Indian Unrest
by Valentine Chirol
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A Reprint, revised and enlarged, from "The Times," with an introduction by Sir Alfred Lyall

We have now, as it were, before us, in that vast congeries of peoples we call India, a long, slow march in uneven stages through all the centuries from the fifth to the twentieth.









































The numerals above the line in the body of the book refer to notes at the end of the volume.



The volume into which Mr. Valentine Chirol has collected and republished his valuable series of articles in The Times upon Indian unrest is an important and very instructive contribution to the study of what is probably the most arduous problem in the politics of our far-reaching Empire. His comprehensive survey of the whole situation, the arrangement of evidence and array of facts, are not unlike what might have been found in the Report of a Commission appointed to investigate the causes and the state of affairs to which the troubles that have arisen in India may be ascribed.

At different times in the world's history the nations foremost in civilization have undertaken the enterprise of founding a great European dominion in Asia, and have accomplished it with signal success. The Macedonian Greeks led the way; they were followed by the Romans; and in both instances their military superiority and organizing genius enabled them to subdue and govern for centuries vast populations in Western Asia. European science and literature flourished in the great cities of the East, where the educated classes willingly accepted and supported foreign rulership as their barrier against a relapse into barbarism; nor have we reason for believing that it excited unusual discontent or disaffection among the Asiatic peoples. But the Greek and Roman Empires in Asia have disappeared long ago, leaving very little beyond scattered ruins; and in modern times it is the British dominion in India that has revived and is pursuing the enterprise of ruling and civilizing a great Asiatic population, of developing the political intelligence and transforming the ideas of an antique and, in some respects, a primitive society.

That the task must be one of prodigious difficulty, not always free from danger, has been long known to those who watched the experiment with some accurate foresight of the conditions attending it. Yet the recent symptoms of virulent disease in some parts of the body politic, though confined to certain provinces of India, have taken the British nation by surprise. Mr. Chirol's book has now exhibited the present state and prospect of the adventure; he has examined the causes and the consequences of the prevailing unrest; he has collected ample evidence, and he has consulted all the best authorities, Indian and European, on the subject. His masterly analysis of all this material shows wide acquaintance with the facts, and rare insight into the character and motives, the aims and methods, of those who are engaged in stirring up the spirit of revolt against the British Government. He has pointed to instances where the best intentions of the administrators have led them wrong; his whole narrative illustrates the perils that beset a Government necessarily pledged to moral and material reform, which finds its own principles perverted against its efforts, and its foremost opponents among the class that has been the first to profit by the benefits which that Government has conferred upon them.

The nineteenth century had been pre-eminently an era of the development of rapid and easy communication between distant parts of the world, particularly between Europe and Asia. So long as these two continents remained far apart the condition of Asia was unchanged and stationary; if there was any change it had been latterly retrogressive, for in India at any rate the eighteenth century was a period of abnormal and extensive political confusion. In Europe, on the other hand, national wealth, scientific discoveries, the arts of war and peace, had made extraordinary progress. Population had increased and multiplied; and partly by territorial conquests, partly by pacific penetration, the Western nations overflowed politically into Asia during the nineteenth century. They brought with them larger knowledge, novel ideas and manners, which have opened the Asiatic mind to new influences and aspirations, to the sense of needs and grievances not previously felt or even imagined. The effect, as can now be clearly perceived, has been to produce an abrupt transition from old to new ways, from the antique order of society towards fresh models; and to this may be ascribed the general unsettlement, the uneasy stir, that pervade Asia at the present moment. Its equilibrium has been disturbed by the high speed at which Europe has been pushing eastward; and the principal points of contact and penetration are in India.

Moreover, towards the latter end of the nineteenth century and in the first years of the present century came events which materially altered the attitude of Asiatic nations towards European predominance. The defeat of the Italians by the Abyssinians in 1896 may indeed be noted as the first decisive victory gained by troops that may be reckoned Oriental over a European army in the open field, for at least three centuries. The Japanese war, in which Russia lost battles not only by land, but also at sea, was even a more significant and striking warning that the era of facile victories in Asia had ended; since never before in all history had an Asiatic navy won a great sea-fight against European fleets. That the unquiet spirit, which from these general causes has been spreading over the Eastern Continent, should be particularly manifest in countries under European Governments is not unnatural; it inevitably roused the latent dislike of foreign rule, with which a whole people is never entirely content. Precisely similar symptoms are to be observed in the Asiatic possessions of France, and in Egypt; nor is Algeria yet altogether reconciled to the regime of its conquerors.

That in India the British Government has found the centres of active disaffection located in the Maratha country and in Lower Bengal, is a phenomenon which can be to a large extent accounted for by reference to Anglo-Indian history. The fact that Poona is one focus of sedition has been attributed in this volume to the survival among the Maratha Brahmins of the recollection that "far into the eighteenth century Poona was the capital of a theocratic State in which behind the Throne of the Peshwas both spiritual and secular authority were concentrated in the hands of the Brahmins." The Peshwas, as their title implies, had been hereditary Ministers who governed in the name of the reigning dynasty founded by the famous Maratha leader Sivajee, whose successors they set aside. But before the end of the eighteenth century the secular authority of the Peshwas had become almost nominal, and the real power in the State had passed into the grasp of a confederation of chiefs of predatory armies, whose violence drove the last Peshwa, more than a century ago, to seek refuge in a British camp. The political sovereignty of the Brahmins had disappeared from the time when he placed himself under British protection; and the Maratha chiefs (who were not Brahmins) only acknowledged our supremacy after some fiercely contested battles; with the result that they were confined to and confirmed in the possession of the territories now governed by their descendants. But it is quite true that to the memory of a time when for once, and once only, in Indian history, their caste established a great secular dominion, may be ascribed the tendency to disloyalty among the Maratha Brahmins.

The case of Bengal is very different. Poona and Calcutta are separated geographically almost by the whole breadth of India between two seas; yet the historical antecedents of the Bengalees and Marathas are even further apart. The Marathas were the leaders of revolt against the Moghal Empire; they were formidable opponents to the rise of the British power; their chiefs fought hard before yielding to British authority. On the other hand, Lower Bengal belonged to a province that had fallen away from the Moghal Empire, and which was transferred from its Mahomedan Governor to a British General by the result of a single battle at Plassey. The Bengalees took no part in the contest, and they had very good reason for willing acquiescence in the change of masters.

In a comparison, therefore, of the Marathas with the people of Bengal, we have a remarkable instance of the production of similar effects from causes very distinct and dissimilar. In the former case their present unrest may be traced, in a large degree, to the memories of early rulership and to warlike traditions. In the latter case there can be no such recollections, military or political, for the country has had no experience whatever of a state of war, since Lower Bengal is perhaps the only considerable province of India which has enjoyed profound peace during nearly 150 years. It is no paradox to suggest that this prolonged tranquillity has had some share in stimulating the audacity of Bengalee unrest, for the literary classes seem to have no clear notion that the real game of revolutionary politics is necessarily rough and dangerous—certain, moreover, to fail whenever the British Government shall have resolved that it is being carried too far, and must end.

But it is beyond question that the promoters of disaffection on both sides of India have been making strenuous exertions to enlist in the movement the influence of Brahminism; and upon this point the book rightly lays particular stress.

The position and privileges of the Brahmins are rightly compared to those of the Levites; they are the depositories of orthodox tradition; they preside over and hold (not exclusively) a monopoly for the performance of the sacred rites and offices; and ritual in Hinduism, as in most of the ancient religions, is the essential element; it is closely connected with the rules of caste, which unite and divide innumerable groups within the pale of Hinduism. And in India the peculiar institution of caste, the strict regulation of social intercourse, particularly in regard to inter-marriage and the sharing of food, prevails to an extent quite unknown elsewhere in the world. The divisions of caste have always operated to weaken the body politic in India, and thus to facilitate foreign conquest; but, on the other hand, they have opposed a stiff barrier to the invasion of foreign religions, to the fusion of alien races with the Hindu people, and to any success in what may be called national unification.

