Part I — General


By Swami Vivekananda

NON-EXISTENCE can never be the cause of what exists. Something cannot come out of nothing. That the law of causation is omnipotent and knows no time or place when it did not exist is a doctrine as old as the Aryan race, sung by their ancient poet-seers, formulated by their philosophers, and made the corner-stone upon which the Hindu man even of to-day builds his whole scheme of life.

There was an inquisitiveness in the race to start with, Which very soon developed into bold analysis, and though in the first attempt the work turned out might be like the attempts of the future master-sculptor with shaky hands, it very soon gave way to strict science, bold attempts and startling results.

Its boldness made them search every brick of their sacrificial altars; scan, cement and pulverise every word of their scriptures ; arrange, re-arrange, doubt, deny or explain the ceremonies ; turned their * From the Prabhuddha Bharata, Dec. 1918.

gods inside out, and assigned only a secondary place to their omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Creator of the universe, their ancestral Father-in-heaven ; or threw Him altogether overboard as useless, and started a world-religion without Him with even now the largest following of any. It evolved the science of geometry from the arrangements of bricks to build various altars, and startled the world with astronomical knowledge that arose from the attempts to accurately time their worship and oblations. It made their contribution to the science of Mathematics the largest of any race ancient or modern, and their knowledge of chemistry, of metallic compounds in medicine, their scale of musical notes, their invention of the bow-instruments of great service in the building of modern European civilisation. It led them to invent the science of building up the child mind through shining fables, which every child in every civilised country learns in a nursery or a school and carries an impress through life.

Behind and before this analytical keenness, covering it as in a velvet sheath, was the other great mental peculiarity of the race—poetic insight. Their religion, their philosophy, their history, their ethics, their politics were all inlaid in a flower-bed of poetic imageries—the miracle of language which they call Sanskrit, or perfected, lending itself to expressing and manipulating them better than any other tongue. The aid of melodious numbers was invoked even to express the hard facts of Mathematics.

This analytical power and the boldness of poetical visions which urged it onward are the two great internal causes in the make-up of the Hindu race. They together formed as it were the keynote to the national character. This combination is what is always making the race press onwards beyond the senses—the secret of those speculations which ar.e like the steel blades they used„ to manufacture—cutting through bars of iron, yet pliable enough to be easily bent into a circle.

They wrought poetry in silver and gold ; the symphony of jewels, the maze of marble wonders, the music of colours^ the fine fabrics which belong more to the fairy-land of dreams than tp the real—have at the back of them thousands of years of working of this national trait.    .

Arts and sciences, even the realities of domestic life, are covered with a mass of poetical conceptions and pressed forward, till the sensuous touches the super-sensuous, and the real gets the rose-hue of the unreal.

The earliest glimpses we have of fhis race shows them already in the possession of this characteristic, as an instrument of some use in their hands. Many forms of religion and society must have been left behind in the onward march, before we find them as depicted in the scriptures, the Vedas.

An organised Pantheon, elaborate ceremonial, divisions of society into hereditary classes necessitated by a variety of occupations, a great many necessaries and a good many luxuries of life are already there.

Most modern scholars are agreed- that surroundings as to climate and conditions purely Indian were not yet working on the race.

Onward through several centuries, we come to a multitude surrounded by snows of the Himalayas on the North and the heat of the South—vast plains, interminable forests, through which mighty rivers roll their tides. We catch a glimpse of different races—Dravidians, Tartars, and Aboriginals pouring in their quota of blood, of speech, of manners and religions—and at last a great nation emerges to our view, stiH keeping the type of the Aryan ; stronger, broader, and more organised by the assimilation.

We find the central assimilative core giving its type and character to the whole mass, clinging on with great pride to its name of “ Aryan,” and though willing to give other races the benefits of its civilisation, it was by no means willing to admit them within the “ Aryan ” pale.

The Indian climate again gave a higher direction to the genius of the race. In a land where nature was propitious and yielded easy victories, the national mind started to grapple and conquer the higher problems of life in the field of thought. Naturally the thinker, the priest, became the highest class in the Indian society, and not the man of the sword. The priests again, even at that dawn of history put most of their energy in elaborating rituals; and when the nation began to find the load of ceremonies and lifeless rituals too heavy,—came the first philosophical speculations, and the royal race was the first to break through the maze of killing rituals.

On the one hand, the majority of the priests impelled by economical considerations were bound to defend that form of religion which made their existence a necessity of society and assigned them the highest place in the scale of caste; on the other hand, the king-caste, whose strong right hand guarded and guided the nation and who now found themselves as leaders in the higher thoughts also, were loath to give up the first place to men who only knew how to conduct a ceremonial. There were then others, recruited from both the priest and king-castes, who ridiculed equally the ritualists and philosophers, declared spiritualism as fraud and priestcraft, and upheld the attainment of material comforts as the highest goal of life. The people tired of ceremonials and wondering at the philosophers joined in masses the materialists. This was the beginning of that caste question and that triangular fight in India between ceremonials, philosophy and materialism which has come down unsolved to our own days.

The first solution of the difficulty attempted was by applying the eclecticism which from the earliest days had taught them to see in differences the same truth in various garbs. The great leader of this school, Krishna himself—of royal race—and his sermon, the Gita, have after various vicissitudes brought about by the upheavals of the Jains, the Buddhists and other sects, fairly established themselves as the “ Prophet ” of Iiidia and the truest philosophy of life. The tension though toned for the time did not satisfy the social wants which were among the causes —the claim of the king-race to stand first in the scale of caste ¦'knd the popular intolerance of priestly privilege. Krishna had opened the gates of spiritual knowledge and attainment to all irrespective of sex or caste, but he left undisturbed the same problem on the social side. This again has come down to our own days, inspite of the gigantic struggle of the Buddhists, Vaishnavas, etc., to attain to social equality for all.

Modern India admits spiritual equality of all souls—but strictly keeps the social difference.

Thus we find the struggle renewed all along the line in the seventh century before the Christian era and finally in the sixth, overwhelming the ancient order of things under Sakya Muni, the Buddha. In their reaction against the privileged priesthood they swept off almost every bit of the old ritual of the Vedas, subordinated the gods of the Vedas to the position of servants to their own human saints and declared the “ Creator and Supreme Ruler ” as ah invention of priestcraft and superstition.

But the aim of Buddhism was reform against ceremonials requiring offerings of animals, against hereditary caste, exclusive priesthood and against belief in permanent souls. It never attempted to destroy the Vedic religion, or overturn the social order. It introduced a vigorous method, by organising a class of Sannyasins into a strong monastic brotherhood, and the Brahmavadinis into a body of nuns,—by introducing images of saints in the place of altar-fires.

It is probable that the reformers had for centuries the majority of the Indian people with them. The older forces were never entirely pacified but they underwent a good deal of modification during the centuries of Buddhistic supremacy.

In ancient India the centres of national life were always the intellectual and spiritual and not political. Of old, as now, political and social power has been always subordinated to spiritual and intellectual. The outburst of national life was round colleges of sages and spiritual teachers. We thus find the Samities of the Panchalas,"of the Kashyas (Benares), the Maithilas standing out as great centres of spiritual culture and philosophy, even in the Upanishads. Again these centres in turn became the focus of political ambition of the various divisions of the Aryans.

