Krishna or Christ
John P. Jones, D.D.
of Southern India, A. B. C. F. M.
New York, Chicago, Toronto
Fleming H. Revell Company
Dedication. Preface. Chapter I. The Land And The People. 1. The Physical Features of That Land. 2. The People. 3. Economic Conditions. 4. Social Life. (a) The Family. (b) Society. 5. The Educational System. 6. The Political Situation. 7. The Government of India. 8. The Mission of Great Britain in India. Chapter II. The Religions Of India. (a) Judaism. (b) Mohammedanism. (c) Parseeism. (d) Buddhism. (e) Jainism. (f) Sikhism. (g) Hinduism. (a) Incarnation. (b) Vicarious Atonement. (c) Spirituality. (d) Eschatology. (e) The Doctrine of Faith. Chapter III. Hinduism And Christianity Contrasted. 1. In their Initial Conceptions. 2. Their Ultimate Aim or Goal. 3. The Agency and Means Recognized and Appealed to by those Faiths Respectively. 4. The Processes of These Two Religions. 5. The Ideals of the Two Faiths. 6. The Credentials of the Two Faiths. 7. Other Distinguishing Traits. Conclusion. Chapter IV. The Products Of The Two Faiths In India. The Hindu And The Native Christian—A Study. 1. And First, The Hindu. 2. Let us Now Study The Native Christian. Chapter V. The Women Of India. Chapter VI. The History Of Christian Effort In India. Chapter VII. The Missionary. 1. Physical Fitness. 2. His Methods of Life. 3. The Intellectual Ability and Educational Training of the Missionary. 4. Spiritual Qualifications. 5. The Missionary's Attitude Towards the Non-Christian World. 6. The Relationship Which the Missionary Sustains to the Missionary Society and the Churches Which Support Him. 7. The Missionary and the Mission To Which He Belongs. 8. The Relation of the Missionary to the People Among Whom He Lives. Chapter VIII. Missionary Organization. (a) The Evangelistic Department. (b) Pastoral Work. (c) The Educational Department. Schools for Non-Christians. Schools for Christian Children. Training Institutions for Mission Agents. (d) Literary Work. (e) Medical Work. (f) Work for Women. (g) Work for the Young. (h) Organizations for the Special Activities of the Native Christian Community. Chapter IX. Present Day Missionary Problems. Chapter X. Missionary Results. Chapter XI. Missionary Results—(Continued) Index. Footnotes
To My Wife Without whom the following pages could not have been written.
"Yes, it shall come! E'en now my eyes behold, In distant view, the wish'd for age unfold, Lo, o'er the shadowy days that roll between, A wand'ring gleam foretells th' ascending scene. Oh, doom'd victorious from thy wounds to rise, Dejected India, lift thy downcast eyes, And mark the hour, whose faithful steps for thee Through Time's press'd ranks bring on the Jubilee!"
The following pages are, practically, the result of a course of lectures given, on the Hyde foundation, at the Andover Theological Seminary in the fall of 1902. Some of the chapters were also used in lectures, delivered during the year, at the Yale and Hartford Theological Seminaries and at the Western Reserve University. Small portions have appeared in Reviews and Magazines but have been much changed in the transfer. The cordial welcome accorded the lectures, including an expressed desire that they be published, has led to their appearance in this more permanent form.
India should be better known to Europe and America. I trust that the following pages may help the student to understand the vast country and to realise the greatness of the problems connected with Christian work in the land; may they also stir within many a strong desire to present Christ to that great people, and inspire a hope in the ultimate and speedy triumph of our cause in the land of the Vedas.
I gratefully express my indebtedness to the Rev. J. L. Barton, D. D., for his valuable suggestions and kindly sympathy, and also to the Rev. W. P. Elwood for his kind help in proofreading.
John P. Jones.
Pasumalai, So. India.
THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE.
No country in the Orient is of greater interest to the West today than is India. It is picturesque in its life, wonderful in its history, remarkable in its present conditions and fascinating in its promise for the future.
It is a land most worthy of study both for what it has been, for what it is and for what it is to become; as the arena for the greatest conflict upon which our Faith and Civilization have ever entered; and for their most magnificent triumph in the world.
Moreover, India is now peculiarly wedded to the Anglo-Saxon race. For good or for evil the destiny of that country, socially, politically, intellectually and religiously, is linked with that of the Anglo-Saxon; and we, as a part of the Anglo-Saxon race, cannot, even if we would, shake off our connection with, and responsibility for, it.
1. The Physical Features of That Land.
It is a very extensive land. More a continent than a country, it stretches, from east to west, a distance of 1,900 miles; and it extends the same distance from the Himalayas on the north to Cape Comorin on the south. It covers an area equal to one-half of that of the United States.
It is physically divided into three portions. The first, on the north, includes the Himalaya Mountains, which separate it from the rest of Asia and which furnish an important element in the meteorological conditions of the country. Then from the base of this mountain range extend the plains of the great rivers which issue from the mountains themselves. Again, from the southern boundaries of these plains gradually rises a very extensive three-sided table-land reaching towards the coast on both eastern and western sides, and extending to Cape Comorin on the south. There may be added to this the narrow strips of coast-land on the east and west. In the land are found some of the greatest and most wonderful rivers in the world. The Ganges, which is the queen of Indian rivers, carries life and fertility to a population greater than that of the whole United States. After a course of 1,557 miles it empties, into the Bay of Bengal, 1,800,000 cubic feet of water per second, which is half as much again as the water of the Mississippi, and nearly six times as much as that of the Nile at Cairo.
It is a land wonderful in the variety of its climates. It is difficult to imagine greater contrasts than those existing between the various climates of India—from the eternal snows in the north to the fierce and constant heat of the tropics in the south; from the practically rainless expanse of the western plains of Sind to the 600 inches of rainfall which deluges the eastern mountain slopes. No land is more extensively cultivated and none gives more fruit in return for human labour than India. The Ganges, by the abundant silt which it carries, brings fertility and fruitfulness to its valleys. Even the plains of Sind, which are nearly rainless, are transformed into life by large irrigation schemes.
Rice, wheat and millets are the three staples of the country. In the north, wheat furnishes sixty per cent. of the cultivated area. This total area under wheat cultivation in India is estimated to be equal to that of all the wheat-fields of the United States. One-fourth of the population of India lives on rice; and various kinds of millets represent fifty-two per cent. of the whole cultivation of the land. Though the methods of cultivation there are primitive and the implements used inadequate for best results, yet through the rich climatic conditions and the persistent efforts of the people the land normally yields an abundance of good things for the support of its inhabitants.
2. The People.
The people of India number, according to the census of 1901, 291,236,000—about one-fifth of the inhabitants of the globe. This population represents more races than are found in the whole of Europe. Besides many small tribes, it has eleven nations, the least of which numbers 2,250,000 souls. Of these nations seven are of Aryan, and four of Dravidian, extraction; and they differ in physique, temperament and language. Between the sturdy Aryan on the north and the degraded primitive people on the plains of the south there is a great gulf. Between the clever and subtle Baboo of Bengal and the war-like Marahtta of the west, the bold, spirited Pathan in the north and the passive but enduring Dravidian in the south, there are many intermediate classes which furnish wonderful diversity of character and temperament. Among these people there is not, and cannot at present be, a sense of oneness. Until recently their whole civilization tended to emphasize their divergence, to broaden the breach between them and to cultivate a perpetual, mutual jealousy and hatred.
The languages spoken by these people are, according to the census of 1891, seventy in number.(1) Of these the Sanskrit is the oldest, and may truly be called the mother tongue of the country. It is one of the most ancient languages in the world, with a history of more than 3,000 years. It is strong, pliant, expressive—a worthy vehicle of noble thought and religious aspiration. Though not spoken today by any tribe or people, it is not a dead language, for it is the religious tongue of India. The best thought, the deepest philosophy, the highest religious aspiration, the laws, customs and legends of the people are treasured in that tongue. All who would know the religious life and thought of India at its best and in its sources, should study Sanskrit. From it have sprung many of the languages of Modern India. In the northern and northwestern parts, the Aryan tongues find supremacy. Although these languages differ greatly among themselves, their source and vocabulary is mainly Sanskrit. Of all Indian languages, the one most widely spoken is the Hindi—88,000,000 people use it as their mother tongue. Forty-one millions speak Bengali, 18,000,000 speak Punjabi, 19,000,000, Marathi, 11,000,000 speak Gujurathi.
The Dravidian languages of South India are entirely separate from the Aryan group, their source and character being Turanian. These languages are Tamil, Telugu, Kanarese and Malayalam. Fifty-three million people speak these tongues alone.
The inhabitants of India are an ancient people. When thirty centuries ago our ancestors were grovelling in the lowest depths of primitive savagery, our fellow-Aryans of India were enjoying a civilization of their own, which was, in its way, unique and distinguished. Their philosophy shows testimony to their ancient glory. It may truly be said that their chief glory is to be found more in ancient than in modern times. It is a people whose progress has, in some respects, been backward rather than forward, and whose boast is rightly of what they have been rather than of what they are.
