Wednesday, January 16, 2013



    The word Self-Sacrifice is a mis-nomer. There is no equivalent for the word in Indian vernaculars. From this fact however it does not follow that the Hindu never had a conception of the virtues indicated by the term. They understood the significance of things better and hence their conception of acts constituting the so-called virtue of Self-Sacrifice was much more ennobling than the petty and not very rational view, entertained by other people.

    When a man suffers for another and sacrifice his own comforts the Hindu believes that there is only a glorification of one's Self; but no sacrifice of it which is as reprehensible and ignoble as suicide. A man's self is the most easily expansible thing, and filled with sympathy; it grows in dimensions and takes the whole sentient existence within its fold.

    When you are moved by the distress of another, you realize your one-ness with that person. When one individual works for the good of another, there is a flowing of life from one to another; but there is no self-sacrifice, for the happiness of another person is felt as one's own.

    The poor mother who stints herself in order that the babe at her breast may live is not sacrificing her Self, for the little one is but the compliment of her Self which will not feel itself to be complete without the dear thing.

    Have you ever felt for a weak person suffering injury at the hands of a stronger one? If you have, then verily has your self-thrilled with a life which would expand it out of its in casement.

    When you feel for the oppressed, for the down-trodden and espouse their cause against tyrannizing might, it may be that you individually suffer, but the stimulus for the combat comes from a sense of the enlarging of your Self. The self-expands and the individual's concerns extend over a wider field. One sympathizes with others besides oneself. Here indeed the individual becomes a larger being with his range of susceptibilities and his capacity for happiness being enlarged.

    When the philanthropist goes to places of pestilence and disease and works to alleviate suffering, sacrificing all conveniences and undergoing trouble himself, he is no way sacrificing his self; but he is only helping it to assert itself to the fullest extent. He cannot fell happy amidst pleasure and ease when the cause of the suffering people requires his aid. He in in his element when he is fighting against suffering and misery. It may turn out that his individual efforts do not avail or what is worse that disease and death claim as their victim. But what does it matter to him? His feeling of self is so all-embracing that the prospect of death does not frighten him in the least.

    Nothing good, nothing ennobling can come out of the stifling of the self in Man. In every act of surrender of the individual happiness, there is really as assertion of a larger self.



BY C. D. NAYAR, Esq.

    To those who have studied the Indian Society in all its varied aspects, the one fact that will naturally puzzle them is the existence of mendicancy to a great extent. Western Nations have often expressed surprise at the prevalence of mendicancy in India. Feeding of the poor is a peculiar trait in the system of the Hindu Charity, and Hindu philosophy upholds the system. There is a mistaken impression among many that begging followed from destitution and poverty. In an Agricultural country like India where the population is supported by Agricultural Industry and where a system of joint family obtains, there is not much scope for the growth of destitution and poverty. It is true that in Western countries begging is considered to be a result of pauperism; but in India where the people in strict pursuance of the tenets of their religion, "ate, walked and slept Religion," it is no matter for surprise that begging should exist almost as an institution. It will thus be seen that in India begging has a sort of spiritual origin, and is not so usually followed as a profession. Hindu Sastras tell us the accounts of many philosophers who despised the pleasures of the world and took to begging. Even God Siva of the Hindu Trinity is said to have taken to begging as a reparation for some of his sins. I have often noticed the Bhikshu, who begged from door to door, being revered and adored by the orthodox Hindus; and it is even believed that he conferred a favor on him of whom he begs alms by so doing. To give alms is, according to the teachings of the Hindu religion, a very meritorious act. This accounts for the large number of pilgrims and Sanyasins we come across in India. Of course, this feeling has also given rise to a class of sham mendicants who go about the country parts in disguise and make a dishonest living at the expense of credulous Hindus. These are the so-called professional mendicants who have become a nuisance to society at large and they deserve no charity – in their case it will only be charity misplaced. It must be on account of the instance of this class of professional mendicants who pester everyone by their importunate requests that the Western Nations are led to doubt the sincerity of even the religious mendicants who, as a rule, 'want little below' and who have no other desire than to pass their days in prayers and meditation. There are many kinds of religious mendicants and of these the Gosains form an important class on account of their great piety and their utter disregard for everything worldly. To me the Gosain has always appeared to be the very ideal of perfect humanity. Some are under the impression that the general run of the Gosains are immoral: this is not a fact. The Gosains generally spend their life as mere nomads. They travel from one place to another carrying with them all their worldly goods which consists of torn clothes and one or two cooking vessels. I propose in this article to give a short account of these Gosains in illustration of my foregoing remarks on mendicancy in India.