The great epic Mahabharata tells us of the war of the Kurus and Panchalas for supremacy over the nation, in which they destroyed each other. The spiritual supremacy veered round and centred in the East among the Magadhas and Maithilas, and after the Kuru-Panchala war a sort of supremacy was obtained by the kings of Magadha.

The Buddhist reformation and its chief field of activity was also the same eastern region; and when the Maurya kings forced possibly by the bar sinister to their escutcheon, patronised and let the new movement, the new priest power joined hands with the political power of the empire of Pataliputra. The popularity of Buddhism and its fresh vigour made the Maurya kings the greatest emperors that India ever had. The power of the Maurya sovereigns made Buddhism that world-wide religion that we see even to-day.

The exclusiveness of the old form of Vedic religions debarred it from taking ready help from outside. At the same time it kept it free and pure from many debasing elements which Buddhism in its propagandist zeal was forced to assimilate.

This extreme adaptability in the long run made Indian Buddhism lose almost all its individuality, and extreme desire to be of the people made it unfit to cope with the intellectual forces of the mother religion in a few centuries. "The Vedic party in the meanwhile got rid of a good deal of its most objectionable features, as animal sacrifice, and took lessons from the rival daughter in the judicious use of images, temple processions, and other impressive performances and stood ready to take within her fold the whole empire of Indian Buddhism already tottering to its fall.

And the crash came, with the Scythian invasions and the total destruction of the empire of Pataliputra.

The invaders already incensed at the invasion of" their central Asiatic home by the preachers of Buddhism, found in the sun-worship of the Brahmanas great sympathy with their own solar religion,—and when the Brahmanist party were ready to adapt and spiritualise many of the customs of the new comers, the invaders threw themselves heart and soul into the Brahmanic cause.

Then there is a veil of darkness and shifting shadows, there are tumults of war, rumours of massacres, and the next scene rises upon a new phase of things.

The empire of Magadha was gone. Most part of Northern India was under the rule of petty chiefs always at war with one another. Buddhism was almost extinct, except in some eastern and Himalayan provinces and in the extreme south; and the nation after centuries of struggle against the power of a hereditary priest awoke to find itself in the clutches of a double priesthood of hereditary Brahmanas and as exclusive monks of the new regime, with all the powers of the Buddhistic organisation and without, their sympathy for the people.

A renaissant India bought by the valour and blood of the heroic Rajputs, defined by the merciless intellect of a Brahmana from the same historical thought-centre of Mithila, led by a new philosophical impulse organised by Sankara and his bands of Sannyasins and beautified by the arts and literature of the courts of Malava—arose on the ruins of the old.

The task before it was profound, problems vaster than what their ancestors ever faced. A comparatively small and compact race, of the same blood and speech and the same social and religious aspiration, saving its unity by unscalable walls around itself has grown huge by multiplication and addition during the Buddhistic supremacy and divided by race, colour, speech, spiritual instinct, and social ambitions into hopelessly jarring factions. And this has to be unified and welded into one gigantic nation. This task Buddhism had come also to solve, and had taken it up when the proportions were not so vast.

So long it was a question of Aryanising the other types that were pressing for admission, and thus out of different elements making a huge Aryan body. Inspite of concessions' and compromises -Buddhism was eminently successful and remained the national religion of India. But the time came when the allurements of sensual forms of worship indiscriminately taken in along with various low races, were too dangerous for the central Aryan core, and a longer contact would certainly have destroyed the civilisation of the Aryans. Then came a natural reaction for self-preservation, and Buddhism as a separate sect ceased to live in most parts of its land of birth.

The reaction-movement led in close succession by Kumarilla in the North and Sankara and Ramanuja in the South has become the last embodiment of that vast accumulation of sects and doctrines and rituals called Hinduism. For the last thousand years or more, its great task has been assimilation, with now and then an outburst of reformation. This reaction first wanted to revive the rituals of the Vedas,—failing which, it made the Upanishads or the philosophic- portions of the Vedas of its basis. It brought Vyasa’s systems of Mimamsa philosophy and Krishna’s sermon, the Gita, to the forefront* and all succeeding movements have followed the same. The movement of Sankara forced its way through its high intellectuality but it could be of little service to the masses,, owing to its adherence to strict caste-laws, very little scope for ordinary emotion, and making Sanskrit the only vehide of communication. Ramanuja on the other hand, with a most practical philosophy, a great appeal to the emotions, an entire denial of birthrights before spiritual attainments and appeals through the popular tongue, completely succeeded in bringing the masses back to the Vedic religion.

The northern reaction of ritualism was followed by the fitful glory of the Malava empire. With the des^ truction of that in a short time, northern India went to sleep, as it were, for a long period, to be rudely awakened by the thundering onrush of Mahomedan cavalry across the passes of Afghanistan. In the south* however, the spiritual upheaval of Sankara and Ramanuja Was followed by the usual Indian sequence of united races and powerful empires. It was the* home of refuge of Indian religion and civilisation, when northern India from sea to sea lay bound at the feet of Central Asiatic conquerers. The Mahomedans tried for centuries to subjugate the south, but can scarcely be said to have got even a strong foothold; and when the strong and united empire of the Moguls was very near completing its conquest, the hills and plateaus of the south poured in their bands of fighting peasant horsemen, determined to die for the religion which Ramdas preached and Tuka sang and in a short time the gigantic empire of the Moguls was only a name.

The movements in northern’India during the Mahomedan period are characterised by their uniform attempt of holding the masses back from joining the religion of the conquerors,—which brought in its train social and spiritual equality for all.

The friars of the orders founded by Ramananda, Kabir, Dadu, Chaitanya or Nanak were all agreed in preaching the equality of Man, however differing from each other in philosophy. Their energy was for the most part spent in checking the rapid conquest of Islam among the masses and they had very little left to give birth to new thoughts and aspirations. Though evidently successful in their purpose of keeping the masses within the folds of the old religion, and tempering the fanaticism of the Mahomedans, they were mere apologists, struggling to obtain permission to live.

One great prophet, however, arose in the north, Govind Singh, the last Guru of the Sikhs, with creative genius, and the result of his spiritual work was followed by the well-known political organisation of the Sikhs. We have seen throughout the history of India, a spiritual upheaval is almost always succeeded by a political unity extending over more or less area of the continent, which in its turn helps to strengthen the spiritual aspiration that brings it to being. But the spiritual aspirations that preceded the rise of the Mahratta or the Sikh empire was entirely reactionary.. We seek in vain to find in the court of Poona or Lahore even a ray of reflection of that intellectual glory which surrounded the courts of the Moguls, much less the brilliance of Malava or Vijayanagar. It was intellectually the darkest period of Indian’ history, and both these meteoric empires representing the upheaval of mass-fanaticism and hating culture with all their hearts, lost all their motive power as soon as they had succeeded in destroying the rule of the hated Mahomedans.

