Thursday, July 31, 2014



    "OURS is" the poor man's Raj." It is so really such that the truth has already passed into a proverb. The few hate and fear us with and without cause. Let us then bind the many to ourselves by community of language. Let us Vernacularize ourselves and our knowledge for their and our common benefit."

    So say Mr. Hogson, with whose paper we have not yet finished. The arguments we summarized in our last number, related to what is contained in his first letter and regard merely the question as to the value of communicating knowledge in the Media of the Vernacular language. The second paper devotes itself to considering the value of the Vernacular literature as a means of intellectual and moral training; and the following letters give additional reasons for the reforms proposed and an outline of the reforms themselves. In the earlier part of these papers, he controverts the view, which is now really antiquated, that the Vernacular literature do not contain sufficient wealth in it to afford moral training, and it requires now no proof that moral distinctions are immutable and universal and there is a consequent harmony in the moral precepts derived by the sages of all nations and of all times – "Have not the mass of mankind," he asks, "in all ages and countries by the general tenor of their lives demonstrated the practical indisputableness of morals? Conscience! Does it speak one Language at Benares and another at Canterbury?" And he further points out that in other departments of life, it is impossible it should not have left its record in its literature, and should have failed "to gather ample materials for the just illustration in some way or other, of most, if not of all parts of the philosophy of life,", seeing how high-dated and literary is the character of Indian Civilization. Anglicists unduly exaggerate the importance of the physical sciences and technical education, seeing what small part in actual life these pursuits will occupy and to what a small fraction of the society, it will be confined. And after all what is the highest object and end in view in acquiring the knowledge of the physical sciences. It cannot be denied that the modern cry in India and elsewhere for science and technical education is all based on that struggle for material existence, for the bare acquiring of power and pelf. Leaving this department alone, our author points out that the people have an all sufficient literature in every other respect and if in many respects, a change in national ideals and sentiments, and ways of life, in the ideas regarding law of population, the philosophy of wealth, the general principle of Jurisprudence and of reformative police are desirable and necessary, then he contends that the best and surest means of effecting this needed change is not by ignoring their past life and past literature which are inseparably intertwined and inter reflected, not by destroying the warp and woof of their national existence, but by a process of preparation, conciliation and compromise, by finding the means, - "of closing that gulf which separates European and Indian affection and intellect – in the use of that literature, which, I shall venture to say, cannot be dispensed with." He thinks that any other attempts to remove the woof and warp of Indian society would disorganize society and "insure our own destruction." And he therefore proposes to use the indigenous literature already existing, by obtaining its countenance and support, real or seeming in regard to the new knowledge and reforms proposed to be introduced.* [* Indian Social Reformers] Here and elsewhere, he insists upon the great necessity that exists in seeking and enlisting the sympathy – a fact by the way which seems entirely forgotten and whose importance, recent events clearly indicate – of the natives of the country, by learning their languages a great honor to themselves in the eye of the oriental as he points out –by speaking to them in their own Vernacular, and he instances the great success which has attended his efforts and the efforts of his missionary friends in this direction. And we make no apology for quoting the following. "Yes! I have spent so many, many years,"* [* Alas! How soon our Europeans friends try to retire and fly off to their Home, and how few try to make this land their Home even in their short stay!] during which I solemnly declare that the only unequivocal voluntary testimonies I have received of influence over their hearts or heads of the people have been owing entirely to some little knowledge on any part of their literature! With this Instrument I have warmed hearts and controlled heads of men utterly impassive to kindness, to reason, and to bribery, and deeply am I persuaded by experience and reflection, that the use of this instrument is indispensable in paving the way for any general, effective and safe measures of educational regeneration."

    It is a splendid compliment we pay to the people to master their difficult literature. The memory of better days connected with it elevates their lowliness to something like a communicable distance from our loftiness. Their shy and shrinking affections, to which we have no direct access of any description, may be poured out to us through this indirect and modest channel which carries the whole waters of their hearts, reflecting from its tranquil bosom, every rite and custom, thought and feeling of the land! Hence its influence with the many in our hands."

