Monday, December 24, 2012


    The science of Geometry is thought to have been the invention of the ancient Egyptians, and the occasion of it the annual inundations of the Nile. A similar argument may be urged with far greater plausibility in favor of its having originated in India, since many parts of this extensive region are annually overflowed, not only by the Ganges, but by many other considerable rivers far more rapid and desolating than the river of Egypt. It was a custom of very ancient date, and of almost universal prevalence in Asia, for great monarchs and commanders of armies to carry in their train certain persons, whose office it was to measure the roads and describe the provinces through which they passed. These itinerants proved afterwards of the utmost importance to the geographer and the historian; and hence Abul Fazel, the secretary of Akbar the Great, was enabled to give so accurate an account as he has afforded us of the geography of the Indian Subahs in the celebrated book which bears the name of that emperor. The old Indians themselves seem to have been more than usually attentive to geographical accuracy, for, according to Strabo, the Geographer, they erected Columns, inscribed with directions for travellers, and marked with the distances of the several cities one from the other. But, however the Indians might have been acquainted with the geography of their own country, it will presently appear that they were miserably deficient in the knowledge of the other parts of the globe.

    INDIA was a term applied with the greatest latitude by the ancient writers of Greece and Rome, whose ideas of the geographical divisions of this portion of the globe were exceedingly confused and inaccurate. Not only a considerable part of Scythia, by the denomination of Indo-Scythia, was comprehended under that title, but the appellation was extended to countries still more remote and unconnected; even to Ethiopia proper, and the distant nations of the torrid zone. This circumstance will appear less surprising, when it is considered, that, in the early ages, the Red Sea itself was frequently included under the general title of the Indian Sea, to which it is so near a neighbor, as well as the Persian Gulf to be a branch; that all those countries, extending on each side of the Red Sea, were called indifferently India or Ethiopia; that even at this day the Asiaties in general understand the term India with considerable license of meaning, and that the Persians in particular give the name of Siah Hindu to an Abyssinian or a modern Ethiopian.

    In fact so little did the ancients know of their limits and divisions, that both India and Ethiopia were used as general terms to signify any remote uncivilized country: and in this sense Virgil is to be understood in the sixth Encid I. 794, where Eneas, in the shades is informed of the future glory of Agustus as also in the eighth Eclogue I. 44. Where a similar notion is expressed. Many other passages might be adduced if necessary from various authors to prove that obscure and erroneous conceptions prevailed among the ancients concerning India and its inhabitants.

    It was not until the expedition of Alexander, described with such accuracy by Arian, and with such elegance by the more ornamental pen of Quintus Curtius, that this remote region became more particularly known to the Greeks. Of how little genuine information upon this point even they were previously genuine information upon this point even they were previously in possession, is evident from the gross mistake into which that prince, who was by no means an inattentive observer of nature, nor unaccompanied, we must suppose, by men of science in his Indian incursion, unaccountably fell, in imagining, on his arrival at the Indus, that he had discovered the sources of the Nile. That mighty river, he supposed, after rolling through immense unexplored deserts, poured by some unknown tract, its rapid stream into Ethiopia, where it lost the name of Indus, and assumed the appellation of the Egyptian river. He was confirmed in this strange conjecture, by the appearance, says Arian, of crocodiles in the Indus and of beans growing on its banks, similar to those which grew on the shores of the Nile, as well as by the recollection that Homer had called the Nile Egyptus, on its entering Egypt; a circumstance which seemed to prove that it acquired, in its progress, the name of the various countries through which it passed. Experience, diligently sought and finally obtained, after a long series of peril and difficulty, taught the Macedonian invader, as far at least as his army penetrated, a truer notion of the geography of India.

    The natural and ardent avidity of mankind, after whatever delights by its novelty or astonishes by its singularity, induced, however many of those who fought for glory in an Indian campaign, in some instances to listen with too ready an ear to the exaggerated tales which national bigotry reported; while the desire of human distinction urged them to multiply those fictions, in order to excite more forcibly the attention and secure more permanently the admiration of their countrymen. Strabo, who was a writer equally learned and judicious, severely censures Magasthenes, an officer of high repute for Literature, and of exalted station in the army of Alexander, for the absurd and incredible stories he propagated concerning the Indian country and the Indian people. At the same time, he gives us himself, in the fifteenth book of his invaluable treatise of Ancient Geography, the most authentic and faithful accounts at that time known of the divisions and sub-divisions of India, interspersed with many sublime moral reflections and entertaining historical relations, which mark him not only as a man of taste and erudition, but also as a profound philosopher. Indeed, nobody could possibly write on that subject with a better grace or more indubitable information than himself, as he had added practice to theory, and had travelled over half the countries which his instructive volumes describe. After this particular mention of Strabo, it would be unjust not to take any notice of Ptolemy, the greatest mathematician and astronomer of his age, whose geographical history and tables must ever continue to be of the most important use to those who tread that barren path of antiquity. Born in the neighboring kingdom of Egypt, he had every opportunity of exploring, he is therefore entitled to every credit in elucidating, the subject of which we now treat; and accordingly both Ptolemy and Strabo are constantly consulted as the most certain guides in illustrating the geography of ancient countries.

    The rice and extensive region of India according to these and other respectable geographers of antiquity, was divided by the river Ganges into two grand portions, which they denominated. India intra Gangem and India extra Gangem; a mode of division that still very generally prevails. Of India intra Gangem, the principal theatre of the events recorded in these pages, Nature herself seem to have fixed the eternal boundaries; for, on the west, it is terminated by the most rapid river Indus; on the north and northwest, by that stupendous chain of mountains to which the ancients gave the general name of Caucasus; on the east, by the sacred waters of the Ganges; and, on the south, it is embraced by the Indian Ocean. It must however be observed, that the accurate Ptolemy does not absolutely assert the Indus to be the boundary of India Proper on the west; for he assigns, as its confines on that side, it had Afghanistan, then known as the province of Arachosia. The reason and propriety of Ptolemy's fixing this province rather than the Indus as its western termination will be more clearly evinced, when we come to consider India according to the divisions of the Oriental themselves. This province seems to be considered by Pliny rather as a part of the Indian than the Persian Empire.

    Of the cities lying on the western confines of India Proper the most eminent was Taxila, situated on the eastern bank of Indus, on the site, as it is supposed, where the castle and city of Attock now stands. This was the flourishing capital of Taxiles, an Indian prince or Rajah, who on the approach of Alexander, convinced perhaps that all opposition to so formidable power would be in vain, went forth with considerable presents to appease and join the invader. Taxila is described by Strabo as the metropolis of a kingdom situated between the Indus and Hydaspes, in extent as large as Egypt, well planted, and exceedingly fruitful. The city itself was not less distinguished by the elegance of its structure than by the wisdom of those just political institutions by which it was governed. Taxiles, like Porus, seems to have been rather a name common to a race of kings, than the peculiar appellation of one sovereign. The reigning prince of that name was the determined enemy of Porus; and it was into India, and because, he adds, in the words of Fraser, "Attock is the only place where, from the stream being less rapid, an army can conveniently pass;" – from that celebrated capital, where he refreshed himself and his army for some days, the Macedonian conqueror advanced to the bank of the Hydaspes, the most westerly of the five rivers, called in modern language the Jhelum, but in the Aynee Akbery distinguished by a name somewhat similar in sound to its classical appellation, the Bedusta. It is rather remarkable, that Ptolemy's mode of writing the word comes still nearer to that of the Aynee Akbery. The Hydaspes is represented as a noble river, which, taking its rise in the Indian Caucasus, mingles its waters with those of the Chenab, and at length, together with that river, rolls into the Indus at Multan. It seems to have been the boundary between the kingdom of Taxiles and that most formidable of Indian warriors, the renowned Porus.

    Concerning Porus himself, and the extent of his dominions, many discordant and very unsatisfactory accounts have been given both by ancient and modern writers. The subject will more properly come under our consideration here-after. Lahore or Lehawer, as it is said in the Aynee Akbery to have been called in ancient astronomical tables, was undoubtedly in ancient times a very considerable kingdom, and no other city in its neighborhood seems of consequence enough to have been the capital of so celebrated a prince as Porus. With the greatest deference, however, to the high authority just mentioned, that the kingdom of Porus is expressly affirmed by Strabo to be the country "between the Hydaspes and the Acesines; extensive, opulent, and containing nearly three hundred towns."

    Amidst a violent storm of hail and lightning, which concealed his army, and which may in some degree account for the traditional story mentioned in Hamilton's 'Voyage to the East-Indies' that he was a great magician, Alexander, in spite of the army of Porus, drawn up on the opposite shore, passed the Hydaspes, at the place where the fortress of Rotas now stands; and after defeating that prince in a regular engagements, advanced to the banks of the second river of the Punjab, called by the ancients the Acesines, but now known by the name of Chenab. This branch of the Indus is represented as exceedingly broad, deep, rapid, and abounding with rocks, which subjected both the invader and his army to the most imminent danger. On the spot where he defeated Porus, he erected a city in memory of the victory which he called Nicaea; and another he denominated Bucephala, in honor of his favorite horse Bucephalus, who died in this expedition of extreme old age, being on the verge of thirty. The former of these cities, we are informed by Ptolemy, was situated on the eastern shore of the Hydaspes; the latter near the western bank, on the site where his camp stood. No more particular notice is taken of Nicace by the ancients than what is related above; nor can we find a town in the map of northern India corresponding with it in situation. Lahore has indeed been supposed by some writers to be the ancient Bucephala.

    Having arrived with some loss, on the eastern bank of the Chenab, Alexander, impatient to reach the Ganges, pressed on with rapidity towards the third river, called by Strabo the Hyarotes, by Arrian the Hydraotes, and by Ptolemy the Rhuadis, or Adris. In the Aynee Akbery, however, it is called the Iyrawutee, which bears a striking resemblance to Hyarotes; but Rhuadis seems to be most consonant to its present name, which is that of Rauvee. Then, we are told, Alexander found a new and most formidable foe to encounter in the united forces of the Kathaioi, the Malloi, and the Oxydrakai. The city which their combined army attempted to defend against the veteran Greeks was called Sangala, which we may fix between Lahore and Multan, out of the direct route to the Ganges. It is but in very few instances that we are able to trace any remote similitude between the ancient and modern names of a country and people so little known to the ancients as those of India. The voluntary migration of some nations to happier climes and wealthier regions, the necessary dispersion of others by invasion and conquest, the fluctuation to which languages are subject, the alteration of the beds of rivers, and many other natural and accidental causes, occur to render every attempt of this kind most uncertain and precarious. Although the exact fate of Sangala cannot now be ascertained, it may not be improper to remark that among the nations inhabiting to the south of the mouths of the Indus, is a race of naval robbers, called Sanganians, from Sangania, a province of Gujarat; and the same tract; at the period of the voyage of Nearchus was possessed by a people called Sangadians.