    The Gosains, as a set of religious mendicants, owe their existence to Sri Sankara Acharya, the great South Indian Reformer who was born in a small village named Kalady in the Kunnattur Taluk in Travancore. Sankara Acharya lived a Sanyasin throughout his life. Regarding the chief events of his personal history we know very little. It has been mentioned that it was he who brought about this system of renouncing worldly life and living the life of an Ascetic. "His philosophy – based as it is entirely on the fundamental axioms of the eternal revelation, the Sruti or the primitive Wisdom – religion as Buddha from a different point of view had before based His … finds itself in the middle ground between the too exuberantly veiled metaphysics of the orthodox Brahmins and those of the Gautama, which, stripped in their exotic garb of every soul-vivifying hope, transcendental aspiration and symbol appear in their cold wisdom like crystalline icicles the skeletons of the primeval truths of Esoteric Philosophy." The above is the teaching of Sri Sankara in a nut-shell as it were, and we have a clear illustration of the same in the life of a Gosain which term, according to an old writer, has been defined to be a corruption Goswami which literally means Master of the Passions. It is an undoubted fact that the Gosain is possessed of sufficient self-control as to resist all attacks of worldly temptations. There are some Gosains who usually go about the streets calling out at the top of their voices Sitha RamRam Sita (this is their universal prayer) and I am not one of those who appreciate the ways of this class of Gosains. There are others who are the real Gosains and they form but a microscopic minority. You can know the real Gosains by sight – their faces would show the unmistakable signs of piety and wisdom. Tradition has it that Sri Sankara Acharya founded this sect of mendicants in the ninth century A.D. He had four prominent disciples – Nira Thrithi Acharya, Sringa Rishi, Prithivi Acharya and Padma Acharya. The first of these disciples Nira Thrithi Acharya had three disciples – Giri, Sagra and Parvata. The Second disciple had another three disciples – Puri, Saraswathi and Bharathi. The third disciple had two who were known as Thirth and Asrama. And the fourth had two viz. Vana and Arnaya. Thus there were four chief disciples who in their turn had ten disciples, and all of them were practically under the directions of their principal Guru Sri Sankara. These latter ten disciples were known as the ten and each of these founded a sect after Acharya to each of the four following monasteries…one at Bhadrinath in the North, the second at Jagnath in the East, the third at Sringeri in the South and the fourth at Dwarakai in the West – he founded in different parts of India. This is known as the "Cenobitic System" established by Sri Sankara and it plays an important part in the origin of the Gosains. The "Ten" to which allusion has already been made in this article acted as supreme directors in all matters connected with the internal administration of the mutts or monasteries which are now presided over by a Guru or Mahant as he is called. The title has nothing extraordinary about it, for, the Guru or Mahant is only a title which testifies to one's seniority in regard to his piety, his devotion to religious habits and other attendant virtues that go make up the life of a holy Sanyasin. This is a peculiarly enviable position that cannot be attained by age or money. The seniority of a Mahant is gauged by the depth of his knowledge in Esoteric philosophy. A Mahant has complete control over his disciples under him and has the right to expel any one of them from the Mutt for proven misbehavior. These disciples it is that in after years themselves into Gosains. While in the Mutt, that is to say during the stage of incubation, they are made to live under certain prescribed rules, which is done with a view to create in them a feeling of supreme contempt for all worldly pleasures.