    And we have already quoted the sentence which heads our article, to show its great importance, especially in view to passing events, which indicate conclusively what little success the Government of our country has achieved in enlisting the sympathies of the masses; and how the whole people look upon with suspicion and resent the most innocuous reforms and regulations, however well meant and absolutely essential for their health and safety they might be; and especially in view to the great suspicion with which the English-educated Indians and the Vernacular press is regarded by the Government. It is thought of in some quarters (we do not agree with this view in toto; we only think that English education has made them unfit for everything, for nerve and for action and they have absolutely no control over the hearts and heads of the people who regard them as a mere travesty of the European) that English education for the last half of a century or more has not achieved the glorious results which were expected of it. If so, whose fault is it? Our author thinks that sound knowledge may be accepted and taught and studied for ages without "awaking the strong man" – without stirring the deep waters of a nation's intellect; and that universal experience strongly indicates the entire dependence, in a national sense, of this vivifying power of knowledge upon that complete fusion of its precepts with a nation's familiar experiences and wants* [* The italics are ours.] which neither hath been nor can be without a Vernacular medium." Again, "to enable the people to think, have not the great minds of Europe forced themselves to think with the people? To induce them to think, have not those minds, in all ages, deferred to prejudice? Christ Himself and His favorite disciples were "all things to all men." And finally "It (the use of the Vernacular literature) is necessary – it is indispensable; it sways all interest; it hallows all opinions; and the Babel of 30 centuries resting upon its foundations will stand for ever, in despite of our knowledge unless that knowledge be worked into the People's hearts and undertaking, with the precepts and examples of this omnipotent make way."

    In letter No. IV, he makes his suggestions for the end in view;    

    (1)    to institute a Normal College, giving first and second place to the mother tongues of the people, and the third place to English.

    (2)     to have the alumni equally well versed in both tongues,

    (3)    to locate therein a set of able men from the West, who shall be competent to give to India, 'the essence of our indisputable knowledge,'

    (4)    to associate with them other men of this land – English and Indian, who together with them, shall transfer this essence into the vulgar tongues of India in the most attractive and efficient manner,

    (5)    while both classes, as professors and originators of a great change, shall have under them, a set of pupils, chosen from the best alumni of all our seminaries, for the express and perpetual purposes of diffusing the labors of the professors, in the capacities of teachers and of translators, and of replacing those professors gradually as heads of colleges,

    (6)    these alumni to have scholarships and to be devoted for their lives as the pioneers of a new literature; bound to translating within the college and to teaching abroad; giving their undivided time and talents to indigenate European lore; and being to the usual educational establishments, a perpetual fount for the supply of good books and good teachers.

    These are his suggestions and valuable suggestions they are, and they stand good today as they stood 50 years ago; and he points to the absurdity of expecting from our ordinary alumni of our colleges such work, without furnishing them with the leisure and means of provision for life and to expect that such avocations (as translators &c), will be remunerative without Government aid, until the public has become their patrons and he also points out that the public will never become so, "till a close reference to life and its active aims govern letters and education; * [* We know what rage there is now for school books and annotations and Mr. R. S. Sheppard, with all his failings (poor man) and Mr. R. Vencata Subba Row are the idols of the publishers.] a result we are just (1848) reaching in Europe slowly and painfully. But yesterday, these men of letters and teachers were poor and despised!" He, in another place, asks what is the use of turning out hundreds of graduates, for the sake of regenerating their country and if it us expected that they should do this feeding on air. The struggle for bread occupies now the whole time and energy of our modern graduate, and yet it is complained that he does no good to his uneducated brethren, that he does not try to lift them from their low position and that they do not engage themselves in original work! Don't the few who have so worked paid the penalty with their precious life and with their emptied purse. We heard from our publishers, how the only man who has done anything to improve the Vernacular literature by infusing into it all that is best and valuable in English, has to disburse largely from his own salary month after month, for his publisher's and printer's bills, here and in England. Since these letters were written, none of these proposals have been carried out, except by adopting the Vernacular in the curricula of Government and University studies and now even the Government examinations, solely in Vernacular which qualified men from entering Government posts sometime ago, has been done away with. In the matter of translations, little or nothing has been done; except by producing a few Vernacular text books and readers. There are no foundations for Vernacular scholarship and no Professional chair, and the salaries paid the pandits are the lowest in scale and the few Vernacular Superintendantships here and there have been done away with. There are no University honors for pure Vernacular scholarship. The richer classes are quite unprogressive and illiterate and wanting in public feeling and patriotism, and the rest of the people who care for education are extremely poor. Goddess Saraswathi is said not to dwell with Goddess Lakshmi, being daughter-in-law and mother-in-law. Under these most discouraging circumstances, will it not be surprising if the Vernacular is not despised and dying out. All things considered, it is fir that this question should occupy our minds and those of the respected head of the Educational Department and our foremost countryman. We draw our reader's attention to the suggestions serially enumerated above and to consider its adoption in its entirety or with modification. It will be idle to expect our Government to embark on large schemes involving great financial expenditure in their present embarrassed condition. We would therefore make the following suggestions:-