It is a conservative people. India is a land where custom is deified—the past is their glory. Today, we are living, they say, in the iron age (Kali Yuga), in which righteousness is all but lost. Hindu law has conserved the past—it exalts past observances above those of the present. Under such a system all innovations are out of place, individual ambitions are crushed. To resemble their ancestors is the summum bonum of their life.
The inhabitants of that land are a rural people. Unlike western countries, India has very few large towns. Nine-tenths of the whole population live in villages of less than 5,000, four-fifths live in villages of under 1,000 inhabitants. The average village of India today contains 363 inhabitants. During the last few years the tendency has been towards towns. But the large increase in the population is still to be seen in rural regions. In India two-thirds of the villages have less than 200 inhabitants each, while 1,000 have from 5,000 to 10,000 inhabitants. Notwithstanding this fact, the population, in some parts of the country, is very dense. The whole of Bengal furnishes 360 persons to the square mile, and in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh the total per square mile rises to 416.
Owing to modern methods of sanitation, to peace and to general prosperity, the population has grown and is growing rapidly.(2) There is already one person to every two acres of land in the country; and under the British Government the prosperity of India is largely measured by the growth of the population; and this in turn seriously increases the difficulty of providing for the wants of the people. Indeed it has become one of the hardest problems which confronts the Indian government; and the difficulty is considerably enhanced by the religion of the country which demands that every man and woman marry and add to the population, regardless of any question as to health or even sanity. In India the first privilege and duty of man and woman is supposed to be the propagation of their kind.
3. Economic Conditions.
One of the most marked characteristics of India is its poverty. The people, as a whole, have always been extremely poor. There has been some wealth in the land; but it has not been evenly distributed. While a few nabobs have enjoyed immense treasures, the people, as a whole, have grovelled in the lowest depth of penury and want. There is better distribution of wealth today than ever before; and yet the poverty of the masses continues to be a serious feature of the land. "Its finance lies at the base of every difficulty connected with our Indian Empire," is the remark of Sir Charles Dilke. And at the base of the finance difficulty lies the poverty of the people. It is a well known and lamentable fact that one-fifth of the population, say sixty millions, are insufficiently fed even in ordinary years of prosperity. They are the ever ready prey of the first drought, distress or famine that may happen. It is a not uncommon experience of the ryot (or farmer) to retire at night upon an empty stomach. The average income of the common labourer in India is between four and five rupees, or, say, $1.50 per month.
Most of this evil which the people endure is self-imposed. They reveal a combination of blind improvidence, reckless expenditure and an unwillingness to shake off impoverishing customs. For instance, the debt incurring propensity of the native is akin to insanity. All the poor people with whom I am acquainted are bound hand and foot by this terrible mill-stone. And the interest paid upon loans is crushing. Two and three per cent. per month is an interest commonly received. It is rare that a poor farmer who gets into the clutches of the money lender regains his freedom. It usually leads to the loss of all property and means of support. Under the ancient Hindu law no money lender could recover interest upon a loan beyond the amount of the principal which he had advanced; under the present rule he can recover to any extent, sell the tenant's crops and even take possession of the land under a judgment decree. It is one of those instances where justice in law is made to minister unrighteousness and cruelty in life. The people moreover are given to the most extravagant expenses at marriages and funerals. It is frequently the case that a man spends upon the marriage of his son or daughter, the latter especially, more than a whole year's income. I know of many who are overwhelmed by debts incurred for the marriage of their children; and the saddest thing about it is that they have little option in this expense; for it is prescribed by caste custom.
Add to this the rank growth of religious mendicancy, under the fostering care of religious teaching and superstition. There are five and one-half millions of such lazy, worthless fellows encumbering that land today. The mass of them are sleek in body and pestilential in morals. Whenever a man finds work too hard, he dons the yellow cloth of the religious mendicant and becomes an immediate success. But alas for the community! Hindu charity is proverbial, but it is blinder than love itself. Such a body of worthless consumers would tax even a wealthy land. To India it is a dreadful burden and drain.
Add to this the insane passion for jewels which consumes both high and low. Millions of rupees' worth of gold flows into the country annually, and most of it is melted and converted into personal adornments for women and children. For this purpose nearly one-half million goldsmiths, according to the last census, are employed and make a comfortable living at an annual expense of ten million dollars. This is a much larger force of workmen than that of all the blacksmiths in the land.
The litigious spirit of the people is also phenomenal. It is doubtful if any other people on earth spend, relative to their means, more in legal processes than the Hindus. In view of all these facts, Sir W. W. Hunter's statement that "The permanent remedies for the poverty of India rest with the people themselves" is eminently true. It is further emphasized by the remarks of Sir Madhava Rao, K. C. S. I., one of the very few statesmen whom India has produced among her own children: "The longer one lives, observes and thinks," he says, "the more deeply does he feel there is no community on the face of the earth which suffers less from political evils and more from self-inflicted, self-accepted, or self-created, and therefore avoidable, evils than the Hindu community."
Famine is an oft-recurring and most perplexing evil with which India has always been familiar. In times past, it was the gaunt Avenger which decimated the people and which kept down the population within the range of tolerable existence. The god of dirt and insanitation carried away the unneeded residue left by famine. Famine is one of the very few evils before which human power stands helpless. The government has done very much by irrigation schemes and by the building of railways to mitigate this evil. By famine funds and relief works it strives, as it did the last famine, to reduce the mortality and suffering arising from these seasons of drought. But the constant penury of the people, and the fact of their always living upon the verge of hunger and want, make it almost impossible to save many from the terrible result of such visitations. Perhaps there is no other thing, at present, which occupies more of the time and thought of the Imperial Government than this; but, to drive entirely away this hideous demon from a land which is peculiarly liable to drought, and while the people are chronically unprepared to meet the least extra drain, is more than can be expected from any government.
The railroads of the land are manifestations of the material progress which meet one on all sides. In the extent of its railroads India is the fifth country in the world. Already the splendid railway system, upon which travel is as comfortable as, and perhaps cheaper than, in any other country in the world, has extended 23,000 miles and reaches the remotest parts of the land. These throbbing arteries carry life and enterprise to all portions of India; and many regions not yet made thus accessible will soon listen to the neigh of the iron horse and feel the pulsations of new life thereby. Three hundred million pounds sterling have been expended in this work alone.
But better, if possible, than these roads is the rapidly developing irrigation system which brings security of life and works prosperity wherever it reaches. Nearly 14,000,000 acres are now cultivated under this system. This includes fourteen and eight-tenths per cent. of all cultivated land in India. One great enterprise in this line is the "Peryar Project" of South India which was large in its conception, perfect in its execution and is rich in its blessings. It consists in the diversion of a large river which vainly poured its treasures down the western mountainside into the Arabian Sea, and causing its waters to flow into the eastern plains to fertilize the thirsty land as far as the Bay of Bengal. It embraces the second largest dam in the world, a tunnel one and one-fourth miles through the mountain, and many miles of distributing channels. It will irrigate at least 150,000 acres for rice cultivation and will feed 400,000 people. I live in the heart of the region thus fertilized and refreshed, and know the joy of the residents who also stand astonished before the magic power of these white people who do for them what, they say, even their gods failed to accomplish. It is well to remember that these irrigation schemes, now found in India, are much the most extensive in any country.
Looking at her commerce during the Victorian reign alone, we see a growth of 1,000 per cent. in the imports and exports of India. The export of tea has risen from nothing to 70,000 tons, and that of cotton from nothing to 220,000 tons. There are now in the land 150 cotton-mills with 150,000 labourers. Three million tons of coal are annually mined, and gold mines yield L1,000,000 sterling every year. It may, indeed, be said that India has now, for the first time in its history, taken a place as a land of manufactures, trade and commerce.
4. Social Life.
The contrast between the social life of the East and that of the West is marked. Problems that today stir this land to its depth have no existence in India. The conservatism of India is proverbial. The Hindu people have been kept back from all progress, so that questions arising about human rights and liberty have not begun to be mooted there. The thousand problems of our land are the direct result of the emphasis which our civilization has given to human rights and individual freedom and the equality of men. India has thus far denied to the individual those rights and liberties which are deemed elementary and fundamental in the West. Its emphasis has always been upon the rights and privileges of Society as a corporate body. It has ignored entirely the claims of the individual and has prevented him from enjoying his inalienable rights in any division of society. This may be seen in the two great departments of life in that land.
(a) The Family.