    Of the Kathaioi, the Oyxdrakai and the Malloi, since they are said to be the most of powerful and warlike nations of India, it is necessary to give an account somewhat more particular, however imperfect and unsatisfactory. Cathay, an eastern appellation of China, being a word of Tartar extraction, and in use, as may be proved from Curtius and Strabo among the Asiatic Scythians in the time of Alexander, has afforded opportunity of conjecture that the Tartars had even at the time of this expedition extended their frontiers on that side as far as the Sutlej, in whose neighborhood the ancients have fixed the residence of the Kathaioi, and thus had already in some degree laid the basis of their future grandeur in Northern India. This early connection between the Northern Indians and their Tartar neighbors is rendered probable, by the consideration that in some instances the languages of the two nations are not dissimilar, since many words occur in them which have a kindered orthography and signification.

    The Oxydrakai seem to have been situated at the confluence of the Rauvee and the Chenab and little is known of them. Of the Malloi and their situation, we are able to speak with greater certainty; for they inhabited a region still more to the southwest, near the shores of the main stream of the Indus and their capital was doubtless Multan. It may be proper however in this place to note, that the Dutch traveller, Nieuhoff, mentions a hardy and warlike nation Malleaus, whose residence is on the tops of the high mountains of Malabar, and whom he supposes to be the same people as the Malloi. He describes them as differing from the Nairs of Malabar in their complexion, religion and manners, and superior to them in bravery, ingenuity and honesty. Their principal amusement is hunting amidst the thick forests where they reside, and where they catch in pits the elephant and tiger; they are governed by laws peculiar to themselves, are scattered through several districts in bodies of about five or six hundred people, and each district has its separate judge or captain.

    Having taken Sangala Alexander returned, and pursuing his progress towards the Ganges, arrived at the fifth branch of the Indus, called by Ptolemy the Zaradus which alone bears any resemblance to its modern name, the Sutlej. In the Aynee Akbery it is said anciently to have been called Shetooder. On the eastern bank of that river the adventurous Macedonian paused, not from any latent conviction of the impracticability of his ambitious project, but in constrained obedience to the voice of his army, who refused to follow him over that dreary desert of twelve days' journey which still lay between them and the Ganges, and to engage in unequal contest with the innumerable armies, which, they were informed, the powerful and warlike nations that dwelt on its banks were able to pour into the field.

    The magnificent Delhi of today was, at the time of this invasion, a place of little importance, having been but newly founded, according to Ferishta, by Delhi the usurper of the throne of Hindustan, and uncle of Porus, who opposed the forces of Alexander. The vast city of Kanouj was at that time, and had been for many successive centuries, the imperial residence of its monarchs; and hardly any fact seems to admit of stronger evidence, that the famous Pataliputra of the ancients is not Halabas or Allahabad as D'Anville and almost all modern geographers have agreed, but this very ancient capital of Kanouj.

    With respect to the nations that inhabited the inland regions of the peninsula, nothing decisive can be ascertained concerning them from the accounts of authors commonly called classical; for, as the Greeks had very imperfect and inadequate idea of the parts of India which they themselves did traverse, it is not to be supposed they could arrive at any very authentic information concerning the parts which they did not explore. To this dearth of geographical knowledge, their total ignorance of the Indian language has contributed not a little; and their fondness for molding foreign names to a Grecian form has added much to the confusion in which both the history and geography of India are involved. This custom was so prevalent among them that there is hardly a single Asiatic word, besides Porus, which they have not corrupted. Who, indeed, could have imagined, that of out of Ucha*, [* Asiatic Researchers, Vol. i. p.a] the name of an Indian nation, Oxydrakai, a compound Greek word, signifying sharp-sighted, should have been formed and applied in their history to that people; that Gogra should be converted into Agoramis; and Renas into Aornus? By indulging their fancy in this romantic manner, they have thrown difficulties, almost insuperable, in the way of the geographer and the historian; and they have nearly defeated the end which their vanity had in view, by obscuring their brightest exploits, and giving their victories almost the air of fiction.

    Having surveyed in our last, the geographical divisions of Ancient India, we shall now come to the subject of the Indian Theology. We may consider the subject in two aspects, the physical and the symbolical, and in doing so, we shall examine in what points the religion of Ancient India resembled those of Scythia, Persia, Egypt and Greece.

    Had it not been for the intercourse which the ancients maintained with India, by means of the conquests of Alexander and the commerce afterwards carried on with the nations inhabiting the peninsula, we would have had none of the accounts now handed down to us in the writings of Herodotus, Doidorus, Siculus, Strabo and Pliny, that give us an insight into the theological institutions of our ancestors. Some of the outlines which these have drawn are indeed just and striking; but they were unable to see through the impenetrable veil, which the craft of the Indian priest-hood had thrown over the solemn mysteries of the religion they professed. To add to this, we had an endless host of commentators and critics, both Indian and European, to torture our texts in their own peculiar ways. We have thus to investigate through a strata of obscure and abstracted topics and we may request the reader to impute the defects, if there be any, to the extensiveness and complexity of the subject under examination.

    The gloomy cavern and the consecrated grove bore witness to the earliest devotions of mankind. The deep shade, the solemn silence, and the profound solitude of such places, inspired the contemplative soul with a kind of holy horror, and cherished in it, the seeds of virtue and religion. The same circumstances were found equally favorable to the propagation of science, and tended to impress upon the minds of the hearers the awful dictates of truth and wisdom. The Brahmins of Asia and the Druids of Europe were therefore constantly to be found in the recesses of the sacred grotto and in the bosom of the embowering forest. Here, undisturbed, they chanted forth their orisons to the Creator; here they practiced the severities of bodily mortification; here they taught mankind the vanity of wealth, the folly of power, and the madness of ambition. All Asia cannot boast of such grand and admirable monuments of antiquity as the caverns of ELEPHANTA and SALSETTE and the sculptures that adorn them; and from the deep obscurity of caverns and forests have issued in every age, the light of philosophy and the beams of religion. Zoroaster, the great Persian reformer composed his celebrated system, the Zend Avesta amidst the gloom of a cavern. The renowned philosophers, Epictetus, and Pythagoras, sought wisdom in the solitary cell. The Prophets of Messiah took up their abode in the solitudes of the desert; and Mohammed retired to a lonely cave, amidst the recess of Mount Hara.

    These groves, sacred to religion and science, were afterwards prostituted to purposes of the basest devotion. They were upbraided with burning incense and offering oblations. We find the most dreadful sanguinary rites observed by the Phoenicians, the Scythians, the Egyptians, the Druids and the Brahmins. We have ample evidence to prove that the very early inhabitants of India were neither so gentle in their manners nor so guiltless in their oblations as we the moderns are. They took immense delight in the effusion of sacrificial blood. In the Vedas, we have the provision, on certain occasions, for the sacrifice of a man, a cow, or a horse, under the respective names, Naramedha Yaga, Gomedha Yaga and Aswamedha Yaga. Meritorious kinds of suicide are said to be five in number, in the Ayni Akbari. They are (1) Starving, (2) Covering oneself with cow-dung; setting it on fire, and consuming oneself therein, (3) Burying oneself with snow, (This practice must have been peculiar to the northern regions), (4) At the extremity of Bengal, where the Ganges discharges itself into the sea through a thousand channels, the victim goes into the water, enumerates his sins, and prays till the alligators come and devour him, and (5) Cutting the throat at Allahabad, at the confluence of the Ganges and the Yamuna." These collective considerations incontestably prove how much accustomed the Indians formerly were to the rites of human sacrifices, either constrained in regard to others, or voluntary in respect to themselves.

    These barbarous customs must have had their origin, in part, from some early but forgotten connection which the Indians had with their neighboring ferocious and war trained tribes of Scythia. There is also a probability of these sacrifices having originated from the general belief which prevailed throughout the ancient world in the agency of demons, and in the frantic terrors inspired by superstition. In India, even today we see thousands of sheep offered in sacrifice at the temples of Kali. Human sacrifices, were seldom practiced by the ancients, but in cases of National emergency; as war, famine, and pestilence, when the noblest possible victims were selected. Herodotus, the historian, describes the various modes of devoting to death, the miserable victim specified. In India, it was either by decapitation, inhumation, or burning. We find human sacrifices common at the funerals of the ancient sovereigns of SAYTHIA instances of which are found in the writings of Tavernier, and Orme.

    Again, we find a remarkable similitude subsisting in the leading principles of Zoroaster and Brahma, the two great Persian and Indian legislators. The Ancient Hindus and the Ancient Persians were one in their belief in one supreme presiding deity and there are parallels of Vishnu and Siva in the Persian Religion. Both Countries worshipped fire and water. We may trace the source of this to an admiration of the heavenly bodies and to the respect paid by the ancients to their wise, powerful, and virtuous ancestors. It is the Sun, that vast body of fire, that, in the words of Milton, "looks from his sole dominion like the god of this new world," it is that glorious planet that beams with unceasing splendor all over the East, whose ray has kindled the devotions of mankind from age to age. The worship of the Sun has been prevalent among the most ancient nations of the world, the Phoenicians, the Chaldaeans, the Egyptians, and we may add, the natives of Peru and Mexico, represented, of course, in a variety of ways and concealed under a multitude of fanciful names. Dr. Hyde who has made the Persian religion, the subject of his study refers to an injunction in the religion of Persians forbidding them to spit into fire, or to throw water upon it. The Persians imagined the throne of God to be seated in the sun. The moon is also by no means without his tribe of adorers in the East. In India the moon is considered as a male divinity under the name of CHANDRA and in Egypt, as a female divinity under the name of "ISIS." In Greece, we have the parallel in the horned goddess "IO." It is said that there were 360 fountains consecrated to the Moon in Kashmir, a remarkable circumstance being the number of days of the ancient year. From a worship of the sun and the moon, there is an attempt to pay the same degree of veneration to the planetary train, and this may be adduced as one of the reasons for the general cultivation of the science of astronomy in the East. The Indians and the Phoenicians believed the stars to be animated intelligences.