    (1)    For the University, to open an oriental faculty, admitting its alumni to High degrees in pure Vernacular literature insisting on a minimum standard of knowledge in English, if necessary, you may call the degrees F. A., B. A., or any other two letters. To admit to University Honorary degrees, men of undoubted native scholarship, on whom the Government is bestowing titles of honor.

    (2)    For the colleges and schools to provide chairs in Vernacular languages with decent salaries attached to them.

    (3)    To provide scholarships and foundations in connection with particular colleges and schools, from Government, University and private sources, to enable the best of their alumni to turn out as teachers and translators, providing them with work and means, as soon as their period of scholarship tenure is over and they have fully qualified and equipped themselves.

    (4)    To aid fully and partially, from any and all these sources, the work of translating and publishing in Vernacular, approved books in English or on approved subjects, both original and otherwise.* [* It will be easy enough to find scholars to translate any book on a technical subject, but who will buy them, with the present curricula all in English. How many books are everyday being translated into English from German and French, by English people themselves? And they pay because of their universal medium in English and not Greek and Latin.]

(5)    To add gradually such books into the curricula for the higher degrees in the Vernacular.

(6)    To admit to post of pandits, persons possessing such Vernacular degrees.

    (7)    To make such degrees sufficient for the entrance into Government service which are mostly clerical and up to a pay of Rupees fifty.

    (8)    To institute some of the examinations in special tests in the Vernacular as was done before.

    A friend of ours asked us, that if these things are necessary and are carried out, what necessity there was for adding the Vernacular to the ordinary University curricula, and burdening the students with their special study. But this will be ignoring the whole line of our argument and the past history of Education in this country. We say that Vernacular education is absolutely essential for any and every one and we cannot afford to take away this instrument of knowledge, however imperfectly used, from the large class, of school-going population, having regard to the fact again, that all the reforms proposed now could not possibly be carried out all at once and they may not bear fruit all so soon as we may desire, and that a very large class may not be attracted all at once by the inducements and facilities. Such a thing must all be a work of time; and as such, the question of doing away with Vernaculars from the ordinary curricula need not be entertained for a moment for the present.


Saturday, July 19, 2014


    Rahu and Ketu are the last two of our nine planets Puranically, they represent respectively the Head (Caput Draconis) and the Tail (Cauda Draconis of a Dragon an Asura who, having stealthily partakes of the Ambrosia intended only for the Suras or gods, was struck by Vishnu, on the complaint of the Sun and the Moon. The ambrosia, however, having made him immortal, his Head and Tail have survived, and in the Heavens, avenge the fatal blow on the Sun and the Moon by means of Eclipses.

    But what we are able to understand better is the account given of them in Astronomy. Astronomically, they are respectively the ascending and descending nodes of the Moon, being two imaginary points where the orbit of the Moon in its revolution round the Sun intersects what is called the Ecliptic. The Ecliptic, though really the orbit of the Earth round the Sun, is practically the apparent annual path of the Sun in the Heavens and is the central portion of the zodiac. The path of all the planets in the Heavens constitute the zodiac which is divided into twelve parts named after the constellation situated in each. The Sun moves along the central path of this Belt within which all the planets move. For all practical purposes of Astronomy, it is convenient, as our Astronomers have done, to regard the Sun as moving in the Heavens though the motion is caused by the revolution of the Earth. This apparent path of the Sun in the Heavens called the Ecliptic is intersected in two points by the Moon in its revolution with the Earth round the Sun, that is to say, the Moon in its course crosses the Ecliptic at two points; but in the other parts of its course, it is away from the Ecliptic but never at it. When the Sun and the Moon are in conjunction at any point in the zodiac, we know we have what is called the new Moon. But when this conjunction takes place at one of the two nodes above mentioned viz., at either Rahu or Ketu point then a Solar Eclipse occurs – that is the Sun and the Moon being then visible to us nearly on the same line, a portion of the Solar disc is intercepted by the body of the Moon.    

