worthy ethical standing, while Hinduism has, from time
immemorial, divorced morality from piety. Nevertheless, it is a fact
that those who have passed on from Hinduism to Mohammedanism have
rarely ascended in the ethical standard of life.

The personal habits of the Indian Mussulman are not clean, to say the
least of them. In this they are a contrast to the Brahmans, and to
some other high-class Hindus, whose ceremonial ablutions are many. In
South India, the Mohammedan is described by a vernacular expression
which is as uncomplimentary as it is filthy, and which is intended to
classify them among the lowest in their habits. When cholera and
similar epidemics prevail in the regions with which I am familiar, the
Mohammedan, with the Pariah, on account of unclean habits, becomes the
first victim of its ravages.

Add to this their strong belief in fate, which leads them, during
these epidemics, to neglect or to decline the use of medical remedies.
Many a Muslim perishes during such times because of his fatalistic
convictions.

They are also among the most ignorant of all classes in India. While,
in the total population of the land, hardly more than 5 per cent are,
in any sense, literate, the Mohammedans, as a class, have only 3 per
cent. And of the Mohammedan population nearly all the women are
analphabet. In the educational system of India the government places
Mohammedans among the "backward classes," and every effort has been
made by the State, even to the doubling of educational grants, to
stimulate the members of this faith on educational lines.

It is one of the most discouraging facts connected with the Muslim
population that while they are brave in bearing arms and loyal to the
government, they have an apparent aversion to the schoolhouse, and can
with difficulty be induced to secure even an elementary education.
This bears very heavily against their prosperity and influence. Public
offices in India are wisely placed in charge of those who are
competent, by a thorough training and a broad education, to well fill
them. The consequence is that the Mohammedan has been gradually driven
out from nearly all public positions of trust by the intellectually
more alert Brahman, and even by lower-class Hindus, who are availing
themselves of the opportunities for higher education.

It is not strange that the political influence of this community has
correspondingly waned, so that only a very small number relatively of
Muslims is found to-day in the councils of the Empire.

A new ambition, however, seems to be taking possession of the
community. They have recently organized many schools under the
direction of "The Society for the Aid of Islam." These schools,
without neglecting the study of the Quran and their sacred language
and the tenets of their faith, give instruction on western lines, and
in the English language.

They have established, also, under the inspiration of the late Sir
Sayid Ahmed Khan, a college at Aligarh. Though the rationalistic
teaching of the founder causes the institution to be discredited by
orthodox leaders, the college has developed wonderfully, and is
beginning to assume the proportions of a Muslim University. Of this
institution a learned Mussulman remarked in an address:--

"We want Aligarh to be such a home of learning as to command the same
respect of scholars as Berlin or Oxford, Leipsic or Paris. And we want
those branches of learning relative to Islam which are fast falling
into decay to be added by Moslem scholars to the stock of the world's
knowledge. And, above all, we want to create for our people an
intellectual and moral capital--a city which shall be the home of
elevated ideas and pure ideals; a centre from which light and guidance
shall be diffused among the Moslems of India."

Much may be expected from the institution. But what is one such school
among the many millions of this community in India? Government is
anxious to aid and inspire the community on these lines; and the
present success of the institution is, in good part, owing to the
smile of the State upon it.

The recent organization of the Pan-Islamic Movement is full of hope.
The leading representatives of the community in India seem anxious and
determined to rouse their coreligionists from their lethargy and to
create within them a new ambition for a higher and a more honourable
place in intelligence and official usefulness. This is much needed,
because the community has reached its lowest ebb of influence among
the people.

In the present unrest Mohammedans mainly stand with the government
against the Hindu Extremists. They wisely realize that the British Raj
presents to them, as a community, far better opportunity and larger
favours than would accrue to them under any other possible government,
even though their warlike traits might lead them once more to subdue
and rule the land themselves.


IV

_Christian Effort in India in Behalf of the Mussulman_

Missionaries have everywhere presented to Mohammedan and Hindu alike
the Gospel Message. The follower of Mohammed has never been ignored in
the proclaiming of Christ and in the work of the Mission school.

Generally speaking, they are a very hard class to reach; they very
rarely seem impressed, or are willing to consider the message as a
personal call to themselves. The high character of their faith above
that of the surrounding people partly accounts for this. Moreover, the
religion itself inculcates intolerance, and naturally narrows the
vision of appreciation and sympathy amongst its followers.

It is also, in some measure, due to their supreme ignorance of the
teaching of their own faith. They have many fantastic notions about
Islam, such as intelligent members of their faith repudiate, and such
as make them inaccessible to the Christian worker.

And yet they are not reached and impressed with more difficulty than
are the Brahmans and some other high-class Hindus. Though conversions
from among them have been relatively few, accessions from Islam to the
Christian faith have been continuous during the last century. There
have not been many mass movements among them. It has been largely the
struggle of individual souls from the trammels of one faith into the
liberty of the other. Dr. Wherry informs us that: "In the North,
especially the Punjab, and the Northwest Frontier Province, every
congregation has a representation from the Moslem ranks. Some of the
churches have a majority of their membership gathered from amongst the
Mussulmans. In a few cases there has been something like a movement
among Moslems toward Christianity, and a considerable number have come
out at one time. But perhaps the fact that tells most clearly the
story of the advance of Christianity among Moslems in India, is this,
that among the native pastors and Christian preachers and teachers in
North India there are at least two hundred who were once followers of
Islam. Among the names of those who have gone to their reward (many of
them, after long lives of faithful service), some of my readers will
recall the names of the Rev. Maulvie Imaduddin, D.D., Maulvie Safdar
Ali, E.A.C., Munshi Mohammed Hanif, Sayyad Abdullah Athim, E.A.C.,
the Rev. Rajab Ali, Sain Gumu Shah, the Rev. Abdul Masih, the Rev.
Asraf Ali, the Rev. Jani Ali, and Dilawur Khan. These faithful
servants of God have left behind them memories which still live. Many
of them have bequeathed volumes of literature, which have added much
to the literary wealth of all the churches. They give an index
wherewith to guide us as to what the strength and character of the
Church of the future will be when the strong champions of the Crescent
shall have become the Champions of the Cross."

We are also told by the Rev. Maulvie Imaduddin, D.D., of North India,
that "117 men of position and influence have become Christians, of
whom 62 became clergy and leading men in many of the Indian Missions,
and 51 are gentlemen occupying positions professional and official.
Out of 956 baptisms of the Church Missionary Society in the Amritsar
District, 152 were Mohammedan converts. In the Punjab there are at
least two congregations made up entirely of Mohammedans, while in
Bengal there is a body of more than 6000 Christians composed almost
entirely of Mohammedan converts and their descendants, a large number
having come over _en masse_ some years ago. These last were converts
in the first instance from Hinduism to Mohammedanism, and hence were
not bound so strongly to Islam."

In South India, less attention has been paid to Mohammedans as a
class, and the results therefore have been very meagre. A few
individuals, here and there, have accepted our faith, and that is
practically all. This is not strange when we remember that out of the
eleven hundred Protestant missionaries, male and female, in Southern
India, perhaps not a dozen have any special training and aptitude for
work among Mohammedans, and hardly more than that number are giving
themselves entirely to the work.

The difficulty of this work should appeal more than it does to the
heroic element in missionaries and missionary societies alike. The
above facts indicate that there is encouragement for one who gives
himself heartily to this people. In no other land has missionary
effort for the members of this religion achieved greater results than
in India. If their numbers are few, they are more resolute and
pronounced in their Christian character than many others. In the roll
of honour among the converts from Islam have been found the names of
a number of distinguished pastors and able writers.

In the recent Conference of Missionaries, held in Cairo, a new purpose
was manifested to take up with more discriminating and pronounced zeal
and better methods the work of reaching and converting the Mohammedans
of the world.

In India, a better organized and a wider campaign for the conversion
of Islam is needed. Men and women who are to take up work in their
behalf must not only be well trained for this specific work by a
thorough knowledge of both faiths; they must also be imbued with
abundant sympathy for the people, and with a sympathetic appreciation
of the vital truths which have thus far animated the Mohammedan faith.
The constructive, rather than the destructive, method of activity must
increasingly animate all. The Mohammedans are peculiarly sensitive;
and there is so much of contact between their faith and ours that
through the pathway of the harmonies of the faiths men must be led to
know and feel the supreme excellence and power of the faith of the
Christ.



CHAPTER XII

THE CHRIST AND THE BUDDHA


The study of the life and the character of noted and noble men is the
most helpful and inspiring of all studies. It not only illustrates
life at its best, it also fills men with an ambition to pursue the
same noble purposes and to achieve the same lofty results in life. In
presenting a brief glimpse of the two most powerful personalities that
ever impressed themselves upon the world, I desire to place them side
by side that we may appreciate the assonances and the dissonances of
their wonderful lives and rise through the study into a true
conception and love of the most perfect Life ever breathed upon earth.

I have no apology to offer, as a Christian, for comparing the life of
our Lord with that of any human being; for, though Divine, He was also
supremely human; and human glory and achievement appear in their
fulness only when we gaze upon Him as one of the mighty human forces
of history.

[Illustration: THE GREATEST IMAGE OF BUDDHA (183 feet long)]

Christ and Buddha lived their brief lives upon earth many centuries
ago; and yet never did they grip so many by the magic of their
attraction as they do at present. Nearly two-thirds of the whole
population of the world to-day acknowledges the lordship of the one or
the other of these and loves to be called by their names. The
influence of the one dominates all the life of the West, while that of
the other is supreme in the East. And it is a curious and interesting
fact that Buddha has not only been exalted as the ninth incarnation of
Vishnu in the faith which he aimed to overthrow, he has also been
adopted into the Roman Catholic Calendar and is worshipped on the 27th
of November as a Christian saint under the title "Saint Josaphat."

I am also convinced that the influence of the lives and teachings of
Buddha and Christ will react upon each other with ever increasing
power during the coming years. Indeed, we are now witnessing this very
influence developing before our eyes.


I

Let us first observe the conditions under which these two lived their
earthly lives.

One was born into royal prerogatives and splendour and was surrounded
in youth with all the luxuries and blandishments of an Oriental
court. The other, though of royal lineage, was born in poverty,
cradled in a manger, earned a meagre subsistence as a carpenter, and
was able to say at the end of His brief career that the foxes had
holes and the birds of the air had nests, but that He had not where to
lay His head.

Sidhartthan early married and became a father, but later renounced all
the pleasures and responsibilities of a _grihastan life_. His great
renunciation is one of the most striking and impressive acts in the
history of mankind, and his subsequent asceticism was of the most
thorough and rigid type.

Jesus of Nazareth avoided the entanglements of married life and had a
supreme contempt for the wealth and the pomp of the world. Yet He was
not an ascetic. So freely did He associate with men, participating
even in their festivities, that His enemies falsely charged Him with
being a "glutton and a winebibber." He never countenanced the idea
that highest sainthood must come through asceticism.

He found His intimates not among the ascetic Essenes, but among
householders and men of affairs.

Both these great souls were similarly oppressed by the prevalence and
the tyranny of an exclusive ceremonialism. In the one case, it was
the innumerable bloody sacrifices and the all-embracing and crushing
ritual of the Brahmans which roused the anger and opposition of
Gautama; while, on the other hand, the myriad rites, the childish
ceremonies, and the hollow religious hypocrisy of the Scribes and
Pharisees filled Jesus with hatred and led Him to a denunciation of
that whole class. "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees," was the
oft-repeated expression of wrath which He heaped upon them.

Thus the religions which both established were, in part, reactions
from the religious excesses and errors of the days in which they
lived.

It is strange that neither Christ nor Buddha left any writings behind
them, even though writing was a known art in their times. Their mighty
influence was through oral teaching and example. This was different
from the method of other such world-leaders as Moses, Mohammed, and
Confucius. It proves that whenever any one has truths of saving power
to commit to the world, there are many who, as his messengers, are
ready to convey them. Better indeed than to convey one's thoughts by
printed page is it to impart them through the living voice to
disciples who will thrill the world by the message coloured by their
own mind and transfigured by their own enthusiasm. This was the method
of Christ and Buddha.

Both were surrounded by an Oriental environment. Their antecedents and
their prepossessions were of the East, eastern; and at their births
they were introduced to scenes and began to breathe the atmosphere of
the Orient. All the great founders of the World Religions were men of
the East. This was doubtless because the East kept more closely than
the West in touch with deepest religious thought and was animated with
highest religious emotions and heavenly aspirations. Certainly the
world owes more to ancient Asia for its religious life and spiritual
attainments than to all the other continents put together. And Asia is
to be thanked, above all, because she gave to mankind the Christ and
the Buddha. For the eastern flavour of their messages and the Oriental
tints of their life we are deeply grateful. To those of the West,
these have always brought quiet restraint and a hallowed, peaceful
repose to counteract the hurry and worry of life to which they are so
much exposed and which are a part of their very being.


II

_The Common Principles which controlled their Lives_

Both were men of deepest sincerity. All sham and hypocrisy were
foreign to their nature; they held insincerity in any one to be the
meanest and most deadly sin. To this intense loyalty to the truth,
Jesus bore emphatic testimony by an early martyrdom; while Gautama
gave the same unwavering witness by a long and holy life. They both
stood in the midst of communities which were rotten with hypocrisy and
which were using religion as a sacred garb of duplicity and were
raising temples of dishonesty to enraged deity. They stood like
prophets in the wilderness and pronounced woe upon all hypocrites.

Moreover, both Christ and Buddha were profoundly ethical in their
teaching. They found that humanity was not only rotten with
insincerity, it was also deceiving itself with the vain delusion that
moral integrity and ethical nobility can be bartered for a
multitudinous ceremonial. Men have always been prone to exalt ritual
in proportion as they have neglected the eternal demands of conscience
and the ethical foundation of character. The myriad-tongued
ceremonial of the Brahmans of twenty-five centuries ago was the old
evasion of righteousness in human life. Gautama saw this, and his
noble soul rebelled against a faith which proclaimed that salvation
was a thing of outward religious forms and not of the heart within.

    "To cease from all sin,
    To get virtue,
    To cleanse our own heart,
    This is the religion of the Buddhas."

These were the words with which he enunciated his new principles and
carried forward his campaign of reaction against the faith of his
fathers. Nothing less than, or apart from, purity of the soul within
satisfied his requirement.

Indeed, he exalted so much the more highly this banner of heart purity
and holiness, the less he had to say of the spiritual claims upon the
soul. He had tried elaborate ceremonial and had found it wanting; he
had practised the most severe religious austerities, but they had
availed him little. In the quiet light which had dawned upon him under
the sacred Boh tree he found that nothing wrought so mightily and
beneficently as _Dharma_, or righteousness.