    We can similarly trace a surprising similarity between the deities and symbols of Egypt and those of India. We have the Vrishaba Vahana of Siva and the bull is familiar among the Egyptians as the favorite of their OSIRIS. Serpents were considered sacred in both countries and the Eagle of Jove may be said to have its parallel in the Garuda of Vishnu.

    The Indian philosophers, have invariably carried their notions concerning the transmigration of the soul to a point of greater extravagance than the Pythagoreans and the Platonists of the Grecian school of philosophy and this may be traced as one of the several reasons that have contributed to the severer modes of expiation and penance obtaining in India. The Grecian philosopher believed that the soul was a degraded and fallen spirit, that life was a state of expiation and discipline, and that death was a more perfect and happy state, and it was this very belief that supported the soul of Socrates in his dying moments, and that procured to Plato the envied title of divine. But the Indian philosopher traced by his powers of abstracted meditation, his spiritual genealogy through successive spheres and animals and knew exactly what particular punishment in one state unalterably attended the perpetration of crimes in another. This is what is otherwise termed as the Law of Karma and it is this very fundamental law that makes the Indian roll back his eye upon the past periods of his existence with a view to find a cause for every attendant calamity in the present state.

    We have thus, in our Sastras, a few of those causes which cannot fail to gratify curiosity in the minds of our readers. Epilepsy, for instance, is said to be a punishment for one who has, in a previous existence, poisoned another; blindness and madness are punishments, the first for murdering your parents, the last for having been disobedient to and negligent of them; dumbness for having killed a sister; the stone for having committed incest; fevers, asthmas, indigestion &c., have also their causes assigned to them, and the expiations are in some instances, as whimsical as in others they are extremely severe. They consist for the most part, of vast sums of money, given away in charity to the Brahmins. In respect to women, upon whom these uncivil and avaricious Brahmins seem to be uncommonly severe, it is asserted that a woman who survives her husband was false to her husband in her previous birth or Janma. The expiation is that she must pass all her life in austerities. The woman, whose child dies, has, in a former state, exposed her child, which died in consequence of that exposure. The expiation is a cow of gold, with hoofs of silver, bestowed in charity to a Vipra-Deva. A woman who has only daughters, was inflamed with pride in her former existence and was disrespectful to her husband. As an expiation for this, she is asked to feed fifty Brahmins. Absurd as these appear to us, they formed the creed of the pious in India. They, however, give us a true picture of the slavish veneration and homage paid to that particular class of parasites, the Brahmins, by the other orders of society. How conceited and partial should have been the law giver who asserted that whosoever shall give to the Brahmins sufficient ground for a house to stand upon, shall enjoy ten generations in Svarga, the Hindu Paradise, before he returns again to the earth? And what meaning can there be for the sentence, "He who bestows upon the Brahmins a thousand head of cattle, will have the grand reward of ten thousand years of bliss in Svarga before he revisits earth."? How different is this selfish maxim from the very enlarged and liberal sentiment in the Bhagavat Gita wherein Sri Krishna says:- They who serve even other goods with a firm belief, in doing so, involuntarily worship me; I am he who partaketh of all worship, and I am their reward."?

    Side by side with these avaricious Brahmins and their self-elected and docile devotees, there lived a few who cared the least for any of the earth's possessions and who believed that the most suitable habitation for a philosopher was that which was the least encumbered with furniture. These were the yogis whose delight it was to renounce all the world's and goods and to pant for the realization of the great and glorious "hereafter." Many an English traveller and historian has had the Indian Yogi as his subject of study and has more than once relegated him to the limbo of mysticism. These Western writers have unfortunately, in their craze of materialism, failed to appreciate the purest and sincerest sentiments of the Yogi. Among these are Magasthenes, Strabo, Porphyry and Cicero. Porpyhry characterizes them as a set of men voluntarily depriving themselves of all worldly wealth and advantages, shaving their heads and beards, and resolutely quitting their wives and children for the desert. He described them as living in the forest upon herbs and water alone, as reluctantly bearing the load of life, and, inflamed with the "foolish" hope of transmigrating into a better state, as if impatiently waiting for the hour of their departure. Cicero goes one step further and commends their invincible patience and undaunted fortitude in these words:- "These men with equal firmness endure the severity of the snows of Caucasus while they live, as they brave, when life verges on expiration, the fire that terminates their ire of torture." Arrian observes:- "These people live naked. In winter they enjoy the benefit of the sun's rays in the open air; and in the summer, when the heat becomes excessive, they pass their time in moist and marshy places under large trees." To add to these, there are few other writers who were so licentious as to hurl invectives on the devoted head of the poor Yogi. One of them, Master Purchase* [* Purchase's Pilgrimage] ludicrously enough calls the Yogi a sad rogue and gives the appellation of holy ashes to the Sanyasins. That the ancient writers of Europe had very vague ideas regarding the religious tenets, the habits and the virtues of the Indian people, is clear from the superficial and inconsistent findings that they have advanced in their writings from time to time.

    Before concluding this section of my treatise, I shall come to the subject of the Divine Trinity and shall trace the source of the general belief that prevailed in the schools of Asia from time immemorial. From India, if we direct our eyes northward to the great empires of Tibet, China and Siberia, we shall find traces of this general belief. In the history of Tibet, we have instances of medals having the figure of a triune deity stamped upon them, given to the people by the Dalai-Lama, to be suspended as a holy object around their necks. The Chinese and the Tartars have a universal veneration for the sacred number Three and the people of Siberia adore in fact, only one indivisible God under three different denominations which may be translated as:- 'the Creator of all things'; 'the God of armies' and 'the spirit of heavenly love.' The celebrated Siberian medal now in the imperial cabinet at St. Petersburg published by Dr. Persons has a representation of a human figure distinguished by three heads seated cross-legged upon a low cuplike sofa, probably the lotus. An English rendering of the inscription on the other side of the medal runs thus:- "The bright and sacred image of a Deity, conspicuous in three figures. Gather the holy purpose of God from them: Love Him." * [* Stalenburgh] We have again, traces of the worship of a triple Deity in the northernmost regions of Scandinavia and the names of ODEN, FREA and THOR of the Scandinavian religion may be cited here with advantage.† [† Mallets' Antiquities] The same belief in the Divine Trinity seems to have existed among a section of the Pythagorean Philosophers who make the second of the three sovereign Deities the son of the first and the third the grandson. Plato, Plotinus and Amelius held that, the Trinity consisted of 'the One,' the 'Mind' and the 'Soul'.

    In whatever regions this belief could have had a place, there is no gainsaying the fact that it existed in India a thousand years before it flourished elsewhere. India could have attained a knowledge of this truth by means of traditional dogmas handed down to them from very high antiquity which in the course of so many revolving ages has never been obliterated from the minds of her people.

T. M. S.






Tuesday, December 18, 2012


    Years, with their sunshine, their shadows and festivities, come and go like sea waves. If the new is old, it is equally true that the old is new, a new realization upon each returning Christmas. How the aged and the young welcome this festival day!

    I wish you a merry Christmas! How these happy, inspiring words, all afire with good cheer, ring out from the lips of the million. How this anniversary takes the aged, whose hairs are silvered with the frosts of many winters, back to the dreamland of their youth! How it reminds them of those old family gatherings, when the youth, the children and the scattered relatives flock back to the old homestead, reminding us so forcibly of those tender words, "Mother Home and Heaven." How it reminds us of that auspicious night in a far distant land when the star appeared in the east and the angels sung to the watching shepherds, "Peace on earth and good will toward men."


    Let us look back through the historic pages. In ancient times noted persons, kings and orators, after their death, were exalted, honored and worshipped as gods. This was especially true in oriental lands; and secondly in so called pagan lands. And it is evident that some of the Christian festivals were borrowed from the pagans and held at or about the same time. For instance, Saturn (Chronos), was honored as a god and his season of festivity was called the Saturnalia – a Roman festival, and celebrated on the 17th and 19th of December. When this empire became powerful this festival lasted for seven days.

    Bunsen informs us that it was late in December when Gautama Buddha was born. His birth was celebrated and is still celebrated among the Buddhists of China. In Egypt Horus, son of Isis, was born in December. And Greece, in the winter solstice, celebrated the birth of Dionysus, while Persia honored the birth of Mithras, said to have occurred in December. That the Hebrew Christians, coming into racial relations with Greeks and Romans, adopted many expressions derived from the Pagan philosophy and Pagan ceremonies, no scholar will dispute; and Spiritualists, being eclectics, do the same thing.

    From the mysteries connected with the Druids, or the Scandinavians, a strange ceremony was practices, relating to the Yule-log. This was quite a long back of hard wood, placed across the fireplace, which, when it began blazing, the candles were lighted, the holly branches were waved, and the songs of jollification commenced.

    In those very quiet old days of our motherland, the English enthused far more over Christmas than they do now, and in a more material and jolly way. Those old times have given place to sunny social gatherings, beautiful floral decorations, renewal of former friendships and most sumptuous health imparting meals.

    What changes since then! No railroads, no telegraphs, no telephones, no typewriters, no electric lights then, though those old scenes and sermons and blighting dogmas of damnation in our boyhood years have vanished into an abysmal past; Christmas, with its merriment, its shouting's, its gladsome gatherings, its homestead festivals, still lives. Things rooted in principles and great characters, heaven inspired, never die.


    Human life at longest is brief. We brought nothing material into this world and we can take nothing material out of it: and it is of little consequence whether anyone were born in a palace or a peasant's hut. It is reported that Jesus, the Christ, was born in a manger; and yet, in a few hundred years, proud, imperial Rome trembled from her foundations because of the psychic forces concealed in that manger. Christmas points the thinking mind back to that humble birth to that man, medium and martyr, who, while going about doing good, had not where to lay his head, and Christmas in all enlightened countries honor that inspired martyr.

    It is absolutely amazing how this character strikes the minds of different people. To the uncultured and atheistic agnostic, Jesus never lived – he was a mere myth; to the great German, Strauss, he was a wise Rabbi; to the great Jewish Rabbi, Akiba, he was a magician; to the illustrious Renan, a sublime moral teacher: to Fourier, a warm-hearted socialist; to Fenelon, a most rapt mystic: to Thomas Paine, the most sincere of philanthropists; to Mueller, the harmony of all history; to Emerson, the transcendental prophet: to Parker, a fellow brother and self-sacrificing reformer; to A. J. Davis, the great Syrian seer; to Mrs. Cora Richmond, the messenger from heaven; to Col. Ingersoll, he was one of the "most generous and self-denying men, for whom I feel only admiration and respect." [To us, He was a Yogi and Jivan-mukta, Ed. L. T.]