    The usual rule is – and it has been established by custom – that any one may become a Goasin, be he Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaisya, or Sudra. No distinction of sects is observed, both males and females being admitted into the order. In the case of minors, permission should be obtained from their parents. There have been many instances in which small children were offered to the Mutt to be brought up as Gosains. The form of initiation being to secure the permission of the Mahant or Guru of the particular Mutt. The remaining portion of the initiation is to be completed by the disciples who, on securing permission of the Mahant or Guru, get the head of the man clean shaven – a clean shaven head (munninam) is one of the emblems of a Sanyasin – and gives him a bath. The man is then made to prostrate before the Guru who in his turn blesses him forthwith the man is metamorphosed into a Gosain. There is another difficulty he has to remain a Gosain on probation for a time. During that period he is kept under close surveillance and the feast misbehavior on his part is dealt with severely. He is made to undergo starvation and all other sorts of miseries that usually be set the path of a wandering pilgrim. Thus after spending an year or two in the Mutt on probation, he has to pass through certain ordeals of an insignificant nature. At the end of the probation period, a ceremony called Bijanhom ceremony is to be performed. It is this ceremony that gives him the finishing touch. One other important fact that has to be noticed in this connection is their dress. Both the males and females are made to dress similarly, a head-gear, a waist coat and a cloth respectively. This similarity of dress is an express injunction of Sankara Acharya and no one dare break it. Thus far, we have given an account of the Gosains and we believe it gives a fairly good idea of the institution of mendicancy in India. All Gosains have an innate respect for Sri Sankara Acharya. As enjoined by the great Reformer they observe no distinctions of caste. They have no worldly cares and they go about the country preaching religion and ethics to the great lay people. In this respect they are generally compared to the great wanderers of the Upanishadic and Buddhist sages. Some of the Mutts, it is true, do not fulfill all the objects with which they have been established; but most of them are true to their faith. By way of concluding we might point out that true Gosains are those who prove to us the utter hollowness of wealth and whose position a David Hemsley of Marie Corieli's creation might well envy.

The Mysore Review.


Sunday, January 13, 2013




of Latent Light Culture, Tinnevelly.


    The modern world has now begun to open its eyes to the claims of the higher faculties of man. It has now satisfied itself that the pursuits after material greatness alone will not give happiness. The Western could not be made to understand the grand powers of the mind when it is at work with itself. He was the powerful outer nature and his ambition was to be intimately acquainted with her and be her master. He directed all his energy accordingly and the result is indeed grand and beautiful. He wrung out from Nature all her subtle forces and made them all his slaves. But what is the use of your having giant servants, if your house is miserable. The Westerner could not naturally feel happy, for happiness is from within and not from without. This he never understood; and could not do so, for so fondly he had expected happiness from his position as a master of the world and from the idea of having everything on Earth yield service to him, that he could not turn his mind from them. Repeatedly have sages reiterated, the truth of Happiness cannot be sought, cannot be found in other places than within ourselves. Even that Savior Jesus, the great Jesus has spoken to them the self-same truth and told them that in the stillness of solitude they should listen to the still small voice that at random speaks and that they would surely find the thing they sought for.

    But the time was not come, they would not draw their attention to the fact until at last they had found that the happiness they dreamt of was yet receding, illusive like the horizon. Sybil-like, the happiness yet sank far away. They saw this at last and when the East sent its ancient philosophy amidst the-thus-bewildered westerners, it is not curious that they should at last return from their wild goose chase and ask where then is happiness! Where then is that still small voice about which our Savior had spoken nineteen centuries ago? How can we gain that?

    Yes! Dear brother of the west and may I venture to say redeemed prodigal who has wasted his substance and returned home repentant. The bliss which you are seeking is even now with you and within you. Turn your thoughts inward and bend your energies inward. In short a communion with yourself, is the surest way to real happiness.

    You will perhaps now say that such words often been heard and they are vague and seem to be meaningless. You will like to be shown the way to attain that happiness.

    This leads to an explanation of meditation and how it is to be done. Meditation is deep fixed thinking of an object that you have chosen. It is to the mind what light and air are to the plants. If we would know mind we need only to desire, desire and desire. The intensity of desire is not needed to induce mind to answer our desire, but to induce us to put aside our false conception concerning Mind, and our capacity for understanding Mind. There is nothing in the universe that can step in between Mind and the Soul which desire to enter into communion with it. The deep thinking is preceded to enter into communion with it. The deep thinking is preceded by concentration. You withdraw yourself from all extraneous influence and fix your attention upon a chosen object. There are some methods for thus withdrawing from the external world. One is what given below.