    "The real treasure is that laid by man or woman,
    Through charity or piety, temperance and self-control.

                                          *       *       *       *       *

    The treasure thus hid is secure, and passes not away;
              ... this a man takes with him."

"Let no man think lightly of sin, saying in his heart, 'It cannot
overtake me.'"

These are only a few of the many noble ethical deliverances of this
great man's creed.

And during all his life, subsequent to the great renunciation, he
embodied in himself the ethical beauty of all that he had taught.

And what shall I say of Jesus, the Christ? In the noble integrity of
His heart, in the sublime ethical ideals which He ever exalted, in the
moral rectitude which He practised and enjoined upon all His
followers, who was like unto Him? In His day, also, men had forgotten
the true foundation of character; and the religious leaders of the
people were placing supreme emphasis upon human traditions and upon
man-made rites as the way of salvation.

They "tithed the mint and the cummin" and forgot the weightier matters
of the law. To eat with unwashed hands, to consort with a Samaritan,
to carry a load or raise a sheep from the ditch on the Sabbath,--this
was a sin which, to the Pharisees, would weigh a man down to hell
itself; while to lie or to use other foul language, or to trample
under foot the whole decalogue was, by comparison, a venial offence.
The whole moral code was rendered impotent by them, while ceremonial
cleansing was the be-all and end-all of their system. Christ was daily
thrown into conflict with these "blind leaders of the blind"; His soul
abhorred their whole religious system. He characterized them as
"whited sepulchres." He showed that it is the heart which defiles a
man, "for out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries,
fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." "Blessed," says He,
"are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." "It was said to them
of old thou shalt not kill;" but Christ equally prohibited anger, the
cause of murder. He not only denounced adultery, but the lustful look
which is the source of adultery.

To His followers He said "unless your righteousness exceed the
righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees ye shall not enter into the
kingdom of heaven." He prayed the Father that He would sanctify His
own, and added that for their sakes He sanctified Himself. Holiness
was a passion with Him, and at the basis of His teaching He enjoined
moral cleanness and ethical integrity. And His life in this, as in
other things, was a perfect exhibition of the virtues which He taught.
And from that day to this His precept and example have mutually
supported each other. In Him were wedded faith and conscience, piety
and character. So that, where Christ is best known and most loyally
followed to-day, there do we find a perfect sense of human relations
and a supreme desire after ethical perfection.

Furthermore, these two great souls were consumed with a broad and
universal charity. Their environment was perhaps the most averse to
general benevolence that the world could then show. In India, there
had already grown to great power the caste system with its multiplying
ramifications. Then, as now, it narrowed the sympathies of men, it
arrayed one class against another, it cultivated pride and fostered
mutual distrust and dissension.

When Sakya Muni came upon the scene, he saw the terribly divisive
system sending down its root like the banyan tree on all sides and
absorbing the life and thought of the people. It repelled him, and,
with all his mighty intellectual and moral energy, he attacked it. He
proclaimed all men brothers and worthy of human sympathy, love, and
respect. He opened the door of his faith to all classes on equal
terms. He vehemently opposed every effort to divide men except upon
the ground of character. He enjoined upon his disciples not only love
and kindness to all men, he also insisted upon a similar attitude
toward all forms of lower life.

The fact that Buddhism is to-day one of the three great Missionary
Faiths of the world, seeking all men that are in darkness, is the best
proof that the founder of that faith had a heart which embraced the
whole realm of life in its love. He felt that no man, however humble
or however far removed in ties of race and kinship, should be deprived
of the blessings of his love and sympathy. It is an interesting fact
that nearly all past religious reformers in India--both those inside
and outside the pale of Brahmanism--were anti-caste in their
sympathies and teaching. But it is only Buddha who consistently
maintained the broad foundation of a universal brotherhood and
incorporated it into his faith as a cardinal principle.

In like manner, Jesus of Nazareth lived His earthly life at a time of
narrow sympathies, and with people who were among the most exclusive
that ever lived on earth. The Jews believed themselves to be the
specially favoured sons of Heaven. And, what was more, they thought
that they were exalted because they were _worthy_, because they
excelled all other people. Hence, they stood aloof from other
nationalities and despised them as their inferiors, a social and
physical contact with whom would be pollution. There is in many
respects a strange correspondence between the Jewish social code of
twenty centuries ago and that of Hinduism to-day--the same haughty
mien and abjectness of spirit--the aloofness of pride and the cringing
meanness of social bondage--representing the two extremes of society.
Christ also turned His face like a flint against this mean artificial
classification of men. He had a burning contempt for the proud
Pharisee who lived upon the husks of his own contempt of others, and
who trampled under foot men that were infinitely superior to himself,
so far as character was concerned. But He consorted often with the
outcast Publican who revealed an aspiration after better things. And
He even chose men who were thus socially ostracized to enter His own
inner circle of disciples and to be the standard-bearers of His cause
upon earth. He taught that the most abject and socially submerged man
upon earth is a son of God, and that at his moral and spiritual
renovation there would be joy among the denizens of heaven. And it was
while thinking of this same class that He said unto His own, in
describing the judgment scene at the last great day, "Come, ye blessed
of my father, inasmuch as ye have treated kindly and lovingly one of
the least of my brethren ye have done it unto me, enter ye into the
joy of your Lord." Though He was born a Jew, He opened wide the
portals of His religion and invited all men of all conditions. "Come
unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you
rest." He sent forth His followers into all lands to disciple and
bring to the truth all nations. And in all lands His method of
procedure has been to reach first the lowest among the people and then
gradually to rise to the highest, until He has taken possession of the
whole land. His universal heart of love took in all men of all social
strata. All that He asked was that men should come to Him with purpose
sincere and with a longing for light and truth.


III

_The Principles and Teachings which differentiate and separate Christ
and Buddha_

Thus far we have seen these two great leaders of men standing side by
side and revealing the same traits and principles.

But they also revealed fundamental differences which it were well for
us to consider.

Though much united them, and that when more than five centuries and
thousands of miles held them apart, we also discover that a gulf
wider than that of time or space opened between them.

Their lives and their doctrines and the faiths which they promulgated
reveal strangely diverse contentions and tendencies.

(1) First of all, and at the root of all, lies their attitude toward
the Divine Being. Jesus was preëminently a God-intoxicated Being,
while the most manifest mental attitude of Gautama was his
agnosticism. Christ never ceased speaking of and communing with His
Father in heaven. He was wont to retire regularly from human society
in order that He might enjoy the Heavenly Presence whose very radiance
shone in and upon Him daily. He declared that He did nothing without
consulting with and receiving direction from God. And this was natural
enough when we remember His declaration that He came into the world to
reveal the Father unto men. Listen to His words, "My meat is to do the
will of Him that sent me and to finish His work." "The Father that
dwelleth in me doeth the work." "The Father is glorified in the Son."
"I love the Father and go unto Him." "Believest thou not that I am in
the Father and the Father in me?" "Oh, righteous Father, the world
hath not known Thee, but I have known Thee." In all His expressions
of oneness with God, of His living unto God, and of His drawing His
daily strength from God, His experience was eminently unique. He lived
more in heaven than on earth in those days of His incarnation. Apart
from any consideration of His Divinity, He can truly be said to be a
man of God whose soul was in harmony with the Father.

How different the words and experiences of Gautama Rishi! Many have
spoken of him as an atheist. I do not believe that he denied the
existence of God. Yet it is evidently true that he has no use in his
philosophy, any more than in his religion, for a Divine Being. There
was doubtless reason for this in the conditions of his time; for it
may be regarded as the reaction of a strong mind against the extreme
spiritualism and polytheism of the day. For, in those days, the deep
spirituality of the Brahman had overflowed its banks and had created a
multitudinous pantheon which repelled this man of stern mind. It was
to him only a short step from a disbelief in the _many_ gods to a
doubt as to the existence of _any_ god. And in this agnosticism he was
doubtless aided by his fondness for the _Sankya_ school of thought,
which is Indian Agnosticism. In any case, his deliverances and his
established religion, if such it really can be called, are such a
reaction from the Theosophy of India as to lead one to wonder how,
even with all its other excellences, it could have become in India a
State Religion for any length of time. A religion without a God, a
sacrifice, a priest, or a prayer, is certainly a dreary wilderness to
a God-seeking soul. And yet, this is what the Buddha conceived and
promulgated among his disciples. Under the stress of a growing
consciousness of the ills of this life his mind did not, like that of
others, rise to heaven for relief; but his salvation was to be a
self-wrought one. With his own right arm of virtue he wished to carve
his way into eternal life--or, shall I say, eternal death? Is it
strange that under such a godless religious system its votaries should
react from this fundamental error and deify and worship that very
Buddha who had not a place for God in his whole scheme of life?

At any rate, Christ and Buddha stand before us in striking contrast in
this matter; the glory of the teaching of the one was that He caused
His adoring disciple to fall upon his knees with uplifted eye and to
say in filial reverence and trust, "Our Father who art in heaven."
While the other taught his followers to lean only upon self, and to
seek speedy relief from life itself, declaring that heaven returned
only an empty, mocking echo to the helpless wail of the human soul.

(2) Corresponding to this difference was another difference in their
conception of human life. Jesus maintained that the human soul came
from God, was made for God, and that God Himself was forever seeking
to bring it unto Himself. According to His theory of life, man is not
left alone at any stage in his career. He may decline to entertain God
in his life. He may lead a life of rebellion against his Maker and
Saviour; he may even deny the very existence of the Father of his
being. But God, in the riches of His infinite patience, does not
desert him to his own base thought and life. He follows him like a
shepherd searching for his lost sheep. He longs for his return like a
tender, forgiving father for the return of his prodigal son. Human
life, according to this view, may be mean and sordid and may be spent
in the grossest sin; but there is hope. All is not lost while there is
a spark of life left. God is still seeking and trying to bring the
soul to new life. The million agents of His loving will conspire to
help man; and so the possibilities of his life are still great. Thus,
to our Lord Christ, the vision of human life was a bright and
optimistic one. God will not leave man to himself. He will bring all
the resources of heaven and of earth to the work of saving him. "God
is in His heaven, All's right with the world." Yes, all is hopeful for
man because the Father is still seeking him.

How different from this was Gautama Rishi's view of human life.
According to him, man is a lone, helpless creature tossed on the sea
of destiny. He is the only captain and steersman of his barque, and
his own reason is his only compass; he must battle alone with the
waves of circumstances and find for himself the unknown harbour of
peace. There is no heaven above to hear his cry, no help or redemption
outside of self. Is it a wonder that life is a weariness, and
existence itself an unspeakable burden to such a man?

Thus the Buddha sought in vain for light and cheer in life, and
pessimism became to him, as it continues to be to his followers, the
very atmosphere of life. Even as in Dante's vision of the Inferno, so
in the Temple of Buddha's scheme of life there is inscribed above its
portals the words: "Abandon hope all ye who enter here."

I care not who the man may be, I humbly maintain that his scheme of
life is seriously wrong if it be a cheerless, uninspiring one; and it
is perfectly natural that men should prefer to follow a confident,
buoyant leader rather than a heartless, despondent one. If God rules
over the destinies of man, we have a right to expect that success and
blessing will crown the efforts of the sincere seeker after a better
life. Man has received life not that he may destroy it, but that he
may cultivate it and find in it life abundant.

A young mother whose child had died carried the dead body to Buddha,
and, doing homage to him, said, "Lord and Master, do you know any
medicine that will be good for my child?" "Yes," said the teacher, "I
know of some. Get me a handful of mustard seed." But when the poor
girl was hurrying away to procure it, he added, "I require mustard
seed from a house where no son, husband, parent, or slave has died."
"Very good," said the girl, and went to ask for it, carrying still the
dead child astride on her hip. The people said, "Here is mustard
seed;" but when she asked, "Has there died a son, a husband, a parent,
or a slave in this house?" they replied: "Lady, what is this that you
ask? The living are few, but the dead are many!" Then she went to
other homes, but one said, "I have lost my son;" another, "I have lost
my parents;" another, "I have lost my slave." At last, not being able
to find a single house where no one had died, she began to think,
"This is a heavy task that I am on." And as her mind cleared she
summoned up her resolution, left the dead child in a house, and
returned to Buddha. "Have you procured the mustard seed?" he asked. "I
have not," she replied. "The people of the village told me, 'The
living are few, but the dead are many.'" Then Buddha said, "You
thought you alone had lost a son; the law of death is that among all
living creatures there is no permanence." Little comfort in these
words!

Of course, we can see how these two conflicting views of life found
acceptance and expression in these two great leaders of mankind. For,
to Jesus, the keyword of life was divine grace or atonement, while to
Gautama it was _Karma_--that word which has for so many centuries been
to all India the truest expression of its philosophy and of its life.

Christ taught that the grace of God was at the service of every man
for his success in this life and for his redemption in the world to
come. He ever emphasized the inspiring message that God's work and
man's effort constitute the warp and woof of the life of every man. In
His whole scheme of salvation there is no place for discouragement;
for, walking through the path of life hand in hand with God, man can
overthrow every enemy to his progress and achieve the best and highest
in God's purposes for him.

But when the Buddha adopted the doctrine of _Karma_ as the foundation
of life, he and his system were doomed to despondency, gloom, and
discouragement. It is indeed a noble truth that every man must drink,
to its last dregs, the fruit of his own action--that the law of
_Karma_ works with relentless force in every life in the world. Only
let us understand that God may enter into each life to enable man to
face successfully that law, and it is all right. But condemn man to
everlasting isolation; cut away from him every ray of Divine help, and
the working out of his _Karma_ becomes a terrible and an almost
unending tragedy--a Sisyphean task with no hope of release save in the
wiping out of life itself. And this is what the great Soul of the East
believed and taught. He faced boldly the problem. He had, at the
beginning, ignored the very existence of God, and thus denied himself
the least hope of external aid in his own emancipation; and thus he
held that stern, cruel, relentless _Karma_ became the all-controlling
and universal law of life.

To a Christian, among the most pathetic words ever spoken are those
spoken by Buddha to his beloved cousin and disciple as death drew
near--"O! Anantha,... My journey is drawing to its close. I have
reached eighty years, and just as a worn-out cart can only with much
care be made to move along, so my body can only be kept going with
difficulty.... In future _be ye to yourselves your own light, your own
refuge; seek no other refuge.... Look not to any one but yourselves as
a refuge_."

