THE VALUE OF HINDUISM FOR HINDUS*
[* This is an address given by Mr. Myron Phelps in the grounds of the Vivekananda Reading Hall, Kuala Lumpur, F.M.S, on April 16, 1910, and reprinted here with the kind permission of the author - Ed. L.T.]
I always have great satisfaction in addressing Hindus, and I find an added satisfaction in speaking at this spot, for I knew Vivekananda Swami first in Chicago in 1893, and afterwards in New York, when he was for a time my guest. He was certainly one of the most learned, eloquent and engaging men I have ever met.
Vivekananda Swami did not introduce Hinduism to me. It had, when I met him, been for six years a familiar subject. I have for more than twenty-three years been an earnest student of your sacred books, and have imbibed from that study a deep sympathy and affection for India and Indians. It is to express those sentiments that I have adopted your dress while among you.
I have long desired to spend some years in India, in a first-hand study of her people and institutions. A few months ago it became possible for me to leave home for a long absence, and I embraced the opportunity to gratify those longings. I came by way of Colombo, and there met my friend of many years' standing - my most honoured and revered friend, - Mr. Ramanathan. He told me about the educational work which he and others were inaugurating in Jaffna, and which he considered very important, since the social and religious status and tendencies in that community were far from what they ought to be, owing chiefly to the decadence of education in Hindu hands. And he asked me if I would not postpone my visit to India for a time, and assist him in giving a start to this work. I readily assented: went to Jaffna in February, and was actively engaged there during six weeks, together with several Hindu gentlemen, in holding meetings throughout the district and addressing the people on the importance of educating their children in their own schools. Great interest was developed, growing enthusiasm, a real spirit of determination to throw off the Missionary bondage appeared. I became deeply interested in the situation, and when I was asked to come here with the Hindu College committee I again assented, since I was willing to do anything to aid in their very serious crisis.
For my address to you this evening I have chosen as a subject, the value of Hinduism to Hindu, for the reason that I think my experience and observation in the West enable me to tell you some things which your own countrymen could not tell you, and which you ought to know; which I consider it my duty to say to your people, whenever I have the opportunity.
There are in particular three reasons of signal importance which should exalt Hinduism in your eyes far above every other religions, as a religion for Hindus. The first of these is that it is; in a unique sense, a living religion. The very essence, and the basis, of Hinduism, is the teaching of the potentiality which resides in men of reaching a stage of growth when, while still living in this body, the spiritual world opens to him - when he becomes a knower of God and a seer of spiritual realities. He then becomes the true, the divine Teacher, imparting to men the instructions which he has successfully traversed. His teaching constitutes what is known as religion, and most of the religious systems of the world have been actually founded in precisely this way. The teachings of the Founder have been recorded and form the principal scriptures of the new faith. to preserve the life and vigour of the religion, there must be a succession of divine teachers who, as "living witnesses", keep it in touch with spiritual realities and prevent the accretion of ingenious vagaries invented by the discursive mind. Now India has always in the past, as she does today, possessed her Sages, but the religions of the West have not had them. Christ and Paul and John were among the wisest of men, but they have not had a line of successors in the West. It is many hundreds of years since there was a spiritually illuminated man in the Christian Church. As a consequence, that Church has forgotten the meaning of its Scriptures. The original teachings of Christ are of the highest character. I have for them the utmost reverence, and if revering and endeavouring to follow them makes a man a Christian, then I am one. But the modern Christian Church, or rather the hundreds of Churches or sects professing conflicting beliefs which call themselves by that name, have been for many centuries wandering in the dark, and for the things which they teach I have no respect. All the powers of the human mind have been applied to this Bible, to discover its meaning, with the result that a great variety of interpretations have been brought forward. These differences are not trivial or unessential, but fundamental. For instance, there is the question of punishment for sinners - for all who do not "believe in" Christ. A hundred years or so ago all Christendom believed that such persons would burn in hell-fire for ever, and such is now the teaching, I am informed, of the Missionaries in the East. This doctrine still has some believers in the West, but most of the Churches have concluded that it cannot be true. That doctrine has been carried to such a length in the Church that at times it has been commonly taught that heathens and infants who could have heard of Christ would be eternally damned.