The family systems of the East and of the West are essentially different. In India the Joint Family System prevails. According to this system members of a family for three generations live together and have all things in common. No member of the family can claim anything as his own. It is the old patriarchal system and emphasizes the rights of the family as a whole, and denies to any individual member separate possession or privileges. This system has had a long day in India; but, as western ideas are spreading, dissatisfaction is manifestly increasing, especially among the educated classes. The recent introduction to the Madras Legislature of the so-called "Gains of Learning Bill" is the first serious attack made upon that system. By means of this bill, which was introduced by an orthodox Hindu, but which is not yet passed, an educated man could claim exclusive right to ownership of all properties acquired by him through his education. Thus, for the first time in India an individual might claim, apart from the family, that wealth which was acquired by himself. This bill has brought opposition from the public, because it conflicts with the rights of the joint family, and is a serious blow to all the old Hindu family privileges. The Hindu joint family system, while it has been a source of some blessing to the land, has also been a serious curse in that it has fostered laziness, dissension and improvidence, and has put a ban upon individual initiative and ambition.
Child marriages have been an unfailing source of evil to the land. Of this Sir John Strachey says: "It would be difficult to imagine anything more abominable than the frequent consequences of child marriages by which multitudes of girls of ten to twelve or less are given over to outrage; or, if they belong to the higher class of Hindus, are doomed to lives of degraded widowhood."
The Indian government has endeavoured to remove this evil; but at all points it has been opposed not only by conservative, orthodox Hindus, but also by educated members of the community. No system can degrade the womanhood of a race, nor, indeed, for that matter, its manhood, more than that which marries its girls in childhood and which consigns millions of them to wretched widowhood. One of the consequences is that girls of even twelve years are known to become mothers in that land, while very few attain the age of eighteen without bearing children. An increasing population under these physical conditions cannot be a healthy or a vigorous one.
In India, Society is almost exclusively the product of the ancient caste system. A more elaborate social system than this was never known in the world. It is an order of social tyranny of the worst sort, whereby every man is compelled to give up his own individuality and to be bound to the iron will of an ignorant community: a will also which is based upon the past and conforms to the rules and habits of peoples who lived in remote antiquity. No greater millstone could be hung around the neck of any people than that of the multitudinous caste rules of Manu and later accretions which are the all in all of Hindu life. There may have been good in this system in the past, and it may have conserved some blessings of antiquity; but today it is the worst tyranny and the greatest curse that has blasted the life of the people. It is the source of their physical degeneracy, for it compels them to marry within narrow lines of consanguinity. It has cursed the people with a narrow sympathy; for no man in that system deems it his duty to bless or help those beyond his own caste. It has sown poverty broadcast over the land; for it prohibits a man from engaging in any work or trade which is not prescribed by caste rules and customs; and thus has brought many to penury, want and famine. When the caste-prescribed occupation or work is not available, the suffering is very great.
It has brought stagnation to the people by restraining every man who had ambition to move forward and improve his prospects in life. The whole village regards as conceited a young man of the outcastes who seeks to rise in life; they soon bring him low. Progress is impossible under the caste system.
In like manner, it has fostered the pride and presumption of one class and destroyed the ambition and aspiration of the other. No people on earth today are more proud than the Brahmans; none more hopelessly abject than the Pariahs and other outcastes.
It has also made national unity and the spirit of fellowship impossible in the land; large corporate interests are impossible for the people. The castes of the community are filled with jealousy and are mutually antagonistic; each division having rules and ceremonies which make it impossible for communion of interests with others. Many would like to see it removed; but the system itself has created such abjectness of feeling among them that they dare not come forward to stem its tide or oppose it.
5. The Educational System.
Ignorance still rests like a pall upon that land. According to the census of 1891, out of a total population of 261,840,000, 133,370,000 were males. Of these, 118,819,000 were analphabet. Including boys under instruction, only 14,550,000 could read and write. Of the 128,470,000 females only 740,000 could read and write or were being instructed. In other words, only eleven per cent. of the males and a little more than one-half of one per cent. of the females were in any sense literate. In Madras, we find the greatest progress; but even there eighty-five per cent. of the male and ninety-nine per cent. of the female population are illiterate. In Oudh, on the other hand, corresponding figures are ninety-four and very nearly one hundred per cent. When it is remembered that the Brahmans, who constitute only five per cent. of the total population, include seventeen per cent. of the literate class and more than twenty per cent. of those who know English, it can be understood that the illiteracy of the common people is still greater than that indicated by the above figures.
Considerable effort has been made by the government to educate this immense population. It is seriously handicapped in this endeavour by want of funds. The State does not largely enter into the establishing of schools of its own; its policy being to give grants in aid to private bodies on the basis of results achieved. And it contents itself with the establishing and conducting of relatively only a few schools of its own which shall serve as models and as a stimulus to the private aided institutions. More than three-fourths of the education of the land is thus conducted by private bodies which are encouraged by the government through its grants in aid. There still remain not a few indigenous or, so-called, "piall" schools. Educationally, these schools are of little value, as their training is both antiquated in kind and extremely limited in quantity. They are interesting because they reveal to us the old educational methods of the land. Schools on modern lines, however, by coming under government surveillance, for the purpose of receiving grants in aid, are conducted much more efficiently, and attain results worthy to be compared with those of western lands. The chief feature of the educational system, controlled, examined and aided by government, is the emphasis given to an English training. From the second year of instruction, the English language grows annually in importance in the curriculum of studies. In the grammar school it becomes compulsory and in the high school and college it is the sole medium of the communication of knowledge. The English language is emphasized also because it is the test for admission even into many of the lowest of the numberless offices in connection with government service; so that the study of this language of the West has become to young India practically a necessity and a craze. People of the lowest conditions in life pawn and mortgage their property and involve themselves in terrible debts for the sake of giving their sons an English education.
Christian missions constitute one of the principal bodies which engage in the training of Hindu youth. One-ninth of all the school children of India are found in mission schools. This number includes 330,000 boys and nearly 100,000 girls. In the training of girls, Protestant missions have not only been pioneers; they are also today much the most prominent and efficient educators of the women of the land. Their girls' schools and colleges are not only the most numerous, but also the most efficiently conducted and thoroughly managed of all institutions for women in India. The Madras Christian College for boys and the Sarah Tucker Woman's College of Tinnevelly are among the best institutions for those classes in India. The educational system of India culminates in the five Universities of Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, Allahabad and Lahore. These are not instructing, but simply examining universities like the University of London. With these the 140 colleges of two grades and of various degrees of efficiency, are affiliated. In these colleges are found 18,000 students of whom more than 5,000 graduate yearly. The city of Calcutta is a city of many colleges and has more college students, relative to its population, than almost any city of the West.
Though the masses of the people, and especially the women, are still, as we have seen, grossly ignorant, yet every year encouraging progress is being made in spreading the blessings of, and in creating a taste for, education. Every year natives themselves enter more largely into the educational work and find in it not only a living, but noble scope for their activities. Among the higher and cultured classes there is a growing body of young men, besides the ambitious few from the lower classes, crowding into the higher institutions of the land. It is one of the problems of the day to direct the mind of this increasing army of university graduates to other professions than the overcrowded government service. There is a persistent feeling among these youth that it is the business of State to supply them with lucrative posts upon their graduation. And it is the disappointed element of this class which furnishes so many of the discontented, blatant demagogues who are almost a menace to the land.
Yet this educational work is one of the potent, leavening influences of the country, and is helping greatly in carrying quietly forward one of the mightiest revolutions that have been witnessed in any land. In its train follows closely the social elevation of the people. The relaxation of the terrible caste system, the elevation of woman and her redemption from some of the cruelties and injustice of the past, immediately attend that expanding knowledge which results from the schools of the land.
Protestant missions are preeminent in their work of educating the Christian communities gathered together by them.(3) Though these communities are largely drawn from the lowest outcasts, yet they compare favourably, in their educational equipment, with the highest classes. This is a significant indication of their present, and a bright promise for their future, position among the people of India.
6. The Political Situation.
India today is politically a subject country. Though in one sense England did not directly subjugate India, it is nevertheless true that its inhabitants, though treated with large consideration, are today a subject people—ruled by a foreign nation 7,000 miles away. Hence, it might be expected that political rights and privileges would not prevail there as among a self-governing, entirely independent, people. The existence of an army of about 75,000 Britons in that land today is significant of the situation and partly reveals one grip with which Great Britain holds India and makes it a part of her great empire. I do not wish to minimize the moral power with which also, and increasingly, Great Britain draws India by sweet compulsion to herself; of this I shall speak later.
It should also be remembered that the genius of the Orient is not for self-government; in the East, people have little taste for free institutions; they have always craved, and found their greatest happiness and chief welfare in, a strong paternal government. The ordinary Hindu seeks for himself nothing higher than a government which, while not asking for his opinion concerning its policy and acts, will at least dispense a fair modicum of justice to him and his.
Notwithstanding all this, the Indian government has bestowed upon the people a wonderfully large meed of power and privilege. Political progress in the land is one of the marvels of the past century. Before the British entered India that land had never enjoyed the first taste of representative institutions. Today the query which arises in the mind of disinterested persons who know and love India is, whether political rights and liberties have not, of late years, been conferred too rapidly upon them. It should not be expected that a people who, by instinct and unbroken heritage, are the children of the worst kind of autocratic and absolute government, should acquire, in one age or century, wisdom or aptitude to rule themselves. The mass of Hindus love to be led and they follow easily.