And that which farther, and very naturally, widens the gulf which
separates them is their view of the adequacy or inadequacy of the
present human life to satisfy the laws of their being.

The law which Jesus believed to prevail, and which He constantly
promulgated and emphasized, was that of the finality of the human
life--that man has once only to pass through this earthly life and
that then comes death, which introduces him to an eternal future
corresponding with the character of his choices and life on earth.
According to Him, this brief earthly existence, which will not be
repeated, is a training school for the glorious life beyond. Blessed
is he who faithfully submits himself to this training and passes
through the gate of death prepared for an immortality of joy in God's
presence beyond.

Indeed, Jesus never gives the first intimation of any future birth or
life, save that which would be permanent and eternal in heaven or
hell.

He felt the adequacy of this life as a determiner of the eternal
destiny of all men. And He felt that the salvation which He wrought
and offered to all was able to carry man through the single portal of
death into unending bliss. Why another entrance into this world, if by
passing through the world God could bring into the life the seed and
power of His own grace and life which would blossom and bear fruit in
the soul throughout eternity? "Marvel not," He sayeth, "the hour
cometh in which all that are dead shall hear his voice and shall come
forth; they that have done good into the resurrection of life; and
they that have done evil into the resurrection of judgment." And as He
described the final judgment upon all men after one earthly life He
says that "these shall go away into eternal punishment, but the
righteous into eternal life." Moreover, in describing the condition of
the dead He makes the faithful Abraham say to the soul of a dead
sinner, "Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed that they who
would pass hence to you may not be able to pass and that you may not
cross from thence to us." That is, He claimed that the life which we
live here so fixes the destiny of men that eternity will carry its
impress. Hence the urgency and the supreme importance of this one life
to all men. The universal succession, according to His teaching, is
life, death, resurrection, judgment, and eternal reward.

To the Buddha, who, as we have seen, held that man is the only
architect of his own destiny and that he must therefore abide the
working of his _Karma_, a single brief apprenticeship in the school of
life seemed altogether inadequate as a test of character and as a
reliable foundation for the edifice of one's eternal destiny, or as a
basis for the one irrevocable judgment. It is but natural, therefore,
that this great Indian Rishi should have adopted as his own the
doctrine of metempsychosis, or transmigration, and that he should add
great emphasis to it. To him, life was a penitentiary rather than a
school, a place, or an occasion, for eating the fruits of past action
rather than a training for the future eternity which awaits every one.

It is true that Gautama must have had some idea of the corrective
influence and disciplinary character of this earthly existence; for
there is a quiet assumption that in some unexplained and
unintelligible way the soul is improved by this multitudinous process
of reincarnation. And yet I fail to see any reason for expecting such
a development. Philosophically and morally, the _raison d'être_ of the
doctrine of reincarnation is to explain the inequalities of life; and
it does it not, as Jesus would do it, by means of the doctrine of
heredity, but by the retributive power of _Karma_, or actions pursuing
the soul through successive births and compelling it to reveal by its
conditions and reflect by its experiences in each birth the
experiences of the previous birth. The moral influence of such a
doctrine is rendered all but impossible by the fact that there is no
consciousness (the true basis of moral continuity) to connect one
birth with another. I know of no one but Mrs. Besant who claims to
know what his previous, assumed birth was, and I have not yet met any
one who believes her claim in this matter. There is no moral
discipline for one in his being punished for a thing of which he has
absolutely no conscious knowledge.

We must further consider the character of Gautama's philosophy. It
was, as is well known, thoroughly materialistic--the antipodes of the
orthodox Hindu philosophy, which is highly spiritual. To Buddha, there
was no such thing as a soul apart from the body. What was there, then,
to connect one birth with another, according to his teaching? In
Brahmanism the doctrine of transmigration is at this point very clear,
for there is the eternal _Âtma_, or self, to connect and unify all its
incarnations. But Gautama, who denied the separate existence of the
soul, maintained that it was not the self, but the _Karma_, which
passed from one birth to another; and thus there became the oneness of
_Karma_ without an identity of soul passing through and uniting the
myriad incarnations of the person involved. How can one substitute
here a sameness of _Karma_ for identity of soul? Behold, then, the
insuperable difficulties which such a materialism interposes to a
belief either in the possibility or in the wisdom of the doctrine of
reincarnation.

And yet let it be remembered here that so long as one accepts the
doctrine of _Karma_ he cannot evade the sister doctrine of
reincarnation. They belong to the same system, and must be accepted or
rejected together.

If, however, we emphasize divine grace as an element in the solution
of human problems and in the salvation of man, then it is natural to
conclude that one earthly life will suffice for God and man together
to prepare the soul for the consummation and beatification which
awaits it beyond death. But if the whole problem is to be solved and
the whole work of redemption achieved by man himself, apart from God,
then Buddha must have been justified in believing that an
inconceivable number of births and human lives are necessary in order
to accomplish this.

It was just at this point that Christ and Buddha faced the opposite
poles. And it is just here, for this very reason, that the faiths
which they promulgated represent, the one the perpetual buoyancy and
cheer of youth, and the other the weariness of discouraged age.

Christianity claims to do its work for the soul, so far as settling
its destiny is concerned, in the brief life of a few years; and under
the inspiring influence of this conviction the pulse quickens,
youthful hope and energy multiply, and the whole soul is kindled by a
close vision of its speedy triumph and release. The Buddhist, on the
other hand, knows that it is a long, lonely conflict--the interminably
long processions of births weary him and the dim vision of a release
which is far away brings no inspiration. Life palls upon him, courage
fails him, his steps grow shorter and his pace slackens.

(3) This brings us to the ideals which these two world-leaders
entertained. Often men's ideals are a better revelation of their life
and character than are their achievements. These ideals which I wish
to point out are two--that of inner attainment and that of final
consummation.

And what was the chief ambition for personal achievement sought by
Jesus and Gautama? I believe that the very names which they acquired
and which are at the head of this chapter answer this question for us.
"Christ" and "Buddha" are not the personal names given in infancy, nor
are they tribal designations. They primarily represent their official
titles. "Christ" means "the Anointed One," and "Buddha" signifies
"the Enlightened One"--the one is a term expressive of spiritual
powers for service, while the other means intellectual enlightenment
for communion. One sought and found the baptism of the spirit of God
which touched and transfigured His character; the other was seeking
more light on the problems of life; and for that light he sought with
a wonderful longing and perseverance until the dawn broke on that
remarkable day under the sacred Boh tree and he found the light and
was hence called "the Enlightened One."

Thus, in the Christ-life, the emphasis was upon ethical and spiritual
attainment, while, in Buddha, the thing sought was the clear vision
and transcendent illumination.

Let me not be misunderstood. There is a sense in which the
consecration and the vision are in the same line. It was Christ
Himself that said, "This is eternal life, to know Thee the only true
God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." Spiritual knowledge is the
pathway to the highest life--it is life itself. It must be, in large
part, acquired through spiritual experience.

At the same time, it is an interesting fact that Buddha laid, as India
has always laid, emphasis--_undue_ emphasis--upon knowledge as the
consummation to be sought. _Brahma Gnana_ is the _summun bonum_ of
life. To rightly know myself in my relationship, this, they say, is
the only qualification for beatification. On the other hand, Jesus
insisted always upon a right moral and spiritual attitude and
relationship to God as the highest point of human attainment in life.
Listen to the beatitudes which he uttered: "Blessed are the poor in
spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that
mourn; for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek; for they
shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after
righteousness; for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful; for
they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall
see God. Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called sons of
God. Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness'
sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

These are the beatitudes of His Kingdom, and all refer to the
spiritual graces which He Himself exemplified and inculcated, and none
refer to enlightenment.

Thus in both we have, if not a contrast, a different outlook, which
has not only impressed the student with a sense of divergence; but
that which is more important--it has given to the devotees of these
two faiths widely different aspirations, and has given to the two
types of lives produced very dissimilar traits.

But, that which is of more consequence, in these ideals, is their
conception of what life tends to and must ultimately attain unto. The
final consummation of life meant nought else to Jesus than
God-likeness, which He called "Eternal Life." To have grown to the
perfection of those moral and spiritual characteristics which adorn
God Himself; to have the human will so subdued and directed until it
runs parallel with the Divine will; to have the soul consumed with a
love of all that He loves and with an abhorrence of all that He
hates,--this is life indeed and the highest realization of the human
soul. Yea, more, to pass out of this life into the conscious bliss and
eternal felicity of the life to come, to dwell with God--one with Him
in purpose and character, and yet living a separate conscious
existence, basking in the eternal sunshine of His Presence and
favour,--this is the fulness of blessing which Christ presented before
His own as the end to be sought and the consummation which God placed
within their reach.

On the other hand, Nirvana is the word which holds condensed the whole
realm of Buddha's ideals. It is not my purpose to discuss the original
meaning of this word. I gladly concede that it meant a state of moral
achievement when the powers of the soul were at equilibrium and when
resultant peace pervaded the life. But we also know that it meant,
preëminently, that state in which the soul had passed beyond contact
with body, in which contact alone it found consciousness and sensation
and human activity; when the soul, freed from births, had returned to
its elemental condition of semi-nothingness, with neither thought,
emotion, nor volition. This was a condition in which was found only
the negative blessing of release from the turbulence and surging
distresses of life. Without calling it non-existence, we claim that it
is wanting in every element that we connect, or can conceive
connected, with human existence.

There is nothing in it to inspire hope nor to invite cheer. All we can
do in its presence is to ask--is this all that man, the flower of
God's universe, is to arrive at? Is there nothing better for him than
to end his long, dreary existence in such an abject failure? Must he
descend from the plain of even a wretched human life to this the
lowest reach of existence, if such we must call it?

In the eyes of Christ, there issues out of the mighty conflict of life
a purified, glorified human being fit to dwell forever in the
presence of His Father and adopted to enjoy that presence for
evermore. To Buddha, this same human life ends in failure and must
rest forever under the dark pall of oblivion, and robbed by Nirvana of
all the possibilities of good and of joy that were implanted in it.

In the absence of higher satisfaction, all that Buddha could do was to
glory in his achievements, because of their pervasive influence upon
the lives of others during all future time. We might imagine him
joining with George Eliot in her noble aspiration:--

    "O! may I join the choir invisible
    Of those immortal dead who live again
    In minds made better by their presence: live
    In pulses stirred to generosity,
    In deeds of daring rectitude, in scorn
    For miserable aims that end with self,
    In thoughts sublime that pierce the nightlike stars,
    And with their mild persistence urge man's search
    To vaster issues ...
    This is life to come."

But Christ gave us a larger hope and a loftier purpose than this, even
the conscious possession of abundant life ourselves and the growing
knowledge of the boundless good which our earthly life has done for
others. To live in men is joy indeed; but that involves an ability to
feel that joy; and this, again, is a part only of the Eternal Life
which He gives to all who believe in Him.

It is His disciple only who can say:--

"Beloved, now are we the Sons of God. But we know not what we shall
be; but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we
shall see Him as He is."



CHAPTER XIII

MODERN RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT


In matters of faith, India has always been ultra-conservative. This is
largely owing, not to any fettering of thought, but rather to the
Hindu Caste System, which has been the most rigid guardian of the
Brahmanic faith and the doughty opponent of any new and independent
movements.

India has offered to her rishis and reformers unbounded latitude of
thought. And, as a consequence, her faith possesses within itself
every shade of religious speculation and philosophic conclusions. The
many antipodal and conflicting doctrines, theories, tendencies, and
institutions which obtain under the all-embracing name of Hinduism,
seem astonishing to every western investigator of this faith.

Even in matters of ritual, Brahmanism has always had its protestants,
sectarians, and "come-outers." During this stern dominance of the
Caste System, which is the most rigorous, if not the most cruel,
inquisition that the world has known, there have always been men free
to think and determined enough to push forward their ideas and their
new religious methods. And these have added picturesque variety to the
history of faith in India.

It is, however, a remarkable tribute to the power of caste and to the
unheroic character of Hindu reformers, that, of the myriad reforms and
protests against Brahmanism which have bristled throughout the
centuries, only one--Buddhism--has stood apart in persistent
isolation, and has maintained a separate identity and usefulness
through more than two millenniums. Of all these protesting creeds, it
alone has had sufficient masculine power and moral earnestness
permanently to impress itself upon the world as a great religion. It
has achieved this, however, not in the land of its birth, but in other
lands and among other peoples. Like all other attempts to reform, or
overthrow, the mother faith (and even after it had largely
accomplished this for ten centuries), Buddhism finally yielded to the
mighty absorptive power of Brahmanism, was overthrown as the dominant
religion of India, and lost all power and acceptance among the people.
This was because most of its vital teachings were appropriated by the
rival faith, and Buddha himself was adopted into the Hindu pantheon as
the ninth incarnation of Vishnu. Henceforward, it had no distinctive
mission or message to the people of this land, and died a natural
death.

The well-known passion of Hinduism for absorbing the faiths that come
into contact with it, and the maudlin tendency of the people of India
to yield to pressure and to sacrifice all in behalf of peace, has been
the grave of many a noble endeavour and many an impassioned attempt
for new religious life and power.

Nevertheless, there is no reform movement which has entered the arena
of religious conflict in India, whether it still remains entirely
within the Hindu faith or has possessed vigour and repulsive energy
enough to step outside the ancestral faith, which has not left more or
less of an impress upon Hinduism, and which does not to-day exercise
some power or other over certain classes of the people.


I

All of the many modern sects of Hinduism were originally protests
against the dominant Brahmanism of the day. The most popular Vaishnava
sect, in South India,--the _Visishdadvaitha_ sect of Ramanuja,--was
first a vigorous protest against the austere pantheism of Sankaran. It
was the demand of a thoughtful and an earnest religious man for a
personal God which could bring peace and rest to the soul, in
contradistinction to the unknowable, unethical, and unapproachable
Brâhm, which the dominant Vedantism had thrust upon the people.

The _Madhwachariars_ went one step farther and inculcated a dualism,
which many to-day accept as the basis of their faith.

In the region of Bengal, that other sect of Vaishnavism, which was
inculcated by Chaitanya four centuries ago, is to-day the popular
cult. It is a revivalism full of wild enthusiasm and ecstatic
devotion; yet it attracts, in a remarkable way, many of the men of
culture and learning throughout that Presidency.

The Saivite sectarians, who call themselves _Sangamars_, were, a few
centuries ago, a mere uprising against the supremacy of the Brahmans
and the dominance of caste.

Indeed, nearly all religious reformers in India propelled their
reforms as anti-caste movements. But, later on, they have, with very
few exceptions, been drawn again into the maelstrom of caste.