One can easily understand the formidable power invested by this system in the Brahmins, and the enormous obstacles that it might raise against the introduction of Western ideas, manners, and education. Nevertheless we all know, and we have seen it with real satisfaction, that the Brahmins, very much to the credit of their intelligence and sagacity, have been forward in accepting the new learning, the expansion of general knowledge, offered to them by English schools and Universities; they have acquired our language, they have studied our sciences; they are prominent in the professions of law and medicine, which the English have created; they enter our civil services, they even serve in the Indian Army. Yet their readiness to adopt secular culture does not seem to have abated their religious authority, or to have sensibly weakened their influence over the people at large. And indeed the fact that the Brahmins, with others of the educated classes, should have been able, for their own purposes, to appeal simultaneously to the darkest superstitions of Hinduism and to extreme ideas of Western democracy—to disregard caste rules personally and to stir up caste prejudices among the masses—will not greatly surprise those who have observed the extraordinary elasticity of practical Hinduism, the fictions and anomalies which can be invented or tolerated at need. But the beliefs and practices of popular Hinduism are obviously irreconcilable with the principles of modern civilization; and the various indications of a desire to reform and purify their ancient religion may be partly due to the perception among educated Hindus that so contradictory a position is ultimately untenable, that the incongruity between sacrifices to the goddess Kali and high University degrees is too manifest.

The course and consequences of the measures taken by the British Government to promote Western education in India has been attentively studied by the author of this volume. It is a story of grave political miscalculation, containing a lesson that has its significance for other nations which have undertaken a similar enterprise. Ignorance is unquestionably the root of many evils; and it was natural that in the last century certain philosophers should have assumed education to be the certain cure for human delusions; and that statesmen like Macaulay should have declared education to be the best and surest remedy for political discontent and for law-breaking. In any case it was the clear and imperative duty of the British Government to attempt the intellectual emancipation of India as the best justification of British rule. We have since discovered, by experience, that, although education is a sovereign remedy for many ills—is indeed indispensable to healthy progress—yet an indiscriminate or superficial administration of this potent medicine may engender other disorders. It acts upon the frame of an antique society as a powerful dissolvent, heating weak brains, stimulating rash ambitions, raising inordinate expectations of which the disappointment is bitterly resented. That these effects are well known even in Europe may be read in a remarkable French novel published not long ago, "Les Deracines," which, describes the road to ruin taken by poor collegians who had been uprooted from the soil of their humble village. And in Asia the disease is necessarily much more virulent, because the transition has been more sudden, and the contrast between old ideas of life and new aspirations is far sharper. From the report of an able French official upon the Indo-Chinese Colonies we may learn that the existing system of educating the natives has proved to be mischievous, needing radical reform. Of the Levantine youths in the Syrian towns, the product of European schools, a French traveller writes (1909), "C'est une tourbe de declasses"; while in China some leaders of agitation for democratic changes in the oldest of all Empires are said to be those who have qualified by competitive examination for public employ, and have failed to obtain it. In every country the crowd of expectants far outnumbers the places available. If, indeed, the Government which introduced Western education into Bengal had been native instead of foreign, it would have found itself entangled in difficulties no less grave than those which now confront the British rulers; and there can be little doubt that it would probably have broken down under them.

The phases through which the State's educational policy in India have passed during the last fifty years are explained at length in this volume. The Government was misled in the wrong direction by the reports of two Commissions between 1880 and 1890, whose mistakes were discerned at the time by those who had some tincture of political prudence. The problem is now to reconstruct on a better plan, to try different lines of advance. But some of us have heard of an enterprising pioneer in a difficult country, who confidently urged travellers to take a new route by assuring them that it avoided the hills on the old road. Whether the hills were equally steep on his other road he did not say. And in the present instance it may not be easy to strike out a fresh path which may be clear from the complications that have been suffered to grow up round our system of Indian education; while no one proposes to turn back. The truth is that in India the English have been throughout obliged to lay out their own roads, and to feel their way, without any precedents to guide them. No other Government, European or Asiatic, has yet essayed to administer a great Oriental population, alien in race and religion, by institutions of a representative type, reckoning upon free discussion and an unrestricted Press for reasonable consideration of its measures and fair play, relying upon secular education and absolute religious neutrality to control the unruly affections of sinful men. It is now seen that our Western ideas and inventions, moral and material, are being turned against us by some of those to whom we have imparted an elementary aptitude for using them. And thus we have the strange spectacle, in certain parts of India, of a party capable of resorting to methods that are both reactionary and revolutionary, of men who offer prayers and sacrifices to ferocious divinities and denounce the Government by seditious journalism, preaching primitive superstition in the very modern form of leading articles. The mixture of religion with politics has always produced a highly explosive compound, especially in Asia.

These agitations are in fact the symptoms of what are said by Shakespeare to be the "cankers of a calm world"; they are the natural outcome of artificial culture in an educational hothouse, among classes who have had for generations no real training in rough or hazardous politics. The outline of the present situation in India is that we have been disseminating ideas of abstract political right, and the germs of representative institutions, among a people that had for centuries been governed autocratically, and in a country where local liberties and habits of self-government had been long obliterated or had never existed. At the same time we have been spreading modern education broadcast throughout the land, where, before English rule, learning had not advanced beyond the stage of Europe in the middle ages. These may be taken to be the primary causes of the existing Unrest; and meanwhile the administrative machine has been so efficiently organized, it has run, hitherto, so easily and quietly, as to disguise from inexperienced bystanders the long discipline and training in affairs of State that are required for its management. Nor is it clearly perceived that the real driving power lies in the forces held in reserve by the British nation and in the respect which British guardianship everywhere commands. That Indians should be liberally invited to share the responsibilities of high office is now a recognized principle of public policy. But the process of initiation must be gradual and tentative; and vague notions of dissolving the British connexion only prove incompetence to realize the whole situation, external and internal, of the country. Across the frontiers of India are warlike nations, who are intent upon arming themselves after the latest modern pattern, though for the other benefits of Western science and learning they show, as yet, very little taste or inclination. They would certainly be a serious menace to a weak Government in the Indian plains, while their sympathy with a literary class would be uncommonly slight. Against intruders of this sort the British hold securely the gates of India; and it must be clear that the civilization and future prosperity of the whole country depend entirely upon their determination to maintain public tranquillity by strict enforcement of the laws; combined with their policy of admitting the highest intellects and capacities to the Councils of the State, and of assigning reasonable administrative and legislative independence to the great provinces in accord with the unity of a powerful Empire.




That there is a lull in the storm of unrest which has lately swept over India is happily beyond doubt. Does this lull indicate a gradual and steady return to more normal and peaceful conditions? Or, as in other cyclonic disturbances in tropical climes, does it merely presage fiercer outbursts yet to come? Has the blended policy of repression and concession adopted by Lord Morley and Lord Minto really cowed the forces of criminal disorder and rallied the representatives of moderate opinion to the cause of sober and Constitutional progress? Or has it come too late either permanently to arrest the former or to restore confidence and courage to the latter?

These are the two questions which the present situation in India most frequently and obviously suggests, but it may be doubted whether they by any means cover the whole field of potential developments. They are based apparently upon the assumption that Indian unrest, even in its most extreme forms, is merely the expression of certain political aspirations towards various degrees of emancipation from British tutelage, ranging from a larger share in the present system of administration to a complete revolution in the existing relations between Great Britain and India, and that, the issues thus raised being essentially political, they can be met by compromise on purely political lines. This assumption ignores, I fear, certain factors of very great importance, social, religious, and economic, which profoundly affect, if they do not altogether overshadow, the political problem. The question to which I propose to address myself is whether Indian unrest represents merely, as we are prone to imagine, the human and not unnatural impatience of subject races fretting under an alien rule which, however well intentioned, must often be irksome and must sometimes appear to be harsh and arbitrary; or whether to-day, in its more extreme forms at any rate, it does not represent an irreconcilable reaction against all that not only British rule but Western civilization stands for.