But there is a small and growing party of the soil who have aptly learned many of the lessons taught them by the rulers. The best acquired of all these lessons is that of the power of agitation and of the efficacy among the Anglo-Saxon race of the cry for human rights. The only difficulty is that one might suppose, from the language of some of these men that England has not yet conceded to worthy Indians any of those political privileges which every Anglo-Saxon citizen demands for himself. As a matter of fact, we see in the municipalities of that land a form of popular government such as even not all western countries enjoy. The power of the franchise, in the election of municipal commissioners, is vested in all those who are possessed of the least amount of property. Even women enjoy the franchise; and it is a curious fact that the natives of South India have recently protested in the newspapers against the granting of this power to women, because, they say, the power is exercised only by "dancing girls" and other public characters. To those who watch carefully the working of this right of municipal franchise and see how easily and speedily the natives have adopted all the vices and tricks of the system, it does not by any means seem an unmixed good. And the hardest critics of the system that I have met have been intelligent and loyal Indians who believe that this meed of self-government is fraught with evil. The District Boards also are composed almost entirely of native gentlemen, and they have large powers in the administration of the internal affairs of the land. Moreover these municipal and local bodies, together, elect members for provincial legislative bodies where they enjoy recently enlarged powers for interpellating the government—a power which, by excessive use or abuse, they may soon forfeit.
To all this must be added the freedom of the press, which also has recently been abused by the dissemination of disloyal and seditious sentiments, but which adds immensely to the powers of the people.
Then the "National Congress" is a peculiar institution which, while it gives scope to the political aspirations of many natives, adds, by its very existence, to the lustre of the British Raj in the land. Just imagine for a moment the existence of such a Congress under Russian rule! It is true that this Congress, which meets annually in some great city of the land, has no connection with government or legislative bodies and has only that power and influence which inhere in its deliberations and resolutions. It is also true that up to the present it has given itself largely to the criticism and abuse of government. By this it has alienated some of its best friends. Still, even as a public censor it has doubtless done good, and offers to the discontented a wholesome vent for pent up feelings. It is also a remarkable gathering in its numbers of cultured men and illustrates one of the wonders which Great Britain has accomplished in that land. To think, that out of the babel of Indian tongues there should gather together in one place annually some 5,000 native gentlemen to discuss questions of State, and to criticise one of the most modern of governments in the pure English accents of Addison or of Macaulay! What a wonderful object lesson of progress this!
Nor is Great Britain as remiss or as selfish as many would lead us to believe in the distribution of the loaves of office. There are only 122,661 male Britishers in that land (including the army)—one to every 2,500 of the population. Of these, only 750 are found in the higher offices of government. In the Provincial Services 2,449 natives are employed in high judicial and administrative posts. It is a significant fact that out of 114,150 appointments, carrying Rs.(4) 1,000 annually, ninety-seven per cent, are in the hands of natives. To all offices, below that of the Governor of the Province, natives are eligible. As Judges of the High Court and as Members of the legislative bodies not a few Indians are found; as they are also in the Indian Civil Service which was so long exclusively filled by Anglo-Indians. It hardly appears how England can hold that great land to herself, as a member of her empire, with fewer of her own citizens than are now found at the helm. Nor does it yet appear that a strong, efficient and acceptable government can be maintained there by a large reduction of this force. I use the word "acceptable" advisedly; and it is certainly the business of Great Britain to discover and consult the wishes of the people—not of the hungry office seekers—in this matter. After many years of observation and of living among the people, I am convinced that nine-tenths of them are prepared any day to vote in favour of the relative increase, and not the decrease, of the European official force. The people have found them to be just and honest; they know that they can be depended upon to administer justice with an even hand and that they are incorruptible. In their own native officials they have no confidence. They have found, alas, too often that justice is sold by them to the highest bidder. The "middle men" who arrange such matters are too commonly known as the accompaniments of the native courts of justice. It is true that some native judges are above such venality. But I know how general is the want of native confidence in native officials. Many a time have I been importuned to use my influence to have cases transferred from the jurisdiction of the native to the Englishman. And the reason invariably given is that "The white man will not accept bribes and will give justice." Indeed, it may be said that the chief difficulty which confronts the Government in its great work is that of saving the people from low, mercenary and unprincipled native officials—especially those of the lower and lowest grades.
The police department is corrupt to the core. The common people dread the policeman as they do the highwayman; for the constable rarely touches a case without making money out of the transaction; and he is expert in manufacturing cases.
What India needs today, above all else, is an honest, faithful, efficient class of officials. The presence of a few English dignitaries found there is worth ten times its cost to the land, purifying and toning up the service.
Considering the political situation as a whole, I confidently maintain that the people of India enjoy political rights and privileges quite as extensively as they are prepared wisely to exercise them. No people anywhere enjoy larger privileges, relative to their ability to use them wisely; and no subject people on earth have ever been treated with larger consideration by their conquerors, or have been more faithfully trained to enter upon an ever increasing sphere of opportunity and of self-government. The political situation in India today—in the privileges and rights which the people enjoy—is a marvellous testimony to the wisdom and unselfishness of Great Britain in her Indian rule.
7. The Government of India.
The government of India is perhaps the most elaborate in the world; the highest powers of statesmanship have been manifested by the successive rulers during more than a century in the development of a State which is extraordinary no less in the complication of its provisions and details than in the wise adaptation of human laws to meet the multitudinous exigencies of this great conglomeration of peoples. It should also be remembered that British statesmen in their work of legislation in India, and in their coordination of laws, have not only had to consider the manifold character of the different portions of the population of the land; what is more difficult still, they have been compelled to ingratiate themselves with the Indians by conserving, so far as possible, those myriads of ancient laws and customs which obtain there. The laws of Manu and of other writers of twenty-five centuries ago have been handed down by this people through the ages and have accumulated authority and reverence with increasing time, until today all Hindus regard them as divinely given and as possessing irresistible claim upon them for all time. So that, while it may be said on the one hand that the laws of India are largely built upon western foundations, and savour of Christian principles and modern ideas; it should also be remembered, on the other hand, that the dicta of ancient Hindu lawgivers find a large place in the legal codes of that land.
Yea, even more than this is true. There are a host of caste rules and customs which have no further sanction than the fact that they have become customs, and yet which have been dignified with the authority of law. This is of course due chiefly to the fact that most customs in India have a religious basis and interpretation, and therefore draw to themselves that sanctity and claim which belong to things religious. Thus, for instance, every caste in South India has its own marriage customs. Most of these are highly incongruous with modern ideas and rights, and most of them absolutely disregard the rights of the wife. And yet it has been deemed wise by the State to conserve and to give the sanction of law to these multitudinous marriage customs which are enough in themselves to constitute an extensive code.
Some conception of the magnitude of the work carried on by the Indian Government may be gathered from the following description by Bishop Thoburn:—"With a population greater than that of the five great powers of Europe put together; with a revenue exceeding $350,000,000; with a foreign commerce worth $768,000,000 annually; with a standing army 230,000 strong, more than two-thirds of which are composed of native soldiers; with a drilled police force of more than 150,000 men; with a code of laws in many respects superior to those found on the statute books of European countries; and with courts of justice as impartial and as faithfully conducted as any to be found in the world, India may well claim a place among the great empires of the present era."
The British Government has respected the possessions of native chiefs in whose hands still remain about one-third of the country. But these so called native territories are so largely under English control and guidance that we may well regard them as essentially a part of the British Domain.
The Secretary of State for India has practically the control of British Indian affairs. He, with his council in London, has the final word in Indian matters of paramount importance. Nevertheless, the Indian Government finds this power rarely antagonistic in matters whereon it has firmly made up its mind.
The British possessions in India are distributed into twelve governments, each separately organized and yet all of them constituting parts of the Supreme Government of India. This Supreme Government is administered by a Governor-General or Viceroy with whom is associated a Council of six members. This Council constitutes the Viceroy's Cabinet and each one has charge of a separate department of the government.
Of the Provincial Governments of India, the principal ones are the Province of Bengal with 71,000,000, under a Lieutenant-Governor; United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, with a population of 47,000,000, under a Lieutenant-Governor; Presidency of Madras, with 35,500,000, under a Governor; Presidency of Bombay, with 18,800,000, under a Governor; and the province of Punjab, with 20,800,000, under a Lieutenant-Governor.