The Sikh religion, itself, was originally a religious reform, which
found its germs in the mind of the great Kabir, and afterward attained
birth in the brave reformer, Nanak Shah, during the fifteenth century.
It is a shrewd, an amiable, and also a brave attempt to harmonize
Mohammedanism and Hinduism. At the present time, this also is
gradually yielding to caste dominance and to the fascination of Hindu
ritual.

Thus every century has produced its reformers, and the banks of this
great river of Brahmanism is strewn with the wrecks of protesting
sects, while many other such barques are to-day adopted as the
faithful messengers of orthodox Hinduism and are carrying its message
to the people.


II

Modern movements of religious reform in India have not been wanting in
number or vigour. And they have been largely movements away from
Polytheism, on the one hand, and from Pantheism on the other, toward a
modern Theism. Many intelligent men, and many uneducated, but earnest
souls, have grown weary of their multitudinous pantheon, and of its
hydra-headed idolatry, which charms and debases the masses. In like
manner, many of them have ceased to be satisfied with the unknown
Brâhm of Vedantism, and are seeking after a personal Deity, who can
meet the demands of their craving hearts.

There is much of this thought and sentiment still inarticulate among
the upper classes; but it is manifestly growing with the increase of
the years.

This theistic movement, as a growing search after a personal God, is
to be traced definitely to the growth of western thought, and
especially to the direct influence of Christianity. This is no less
true of those theistic movements which are by no means amiably
disposed toward our religion.

The modern theistic movement first found definite expression and
impetus in the life and teaching of that noble son of India, Ram Mohan
Roy, who hailed from the Brahmanic aristocracy of Bengal. He was born
in 1774--just before the birth of American Independence. He studied
well the ancient writings of Hinduism and translated some of the most
important into English. He also searched eagerly and enthusiastically
the Christian Scriptures; for which purpose he made himself familiar
with the Greek and Hebrew languages. So mightily did the New Testament
and its precepts grip him that he wrote and published, in 1819, an
excellent tract, "The Precepts of Jesus the Guide to Peace and
Happiness." This is a remarkable testimony to the ethical preëminence
of the Bible. He later declared that he "believed in the truths of the
Christian religion."

Being unwilling to abide alone in this discovery and in these
convictions, he established, in 1815, the "Atmâ Sabhâ," or "Soul
Society," in his own home. This soon developed into a small church,
for which a suitable edifice was erected, that they might worship the
one God free from the contaminating influence of popular idolatry and
Hindu ceremonial.

This truly great man, without the aid of any European missionary, in
the quiet solitude of his own heart, and under the influence of the
Spirit of God, rose to some of the highest truths of Theism, and,
under the mighty influence of Christian literature, became a reformer
of the first order among his people.

But, during a visit to England he sickened, and died in 1833; and the
theistic movement weakened and waned for a few years, deprived of his
leadership and inspiring presence.

It was in 1843 that the Brahmo Somaj of Ram Mohan Roy was united with
another _Sabha_ organized by another great soul, Debendra Nath
Tagore. Under the guidance of this sturdy reformer, the Brahmo Somaj
movement put on new life and energy. Debendra Nath was very devout and
courageous. He was opposed to the religion of his fathers, as
practised by the people. Nevertheless, he was somewhat anchored to the
past. He still clung to the Hindu scriptures and regarded the Vedas as
infallible. Later, however, as these Hindu writings were studied with
more care, his faith in them was considerably shattered, and he began
to deny their supreme authority.

He and the other members of the society here entered upon a great
struggle which ushered them into an "Age of Reason." The Vedas were
abandoned as an ultimate authority, and the Brahmo Somaj, for a time,
became "a Church without a Bible," and without any anchorage but the
higher reason of its members.

In 1852, the society was reorganized. Reason was soon found to be
inadequate as the foundation of faith; and they passed on to an
intuitional basis. That again seemed to be even more unsatisfactory
than reason itself. After a few years, the movement gradually
developed a doctrine of inspiration, when the utterances of the
leaders themselves were regarded as inspired and became the voice of
God to the members. Thus, within a few years, Brahmo Somaj moved
almost in a circle, in its search for a stable anchorage to its faith;
and it returned to a point dangerously near to the Hindu position
which it had left a few years before.

The rapid movement above indicated was chiefly owing to an ardent
youth, who rallied to the support of Debendra Nath, and who gradually
took the reins into his own hands. This young man was Keshub Chunder
Sen; and he soon became the leading figure, certainly the most
striking, in the whole theistic movement of India. He acquired growing
influence over Debendra Nath, became the controlling spirit, and
continued until his death to be the central figure of Theism in India.

Chunder Sen was a great enthusiast, full of intellectual resource,
and, withal, a man of deep spirituality. He was an Oriental of the
Orientals; his mind was of a thoroughly mystic type, and, like the
devout Hindu, he loved the rigours of asceticism, and, in not a few
instances, yielded to the fascinations of the methods of the Yogi.

He was a restless soul. Hinduism had so much that was repulsive to
him; and he felt that polytheism and idolatry had so crushed out of
his people all the beauty of a living faith that he longed to hasten
communication of his message of truth and of life the new and glorious
day of Theism for India. His pace was so much faster than that of
Debendra Nath that it took but a few years to make their separation a
necessity. This took place in 1865. Thereupon, the old society became
known as the "_Âthi Somaj_,"--"The Original Somaj,"--while Sen and his
party formed a new organization, which was pretentiously known as "The
Brahmo Somaj of India." This happened in 1866.

The old society settled down into inactivity, lost much of its spirit
of reform, and has never since accomplished much in the realm of
theistic advance.

The new Somaj, however, soon acquired prominence and became the life
and embodiment of the Indian theistic movement.

But Chunder Sen had his serious dangers; and those lay in the very
excess of his virtues.

Hurried on by his intense nature, exalted to power by his brilliant
intellectual qualities, and yearning with a passion for the release of
his beloved India from the religious and spiritual thraldom which he
witnessed all about him, he acquired irresistible charm and power with
his followers, and his words became their undisputed law; and his
deliverances were surcharged with what they regarded as divine
inspiration. And there is no doubt that he soon came to believe
himself to be a direct vehicle of God in the communication of his
message of truth and of life to the world.

Under the influence of this conviction or delusion (whichever one may
choose to call it), he was swept on, and carried with him most of his
followers, into startling novelties of ritual and of organization.

Finally, however, he became so extreme and radical that some of his
principal followers became frightened and grew restless. The occasion
of another split was found in the marriage of Chunder Sen's daughter
to the young Maharaja of Cooch Behar, in 1876. Chunder Sen had worked
heroically for the enactment of a new marriage law for the members of
the Brahmo Somaj, whereby no bride should be married before fourteen
and no bridegroom under eighteen years of age. Yet, in the marriage of
his own daughter, he ignored this law, which was passed chiefly
through his own energy. Notwithstanding the fact that the leader
claimed divine guidance in this affair, his leading followers
attributed the marriage to his weakness and pride.

This led to another secession, in May, 1878, whereby the majority of
the societies and their members broke away from the Sen party and
established the _Sâdhârna Somaj_--"The Universal Somaj." This schism
was a terrible blow to Mr. Sen; and yet it released him from the
trammels which the dissatisfied had hitherto thrust upon him, and gave
him, among the remnant, an opportunity to launch out on new projects,
and to introduce many religious vagaries, which to most men were
striking and, to many, were shocking. Under the banner of the "New
Dispensation," he practised a varied liturgy and cultivated an unique
ceremonial which seemed to be a close imitation, and almost a mockery,
of some of the most sacred institutions of Christianity and of other
religions.

The schismatic weakness of the theistic movement did not reach its
consummation in this last division. It was almost immediately upon the
death of Keshub Chunder Sen, at the beginning of 1884, that his
immediate family and a few of his followers proclaimed that his spirit
still abode in the Mandir, where he so often spoke, and that no one
should succeed him or speak from the Mandir hereafter!

Within these few short years a new cult had begun to grow around the
person of Chunder Sen, like those around a thousand others well known
in the history of India. He became to some of his followers not only a
great religious teacher, but also something of an incarnation on his
own account, so that it seemed to them blasphemy for any living being
to aspire to speak from the pulpit of the beloved dead master.

His natural successor was Babu Protap Chunder Mozumdar. He protested
against this apotheosis of the departed leader, and insisted upon the
fact that their movement must be open to new light, and must seek
after ever increasing progress and advance. But the family were
obdurate, and the new split became inevitable; and thus Chunder Sen
has passed into the ranks of the Mahatmas of India and will erelong be
promoted to a place among the incarnations of their deities.

Mr. Mozumdar was, intellectually, not inferior to Chunder Sen himself;
and he was possessed of deep earnestness of spirit and of a beautiful
English style (both as a writer and speaker) which commended him and
his cause to the public, and especially to English and American
Theists. He visited the West more than once, and charmed many an
audience of Christian men by his deep sincerity and eloquence.


III

The progress of this Brahmo movement has not been very encouraging.

We have already seen its tendency to schism. There seems very little
in the movement which makes for peace and unity. Any little pique or
difference of views has not only created internal dissension, but also
engendered new sects.

The leaders of the movement have been both able and absolutely devoted
to the theistic cause; but they have not revealed the highest
qualities of leadership, especially that quality which exalts above
the leader himself the principles and the cause which he advocates.
Nor have they imparted to the members of the Somaj that altruistic
fervour which enables them to deny themselves in behalf of their
common cause and purpose.

Numerically, the progress of the Brahmo Somaj has been most
disappointing. At the last census there were only 4050 members. And,
of these, more than three-quarters were in Bengal.

This, however, by no means represents the strength of the movement;
for it is said, with truth, that many who do not register themselves
as Brahmos are in deepest accord with the movement. And it must,
moreover, be remembered that the influence of the society is far in
excess of the numbers represented. For the movement has drawn its
membership, almost exclusively, from the upper class; and the majority
of Brahmos are men of education and of position in society. Moreover,
they joined this movement under the deep conviction of the utter
worthlessness of Hinduism as a way of salvation, and with a purpose to
seek after that which is best in thought and life.

It is this aristocratic character of the movement which has largely
militated against its popularity. Its appeal has been mainly to men
and women of English training. It has not been possessed of any
passion for the multitude; nor has it adequately appreciated the
importance, for its own well-being, of a united endeavour to reach and
bring in the man of the street.

Nevertheless, the movement has been thoroughly permeated with an
Indian spirit. The leaders have been particular in their desire to
exalt and emphasize the Oriental aspect and method, as distinct from
the Occidental. This is the reason why it has been so frequently and
bitterly criticised. It has been judged by western standards and
criticised because it has not squared with western ideals. From time
to time missionaries and other Christian men, seeing no reason, from
their standpoint, why these Brahmo friends should not come over in a
body into the Christian fold, have been impatient with their lack of
response. They failed to understand that, with these western
principles and admiration, there were also eastern thoughts and
prepossessions, and the invaluable inheritance of a past that kept
them aloof from the foreign faith and led them frequently to deliver
themselves vehemently against its most western manifestations. Even
their conception of Christ was a distinctly Oriental one. And they
denied that a man of the West could compare with them of the East in
the deep appreciation of the Christ-character and in loving attachment
to their "Brother" from the East--Jesus of Nazareth.

Yet, the Christian basis of this movement is unmistakable. We have
seen how Ram Mohan Roy received a new baptism of thought and life upon
studying the Christian Scriptures. It gave a new direction and
inspiration to his theistic conceptions.

Chunder Sen found nearly all the inspiration from the Bible; and he
lived under the spell of Christ's own power, and with a passion, such
as few Christians possess, to follow Him and to be a full partaker of
His blessings.

The writer will never forget his own brief visit to Protap Mozumdar,
not long before the latter's death. It was on the eve of Good Friday.
He found this devout man with eighteen of his disciples (one of them
an Oxford graduate) studying together the tender words of our Lord
uttered to His disciples in the Upper Room on the night in which He
was betrayed. They were thus qualifying themselves properly to
commemorate His death on the coming morn. And Mr. Mozumdar gave a
strong lecture on "The Suffering Christ" to a large audience in one of
the city halls on the morrow. The thought occurred to us, how many
Christians had met together that same evening, like these Brahmos, for
the purpose of studying our Lord's Words upon that memorable occasion
and bringing themselves thus _en rapport_ with Him whose atoning death
they were to commemorate? As we parted, it was hardly necessary for
that man of God to say to the writer in pathetic tones, "O, sir, I
only wish you knew how near we are to you in these matters!" Some may
have read that remarkable book, named "The Oriental Christ," written
and published by this same gentleman in 1883. In the preface, he gives
this strikingly beautiful account of his conversion:--

"Nearly twenty years ago, my troubles, studies, and circumstances
forced upon me the question of personal relationship to Christ.... As
the sense of sin grew on me, and with it a deep miserable
restlessness, a necessity of reconciliation between aspiration and
practice, I was mysteriously led to feel a personal affinity to the
Spirit of Christ. The whole subject of the life and death of Christ
had for me a marvellous sweetness and fascination.... Often
discouraged and ridiculed, I persisted in according to Christ a
tenderness of honour which arose in my heart unbidden. I prayed, I
fasted, at Christmas and Easter times. I secretly hunted the
book-shops of Calcutta to gather the so-called likenesses of Christ. I
did not know, I cared not to think, whither all this would lead....
About the year 1867 ... I was almost alone in Calcutta. My inward
trials and travails had really reached a crisis. It was a week-day
evening, I forget the date now. The gloomy and haunted shades of
summer evening had suddenly thickened into darkness.... I sat near the
large lake in the Hindu College compound.... A sobbing, gusty wind
swam over the water's surface.... I was meditating upon the state of
my soul, on the cure of all spiritual wretchedness, the brightness and
peace unknown to me, which was the lot of God's children. I prayed and
besought Heaven. I cried and shed hot tears.... Suddenly it seemed to
me, let me own it was revealed to me, that close to me there was a
holier, more blessed, most loving personality upon which I must repose
my troubled head. Jesus lay discovered in my heart as a strange,
human, kindred love, as a repose, a sympathetic consolation, an
unpurchased treasure, for which I was freely invited. The response of
my nature was unhesitating and immediate. Jesus, from that day, to me
became a reality whereon I might lean. It was an impulse then, a flood
of light, love, and consolation. It is no longer an impulse now. It is
a faith and principle; it is an experience verified by a thousand
trials ... a character, a spirit, a holy, sacrificed, exalted self,
whom I recognize as the true Son of God. According to my humble
light, I have always tried to be faithful to this inspiration. I have
been aided, confirmed, encouraged by many, and most of all by one. My
aspiration has been not to speculate on Christ, but to be what Jesus
tells us all to be.... I shall be content if what I say in these pages
at all tends to give completeness to any man's ideas of the life and
ministry of Jesus Christ.... In the midst of these crumbling systems
of Hindu error and superstition, in the midst of these cold, spectral
shadows of transition, secularism, and agnostic doubt, to me Christ
has been like the meat and drink of my soul. His influences have woven
round me for the last twenty years or more, and, outside the fold of
Christianity as I am, have formed a new fold, wherein I find many
besides myself."