    Seek a solitary place for your practice of Meditation, or at least a place much retired from public bustle and activity. Then according to some schools certain postures are prescribed. But the natural posture of lying down seems to be without danger of provoking certain psychic centers into alarming activity. Then breathe slowly in and out with interval. You must have some object for meditation. Subjects are chosen according to each person's like and turn of mind. Save virtue, if the person has more powers to conceive of material objects, the figure of the Lord must be conceived. He must concentrate upon this when he has attained perfect ease in his posture and breath goes in and out without his noticing it. This concentration deepens gradually into with higher consciousness. It is in this state of communion that sages have experienced Happiness.

Friday, January 11, 2013


[* Notes from a lecture delivered at Dublin in June last, under the auspices of the Irish Vegetarian Society.]


By. C. B. Rama Rao, M.D.

Assistant Professor in Madras Medical College.


    Foods consist of four proximate principles: Proteins, Carbohydrates, Fats and Inorganic Salts, and water.

    The Fats can be derived either from the animal or the vegetable kingdom, but the Carbohydrates and organic Salts are derivable almost home to our minds, when sailors, in the early part of the last century, died in large numbers of Scurvy, a disease produced by a want in the system of organic Salts, such as the citrates, the tartrates and the maltase, which are derived from fresh vegetables and are necessary to enable the organism to carry on those incessant changes essential to life, and collectively termed metabolism. It is obvious, therefore, that a man subsisting on vegetable food alone can derive from it all the nourishment he needs, whereas a man living on flesh foods alone cannot maintain his body for any length of time without resorting to vegetable food.

Is Man a Carnivorous Animal?

    From the study of the teeth and the stomach of man, attempts have been made to prove that he was destined to live on mixed food consisting of animal and vegetable substances. But more careful scrutiny shows that the type of teeth and organs in man in the same as that of the vegetarian anthropoid apes and monkeys, which in the scale of complexity of structure, come nearest to man.

The Hindu's Definition of "Vegetarianism.'

    If I were asked to define Vegetarianism, I would say that it is a method of living which deprecates the killing of animals.

    We, in India, go even farther. Our remote ancestors were flesh-eaters, but as religion and spirituality developed, they recognized that flesh was uncongenial and degrading. The upper classes in the North gave up flesh, but not fish. Those in the south, who number hundreds of thousands eschew flesh, fish, and even eggs, although they use milk and its products, such as butter, butter-milk, cream &c.

Settling the Question of Cruelty Done to Bulls, Cows and Calves by the Users of Milk.

    The moral responsibility felt by the users of milk towards the animal that gives it is shown by the special care and attention which the cow and the calf receive in the humblest Hindu dwellings. They are cleaned, fed and otherwise looked after better than the pet race-horse in the stable of an aristocrat.

Are Animal Products Necessary for Man?

    It is altogether another question whether these by-products are absolutely necessary. Both physiology and the experience of India prove that they are not. The peasant and the cultivator, though not prohibited by religion from using animal food, yet, as a matter of fact, in ninety-none cases out of every hundred, live on vegetarian food almost from year's end to year's end. Firstly, they are not partial to animal food, and, secondly, they cannot afford it, as it is much more costly to buy flesh than to buy flour or grain. These cultivators are too poor to buy milk and butter. It is a luxury reserved for festive occasions. Cheap vegetable oils, such as the Gingili oil and Coconut oil, supply them with fat.

The Natural Physiological Balance of Food Elements.

    Just as Nature supplies the vital element of oxygen in a dilute condition in the atmosphere, so we find the protein of food diluted with a varying but large proportion of starch in the numerous cereals or grains.

Does Vegetarian Diet support the Mental Powers?

    It cannot be contended that animal food does not make men more intelligent than does a vegetable diet, for the Brahmins of South India, who do not even use eggs have shown themselves not a poor match for the Europeans.