Then there came again a period of confusion. Friends and foes, the Mogul empire and its destroyers, and the till then peaceful foreign traders, French and English, all joined in a melee of fight. For more than half a century there Was nothing but war and pillage and destruction, and when the smoke and dust cleared, England was stalking victorious over the rest. There has been half a century of peace, and law and order under the sway of Britain. Time alone will prove if it is the order of progress or not.

There have been a few religious movements amongst the Indian people during the British rule,, following the same line as was taken up by northern Indian sects during the sway of the empire of Delhi. They are the voices of the dead or the dying—the feeble tones of a terrorised people, pleading for permission to live. They are ever eager to adjust their spiritual or social surrroundings according to the tastes of the conquerors—if they are only left the right to live, especially with the sects under the English domination, when social differences with the conquering race are more glaring than the spiritual. The Hindu sects of the century seemed to have set one ideal of truth before them—the approval of their English masters. No wonder that these sects have mushroom lives to live. The vast body of the Indian people religiously hold aloof from them and the only popular recognition they get is the jubilation of the people when they die.

But possibly for sometime yet it cannot be otherwise.


By Swami Ramakrishnanda.

THE ideal of all religions is God, God alone. As different rivers, taking their birth in different places, all flow toward the one ocean, so every religion leads to God. In whatever religion a man belongs, he has to worship the one God. According to the Semitic belief, whatever is not God, is called Satan. The two existences are God and anti-God. What is Satan ? If we want to know what Satan is, it is very easy for us; but it is very difficult for us to know what God is. What then is Satan ? That which makes me forget my God. And what is that ? The ego. The ego makes me forget the Lord and believe that all these things belong to me. So what in Judaism, Christianity and Mohammedanism they call Satan, in Vedanta we call ego or selfishness. All ideas of “ I,” “ me ” and “ mine ” are Satanic, because they are based on ignorance and put the ego in the place of the Lord of the whole universe. Therefore some philosophers declare that ignorance is Satan and wisdom is God, for it is always ignorance which leads a man to doubt the existence of God. “ The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.”

* Talk given to some Mohammedan students who took refuge in the monastery during a storm, hence the reference to the Semitic idea of a Satan. The young men were so much interested in what the Swami had to say, that they returned every evening for a week to have him expound to them the tenets of their own religion.

It is only out of vanity that men deny the existence of God. Such people make much of the ego and think that the human mind can unravel the mysteries of the universe; but it is as absurd to suppose that this puny mind can understand the workings of the Lord as that an ant can lift up the Himalayas and plunge them into the Bay of Bengal. This human mind by itself is so weak, so slavish in its nature, that we cannot imagine anything weaker or more helpless. Does it remember what it thought or did last week, or last month, or when it was five years old ? Has it the power to go beyond this universe? No. Then it is subject to all sorts of temptations. It is led away by anything and everything in the outside world. Can it always even keep itself awake ? No, it is often and often overpowered by sleep. It is also like a monkey, with no power to keep quiet even for a moment. For this reason, one of the greatest warriors of India has said that the mind is so unsteady and tumultuous that to curb it is more difficult than to curb the wind. What is the meaning of restlessness ? Weakness. It is the weak man who is restless. The weaker a thing, the more it is restless; the stronger it is, the calmer and steadier is it. A little plant bends and quivers at the slightest breeze, but the Himalayas remain unmoved in the fiercest storm. Therefore this constant restlessness of the mind shows its weakness, its flimsiness.

How precarious too is the life of this body ! I am talking here at this moment, then suddenly I may stop, my body will become stiff and people will say that I am dead. Having such a body to call my own, having such a mind to call my own, how can I be vain and proud ? That man must be absolutely in the hands of Satan who makes much of this body and mind; or who thinks this body and mind to be his own property. Neither the mind belongs to me, nor the body. To whom then do they belong ? They must belong to Him from whom they come. I am evidently not my own master. If I were, I could stay here as long as I chose; but the moment God calls, I must go away and leave parents, relatives, property, all that I care for. So nothing is mine. “ Nothing belongs to me, all is Thine, O Lord! ” This is true wisdom. “All is mine,” is Satanic ; “ All is Thine/* is of God. This every religion teaches.

The essential parts of all religions are the same. It is only in the non-essential parts that differences are to be found. Therefore we need not find fault with other religions on account of their differences in external manners. That which makes up the external is the shell side; it is always rough and hard and difficult to break, but it has one advantage, it preserves the kernel. Religion may be defined as “ giving God his due.” God alone is the proprietor of the universe. He alone is the proprietor of me, the proprietor of you ; recognizing this and giving up all' to Him is religion. Wishing to keep all for oneself is irreligion. Throw away the idea of “ me ” and " mine ; ” give up all to God: this is the essential of every religion. This is what Mahommedanism teaches, what Christianity teaches, what Vedanta teaches, what every religion teaches.

Human nature is all the same. Only dresses differ. What is in the dress ? You may wear a coat and trousers, I may wear this one simple cloth; but underneath, the nature is all the same. Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall go away again. But behind all dress, all ceremonies and religious rites is this one idea,—to realize God. Christian, Mahommedan, Hindu, all are striving for this. Jnana-Marga, Bhakti-Marga, ¦ Karma-Yoga, Raja-Yoga (the paths of wisdom, devotion, work and self-control) all lead to this. To realize God is consciously or unconsciously the aim of every man. He may seem to be drawn away by a beautiful face, by sense-pleasure or ambition, but he will never find satisfaction until he has reached God. This too is the common basis of all true ethics; for all that takes man to God is morality, and all that takes man away from God is immorality.

In the realm of law, however, there is religious law and there is social law, and we must discriminate between them. God commands us to punish those who disobey Him. Why should we punish them ?* To make them obedient servants. But Christ says : When a man strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other. Is this not a contradiction ? No. The

one is a religious law, the other a social law. The one is meant for those who have given up the world ; •the other for the householder, who must punish the wrong-doer to protect society.

A man who wants nothing but God, if some one asks him for his house, he will say:    “ Yes, take it.

I do not want it.” But that is only possible for a man who is a Sannyasin, who has given up the world and all worldly ties; not for one who has a family and still wishes to live in the world. If a householder should practise such non-resistance, there would be general depredation, the good wPuld be destroyed and the wicked would prevail. Punishment is not a bad thing. If you have done something which helps to rectify a man, you have done good to him. We should not let the wicked thrive. In a field there are always weeds, bnt if you want to reap a good harvest you must pull them out. Yet it must not be done in a revengeful or malicious spirit based on egotism. Satan always wants to revenge. God sent Satan out of heaven because he was not worthy to remain there, but He was not angry with him. The attitude of God towards Satan is always pity ; the attitude of Satan towards God is that of revenge, jealousy, hatred. Those are always Satanic who are revengeful or destructive, for vengeance is based on egotism, on the seeing of difference; and the seeing of difference is ignorance, the seeing of sameness is knowledge. This is equally true of those who persecute in the name of religion, as of those who fight or kill for worldly gain. Vedanta says that a good Jew, a good Christian, a good Mahommedan and a good Hindu are all the same, for they are all faithful servants of the Lord. In whatever country they may live, they are equally God’s servants. As Sri Krishna teaches in the Gita: “ Whoever seeks me by whatever method, of him do I make the faith firm and unwavering.” And again : “ Howsoever do men resort to me, even so do I serve them. My dear son, know that all paths have been marked out by me.” This is Vedanta. The God of Vedanta was not discovered by Buddha. He was not discovered by Christ. He was not discovered by Mahommed. He is revealing Himself throughout all ages. He has revealed Himself throughout the beginningless past, and He will continue to reveal Himself throughout the endless future.—(jProw the Message of the East.)