Chunder Sen also abundantly expressed himself concerning the Christ,
His mission, and message. But to him, again, it is an Asiatic Christ;
and He must be accepted in a truly Oriental, yes, even in a Hindu,
way. He says:--

"It is not the Christ of the Baptists, nor the Christ of the
Methodists, but the Christ sent by God, the Christ of love and
meekness, of truth and self-sacrifice, whom the world delights to
honour. If you say we must renounce our nationality and all the
purity and devotion of eastern faith for sectarian and western
Christianity, we shall say most emphatically, No. It is _our_ Christ,
_Asia's_ Christ, you have come to return to us. The East gratefully
and lovingly welcomes back her Christ. But we shall not have your
Christianity, which suits not the spirit of the East. Our religion is
the religion of harmony."

In further enforcement of this Oriental character he continues:--

"Was not Jesus Christ an Asiatic? Yes, and His disciples were
Asiatics, and all the agencies primarily employed for the propagation
of the Gospel were Asiatic. In fact, Christianity was founded and
developed by Asiatics and in Asia. When I reflect on this, my love for
Jesus becomes a hundred fold intensified; I feel Him nearer my heart,
and deeper in my national sympathies.... And is it not true that an
Asiatic can read the imageries and allegories of the Gospel, and its
descriptions of the natural sceneries, of customs and manners, with
greater interest and a fuller perception of their force and beauty
than an European?... The more this greater fact is pondered, the less,
I hope, will be the antipathy and hatred of European Christians
against Oriental nationalities, and the greater the interest of the
Asiatics in the teachings of Christ. And thus in Christ, Europe and
Asia, the East and the West, may learn to find harmony and unity...."

And let it not be supposed that Mr. Sen was altogether wanting in an
appreciation of the higher significance and vicarious efficacy of the
death of Christ. Concerning this, he observes:--

"Humanity was lost in Adam, but was recovered in Christ. He was the
world's atonement....

"His death on the cross affords the highest practical illustration of
self-sacrifice. He sacrificed His life for the sake of truth and the
benefit of the world. In obedience to the will of His Father, He laid
down His life, and said, Thy will be done! And surely there is deeper
meaning in the fact than even the orthodox attach to it, that the
death of Christ is the life of the world...."

In many of the lectures which he gave, and in many of the articles
which he wrote, we have evidence of the wonderful place which Christ
had in his heart and of the power which He exercised over his
thoughts. He exclaims:--

"Blessed Jesus, immortal Child of God! For the world He lived and
died. May the world appreciate Him and follow His precepts!... All
through my inner being I see Christ. He is no longer to me a doctrine,
or a dogma, but, with Paul, I cry, 'for me to live is Christ!'" On
another occasion he says:--

"Where, then, is Christ now? He is living in all Christian lives, and
in all Christian influences at work around us.... You cannot resist
His influence; you may deny His doctrines, you may even hate and
repudiate His name, but He goes straight into your hearts, and leavens
your lives."

Other leaders of this movement are imbued with the same spirit. The
editor of the New Dispensation remarks:--

"As a matter of fact the Brahmoists have accepted Christian truth in a
more special sense than Hindus, or even some Christian sects, have any
idea of.... The organization of the Brahmo Somaj of India is framed
upon an essentially Christian basis. Its missionary staff is
Christian, being guided entirely by the principle of 'Take no thought
for the morrow.' In its mission office, mottoes are found upon the
walls which are all Christian. Almost every Brahmo household has a
picture of Christ. The only Life of Jesus in Bengali is by a
missionary of the Brahmo Somaj of India. Its truly evangelistical
work, the life and conversation of its members, breathe distinctly
the spirit and influence of Christ...."

Another Theist writes:--

"Reverently have I sat at the feet of the Jesus of the Gospels to
learn the exalted ethics of the Sermon on the Mount. But Jesus, other
than a moral force, _the truer and higher Jesus_, long remained a
sealed book to me. Who could know the veritable Christ of God without
light from above?...

"Jesus forms the heart-blood of many a Brahmo.... We are ready to
sacrifice anything if only by that we are enabled to love and cherish
Jesus in our hearts.... The Brahmo Somaj is born to honour and revere
Jesus, whatever the result may be."

From these quotations, which might be multiplied indefinitely, it may
be seen that the movement has been, to a considerable extent, under
the Christ spell and imbued with much of His Spirit. Inasmuch,
however, as the movement is an avowedly eclectic one, the Brahmoist
was never willing to rest completely under the Christ influence. He
gave to Christ, perhaps, a supreme place, but not a unique position,
in his life and thought. Jesus was to him one of many, though perhaps
a _primus inter pares_.

It is this eclectic character of the Brahmo Somaj which has robbed it
of much of its power. It may seem, at first, a very fine thing to
collect, classify, and codify the best from many religions and dignify
them as a religion. But that can never become a unified message of
life to any people. It may be ethically immaculate, but it has no
vital power. The distinctive, life-giving, and inspiring element of
every faith has been eliminated, and only the common, unimpassioned,
and uninspiring elements have been retained.

Moreover, Brahmos have failed to realize that Theism, as such, has
never satisfied any people as a way of salvation. It is doubtless a
correct apprehension of the Divine Being. But religion requires a
great deal more than this in the way of exhibiting the characteristics
of the Deity, and especially of revealing His attitude toward, and His
work for, mankind, before it can possess and reveal the potency of a
saving faith.

It would seem as if this movement, up to the present time, has just
missed its mark and failed of achieving greatness and power. As we
have seen, the leaders have exalted our Lord in a wonderful way, and
have exhibited even a passion for Him in some ways. And yet they have
robbed Him of the distinct uniqueness of His nature and of His work
for man. They are first eclectics, and then they are rigid Unitarians,
and lastly they are Christians. They need to reverse this order so as
to add efficiency and potency to the Brahmo Somaj.

It is a significant fact that Chunder Sen, with all his declared love
for Christ and his great admiration for Him and His work, mentioned
neither the name nor the saving work of Jesus in the final creed of
the New Dispensation. That creed is as follows:--

    "One God, one Scripture, one Church.
    Eternal Progress of the Soul.
    Communion of Prophets and Saints.
    Fatherhood and Motherhood of God;
    Brotherhood of Man and Sisterhood of Woman.
    Harmony of Knowledge and Holiness, Love and Work;
    Yoga and Asceticism in their highest development.
    Loyalty to Sovereign."

It must not be forgotten, however, that this movement deserves much
more our commendation than our criticism. It is a noble endeavour to
pass out of an inherited bondage, a debased creed, a demoralized
pantheon, and an all-embracing superstition, into the full wisdom and
blessing of a correct vision of God and Duty. If they have failed of
the best, they are, nevertheless, with their faces turned toward it.
And there is every hope that a kind Providence, through the
instrumentality of Christian thought and western civilization, will
lead them unto it. If they have not accepted our western Christianity,
it may be that God has something better in store for them, in training
them toward the realization of that form of Christian life and thought
which will not only be more in consonance with Indian taste and
ideals, but will also grip the country in such a way as the western
type of our faith has not yet been able to do, and _seems_ incapable
of doing.


IV

The Arya Somaj is a movement somewhat kindred to the Brahmo Somaj, in
so far as it is a definite protest against modern Hinduism and is
theistic in its teaching. The Theism of this Somaj, however, is quite
different in character from that of the Brahmos.

Dayanand Saraswati was a Brahman, born in the Gujarati country about
1825. He developed into a man of keen intellect and of deep
convictions. He also studied the Christian Scriptures and was
slightly versed in the Hindu Shastras. He became dissatisfied with
the Pantheism of his mother faith; the caste system grated upon his
nerves, and the idolatry and the superstitions of the land, and
especially the gross immorality of the people, roused him to deep
thought and activity. He appealed to the Pandits, but found no
sympathy or help from them. He found his Theism in the Vedas
themselves, and ever after proclaimed, with great vehemence, that the
God of the Vedas was one and was a personal God; and he found an easy
way of interpreting those ancient books in harmony with his
convictions!

Jesus Christ did not appeal to him in the least. Indeed, he indulges
in very cheap and gross criticism of the life of our Lord. His
attitude toward Christianity was not at all kindly; indeed, the
movement, up to the present, has been distinguished for nothing more
than its hostility to the Christian religion. Nevertheless, it is
doubtless true that some of the best ideas that Dayanand possessed
were gleaned from the Bible; and the Arya Somaj has learned and
inculcates some of the important lessons of our faith.

When Dayanand found no encouragement in his appeal to the Pandits, he
turned ultimately to the people and founded, in 1875, the Arya Somaj
at Bombay. And from the first the movement has been a popular one,
addressing itself to the masses and seeking to bring them over to its
way of thinking and living. In this it has been, as we have seen,
entirely removed from the Brahmo Somaj, which has been too content to
remain a religion of the classes. Like the other movement, however, it
has been largely local in its spread and influence. Of its one hundred
thousand members at the present time, more than 70 per cent are in the
United Provinces, and nearly all the remainder are in the Panjaub.

Moreover, it has recently gathered its recruits mainly from the
educated classes, among whom the higher castes largely prevail; nearly
four-fifths of the Aryas are said to be of the twice-born castes,
which is a very significant fact. So that both in its popular
character and methods, as well as in the high social position and
educational training of its members and in its rapidly growing
numbers, the Arya Somaj is a movement of considerable importance.

The principles of this Somaj, as enunciated in its creed, are not such
as to grip men with power. They emphasize the unity of God, the
infallibility of the Vedas; and the general aim of the Somaj is "to
do good to the world by improving the physical, social, intellectual,
moral, and spiritual condition of mankind." Its moral code is of a
high order.

It is thoroughly national in its spirit, and makes much capital out of
the present spirit of racial antagonism. It is a significant fact that
during the recent season of "Unrest" the government regarded the Arya
Somaj as a hotbed of sedition and a nourisher of hostility to the West
and to western things.

The Arya Somaj is awake to the importance of training men as
messengers of its Gospel of Theism. It has established a _Guru Kula_
at the foot of the Himalayas, where quite a number of young men are
being trained in its doctrines and supplied with its enthusiasms. From
this theological seminary many have already gone forth, in the
orthodox style of religious mendicancy, to impart their teaching and
spread their movement far and wide, without any expense to the
society.

There is to-day, in North India, no enemy to the Christian cause so
wide awake and so bitter as the Arya Somaj. It is so thoroughly
national in its spirit, is so compactly organized, and lends itself
so easily to the racial and political agitation of the day, that
Christianity finds in it its greatest foe in those regions.

Let it not be thought, however, that we do not appreciate the living
spark of theistic truth which this movement represents, combined, as
it is, with hostility to the caste system, which is India's greatest
curse, and its antagonism to many of the superstitions and unworthy
ceremonials of the ancestral faith.

That movement must not be condemned too severely which is a bulwark
against drink, caste, idolatry, early marriages, and which vigorously
promotes female education, the remarriage of widows, and various
philanthropic institutions.


V

It may not be improper to close this chapter with a reference to the
Theosophical Society in India. It is true that the leaders of this
movement, which was established in America in 1875, and transplanted
into India a short time afterward, disavow its claim to being a
religion; though that claim was definitely made and warmly pushed a
quarter of a century ago. It is now extolled by its members as "the
cement of faiths," "the harmonizer of religions." It is said that
Arya Somaj became affiliated with it in 1879, though we have seen no
result of this affiliation.

The objects of Theosophy are said to be three: (1) The establishment
of a universal brotherhood. (2) The study of ancient languages. (3)
Investigation of the hidden mysteries of nature and the latent
psychical forces of man.

These aims seem thoroughly worthy, though the last mentioned, under
its original founders, led to mystical claptrap, and to the abuse of
the strong superstitious instincts of India.

The society was founded by a Russian adventuress, Madame Blavatsky,
and by an American soldier, Colonel Olcott, who was the easy tool, if
not the accomplice, of his clever and unscrupulous associate.

In the early history of the movement, at its headquarters in Madras,
Madame Blavatsky gathered around her a numerous coterie of ardent
Hindus, whom she duped with various tricks and séances. This was with
a view to convincing them of her constant communication with
_Koothoomi_ and various other Tibetan Mahatmas, of whom she seemed to
be the special agent! These and other similar performances might have
continued had it not been for her French accomplices, who quarrelled
with her, because she did not pay them adequately, and who exposed her
mercilessly. The whole matter was published in the _Madras Christian
College Magazine_, and the Russian lady was speedily sent away from
India to the West for a judicious season of rest. The leaders of
Theosophy have never been unwilling to impose upon the stupendous
credulity of their Indian followers.

Nevertheless, it is undeniable that, with all its failings, Theosophy
has exercised considerable influence upon the educated classes in this
country. This has resulted largely through its readiness to utilize
the recent movement of the people toward higher political privileges
and their deep spirit of religious unrest.

Since the advent of Mrs. Besant, the society has been largely moulded
by her erratic powers. She has not hesitated to use her ability and
influence toward the creation and the development of a strong
reactionary religious spirit throughout the land. She has bitterly
denounced every tendency among the people toward Christianity. By her
eloquence, which is remarkable, she has extolled the faith of India,
and has revived and embalmed many of its worst features which were
rapidly passing away; and has even defended idolatry and kindred evils
by trying to harmonize them with modern and scientific ideas! She has
herself become practically a Hindu, expounds Hindu doctrines, and
practises Hindu ceremonies. She has persistently maintained eastern
thought and customs as against western, and has thus endeared herself
to English-speaking Hindus, who regard her as the goddess Saraswati
herself, and are willing to give her a place in their pantheon as one
of the great defenders of their faith against the mighty influences of
the West!

In this matter, Mrs. Besant may be said to have caused irreparable
injury to the people, as she has helped to arrest the tendency toward
religious reform and progress, and has rendered articulate and given
power and expression to the reactionary spirit which is now so rampant
in India. More than any other person, and chiefly because she is of
the West, and speaks in the accents of the West, she has antagonized
progress in this land, not only religiously but also socially, and has
done the greatest disservice to the people of India. In her eyes,
Hindu philosophy and ritual, Hindu institutions and domestic life,
have practically nothing to learn from the West, and need only to be
known in order to be appreciated and loved!