    But on the other hand, if the Sun and the Moon are at opposite points in the zodiac, we have what is called the Full Moon and when this Full Moon occurs while the Sun and the Moon occupy these two opposite points respectively viz., the Rahu and Ketu points, even then they are on the same line with the Earth but on different sides of it and the Moon therefore merges into the shadow of the Earth caused by the absence of Solar light. And we then have the Lunar Eclipse.

    As these curious planets are two mere imaginary points at which the path of the Sun and of the Moon meet each other, we are unable to identify their position at ordinary times though they are always, as marked in the Calendar, situated exactly opposite each other separated on either side by fire signs of the zodiac and are ever moving through the zodiac like the other planets at 18 months per sign of the zodiac or Solar mansion. For the purpose of determining the Eclipses, it is necessary to know the position of these points and they are therefore marked every year in the Calendar and assigned to a particular Solar mansion in the zodiac.

    This interesting Astronomical principle is made use of by மெய்கண்டதேவர்
in his
in the following stanza by way of a simile for illustrating a difficult Theological principle which could not otherwise be explained.




(Sutram 9, Chapter 3.)


    "The imperceptible Rahu and Ketu become perceptible during Solar and Lunar Eclipses. So God becomes visible in the Heart by the devise of Panchatchara like fire in a wooden rod subjected to friction, and the Soul becomes merged in Him losing its individuality like heated iron. Therefore practice Panchatchara."

    In another place in the same book, we have the following stanza introducing another rare Astronomical truth by way of simile.






    "The planets lose themselves in the light of the Sun but are unlike him though they shine by his borrowed light. So the senseless derive their power of perception from Him who also perceives through them and is identical with them."

    In the 1st stanza, the annotator explains அந்தாத்தியங்கு
உபநாகத்திற் (கிரகணத்திற்) சந்திராதித்தச்
(as we perceive during Solar and Lunar Eclipses the existence of Rahu and Ketu which unlike the other planets are imperceptible on the Heavens) and with regard to the omission of கேது
in the stanza remarks 'கேது
' as Ketu is an imaginary planet, it is not separately mentioned.

    On the 2nd stanza, the note is 'நாண்மீன்
' as the Vedas hold that the lights of planets is derived from the Sun, it is here used as a simile.

    These two similes borrowed from Astronomy point to the profound erudition of the author in other branches of Science than Theology, for it us very unlikely that an author of his reputation being the first classical Tamil writer on Siddhanta Philosophy in a work like சிவஞானபோதம் would have used for his similes, facts which he has not thoroughly mastered unless we suppose they occurred in the original Sanskrit Text.

    These are not among the favorite trite similes of the Siddhanta Philosophy such as the comparison of God and Soul in the created Universe respectively to the Sun and the eye, the comparison of ஆன்மா, ஆணவம், மாயை
and வினை respectively to the rice, bran, husk and shoot of a grain of paddy, the comparison of the deceptive senses to the unreal colors of a crystal, the likeness of ஆணவம்
to physical darkness, and of acquisition of spiritual knowledge to the rising of the Sun, the resemblance of eternal co-existence of ஆணவம் with soul which becomes Godlike on its cessation, to the natural presence of dross in copper which is converted into gold on its removal, the simile of the faculties of கலை, காலம், நியதி
&c. to a lamp in physical darkness and that of the perishable character of the Universe to a mirage. The similes of this author are very apt and instructive and require to be carefully studied.


Sunday, July 6, 2014



    I wish to be of some use to my fellowmen and feel a temptation to put down here the thoughts that arise in me. I claim to be a Sociologist because I feel and seek to labor for the betterment of my race. My Reflexions portray me, my studies, my observations and my experiences. Reader, take me, with all my imperfections if you please.


    Bound by the law of substance – of the indestructibility of matter and the conservation of energy – the universe, as a whole, appears to us to be eternal. And Astronomy tells us that the more it pierces into the wide heavens the more worlds break upon its vision. In fact, it is driven to exclaim in wonder that the universe is boundless.


    If life is the outcome of the cooperation and reciprocal action of chemical and physical forces: Mind is the child of the functional activities of the bodily organs. From the electron to the protist, from the protist to the amoeba, from the amoeba to the ape, and from the ape to the orator or the philosopher – natural evolution has had an unbroken career.