The unit of government in India is the District. The whole of India is divided into 235 Districts. At the head of a District is placed an officer known as Collector, Senior Magistrate, or Deputy Commissioner, who is practically ruler of that division. He is the administrative representative of the government. In each District there is also a District Judge and a few other officers at the head of various departments. These Districts vary in size and population, covering areas from 14,000 to 1,000 square miles, and containing from 3,000,000 to 250,000 population. The average population of a District is 800,000. Nothing impresses the careful observer more than the large amount of responsibility and the multifarious duties which devolve upon these District officers. During recent years, however, authority has been withheld increasingly from Collectors and centralized in the Provincial Governments; for at the head of every Province also there is a government patterned somewhat after the Supreme Government in Calcutta.
No greater mistake can be made than to think that India is either crudely or poorly governed. Owing to the great poverty of the land it is extremely difficult to maintain so costly and elaborate a regime as the present one; and many claim that for the support of so expensive a luxury the people are taxed beyond their ability and resources. The taxation imposed by a government on its people is rightly considered, both in its extent and character, as a measure of the wisdom of the State. The critics of the Indian government are prone to dwell upon the alleged injustice of its taxes. It is, however, difficult to understand why this matter should be pressed unless it be on the ground, apparently maintained, that the poverty of the people should exempt them from any of the burdens of taxation—a theory beautifully generous to the people but fatal to the maintenance of any government. The salt tax does certainly seem cruel in its severe pressure upon the very poor; and yet it is the only one whereby this very large part of the community can be reached at all, and made to contribute its mite to the State which protects it.
Comparing present taxes with those of the past, we should certainly expect heavier imposts now, because the government furnishes today, as an equivalent of protection and blessing, infinitely more than former dynasties did. And yet Sir W. Hunter has ably shown from a comparison of taxes levied by the present government and by the Moghul government that the modern Hindu is vastly better off than was his ancestor of two and three centuries ago. Today, five and one half per cent. is collected in land tax; under the Moghul rule they had to pay from thirty-three per cent. to fifty per cent. Besides this, the Mohammedan imposed various other taxes, many of them upon non-Mohammedans as a religious penalty. Nor were the Hindu governments one whit better off; and even today the native states are much harder upon the people than is the British Raj.
The famine commission is the highest authority on the subject. In its exhaustive report of 1880 it writes:—"In the majority of native governments the revenue officer takes all he can get, and would take treble the revenue we should, if he were strong enough to exact it."
If we pursue the comparison to that of European peoples, Indian taxation would seem but a trifle. Placing even English taxes side by side with India's, we shall find instruction. The average income in the United Kingdom is L40, while the tax assessed is 44s, or five and one-half per cent. In India, alas, the average income is only 36s. But then the tax is only 1s, 9d per capita which is a trifle smaller per capita than that for England. Here again we are impressed with the reasonableness of the tax imposed.
The opium and liquor traffic in India is one which has drawn forth much criticism. From the moral standpoint the critics have a very strong case. The evil which the opium traffic of India has inflicted upon China—against her will too—has been enormous. The large army of opium eaters which it has created, only to destroy with a terrible death, has long been an argument to which no nation of England's position and pretensions can render satisfactory reply.
In like manner, the State monopoly of the drink traffic is neither honourable nor wise. It not only gives unwonted and unwarrantable dignity to a disreputable business, it also involves the State in the business of making a large army of drunkards in the land. To take up a traffic like this, for the revenue there is in it, is to trifle with the higher interests of the subjects and to become instrumental in the corruption and misery of the people whom it is bound to protect. It is questionable whether any other civilized government has involved itself in such unworthy means of creating a revenue. Doubtless, opium and drink represent, morally, the weakest part of this government. Of course, the all important defense lies in the revenue thus acquired. These two items of revenue flow more easily than any others into the depleted treasury of State. To give these up in behalf of what is termed sentiment, would necessitate the imposition of other heavy taxes. This is an aspect of the question which too easily silences and secures the acquiescence of the people of India. But, its evil is great and is spreading.
The drink curse is rapidly becoming one of the trying problems of India. It was slanderously remarked some years ago that if the English then left that country the only monuments left behind of their life would have been broken whiskey bottles! There is indeed ground today for the fear that if England were to abandon the land, it would leave, as the saddest monument of its past, an immensely increasing army of drinkers; and this evil is further enhanced by the mean ideal of life which the ordinary Englishman sets before Hindus by his passion for the cup. Half a century ago an Englishman died while on duty in the jungles in South India, and his body was there buried in the wilderness. The natives soon erected a shrine over his grave and, for a long time, offered, in true sobriety, whiskey and cheroots to appease his thirsty and unsatisfied spirit! It is not strange that the natives should recognize a continuity of spirit-taste in the here and the hereafter of the Sahib!
The recent utterance of the Archbishop of Canterbury on this subject should be heeded by the State. "The true principle of morals," he says, "is to have nothing whatever to do with that which is shown to be necessarily productive of evil. The English nation caused the opium evil in China and we are responsible for that evil. I also protest against the principle of raising revenue by temptations to evil. It might be right for a government to pause before interfering with private trade; but, in this case we ourselves are carrying on the evil trade. Such a thing on the part of a great government is, I think, without a parallel in the whole world."
The Army in India is a necessary but great evil in the expense which it involves to the government, no less than in the evil life which it leads among, and the evil example which it sets, the native community. Its influence is deplorable. It is the most vulnerable to attack of all departments of government, both on the score of expense and character. "Tommy Atkins" is the greatest trial to the Hindu, and brutally rides rough-shod over all his sensibilities. If he could only be left at home with safety to British interests in the land, it would help largely to improve the situation between the two races. It would also save England from the terrible disgrace of immorality which the army is instrumental in carrying as a plague wherever it goes. Awful indeed is the prevalence of the social vice in the native community itself; but the English Army spreads the demoralization in a most disgraceful way.
Considering the government as a whole, then, it is wonderful, both in the extent of its operation and in its numberless activities and agencies. Its purpose is generally noble, and its wisdom, both in the framing of laws and in general administration, has been most marked. The occasion of most of its failings and weaknesses is the poverty of the people whereby the government has, at times, been driven to subterfuges to avoid bankruptcy.
8. The Mission of Great Britain in India.
The British people are only today beginning to realize fully the wonderful mission which, under God's providence, they are called to fulfill in that great land of the Vedas. For nearly a century the commercial motive was not only paramount but was practically the only motive which impelled the Anglo-Saxon in his contact with India. Everything Indian had value in his eyes in proportion as it added to his revenues. For many years he excluded the Missionary of the Cross from his domains in the East, lest that good man should, by teaching the people, disturb the revenue of the Honourable East India Company. As the domains of this great company extended and its powers multiplied, the English nation gradually came to realize their own responsibility as a people to the land; and the Indians thus were brought within their influence. This contact and communion of interests became to them the voice of responsibility and of obligation to impart their blessings to them as well as to take their material resources from them. The dawn of the new altruistic sense towards its subject people, though long deferred, rapidly grew into full daylight; and Great Britain today feels, as no country has felt before, its privilege and duty to bestow upon its dependency in the East the highest and best which it can furnish.
The difficulty of England's mission in India is greatly enhanced by the difference which amounts almost to a contrast between her own people and the inhabitants of India. The striking difference of type and character existing between the Anglo-Saxon and the Hindu facilitates all sorts of misunderstanding between them, and aids perceptibly in making the path of the British Raj a very thorny one in the land. It would perhaps be impossible to find two peoples who are farther removed from each other in temperament and training—whose nature and antecedents are more irreconcilable at all points. While the Anglo-Indian is bold, frank and just, even to harshness, the Hindu is subtle, affable, practiced to dissimulation, with ready susceptibilities to temporize and to barter justice for expediency. On the one side, we see the Westerner haughty, unyielding and unwilling to conciliate; on the other we behold the Oriental willing to be trampled upon when it seems necessary, and to smile with apparent gratitude under the process; but, withal, possessed of a large inheritance of ineradicable prejudices, which make a contact with his too domineering Western lord an unceasing trial to him.
There is another point at which the two races are antipodal. The Briton is progressive to the core. He only needs to be assured that a certain course is right and for the best interests of the community, in order to adopt it. His face ever looks upward and his ambition is ever to go forward. But, in India he lives among a race whose chief divinity is custom and the gist of whose decalogue is, "Hold fast to the past." As they approach a proposed enterprise their first and last question concerning it is not whether it is right and best, but whether it is in a line with the past and would be approved by their ancestors. The whole country has been anchored for the last twenty-five centuries to a code of social laws and customs which are more unyielding than the laws of the Medes and Persians. With them conservatism is the acme of piety and propriety. All progress has been practically forced upon the country from without, and in the teeth of their most sacred institutions and their most earnest protestation and opposition. Thus the great difference between the two peoples has been a serious hindrance to the realization of British designs in that land.
Notwithstanding all this, Great Britain has patiently, persistently and doggedly carried on her work and pursued her highest ideals for India.
And what have been the ideals and blessings which she is seeking to achieve for that great land?