By Swami Abhedananda.

ONE of the fundamental principles of the philosophy and religion of Vedanta is the immortality of the human soul. According to the teachings of Vedanta, each individual soul is immortal by nature. However sinful it may appear to be from the moral standpoint, it will continue to exist after the death of the body. It cannot be annihilated or destroyed into nothingness. It can never cease to exist.

On this point the religion of Vedanta differs from the dogmas of those dualistic religions which maintain that immortal life can be obtained only by a few chosen ones as a special gift of God while others will perish. Many of the orthodox Christian theologians hold that the soul’s continued life after death in eternal future is not a natural gift but a special gift, being conditioned upon the proper use of this life. They think that immortality is a reward of merit, or of good works, or of an ethical life or faith in the Christ. Here we may ask, who will decide how many degrees above zero one must be, morally, in order to obtain the gift of immortality ?

If we examine minutely we shall find that this dogma of conditional immortality is not based upon . a rational foundation. It makes God, the merciful Father, partial and unjust. How can we imagine that * Lecture delivered in America.

a just, impartial and merciful Father will grant immortality to some of his children and allow the rest to perish, simply on account of their immoral acts or mistakes ? The religion of Vedanta does not teach this dogma of conditional immortality, but, on the contrary, it says that immortal life cannot be a reward or a gift of any superior being, because that reward or punishment is nothing but the result or reaction 6f our own actions; and since every human action is finite or limited by time and space, and consequently non-eternal, it cannot produce an eternal effect in the form of immortal life. No human action, either of the mind or of the body, however good or virtuous it may be called, can produce an eternal effect, that is, an effect unlimited by time or by space. It will then be against the law of cause and sequence, which makes every effect or result similar to its cause, both in nature and quality.

There is another important point on which the conception of immortality in Vedanta differs from that of Christianity. Christianity, believing in the theory of special creation of the individual soul at the time of birth, denies the pre-existence of the human soul previous to the birth of the body ; admits the continuity of the soul after death in an eternal future. This doctrine again is not based upon a rational foundation, nor is it supported by any fact oF nature, because it is impossible for a thing which has a beginning in time to last forever. No One has ever seen or heard of any substance which began to exist at a certain time but continued forever in future. Can we imagine a stick, the one end of which is in our hand and the other end is endless, unlimited ? No, it is impossible. We cannot think of a thing which has a beginning or a limit either in time or in space, on one side, and on the other side is unlimited by either time or space. As we cannot imagine any earthly object, or material thing, of such a nature, how can we imagine that the soul, which had its birth in time and space, will continue to exist forever? We cannot conceive of a soul which came into existence at the time of birth and will remain forever after death in eternal future or endless time. Therefore, immortality, which means the eternal continuity of existence, presupposes the existence of the soul previous to the birth of the body. If we believe in the immortality of the human soul we shall have to admit its pre-existence also, because that which is born must die, and everything that has a beginning must have an end. This is the law of nature. We cannot go against it.

The laws of nature are always uniform and universal; there is no such thing as an exception. All exceptions are governed by other laws which we may or may not know; they are only the expressions of different laws. Anything that is born must be subject to death, and that which has a beginning must have an end. If we wish to be endless or immortal in future we must have to admit that we were beginningless or immortal in the past. Here some people may think how is it possible that we existed in the past ? If you apply that law, that because we exist to-day we could not come into existence out of nothing, then you will get a glimpse of the idea of pre-existence. And for this reason Vedanta teaches both immortality and pre-existence. No theory of immortality can be perfect or complete without admitting the pre-existence of the soul. No theory has successfully proved the necessity of an eternal future life in the case of one whose existence in the past has been proved to be unnecessary. If you say that your pre-existence was unnecessary so your immortal life will be equally unnecessary. If the world could get along without you before why should it not get along without you hereafter ? What necessity will there be for an immortal life in future if you did not exist before ? If you have come into existence all of a sudden, you can go out of existence all of a sudden. Who will prevent us from becoming such an ephemeral substance?

In Vedanta, true immortality means eternal existence in the past as well as in the future. Pre-existence and immortality are so closely related to each other that if we deny one we cannot accept the other. For logically, we shall be incorrect; we shall go against the laws of nature and our statement will be founded, nor upon rational ground, but upon some dogma or doctrine which has no foundation. In Vedanta, therefore, we learn that each individual soul existed before the birth of the body. If we believe that we shall continue to exist after death we shall have to admit that we existed in the past, otherwise we cannot have immortal life in future. We have not come into existence for the first time out of ^nothing, but our present is a connecting link in the chain of our past and future existence. We may not know it, we may not possess the memory of our past Kves ; still we existed just the same.

Here it may be asked, if we existed before our birth why do we not remember ? This is one of the strongest objections often raised against the belief in pre-existence. Some people deny the existence of the soul in the past simply because they cannot remember the events of their past. Others, again, who hold memory as the standard of existence say, if our memory of the present ceases to exist at the time of death, with it we shall also cease to be; we cannot be immortal; because they hold that memory is the standard of life, and if we do not remember why then we are not the same beings.

Vedanta answers these questions by saying that it is possible for us to remember our previous existences. Those who have read “ Raja Yoga ” will recall that in the 18th aphorism of the third chapter it is said : “ By perceiving the Samskaras one acquires the knowledge of past lives.” Here the Samskaras mean the impressions of the past experience which lie dormant in our subliminal self, and are never lost. Memory is nothing but the awakening and rising of latent impressions above the threshold of consciousness. A Raja Yogi, through powerful concentration upon these dormant impressions of the subconscious mind, can remember all the events of his past lives. There have been, many instances in India of Yogis who could know not only their own past lives but correctly tell those of others. It is said that Buddha remembered five hundred of his previous births. Krishna says, in the “ Bha-gavad-Gita : ” “ Both thou and I, Arjuna, have gone through many births; thou knowest them not; but I know them all.” This shows that Krishna remembered them because he was a Yogi; and Arjuna could, not remember because he had not the power to do so.