This, doubtless, in good part, accounts for her present popularity.

Yet, one cannot fail to recognize the value of some things which she
is doing. She has recently begun to speak with some emphasis upon
lines of reform. She has been instrumental in stirring within the
people a wider desire for higher education; though one can hardly
understand why she has done so much for the establishment of a college
for men, and has done practically nothing to advance the educational
interests of her much-neglected sex in India.

Upon the death of Colonel Olcott, the President Founder of Theosophy,
in 1907, Mrs. Besant became his successor. So far as the Indian vote
was concerned, this was a foregone conclusion; since her avowed
sympathy with Hinduism in all its forms had gained for her a strong
place in the Hindu heart.

The method by which she was elected, however, is suggestive of the
future course of the movement in India.

When nearing death, Colonel Olcott was induced by Mrs. Besant to
invoke and to consult the "Masters"--the convenient ghosts of the
dead--with a view to a choice of his successor in office. There was no
doubt about his preference for the Englishwoman. The Mahatmas wisely
agreed with the Colonel and Mrs. Besant, and a powerful fulcrum was
secured for lifting her into the presidency. And Mrs. Besant to-day
claims that it is better for her to have been chosen by the dead than
to have been elected by the living. Upon her inauguration, she
insisted upon it that all Theosophists must cling to the "Masters" and
adhere to their decisions.

If we mistake not, this marks the beginning of a new era in
Theosophy,--at least in India,--an era during which the movement will
be entirely directed and worked by those who are the authorized
mouthpieces of the glorified dead! Thus the movement is fairly
launched upon a course which will inevitably lead it to something very
much akin to a religion, with its accumulated mysteries and with a
host of propelling superstitions of its own. More than any other land,
India will lend itself admirably to the development and the
propagation of such a cult.

Theosophy is not represented by a very large number of organizations
and members. But the movement has the sympathy of many who have not
taken upon them its name; and the society, at the present time, is
certainly in favour with a large number of the educated classes.

Orthodox pandits, however, are thoroughly suspicious of the movement;
and Mrs. Besant's recent attempts to thrust upon them her own
interpretations of certain Hindu doctrines--interpretations, too,
which are foreign to their own--has led to a spirit of opposition,
where but recently appreciation and favour existed.

Theosophy, as a harmonizer of faiths, is not likely to accomplish much
that will be permanently good. Religions to-day have lost much of
their asperity one toward the other. The study of Comparative Religion
has led men everywhere to magnify the assonances, rather than the
dissonances, of the Great World Faiths. Theosophy magnifies into a
cult this function of bringing religions together. It ignores,
however, the fundamental differences which exist, brings all faiths
into the same equational value, and assumes that they are equally
effective as ways of salvation.

With such profound ignorance of the essential qualities of the faiths
which are to be harmonized, and with a placid assumption that these
religions are of the same efficacy, only to different peoples, it is
impossible to see how Theosophy can ever render a service to any of
the faiths or to the people who are their adherents which will not
ultimately prove a disservice to all. Peace without truth, like peace
without honour, will not ultimately redound to the promotion of
religion or to the salvation of men.

Whatever Theosophy may render toward the development of an Oriental
literature will depend largely upon its attitude toward truth and
religion in general, and toward Hinduism and Christianity in
particular. Its bitter attitude toward Christianity in the past does
not encourage one to believe that hereafter the literature fostered by
it will be either very impartial or very sane. And yet we shall be
thankful for anything it may accomplish in the preservation of
Sanskrit manuscripts and in the development of a wholesome literature
of any kind on lines purely Oriental.



CHAPTER XIV

THE PROGRESS OF CHRISTIANITY IN INDIA


I

For at least seventeen centuries Christianity has found a home in
India. The Syrian Church was the first to gather converts, and it
still exists as a separate sect of 300,000 souls in a small part of
Malabar. Roman Catholicism, also, has had here its six centuries of
struggles and varied fortunes, and now claims its 1,500,000 followers.
On July 9, 1906, the Protestants celebrated the bicentenary of the
landing of their first two missionaries at Tranquebar, on the
Coromandel coast. Ziegenbalg and Plutscho were truly men of God, and
inaugurated a work which to-day has its ramifications in every part of
this vast peninsula.

They introduced a new era of missionary effort for India. Former
endeavours were ecclesiastical. Great men, indeed, had wrought for
Christ in this land; but their chief aim had been to establish a
religion of forms and ceremonies. In the matter of ritual in
religion, Hinduism has little to learn from, and has much to suggest
to, western ecclesiastics. The early failure of our faith to secure
marked and permanent success in this land finds its chief cause here.

Ziegenbalg began in the right way. He identified himself with the
people; he studied well their language, and hastened to incarnate his
faith in vernacular literature; and, above all, he proceeded at once
to translate into the language of the people the Word of God. Never
before had the Bible been translated into an Indian tongue. After
thirteen years of service, this great missionary died; but he left to
his successors the heritage of a vernacular Bible, which has wrought
mightily in South India for the redemption of the people. He also set
the pace for subsequent missionaries of his persuasion, who, in these
two centuries, have practically translated God's Word into every
important Indian dialect. The Bible in his own vernacular lies open,
inviting every native of India to-day; and in many vernaculars the
translation has been revised more than once. This stands as a notable
triumph of Protestantism during these two centuries in India.

The writer has a copy of one of the earliest Tamil books prepared by
these pioneers of our faith. These books have already grown into a
large library--the best-developed Christian literature in any
vernacular of the East. All over the land mission presses are annually
pouring forth their many millions of pages both to nourish and cheer
the infant Christian community, and to win to Christ the multiplying
readers among non-Christians. The press has already become, perhaps,
the most important agency in the furtherance of Christian thought and
life in this land.

One is impressed with the manifoldness of the work which began in so
much simplicity two centuries ago. The missionary is no longer the
preacher under some shady tree, addressing a few ignorant, ill-clad
peasants. He is actively engaged in all departments of Christian
effort. A Protestant mission is an elaborately organized activity,
pursuing all lines of work for the elevation of the people. It has not
only churches which engage in varied forms of pastoral effort; it has
also its staff of evangelists and Bible women who carry the message of
life to all the villages. In these missions there are not only 10,000
day schools, with their 375,000 scholars, besides 30,000 youth who are
in the 307 higher institutions. There are also thousands of young men
and women, in many institutions, undergoing careful preparation as
teachers and preachers. There is also the medical host who treated
2,000,000 patients last year; there are industrial institutions under
well-trained men, peasant settlements for the poor oppressed ryots,
and schools for the blind and the deaf-mute. There is hardly an agency
which can bring light, comfort, life, and inspiration to men which is
not utilized by modern missions in India.

[Illustration: A CHRISTIAN VILLAGE SCHOOL IN SOUTH INDIA]

But the progress of these two centuries has been chiefly on lines
which defy the columns of the statistician and elude the ken of the
ordinary globe-trotter.

The number of people that have been brought to Christ, and who now
represent Protestantism in this land are, indeed, far fewer than might
have been expected. A round million of a community after two centuries
of effort among a population of 300,000,000 is not a thing of which to
boast. And this may seem the more discouraging when it is remembered
that there are now engaged in this work ninety-one different
missionary societies of many lands, and supporting a missionary force
of 4000 men and women. There is also a native Pastorate of 1100
ordained men, with a total Indian agency of 26,000 men and women.

So great a force of workers would, indeed, warrant us in expecting
larger results in conversions.

But it should be remembered that this agency is chiefly the product
of the last few decades only, and is now multiplying in numbers and
increasing in efficiency at a very rapid rate. At the present time,
fully 200 of the Indian agents of our missions are university
graduates, and a still larger number are of partial college training.

The Indian Christian community itself, though in the main of low
social origin, has made remarkable progress in education and manly
independence. It is, already, perhaps the best-educated community in
India. And it is feeling increasingly its opportunities and its
obligations. It was only recently that its growing sense of national
importance and its duties led it to organize a "National Missionary
Society," which is directed by Indian leadership, supported by Indian
funds, and its work is to be done by India's own sons. This society
enters upon its career very auspiciously, and is not only symptomatic
of present conditions, but is also pregnant with hope for the Indian
Church of the future.

It took many years to lay deeply the foundation of our mission
organization. Indeed, the foundation is not quite completed. And yet
the work of superstructure has already begun, and more rapid results
may now be expected.

But the more hidden and indirect results of Protestant Christian
efforts in this land encourage the Christian worker more than all the
direct results.

During the last century, at least twenty laws have been enacted with a
view to abolishing cruel religious rites and removing revolting
customs and disabilities, such as Hinduism, from time immemorial, has
established among the people. These laws were enacted in the teeth of
opposition from the religious rulers of the land, and, in more cases
than one, led to serious riot and religious fanaticism. But the
growing spirit of Christ in the land could not tolerate these
heathenish customs; so they had to go.

The new spirit which has taken possession of the classes in India is
in striking contrast with the spirit of the past. The new education,
imparted on modern lines, in thousands of institutions scattered over
the land, has brought its revenge of sentiment upon former thinking
and believing. Western philosophy has had a noble share in the
achievement; and the schoolmaster has been a pioneer in the work of
transforming the sentiments and ideals of the people. The holy men of
India,--the ecclesiastics,--by their conservatism, have lost all
influence over the many thousands who have passed through the
universities, and who represent the intelligence, culture, and
advancing power of India.

It is no empty boast to claim that our mission schools and colleges
have had a conspicuous share in this work of enlightenment, and in the
transformation of popular and fundamental thoughts and sentiments.

The religious unrest of the day is one of the most prominent features
of this advance. It is true that, during the last few years, there
passed over India a peculiar wave of religious reaction in favour of
old Hindu conceptions and ancient rites. But these are entirely the
result of a new and vigorous, though not sane, patriotism. A loud cry
of "_Swadesha_" (homeland) has swept over the country. It demands
affection and acceptance for everything that is of the East, and the
opposite sentiments for things western. All that is of Hindu origin,
and everything of eastern aspect, is, for that very reason, regarded
as sound and delectable. Of course, this reaction has found its widest
utterances in matters religious; and Hindu men of western culture
to-day will applaud, though they will _not_ practise, religious
customs and ideas which were laughed at by their class a quarter of a
century ago. As a matter of fact, however, this wild Orientalism is a
thing which should neither be discouraged nor condemned. It needs
balance and sanity; but it is a true expression of the awakened
self-assertion and the dawning sense of liberty among the people. In
time, the movement will become chastened, and will throw off much of
its present folly. It will then render for India and its redemption
more than anything else has in the past.

In the meanwhile, however, there is a quiet revolution, both religious
and social, doing its blessed work in all sections of the community.

New religious organizations have sprung into existence and are winning
followers among the best members of the community. The Brahmo Somaj
and various other Somajes furnish, as we have seen, asylum and rest
for many men of culture who have abandoned polytheism and all that
pertains to it. The Arya Somaj appeals to, and gathers in, men from
all ranges.

Social reform has its organizations and its gatherings all over the
land where the Hindu orator finds abundant opportunity to denounce the
social evils which are a curse to all the people; and, alas! then
returns to his home, where he meekly submits to these same social
tyrannies which dominate his own family. What India needs to-day, more
than anything else, is even a small band of men who are imbued with
convictions and who are willing to die for the same. India's
redemption will be nigh when it can furnish a few thousand such men
banded together to _do_ something or to _die_ in the cause of reform.

It is Protestantism which has laid growing emphasis upon the ethical,
rather than the ecclesiastical, aspect of our faith; and to this fact
can be attributed most of its influence in the development of this new
life and thought.

Of course, the British government has politically and socially
represented and promoted these ideas. It could not do otherwise and be
true to its own principles. Its influence has been the most pervasive
and marked in the development of what is best in thought and truest in
life.

Perhaps no change has overtaken Protestant missions during these two
centuries greater than that which has transformed the missionaries
themselves. There is a wide gulf between Ziegenbalg and Carey. There
is a still wider one between the Carey of a century ago and his
great-grandson who is a missionary in North India to-day. In devotion
and zeal for the Master, they are all one; but in their conception of
Christianity, of Hinduism, and of the missionary motive, they are
much wider apart than many imagine.

It should also be remembered that Protestant missionaries, as a body,
are no longer isolated from each other and animated by mutual
suspicions and impelled by petty jealousies, as in the past. Their
development in amity, comity, and organized fellowship, even during
the last decade, is marvellous. Federation and organic ecclesiastical
union are becoming the order of the day. Four denominations of America
and Scotland are now perfecting such a scheme in South India; and this
is only the beginning of an ever expanding movement for Christian
fellowship all over the land. No one knows what grand results it will
achieve. We all know, however, that the fraternal regard, sympathy,
and confidence is far removed from the sad divisiveness of the past,
that it is pregnant with blessing in the coming of the Kingdom of God,
and that it is far in advance of the spirit of union which prevails in
England or America. In this we believe that the East is to open the
way for the West.

These and many other facts encourage those who look to the speedy
Christianizing of this land. And yet we cannot, I repeat, ignore the
fact of the relative meagreness of the results. It is a sad truth
that the total Protestant Indian community, at the present time, is
only one three-hundredth part of the population!

I would not be pessimistic, however, even in this matter of numerical
growth. In the past, we have too much made a fetich of figures, and
our faith has been too much pinned to statistics.

But the lessons of history must be well learned and thoroughly
digested, if the future of Christianity is to improve upon her past in
India. For, be it remembered, Christianity never met with so doughty a
foe as that which confronts it in this land. The ancient faiths of
Greece and Rome, which Christianity overcame, were infantile and
imbecile as compared with the subtle wisdom and the mighty resistance
of Brahmanism. The conditions of the conflict in India are different
from those ever met before by our militant faith. The subtle and
deadening philosophy of the land, the haughty pride of its religious
leaders, the great inertia of the people, the mighty tyranny of caste,
the debasing ritual of Hinduism and its debauching idolatry,--all
these constitute a resisting fortress whose overthrow seems all but
impossible.