I will not stop at present to discuss how far the lamentable deficiencies of the system of education which we have ourselves introduced into India have contributed to the Indian unrest. That that system has been productive of much good few will deny, but few also can be so blind as to ignore the fact that it tends on the one hand to create a semi-educated proletariate, unemployed and largely unemployable, and on the other hand, even where failure is less complete, to produce dangerous hybrids, more or less superficially imbued with Western ideas, and at the same time more or less completely divorced from the realities of Indian life. Many other circumstances also which have helped the promoters of disaffection I must reserve for subsequent discussion. Some of them are economic, such as the remarkable rise in prices during the last decade. This has seriously enhanced the cost of living in India and has specially affected the very classes amongst whom disaffection is most widespread. The clerk, the teacher, the petty Government official, whose exiguous salaries have remained the same, find themselves to-day relatively, and in many cases actually, worse off than the artisan or even the labourer, whose wages have in many cases risen in proportion to the increased cost of living. Plague, which in the course of the last 14 years has carried off over 6,000,000 people, and two terrible visitations of famine have caused in different parts of the country untold misery and consequent bitterness. On the other hand, the growth of commerce and industry and the growing interest taken by all classes in commercial and industrial questions have led to a corresponding resentment of the fiscal restraints placed upon India by the Imperial Government for the selfish benefit, as it is contended, of the British manufacturer and trader. Much bad blood has undoubtedly been created by the treatment of British Indians in South Africa and the attitude adopted in British Colonies generally towards Asiatic immigrants. The social relations between the two races in India itself—always a problem of infinite difficulty—have certainly not been improved by the large influx of a lower class of Europeans which the development of railways and telegraphs and other industries requiring technical knowledge have brought in their train. Nor can it be denied that the growing pressure of office work as well as the increased facilities of home leave and frequent transfers from one post to another have inevitably to some extent lessened the contact between the Anglo-Indian official and the native population. Of more remote influences which have indirectly reacted upon the Indian mind it may suffice for the present to mention the South African War, which lowered the prestige of our arms, and the Russo-Japanese War, which was regarded as the first blow dealt to the ascendency of Europe over Asia, though it may be worth noting that in his novel, "The Prince of Destiny," Mr. Surat Kumar Ghosh lays repeated emphasis on the impression produced in India some years earlier by the defeat of the Italian forces in Abyssinia. Each of the above points has its own importance and deserves to be closely studied, for upon the way in which we shall in the future handle some of the delicate questions which they raise will largely depend our failure or our success in coping with Indian unrest—that is, in preventing its invasion of other classes than those to which it has been hitherto confined. But the clue to the real spirit which informs Indian unrest must be sought elsewhere.

Two misconceptions appear to prevail very widely at home with regard to the nature of the unrest. The first is that disaffection of a virulent and articulate character is a new phenomenon in India; the second is that the existing: disaffection represents a genuine, if precocious and misdirected, response on the part of the Western educated classes to the democratic ideals of the modern Western world which our system of education has imported into India. It is easy to account for the prevalence of both these misconceptions. We are a people of notoriously short memory, and, when a series of sensational dastardly crimes, following on a tumultuous agitation in Bengal and a campaign of incredible violence in the native Press, at last aroused and alarmed the British public, the vast majority of Englishmen were under the impression that since the black days of the Mutiny law and order had never been seriously assailed in India, and they therefore rushed to the conclusion that, if the pax Britannica had been so rudely and suddenly shaken, the only possible explanation lay in some novel wave of sentiment or some grievous administrative blunder which had abruptly disturbed the harmonious relations between the rulers and the ruled. People had forgotten that disaffection in varying forms and degrees of intensity has existed at all times amongst certain sections of the population, and under the conditions of our rule can hardly be expected to disappear altogether. Whether British statesmanship has always sufficiently reckoned with its existence is another question. More than 30 years ago, for instance, the Government of India had to pass a Bill dealing with the aggressive violence of the vernacular Press on precisely the same grounds that were alleged in support of this year's Press Bill, and with scarcely less justification, whilst just 13 years ago two British officials fell victims at Poona to a murderous conspiracy, prompted by a campaign of criminal virulence in the Press, closely resembling those which have more recently robbed India of many valuable lives.

To imagine that Indian unrest has been a sudden growth because its outward manifestations have assumed new and startling forms of violence is a dangerous delusion; and no less misleading is the assumption that it is merely the outcome of Western education or the echo of Western democratic aspirations, because it occasionally, and chiefly for purposes of political expediency, adopts the language of Western demagogues. Whatever its modes of expression, its main spring is a deep-rooted antagonism to all the principles upon which Western society, especially in a democratic country like England, has been built up. It is in that antagonism—in the increasing violence of that antagonism—which is a conspicuous feature of the unrest, that the gravest danger lies.

But if in this respect the problems with which we are confronted appear to me more serious and complex than official optimism is sometimes disposed to admit, I have no hesitation is saying that there is no cause for despondency if we will only realize how strong our position in India still is, and use our strength wisely and sympathetically, but, at the same time, with firmness and consistency. It is important to note at the outset that the more dangerous forms of unrest are practically confined to the Hindus, and amongst them to a numerically small proportion of the vast Hindu community. Not a single Mahomedan has been implicated in, though some have fallen victims to, the criminal conspiracies of the last few years. Not a single Mahomedan of any account is to be found in the ranks of disaffected politicians. For reasons, in fact, which I shall set forth later on, it may be confidently asserted that never before have the Mahomedans of India as a whole identified their interests and their aspirations so closely as at the present day with the consolidation and permanence of British rule. It is almost a misnomer to speak of Indian unrest. Hindu unrest would be a far more accurate term, connoting with far greater precision the forces underlying it, though to use it without reservation would be to do a grave injustice to the vast numbers of Hindus who are as yet untainted with disaffection. These include almost all the Hindu ruling chiefs and landed aristocracy, as well as the great mass of the agricultural classes which form in all parts of India the overwhelming majority of the population. Very large areas, moreover, are still entirely free from unrest, which, except for a few sporadic outbreaks in other districts, has been hitherto mainly confined to three distinct areas—the Mahratta Deccan, which comprises a great part of the Bombay Presidency and several districts of the Central Provinces, Bengal, with the new province of Eastern Bengal, and the Punjab. In those regions it is the large cities that have been the real hot-beds of unrest, and, great as is their influence, it must not be forgotten that in India scarcely one-tenth of the population lives in cities, or even in small townships with more than 5,000 inhabitants. Whereas in England one-third of the population is gathered together in crowded cities of 100,000 inhabitants and over, there are but twenty-eight cities of that size in the whole of India, with an aggregate population of less than 7,000,000 out of a total of almost 300,000,000.

That a movement confined to a mere fraction of the population of India has no title to be called a "national" movement would scarcely need to be argued, even if the variegated jumble of races and peoples, castes and creeds that make up the population of India were not in itself an antithesis to all that the word "national" implies. Nevertheless it would be equally foolish to underrate the forces which underlie this movement, for they have one common nexus, and a very vital one. They are the dominant forces of Hinduism—forces which go to the very root of a social and religious system than which none in the history of the human race has shown greater vitality and stability. Based upon caste, the most rigid of all social classifications, Hinduism has secured for some 3,000 years or more to the higher castes, and especially to the Brahmans, the highest of all castes, a social supremacy for which there is no parallel elsewhere. At the same time, inflexibly as they have dominated Hinduism, these higher castes have themselves preserved a flexibility of mind and temper which has enabled them to adapt themselves with singular success to the vicissitudes of changing times without any substantial sacrifice of their inherited traditions and aspirations. Thus it is amongst high-caste Hindus that for the last three-quarters of a century English education has chiefly spread, and, indeed, been most eagerly welcomed; it is amongst them that British administration has recruited the great majority of its native servants in every branch of the public service; it is amongst them also that are chiefly recruited the liberal professions, the Press, the schoolmasters—in fact all those agencies through which public opinion and the mind of the rising generation are most easily moulded and directed. That it is amongst them also that the spirit of revolt against British ascendency is chiefly and almost exclusively rife constitutes the most ominous feature of Indian unrest.



Before proceeding to describe the methods by which Indian unrest has been fomented, and to study as far as possible its psychology, it may be well to set forth succinctly the political purpose to which it is directed, as far as there is any unity of direction. One of the chief difficulties one encounters in attempting to define its aims is the vagueness that generally characterizes the pronouncements of Indian politicians. There is, indeed, one section that makes no disguise either of its aspirations or of the way in which it proposes to secure their fulfilment. Its doctrines are frankly revolutionary, and it openly preaches propaganda by deed—i.e., by armed revolt, if and when it becomes practicable, and, in the meantime, by assassination, dynamite outrages, dacoities, and all the other methods of terrorism dear to anarchists all over the world. But that section is not very numerous, nor would it in itself be very dangerous, if it did not exercise so fatal a fascination upon the immature mind of youth. The real difficulty begins when one comes to that much larger section of "advanced" politicians who are scarcely less bitterly opposed to the maintenance of British rule, but, either from prudential motives or lest they should prematurely alarm and alienate the representatives of what is called "moderate" opinion, shrink from the violent assertion of India's claim to complete political independence and, whilst helping to create the atmosphere that breeds outrages, profess to deprecate them.