    The above illustrious and highly unfolded men and women express my conceptions of that Judean Christ, who, using the inspired words of that eminent speaker and author, W. J. Colville, is undoubtedly "the reigning power of the moral universe."

    While orthodox sectarians, calling themselves Christians, make Jesus of Nazareth a God, or at least a third part of God in the Trinity, Spiritualists and liberalists in America consider Jesus a highly inspired man, begotten naturally, yet on a higher spiritual plane of consciousness than the masses of mankind – that is to say, in the conception, the parties were governed more by love, pure spiritual love, than selfish gratification or beastly lust. Every conception should be immaculate, having within the germinal possibilities of a forthcoming Christ – the word Christ, meaning the anointed, the illumined, the heavenly inspired. Jesus was a man, a medium and martyr, and was called The Christ after being baptized and anointed. The world has had may Christ's in the past ages: and as the world develops and unfolds, there will be more Christen souls as Saviors, such as Krishna, Gautama, Buddha, The Christ, Lord Gauranga etc. Give these saviors all the honor their due.

    Finally, on this calm Christmas evening, with heart warm with affection and a soul overflowing with love and kindness, I say to you, friends and acquaintances in this and foreign lands, A Merry Christmas – and may peace and prosperity and the choicest blessings of heaven rest upon and abide with you.

J. M. P.


Monday, December 17, 2012


    In looking out upon society, whether of the past or the present, we perceive individuals and classes each with claims of its own more or less plausible, contending for an adjustment of affairs according to plans that baffle one another. Truth is said to be here, or there, or somewhere else. While all are in general satisfied that it exists – that truth is, whether we have found it or not – all feel equally well assured that discordant statements of its character cannot i.e. alike true, but must give place, in silent acquiescence, to someone statement which alone accords with the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. So also is it with right and wrong, virtue and vice. Whatever a few speculatively paradoxical minds may think truth and right and virtue live somewhere it is believed; even although inquirers and moralists may differ as to their nature and whereabouts. Unless we are fortified against general skepticism, by being forced to commit ourselves, without much hesitancy, to certain great maxims of live which secure its ongoing, we should run a sad hazard surrendering life to chance, esteeming one thing as true as another, and all courses of action equally virtuous. But a result so lamentable is impossible, so long as men are men; for however some striking folly in speculative sceptician may perplex even the bulk of mankind for a time, sooner or later it is expelled from the mind as untrue, while the daily life of everyone gives it the denial, and puts it out of countenance by a perpetual experiment. On this account, notwithstanding the confusion and hubbub and clamor that are ever filling the world 'through controversy, men have always something to hold by; something beyond the reach of polemics and brow-beating, volubility; something which survives every shock, however seemingly disastrous; a world to each in which he 'lives, and moves, and has his beings.'

Yet, true as this is, how few believe it; how may fewer act upon it! Each one looks out upon society from his own 'point of view'; and forgetting that his station is a point and nothing more, he infers freely concerning men and things at a distance just as if they were at hand. The point which he occupies is constituted the center point of the universe and round it with the compasses of ignorance and vanity, he draws a circle, which is vainly imagined to include everything at a glance and to bring everything into such a relation to the observer as will enable him to pronounce infallibly upon it. In this way; many most benevolent people torment themselves with the thought of an amount of misery which does not exist. With faculties, temperaments, pursuits professional biases, and circumstances differing from those of others, they cannot understand that there should be happiness found in anything which presents no delectable aspect to themselves. It would be well, indeed, if this habit of mind were confined to the class whose pulses beat with love of their fellowmen; although even such often times retard the objects they are seeking, by obtruding on others in one set of conditions what would be appropriate in a different set only. But the truth is, that individuals of every style of character are guilty of this mistake; nor are any so often so as those who are most clamorous in their outcries respecting their fellows; questioning the reality of religion unless it wears a cloak of a special shape and coloring; even going so far as to suspect the presence of a genuine human affection, if its methods of manifestation be not of a particular sort and description. In fact, no man whatever is free of more or less of this tendency of mind. Everything in one's circumstances conspires to form a medium through which all men, opinions, politics, religious sentiments, habits, and amusements, as well as whatever else enters into the substance of life, are obliged to pass before the mind forms its judgment of them. And thus we 'see but in part,' because we see all things in relation to ourselves – in relation to our imperceptible point in the circumference of being, supposing it to occupy the center.

In considering this matter, one might almost think that the mistake is impossible of correction, since no man can transport himself out of his circumstances and at a leap reach the center of being. It is certainly true that, as men, we are ever subject to some influence or other which will narrow or pervert our opinion. But it is wonderful how much can be done towards the rectification of this evil. A careful survey of the causes of danger; a perpetual vigilance respecting the operation of the passions which often of themselves lead us astray in our judgments; a combination of various means, so that the defect of one may in some measure be supplemented by another; and the frequent use of the imagination in order to suppose circumstances which may materially differ from our own, these and such like exercises will go a far way in assisting us to perfect our estimate of men and things. But no influence, in blissing our judgments, is more general and efficient than the professional element; and none, therefore, demands greater attention to it, in order to allow for it. We find men of precisely the same description of mental character differing from one another in some point, from no other apparent cause than professional bliss. A man's opinions are thus in a great measure formed by his business; as if truth were not truth, and right, whether a man be a lawyer or an engineer, a mechanic or a merchant, a philosophy or a poet.

It may somewhat tend to stimulate mutual toleration towards one another and to direct attention to one of the most influential sources of error and wrong if we take a rapid glance at a few of the professions, looked at in a general way, and by no means implying that exceptions never or even infrequently occur to the description of classes which our survey may suggest to the notice. The select spirits of the world are found in all professions; they survive every untoward influence to which their circumstances may expose them; piercing with keen vision into the heart of things, however disguised by convention and the ceremonies of familiarity and custom. For illustration, then, let us begin with the point of view which may be called the Mercantile. From banks and counting-houses, from ledgers and day-books; from importing and exporting of goods; from the godowns and the shop tables; from whatever is best fitted to accumulate money in an honest but skillful way, the merchant looks out upon society, and on everything which relates to life and futurity. If liberally educated, and with his mind expanded by warm and generous affections, he will not be sordid in his ideas. But he will be practical – thoroughly practical – meaning by that term in his own sense, a man who adjusts the worth of others by their power of realizing something which can be valued according to a common standard of Rupees, annas, and pies. He is willing to have school masters and priests, philosophers and even poets for society. But their labor must be seen to be more or less related to social utility. It must fit the individual who comes within its influence for being what is called good member of society, an active social unit; not a dreamer, nor a frivolous connoisseur in the fine arts, as the speculative thinker or the man of taste is sometimes termed. If it produces industry, good morals, cleverness in an honorable profession, or any other obvious benefit, it is valued. The apothegms of didactic poetry thus find their way into his category of useful commodities; and for the same reason, all forms of poetry which do not embody in so many words, a moral precept or two, are excluded from the privileged position. It is easy or less how opinion on every topic should be more or less affected by circumstances in themselves so peculiar, and differing in so many respects from those of other people. Religious views, political opinions, ideas of books and works of art will all be modified, in the case of such a one, by the special class of influence with which he is surrounded. An opinion which is very general or abstract in its enunciation or which seems to jar with some authorized maxim of good morality, will be doubted as to its truth, or unceremoniously dismissed to the domain of the trifling, the fanciful and the useless. Facts tell strongly on such a mind. Everything that is plain practical, supported by manifest reasons of policy and social safety, finds ready access to it; whatever appears fine-spun, farfetched, bookish being set apart for the exclusive use of gentlemen who have nothing to do or whose delicacy of health unfits them for taking their share in the practicalities of life.

Otherwise, however, we should expect it to be with the teacher – him to whom the education of their rising life of the world is entrusted. Doubtless one so learned as he, who inspires 'gazing rustics' with a growing wonder 'that one small head can carry all he knows' is posted on the central point of view, and looks not partially, but in a whole way, on things as they come within his comprehensive scope. But here, also, the mode of a profession indicates the universality of influence which circumstances exert over the opinions and sentiments of mankind. If one were adequately acquainted with modifying forces, it would be the easiest matter in the world to select from among a thousand the special man who wields the authority of Schoolmaster over the little community who daily receive their portion of mental aliment at his beneficent hands. The teacher of youth, when his failing leans to the virtuous side of over-fondness for his profession, is apt to square everything by the rules and maxims prevalent within the territory over which he has been set to resign. Precision, system, and authority, are his darling ideas. All flights of imagination within the region of plain life he despises; they are not reducible to law and calculation, or at least he does not very clearly see that they are. Truth thrown out in lumps, and lying in irregular insubordinate masses, wants those marks of verity which with him are indispensable in order to compel confidence in its claims. Quite otherwise is it when truth comes in the form of a regular graduated system broad at the base and beautifully tapering at the apex. A system so orderly is respected, if it be not adopted. It is scholar like; and whatever is so fulfills the preliminary conditions of truth. In like manner, as authority is interwoven with all his ideas of progress and good management, he dislikes, in general speculations, all innovations, unless they approach gently, curtseying as they advance to old use and wont, and propitiating a hearing by making it possible to join in hearty union with what is, without expelling or overthrowing it. Yet his tastes and sympathies are much more liberal than those of common men. Beneath his straitened and monotonous manner there is often a genuine relish of the exquisite literary and philosophical remains of antiquity, and a refined sensibility to the proprieties of writing in whatever form they appear. But, then, a grammatical blunder, or a foreign expression, or a special usage of construction, or any liberty which is justified by a law that is above all technical law, runs a hazard of damaging, in his estimation, the contents of truth which may form its freight and the freight of the context. His liability on the part of the pedagogue to take offence at such misadventures of authorship, does not arise from any inherent finicalness of disposition which distinguishes him from other men, but rather from a professional bias, which leads him to associate truth with certain kinds of excellence habitually present to him, and to pass judgment against truth of opinion when it comes robed in a tattered literary garb, pieced up partly with the author's own barbarisms, partly with those of writers not advanced into the role of legislators, and partly with a wanton mannerism which violates it should be observed, is to test one sort of truth by the criterion of another sort of truth; namely, truth in itself by a truth of style. The daily life supplies a coloring matter through which everything else is seen, of whatever sort or nature it may be, modifying the point of view, and communicating much of its own tinge to the objects on which it rests.