Our subliminal self, or the subconscious mind, is. the storehouse of all the impressions that we gather through our experiences during our lifetime. They are stored up, pigeon-holed there, in the Chitta, as it is called in Vedanta. “ Chitta ” means the same subconscious mind or subliminal self which is the storehouse of all impressions and experiences. And these impressions remain latent until favourable conditions rouse them and bring them out in the plane of consciousness. Here let us take an illustration : In a dark room pictures are thrown on a screen by lantern-slides. The room is absolutely dark. We are lookings at the pictures. Suppose we open a window and allow the rays of the midday sun to fall upon the screen. Would we be able to see those pictures? No. Why ? Because the more powerful flood of light will subdue-the light of the lantern and the pictures. But although they are invisible to our eyes we cannot deny their existence on the screen. Similarly, the pictures of the events of our previous lives upon the screen of the subliminal self may be invisible to us at present, but they exist there. Why are they invisible to us now ? Because the more powerful light of sense-consciousness has subdued them. If we close the windows and doors of our senses from outside contact and darken the inner chamber of our self, then by focusing the light of consciousness and concentrating the mental fays we shall be able to know and remember our past lives, and all the events an<i experiences thereof. Those who wish therefore to develop their memory and remember their past should practice Raja Yoga and learn the method of acquiring the power of concentration by shutting the doors and windows of their senses. And that power of concentration must be helped by the power of self-control. That is, by controlling the doors and windows of our own senses.

These dormant impressions, whether we remember them or not, are the chief factors in moulding our individual characters with which we are born, and they are*the causes of the inequalities and diversities which we find around us. When we study the characters and powers of geniuses and prodigies we cannot deny the pre-existence of soul. Whatever the soul has mastered in a previous life manifests in the present. The memory of particular events is not so important. If we possess the wisdom and knowledge which we gathered in our previous lives, then it matters very little whether or not we remember the particular events, or the struggles which we went through in order to gain that knowledge. Those particular things may not come to us in our memory, but we have not lost the wisdom. Now, study your own present life and you will see that in this life you have gained some experience. The particular events and the struggles which you went through are passing out of your memory, but the experience, the knowledge which you have .gained through that experience, has moulded your character, has shaped you in a different manner. You will not have to go through those different events again to remember; how you acquired that experience is not necessary ; the wisdom gained is quite enough.

Then, again, we find among ourselves persons who are born with some wonderful powers. Take, for instance, the power of self-control. One is born with the power of self-control highly developed, and that self-control may not be acquired by another after years of hard struggle. Why is there this difference ? Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna was born with God-consciousness, and he went into the highest state of Samadhi when he was four year's old; but this state is very difficult for other Yogis to acquire. There was a Yogi who came to see Ramakrishna. He was an old man and possessed wonderful powers, and he said: " I have struggled for forty years to acquire that state which is natural with you.” Sankaracharya, the great commentator of the Vedanta philosophy, wrote his commentary when he was twelve years of age, and there are very few thinkers and philosophers in the world who can understand the spirit of his writings. They are so deep and so sublime that ordinary minds cannot grasp them. There are many such instances which show that pre-existence is a fact, and that these latent or dormant impressions of previous lives are the chief factors in moulding the individual character without depending upon the memory of the past. Because we cannot remember our past, because of the loss of memory of the particular events, the soul’s progress is not arrested. The soul will continue to progress further and further, even though the memory may be weak.

Each individual soul possesses this store house of previous experiences in the background, in the subconscious mind. Take the instance of two lovers. What is love ? It is the attraction between two souls. This love does not die with the death of the body. True love survives death and continues to grow, to become stronger and stronger. Eventually it brings the two souls together and makes them one. The theory of pre-existence alone can explain why two souls at the first sight know each other and become attached to* each other by the tie of friendship. This mutual love will continue to grow and will become stronger, and'' in the end will bring these lovers together, no matter where they go. Therefore, Vedanta does not say that the death of the body will end the attraction or the attachment of two souls ; but as the souls are immortal so their relation will continue forever. But we must not forget here that that relation and that love must be mutual. If you love some one and that person does not love you then it will be one-sided. It will not bring the two souls together. There must be mutual attraction. In Vedanta we learn that as immortality means the continued existence in eternal future, so pre-existence means the continued existence in the eternal past; the one cannot exist without the other. And each of these only expresses the one-half of our . soul-life, which is eternal, and both of these together make a complete whole; that is the eternal soul-life. It existed before, and it was always unborn, and therefore it will continue to exist in future forever. Our present life is the resultant of the past, and our future will be the resultant of the present. Nothing will be lost.

Modern spiritualism has thrown a little light upon the future, that even the departed spirits do remember their past relations. This shows that memory does -not depend entirely upon the physical organism, but memory goes with the soul wherever the soul goes. That is the real memory. The physical organism may be destroyed; it is only the machine through which that subliminal self is reproducing the powers which are latent in it. So our present life is the resultant of the past ; it contains all the previous impressions and experiences of past lives ; only under certain conditions can they be remembered. But here we must remember that immortality does not necessarily imply that we should go to heaven to eternally enjoy the celestial pleasures, or to go to eternal perdition in order to suffer punishments on account of our evil deeds. These ideas are not necessarily included in the meaning of immortality. According to Vedanta, immortality includes the meaning of progress, growth and evolution of the soul from lower to higher stages of development; it also includes the idea that each individual soul will manifest the powers which are already latent in the soul by going through different stages of growth and development until perfection and omniscience and omnipresence are acquired. In order to attain to this, in order to accomplish this highest end, the soul must manifest itself in various stages of life and gain experience after experience. That cause which brought us cjn this plane of existence will continue to bring us here again in future. If the same cause remains in us, even after the death of the body, then nothing can prevent us from coming back to this plane of existence in order to fulfil our desires and purposes. This idea leads to the theory of rebirth and reincarnation of the individual soul. The rebirth and reincarnation of the individual soul is based upon the truth of the eternality of the soul-life which is expressed by pre-existence and immortality. The exodus of the soul after death into heaven or into some realm of punishment or lower realm depends entirely upon the thoughts and deeds of the individual soul, and the soul’s stay in these realms is temporary, dependent upon the condition of reaping the results of those thoughts and deeds. That is, the soul will remain there as long as it has not thoroughly reaped the fruits of its thoughts and deeds. At the expiration of that time the inmates of heavens and other realms will come back on this plane in order to gain further experience, to gain more powers, more knowledge, until perfection is reached. Vedanta does not say that heaven is eternal, but the soul has the power to-transcend heaven and go beyond all celestial realms; why should we be limited to one particular spot ? If we do not care to return to this realm we shall be dissatisfied even when we have gone to heaven. Then will come the time when we shall try to go further beyond until we have become absolutely perfect and omniscient and omnipresent. Therefor^ it is said in Vedanta:    Even the highest heaven is temporary and

non-eternal. The realms that exist between the earth and the highest heaven mark only the phenomenal growth and progress of the individual soul. Those who go there and remain there are subject to birth and rebirth. They will come back again. But those who have attained to perfection transcend all heavens, understand eternal life and remain perfect for ever and ever.

By Swami Abhedananda.

EVERY great religion has produced prophets and j saints' The history of a religion consists of the lives of its prophets and saints and of the spiritual experiences attained by them. A religion is living which has the power to produce saintly characters, because the saintly character is the proof of the truth of a religion. If a religion cannot produce saintly characters at all times, then that religion is considered to be without life; it has lost its vitality and power. Christianity, Mahomedanism, Buddhism, Hinduism, also the religion of Vedanta, have all produced innumerable prophets and saints, who by their living example have established their mastery of spirit over flesh and animal nature. Genuine saintliness is not attained by one who is not absolutely moral. It is not only the climax of moral virtue, but also the attainment of spiritual realization.