The difficulty is further enhanced by the reluctance of many of the "moderates" to break with their "advanced" friends by proclaiming, once and for all, their own conviction that within no measurable time can India in her own interests afford to forgo the guarantees of internal peace and order and external security which the British Raj alone can afford. Hence the desire on both sides to find some common denominator in a nebulous formula which each can interpret as to time and manner according to its own desires and aims. That formula seems to have been discovered in the term Swaraj, or self-rule, which, when euphemistically translated into Colonial self-government for India, offers the additional advantage of presenting the political aspirations of Indian "Nationalism" in the form least likely to alarm Englishmen, especially those who do not care or wish to look below the surface and whose sympathies are readily won by any catchword that appeals to sentimental Liberalism. Now if Swaraj, or Colonial self-government, represents the minimum that will satisfy Indian Nationalists, it is important to know exactly what in their view it really means. Fortunately on this point we have some data of indisputable authority. They are furnished in the speeches of an "advanced" leader, who does not rank amongst the revolutionary extremists, though his refusal to give evidence in the trial of a seditious newspaper with which he had been connected brought him in 1907 within the scope of the Indian Criminal Code. Mr. Bepin Chandra Pal, a high-caste Hindu and a man of great intellectual force and high character, has not only received a Western education, but has travelled a great deal in Europe and in America, and is almost as much at home in London as in Calcutta. A little more than three years ago he delivered in Madras a series of lectures on the "New Spirit," which have been republished in many editions and may be regarded as the most authoritative programme of "advanced" political thought in India. What adds greatly to the significance of those speeches is that Mr. Pal borrowed their keynote from the Presidential address delivered in the preceding year by the veteran leader of the "moderates," Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji, at the annual Session of the Indian National Congress. The rights of India, Mr. Naoroji had said, "can be comprised in one word—self-government or Swaraj, like that of the United Kingdom or the Colonies." It was reserved for Mr. Pal to define precisely how such Swaraj could be peacefully obtained and what it must ultimately lead to. He began by brushing away the notion that any political concessions compatible with the present dependency of India upon Great Britain could help India to Swaraj. I will quote his own words, which already foreshadowed the contemptuous reception given by "advanced" politicians to the reforms embodied in last year's Indian Councils Act:—

You may get a High Court judgeship here, membership of the Legislative Council there, possibly an Executive Membership of the Council. Or do you want an expansion of the Legislative Councils? Do you want that a few Indians shall sit as your representatives in the House of Commons? Do you want a large number of Indians in the Civil Service? Let us see whether 50, 100, 200, or 300 civilians will make the Government our own.... The whole Civil Service might be Indian, but the Civil servants have to carry out orders—they cannot direct, they cannot dictate the policy. One swallow does not make the summer. One civilian, 100 or 1,000 civilians in the service of the British Government will not make that Government Indian. There are traditions, there are laws, there are policies to which every civilian, be he black or brown or white, must submit, and as long as these traditions have not been altered, as long as these principles have not been amended, as long as that policy has not been radically changed, the supplanting of European by Indian agency will not make for self-government in this country.

Nor is it from the British Government that Mr. Pal looks for, or would accept, Swaraj:—

If the Government were to come and tell me to-day "Take _Swaraj" I would say thank you for the gift, but I will not have that which I cannot acquire by my own hand.... Our programme is that we shall so work in the country, so combine the resources of the people, so organize the forces of the nation, so develop the instincts of freedom in the community, that by this means we shall—_shall_ in the imperative—compel the submission to our will of any power that may set itself against us.

Equally definite is Mr. Pal as to the methods by which Swaraj is to be made "imperative." They consist of Swadeshi in the economic domain, i.e., the encouragement of native industries reinforced by the boycott of imported goods which will kill British commerce and, in the political domain, passive resistance reinforced by the boycott of Government service.

They say:—Can you boycott all the Government offices? Whoever said that we would? Whoever said that there would not be found a single Indian to serve the Government or the European community here? But what we can do is this. We can make the Government impossible without entirely making it impossible for them to find people to serve them. The administration may be made impossible in a variety of ways. It is not actually that every deputy magistrate should say: I won't serve in it. It is not that when one man resigns nobody will be found to take his place. But if you create this spirit in the country the Government service will gradually imbibe this spirit, and a whole office may go on strike. That does not put an end to the administration, but it creates endless complications in the work of administration, and if these complications are created in every part of the country, the administration will have been brought to a deadlock and made none the less impossible, for the primary thing is the prestige of the Government and the boycott strikes at the root of that prestige.... We can reduce every Indian in Government service to the position of a man who has fallen from the dignity of Indian citizenship.... No man shall receive social honours because he is a Hakim or a Munsiff or a Huzur Sheristadar.... No law can compel one to give a chair to a man who comes to his house. He may give it to an ordinary shopkeeper; he may refuse it to the Deputy Magistrate or the Subordinate Judge. He may give his daughter in marriage to a poor beggar, he may refuse her to the son of a Deputy Magistrate, because it is absolutely within his rights, absolutely within legal bounds.

Passive resistance is recognized as legitimate in England. It is legitimate in theory even in India, and if it is made illegal by new legislation, these laws will infringe on the primary rights of personal freedom and will tread on dangerous grounds. Therefore it seems to me that by means of the boycott we shall be able to do the negative work that will have to be done for the attainment of Swaraj. Positive work will have to be done. Without positive training no self-government will come to the boycotter. It will (come) through the organization of our village life; of our talukas and districts. Let our programme include the setting up of machinery for popular administration, and running parallel to, but independent of, the existing administration of the Government.... In the Providence of God we shall then be made rulers over many things. This is our programme.

But Mr. Pal himself admits that even if this programme can be fulfilled, this Swaraj, this absolute self-rule which he asks for, is fundamentally incompatible with the maintenance of the British connexion.

Is really self-government within the Empire a practicable ideal? What would it mean? It would mean either no real self-government for us or no real overlordship for England. Would we be satisfied with the shadow of self-government? If not, would England be satisfied with the shadow of overlordship? In either case England would not be satisfied with a shadowy overlordship, and we refuse to be satisfied with a shadowy self-government. And therefore no compromise is possible under such conditions between self-government in India and the overlordship of England. If self-government is conceded to us, what would be England's position not only in India, but in the British Empire itself? Self-government means the right of self-taxation; it means the right of financial control; it means the right of the people to impose protective and prohibitive tariffs on foreign imports. The moment we have the right of self-taxation, what shall we do? We shall not try to be engaged in this uphill work of industrial boycott. But we shall do what every nation has done. Under the circumstances in which we live now, we shall impose a heavy prohibitive protective tariff upon every inch of textile fabric from Manchester, upon every blade of knife that comes from Leeds. We shall refuse to grant admittance to a British soul into our territory. We would not allow British capital to be engaged in the development of Indian resources, as it is now engaged. We would not grant any right to British capitalists to dig up the mineral wealth of the land and carry it to their own isles. We shall want foreign capital. But we shall apply for foreign loans in the open market of the whole world, guaranteeing the credit of the Indian Government, the Indian nation, for the repayment of the loan, just as America has done and is doing, just as Russia is doing now, just as Japan has been doing of late. And England's commercial interests would not be furthered in the way these are being furthered now, under the conditions of popular self-government, though it might be within the Empire. But what would it mean within the Empire? It would mean that England would have to enter into some arrangement with us for some preferential tariff. England would have to come to our markets on the conditions that we would impose upon her for the purpose, if she wanted an open door in India, and after a while, when we have developed our resources a little and organized our industrial life, we would want the open door not only to England, but to every part of the British Empire. And do you think it is possible for a small country like England with a handful of population, although she might be enormously wealthy, to compete on fair and equitable terms with a mighty continent like India, with immense natural resources, with her teeming populations, the soberest and most abstemious populations known to any part of the world?

If we have really self-government within the Empire, if we have the rights of freedom of the Empire as Australia has, as Canada has, as England has to-day, if we, 300 millions of people, have that freedom of the Empire, the Empire would cease to be British. It would be the Indian Empire, and the alliance between England and India would be absolutely an unequal alliance. That would be, if we had really self-government within the Empire, exactly the relation as co-partners in a co-British or anti-British Empire of the future; and if the day comes when England will be reduced to the alternative of having us as an absolutely independent people or a co-partner with her in the Empire, she would prefer to have us, like the Japanese, as an ally and no longer a co-partner, because we are bound to be the predominant partner in this Imperial firm. Therefore no sane Englishman, politician or publicist can ever contemplate seriously the possibility of a self-governing India, like the self-governing colonies, forming a vital and organic part of the British Empire. Therefore it is that Lord Morley says that so long as India remains under the control of Great Britain the government of India must continue to be a personal and absolute one. Therefore it seems to me that this ideal, the practically attainable ideal of self-government within the Empire, when we analyse it with care, when we study it in the light of common human psychology, when we study it in the light of our past experience of the racial characteristics of the British people, when we study it in the light of past British history in India and other parts of the world, when we study and analyse this ideal of self-government within the Empire, we find it is a far more impracticable thing to attain than even our ideal Swaraj.