II

And yet I strongly believe in the ultimate triumph of our faith in
India. Under God this mighty fortress of Hinduism will capitulate. Nor
do I think that the day of Christian dominance is so far away as many
missionaries are inclined to think. There is an accumulation of forces
and a multiplication of spiritual powers which are now operating in
behalf of our faith and against the ancestral religion of India, such
as will work wonders in the future religious development of the land.
But this conquest of our faith will not be that which too many of us
are wont to anticipate and to pray for. The religious forms of life
and of thought, which we of the West have inherited and in whose
environment we have grown up, we have come to identify with the
_essence_ of our religion; and it seems all but impossible for us to
think of a Christianity apart from these outward forms. I believe that
there is to be a rude awakening for our children and grandchildren, if
not for ourselves, in this matter.

The western _type_ of Christianity will not survive the conflict in
India. Western modes of thought and forms of belief will be supplanted
by those better suited to the land. Occidental doctrines and aspects
of our faith will give way to those conceived from the Oriental
standpoint. I believe, for instance, that the most mischievous
doctrine of pantheism will surrender its elements of truth (for it has
an important admixture of truth) to the formation of a new conception
of God, which will appeal to and captivate the Indian mind and heart.
Indeed, we are witnessing, this very day, even in the far West, the
influence of India in her monistic overemphasis upon the divine
immanence, working toward a new Christian conception of God. Modern
interchange of thought is thus giving to India, even in America, her
influence in the shaping of modern belief. And if it be thus in
matters of fundamental belief, much more will it be so in matters of
outward expression and in the unessential forms of Christian truth.
Some of us of the West are seeing increasingly the serious incongruity
which exists between our way of thinking and of putting our thought
into living form, and the way of the people about us. And we are not
convinced, as we perhaps once were, that it is the obtuseness, or the
religious perversity, of the Indian mind which is the cause of this.
The sooner the better we realize that between the people of the East
and of the West there is a wide mental gulf which may, indeed, by our
associating together, be narrowed, but never eliminated. And the
outward type of Christianity, after western pressure has been taken
away from this land, will depend upon the mental make-up and peculiar
spiritual aspect of the Indian Christian. And until he is able to
furnish and to enforce this, which I call the Oriental type of
Christianity, he will never be able to make his faith appeal to his
brothers, and to make it an indigenous faith in India.

Nor do I think that the Christianity which is to prevail in India will
be encased in the present ecclesiasticism which assumes and claims
monopoly of our faith. I can conceive the possibility of there being a
vast amount of Christianity--a living and a self-propagating
Christianity--outside the pale of organized and institutional
Christianity in India. It is so in the West to-day. The organized
churches of the West have within themselves an ever diminishing
portion of the vital Christian life and aspirations of the country.
Christianity has overleapt ecclesiastic bounds. Its spirit is
overflowing, in living streams, into the life of a thousand
organizations which are altruistic and philanthropic, outside the
limits of ecclesiastical Christianity. It will be so in India, and
throughout the world. And the Christian Church must take this into
account and shape its policy accordingly.

However this may be, East Indians will increasingly claim, as the
Japanese are now claiming, the right to decide for themselves the
forms of polity and the types of ritual which they will choose and
cultivate as their own.

I do not say, of course, that the present forms will be entirely
discarded. But they will be so modified and supplemented that they
will present an ecclesiastical type of their own.

And why should they not, if our faith is to fit well the Oriental
mind, and is to become a gracious power in its life? The growing
opposition among the educated men of India, at the present time, is
not really antagonism to Christianity itself, but to its western garb
and spirit. And there is much reason for this attitude of mind.
Conciliation and adaptation has not been the characteristic of the
mind of the West in presenting its faith to the East. This did not
make so much difference, so long as the Indian was submissive and had
not waked up to the spirit of self-assertion. But to-day, when that
spirit is so rampant, and when a new nationalism and a half-spurious
patriotism glories in everything eastern and is annoyed by all that
is western, the matter of adaptation has become all-important.

The relative barrenness of our faith during past centuries in India
was largely, if not entirely, due to its foreign ecclesiastical forms
and its shibboleths pronounced in foreign tongues. The Christianity of
the future in India must breathe of the spirit, and speak forth in the
language and life, of the people.

I am inclined to believe that the battle cry of the Christian Church
will soon be lost in the ever swelling tide of enthusiasm for the
Kingdom of God. Christians will seek less to promote this or that
denomination, and more and more to cause to come in power the Kingdom
of Heaven. And India is a land which will lend itself very readily to
this transfer of emphasis. There is much in the mystical type of the
Hindu mind that leads us to anticipate preëminence for India in this
change of emphasis from outward organization to deep-working spiritual
forces and realities.

India, which has been the most prolific land in giving birth to
religions, and in being at present the asylum of all the great faiths
of the world, will not be slow to give to Christianity that form and
aspect which will most please her.

It is therefore important that all the Christian leaders of India
should not only take note of these facts, but should also do their
utmost to help in the desired consummation, and make Christianity in
India a faith that will appeal to every man and woman in the land.


III

The conquest of our faith in India will be not the less, but the more,
thorough, because it will be not only of the letter but also and
chiefly of the spirit.

There are a few things which are fundamental to our faith, and which
will become the universal and permanent possession of India.

1. The spirit and principles of Christianity will prevail and will
dominate the land. Christian, as distinct from Hindu, principles are
already making wonderful headway in the country. Many new institutions
have been organized in the land, whose principles are those of Christ,
and not of Manu. Even the oldest institutions of the country are
becoming affected by the desire to appear modern, which really means
an ambition to introduce Christian methods and principles. Educated
Hindus, especially, add to this the peculiar weakness of interpreting
things Hindu by a Christian terminology. The philosophy which they
have imbibed and the standpoint to which they have been accustomed are
western and, chiefly, Christian. So that when they study their own
faith they do so with these Christian prepossessions; and even when
they defend their ancestral religion, they really defend not the
indigenous product of India, such as is taught by the Hindu pandit and
believed by the mass of the people, but Hinduism Christianized and
clothed in the garb of the West and spoken in the accents of a
Christian.

Hindu Swamis, who have been educated in Christian mission schools, and
have spent a few years in the far West, surrounded by a Christian
atmosphere, imbibing Christian sentiments, and unconsciously adopting
the Christian viewpoint, return to India upon a wave of popular
excitement and give public addresses and receive the plaudits of their
grateful countrymen. But what is it that such men as Vivekananda and
Abhedananda, and all the rest of the _Ananda_ tribe, teach upon their
return to India? It is certainly not an orthodox Hinduism, nor is it
the pure philosophy of the East. It is rather a strange compound in
which Christianity figures as prominently as does Hinduism, and,
perhaps, more conspicuously. What was the caste system recently
enunciated by Abhedananda in Madras? It is certainly not a thing
known in India by that name. And I have no doubt that his whole
audience smiled when he presented his conception of a caste system so
foreign to all Hindu ideas and practice. It is just so with his
Vedantism, and with his interpretation of all the religious teachings
of this land. They are now construed in terms foreign to the rishi and
to the pandit. But (and this the point I wish to emphasize) these
interpretations meet increasingly with the applause and acceptance of
educated Hindu audiences. In other words, a Christian colouring and
glamour thrown over Hinduism is adding to its popularity in the land.

In the general way of looking at religious things, and especially of
apprehending religious thought, there is to-day almost as wide a gulf
between the educated and cultured Hindu, on the one hand, and the
authorized religious instructors of India, on the other, as there is
between the same learned man of the East and the thoughtful man of the
West.

Or, if we look at the multiplying institutions of the country, which
truly represent the thoughts and sentiments of the leading people of
India, we can easily see that they are imbued with non-Hindu, if not
anti-Hindu, ideas and motives. The various Somajes and other religious
movements, which mean so much in the life of India to-day, are more or
less an endeavour to interpret life from a non-Hindu standpoint, which
often means a Christian standpoint. In any case, the religious reform
movements of India at the present time breathe largely the spirit of
rebellion against old Hindu conceptions.

When we think of such important movements as that of Social Reform, we
can see the spirit of Christianity completely dominant, and in sharp
antithesis to Hindu teaching and ritual. The Social Reform movement in
India is the spirit of Christianity, trying to express itself with as
little offence as possible to orthodox Hinduism, and yet constantly
antagonizing its deepest principles and eating into its very vitals.

The two forces which, next to direct Christian effort, do most for the
promulgation of Christian principles in this land, are the public
schools and the government itself. The educational system which now
prevails, and which is growing in power, is distinctly a promoter of
Christian thought and principle. We often call these schools godless;
but we do them an injustice. Their work may be largely negative; but
their teaching turns the mind of the young away from the silly
superstitions and the absurd practices of popular Hinduism, and
establishes modern conceptions, which, indeed, are Christian
conceptions of life and of conduct.

The government is, in an important sense, established upon Christian
principles; and in all its administrative processes exemplifies the
Christian, as distinct from the Hindu and Brahmanic, view of justice
and of right conduct; so that, if one were able to perceive clearly
the spiritual forces at work in the institutional and social life of
India, he would see not only that the foundation, but also that
largely the superstructure, is becoming Christian in its character.

2. In the second place, the Christ Ideal of Life is acquiring ever
increasing attraction and power in the land. India has never possessed
an incarnated ideal of her own. No god in all her pantheon, and not
one among all her noble sages, has ever posed before the followers of
Hinduism, or has ever been thought of by Hindu devotees, as the
exemplar of men and the ideal of human life. To many thousands who are
outward members of the Hindu faith, and who would not dream of being
baptized into institutional Christianity, Jesus Christ has become the
Ideal of Life. He represents to them that moral type of perfection
and ethical nobility of manhood to which they daily aspire. Krishna
may be praised by the millions, notwithstanding his immoralities; and
Rama may be extolled and even loved for his limited virtue; Yudhistra
may be called "Dharman," notwithstanding his unrighteous passion for
the dice. But Christ only, in the eyes of modern educated India,
stands the perfect test of character. All over the land, Hindus of
culture, of serious thought, and of ambition to reach after high
ethical standards see in Jesus Christ the only inspiration and
immaculate example of life that all history, myth, and legend present.
And there is not a town in India to-day where there are not found
these men of power and influence who are studying eagerly the life of
Jesus, are pondering over the Gospel narratives; and are reading such
books of Christian devotion as Thomas à Kempis's "Imitation of
Christ." This last-named book is now being translated by a Brahman
gentleman, a friend of the writer, and published by a Hindu firm for
its Hindu readers! I have known such men for many years, and am
assured that their tribe is increasing; they are men who for the first
time have found the deepest yearnings of their soul answered in the
example of Jesus.

Ask any of them for their reason, and they will tell you that Christ
is of the East, like themselves, and that His example appeals to them
with unique power.

In India, the ideal of life has been one of restraint. Starting with
the conviction that human life is an unmixed evil, the restraint of
passion and the elimination of every human emotion (the best as well
as the worst) has been to the Hindu the goal and consummation of life.
Nothing can be more inadequate than this; and the Hindu is beginning
to feel it. Jesus represents Culture _and_ Restraint. With him the
restraint of the lower passions is with a view to the culture of the
higher. The man of sin must die, that the man of God may live and
prosper. This is the Christ ideal, as opposed to the Brahmanic. And
the leaven of this ideal of life is spreading all over India and is
transforming the aspirations of millions. There is nothing more
inspiring or comforting than the assurance which we have that the
Christ life is becoming the dominant ideal among the classes of India,
as it is to a less degree among the masses.

A Brahman gentleman had the presumption to say to me, recently, that
he and his fellow-Brahmans and other Hindus were able to understand
the Christ much better than we of the West. He also claimed that they
could understand the deep significance and the delicate shading of
His thought better than we who are not of the East, like them. As a
man who had taught and had tried to live the Christ in this land for
more than a quarter of a century, I smiled at the audacity of his
remark. And yet I knew that that man had visions of Christ that I had
not; and that he has a fondness for Thomas à Kempis's book, beyond,
perhaps, what I myself possess. There are aspects of the teaching and
of the life of Jesus which appeal more powerfully to his Oriental and
deeply mystical nature than they can possibly to the minds of all
western men. Of one thing, however, I am assured; namely, that there
is a growing host of Hindus in high position, and in low, who are
enamoured of that ideal of life which our Lord taught and exemplified;
and the fact that they interpret that life differently from myself
causes me less sorrow than it does a desire to understand better their
standpoint of appreciation.

3. I believe also that the Incarnation of our Lord, in its uniqueness
and supreme power as the true manifestation of God, is finding rapidly
increasing appreciation among the people of India.

India is the land of a myriad incarnations. The doctrine has run to
seed, as it were, among this people. They are burdened with the excess
of their eagerness to find God, and with their manifold imagination
in giving Him form and earthly existence. There is no doctrine in
Hinduism which has been carried to such a _reductio ad absurdum_.

Hindus to-day would gladly accept Christ as one of Vishnu's
incarnations, if Christians would permit. I am not sure but that the
tenth incarnation of Vishnu was meant to represent Christ. In any
case, their growing familiarity with Him is gradually creating in
their minds a disgust with the monstrosities of their own
incarnations. Many of them are learning that God's Incarnation in
Christ is the only one which has "descended" to the earth for the
spiritual uplifting and redemption of our race; and, therefore, that
it is the only incarnation which has within itself the seed of
permanence and of universality. The petty, grotesque, and local
"descents" of India will satisfy no one in these days of growing
breadth and union, when the people are aspiring after an all-India
nationality.

In Christ only is India finding the perfect revelation of God, because
He alone revealed Him as the Father of boundless love; God, the Father
of all men, loving them with an infinite passion and seeking them even
unto death,--that is the message of the Christian Incarnation. And
how strangely does it contrast with the moral obliquity and selfish
indifference to human interest which characterize Hindu incarnations!
In Christ do we find that God is the ever present, personal, loving
Father, seeking to bring home again His lost children. He is supremely
just and holy as Ruler and Provider; but His justice and holiness are
illumined and transfused by His love. And as the Eternal Spirit He is
striving in the hearts of men to bring them to Himself. This is the
incarnation which is gaining ever increasing power in this land and
whose worship is spreading from Cape Comorin to the Himalayas.

4. The cross of Christ will be accepted in India as the highest
expression of God's love to man.

It is true that, among many Hindus to-day, as among the Greeks and
Jews of old, the cross of Christ is an offence and a stumbling-block.
The idea of vicarious atonement runs counter to the long-cherished
doctrine of _Karma_. And it is possible that the universal prevalence
of the _Karma_ doctrine in the land will give to the doctrine of
atonement the same one-sided aspect which it has obtained among many
Christians of the West, in the present day, whereby the element of
vicariousness, or its God-ward efficiency, has been considerably
eliminated. They may remain content to consider the cross merely as a
supreme manifestation of love, as that part of the divine example
which has infinite power to attract men toward the highest life of
lowest service and self-effacement. However this may be, at present,
the cross in India has more significance than the trident to the
Hindu. And the language of the cross appeals with increasing force to
all men of thought. And I am encouraged to think that the modern
commendable habit, among educated Hindus, of harking back to the
oldest and the best of their religious writings, may carry India away
again from its emphasis upon _Karma_ to the original, pre-Buddhistic
idea of vicariousness, when, for instance, in the _Purusha Suktha_ of
the Rig Veda, the _Purusha_ is represented as being sacrificed by the
gods. In the _Brahmanas_, also, it is said that the _Prajabathi_
sacrificed himself in behalf of the gods.