If the schoolmaster is chained to his special point of view, nor can reach the center, however fain he would if he could, not less so has the lawyer his stand-point, on which he is located, and from which he looks out upon the busy theatre of life, where all the transactions are performed which yield him employment. Although his habitual duty seems especially suited to sharpen the wit and to communicate a power of seeing through the false appearances of things, yet somehow or other, by a law which ever rules all the many laws that he finds himself daily directing, he too is biased by profession, and he too must acknowledge that his point of view is indeed but a point. Truth and right with him are apt to become mere matters of fact, having no independent existence, no force or obligation which authority has not defined and communicated. Cases of conscience also, or the nice scruples of an eccentric, but religious mind, are very likely to be misconstrued by the lawyer if they disturb the equilibrium of society and he subsides into a mere limb of the law. Unused to appeal from what is to what Ought to be, he looks at everything through a professional glass. If the letter be violated, no matter that the spirit be preserved; at last he takes care of the one, and feels no urgent necessity for concerning himself with the other. Surmounting his special culture, he may indeed glance with his eye in the direction of the abstractly just and equitable; but unless his professional bias be counteracted by a very general education, how feeble is the interest which the one inquiry awakens in his mind compared with the other! How seldom will it detain him for more than a moment or call forth other than a passing wish that such a law should be so and so, indeed of something else which it is, and which has made it ineffective in some case that had unusually attracted his sympathy.

We come again, to the priest, and ask whether more than a point is occupied by him – whether he also be an exception to the general rule. Alas, no; he is one with others in subjection to a professional bias. The credit of his form of religion, and especially of the special section of it which he himself professes, is only too apt to supersede with him the general interests of religion's truth and sincerity. The external services of religion, as they are the chief employments of his life, perhaps almost the only ones, become prominent in his estimation to the exclusion of other services which nature and general considerations enjoin upon mankind at large. Religion, instead of being made the grand regulative element and force in character degenerates into mechanical observance of ceremonies the significance of which he neither understands nor cares to understand; and it is distorted into a panacea for all necessities whatever. Religion thus, to a great extent ceases to be religious, and becomes the fabrication of the priest, not one with nature and truth, but contrary to and subversive of them. The torch of religious truth grown dim, and the priest shakes it but to quench out the feeble flickering flame. The priest too has his professional bias and that of a wide-reaching influence for evil.

Is not the philosopher free from it – the man who stands on the mountain-tops of knowledge? Indeed no, any more necessarily than others. He discredits common sense or the general intelligence of mankind; the universe and all it contains evaporates into a thin nothingness, a less than a dream in a dream in his estimation; and he vaunts himself as the possessor of an insight which the rest of men do not possess. He begins system-building; and rather than bring his brick and chunam from nature, he will fashion the whole thing out of the materials of his brain.

What, finally, of the post? Must we give him up too? Yes, if he yields to his tendency. Dwelling in the airy realms of fancy, he waxes bold and puts shame on the senses of men. Everything is gross which is not visionary; what is not exalted into the ideal is supposed fit only for the common herd of men. No, the pulse of the post must beat high in sympathy with every form of humanity, so far as it develops itself in a genuine manner; or he must be pronounced partial, one-pointed in his view, having a 'local habitation' and a limit.

We return, therefore, to the position from which we set forth, and reassert that everyman has a point of view from which he looks out upon the world and society. The illustrations which have been given are, of course, only a few of what men afford; all classes and descriptions of persons, as we said before, being under more or less of the partialness of view. It must also be added, that the cases selected for illustration have been made descriptive of the tendency in its most conspicuous form – rather as it has appeared, or still appears now and then, not as it needs to appear. For it is a glorious truth that thousands of all professions have in every age bravely fought with their professional bias, restricting its force where its annihilation was impossible. In particular, it should be noticed that the profession of the schoolmaster or the educationist is in itself one of the most dignified in the whole range of task works, and that the individuals who discharge its honorable functions are everyday rising in general culture and health of sentiment. What is true of this profession is true more or less of all the others. The lesson, however, which this discussion illustrates is twofold, referring to one rule by which we are to form our estimates of one another, and to the implied precept it contains concerning our duty in the evolution of our personal character. It is certainly impossible to test opinion without considering from what point of view it has been formed. An account of something may be a true one, as taken from a certain position; and it is necessary, through imagination and otherwise, to attempt to place ourselves in the same point before we pronounce it true or false. A point of view, it should be always remembered, may admit of indefinite improvement. The less partial it is the better, the nearer it places as to the center-point of the universe, the fitter would it serve to enable us to form adequate beliefs. At best, indeed, we must ever remain infinitely far off from that center; for our faculties and range of view are, in the nature of things, limited. Instead of vainly dreaming to escape the bounds of ourselves, we must be content to be what at best we can become and we must make the highest use of the powers appointed us towards this end, since in the words of the poet, the powers denied concern us nothing."

N. B.




Saturday, December 15, 2012


    There are many things in our lives the real nature of which is not clearly known. Nevertheless we are obliged to talk about them and to deal with them as though we know everything about them. It is true that a practical work-a-day knowledge is enough in many cases and it may be said that work-a-day knowledge is not wide or deep. But none the less it ought to be clear and accurate as far as it goes; else it cannot make for use. Therefore it is but meet that we open our eyes and look in the face of several things that we have to do with in the full light of our understanding and try to know them as they are, at all events as they appear to us to be. It is very easy to be intellectually mendacious; but to an erect mind nothing can be more repugnant.

    Of the numerous problems of life which press for their solution at the hands of each one of us, Religion is perhaps the most important. If consensus of weighty opinion running through the wide centuries be taken as an indication of the importance of this matter, Religion has the most undisputed claim to be called the one absorbing interest of man. It is true that various other interests have of late entered the lists to claim for a recognition of their own importance. But in spite of all the clamor that is raised, the claimants are still kept at bay, while religion is still recognized as the master of the field. It is wonderful indeed how it has succeeded in keeping its place against such determined attacks especially when we consider that there are so many different forms of religions in the world and some of them in a very low state of culture. For if the humbler form of it would be proved to be provisional and made by purely human causes the same arguments could be priori, urged against the more refined ones also. The result must be, religion ought to have long been dethroned from men's hearts. But it is far otherwise; though it is in some quarters exiled from men's reason, it is not yet dethroned from men's hearts.

    Under such circumstances, it will not be waste of time, it is hoped, to sift the ground about this question and consider its essential nature so that we might have that practical work-a-day knowledge of it without which we cannot live a complete life. If our religion be only reluctant let-goism in deference to female superstition or cowardly conformity to extinguish habits – alike the out-come of mental decrepitude, it is time that it should be once for all said so: that the few erect souls that are beginning their lives may not be dazzled into conformity by any mistaken notion of it, universality, or duped into superstition for less intellectual motives. Therefore let us try to inquire into its essential nature. The subject is indeed vast and requires a mastery of thought which I cannot lay claim to. Bu yet for men in my stage of culture, and for myself in particular, the attempt will not be barren of results. It can at least make me conscious of the elements of my moral balance whereof religion is taken to be such an important factor and if others could be stimulated to make a like search into their hearts, the writer's wishes will be more than fulfilled. But from those whose stage of culture is higher, nothing but kind indulgence is craved.

    What is religion? What factors go to make our fundamental conception of it? This is the question we have to answer at the very outset of all inquiry into religion. Though an answer to it involves the subject matter of the whole paper, yet a provisional conception is required for its subsequent development and clear enunciation.

    If we pass in review before our mind all the religions of the world we find that, much as they differ in several particulars, they all agree in a few definite points, We must, at the outset, state clearly what those definite points are; the object of which is, if anywhere we find the term religion used so as not to include those points, we might discard it as not having the impress of general recognition. The points that seem to me to differentiate every religion are:-

    (1)    That it is a philosophy of life.

    (2)    That it looks to the future more than to the present.

    (3)    That it has a vesture of ceremonies.

    (4)    That it is a social bond.

    (5)    That it demands support and sacrifice from its adherents.

    The mere statement of these propositions is enough to carry conviction into the heart that they are the chief elements in the fundamental conception of all religion.

    Now religion affects the individual in so far as it is a philosophy of life, looking more to the future than to the present. And as the individual is not alone in society, his Philosophy of life by that law of nature by which everything internal strives to find for it a place in the external, attracts groups of other individuals and religion gets socialized. To impress the heart and imagination and awaken men's memory, rites and sacraments get organized round it and thus what I have called the vesture of ceremonies is given to it. Thus organized and set up it becomes a considerable social force curbing the very individuals from whose internal nature it originated and demanding from them obedience and sacrifice like any other institution in the world.

    This conceive as the essential feature of all religion. The philosophy of life itself might play but a minor part in it, as in the case of Zoroastrianianism; and in the philosophy there might be no provision for a god; for instance, Buddhism is Godless; but it is one of the greatest religions of the world. According to my conception, therefore, religion has a double aspect, its social and individual aspect and in studying it we must steadily fix our gaze on both. To use the term religion metaphorically to refer to individual conceptions alone, however impressive sometimes, does not seem to be quite legitimate. We can indeed say of any absorbing passion of a man as the religion of such and such. But this use of the term is clearly different from the common one.

    Before we proceed further we have to say a few words as regards the present-day attacks of Science on Religion. Unless the ground is cleared by an open statement of the attacks and defense, there will always be in the mind some lingering doubts as to the absurdity or at least the inadequacy of what may be said subsequently. There is nothing like an unreserved statement of objections and even if some of them could not be answered, we might know, by having a clear notion of them how far the question will be affected by want of an adequate answer to them.