I have quoted Mr. Pal's utterances at some length, because they are the fullest and the most frank exposition available of what lies beneath the claim to Colonial self-government as it is understood by "advanced" politicians. No one can deny the merciless logic with which he analyses the inevitable results of Swaraj, and Englishmen may well be grateful to him for having disclosed them so fearlessly. British sympathizers who are reluctant to look behind a formula which commends itself to their peculiar predilections, naturally dislike any reference to Mr. Pal's interpretation of Indian "self-government," and would even impugn his character in order the better to question his authority. But they cannot get over the fact that in India, very few "moderate" politicians have had the courage openly to repudiate his programmes, though many of them realize its dangers, whilst the "extremists" want a much shorter cut to the same goal. It is only by pledging itself to Swaraj that the Indian National Congress has been able to maintain a semblance of unity.

Moreover, if any doubt still lingers as to the inner meaning of Swaraj and Swadeshi, and other kindred war-cries of Indian Nationalism, the language of the Nationalist Press remains on record to complete our enlightenment. However incompatible with the maintenance of British rule may be the propositions set forth by Mr. Bepin Chandra Pal, they contain no incitement to violence, no virulent diatribes against Englishmen. It is in the Press rather than on the platform that Indian politicians, whether "extreme" or merely "advanced" are apt to let themselves go. They write down to the level of their larger audiences. So little has hitherto been done to enlighten public opinion at home as to the gravity of the evil which the recent Indian Press law has at last, though very tardily, done something to repress that many Englishmen are still apparently disposed to regard that measure as an oppressive, or at least dubious, concession to bureaucratic impatience of criticism none the less healthy for being sometimes excessive.[1] The following quotations, taken from vernacular papers before the new Press law was enacted, will serve to show what Lord Morley meant when he said, "You may put picric acid in the ink and the pen just as much as in any steel bomb," and again, "It is said that these incendiary articles are 'mere froth.' Yes, they are froth, but froth stained with bloodshed." Even when they contain no definite incitement to murder, no direct exhortation to revolt, they will show how systematically, how persistently the wells of Indian public opinion have been poisoned for years past by those who claim to represent the intelligence and enlightenment of modern India. Only too graphically also do they illustrate one of the most unpleasantly characteristic features of the literature of Indian unrest—namely, its insidious appeals to the Hindu Scriptures and the Hindu deities, and its deliberate vilification of everything English. Calumny and abuse, combined with a wealth of sacred imagery, supply the place of any serious process of reasoning such as is displayed in Mr. Pal's programme with all its uncompromising hostility.

In the first place, a few specimens of the hatred which animates the champions of Swaraj—of Indian independence, or, at least, of Colonial self-government. The Hind Swarajya is nothing if not plain-spoken:—

Englishmen! Who are Englishmen? They are the present rulers of this country. But how did they become our rulers? By throwing the noose of dependence round our necks, by making us forget our old learning, by leading us along the path of sin, by keeping us ignorant of the use of arms.... Oh! my simple countrymen! By their teaching adultery has entered our homes, and women have begun to be led astray.... Alas! Has India's golden land lost all her heroes? Are all eunuchs, timid and afraid, forgetful of their duty, preferring to die a slow death of torture, silent witnesses of the ruin of their country? Oh! Indians, descended from a race of heroes! Why are you afraid of Englishmen? They are not gods, but men like yourselves, or, rather, monsters who have ravished your Sita-like beauty [Sita, the spouse of Rama, was abducted by the demon Ravana, and recovered with the help of the Monkey God Hanuman and his army of monkeys]. If there be any Rama amongst you, let him go forth to bring back your Sita. Raise the banner of Swadesh, crying Victory to the Mother! Rescue the truth and accomplish the good of India.

The Calcutta Yugantar argues that "sedition has no meaning from the Indian standpoint."

If the whole nation is inspired to throw off its yoke and become independent, then in the eye of God and the eye of Justice whose claim is more reasonable, the Indian's or the Englishman's? The Indian has come to see that independence is the panacea for all his evils. He will therefore even swim in a sea of blood to reach his goal. The British dominion over India is a gross myth. It is because the Indian holds this myth in his bosom that his sufferings are so great to-day. Long ago the Indian Rishis [inspired sages] preached the destruction of falsehood and the triumph of truth. And this foreign rule based on injustice is a gross falsehood. It must be subverted and true Swadeshi rule established. May truth be victorious!

The Gujarat hails the Hindu New Year which is coming "to take away the curse of the foreigners":—

Oh noble land of the Aryas, thou who wert so great art like a caged bird. Are thy powerful sons, Truth and Love, dead? Has thy daughter Lakshmi plunged into the sea? or art thou overwhelmed with grief because rogues and demons have plundered thee? ["Demons" is the term usually affected by Nationalist journalists when they refer to Englishmen.]

The Shakti declares that:—

By whatever names—anarchists, extremists, or seditionists —those may be called who are taking part in the movement for independence, whatever efforts may be made to humiliate and to crush them, however many patriots may be sent to jail, or into exile, yet the spirit pervading the whole atmosphere will never be checked, for the spirit is so strong and spontaneous that it must clearly be directed by Divine Providence.

The following appears In the Kal (Poona):—

We Aryans are no sheep. We have our own country, our religion, our heroes, our statesmen, our soldiers. We do not owe them to contact with the English. These things are not new to us. When the ancestors of those who boast to-day of their enterprise and their civilization were in a disgusting state of barbarism, or rather centuries before then, we were in full possession of all the ennobling qualities of head and heart. This holy and hoary land of ours will surely regain her position and be once more by her intrinsic lustre the home of wealth, arts, and peace. A holy inspiration is spreading, that people must sacrifice their lives in the cause of what has once been determined to be their duty. Heroes are springing up in our midst, though brutal imprisonment reduce them to skeletons. Let us devote ourselves to the service of the Mother. A man maddened by devotion will do everything and anything to achieve his ideal. His strength will be adamantine. Just as a widow immolates herself on the funeral pyre of her husband, let us die for the Mother.

The Dharma (Calcutta) emphasizes specially the religious side of the movement:—

We are engaged in preaching religion and we are putting our energy into this agitation, looking on it as the principal part of our religion.... The present agitation, in its initial stages, had a strong leaven of the spirit of Western politics in it, but at present a clear consciousness of Aryan greatness and a strong love and reverential spirit towards the Motherland have transformed it into a shape in which the religious element predominates. Politics is part of religion, but it has to be cultivated in an Aryan way, in accordance with the precepts of Aryan religion.

Nowhere is the cult of the "terrible goddess," worshipped under many forms, but chiefly under those of Kali and Durga, more closely associated with Indian unrest than in Bengal. Hence the frequency of the appeals to her in the Bengal Press. The Dacca Gazette welcomes the festival of Durga with the following outburst:—

Indian brothers! There is no more time for lying asleep. Behold, the Mother is coming. Oh Mother, the giver of all good! Turn your eyes upon your degraded children. Mother, they are now stricken with disease and sorrow. Oh Shyama, the reliever of the three kinds of human afflictions, relieve our sorrows. Come Mother, the destroyer of the demons, and appear at the gates of Bengal.

The Barisal Hitaishi refers also to the Durga festival, in which the weird and often horrible and obscene rites of Skakti worship not infrequently play a conspicuous part:—

What have we learnt from the Shakti Puja? Sooner or later this great Puja will yield the desired results. When the Hindus realize the true magnificence of the worship of the Mother, they will be roused from the slumber of ages, and the auspicious dawn of awakenment will light up the horizon. You must acquire great power from the worship of the Mother. Ganesh, the god who grants success, has his seat assigned to him on the left of the great Mother. Why should you despair of obtaining success? Look at Kartiki, the god who is the chief commander of the armies of the gods, who has stationed himself to the right of the Mother; he is coming forward with his bow, to assist you against the demons of sin, who stand in the way of your accomplishing that great object, and as he is up in arms, who can resist?

The Khulnavasi breaks out into poetry:—

For what sins, O Mother Durga, are thy sons thus dispirited and their hearts crushed with injustice? The demons are in the ascendant, and constantly triumphing over godliness. Awake, Oh Mother, who tramplest on the demons! Thy helpless sons, lean for want of food, worn out in the struggle with the demons, are, struck with terror at the way in which they are being ruled. Famine and plague and disease are rife, and unrighteousness triumphs. Awake, Oh Goddess Durga! I see the lightning flashing from the point of thy bow, the world quaking at thy frowns, and creation trembling under thy tread. Let a river of blood flow, overwhelming the hearts of the demons.