Indeed, it has been well said that the doctrine of _Karma_ itself, as
connected with the doctrine of transmigration, carries within itself a
strong element of vicariousness; since the person suffering in this
birth knows nothing of the experiences of a supposed previous birth,
and is, therefore, suffering for a past of which he is ignorant and
for which his conscience cannot hold him responsible.

5. I believe, also, that the Christian conception of sin is gaining
ever widening acceptance in India and will ultimately prevail as
against the Hindu idea.

The doctrine of atonement and the doctrine of sin are intimately
related; where the atonement is ignored or slighted, the conception of
sin is apt to lose its ethical content and to become formal. India,
through Buddha, abandoned, largely, its long-cherished principle of
vicariousness and the multiplicity of its sacrifices. The consequence
has been the gradual emasculation of the principle of atonement, until
the word has become emptied of content and degraded so as to mean only
the eating of a filthy pill because of a certain ceremonial
uncleanness, which all the best people of the land know to be no
uncleanness whatever.

It is natural, under these circumstances, to see the idea of sin also
cease to have reference to moral obliquity and violation of ethical
principles, and to refer only to intellectual blindness and (more
commonly) to ceremonial laxness and ritualistic malfeasance. It is not
surprising, therefore, that under this double departure from the
truth, conscience should have lost its place of importance and of
authority to so large an extent in this land.

But the day of better things has dawned upon India. The ethical
concept and the moral significance of life are beginning to grip India
very thoroughly. And I believe that the day will soon come when sin
will cease to be connected with intellectual delusion and ignorance,
and also with ceremonial irregularity, and will be recognized in its
true moral hideousness as a thing of will, and not of intellect, a
thing of deepest life, and not of puerile ritual.

Thus, with the coming of Christ and the emphasis of western thought
and western civilization upon moral integrity and nobility of
character, there is growing also a vision of sin in its right colour
and perspective. The gradual training of the people in British law and
in the social ethics of the West, and in the true meaning of the
righteousness of the Kingdom of God as promulgated by the Christian
faith, will, erelong, drive out the old pantheistic idea proclaimed by
Vivekananda, when he said that the only sin that man was capable of
was the sin of regarding himself as a sinner! It will also make it
impossible for murderers to excuse themselves, as one did recently to
our knowledge, as he was led to be executed, by saying that it was not
he, but the god within him, that slew the man!

India is really passing through a quiet, but, nevertheless, a mighty
ethical revolution. Its fundamental principles of morality and of
religion, as the interpreters of life, are being rapidly transformed.
Christianity is sowing everywhere its seed of life and of character,
as they are exemplified in the perfect life of Jesus, and are
elaborated in the four Gospels, in comparison with which the message
of the four Vedas and of all subsequent Hindu literature is but as the
dark and feeble groping of the blind after light.

These, then, are the five fundamental aspects of our faith which are
among the eternal verities and which have come to India smiling with
the impress of universality, and which are finding gradual acceptance
in all portions of the land. These represent what one has aptly called
"Substantive Christianity," as distinct from "Adjectival
Christianity," which men are prone to overemphasize and to exalt unto
the heavens. This latter we may love and cherish and promote with all
our hearts; but it is sectional, partial, and transitory. The former,
on the other hand, is abiding, and will shine throughout the ages of
eternity. It will grow in influence and increase in its prevalence
throughout this land until we all can say, with the late Chunder Sen,
and with much more assurance than he, "None but Jesus is worthy to
wear this diadem, India; and He shall have it."



INDEX


Abhedhânanda Swami, 431.

Abul Fazli, 311.

Agra, 42, 308.

Akbar the Great, 50, 311.

Aligharh College, 331.

Allah Upanishad, 319.

Almsgiving in Islam, 324.

Altruism in Hinduism, 183.

Amritsar, 61.

Amritsar District, 335.

Animism, 210.

Arjuna and his Vision, 154, 161.

Arnold, Sir Edwin, 49.

Aryans and Caste, 94.

Aryans of the East and the West, 23.

Arya Somaj, 400-404.

Asceticism, the Way of, 171, 215, 228.

Asia, the Mother of Faiths, 344.

Asoka's Pillar, 57.

Astrologer, 251.

Astrology, 217, 299.

Âthi Somaj, 383.

Âtma Doctrine, 167.

Âtma Sabha, 380.

Aurangzeeb, 307, 312.

Auspicious Days, 218, 299.

Avidia, 170, 223.


Bande Mataram, 3.

Baptist, Americans, 84.

Barber's Wife, Midwife, 271.

Barrows, Dr. J. H., 126.

Beatitudes, the, 369.

Beef Eating, 126.

Benares, 66.

Bengal, Partition of, 2.

Bengalees and Caste, 145.

Besant, Mrs., 406, 409.

Bhagavad Gita, 152, 189.

Bhagavad Gita and Bhakti, 182.

Bhakti, 181.

Blavatsky, Madame, 405.

Boh Tree, the, 368.

Bombay, 39.

Boycott, 2.

Brahma, 279.

Brahma Gnana, 170, 223.

Brahmo Somaj, 380-400.

Buddha, 227.

Buddha and "Saint Josaphat," 341.

Buddhism, 69.

Buddhism isolated, 375.

Burma's Produce, 73.

Burmese Women, 80.


Calcutta University, 6.

Caste and Commerce, 134.

Caste and Contact, 109.

Caste and Inter-dining, 107.

Caste and Intermarriage, 105.

Caste and its Results, 129.

Caste and Totemism, 114.

Caste and Occupation, 98, 112.

Caste Decadence, 144.

Caste Penalties, 115.

Caste System, 17, 22, 91-151, 177, 199.

Caste unknown in Burma, 84.

Census, 313.

Census on Caste, 96.

Chaitanya, 377.

Chakkerbutty, Professor, 259.

Characterization of Caste, 102.

Child Marriage, 214, 260.

Chinese, 109, 284.

Christ and Buddha, 338-373.

Christ Ideal, 434-437.

Christ Incarnation, 225, 437.

Christ, the Cross of, 439.

_Christian College Magazine_, 202.

Christian Effort for Mohammedans, 333.

Christianity and Caste, 149.

Christianity--its Progress in India, 412-443.

Chunder Sen, Keshub, 382.

Civilization, Western, 7.

Cleanliness of Hindus, 267.

Clothing, Hindu, 268.

Congress, National, 8.

Contradictions in Bhagavad Gita, 187.

Cooch Behar, Maharajah, 384.

Crossing Theory of Caste, 100.

Culinary Arrangements in Hindu Home, 268.

Cycles of Hindu Time, 286.


Dalhousie, Lord, 210.

Dancing Girls, 106, 212.

Dante's Inferno, 206, 212, 357.

Debendra, Nath, 381.

Dedication of a House, 244.

Delhi, 53, 308.

Deportation, 20.

Detachment, 179.

Devil Worship, 206.

Dharma, 346.

Dowry and Marriage, 260.

Dravidians and Caste, 101.

Dravidians and Devil Worship, 34.

Durgai Pûjei, 315.

Dutch Conquest, 38.

Dayanand Saraswati, 400.


Eclecticism, 156.

Education, 6.

Educational Works of Protestants, 414.

Eliot, George, 372.

Epicure, Hindu, 268.

Eschatology of Hindu Shastras, 185.

Evolutionist, 196.


Fate, Doctrine of, 329.

Fetichism, 209.

Financial Statement, 13.

Fish Incarnation, 226.

Frazer, J. G., 114.

Fuller, Sir Bampfylde, 18.

Funeral Ceremonies, 272.

Furniture of a Home, 245.


Ganesh, 201.

Golden Temple, 65.

Government and Caste, 148.

Greek Images, 200.

Greeks, 276.

Grierson, Dr., 319.

Guru Kula, 403.


Hindu Architecture, 33.

Hinduism amorphous, 194.

Hinduism, Higher, 106, 190.

Hinduism, Popular, 190-219.

"Hindus as they are," 243, 257.

Hindus not Historians, 282.

Home Life of Hindus, 242-275.

Horoscope, 261.

House Building, 243.


Ibbetson, Sir Denzil, on Caste, 97.

Ideal, Divine, in Hinduism, 223.

Ideals, Hindu Religious, 220.

Idolatry, 176.

Idol whipped, 176, 205.

Iliad, 153.

Imaduddin, Dr., 335.

Immorality in Hinduism, 210.

Incarnation, Hindu and Christian, 163, 200, 225.

India, the Mother of Faiths, 30.

Irrawaddy River, 72.

Islam and Caste, 325.

Islam in India, 302-337.

Islam, its History in India, 305.

Islam Purists, 327.

Islam Unitarian, 309.


Jainism, 41.

Japan, 2.

Japan's Victory, 5.

Japanese, 197.

Jesus an Asiatic, 394.

Jesus and the Pharisees, 348, 351.

Jewels, Love of, 285.

Jews of Cochin, 38.

Jogendra Nath Bhattacharya, 130.

Joint Family System, 246.


Kali, 195.

Kali Yuga, 276-301.

Karens, 85.

Karma, Doctrine of, 359.

Kauravas, 154.

Kipling, Rudyard, 21.

Knowledge, the Way of, 169.

Kohinoor Diamond, 50.

Ko San Ye, 87.

Krishna, 155, 165, 195, 291.

Kuruchetra, 154.


Lala Lajpat Rai, 20.

Laws abolishing Hindu Rites, 419.

Legislative Councils--Enlargement of, 28.

Length of Hindu Time System, 277.

Liberation, Doctrine of, 169.


Madura--its Temple and Palace, 32.

Madwachariar, 377.

Mahabharata, 153.

Maha Yuga, 279.

Mandalay, 78.

Manu, 281.

Marriage not a Sentiment, 260.

"Masters" of Theosophy, 409.

Metempsychosis, 236.

Moderates, the, 10.

Modern Religious Movements, 374-411.

Mohammedan Loyalty, 15.

Mohammedan Population, 302.

Mohammedanism, 42, 140, 302-337.

Moral Character of Time, 292.

Mother-in-Law, 264.

Mourning in a Hindu Home, 272.

Mozumdar, Protab, 386-391.

Mutiny, the, 1.


Nana Sahib, 107.

Nanak Shah, 319, 378.

Natesa Sastri, Pundit, 293.

Native Doctors, 270.

New Dispensation, 399.

New Dispensation's Creed, 396.


Obscenity, Law punishing, 210.

Occupational Theory of Caste, 98.

Odyssey, the, 153.

Olcott, Colonel, 405, 408.

Omens, 217.

"Oriental Christ," 391.

Origin of Caste, 93.

Outcastes of Panjamas, 208.


Pagoda, the Land of the, 73.

Pal, Bepin Chandra, 12.

Pandavas, 154.

Pan Islamic Movement, 332.

Panjaub--its Difficulty, 18.

Pantheism, 160.

Pariahs and Hindus, 209.

Parliament, Members of, 7.

Parsees, 40.

Pax Britannica, 312.

Pessimism, Hindu, 217.

Plutscho, Rev., 412.

Polygamy of Mohammedans, 320.

Polytheism, 199.

Prakriti, 159.

Prayaschitta, 120.

Press in India, the, 11, 21.

Prosperity in India, 14.

Protestantism and Caste, 143.

Protestantism, its Bicentenary, 412.

Protestant Missionary Force, 414.

Proverbs about Women, 253.

Puranas, 156, 277.


Quietism, 233.

Quran, the, 318.


Rahu Kala, 300.

Railroads and Caste, 147.

Rajputana Mohammedans, 316.

Ramachandra, 281.

Ramayana, 157, 281.

Ram Mohun Roy, 379.

Rangoon, 72.

Religious Theory of Caste, 95.

Renunciation, 233.

Revenue of Government, 13.

Rishis, 295.

Risley, Sir H., on Caste, 102.

Robson, Dr., 322.

Romish Missionaries, 284.


Sadhârana Somaj, 385.

Sâdhus, 215.

Saivites, 158.

Sakti Worship, 212.

Salvation in Hinduism, 184.

Sarnath, 69.

Sati, 255-257.

Sâyuchya, 171, 229.

Schools and Caste, 148.

Schwey Dagon, 74.

Sedition, 12.

Shah Jehan, 45, 307.

Sham, a Huge, 232.

Shiahs, 327.

Shradda, 273.

Sidhartthan, 342.

Sikhs and their Faith, 62, 319.

Sin, Christian Conception of, 441.

Site of a House, 243.

Siva's Trident, 300.

Sleeping on the Floor, 246.

Social Reform, 26, 98, 419.

Social Theory of Caste, 97.

Soothsayers, 97, 251.

South India Islam, 317.

Statistics of Indian Faiths, 31.

Sunnis, 327.

Superstitions of Islam, 315.

Swadesha, 420.

Swami, Hindu, 198.

Sword of Islam, 306.

Syrian Church, 34, 140, 412.


Tantras, 156.

Taxation in India, 14.

Temple Cars, 211.

Theebaw, 79.

Theism, 378.

Theism unsatisfying, 398.

Theosophical Society, 404-411.

Thomasians, 35.

Totemism and Caste, 114.

Towers of Silence, 40.

Transmigration, 362.

Travancore, the Land of Charity, 34.

Travancore Maharajah, 111.

Travel in India, 31.

Tribal Theory of Caste, 96.

Triumph of Christianity, 425.

Triumph of Christian Principles, 430.


Ultimate Salvation in Hinduism, 235.

Universities and Politics, 20.

University Graduates, 6.

Usury, 323.


Vaishnava Cult, 158.

Vedantic Philosophy, 156.

Vishnu, 279.

Visishdadvaitha, 376.

Vivekananda, Swami, 126, 431.


Western Christianity inadequate, 240.

Western Medical Science, 271.

Wherry, Dr., 311.

Widows, Hindu, 213, 263.

Williams, Sir Monier, 321.

Women in Hinduism, 213, 252.

Works, Doctrine of, 174.


Yama, 257.

Yoga Philosophy, 156, 172.


Ziegenbalg, 412.

       *       *       *       *       *





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