The first is that of Western culture and civilization. In these two particulars, England has introduced into India a perpetual conflict. Western ideas, processes of thought, points of aspect and ideals of beauty and of life have been gradually supplanting the very different ones of the East. Western life in India today is a constant challenge to the people to study, admire and appropriate its many features of thought and conduct; and India is not insensible to this call. The railroads and hospitals, the schools and sanitary projects which have been introduced by the West into that land are markedly transforming the sentiment and the life of the people. The contrast between the people of India today and of a century ago is all but complete in this respect. While the educational institutions of the land are revolutionizing the thought, the more material elements of civilization are transforming the outer life of the people.
England also is imparting to India the Anglo-Saxon conception of right, of law and of justice. In order to know how widely apart the East and West were in this respect, one should live in India a few years. The idea of equal rights to all the people, of freedom of speech, of liberty of conscience and of other similar rights which are regarded as elementary and fundamental in the West, was all but foreign to India when England established her power there. That the government itself should treat high and low, the poor ryot and the wealthy rajah, the ignorant Pariah and the cultured Brahman as one in their claim for right and protection, for justice and for favour, seemed to the Hindu absurd. It is one of the best commentaries on British justice and administration in India, that the people have now come not only to regard it with satisfaction, but also as an indispensable condition of their life.
The blessings of peace also are among the greatest which England has conferred upon India. "Pax Britanica" is equally known and loved today in India and in the British Isles. From time immemorial India had been torn asunder, not only by internecine wars, but also by numerous attacks from the peoples of other countries. India has always been a prey both to the decimating wars of her own unjust and ambitious tyrants, and mutually antagonistic castes and tribes; she has also been the easy victim of any hardy, enlightened, ambitious people who sought to invade her. The presence of Great Britain in India has been a voice commanding peace to its troubled and exhausted people. With a strong hand she has put down injustice of tribe against tribe and made impossible inter-tribal wars and raids. She has brought rest such as India never before enjoyed and has given safety to the most harmless and innocent classes, as she has peace to the most warlike and aggressive in the land. This great land of the East has thus had opportunities to grow and to develop in many of the most essential characteristics of individual and national progress. These blessings would have been impossible apart from the peace which Great Britain assured and wrought out for the land.
In connection with this we need to emphasize the various forms of progress which are an essential part of British blessing to India. We have seen that India was a stagnant land, that its people were preeminently unprogressive and ultra-conservative. England has helped her to break down many of these barriers of the past. Though India is obstinately slow in her acceptance of the spirit and blessings of progress, England has thrust upon her many of the conditions, and compelled her to enter into some of the paths of progress which will bring inestimable benefits into her life.
In like manner, the mission of England has been and is a religious one. Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, upon assuming authority in the land, issued a proclamation to the effect that under her reign all the inhabitants of India should enjoy perfect right to worship as they please and whom they please. It is true that too many of the representatives of the British Government in India today are so impressed with the importance of a government that is absolutely neutral in religious matters, that they have both ceased themselves to manifest any religious preference in their life and are scrupulously careful to see to it that Christians get just a little less of right and of protection than the adherents of other faiths. This they consider to be true altruism added to breadth of religious sentiment!
Notwithstanding this, nothing is more manifest in India today than that the very fact of the rulers of the land being nominally Christians adds to the prestige of Christianity in the land. The people naturally come to regard it as the State religion. What is more significant, however, is the fact that, at the basis of modern laws in that land and of the multiplying institutions of the country, distinctively Christian principles are universally recognized. Should the government of India resolve to be absolutely neutral in all religious matters, it would have to renounce those laws and institutions which have furnished it with all its success in the land and which today crown its efforts with largest usefulness. To the government, and unconsciously to the masses of the people, Christian thought and truth and method necessarily characterize most of the laws, institutions and processes of India. They are all a part of the work of Great Britain in that land and such a part as she could not dispense with if she would. It is a part of her unconscious Christian heritage.
Thus the work of Great Britain in India has been attended with a large degree of success; it has lifted the land out of a condition of semi-savagery and placed it among the civilized nations of the world. It has cut it asunder from its anchorage to the past and brought it almost abreast of the times. There is still much to be done and much to be desired. We shall be glad to see the day when radical steps in progress shall be taken voluntarily by the people and through the initiative of their own leaders, rather than that they should wait to have them thrust upon them, as in the past, by the progressiveness of the foreigner among them.
The people, on the whole, appreciate the blessings of British supremacy in the land. If they are not demonstratively loyal to the government, they certainly do rest satisfied in the progress which has been achieved for them.
The well known political leader of Bengal, Babu Surendra Nath Banerji, recently expressed, in the following eloquent words, the sentiment of the most thoughtful and influential natives of the country.
"Our allegiance to the British rule," he says, "is based upon the highest considerations of practical expediency. As a representative of the educated community of India—and I am entitled to speak on their behalf and in their name,—I may say that we regard British rule in India as a dispensation of Divine Providence. England is here for the highest and the noblest purposes of history. She is here to rejuvenate an ancient people, to infuse into them the vigour, the virility and the robustness of the West, and so pay off the long-standing debt, accumulating since the morning of the world, which the West owes to the East. We are anxious for the permanence of British rule in India, not only as a guarantee for stability and order, but because with it are bound up the best prospects of our political advancement. To the English people has been entrusted in the Councils of Providence the high function of teaching the nations of the earth the great lesson of constitutional liberty, of securing the ends of stable government, largely tempered by popular freedom. This glorious work has been nobly begun in India. It has been resolutely carried on by a succession of illustrious Anglo-Indian statesmen whose names are enshrined in our grateful recollections. Marvellous as have been the industrial achievements of the Victorian era in India, they sink into insignificance when compared with the great moral trophies which distinguish that epoch. Roads have been constructed; rivers have been spanned; telegraph and railway lines have been laid down; time and space have been annihilated; Nature and the appliances of Nature have been made to minister to the wants of man. But these are nothing when compared to the bold, decisive, statesmanlike measures which have been taken in hand for the intellectual, the moral and the political regeneration of my countrymen. Under English influences the torpor of ages has been dissipated; the pulsations of a new life have been communicated to the people; an inspiriting sense of public duty has been evolved, the spirit of curiosity has been stirred and a moral revolution, the most momentous in our annals, culminating in the transformation of national ideals and aspirations, has been brought about."
Great Britain has not been, and is not now, without failings in her work in India; and her line of progress is studded with many errors. But she has been faithful to her trust and has carried it out in no selfish way. The warm and deep loyalty of India bears testimony to this; for native sentiment everywhere reveals marked appreciation.
THE RELIGIONS OF INDIA.
India is the mother of religions. No other land has been so prolific in religious thought or has founded faiths which have commanded the allegiance of so large a portion of the human race. While the Aryans of the West have been content to borrow their faith from the Hebrews; Indo-Aryans have produced the most wonderful and mighty ethnic religion (Brahmanism) and also one of the three great missionary religions of the world (Buddhism). A third of the human race today cling with devotion to these two products of the fertility of the mind, and the spirituality of the heart, of India.
India's toleration for other religions has been marked. For twelve centuries she has been the asylum of Zoroastrianism. Nearly nine-tenths of the followers of that ancient cult of Persia found and still enjoy a hospitable home in India. There are more of the narrow, bigoted followers of Mohammed among these tolerant people than are found in any other land—even in the wide domains of the Sultan. Christians also have lived, practically unmolested, in this great land almost from Apostolic days.
Thus not a few of the great Faiths of the world are at present represented, and are struggling either for existence or dominance, in the land of the Vedas.
The principal faiths of the land, with their adherents, were as follows, according to census of 1891:
Hindu 207,731,727 Sikh 1,907,838 Jain 1,416,638 Buddhist(5) 7,131,361 Parsee 89,904 Mohammedan 57,231,164 Jewish 17,000 Christian(6) 2,284,000
Let us consider these faiths briefly. It will be seen that Christianity has, as its followers, only one per cent. of the whole population of the land.
The Jewish Community in India numbers only 17,000; these are found mostly in Bombay and Poonah. Perhaps the most interesting colony of them is that on the west coast in Cochin. I had the pleasure of visiting them in 1897. There are 1,500 of them divided into two sections—the White, and the Black Jews. There is a marked racial difference between the two. The Blacks were originally the slaves of the Whites as is shown by their historical documents. It is not known when the Whites came to India. Some think that they fled there during the Jewish exile. More likely they came upon the dispersion during the first century of our era. The purity of their blood and the remarkable fairness of their complexion indicate that the settlement has been from time to time reenforced from northwestern countries. They are an exceedingly conservative people; and in their two synagogues, they conduct their worship perhaps more like the Jews of twenty centuries ago than do any other representatives of that race today. The day-school connected with the White Synagogue closely resembles the little school which our Lord attended at Nazareth.
About one-fifth of the whole population of that land is connected with the religion of the great prophet of Arabia. This is a number largely in excess of the whole Mohammedan population of Turkey. It is very suggestive that this faith finds larger growth under the peaceable protection of the Indian, than under the semi-barbarism of the Moslem, government.