The Kalyani chides the Hindus for breaking their Swadeshi vows to Durga:—

You have made all sorts of vows to stick to Swadeshi, but you are still using bilati [foreign] salt, sugar, and cloths which are polluted with the blood and fat of animals. You swear by the Mother, and then you go and disobey her and defile her temples. Do you know that it is owing to your sins that Mother Durga has not come to accept your worship in Bengal this year? In fact, she is heaving deep sighs of sorrow—sighs which will bring a cataclysmic storm upon you. If you still care to save your country from utter ruin, mend your ways and keep your promises to the Mother.

In other provinces where other deities are more popular it is they who are similarly called in aid. The Bedari of Lahore, for instance, reproduces from the Puranas the story of the tyrant Rajah Harnakath, who brought death on himself at the hands of Vishnu for attempting to kill his son Prahlad, whose offence was that he believed in God and championed the cause of justice, in order to liken British statesmen and Anglo-Indian officials to the wicked Rajah and the Indians to Prahlad. As most British statesmen and their representatives abroad are the enemies of liberty and justice and support slavery and oppression, the fall of Great Britain is near at hand, and India will then pass into the possession of her own sons.

The Prem of Firozpur is inclined even to give Mr. Keir Hardie a niche in the Hindu Pantheon. Its editor dreamt he was at a meeting in a free and contented country. It was attended by some other Indians, and one of them recited verses bewailing the condition of India, which was once a heaven on earth and was now converted into a hell by its foreign rulers, &c. After prayers had been recited for India, some heavenly beings appeared, one of whom swore to do his best to relieve the sufferings of Indians. The editor learnt on inquiry that the dream country was England, the Indian speaker Bepin Chandra Pal, and the heavenly being Mr. Keir Hardie!

The Sahaik, of Lahore, furnishes an apt illustration of the scurrilous abuse and calumny which constitute one of the favourite weapons of Hindu writers. Referring to the Malaria Conference held last year, it begins by remarking that when a famine occurs—

relief works are opened only when the sufferings of the famine-stricken become acute, and their supervision is entrusted to a fat-salaried Englishman who swallows up half the collections, which amount could have fed hundreds of the poor people. Thus also with the forthcoming inquiries concerning malarial fever, which is spreading all over the country. Every Indian knows that, like the plague, this form of fever is due to the poverty and consequent physical weakness of the people. It is, however, to the mosquito that the authorities went for the causes of the disease, just as to the rats for the causes of plague. Different medicines and instruments were invented for extirpating the insect, doctors were also employed, and rewards paid for the writing of books. In this way crores of rupees went into the pockets of English shopkeepers and others. A trial is now being given to quinine, and lakhs-worth sold to Indians, English quinine manufacturers being thus enriched. Again a commission is about to sit on the heights of Simla. The commissioners will enjoy feasts and dances and drink brandy which will cost poor natives lakhs of rupees, and afterwards they will devise means to develop the trade in quinine or other drugs.

The Ranjpur Vartabaha writes that in the local charitable dispensary a surgical operation was performed on a patient who died in two hours, and that a similar operation on a pregnant woman resulted in her death. It adds, with delicate sarcasm, that "the Chief Medical Officer should get his salary increased." The idea that Englishmen deliberately want to depopulate India is one that is sedulously propagated. Thus the Jhang Sial jeers at British "generosity" which has "converted India, one of the richest countries in the world, into the land of the starving," and British "wisdom" for wishing to "starve out the natives and reign over empty brick and mortar buildings."

The Akash (Delhi), referring to the pension granted to the widow of Sir W. Curzon Wyllie, asks whether "the English can hold up their heads after this. Even their widows are fed by India. A nation whose widows are fed by another should never boast that it is an Imperial and self-respecting nation."

In the same spirit another Punjab paper argues ironically from the speech of a Mahomedan member of the Punjab Legislative Council in condemnation of Dhingra that "all the white-skinned Europeans, including the English rulers of India, must be the lowest born people in the world, seeing that they are in the habit of killing natives every day."

No public servants who venture to discharge their duty loyally fare worse at the hands of the Nationalist Press than Judges—especially if they are Indians. Mr. Justice Davar was the Parsee Judge who sentenced Tilak. The Kesari declared that "he had already settled the sentence in his own mind after a careful consideration of external circumstances," and "had made himself the laughing-stock of the whole world, like the meddlesome monkey in the fable who came to grief in trying to pull out the peg 'from a half-sawed beam,'" Now the Kesari was Tilak's own paper, and he was convicted on two seditious articles that had appeared in its columns, but the Kal, another Poona sheet, also maintained that everything was done on a prearranged plan. "There is no sense in saying that Mr. Tilak was sentenced according to law. There was mockery of justice, not justice." It added that "if the Hindus are to suppose Mr. Tilak guilty because an English Court of Justice had condemned him, Christians will have to forswear Christ because He was crucified by a Roman Court." The Karnatak Vaibhau recalled the story of the notorious washerman who, by scandalizing Rama, had been immortalized in the Ramayana. In the same way the names of Strachey—who sentenced Tilak at his first trial in 1897—and Davar would be remembered as long as history endured.

Quotations could be multiplied ad infinitum and ad nauseam from the same papers—I have given only one from each—and from scores of others. These will suffice to show what the freedom of the Press stood for in India, in a country where there is an almost superstitious reverence for, and faith in, the printed word, where the influence of the Press is in proportion to the ignorance of the vast majority of its readers, and where, unfortunately the more violent and scurrilous a newspaper becomes, the more its popularity grows among the very classes that boast of their education. They are by no means obscure papers, and some of them, such as the Kal the Hind Swarajya, and especially the Yugantar, which became at one time a real power in Bengal, achieved a circulation hitherto unknown to the Indian Press. Can any Englishman, however fervent his faith in liberty, regret that some at least of these papers have now disappeared either as the result of prosecutions under the Indian Criminal Code or from the operation of the new Press Law? The mischief they have done still lives and will not be easily eradicated. It is the fashion in certain quarters to reply:—"But look at the Anglo-Indian newspapers, at the aggressive and contemptuous tone they assume towards the natives of India, at the encouragement they constantly give to racial hatred." Though I am not concerned to deny that, in the columns of a few English organs, there may be occasional lapses from good taste and right feeling, such sweeping charges against the Anglo-Indian Press as a whole are absolutely grotesque, and its most malevolent critics would be at a loss to quote anything, however remotely, resembling the exhortations to hatred and violence which have been the stock-in-trade not only of the most popular newspapers in the vernaculars, but of some even of the leading newspapers published in English, but edited and owned by Indians.

Even such extracts as I have given above from vernacular newspapers do not by any means represent the lengths to which Indian "extremism" can go. They represent merely the literature of unrest which has been openly circulated in India. There is another and still more poisonous form which is smuggled into India from abroad and surreptitiously circulated.



Thirty years ago, when I first visited India, the young Western-educated Hindu was apt to be, at least intellectually, plus royaliste que le roi. he plucked with both hands at the fruits of the tree of Western knowledge. Some were enthusiastic students of English literature, and especially of English poetry. They had their Wordsworth and their Browning Societies. Others steeped themselves in English history and loved to draw their political inspiration from Milton and Burke and John Stuart Mill. Others, again, were the humble disciples of Kant and Schlegel, of Herbert Spencer and Darwin. But whatever their special talent bent might be, the vast majority professed allegiance to Western ideals, and if they had not altogether-and often far too hastily-abjured, or learned secretly to despise, the beliefs and customs of their forefathers, they were at any rate anxious to modify and bring them into harmony with those of their Western teachers. They may often have disliked the Englishman, but they respected and admired him; if they resented his frequent assumption of the unqualified superiority, they were disposed to admit that it was not without justification. The enthusiasm kindled in the first half of the last century by the great missionaries, like Carey and Duff, who had made distinguished converts among the highest classes of Hindu society, had begun to wane; but if educated Hindus had grown more reluctant to accept the dogmas of Christianity, they were still ready to acknowledge the superiority of Western ethics, and the Brahmo Samaj in Bengal, the Prarthana Samaj in Bombay, the Social Reform movement which found eloquent advocates all over India, and not least in Madras, and other agencies of a similar character for purging Hindu life of its more barbarous and superstitious associations, bore witness to the ascendancy which Western standards of morality exercised over the Hindu mind. Keshub Chunder Sen was not perhaps cast in so fine a mould as Ram Mohan Roy or the more conservative Dr. Tagore, but his ideals were the same, and his life-dream was to find a common denominator for Hinduism and Christianity which should secure a thorough reform of Hindu society without denationalizing it.