    The first objection of Science is as regarding super natural existence. This objection was very strongly urged in the Eighteenth century. It took the form of objections to the miracle which formed and which still form so large a part of orthodox religion beliefs. Miracles were considered as interference with the law of the world and as such were discredited as impossible. They argued in the beginning that even on the hypothesis of a supreme supernatural Being that His continual interferences with the affairs of the world could not be reconciled with the Universality of the laws of the world; for with the lapse of time and development of Science, this conception of the Universality of Natural laws became firmer and with it belief in miracles, as miracles themselves, steadily declined. Then Scientists went to the length of denying the existence of a supernatural essence at all in life so that ultimate analysis hopes to account for all Vital and Spiritual activity from purely physical causes. In the middle of the present century the scientific world was thrown into a ferment by the unlooked for discoveries and developments in several departments of theoretical and applied science and the ardor of youth and pride of success gave them vast ambitions. They aspired to analyze and find out, as in a chemist's laboratory, the very essence of life and ultimately even create man as artificial rainbow is produced by an electric machine Mr. Shelly's Frankeinstien is only one of the pictures of the attempts that were made to realize this astounding ardor. But as Bacon would say a little deeper diving into the ocean of Knowledge has sobered men's imagination and calmed their hopes. Our Scientific Lions such as Spencer and Huxley have already sounded the retreat and science has not positively succeeded in showing that the supernatural is a hoax. The negative arguments are still no doubt urged. But negative arguments cannot carry conviction to impartial minds. Even these negative arguments are now losing favor in high quarters. The Society of Psychic Researchers in unearthing wonderful incidents concerning post mortal existence in the very face of scientists and by the application of their very methods of inquiry. Numerous mystic and occult societies, are started afresh and the religious and the philosophies of the world are ransacked for a comparative study. There seems to be even in scientific Europe a tendency to unsay what has been said or at least to put on a reserve in the attack of Religion. Therefore much of the antagonistic attitude of science to Religion is only a tradition now. But this change of front is not yet understood by the common people. The irreligious among them openly shout out this old out-of-date war-cry of science and claim for themselves the strength of reason. But they have to learn that science is no more their friend. The pioneers in the higher regions of science have shown that the supernatural itself is streaming out from the midst of the natural. The bridge that connects the natural and the super-natural is their consumption of energy. It is known that there are forms of energy whose effects are of everyday occurrence but which cannot be referred to any of the physical sources. The energy of will, the energy of intellect and the energy of life do not seem to depend upon any physical equivalents. In one man, expenditure of a certain quantity of food and physical stuff, produces a certain amount of vital, intellectual and spiritual energy: but the same in another produces altogether a different proportion of it. If the physical world be the source of all energy, we cannot understand the difference between one man and another. This of itself is enough to indicate the existence of super natural power. But there is even in the physical plane evidence of a very scientific nature for the existence of such a power. Prof. Tait, in his treatise on Matter which he has contributed to the international Scientific Series, has called attention to the disproportionate manifestation of energy in the atoms of bodies. If mere scientific causes have produced the world as it is, we must expect an adequacy between the results produced and the causes that go to produce them. For example, in making a mountain, only so much of cosmic force ought to have flowed as would have compassed that end and no more. But what we actually find is that there is such a waste of energy in Nature. Prof. Tait has calculated that in every unit of space there flows through incessantly an amount of energy enough to destroy, if given out, a vast country. He himself confesses that it is a wonder how this vast store of energy passes on without producing much haven. In the face of such a confession, is it really fantastic to say that in the Lord
is the stay of the world and if He but let's go His protecting hand for a moment, down, down will go the world and all its fair creatures will be crushed? Again the vortex theory of matter lends such a countenance to the old world symbolic representation of world's evolution and the serpent, as Theosophy has succeeded in showing, is only a symbol for the spiral motion of matter in its upward movement at the breath of primeval energy. Mrs. Annie Besant's Building of the Cosmos describes clearly the attitude of science as regards the highest cosmology of the ancient religions of the world such as these of Egypt and India. Thus on the score of supernatural existence or super natural interference, the old arguments of science betray a want of up to date knowledge. A second objection of science is however much more weighty. Granted that there is a supernatural power, what efficacy can there be in religion as an institute? The essential part of religion as an institute is ceremonies and ceremonies have reference to prayer. Can prayer have any efficacy in the face of the Universality of laws? As the skeptic doctor in one of Tennyson's late ballads has said can prayer set a broken leg, the supernatural power itself works by laws and what can prayer avail in the ignorance of the laws?

    This objection seems to be unassailable. Many a religion which has held a pronounced opinion on this point, has to leave its ground in the face of this objection, perhaps Christianity is one of such religions. The Christians could not satisfactorily vindicate their prayers against such an attack. Even more like Ruskin, of whose orthodoxy nothing need be said, have had a fling at this. The Church's supreme regard for Psalm singing and prayer, they do not applaud. To beg for a favor when we can work for the possession of it is mean and noble souls despise it. Children must ask and get, but men must work and obtain. Higher religions have recognized this and according to them prayer takes a different form. It does not ask for blessings: it only praises and meditates. Even the repetition of a God's name a hundred times is less demoralizing than a whining prayer for giving this and that. God knows best what we want more than ourselves and to pester Him with petition for revising his judgment is to sit in judgment over the Judge Himself. Higher Religions have once for all recognized this and according to them prayers are the several stages for perfecting the spiritual side of man and nothing more. This weighty objection of science at best falls on only a few religious which are still in a tower stage. Indeed Christianity itself made an attempt to throw off this spirit which it has inherited from its Hebraic birth: but it has not been quite successful. The very Lord's Prayer does not satisfy the Soul. Perhaps from long habit it carries no mark of dissatisfaction in English. But when it is translated into Tamil, the suggestion of dignity is removed. So that it cannot express the aspiration of all men alike whatever their culture. As a set off against this I can refer to the Hindu Sahasra Nama, the thousand names of God. People who have no idea of them will imagine that the list is made up of some unmeaning proper names. But the truth is that every name sends forth a world of suggestions. Puranic, Physical, Psychic, that the names when read out stand for so many material, moral, mental and spiritual incidents. So that the mind is broadened, the soul is purged and the spirit is chastened and purified. Science can have no objection to such a prayer at all. For men, of course, in lower stages of culture, a coarse form of prayer is enough.

    Again the very nature of scientific causation cannot throw light on the cause which religion contemplates. Scientific causation is either a statement of the law of equivalence, or of antecedence. The cause which religion contemplates is altogether of a different kind. It is of the same kind as Human will: As man's will can bring into existence things not already found, so there ought to be a cause, Religion says, whereby the very scientific laws are set to work. Mr. Crozier, in his admirable treatise on Civilization and progress has clearly shown that mere faith in scientific causation is not adequate to bring discredit on the ultimate cause according to Religion. He contends that even the universality of scientific laws themselves, is a metaphysical conception for which there is not enough of scientific certitude, but upon which scientific certitude depends Induction, the very instrument of science, rests its certitude on the firmer basis of Intuition. But for intuition, induction would only stop at the collection of materials: The guess or the flash that brings in the general conception from the particulars is of the Soul and therefore is metaphysical in its origin.

    Compte has elaborately set forth indeed as theory of "The laws of wills and causes" and thereby he imagined out in a masterly analysis of the part played by the religions of the world that in the absence of right knowledge as to the causes of phenomena independent wills were conceived as causing them but, as knowledge advanced the independent wills assumed became fewer and fewer, till at last in the day of Positivism, he hoped no more room would be left for the hypothesis of wills as cause and therefore the deity would disappear from religion. His Historical illustrations give a coloring to the whole theory and the actual existence of Fetichism, Polytheism and Monotheism lent countenance to his prophesy as to the possibilities of positivism; but now as it is more than half-a-century since he enunciated his law and the positivist stage still lies as far off as ever, even though he hoped for its realization in a few years, we have to look upon his interpretation of the religions of the world with some diffidence. For it is easy to fit in the past to any theory sufficiently ingenious. Moreover we have already seen how the meaning of cause as used in science is different from that used in Religion. If Compte's arguments can prove that all phenomena of the world can be referred to their Scientific causes their cause in the metaphysical sense will still be unknown. And it is this Ultimatum in existence that the basis of Religion and science has not ousted it from its everlasting pedestal nor is it likely from a priori grounds ever to do it. So our inquiry into religion is not merely a bootless excursion into moonshine. It has a solid basis as solid as anything else and I hope we shall not be disturbed by lingering doubts as to the absolute reality of all this structure in the course of our subsequent inquiry by returning doubts concerning the security of the basis.

    I hope we are now in a position to take the first step and work the birth of religion in man. A clear study of the early religions of the Jews, and the Hindus as they are set forth in their scriptures will show some aspects of religion at its birth. Godhead shrines into their mental ken as a tribal leader or king. In the Rigveda we learn that Indra was the God of the kausikas and Agni or Fire, of the kanwas and so forth. But soon by proximate living, the tribal or clannish stage gave place to the state and the deities were interchanged. For long the Hebrews remained with their vengeful and distinctive conception of a tribal deity. It is easy even there to trace the mollifying influence of Babylonic captivity upon their conception of God. The Hebrews and the Early Hindus alike approached the great supernatural power in the universe from fear, want or insecurity.

    Though fear and want and chiefly trouble are ever a potent cause in bringing man to God, there are other mental attitudes also which bring man near him. Meditation – a thought is one of these. The reason why the old forms of religion are disliked now is because, from the security to life and property arising from improved civilization, the old forms of representing the relation between god and man cannot now be realized in the upper strata of society. The god of the past was the god of advin, the god of the poor in spirit and the god of those that increased Christianity especially taking its birth in the midst of the corruptions and varieties of decaying empire had its source in this attitude of human mind and its liturgy, however splendid as a figure of speech and sometimes to man in trouble even as a reality fails to rouse the cultural soul that sits comfortably in its achievements. Hence in these days we want a religion based upon meditation or thought and not on fear or want. This explains the craze there is in America and in England for the Advaita of Srimat Sankaracharya.

    The characteristic feature of the religion of this origin is its out and out intellectuality and its philosophy.

    Or again, man might approach the power underlying Nature by ennui. This is also a feeling for which old religions have not made a provision. The soul that revolts from satiety or that is afraid of acting from pity in fact possessing sentiments which are due to culture, require an antidote and God, the supernatural, serves as an antidote to this state of mind. The religion of the gita was preached to one in this state of mind. The curious identity of the present day mental attitude of the Europeans and that of the Hindus at the time of the war of the Pandus and the Kurus is seen in the delight with which the gita is drunk in by the western mind to which it can be made known.

    Love or Reverence is another attitude of mind through which man starts up his religious cause. Many favorable circumstances went together for the production of this attitude of mind. Peace and plenty but such a kind as could only be won with labor and display of strength and goodness can produce this. The Norse religion seems to me to have had this origin.

    Of these the first named motives fear and want are always potent ones. Therefore is it said "In the fear of the lord is wisdom." As even the most fortunate have their troubles, the religion whose foundation is fixed on the rock of security for man in troubles will always find its adherents. Successes and strength might discard Him for a while; but returning grief will bring in returning faith except in a few haughty Titanic souls who could have the internal strength bear the disruption of mind silently and boldly Religion will be hugged by the successful also if it is rested on culture or thought.