    All the ecstasies and aspirations of the soul – all the dreams and hopes of a fuller, fairer life – constitute our God. And could there be a god higher and grander?


    I deny the existence of a soul substratum: but I assert the existence of the feeling, thinking, aspiring soul – mind.


    The faculties and powers – the soul – of man perish at death with the particles that compose his body. But the law of causation cannot be suspended. Our thoughts and deeds live on in all the countless tendencies and forces that are to be. Our predecessors live in us and we die only to live in those that succeed us.


    It is Humanity that has begot us, that has nursed us, that has trained and educated us, and that has given us all the riches and joys of life. Are we not in duty bound to consecrate this life, however humble and unknown, for the health and happiness of our race? To revere and love and strive to realize this ethical ideal in life is to be truly pious.


    No fear of an angry god, no threat of an everlasting hell and no promise of an eternal heaven, makes a man just and true. But make him think and feel what anguish, what misery and what suffering he brings to another by his selfish crimes and make him think and feel what joys and riches he produces for another by his just and generous acts. We shall so broad base ethics on the higher feelings of man. With the refinement of human feelings there will be less of selfishness and more of love and justice – more of sociality, of morality.


    The loveliest picture in the world is that which represents a hero who is brave enough to stand against a world, rich enough to have fortune under his feet, and glorious enough to want nothing from others.


    A work congenial and useful rice and curry just enough for hunger: clothes and shoes just enough for body: a cottage just enough for shelter: a small provision just enough for contingencies – are quite enough for man's short journey on earth.


    If I could see the Almighty I would shout to Him at the top of my voice: O, please make a nameless, friendless, moneyless philosopher, rather than make me a high placed bandit, a gigantic land-shark, a swollen money-king.


    In plenitude of love, a wise man lets an unfortunate wretch take as much delight as possible from speaking ill of him. To speak or hear ill of others affords great pleasure to a mean fellow. Vultures prefer to feed upon carrion, because it is in their nature to be dirty, and they prefer it to clean meat.


    All crimes are but mistakes. And all mistakes are due to ignorance of our relation to the Universe, of the Laws of Nature. With the disappearance of this ignorance, all vices, all crimes, all mistakes vanish.


    If I err, let me say so. If I correct my error, let me be content with the correction. Let me not trouble myself about how I seem to others. I live in others as others live in me. If I am sane and robust, that must suffice me.


    With thought to foresee and to provide for the changes and chances of life, with prudence to avoid unnecessary evil, with a nobility to be uncompromisingly just, to part with all, to lose all, if need be, with a magnanimity to understand and sympathize with the wants and ways of men and women, with a courage to rise superior to the malignant lies and the mischievous pranks of our fellows, with a generosity to forget and forgive personal wrongs, with a will to dare and defy a world for the principle that is in us, and with a supreme joy to play with the passing concerns of life as though they were things of indifference – we attain a rich and sturdy manhood.


    It is wisdom to fortify yourself against the worst that your brother-men may do unto you. They can at worst beggar you, defame you, torture you, and cast you out. What is there that is intolerable in all this? The intolerable cannot exist in the very nature of things. The intolerable puts an end to itself. You live because things are tolerable enough to let you live. Want, infamy and pain cannot go beyond death. Death puts a finish to them all. When want and torture go beyond endurance, Nature, in her providence, puts out the sensations. People may outcast you, your person; but who can cast out the force and beauty of your thoughts and deeds from the memory of those who have come under their influence? No shame can disfigure a brave and thoughtful soul. All the fires of the auto-da-fe cannot consume one brave thought. The man may go; the thought lives. A brave man is a brave thought. Knights may go: Knightliness remains. Thinkers may go: thought remains. If you are robust enough, you can joyously laugh at neglect and infamy. The brave man is too great for rewards and penalties; gifts cannot tempt him; gibbets cannot terrify him. The world is too small for his thought. Neither fire nor sword can touch him. Neither shame nor honor can reach him. He is high above the world, like a God. By his side all the hosts of money-kings and Society gods look pitiably small. He lives and loves and labors not for the plaudits of a showy world but for the satisfaction of his own soul. If he does not seem fair to a passing crowd: he is supremely content that he is rich and fair in his own eyes.