Nor were the milder forms of political activity promoted by the founders of the Indian National Congress inconsistent with the acceptance of British rule or with the recognition of the great benefits which it has conferred upon India, and least of all with a genuine admiration for Western civilization. For many of them at least the political boons which they craved from their rulers were merely the logical corollaries of the moral and intellectual as well as of the material boons which they had already received. The fierce political agitation of later years denies the benefits of British rule and even the superiority of the civilization for which it stands. It has invented the legend of a golden age, when all the virtues flourished and India was a land flowing with milk and honey until British lust of conquest brought it to ruin. No doubt even to-day there are many eminent Hindus who would still rely upon the older methods, and who have sufficiently assimilated the education they have received at the hands of Englishmen to share wholeheartedly the faith and pride of the latter in British ideals of liberty and self-government, and to be honestly convinced that those ideals might be more fully realized in the government of their own country if British administrators would only repose greater confidence in the natives of India and give them a larger share in the conduct of public affairs. But men of this type are now to be found chiefly amongst the older generation.

No one who has studied, however scantily, the social and religious system which for the sake of convenience we call Hinduism will deny the loftiness of the philosophic conceptions which underlie even the extravagances of its creed or the marvellous stability of the complex fabric based upon its social code. It may seem to us to present in many of its aspects an almost unthinkable combination of spiritualistic idealism and of gross materialism, of asceticism and of sensuousness, of over-weening arrogance when it identifies the human self with the universal self and merges man in the Divinity and the Divinity in man, and of demoralizing pessimism when it preaches that life itself is but a painful illusion, and that the sovereign remedy and end of all evils is non-existence. Its mythology is often as revolting as the rigidity of its caste laws, which condemn millions of human beings to such social abasement that their very touch—the very shadow thrown by their body—is held to pollute the privileged mortals who are born into the higher castes. Nevertheless, Hinduism has for more than thirty centuries responded to the social and religious aspirations of a considerable fraction of the human race. It represents a great and ancient civilization, and that the Hindus should cling to it is not surprising. Nor is it surprising that after the first attraction exerted by the impact of an alien civilization equipped with all the panoply of organized force and scientific achievements had worn off, a certain reaction should have ensued. In the same way it was inevitable that, after the novelty of British rule, of the law and order and security for life and property which it had established, had gradually worn away, those who had never experienced the evils from which it had freed India should begin to chafe under the restraints which it imposed. What is disheartening and alarming are the lengths to which this reaction has been carried. For among the younger generation of Hindus there has unquestionably grown up a deep-seated and bitter hostility not only to British rule and to British methods of administration, but to all the influences of Western civilization, and the rehabilitation of Hindu customs and beliefs has proceeded pari passu with the growth of political disaffection.

Practices which an educated Hindu would have been at pains to explain away, if he had not frankly repudiated them thirty years ago, now find zealous apologists. Polytheism is not merely extolled as the poetic expression of eternal verities, but the gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon are being invested with fresh sanctity. The Brahmo Saniaj is still a great influence for good, but it appears to be gradually losing vitality, and though its literary output is still considerable, its membership is shrinking. The Prarthana Samaj is moribund. The fashion of the day is for religious "revivals," in which the worship of Kali, the sanguinary goddess of destruction, or the cult of Shivaji-Maharaj, the Mahratta chieftain who humbled in his day the pride of the alien conquerors of Hindustan, plays an appropriately conspicuous part. The Arya-Samaj, which is spreading all over the Punjab and in the United Provinces, represents in one of its aspects a revolt against Hindu orthodoxy, but in another it represents equally a revolt against Western ideals, for in the teachings of its founder, Dayanand, it has found an aggressive gospel which bases the claims of Aryan, i.e., Hindu, supremacy on the Vedas as the one ultimate source of human and Divine wisdom. The exalted character of Vedantic philosophy has been as widely recognized among European students as the subtle beauty of many of the Upanishads, in which the cryptic teachings of the Vedas have been developed along different and often conflicting lines of thought to suit the eclecticism of the Hindu mind. But the Arya-Samaj has not been content to assert the ethical perfection of the Vedas. In its zeal to proclaim the immanent superiority of Aryan civilization—it repudiates the term Hindu as savouring of an alien origin—over Western civilization, it claims to have discovered in the Vedas the germs of all the discoveries of modern science, even to wireless telegraphy and aeroplanes.

Just as the political agitation in India has derived invaluable encouragement from a handful of British members of Parliament and other sympathizers in Europe and America, so this Hindu revival has been largely stimulated and to some extent prompted by Europeans and Americans. Not only the writings of English and German scholars, like Max Mueller and Deutsch, helped enormously to revive the interest of educated Hindus in their ancient literature and earlier forms of religion, but it was in the polemical tracts of European writers that the first protagonists of Hindu reaction against Christian influences found their readiest weapons of attack. The campaign was started in 1887 by the Hindu Tract Society of Madras, which set itself first to inflame popular fanaticism against the missionaries, who, especially in the south of India, had been the pioneers of Western education. Bradlaugh's text-books and the pamphlets of many lesser writers belonging to the same school of thought were eagerly translated into the vernacular, and those that achieved the greatest popularity were books like "The Evil of Continence," in which not only Christian theology, but Christian morality was held up to scorn and ridicule. The advent of the theosophists, heralded by Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott, gave a fresh impetus to the revival, and certainly no Hindu has done so much to organize and consolidate the movement as Mrs. Annie Besant, who, in her Central Hindu College at Benares and her Theosophical Institution at Adyar, near Madras, has openly proclaimed her faith in the superiority of the whole Hindu system to the vaunted civilization of the West. Is it surprising that Hindus should turn their backs upon our civilization[2] when a European of highly-trained intellectual power and with an extraordinary gift of eloquence comes and tells them that it is they who possess and have from all times possessed the key to supreme wisdom; that their gods, their philosophy, their morality are on a higher plane of thought than the West has ever reached? Is it surprising that with such encouragement Hinduism should no longer remain on the defensive, but, discarding in this respect all its own traditions as a non-proselytizing creed, should send out missionaries to preach the message of Hindu enlightenment to those still groping in the darkness of the West? The mission of Swami Vivekananda to the Chicago Congress of Religions is in itself one of the most striking incidents in the history of Hindu revivalism, but it is perhaps less wonderful than the triumph he achieved when he returned to India accompanied by a chosen band of eager disciples from the West.

There are, indeed, endless forms to this revival of Hinduism—as endless as to Hinduism itself—but what it is perhaps most important for us to note is that, wherever political agitation assumes the most virulent character, there the Hindu revival also assumes the most extravagant shapes. Secret societies place their murderous activities under the special patronage of one or other of the chief popular deities. Their vows are taken "on the sacred water of the Ganges," or "holding the sacred Tulsi plant," or "in the presence of Mahadevi"—the great goddess who delights in bloody sacrifices, Charms and amulets, incantations and imprecations, play an important part in the ceremonies of initiation. In some quarters there has been some recrudescence of the Shakti cultus, with its often obscene and horrible rites, and the unnatural depravity which was so marked a feature in the case of the band of young Brahmans who conspired to murder Mr. Jackson at Nasik represents a form of erotomania which is certainly much more common amongst Hindu political fanatics than amongst Hindus in general.

By no means all, however, are of this degenerate type, and the Bhagvat Gita has been impressed into the service of sedition by men who would have been as incapable of dabbling in political as in any other form of crime, had they not been able to invest it with a religious sanction. There is no more beautiful book in the sacred literature of the Hindus; there is none in which the more enlightened find greater spiritual comfort; yet it is in the Bhagvat Gita that, by a strange perversion, the Hindu conspirator has sought and claims to have found texts that justify murder as a divinely inspired deed when it is committed in the sacred cause of Hinduism. Nor is it only the extremists who appeal in this fashion to Hindu religious emotionalism. It is often just as difficult to appraise the subtle differences which separate the "moderate" from the "advanced" politician and the "advanced" politician from the extremist as it is to distinguish between the various forms and gradations of the Hindu revival in its religious and social aspects. But it was in the courtyard of the great temple of Kali at Calcutta in the presence of "the terrible goddess" that the "leaders of the Bengali nation," men who, like Mr. Surendranath Banerjee, have always professed to be "moderates," held their chief demonstrations against "partition" and administered the Swadeshi oath to their followers. Equally noteworthy is the part played by the revival of Ganpati celebrations in honour of Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, perhaps the most popular of all Hindu deities, in stimulating political disaffection in the Deccan.