This religion was carried into India in 711 A. D. at the point of the sword; and its establishment and success for centuries was owing to the same method. This community is not evenly distributed all over India; for, more than one-third of it is found in Bengal alone, where it furnishes the majority of the population. More than one-half of the adherents of this faith in India are converts from Hinduism. These were gathered in former centuries when the Mohammedan power was dominant, and when to be a member of any other faith than Islam was regarded as a disability. The Mohammedans of the country are, on the whole, physically more sturdy and vigorous than their neighbours. Government, in its treatment of the people, has to conciliate and regard with favour this class more than the Hindus who are four times their number. They possess a great deal of religious bigotry which is intrenched behind their dense ignorance. There is a no more ignorant element than this in the population of India; only six per cent. of the men are able to read and hardly any of the women; and they seem, even today, to have a positive aversion to the schoolhouse. Mohammedanism had, during the days of its dominance, considerable influence in the land; but it did very little to improve the material, moral or religious condition of the people; and it is a significant fact that, comparing today the adherents of Islam in India, with those of Hinduism, the latter are found not inferior in life, morals and aspirations to the followers of the prophet.
The converts gathered from Mohammedanism by Christianity are few, though not so few as ordinarily represented. In North India encouraging success has been achieved by missions for this class. But in South India, where their numbers are fewer, efforts in their behalf have not been so well organised and have produced smaller results. It is a hard task to reach and to move this class, owing not only to the important truth of monotheism, which they hold with great enthusiasm, but also because of the supreme ignorance which blinds them equally to the weakness of their own, and to the excellence of the Christian, faith.
This faith has had adherents in India for eleven centuries. Driven out by Mohammedanism from their home in Persia, the Parsees found refuge in India. There are only 100,000 of these followers of Zoroaster in the world. 90,000 of them are in India; and nearly all of these reside in Bombay and its vicinity. Their faith, Zoroastrianism, is the purest of ethnic religions. It has preserved its ancient integrity and high tone much better than its sister faith, Brahmanism. Among the members of this religion are found men possessed of great enterprise, much wealth, the spirit of progress and of philanthropy and culture. They give high honour and position to their women, and in all matters of civilization are considerably in advance of even the best class of Hindus.
This religion, though from the same source with Brahmanism, has fundamental differences of doctrine from that faith. None is more marked or significant than its Dualism as contrasted with the Pantheism of its sister faith. The problem of the origin of evil has found these two diverse interpretations and these have had a large influence in shaping the characters, respectively, of these two great ethnic religions.
Besides the far-off common source of these two religions, indicated by the earliest names and character of their deities, there is hardly any bond of fellowship in doctrine, worship or observance between the fire worshipping Parsee and the Hindu idolater. And though these Parsees have, for more than a millennium, made India their home, they have kept themselves apart from the people of the land and are still as truly foreigners in the land of their adoption as are the English residents.
This religion is a child of India; its founder, Gautama, was the product of that land, and, next to our Lord Himself, is the greatest among the founders of religions. Buddhism arose as a reaction, twenty-five centuries ago, against the excesses of Brahmanism. It flourished wonderfully for a few centuries, and at the time when Christ was on earth, had gained supremacy over the old faith and had become the State religion in India. Owing to the Brahmanic revival, in the eighth century of our era, Buddhism was in its turn, driven out of the land, and has found refuge in Ceylon and in more eastern countries from that time until the present. Since then it has been almost entirely without followers in India proper. Of the British India possessions Burma is the only place where it is the popular faith today.
Still it is not without much influence in the land of its birth. For, Brahmanism overcame its rival faith in India only by adopting some of its most fundamental contentions and teachings. Indeed, modern Hinduism is largely a blending of the Brahmanism of old with its supplanter, Buddhism. The abundant sacrifices which Brahmanism offered were entirely abolished in deference to Buddhistic sensibilities. The doctrine of transmigration, through Buddhism, received new emphasis; and kindness to all living creatures was extolled to a supreme virtue. As a climax to this attitude of conciliation Hinduism finally adopted the Buddha as the ninth incarnation of Vishnu. Thus, by the irony of history, Gautama, the Buddha, found a place in the pantheon of the religion which he gave his life to overthrow; and today many of the leading aspects of the life and teaching of the Hindus may be traced, either in source or in emphasis, to his religion.
This religion is an offshoot, or the India remnant, of Buddhism. It perhaps represents that element among the followers of the Buddha who declined to be absorbed into the revived and transformed Brahmanic faith. Through the many centuries of their existence as a sect they have spurned every approach of the Brahmans and have largely stood for Buddhistic teaching and observances. They have differed little from Buddhists in their beliefs; for they deny the authority of the Hindu Vedas, disregard sacrifices, cultivate a high morality, believe strongly in transmigration and reverence life in all its forms. And yet, strangely enough, many of the priests of their temples are Brahmans and they place Hindu idols close to their shrines. They differ from the Buddhists chiefly in their objects of worship and in their ritual. They have a mythology of their own—a mythology of saints rather than of gods. These saints, or "Jaina," (the "victorious ones"—those who have attained perfection through self-victory and discipline) are worshipped, and furnish an inspiration to all the devotees of that faith.
The Jains, like the Parsees, are found mostly in Bombay and are a wealthy community, usually engaged in banking and commerce. They are noted for their charity, and their philanthropy is largely directed towards helping the poor among them and for maintaining hospitals for animals.
This religion, if we may so denominate it, was founded by Nanak Shah in the fifteenth century. Nanak Shah was apparently an admirer, if not a follower, of Kabir, the Hindu reformer who established a sect which was essentially a compromise between Hinduism and Mohammedanism. This is the chief characteristic of Sikhism. It eschewed the polytheism and idolatry of Hinduism. It taught the unity of the Godhead, abolished caste, and enforced a high type of morality. It has, however, subsequently fallen under the blighting influence of surrounding Hinduism and has lost much of its distinctive excellence. So that, according to the census report of 1891, "distinction between Sikhs and the rest of the Brahmanic community is mainly ritualistic.... The only trustworthy method of distinguishing this creed was to ask if the person in question repudiated the services of the barber and the tobacconist; for the precepts most strictly enforced nowadays (by the Sikhs) are that the hair of the head and face must never be cut, and that smoking is a habit to be avoided."
However manifestly the Sikh religion is going the common way of all the new faiths and religious revolts of India—the way of reabsorption into Hinduism—it has done much to create and foster a strong national feeling. Sikhs were cruelly persecuted by the then ruling Mohammedans. But the overthrow of the Moghul Empire gave the Sikhs territorial power and they possessed the only remaining political organization in the Punjab. So that, at the advent of the British, the Sikhs were a mighty power to be dealt with. They became the great power of North India; and during the Indian mutiny their loyalty to the British Raj was its salvation. At present the Sikh nation, warlike and valiant as ever, furnishes, perhaps, the most stalwart and invincible contingent for the Indian Army.
This is the religion of three-fourths of all the inhabitants of India and of nine-tenths of all those who are there reached by missionaries.
What is Hinduism? It is a mixture of Brahmanism, Buddhism and Devil-worship. As we have seen, the supplanting faith of Buddha was finally absorbed, so far as India was concerned, into the old faith. When, later on, the Brahmans moved towards the southern part of the peninsula they entered the region occupied by, and largely given over to, demonolatry. According to its wont Brahmanism, as modified by Buddhism, sought not to overthrow the primitive cult of the people, but to absorb it. Thus, in South India today, more than three-fourths of the people are devil worshippers. And yet, with their demons, they have been accepted into the higher faith of the Aryan; and, according to their mood and preference, give themselves to the worship of Hindu gods or village demons. Worshipping in pure Hindu temples is to that people but a pastime, a mere holiday diversion; while the appeasing of the demons at their village shrines and under old trees in their hamlets is the most serious concern of their life. And yet all of them are regarded, and rightly regarded, as Hindus. Indeed, in the Hinduism of today, especially as found in South India, can be found living amicably together and without any apparent sense of incongruity or conflict the lowest type of fetishism, an ardent devil-worship, an engrossing ceremonialism, a worship of the higher Brahmanical deities, a thoroughgoing pantheism and a pure theism. I have witnessed in our district, side by side, a hideous fetish, a gross idol of a local demon, an image of Vishnu who is the best of Brahmanical gods, while in an adjacent hamlet lived families who belonged to none of these cults but who gave themselves to a belief in, and practice of, a vague theism which is farther removed from the fetishism of their neighbours than is their religion from the highest type of Christian teaching.