    Cambridge University records that in spite of great religious, social and pecuniary disadvantages, a number of strict vegetarians from India have acquitted themselves creditably, while several have become Senior Wranglers.

    I have witnessed a Pandit go through the performances of seven simultaneous mental acts and, there are other and even more startling kinds of mental processes, degrees of concentration and clearness of mental activity which can be shown by scores of Indian scholars who do not know a word of any European language. This is an example of intellect reared on vegetarian fare. I wish I were competent to show you at least a glimpse of the thoughts, reasoning's and deductions in the region of philosophy, in which English and German thinkers, like Monier Williams and Sir Edwin Arnold, say Indians excel. Those who are spiritually inclined will find abundant food for reflection and assimilation in the Sacred Books of the East, expounding the Unitarian Philosophy of Sankara, or the Dualism of Kaminga – both of which are vegetarian.

Vegetarian Diet and Physical Powers.

    It may be said that Vegetarian food, though sufficient and efficient for intellectual purposes, is not equal to developing the muscle. This doubt where it shall exist, is easily expelled by watching the phenomenal strength of elephants, who can, by their trunks uproot trees which require dozens of men to lift. What animal can lift the weights carried by the grass-eating camel? What carnivorous animal can excel in swiftness or elegance, the lightning-like flashes of the stag? Thinking of men themselves, are not most farmers, at least in India vegetarians? Does not the Brahmin youth in school games and athletic sports take the first or second place in a crowd of mixed competitors? Has not the Madras U. C. Cricket team, chiefly composed of Hindus, given a beating several times to the English team in their own national game? I could go on multiplying instances, but the few cited ought to be enough to convince any unprejudiced mind.

    Take your stand opposite a butchers shop, and then quickly pass on and contrast the appearance of this and a fruit's shop. You cannot escape the gore and filth, the grease and hideousness of the one, nor fail to be attracted by the pleasant flavor, and the delicate and the sweet aroma of the fruits which greet you; and even if you are naturally morose, they send a wave of pleasant and exhilarating sensations which seem intended by Nature to raise and purify our minds.

    We next pass to the kitchen. Nay, we need not even enter it. A joint is being roasted and the penetrating and sickening odor is enough to give a headache even to a flesh-eater. Contrast this with the smells and sight of a vegetarian kitchen.

Objections Raised Against Vegetarianism.

    It is said that in the Arctic Zone vegetable cannot be produced. Surely if men can live there, vegetables can grow there. Man wraps himself in the woolen clothing and has artificial heart at the fireside. Glass houses artificially heated can surely grow green vegetables and grains, and wheat flour &c can be carried there and stored for years. This keeping property of dry grains, without its undergoing putrefaction is yet an additional proof that Nature intends that we should live on grains.

    It is said that a purely vegetarian diet is indigestible. Do all people in India suffer from indigestion or does dyspepsia bulk more largely in the hospital registers in India than in Europe? It is one of those gratuitous epithets flung carelessly by the uncritical mind.

    It may be that some flesh-eaters, adopting a vegetarian diet, may suffer to a slight extent, but the human organism is so constituted that it can adapt itself to any surrounding, otherwise how can you explain the fact that the hundred and odd Indian students who were born and bred in places where the thermometer stands in the shade higher than blood heat throughout the great part of the year, are able to stand the Scottish winter as well as the Scotchmen themselves? The excess of heat can only scorch the surface and darken the skin, but it cannot alter human nature.

Three Dentists for 5,00,000 Inhabitants!

    In investigating diet, it would be interesting to enquire how it is that the teeth of men here are so often and so widely diseased, while the vegetarian Indians suffer so little from bad teeth. Madras, for instance, with her 500,000 inhabitants supports but three dentists, while here one seems to be necessary for every lane I think the use of animal food is partly the cause of it.


Effect of a Flesh Diet on the Craving for Stimulants.

    I must also raise my voice against flesh eating, because a flesh diet tends to create an appetite for liquor which is a poison and not a drink. Water is consequently despised by the flesh-eater, as was shown by the deck-attendant, who replied, when I asked for water "Gentlemen don't drink water."

The Herald of Health.