Then there is the doctrine of Atonement - did Christ by his death make reparation for the sins of all who "believe" in him - or must each man bear the consequences of his own sins? Upon this question there is a great difference of opinion among the Churches.
Then, was Christ the son of God, or was he a man? This question also divides the Church.
There are many other matters of contention among them, but these will suffice as examples.
Another result of the loss by the Church of the true meaning of the Bible is, that its teachings, being divorced from truth, have ceased, in great measure, to be logical, reasonable or convincing. Examples of this are the doctrines of Eternal Punishment; Atonement, or the transfer of one's own Christ or Redeemer for all mankind, including the countless millions both before and after him who never heard of him; Special Creation, which makes man eternal in only one direction - like "a stick with only one end"; Original sin, which asserts that God created man with a tendency to sin.
Now such doctrines as these were not taught by Christ, and are not to be found in the Bible of the Christians, but they are read into that Bible by perversion of its words, and are taught by many of the so-called Christian Churches. Thinking men cannot accept them as true. The consequence of this, and of the divergence and uncertainty of the teaching of the various and the divergence and uncertainty of the teaching of the various and very numerous sects, is that Religion in the West has quite lost its hold upon the people - that men who think for themselves, the leaders of society, have dropped it and, as is always the case, the masses of men follow this example. The Church in the West to-day is little more than a social form, a social convention, without controlling power over the lives of men: and this deplorable condition has come about because, through lack of illuminated Teachers, the Church has long lost its touch with spiritual realities. This is a condition of spiritual death, and, in comparison with it, Hinduism may well be termed a living religion. Hinduism has not lost its way amid vague and doubtful speculations, it has been held to facts by "Living Witnesses", it is therefore a true and reliable guide to the Lord, and as such should be cherished as your most precious possession.
The second reason which you have for valuing Hinduism to which I wish to call your attention tonight, is that it is the original Religion in the world, the oldest Religion, the Religion from which other Religions have sprung, and that it also is the most highly developed, the most scientific, the most practically useful of Religions. It is a common, but very great error to think that because all Religions are from God, all are alike - one is as good as another. Religions are adapted respectively to the characters of the various races of men, and differ just as those characters differ. A religion perfectly adapted to the wants of a warlike and primitive people, such as the Arabs were some 1400 years ago, or one which will meet the requirements of a people fully occupied with the things of the world, and in no hurry to get to God, such as the Westerners are, may be a very poor religion for Hindus, whose one desire for countless ages has been to come nearer to Him. The Lord, always, in the long run, gives to men what they most want. He has met the desires of Western nations with a vast abundance of the things of this world. He has responded to the dominant longing of the Hindus by giving them the greatest and best of religions - that which will lead them to Him in the shortest time.
Hinduism differs from all other religions in form, and place, as well as in contents. All the principles of religion, the spiritual laws with which the life of man is concerned, are compiled and systematically arranged and recorded in the Vedas. Everything needed is there, and in this the Mother of Religions steps forth from the mist of pre-historic times, as perfect in essentials as she is today. Her authority is dependent upon no man, nor is her teaching involved with the life of any man. It is your tradition that the Vedas are the eternal source of religion for the world: and while the claim is of course incapable of proof in a Western scientific sense, it makes a strong appeal to reason and common sense.
All other religions rest upon the teachings of a single man; e.g. Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism, Mohammedanism, Zoroastrianism. They are even more or less bound up with the character and life as well as the teaching of that man. Thus the Christian will tell you that the great strength of Christianity lies in the matchless beauty of the life of Christ. That being so, suppose it should be proved that such a man as Jesus Christ never actually lived on earth. What would become of the Christian Religion? The Church has in the course of its history been brought face to face with that possibility, and so serious did the situation appear to the leaders of the Church that, as is now generally admitted by scholars, the History of the Jews by Josephus, which failed to mention Christ, was amended in the interest of the Church by the interpolation of a forged passage containing his name.