    For after the immediate physical wants are satisfied, the mind of man is provoked into activity for its own sake and if religion cannot lay hold of this distinctive feature of man it cannot long exercise sway over him. If, however whatever thought might engage him, he could find that the stay of that thought is in god, then indeed religion would ever be a constant source of power for him. Individually after all Religion is nothing but the consciousness of the existence of a supreme power in the world before which the power of the individual is as nothing. The precise feeling with which this consciousness might be associated may be different in different minds. For instance, in some there might arise of a sense of selflessness or want of security without him; this feeling is born of intense personal weakness or, in others, the conception of this power associated with all the mighty and often times destructive forces of Nature, produces a feeling of terror which seeks for security by expiation and prayer: in other again, the feeling accompanying this consciousness is wonder and delight at the Being that is manifested in all this multitudinous array of mighty world and their interactions. Again some find nothing but one stream of Mercy flowing through the Evolution of this world which ever rises in the scale of happiness from the worm to the man. Thus according to the experience, inclination and culture of each soul, this supreme power that underlies nature is conceived and represented in various ways. Now however diversified human culture may be, there is essential unity of nature in all men and as the feelings by which the primary conception of God is modified are owned by all individuals, if not at the same time, at all events in different times in the course of their lives, the representation of the Deity so as to suit one mind may sometime or other find itself satisfactory to others also. If by a broad classification therefrom we can put minds into three kinds, Satvic, Rajasic and Thamasic, then it is possible to enunciate a single form of the relation between man and God so as to suit all the three stages of mind by progressive interpretation of the relation according to the progressive nature of the mind. This is what in fact Hinduism has done for the religion. Its religious conception with an apparent oneness of form unfolds deeper and deeper truths for minds of higher and higher culture.

    For the Thamasic or dark soul whose characteristics according to the Gita are ignorance and fear there is the coarse materialistic conception of deity as a judge and a "punisher of crimes." The Horriblest Hells are shown to these in order to fasten on their mind the thought of the littleness of their strength before that of the lord. The Rajasic people whose proud souls compasses not earth or Heaven and whose ambition would take possession of all, can be refrained from ruining themselves and ruining all only, if by a slightly higher form, the same Almightiness of the ultimate power of the world is impressed on them. If not, in the language of the Gita, they will invest all thought with their pride and vileness. For,

Asuric men know not either action or inaction; neither purity of body nor purity of conduct nor is there truth in them. "The universe is without truth without moral basis" say they, "without a god brought about by mutual union and caused by wit and nothing else." Saying this, these uncured ruined men, of small intelligence, of fierce deeds, come forth as enemies for the destruction of the world surrendering themselves to insatiable desires possessed with hypocrisy, conceit and arrogance, holding evil ideas though evil delusion, they engage in action with impulse resolves. Giving themselves over to numberless plans, whose end is death, regarding as the highest the gratification of lusts, feeling sure that that is all, held in bondage by a hundred ties of expectation, given over to desire and anger, they strive to obtain by unlawful means hoards of wealth for sensual enjoyments. "This today by me hath been got, this desire I shall soon satisfy. The wealth is mine already, and also this shall be mine in future. I have slain this enemy, and others also I shall slay. I am a lord, I am the enjoyer, I am successful. I am powerful and happy, I am wealthy, well born what other is then that is like unto me? I will sacrifice. I will give alms, I will rejoice. Thus deluded by unwisdom, bewildered by numerous thoughts, enmeshed in the lock of delusion, attached by the gratification of desire, they fall downwards into a foul hell.

Miss. Annie Besant.

For such to tame their haughty spirit, the primary conception of God is interpreted as a Being of pitiless power strong enough to outwit them.

It was to such that Mahomed said "Ye plotters. God will outwit you all for God is the best of plotters." Whereas for the sastric minds an ethereal form of religion is wanted and the worth of the Hindu religion consists in the very adaptability of the common symbol of faith serving these also. The Durga, Natesa, the Siva on his Bull, the Ranganath sleeping on his serpent couch, the Lakshmi, budding out from the lotus, have a sublime meaning.

All these are symbols to carry a truth and the truth itself is taught in progressive and widening interpretation.

This naturally leads us on to the next point in our inquiry. How can the right interpretation of the symbols be known? For the consciousness of the power underlying the world can indeed come to us from nature but the real relation of that power to man cannot be so known. We may no doubt say that each man will conceive the relation in his own way but the conception based on ignorance and imperfect sense cannot render it as it ought. Moreover the intelligent, supreme power cannot be conceived to have left that relation to be guessed at by each man in his own way. For this purpose in every country and in every age the relation is revealed in fresh symbols or exposition of old symbols. It is for this reason that all religions are unanimous in declaring that the truth they teach are revealed to them by God. There is nothing strange in this. The very power that upholds the world, is as we have seen elsewhere, the God's own and it is not hard to conceive him manifest Himself anywhere at any time for the welfare of his creatures. Our very intention is the visit He pays to our heart. From ever being latent there He becomes patent and now and then the whole being of man is filled into the delight of this visitation. Our very Ananda or happiness is consonant glowing of spirit along the lines and groove of this body of ours. Its head is love, joy, right wing; delight, left; bliss is the self and it rests on Brahman, says the Upanishad. Everything great or good is so because it has more of the grace of God flowing through it.

Whatever is royal, good, prosperous and mighty understand thou that to go forth from my splender.

In fact it is the Tejas or the splendour of the Lord of all that makes the good in everything. Is it possible to conceive that such a God would allow men to grope in the dark? No, He maintains the world remaining in the heart of it and whenever His presence is wanted His mighty power makes itself felt in love or in chastisement. For says Lord Krishna in no faltering accent.


Whenever there is decay of Darma, 6 Bharata, and there is exaltation of Adharma, then I myself come forth; for the protection of the good, for the destruction of evil doers, for the finally establishing Dharma, I am born from age to age.

It is not for individuals so much as for the race the lord makes His incarnations. The individuals pursue their own course of birth according to the law of their own Karma. Their sufferings are of their own make as well as their joys and this only delights the Lord like the play of children. Yet even here his helping is not unseen. Even wicked He helps in their course; for He sendeth the rain to water the wicked man's crops as he does the good man's. But when wickedness is rampant and the weak and the poor are crushed by the strong, then His mercy cannot sleep. He puts forth his strength and lo' power, and wisdom stand forth to protect and bless the world. He cometh for placing on firm basis the law of the world Such a Revelation is not confined to one place or to one country. The lord hath spoken to every race according to its wants in its own language. Men who see this not vainly wrangle for triumph of their own forms and are intolerant to their own God in other's bodies.

Me, in other shapes besides their own they hating in envy.

Says the lord Krishna. To the truly religious toleration is as much a necessity as God. Forms are mere forms as long as they are not socially productive of evil, any form would do equally well for clothing Him and the best of forms are yet far from best to invest him.

Thus it can be perceived that Revelation has a twofold sense corresponding to the two fold attitudes of religion itself. With respect to religion considered in relation to the individual alone it is the intention that visits him in moments of supreme felicity and according to it each forms his own individual conception of his relation to the Almighty. In the other sense it is the record of the establishment of the law in each race and for each time by the successive incarnation of the lord or His Amsa. The History of the world is lit up everywhere by such God-sent lights which begin their glimness in various strata of society and gaining strength as they shine have succeeded in illuminating the hearts and the deeds of hosts of men then and there. The Great men, the truly Great men – of the world, the Heroes, as Carlyle would call them, are they whereof, my dear brethren, our own land has produced not a few. Rama and Krishna, Vyasa and Buddha, Sankara and Ramanuja, What are these but such beacons of the world to guide the Society to its goal of happiness and peace? Nor are other countries wanting in them. Jesus Christ is one of the greatest of such incarnation and perhaps He is the Kirke whom our own scriptures have prophesied.

But it may be objected that the books purporting to contain the Revelation often times err even as regards things of this world, how and how can they be trusted as regards things beyond this world.

It may be urged that the physiological and the psychological errors of the Quran, the Bible and the Upanishads have raised the mirth of many a sceptic. But a moment's thought would set this matter right. The incarnation of God means His taking of the flesh and the knowledge of the physical world shown can only be in consonance with the stage of culture of the society in which He takes the flesh. The Revelation is not made for the purpose of showing His glory: for that is shown forth in ever-streaming wonder by the very creations and their laws: but, it is to guide man by showing the relation between him and his God. The symbol for showing this relation is important and it is renewed – what the old Testament darkly talks as the covenant between the Lord and Man – and next to the symbol is the establishment of the moral laws. The ethics of reason which is based on social give and take, is far from enough for carrying on wholesome life; the ethics of sacrifice, of giving without taking, is fixed only by God in varying forms at each incarnation. The expression of all this law is couched in the then understood language of men, at the particular time and in the particular place. It is certainly unreasonable to expect in a moral code any exposition of the latest experiments of science; for if it contained such exposition, it would have been construed into ignorance of what is then known as knowledge. So the right key for understanding the scriptures of the world is not mere knowledge of facts and laws but spirit. The teaching is symbolic and the teacher must understand the symbols. That is why the teaching is always oral and esoteric. The widest publication of the texts of the scriptures can only bring discredit on the sacred words. For mere understanding will misunderstand them. It remains to be seen what good, for instance, the putting of the Bible into every Christian's hand has produced. For one thing it has dismembered God's Church to pieces and the sceptic laughs at their recriminations. The teaching in India has ever remained sane, on this point Guru to Sishya: from one to one: face to face with the multiplication of books, the living teacher is disappearing: and with him the living truth also. Therefore true Revelation is, as regards the individual, the intuition that visits his soul in moments when his being attains, at the spirit-touch as it were an integrity and strength which can brave and dare things before which reason recoils with cold calculation; and when, the individual is fired with it, his separate being is dissolved in forgetfulness and in the language of the Gita light shines forth in all his senses; the thought, word and act pour their energy in one consenting stream drowning all selfishness and fear, coldness and cowardice. Again, Revelation, as regards race or society, is that body of laws to teach in ever-varying symbols the existence and relation between the Intelligent power at the basis of all phenomena and the individual man of whatever natural quality – whether of satvic, rajasic, or tamasic disposition, and thence to establish a law for mutual relation among the individuals composing that race or society – not such a relation which mere self-interest will bring to pass and which is legitimately the subject matter of science and not Revelation – but the relation which is based on sacrifice or what I have elsewhere called the giving without taking. As Lord Jesus says "love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you." No sociology or political economy or political science which honestly confess that they are only based on enlightened self-interest, can teach it. If they cannot teach it, what is the source of our information of this doctrine? Is such a doctrine only a delusion of the mind and is the thrill we feel when we read of it or think of it and is the rapture we find when we hear of any man following it, all a hateful feeling fraught with evil to men and to society? If such sacrifice of the individual – if such law of charity be banished – where is sublimit in conduct to come from? Alas the purpose of racial Revelation is mistaken when people begin to criticise it from the point of view of human knowledge. When we are tempted to be over critical as regards such points we must only remember that the teaching is symbolic and seek a teacher who will explain the symbolism that is contained in it.