There is a difference between moral virtue and spiritual realization. Spiritual realization does not mean a mere intellectual apprehension of the existence of God, but an actual communion with God. It depends upon the feeling of the Divine Presence in the soul, for at the time of realization the soul becomes devoted to the Supreme Ideal; it constantly thinks of Him, meditates on Him, talks about Him, and serves Him through intense faith and love. The stronger the realization, the more powerful becomes the attachment of the soul to the Divine Ideal. The Divine Ideal gradually absorbs all other interests and

* Abstract of a lecture.

swallows up all earthly attachments and all human affection. These find their true goal when directed toward God. All earthly attachment and human affection must end in God sooner or later. As streams of water, however small and weak they may be in the beginning, must eventually end in the mighty ocean, 60 human affection and earthly attachment, however scattered they may be at present, will eventually flow into the ocean of Divinity. When the river of the human soul reaches the ocean of Divinity, close spiritual communion is the result. In that state Selfhood, or the sense of I, Me, Mine, melts down, and absolute surrender to the Divine Ideal characterizes the inner nature of the devotee.

The self-surrender of a true saint finds extreme pleasure in self-sacrifice and in the practice of asceticism. A true saint believes that these are the signs of his absolute loyalty to his Divine Ideal. All fear and anxiety then vanish from the soul and blissful tranquillity takes possession of the heart. A true saint does not covet celestial pleasures, nor does he fear the sufferings of hell. In fact, he rises above both heaven and hell. Such a tremendous strength comes to the soul of a saint who has reached Divine communion !

A true saint lives an absolutely pure life in thought, word, and deed. All sensual elements and animal propensities are purged out of the heart and soul of a true saint. His ideal becomes to live a pure and spotless life because God is absolute purity itself. Some saints treat the weaknesses of the flesh with merciless severity. Along with purity come extremely tender and charitable feelings for all beings. A saint loves all his fellow-beings and feels the presence of his Divine Ideal in every living creature. He treats all with equal kindness and never injures any one physically or mentally. He loves his enemies and practises non-resistance of evil. If a disease attacks him, he believes that it has been sent by God for his own good.

The true saint is extremely humble; he is free from egotism, vanity, pride, self-conceit; he does not think of himself as superior to any human being, but he devotes his life to the service of humanity. A saint feels so strongly for those who suffer that he often tries to relieve their pain by nursing and caring for them. Some of the Roman Catholic saints have made their names immortal by taking care of lepers, or those afflicted with other incurable diseases. We know that St. Francis of Assisi kissed the lepers and exchanged his garments with those^of a filthy beggar. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, St. John of God, and others showed their love for humanity by cleansing the sores of their patients with their tongues. Their love was so great, so intense, so high that nothing, no distinction of good and bad appealed to them.

- A true saint practises equanimity, self-resignation, patience. He has intense faith, love, and great moral courage. He is always the master; whenever he is persecuted, it only brings out all these powers of selfmastery. A complete triumph of spirit over flesh and earthly desires was manifested by those great spuls who are now honored as saints and martyrs. Most of the saints withdraw themselves from social life, because the world does not understand them and they do not care to adapt themselves to the foolish requirements of society. Simplicity in food and clothes becomes their ideal, consequently the complex living of worldly people does not appeal to them. This idea was at the foundation of the community life of the monks and nuns in the different religions. All saints practise ‘self-denial and live in the eternal present, without thinking of the morrow. They depend upon the providence of the Heavenly Father, who-always feeds His children. There are many examples to-day in India of holy men who live thus from hour to hour and from day to day. True saints of all religions practise self-mastery by denying themselves, by not indulging in their desires, by mortifying their natural passions and overcoming joy, hope, fear, and grief. If the desire arises for tasting the best foodj they will enjoy what is most distasteful; if the desire be for the most precious thing, they will seek the most contemptible. If the desire be to possess more and more, a true saint wishes to possess less and less, and thus eventually he becomes perfect master of his mind and body. Poverty is another virtue oFthe true saint; it is the outcome of extreme self-denial and self-abnegation. Voluntary poverty is a blessing, but when it is forced upon us it is a curse. If yon make yourself poor when you can have many things but do not care for them, this is self-denial; but if you do not possess anything, what are you going to renounce ?

The Sanskrit word for saint is “ Siddha,” which means literally one who has accomplished the task, who has reached the end of a long and tiresome journey, hence one who has attained the fruit of religion, which is nothing but absolute self-mastery and God-consciousness. Although all saints of all religions eventually reach the same goal, still their methods of attainment vary. According to those different methods the Siddhas, or saints, can be classified as first, those who practise the saintly virtues for a long time, live simple, pure, and chaste lives, perform penances and austerities, devote their time to prayers, meditation and renunciation, self-denial, and resignation. Thus through constant practice they reach God and are called Siddhas. The second kind are those who have attained God-consciousness by the grace of the Almighty. That grace may come unexpectedly and transform the imperfect character of an individual into that of a perfect saint. After living a virtuous life for many incarnations one becomes fitted to obtain such grace from the Lord. This grace may come directly from the Universal Spirit, or through any of the Divine Incarnations, like Christ, Krishna, Buddha, Ramakrishna. These Divine Incarnations are the mediums through which the grace of the Lord comes to a true devofee. When the Divinity incar-, nates himself in a human form, a tremendous flood of spirituality inundates the world, carrying the seed of saintliness everywhere, and all souls which come in* touch with that flood will receive certain blessings*, certain powers.

There is another class of saints who manifest their God-consciousness from their childhood. They are born perfect. The attractions and limitations of the world cannot affect them. They are called in Sanskrit Nitya-Siddhas, which literally means te eternally perfect.” They are perfected souls who live from eternity to eternity. They are absolutely free to-manifest themselves whenever and wherever they may choose to do so. They are born saints. Their selfmastery is unique ; they are perfect masters of themselves as well as of the phenomenal world. They do not have to make an effort to conquer any passion or worldly desire, but they are born self-masters, not only of the body but also of the mind. Saintly virtues are natural with them. They are not drawn to* this plane by the force of desires, by the law of Karma,, but choose their own parents consciously and come to help mankind. Whenever they wish anything,, that wish is' instantly fulfilled. Their will-power controls environmental conditions. They possess Divine powers and manifest them whenever they like. They are worshipped as the Saviours of mankind. There have been many manifestations of such perfected souls in India from time immemorial—Sukadeva* Narada, Sankaracharya, and others.