How insecure, then, is every other religion when compared with the impregnable position of Hinduism, its foundation on the Vedas unshaken, though the name of every man ever connected with it should be swept away!
But besides this inexhaustible mine of principles, Hinduism has also its Sages, and a thousand when other religions have but one or two. There are the sixty-three great Tamil Saints: - There are Rama, Krishna, Sankaracharya, Chaitanya, Ramanuja, Ramakrishna and hundreds of others whose names you would recognize should I mention them. And besides these Saints whom you know by name, there are thousands of others whose names are not familiar to you. Now every one of these wise men had sufficient spiritual wisdom to have founded a new religion, had he been so minded. But they were not so disposed: they gave their labours instead, to enriching Hinduism. It results that there has been accumulated in your sacred books a vast store of spiritual wisdom absolutely un approached elsewhere in the world. In them every phase and aspect of life is treated, the unseen powers and nature of man, the unseen powers of the universe, the nature of God, the manner in which the divine powers were projected and the universe created. Other religions are, in comparison, most meagre, and they could not well be otherwise; for how could the labours of one man or of several men extending over only a few years, compass the results achieved by many hundreds of men in the course of scores of centuries?
Then turning to the more practical parts of the religion, what shall be said of the elaborate and seemingly endless ceremonial of Hinduism? Is it the mere meaningless accretion of centuries of formal worship? By no means. It was all planned with a distinct purpose by the Sages of India. That purpose was to afford all men, of whatever position in life, for long or even unlimited periods of time, occupation for their hands and minds, in connection with the worship of the Lord.
For a similar purpose was created the vast sacred literature of the Itihasas - the Puranas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata. The Mahabharata alone, in its English translation, fills about 70,000 printed pages. The purpose is, that a man may be able to fill his intellectual life, if he chooses, with this world of thoughts and pictures relating to God and spiritual things, - may thus become "established upon the Lord", to the exclusion for the time of everything else.
Then as to the Rules given by Hinduism for the conduct of life.
Religion is a very practical and very scientific thing: not at all the indefinite and uncertain thing some of our friends, especially in the West, are in the habit of thinking it. Brahma vidya, knowledge of God, is most difficult of attainment, and the path to it is most arduous of paths. Anything which can help us on that path should be esteemed our greatest treasure. Now the Agamas and Sastras were worked out by generations of wise men for that very purpose - to give us assistance on this path, and they are indeed most effective aids when understood.
Let me give you an illustration. According to Western psychology there are two principal states of consciousness - the waking or thinking state, and the sleeping state in which thought and consciousness are partially or wholly suspended. It is not suspected that there is another state in which thought has ceased but consciousness is fully alive. It is supposed that the thinker and the experiencer of consciousness are the same and that therefore the cessation of thought means the cessation of consciousness.
But we learn from the Indian sages that the Western premise is wrong - that the manas or thinker is not the same as the atma or spirit, the knower; and that as a consequence there is a state of full consciousness possible to man in which there is no thought. And any earnest many may convince himself by introspection if he goes about it in the right way; that the Eastern teaching is right.
Now what is the practical value of knowing that the spirit - the immortal and changeless - is distinct from the mind, which is mortal and subject to change. The Blessed Bhagavan tells us in the Gita - a Book by the way not so much prized by you Tamils as it should be. I have found it the most practical and valuable of all books. Sri Krishna says:
"Because mind alone is the ally of the spirit and mind alone is the enemy of the spirit, the mind should not be made impure." The meaning is that the mind being the chief instrument of the spirit given it by the Lord to help it out of this quagmire of matter into which the spirit has sunk, and standing in the closest association with the spirit, is capable, if pure, of being an immeasurably valuable assistant to the spirit on the path to the Lord, and, if impure, a most dangerous obstructer of that path. Every wise man therefore will guard the purity of his mind.