Let us hasten to close this necessarily imperfect inquiry. Let me end by succinctly putting together what the greatest sages have contributed towards the elucidation of this very obscure point. At the outset we have to say that the ultimate teaching of all religions is the same. But the very essential elements are set forth in a lucid way in the Srimat Bhagavatgita – the very philosophy as it were of all religions. All persons desirous of having a clear and definite knowledge of this must necessarily meditate on the sublime teachings of Sri Krishna. He taught them to Arjuna and through him to all the world – the one Revelation which by satisfying all requirements of thought and all desires of the heart has certainly all the outward marks of a Universal Revelation. Moreover it will be seen that it points out various ways for various Adhikaris – persons who approach the subject, in accordance with their manifold characteristics.

A description of the magnificence of the Gita and its teachings is not to be taken up at the fag end of a short paper which must not exceed a few pages. All I can do now is only to put together a few of the more salient points of the teaching in a form which can readily catch the discursive minds of these days.

Religion must be considered as a relation between God and man. God being the only God which is so in the beginning, middle and in the end, God alone must be the ultimate aim of all. But as His presence is forgotten or is not perceived by reason of what is called Ahankara, projection of the individual self upon all, which consists in taking the self as the centre and viewing all else from its point of view, He is abandoned for less worthy ends. Hence to realise His presence, this Ahankara must first be removed. It is done by binding the will of the individual; which binding consists in nothing but teaching obedience to the soul. Obedience must not be merely physical, due to the fear of a visible task-master who, as Carlyle would say, sits with the whip in his hand to enforce it. It must rather be ultra-physical, as obedience to a principle.     This obedience to a principle can be learnt only when it is embodied in legal institutes which, in the earlier stages of society and therefore also in the earlier stages of individual culture, must be of a semi-religions character. So religion in its social side begins with ceremonies or as it is called Karma. This path of religion is called the Karma marga. At the first step the devotee takes the Karma to be quite essential for worship. He thinks God will be pleased only when it is done in the special way and takes to himself great airs that he is capable of doing it. Man in this stage while he recognises the existence of a controlling force without him besides his will, entertains a high opinion of his own will also. But by and by with Karma the senses get purified incessantly as they are employed not in pursuing what they like but in working for the end of things which do not refer to their immediate enjoyment. With the purification of the senses, the knowledge which the senses convey into the mind, becomes purified also and what is called gnana knowledge is reached. But though gnana is reached and the individual sees the relation between him and God in the right light, he cannot always free himself from the circumstances he finds himself surrounded by. Here with the dawn of Light there dawns within the mind sweetness also and pity born of mercy – a ray from the divine mercy whereof he becomes now conscious. Therefore the devotee cannot free himself from them with whom his life has been cast. He begins to guide them by his superior wisdom but does not attempt to draw them up against their will by forced means – first because, such means cannot really bring them up and secondly because they will disturb their balance of mind. His teaching is sympathetic by following whatever is good or indifferent in the methods, in vogue according to time and place and at the same time instructive by helping them to see according to their light the real relation of parts. He acts on the principle No disruption of mind must be caused to the less intelligent whose minds are essentially bound by actions and desires of actions. At this stage though he works he does so not for any benefit for himself. He has learnt to curb his desires and go without them. But he works according to established law in order to preserve the law itself which is the stay of the society of which he forms a part. For him life becomes a life of duties and not of rights. By the ordinary man it is conceived both as a life of duties and of rights. Certainly those that consider life as one of rights alone and of duties only in so far as what others could force out of them by the competition of pressing claims of their own, come far below. But let us leave them aside: for we have not to speak of them now. The gnani now lives the life of Jivanmukta and him action touches not as water does not wet a lotus leaf. Now if he finds even within this life the call to leave this existence in the midst of others, he goes out stirred by the divine visitation and by sacrificing the life he has been living, for a few, he soon gets into living the life for many and thus he becomes one of the Revealed Teachers of men. If such a visitation does not come to him, he dies, and his good Karma brings him again into some adequate life wherefrom he can pursue his ascent up. Thus the karmi begins at the lowest round of the ladder that reaches to the same height. Originally in fact all must have begun the ascent from the same level of Karma. But as, at any point of time, in the world there are put together souls in different degrees of culture and understanding according to the different number of births they have passed through, the different persons we meet with do not stand in the same level. We see in fact a multifarious scene, some ascending, some descending, some at the first round, some higher up. Hence it is absolutely impossible to have one spiritual law understood in the same sense for all. Therefore, some are seen to begin the spiritual advancement from the gnana stage. But the goal is the same and the passage also is the same.

After mental illumination is thus reached, some pursue their knowledge more and more with a devotion for light alone. Their intellectuality wakes up in them the last sparks of slumbering Ahankara which they had long ago quenched. So gnana marga sometimes leads men astray. The light that begins to dawn soon gives place to a lurid iridescence which is mistaken for clear light, as it is refracted by the new springing vapours of self. So to avoid this danger, knowledge is early associated with love and by the marriage of the Head and the Heart the devotee begins to see that above Knowledge itself, there is the subject of his Knowledge, wonderful and good and this consciousness of its wonder and goodness wakes up his emotional side; by this blended heat of intellect and emotion, the rising vapours of self-love are burnt up. There is the beginning of Bhakti. It is satisfied with the minimum amount of knowledge and attempts at reaching the goal by love and sympathy. This is a stage higher than that of gnana or knowledge. For if by knowledge alone we have to know the Great God, time itself will not be enough. For any amount of accumulation of finite knowledge cannot make it infinite so as to comprehend in it the highest God.

But Bhakti or love, though blind, is an intuitive and all-embracing feeling; its essence consists in absolute self-forgetfulness- the one state of mind more than any other that is acceptable to God.

As lord Krishna says "only those are acceptable to Him who love Him for himself and not from other motives." So that Bhakti is the state of mind in which a truly God-centered soul finds itself and it forms essentially its one business in the i.e., after the consummation of the heart's desire. It is the love that inflames and consumes the bride in the bride chamber when the Bride groom is near. At the same time it is also an or an means for the consummation of what is devoutly wished for. Love, aesthetic critics say, is twofold viz., that in the period of separation and in the period of union. Love as a means belongs to the former period and as an end to the latter. In our present state of existence we have to begin with love or Bhakti of the former kind and when the lord has accepted our heart – there will be room for love of the latter kind. But this wisdom – love is a gift of God Himself out of his free grace. மயர்வறமதிநலமருளினன் as St. Nammalwar has said. The feeling heart is a rare gift and to those that have not the purity and the unction of such a passion, there is a simpler way. It is Prapathi or faith. There is salvation by faith alone. If we make up our mind that all our means for reaching God are vile and nowhere when compared with His Excellence and grandeur and that we are vile and nobody before His August Presence, this utter helplessness otherwise – this personal nothingness of man, forms the right state of mind to approach Him with. Then the distant He becomes at once near and His free Grace descends engulfing all differences and fills everything. The common virtues and vices pose their hold on the mind. There is nothing for man either to desire or to shun. His vices themselves lose their ugliness for God when He makes up His mind to accept him. Neither birth, nor position; neither culture, nor association is wanted thereafter. God returns the love however inadequate might have been the answering love on the part of the chetana or the individual soul. This love envelops man and frees him from every foe that stands in his way of perfection. Who so is specially loved by God becomes at once by the magic of that love a perfect Being even as he is by nature, by the mere routing of the ills that have been investing him until then. This is what Christianity has called the vanquishing of Satan by the Christ in us, அவைதன்னடையேவிட்டுப்போம் as our Acharyas say. This is the surest way of winning salvation and the easiest in one sense. It is to teach this finally that lord Krishna began the long discourse of the Gita. After whetting Arjuna's appetite for this last word by various means and after exercising his mind upon the comparative worth of the other and lower but more elaborate ways, the lord discloses this as the final word to be said to the spiritual aspirant.

Now hear above all the last word – the highest word from me. It is the mystery of all mysteries. As I love you much I tell you this – the one thing beneficial to you.

With this preamble the lord taught Arjuna the final word of all religious philosophy, known as the charama sloka.

'Abandon every prescribed means even of righteousness and take refuge in Me and Me only: Then I will ease you from every ill! Sorrow not' In substance this is nothing but the last word which Jesus Christ brought to suffering men. "Come to me ye that are heavy-laden and I shall ease you." Thus after all there is only one Religion ultimately whereof every other is only an offshoot. It is only the as the lord says that separates – the letter of the law, in the language of the Bible. The letter killeth but the spirit saves. It is the letter that divides but the spirit unites. Let us then all unite in the fundamental spirit of true Religion and scatter the dividing letter to the wind. The only necessary preparation we have to make for receiving the higher life is the the abandoning of the letter of the law and taking refuge in God. How simple and homely is the call of Christ. "O come to me ye who are heavy laden" how very pathetic in its condescension! The very simplicity of the means seems to militate against its adequateness. The small mind of man which loves elaborateness cannot bring itself to believe that such a simple faith is enough. But God in his loving greatness would have no other as the final thing. All elaborateness must find its goal in this simplicity – elaborateness, until the soul is ripe for receiving this doctrine of sublime simplicity. This is the last word of Hindu Religion and it is also the last word of Christianity. What are apparently so different unite in this. Let therefore Hindus know that Christianity is nothing but Hinduism in a foreign garb; let Christians know that true Hinduism – the Hinduism of the Scriptures – is nothing but Christianity recognizing the Christ-spirit in the scheme of world's regeneration though not the Historical Christ. The East and the West thus meet. May they work without discord. May they understand each other better! May their mutual understanding tend to bring about the coming of the kingdom of Heaven on earth by teaching the world the surest means of slaying differences and may from the ashes of disunion arise the phoenix of God's church – one, invisible and catholic!