The latest of these manifestations was in the nineteenth centuiy in the form of Bhagavan Sri Rama-krishna. Those who have read the life and sayings of Ramakrishna, by Professor MaxMuller, or “ My Master,” by Swami Vivekananda, will remember that this Great Soul was a born saint. From his very childhood he manifested his saintly character and selfmastery. When he was four years old he attained the highest state of Samadhi, or God-consciousness, by looking at a beautiful cloud. He remained in that state for a long time, communed with God, and realized God, as also his own mission. Even at that early age he was fond of saints and sages, and wherever he would hear that holy men were living, he would go there; he was naturally drawn to such saints, and would try to imitate their virtues. Worldly attractions did not appeal to him. During his whole earthly career he was not for a moment attracted by the charm of worldly pleasures, which fascinate and ensnare the minds of ordinary mortals. His love for God and for spiritual* realization reached a climax when he was in his teens. He would not go to any college or university ; he said that if God taught him direct, then he would learn, otherwise not. His elder brother was a professor and insisted that he attend college, that he learn something; but he said-: “ What does learning amount to ? It is all in the relative world. Can you give me the realization of the Supreme through books?” Yet when he was twelve years old he answered the most difficult questions asked by pundits and scholars.

His love for humanity was so great that he made no distinction of caste, creed, or nationality. Although he was born of most orthodox and pious parents, still in spite of their opposition he mixed freely with all classes of people, always trying to do good to them, to bring them to a love of God. His self-mastery was equally great and unique. He brought his whole body and mind, nay every nerve and muscle, under his control. All the organs of his body obeyed his commands. Even his heart-beat and pulse were governed by his conscious will. His desire and passion were not for any earthly object or for sense-pleasures, but for God alone. He had absolute mastery over lust. In the Bhagavad Gita it is said : “ Three are the gates of hell,—degrading to the soul,—lust, wrath, and greed; therefore, these three must be abandoned by one who wishes to become a saint and reach perfection.*’ (Ch. 16, v. 2i.) He is not a true saint who has not conquered lust, wrath, and greed, and who has not become master over worldly desires. He is a true saint of the highest type who has conquered these three passions in this life, and he possesses eternal bliss in the soul. In this age of materialism and sensuality, there can be found no more perfect example of self-mastery than in the superhuman character of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna. He was like the personification of absolute mastery over lust, anger, and earthly desires. W hosoever follows his path will surely reach perfection and God-consciousness even in this life. His grace can be easily acquired through sincere longing and earnest prayers of absolute love, as the Vedas say. The root of poetry is in the absolute love. The expression of that unbounded love is poetry. The Rishis of the Vedas addressed God as the foremost, the oldest of poets, yet the one who never waxes old. Every expression is not only full of poetry, but is poetry; and blessed are they who can see poetry in everything, everywhere, at all times. Every real poet is a prophet, every real prophet a poet. A genuine expression of the human heart in language, under the controlling sense of the beautiful, is poetry. However separated by time and space, by racial or national prejudices, true poetry appeals to all minds. The same old law,—that expression will vary but the essence remain constant, holds good here as elsewhere. The same fulness of reverence and awe and love, which made the Vedic Seer of old thirst after God and righteousness and helped him to rise to the immediate vision of the superconscious, We see in other Scriptures recorded of other men. Wherever we fend a genuine expression of the human heart, it is for us to enjoy; let us not be deprived of our joy by any prejudice.


By Swami Saradananda.

HE universe is the expression of God, that ocean

The poetry of the Vedas is wholly religious. The Aryans, at the time of their composition, had evolved

Extract from a Lecture.

a high civilization and were a strong, sturdy people, full of faith in themselves and in God. In the Rig-Veda, the wonderful experiences of their passage over plains, rivers and vast mountains,, became means of expressing their deep emotions. In the later Vedas and Upanishads we see the fruit of their sojourn in India. The writings are full of vigor, purity, simplicity ; they are instinct with life. The earlier portions are like the utterances of youth,—rash and exuberant the later portions are controlled, chaste, conscious of reserve power, the expressions of a fully developed man. In the former, devotion is through fear ; in the latter, devotion knows no fear; love is for love’s sake, seeking no reward but that of loving. In the former, God is worshipped as the just judge; in the latter, as the soul of the man’s soul. In India, of old, man’s * life fell into four periods : the student life, the family life, the forest life, and the monk life. After he had discharged his duties to family and state, a man retired to the forests on the slopes of the Himalayas, or on the banks of the Ganges, to meditate on the mysteries of life and death, leaving his place to younger men. There, amidst the singing of birds, the warbling of brooks, the wonders of dawn and day and night, he used to come face to face with nature and learn to feel himself a part of it. He dived into himself to the very roots of consciousness, and brought forth into the light of day the answer to the vexed questions of life, sparkling with dews of meditation.  From love Absolute has all this universe come forth, in love infinite does it continue after birth, towards love unlimited it flows.” Need we wonder that the Upanishads are full of living poetry ? The Aranyakas.. or Forest Books, deal with the experiences of this marvellous third period of a man’s life.

“ Thou sun! Thou hast covered the face of truth with thy golden disk; do thou uncover it to my vision, for I thirst after true religion. Progenitor and. controller of all, O Sun ! withdraw thy rays awhile, that I may look at thy blissful dorm, the real cause of thy power. That form of thine is one with the Infinite Being, and I too am one with Him.” The theme of the poetry of the Upanishads is the Inexpressible, the Unknowable. No wonder the songs of the Rishis are paradoxical, often incomprehensible. Yet their imagery brings us to the very threshold of Deity. Nature becomes a translucent veil. Earth, sun, moon and stars grow dim; an ocean of light is revealed to you; you feel yourself grow larger as you read, till your little personality is dissolved and you feel one with that boundless ocean. “ The knower is not born, nor dies, nor was born of old. Birthless, eternal, ever-existent, old and yet ever young, not slain with the slaying of the body. If the slayer thinks he can slay, or the slain that he can be slain, both of them know not. It neither slays nor is slain. It is finer than the finest, greater than the greatest, seated deep within the depth of every creature; beholding the greatness and glory of the Self. By His-' grace the controlled man goes beyond sorrow. He sits still and yet moves far away. He is all perfect. Who can know that effulgent Being, who is greater than the greatest, except myself ? Formless, yet in all form; changeless, yet in all change; knowing that Self, the Lord, the enlightened man never grieves again ! That Self cannot be attained by much learning, nor by a keen understanding, nor by the reading of many Scriptures. He whom the Self chooses, by him can the Self be gained. To him the Self reveals His own Essence.” “ Where the Self is, the eye cannot reach, nor speech, nor the mind ; we cannot say we know It, neither do we know how to teach It to others. It is beyond what is known and what is unknown. Thus have we heard from them of old. That which cannot be disclosed by speech, but which gives rise to speech, that is the Self; not this which thou hast been worshipping— know That! That which cannot be measured by the mind, but by which the mind thinks, that is the Self—know That! Those amongst us who think they know the Self perfectly, they know not; those who think they cannot know, they know !”