We are told that only the purified and disciplined mind can lift the veil which prevents the spirit from knowing itself and God; that for getting out of this bondage in which it is, it is absolutely dependent upon the mind.
Suppose that in your youth your father gives you a servant, saying - this servant will be with you all your life, will be your constant companion, and will be the only first-rate servant you will ever have. Will you not carefully look to the training of that servant? Will you not watch him closely - keep him away from evil companions, wine and woman? - keep him pure?
Unquestionably you will; and you have just the same interest in training the mind - in keeping it pure.
And how are you to purify the mind? The Sastras and Agamas tell you this; you are to regulate your thoughts - action will take care of itself if the thoughts are regulated - according to the rules laid down by holy men. You will avoid sensuousness and vice, you will cultivate love and generosity. Here is the scientific basis of ethics which the West has so long sought in vain.
Can anything be more practically valuable than this little piece of information about the distinction between the mind and the spirit?
I hope that I have now sufficiently impressed upon you the wonderful development and elaboration which your religion has received at the hands of these numberless Sages - the scientific and practical value which they have given it.
The third reason to which I wish to call your attention tonight, why Hindus should attach the highest value to their religion, is that it is a part, and the chief part, of your national character, which cannot be given up without leaving you emasculated and lifeless as a nation. Every nation has been given by the lord, or has developed according to divine laws, certain institutions peculiarly be-fitted to the character of its people as individuals. These institutions embrace its language, its customs such as social laws, caste, etc., and its Religion. These are all knitted together - correlated to each other, and together they form the character of the nation or race. They cannot be given up any more than a man can give up hi individuality. Should a man attempt to do this, he would merely mutilate himself, and the fraction remaining would have little value for himself or others. It is the same with national or racial character; and it should also be noted that its several constituents - Language, Customs, Religion, are so closely interrelated that no one of them can be dropped or injured without substantially maiming or wholly destroying each of the others. Let us trace the effect of abandoning or changing any of the features of the national character.
First, take up the institution of Language. To give it up, means what?
Thousands of Tamil children in Jaffna are practically doing so today. Almost as soon as they enter school, and before they have at all mastered Tamil, they are set to learn English. Thereafter English is given the first place, Tamils is subordinated. All the efforts of the teacher are directed to stimulate the child in learning English. The result is that he reaches adult life without having mastered Tamil even as a spoken language and unable to manage it at all as a literary language. He is divorced from the literature of his fathers. He is unable to draw upon that immense store of the lofty sentiment and inspiring ideals which lies like a treasure of gold and jewels in ancient books of every race, in none a richer treasure than in those of the Tamils, which lies open to all who possess the key of Language. No man should cut off from this noble heritage of his race, since it is to him a needed source of strength and inspiration at times of stress during his life. No foreign literature can take its place. But the youth who has lost the language of his father's has lost also his intellectual and spiritual inheritance.
And then his religion is likely to go also. For his religion is embedded in his language. Unless he studies his sacred books there, the chances are that he will never study them at all, and that religion will never be a living force for him. We can imagine an Englishman, a German, a Frenchman, abandoning his language without forgetting his religion, for, the source of his religion is foreign to his language and his race. But with you it is otherwise. Your religion and your literature are almost synonymous. Your religion is an inherent part of your racial or national life.
If this is the disastrous effect on the youths of the loss of his language, what is the meaning of the introduction of a new language for the use of the educated classes, to the community?
It means in the first place, of course, an end of the living literature of the language, and certainly also a loss of touch between the masses and the educated classes. The masses cannot learn the new language; and therefore there exists no medium of communication between them and their natural leaders. The masses necessarily stagnate - they cannot rise or progress. They degenerate into superstition and ignorance.