Thus Hinduism may be viewed as an immense cloth of many colours; which colours have been patched together without any reference to harmony or consistency. In other words, that religion is a big mass of mutually inconsistent and undigested beliefs, practices and ceremonies. It has not only mutually antagonistic philosophies, it has also three different ways of salvation, 330,000,000 gods and as many laws and customs which, though binding as the laws of the Medes and Persians, are nevertheless, absolutely wanting in consistency and in unity of purpose and teaching. In the words of Sir Alfred Lyall,—"The general character of Indian religion is that it is unlimited and comprehensive, up to the point of confusion; it is a boundless sea of divine beliefs and practices; it encourages the worship of innumerable gods by an infinite variety of rites; it permits every doctrine to be taught, every kind of mystery to be imagined, any sort of theory to be held as to the inner nature and visible operation of the divine power."
It has been the wont of Brahmanism not to directly antagonize and overthrow the old and the opposing cults, but rather to absorb them. Note here its fundamental contrast with Christianity. It meets its rival with a smile of appreciation, then seeks to fraternize with it, after which it approves and appropriates and finally absorbs it.
In the Madura District of South India, where I have lived, the Brahmans, upon their first arrival, found all the people given to the worship of their village demons. They said to them, practically,—"We do not wish to deprive you of your devil shrines and images and worship. We will take the leading demons which you worship and marry them to our great gods and then give to them a place in our pantheon and a part in our worship. Come ye also with them and we will welcome you into our temples and faith." Thus "Meenatchi," the old and the principal demoness of the primitive cult of that region, was married to the great god Siva and became the presiding goddess of the great Hindu temple of Madura; and all her old worshippers followed her into the new faith of Hinduism. So all those people are Hindus today. And yet they have not abated one jot of their interest in and practice of their demonolatry.
That which may be regarded as the more strictly Brahmanical development and manifestation of Hinduism is divided, at present, into two great cults. These are Saivism, or the worship of Siva, and Vaishnavism, or the worship of Vishnu. These two cults, while not mutually antagonistic, are nevertheless entirely separate—their devotees, respectively, being satisfied with their own god and his incarnation and manifestations.
The first god of the Hindu triad (Brahma, Vishnu and Siva)—has practically no shrines among Hindus today. His worship has been largely transferred to his so-called sons, the Brahmans; and Siva has, in the main, absorbed all his functions as creator. As it is only Vishnu, the preserver, and Siva, the destroyer and recreator that have anything to do with men, the Hindus devote themselves to these two only. Siva is the "great god," the austere and terrible one whom the people fear. He is known chiefly through his phallic emblem, the linga, which emphasizes his creative activity. Vishnu is the benign god who has resorted to many incarnations whereby he might free the world of demons who were worrying and destroying our race. Siva has many manifestations; Vishnu alone has "descents" or incarnations, some of which were in brute, and some in human, form.
These two cults obtain universally throughout India. Vaishnavism (the worship of Vishnu) has many popular sects which wield extensive influence throughout the country. The one established by Vallabha-Swami, in the sixteenth century, is a worship of Krishna and is given to the indulgence of the passions and is characterised by gross licentiousness.
The sect founded by Chaitanya in the fourteenth century is one of the most celebrated, and is very popular in Bengal. It subordinates everything to faith (bhakti) even making this more important than caste. Contemplation, rather than ritual, was Chaitanya's pathway to salvation and he gave supreme value to the virtue of obedience to the "guru" or religious guide.
In South India the cult of the religious reformer, Ramanuja, who flourished in the twelfth century, has extensive popularity. He was a man of great thought, and his special type of Vedantic philosophy is much in vogue today. He proclaimed the unity of God under the name of Vishnu. He received converts from every caste. It is an interesting fact that nearly all, in the long list of religious reformers in India, took a position of hostility to the caste system. But it is also significant that none of these reform movements has persisted through the centuries in that attitude, but has fallen into line with orthodox Hinduism in absolute submission to the caste demon.
"Sakti" worship has also attained great influence and extensive predominance in many parts of India. This is the worship of the Sakti or the female half of the great deities of the land. The Saktar preeminently worship Kali, the goddess of blood, and the other consorts of Siva. It is a worship of power ("Sakti" means energy or power), and usually power of the maleficent type. It is perhaps the lowest form of Hinduism and easily lends itself to a gratification of the lowest passions of men. This tantric cult (the tantras are the sacred books of the Saktar) is the only one in modern Hinduism which indulges in bloody sacrifices—Kali and her sisters being satisfied by blood as by nothing else. This attests the non-Aryan origin and character of this worship, inasmuch as Brahmanism, since the days of Buddha, abjures all bloody sacrifice.
Let it not be supposed, however, from the above remarks, about the multiform and self-contradictory character of the amorphous thing called Hinduism, that it is therefore impossible for us to understand and measure its nature and power. For Brahmanism, through all ages, has not been without a definite tendency, an underlying philosophy and pervasive fundamental beliefs. It is indeed more a congeries of faiths than a simple religion, like Christianity. And yet, amid all its hosts of contradictions and ways of salvation and sects and cults there have sounded, as a diapason through all the centuries, the fundamental teachings of Vedantism. A few doctrines such as pantheism, transmigration, "karma," "bhakti" and final absorption into the Supreme Soul are all but universally held by the people of all sects and divisions, however much at variance with these their peculiar beliefs may seem to be.
The prominent staple of Hindu religious thinking in all ages has doubtless been Vedantism—that subtle form of pantheism which has charmed and bewildered not a few of the great minds of the Occident also. The paramount influence of this philosophy upon all religious thought and life in India is unmistakable today, as it has been through the centuries. Of this Max Mueller says,—"If the people of India can be said to have now any system of religion at all ... it is to be found in the Vedanta philosophy, the leading tenets of which are known to some extent in every village.... Nothing will extinguish that ancient spirit of Vedantism which is breathed by every Hindu from his earliest youth, and pervades, in various forms, even the prayers of the idolater, the speculations of the philosopher, and the proverbs of the beggar."
We may therefore, without hesitation, so far as Hinduism is concerned regard as philosophic Hinduism those basal doctrines and their corollaries which, from the earliest days, have been the stock in trade of all Indo-Aryan thinkers and at the same time the source and solvent of all the mysteries of their faith.
By a study of these one may easily reach the heart of Hindus and of Hinduism and can weigh and measure the forces which enter into their religious life and thinking, and can compare them with the teachings and institutions of Christianity.
This study will bring a twofold blessing to Christians of the West, especially to missionaries who have given themselves to the regeneration of India. It will give them a larger degree of respect for that great people of the East and a new appreciation for Hindu thought and religious speculation. We of the West have been imbued with too much of an intellectual arrogance and a spirit of contempt for "the benighted Hindu." Even if we ever learned, we certainly have too easily forgotten, that many, many centuries ago—when our ancestors were grovelling in the lowest depths of primitive savagery—the rishis of India were engaged in perhaps the highest self-propelled flights of religious speculation the world has ever known and were working out a philosophy, or more correctly a system of ontology, which is today the wonder and admiration of Western savants.
I argue for a study of those teachings which, though hoary with age, are today all-important as the foundation upon which the many-aisled temple of Hinduism is built and (if I may change the figure) as the cement which binds the whole structure together.
A few years ago it was generally thought that Brahmanism was little else than the insane ravings of well-meaning, but unguided, or, worse still, misguided, denizens of darkness; the whole literature was considered a mass of intellectual and moral rubbish. How much the verdict of Western scholars upon this subject has changed during the last quarter of a century I need not mention. All men who have investigated the subject give today unstinted praise to the heart and intellect of those sages who produced much of the ancient religious literature of India. They will not endorse the statement of the great German philosopher who exclaimed, "In the whole world there is no study so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Upanishads. It has been the solace of my life—it will be the solace of my death." And yet many claim that its truths are numerous and spiritually helpful. Hopkins writes(7):—"The sincerity, the fearless search of the Indic Sages for truth, their loftiness of thinking, all these will affect the religious student of every clime and age, though the fancied result of their thinking may pass without effect over a modern mind." And Barth truly remarks(8):—"The religion of India has not only given birth to Buddhism and produced, to its own credit, a code of precepts which is not inferior to any other; but in the poetry which they have inspired there is at times a delicacy and bloom of moral sentiment which the Western world has never seen outside of Christianity. Nowhere else, perhaps, do we meet with an equal wealth of fine sentences." Of their intellectual acumen Dr. Matheson says: "It is not too much to say that the mind of the West, with all its undoubted impulses towards the progress of humanity, has never exhibited such an intense amount of intellectual force as is to be found in the religious speculations of India.... These have been the cradle of all Western speculations; and wheresoever the European mind has risen into heights of philosophy, it has done so because the Brahman has been the pioneer. There is no intellectual problem in the West which had not its earliest discussion in the East; and there is no modern solution of that problem which will not be found anticipated in the East." These words of the Scotch divine are doubtless strong; too strong, I think. And yet they may be serviceable, if they warn us against that proneness to depreciate the intellectual value and serious purpose of the religious books of that land. It is worse than useless to confidently descant upon the errors, inconsistencies, the follies and absurdities of these writings without acknowledging at the same time the profound thought, the deep spiritual yearning and the sublime poetic beauty, which characterize some portions.