ITS LIFE AND THOUGHT
JOHN P. JONES, D.D.
AUTHOR OF "INDIA'S PROBLEM, KRISHNA OR CHRIST," ETC., ETC.
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.
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TO MY DEAR CHILDREN
BRAVELY AND CHEERFULLY ENDURED
THE SEPARATION AND THE LOSS OF HOME
FOR THE SAKE OF INDIA
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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.
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I. INDIA'S UNREST
i. Extent of the Movement
ii. Causes of Unrest
iii. Conditions of Unrest
v. How shall the Unrest be Removed
II. THE HOME OF MANY FAITHS
Hinduism—Madura and Benares
Christianity—Travancore and Cochin
Mohammedanism—Agra and Delhi
III. BURMA, THE BEAUTIFUL
The Extent of the British Empire
Burma's Triple Produce
The Land of Pagodas
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
iii. Penalties of Caste
Caste Servants Interdicted
V. THE HINDU CASTE SYSTEM (Continued)
iv. Occasions of Punishment
Change of Faith
Marrying a Widow
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
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
2. The Doctrine of the Living Soul
3. The Doctrine of Liberation
(1) Through Knowledge
(2) Through Asceticism
(3) Through Works
4. The Doctrine of Salvation
VII. POPULAR HINDUISM
i. The Higher Faith
The Evolution of Faith
ii. Popular Hinduism
7. Treatment of Woman
8. The Hindu Ascetic
9. Hindu Pessimism
VIII. HINDU RELIGIOUS IDEALS
i. The Ideal of God
ii. Ideal of Incarnation
iii. Ideals of Life
iv. Ultimate Salvation
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
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
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
Islam's Attempt at Reform
Islam's Redeeming Qualities
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
iii. The Teachings which differentiate Them
1. Teaching concerning God
2. Their Conceptions of Human Life
3. Their Ideals of Life
Character and Wisdom
XIII. MODERN RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT
i. Hindu Sects
ii. Modern Movements
Ram Mohan Roy
iii. Progress of the Movement
Weak in Numbers
"The Oriental Christ"
Chunder Sen's Words.
The New Dispensation
iv. The Arya Somaj
Its Antagonism to Christianity
v. The Theosophical Society
Its Reactionary Spirit
XIV. THE PROGRESS OF CHRISTIANITY IN INDIA
i. Early History of Christianity
The Character of the Christian Community
Influence of Christianity
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
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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
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
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INDIA: ITS LIFE AND THOUGHT
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 regime 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.
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.
[Footnote 1: The principal faiths of the land, with their adherents, were as follows, according to census of 1901:—
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.
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 reenforced 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 cortege 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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
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.
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 Brahm!
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.
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 reembarks 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 preeminently 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!
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 regime. 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!