This process is taking place both in Jaffna and some parts of India today. The pandits, who used to be the guides and teachers of the peoples have almost disappeared in certain localities, and the younger generation of educated men are incompetent to take their place. The corruption and decay of religion must follow in time. If it has not already made noticeable progress, it is because there are still enough men learned in Tamil to keep the ancient learning fresh.
Such being the destructive effect of the abandonment of the national language, let us next examine the effects which flow from a change of customs in deference to foreign influence. The general tendency of this influence has been to wholly disorganize your social fabric. Thus, you had the custom of educating your children yourselves. Every village of ancient India had its schools, both for giving elementary and advanced education. You have let education drift into the hands of foreigners, and what sort of fitting for life do your children get? Consider your girls first. The associations of their life in the Mission boarding schools, the Western ideas which they imbibe there, both from their teachers and the books which they study, fill them with the desire to imitate Western life. They want to wear European clothes, to eat European food, to live in houses built and furnished in European style, to have the abundant service which they see European employing. They are no longer satisfied with simple Hindu habits of life. They become a heavy burden of expense to their husbands, a source of constant discomfort to their relations and friends, and, with all that, they are ever discontented and unhappy themselves.
To avoid these evils many of your parents refuse to send their girls to Mission boarding schools preferring to let them grow up in ignorance, without education, and by so doing they incur evils only less serious than those which would have followed from Missionary influence. For it is a great misfortune to the family to have as its head and directing spirit an uneducated and untrained mind. The wife cannot sympathize with the husband in his higher ideals and aspirations, and the mother cannot walk step by step with her sons and daughters as their minds are developing, and give them the needed encouragement of her advice and example. Nothing is so important for a healthy society as sound training of its women, in the literature and traditions and customs of the people.
Then as to your boys. They too are unfitted for the duties of life in these Missionary schools. The building up and development of character ought to be the first aim of education, but this is not the case in the mission school, and for that reason the mission school is of necessity a failure. The first aim of that school is to make converts of your children, to convince them of the superiority to Hinduism of the religion of the Missions - avoid, when possible, calling this religion Christianity, for it is not the religion which Christ taught - and to equip them, when so convinced, with arguments maintaining the same proposition, which they may be ready to use on all occasions, with their parents and friends. All the energy of the missionary teachers being devoted to this end, they have none left for the real purpose of education, the development of character. The dignity of labour is not taught your children, and your boys come out of these schools afraid of work on the farm, just as your mission educated girls are afraid of work in the kitchen. Thus agriculture, which ought to be the delight of your best men, the pride and strength of your people, which is the noblest of all avocations, is left to shift for itself, while your young men flock to the offices of government, to spend their lives in scratching on paper as petty clerks.
These are some of the more practical evils which flow from your abandonment of your ancient custom and your undoubted duty of educating your children yourselves. I have not mentioned, and it is so self-evident as hardly to require mention by me, the far greater misfortune, beside which those I have spoken of are but insignificant, of the loss of your religion, which will certainly result, from the foreign influence upon the minds of your children if long enough continued. How can your children keep their respect for a religion which their teachers do not respect - which the authors of the books which they study do not respect/ They cannot. If they remain long in these schools they must come from them with their faith, if not destroyed, at least unsettled; so that it cannot have for them a controlling force in the conduct of life - the greatest misfortune which can happen to a human being.
The Missionary influence is very subtle. If the attack be indirect, it is even more dangerous than when it is direct. Read what the Rev. Garrett says in the Wesleyan Report for 1902, -(p.9) "Our English Colleges are preparing the way of Christ in Jaffna, not only by the direct evangelical teaching which they supply to the students, but also by the Christian influence which works unseen within them, teaching the young men to view life and its problems with Christian eyes, and to regard their ancestral superstitions and idolatry in the light which the Gospel radiates upon all who come within its reach.