Hand in hand with this campaign for the glorification of Hinduism at the expense of Western civilization there has been carried on another and far more invidious campaign for the vilification of everything British. The individual Englishman is denounced as a bloodsucker and a tyrant; his personal integrity is impugned and derided; his methods of administration are alleged to be wilfully directed to the impoverishment, and even to the depopulation, of India; his social customs are traduced as depraved and corrupt; even his women-folk are accused of common wantonness. This systematized form of personal calumny is a scarcely less significant feature of the literature of Indian unrest than its appeals to the Hindu scriptures and to the Hindu deities and its exploitation of the religious sentiment for the promotion of racial hatred. Swadeshi and Swaraj are the battle-cries of this new Hindu "nationalism," but they mean far more than a mere claim to fiscal or even political independence. They mean an organized uplifting of the old Hindu traditions, social and religious, intellectual and moral, against the imported ideals of an alien race and an alien civilization, and the sincerity of some, at least, of the apostles of this new creed cannot be questioned. With Mr. Arabindo Ghose, they firmly believe that "the whole moral strength of the country is with us, justice is with us, nature is with us, and the law of God, which is higher than any human law, justifies our action."

This is a grave phenomenon not to be contemptuously dismissed as the folly of ill-digested knowledge or summarily judged and condemned, in a spirit of self-righteousness, as an additional proof of the innate depravity and ingratitude of the East. It undoubtedly represents a deep stirring of the waters amongst a people endowed with no mean gifts of head and heart, and if it has thrown up much scum, it affords glimpses of nobler elements which time may purify and bring to the surface. Nor if our rule and our civilization are to prevail must we be unmindful of our own responsibility or forget that our presence and the influences we brought with us first stirred the waters.

The part played by Brahmanism in Indian unrest is far more conspicuous in some parts of India than in others, and for reasons which are generally not far to seek. Wherever it has been most active, it connotes perhaps more than anything else the reactionary side of that unrest. Though there have been and still are many enlightened Brahmans who have cordially responded to the best influences of Western education, and have worked with admirable zeal and courage to bridge the gulf between Indian and European civilization, Brahmanism as a system represents the antipodes of all that British rule must stand for in India, and Brahmanism has from times immemorial dominated Hindu society—dominated it, according to the Hindu Nationalists, for its salvation. "If," writes one of them, "Mother India, though reduced to a mere skeleton by the oppression of alien rulers during hundreds of years, still preserves her vitality, it is because the Brahmans have never relaxed in their devotion to her. She has witnessed political and social revolutions. Famines and pestilence have shorn her of her splendour. But the Brahmans have stood by her through all the vicissitudes of fortune. It is they who raised her to the highest pinnacle of glory, and it is they whose ministrations still keep up the drooping spirits of her children."

The Brahmans are the sacerdotal caste of India. They are at the same time the proudest and the closest aristocracy that the world has ever seen, for they form not merely an aristocracy of birth in the strictest sense of the term, but one of divine origin. Of the Brahman it may be said as of no other privileged mortal except perhaps the Levite of the Old Testament: Nascitur non fit. No king, however powerful, can make or unmake a Brahman, no genius, however transcendent, no services, however conspicuous, no virtues, however pre-eminent, can avail to raise a Hindu from a lower caste to the Brahman's estate. In early times the caste laws must have been less rigid, for otherwise there would only be Aryan Brahmans, whereas in the South of India there are many Brahmans of obviously Dravidian stock. But to-day not even the Brahmans themselves can raise to their own equal one who is not born of their caste, though by the exercise of the castely authority they can in specific cases outcaste a fellow-Brahman who has offended against the immutable laws of caste, and, except for minor transgressions which allow of atonement and reinstatement, when once outcasted he and his descendants cease for ever to be Brahmans. The Brahmans might be at a loss to make good their claim that they date back to the remote ages of the Vedas. But a good deal more than two thousand years have passed since they constituted themselves the only authorized intermediaries between mankind and the gods. In them became vested the monopoly of the ancient language in which all religious rites are performed, and with a monopoly of the knowledge of Sanskrit they retained a monopoly of learning long after Sanskrit itself had become a dead language. Like the priests who wielded a Latin pen in the Middle Ages in Europe, they sat as advisers and conscience-keepers in the councils of every Hindu ruler. To the present day they alone can expound the Hindu scriptures, they alone can approach the gods in their temples, they alone can minister to the spiritual needs of such of the lower castes as are credited with sufficient human dignity to be in any way worthy of their ministrations.

In the course of ages differences and distinctions have gradually grown up amongst them, and they have split up into innumerable septs and sub-castes. As they multiplied from generation to generation an increasing proportion were compelled to supplement the avocations originally sacred to their caste by other and lowlier means of livelihood. There are to-day over 14 million Brahmans in India, and a very large majority of them have been compelled to adopt agricultural, military, and mercantile pursuits which, as we know from the Code of Manu were already regarded as, in certain circumstances, legitimate or excusable for a Brahman even in the days of that ancient law-giver. In regard to all other castes, however, the Brahman, humble as his worldly status may be, retains an undisputed pre-eminence which he never forgets or allows to be forgotten, though it may only be a pale reflection of the prestige and authority of his more exalted caste-men—a prestige and authority, be it added, which have often been justified by individual achievements. How far the influence of Brahmanism as a system has been socially a good or an evil influence I am not concerned to discuss, but, however antagonistic it may be at the present moment to the influence of Western civilization, it would be unfair to deny that it has shown itself and still shows itself capable of producing a very high type both of intellect and of character. Nor could it otherwise have survived as it has the vicissitudes of centuries.

Neither the triumph of Buddhism, which lasted for nearly 500 years, nor successive waves of Mahomedan conquest availed to destroy the power of Brahmanism, nor has it been broken by British supremacy. Inflexibly as he dominates a social system in all essentials more rigid than any other, the Brahman has not only recognised the need of a certain plasticity in its construction which allows for constant expansion, but he has himself shown unfailing adaptability in all non-essentials to varying circumstances. To the requirements of their new Western masters the Brahmans adapted themselves from the first with admirable suppleness, and when a Western system of education was introduced into India in the first half of the last century, they were quicker than any other class to realize how it could be used to fortify their own position. The main original object of the introduction of Western education into India was the training of a sufficient number of young Indians to fill the subordinate posts in the public offices with English-speaking natives. The Brahmans responded freely to the call, and they soon acquired almost the same monopoly of the new Western learning as they had enjoyed of Hindu lore through the centuries. With the development of the great administrative services, with the substitution of English for the vernacular tongues as the only official language, with the remodelling of judicial administration and procedure on British lines, with the growth of the liberal professions and of the Press, their influence constantly found new fields of activity, whilst through the old traditional channels it continued to permeate those strata of Hindu society with which the West had established little or no contact.

Nevertheless the spread of Western ideas and habits was bound to loosen to some extent the Brahmans' hold upon Hindu society, for that hold is chiefly rooted in the immemorial sanctity of custom, which new habits and methods imported from the West necessarily tended to undermine. Scrupulous—and, according to many earnest Englishmen, over-scrupulous—as we were to respect religious beliefs and prejudices, the influence of Western civilization could not fail to clash directly or indirectly with many of the ordinances of Hindu orthodoxy. In non-essentials Brahmanism soon found it expedient to relax the rigour of caste obligations, as for instance to meet the hard case of young Hindus who could not travel across the "black water" to Europe for their studies without breaking caste, or indeed travel even in their own country in railways and river steamers without incurring the pollution of bodily contact with the "untouchable" castes. Penances were at first imposed which had gradually to be lightened until they came to be merely nominal. Graver issues were raised when such ancient customs as infant marriage and the degradation of child widows were challenged. The ferment of new ideas was spreading amongst the Brahmans themselves. Some had openly discarded their ancestral faith, and many more were moved to search their own scriptures for some interpretation of the law less inconsistent with Western standards. It seemed at one moment as if, under the inspiration of men like Ranade in the Deccan and Tagore in Bengal, Brahmanism itself was about to take the lead in purging Hinduism of its most baneful superstitions and bringing it into line with the philosophy and ethics of the West. But the liberal movement failed to prevail against the forces of popular superstition and orthodox bigotry, combined with the bitterness too frequently resulting from the failure of Western education to secure material success or even an adequate livelihood for those who had departed from the old ways. Though there have been and still are many admirable exceptions, Brahmanism remained the stronghold of reaction against the Western invasion. Of recent years, educated Brahmans have figured prominently in the social and religious revival of Hinduism, and they have figured no less prominently, whether in the ranks of the extremists or amongst the moderate and advanced politicians, in the political movement which has accompanied that revival.

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