Rev. Wilkes says in the same Report, - (p.14) "Out of nineteen Saivite boys in my top three classes, only one had ever read a Saivite book. The Vedas are scarcely known by name, and the term Upanishad was a new word to them......., to win them for Christ is an aim worth the utmost devotion and skill."
Then the other customs of your Society - they were all fashioned so as to further the purposes of religion. For your ancestors realized that life without religion had no meaning. Now the essence of religion is love, its end will be achieved when love - love for God and man, - is fully developed in the human heart. So your wisest men planned your social organization with this supreme object of life always in view. Love was cherished in the family and a great number of related persons were kept in association with each other in the same family, that love might develop between them. The bounds of the family were even extended to practically include the dependant classes. Families of servants and dependants dwelt in or near the family precincts of the master. They were paid, not in money, but in care. Service descended from generation to generation - a privilege prized and jealously guarded in which they took pride. The care of the master was met by the devotion of the servant.
There were no jails in your ancient polity. The alleged offender was tried by the village elders, and if found guilty was not confined with criminals to the ruin of his character by evil associations, but committed to the custody of his father, to be dealt with by him on the principles of love.
The rule of decision in those communities was unanimity. The brutal custom of imposing, by force, the will of the majority upon the minority, was unknown there.
The deadly competition of modern Western life was also unknown. Skilled labour was organized in various castes and its supply regulated by caste rules. Nor could a society in which the development of love was recognized as an aim, ever countenance a social system in which private gain is sought at the cost of the suffering of the neighbour.
These are a few of the features of the most beautiful and perfect social fabric the world has seen, planned by the wisest men to lead the soul most quickly to God. Every changing it, has been a disaster - every change in it has sapped the strength and effectiveness of your religion.
The remaining institution which I mentioned as going to make up the national character, is Religion. It is the chief of all, the heart of your institutions. If you drop that - if you adopt another religion in its place - you simply and at once commit suicide, as a race, as a nation. The chief reasons for preserving your language will no longer exist, and it will perish. Your racial customs will fade from the memory of man, for they are the outward expression of your religion. You will no longer be a force in the world, and your country will cease to be a land where aspiring men delight to dwell.
You will now see, I think, how the institutions which make up your national character are interdependent, and all suffer through injury to one; and how they are essential to your integrity as a race - to your effectiveness as a force in the world and to the continuance of your land as a place in which it is desirable to live - which furnishes, that is, a suitable environment for evolving spiritually minded men.
These then, gentlemen, are the three reasons I wish to call to your attention tonight, because of which you should prize and cherish your religion - the fact that it is a living religion in a unique sense, in comparison with which the religion of the West is dead; that it is scientific, carefully elaborated and for you practically valuable; to an extent not approached by any other religion on the earth; and finally that it is a part of your racial character, knit up with your language and customs, and no more to be discarded, if you are to retain your integrity and effectiveness as a race, than his character or individuality can be discarded by a man.
Now your possession of this religion is threatened by foreign influence - very seriously threatened. The chief cause of this danger I have already adverted to - that you have let the education of your children drift out of your own hands, into those of aliens, who have not the faintest understanding of your institutions or sympathy with them. Look at the situation in the Jaffna district. Out of some 400 schools in 1907, 300 were being educated by the Missionaries! Much more than three-fourths I think, since the Hindu schools are on the average considerably smaller than the Mission schools. I have procured copies of the annual reports of the Mission, and I find that the American Mission has in its schools 11,000 children, the Wesleyan Mission 5000 children, the Church Mission Society of England 3000 children. Then there are the Catholics, who are too shrewd to give us their figures. In all, certainly more than 20,000 Hindu children being educated in Missionary schools! Is not this a most alarming situation? Can you regard it with any sort of equanimity? If matters go on as now, what are the reasonable probabilities, so far as human judgment can go, as to the future? Will not these 20,000 children, their minds formed under Missionary influences, become increasingly well-disposed towards Mission schools? Will they not be more ready to send their children, your grand-children, to these schools even than you have been to send them? Will it require more than two or three generations to make of the Hindu religion and Hindu institutions merely a fragrant memory in this Jaffna District? I think not. I think that is the common-sense view to which we are driven.
Is the matter then hopeless? By no means. Education is the key to the situation. If you take the education of your children into your own hands, you can turn the tables on the Missionaries; you have the strength of right and conviction on your side. And you will find that the Missionaries are very weak if you once penetrate the armour of their assurance. They themselves are weak because of their ignorance of your Religion and their doubts as to their own Religion. Their followers of your race are weak because they lack the individual force of conviction.
You have two problems - primary schools and higher schools. Of these the latter is the most pressing. That is where you are weakest.
Your chief dependence for higher education is the Hindu College. For 20 years it has been the one bulwark in the district against the Missionary flood. It has stood in the breach and held it successfully. Had it not been there, Hindu education would probably by this time have been a thing of the past in Jaffna, and these words would never have been spoken.
But the strain has been very great, and Hindu College is today in a precarious position. It has no permanent fund; and has not resource for its running expenses except fees and the Government Grant. Suppose the latter should for some reason be withheld or delayed - by no means an impossibility. The institution would collapse unless some well-disposed person came to its rescue. An institution so vastly important to you should not be left in this insecure position. Then it has no means with which to secure a European as teacher of English, a very necessary addition to its faculty, considering the keen competition to which it is subjected. It has no gymnasium, no physical or chemical laboratory and no library; and finally because of this lack of funds and equipment it is - and very properly - denied affiliation by the Madras University.
Gentlemen, the men who have singly support the Hindu College during all these years have done a noble and patriotic work. They deserve your gratitude and more than your gratitude, your energetic and self-sacrificing support. This is a time for self-sacrifice and devotion on the part of every one who loves his country, and wishes to pass it on unimpaired to his children. The fact that a man of worth and distinction like Mr. Ramanathan should undertake to establish a Girl's College is a great thing, and furnishes a great opportunity. To establish this school, adapted to receive three or four hundred girls, and make it strong and independent, as I know is Mr. Ramanathan's intention, is indeed to confer a great boon upon Jaffna. And just here, I want to refer to a statement to which a Missionary paper, the Jaffna Morning Star, has given currency. That sheet stated some weeks ago that Mr. Ramanathan had collected money in America for his school. That statement I know to be absolutely untrue. I was with Mr. Ramanathan substantially all the time he was in America. He did not ask or receive a cent for any purpose while he was there.
Now this public-spirited act of Mr. Ramanathan gives Jaffna a great opportunity. It ought to excite the generous emulation of all citizens of Jaffna, and if you all push together, great results may be accomplished. There is a decided and growing interest and enthusiasm with regard to the subject among the masses of the people. During six weeks we addressed some thirty audiences, and I found them very responsive. The meetings constantly grew in size. Three hundred, four hundred, five hundred people gathered in around those little school-houses. Then the attendance of the schools increased. Thus at Mulai there was an accesion of fifty pupils within a week after we were there. The school at Karaitivu had similarly forty accessions. It is only necessary to keep this agitation up for a year or two to place the movement on a secure basis. You can look forward with confidence to the regeneration of the school system of the district, if you make the necessary effort.
I know that I am to some extent responsible for bringing matters to the situation in which they are - for throwing down the gauntlet to the Missionaries in the uncompromising way in which it has been thrown, and I want to say to you that I believe that all that is needed for the complete success of this movement - for the rescuing of your children from the mission schools and establishing them in your own schools, is the supply of a moderate amount of money to meet the expenditure which must be made. If you and the other citizens of Jaffna will furnish these funds, I am prepared to repeat the work of the past two months or so in Jaffna, as often as may be necessary, in order to satisfactorily establish the movement. But of course you must furnish the means. That is an essential part of the programme.
I am glad, my friends, to have had this opportunity to address you, and I thank you for attentively listening to me for the long time which I have occupied.
M. H. P