The characteristic peculiarity of the Upanishads is that they attempt to describe by negations. Met* aphor after metaphor is given, only to be cast away. Not this, not this! Further! Beyond! Beyond! They fill the mind with amazing images, only to have them serve as successive rungs of a ladder.  Whence speech falls back with the mind, unable to attain—That is the ocean of unbounded bliss. Attaining That, the enlightened man goes beyond fear. Neither the sun appears bright there, nor the moon, nor the stars; the flash of lightning is darkness, the brightness of fire, gloom beside It. It shineth, and all else shineth after It; all else is bright alone in Its brightness.” Large similes serve to express the omnipresence of the One and the merging of all things in the One. '* As the rivers flowing into the ocean become one with it, losing separate name and form; so the enlightened one, freed of name and form, approaches the supreme effulgent being.” As from a blazing fire come out ' thousands of sparks of the same nature as the fire itself, thus, O Beloved, come out the different existences from that eternal unchangeable Being and enter Sim again.” Birds, trees, a chariot drawn by fiery steeds, all serve to suggest relations of the individual soul to itself and its divine beginning and end. Allegories abound, picturesque stories, but all have one interpretation, the unknown Knower that knoweth us, in and through us—Whom to know is life eternal.


By Sister Nivedita.

“Behold I send you forth as lambs among wolves.” ** Carry neither purse, nor scrip nor shoes.,,

“ Salute no man by the way.”

“ Eating and drinking such things as they give”

“ Freely ye have received, freely give.”

“ Provide neither gold nor silver nor brass in your purposes, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves.”—Early Christian Mission Charges.


THE line that says “The soul of Shakespeare could not love thee more,” goes to the root of the matter. Another critic of human life so completely competent as William Shakespeare, has probably never been. And his tool, the instrument of his peculiar genius, was surely an abundant kindliness, such as we call love, which enabled him to put himself behind each man’s nature, so as to swim with the current of his life and not against it. Which of us would not have dismissed Hamlet in actual life contemptuously as a week-kneed dreamer ? Which of us would have distinguished between Othello and a vulgar murderer? But once handled by the vast reverence of the master, the shallowest dare not commit himself to such superficiality. It would seem as if the genius of the great dramatist has lain even more in his gifts of heart than in those of mind.

To read the life and effort of foreign peoples truly, we stand in overwhelming need of this Shakespearian nature. It is an accident of empire that the England which produced Shakespeare should require such persons more than any other country. It is fast thinking that our great bard, who so nobly interpreted the sorrows and the indignation of the Jew, could have failed with his gentle vision to pierce the mask of the Chinaman, the Hindoo, the African or the red Indian, and to set them before us, clothed with universal humanity, men like ourselves, each less large than we in some points, but in others infinitely nobler.

No gift receives the homage of the East like the power of seeing transcendent oneness, where the senses tell only of diversity. The man who can do this in any great degree is called a rishi, or soul of perfected insight. Such perfected insight it was that distinguished Shakespeare. He had the gifts to have been, had he lived in the wider opportunity of to-day, the rishi of humanity, even as in our eyes he already is of human nature. For to him custom and circumstance and manner of thought were no more than a vast web through which the essential manhood of all mien displayed itself in differing garb.

All important eras have left behind them their own poetry. The wandering bards of the early order produced the great race epics. The mediaeval Church sang itself through the lips of Dante. With tthe dawn of the age of adventure Shakespeare sprang to birth. The period of which a century has gone by & as great in its own way as any of these. It sees life made universal. Never was human power so-high, never was the scope of the individual so extensive. Is there then no prophecy appropriate to such an hour ? Where are the wandering minstrels, where the Shakespearian sympathy, for the stirring selfutterance of our time ?

If it be the destiny of England to contribute anything towards such a work, and if, perchance,, one verse of her world-poem be already Written, we shall find it, I believe, in a book scarcely yet a three years old, Fielding’s Soul of a people. In the appearance of one such study more glory has been shed on our country than by unnumbered successes of the military and commercial kind. Humanity needs hundreds of minds like that of the writer in question, and it needs them of all races, for the children of each nationality can see and express things that are hidden from the wise and prudent of all others. Unembittered disinterested witnesses to the facts of things are wanted—and something, also of revelation must be added. Something of the function of the poet who sees through and beyond th£ deed to its goal, through the idea to the ideal. It is only the first step in science to have noted correctly the line of hairs on the chickweed stem, or the spots of colour in the orchis. There must have been a need or a danger to be met by one as by the other. And when this is understpod it still remains to demonstrate their placevin the drama of life as a whole.

What is true of flowers and beasts is not less true of man. Every one, however unlearned, has a right to demand three things in the traveller's story: (i) accurate statement of fact; (2) careful elucidation of the meaning of fact; and (3) some attempt to perceive the law to which the fact and its intention stand related. The demand will be answered, of course, with widely varying degrees of ability, but it ought to be impossible to receive credit for an account that ignores any one of these factors.

The study that leads up to such work is by no means easy. Alone, amongst people of alien birth and culture—until We come to a glowing personal enthusiasm for them at least—very little things will wound us in proportion to our sensitiveness. Not only must we be able to forget this feeling, but we must find out the positive meaning of omission or commission. Society the world over hangs together in virtue of the good fellowship and unselfishness of its members, not through their antagonism and mutual indifference.. Virtue exactly represents, on the moral plane, the force of cohesion on the physical. To say, therefore that to any people gratitude or honesty or modesty is unknown, is simply to state an absurdity and prove ourself an incompetent witness. What is perfectly* credible is that their way of expressing these instincts is unlike ours and follows a divergent line of intention. A trifling illustration occurs to me. As Indians  languages contain no words for “ please ” or “ thanks” it is very commonly held by English people that the courtesy^ of gratitude for little things has no place in Indian life, and I had felt, as others do, the irritation of apparent negligence on such points. I learnt my lesson, however, one day when a Hindu friend undertook to do something for me that involved a sacrifice and I offered him warm thanks. I can never forget how startling was their effect. You gave something back ” he said, evidently deeply pained as he left the room. To-day, if any Hindu said “ please” or “ thanks ” to me, I should share the sensations of a mother whose children presented their compliments to her. The instance is small, but it represents hundreds of cases in which a little patience and faith in human nature would add unspeakably to our own wealth of expression and sympathy. This truth • becomes important on a larger scale. It is obviously absurd to constitute ones own national customs an ideal standard, against which every other country is to be measured. Hindu and Mahomedan women are not seen much in public, either shopping or visiting; we are, we enjoy our custom, and call it freedom. Does it follow that the Eastern woman’s restrictions constitute a grievance? Would it not be wise, in attempting to demonstrate this, to share as completely as possible the physical and emotional environment which have conditioned her habit ? It is conceivable that having done this we should conclude that even in the climate of India or Persia more muscular activity and greater social liberty would be of benefit to women; but unless our judgment were fatally warped by prejudice we should at the same time reach the counter conviction that a corresponding power of stillness and meditative peace would be a vast gain in the West. '    ¦

But the argument supposes that our wandering minstrels have grown critical and didactic. Alas, we are forced to the supposition, for most of them now make pilgrimage from realm to realm with no notion, of turning their harp—and singing sweet songs in some strange lord’s hall, thence to return, like St. Francis from the Soldan, with tales of. fair welcome, and hospitality, or with new songs in praise of the courtesy and large charity of the gentle heathen peoples. This is the tone indeed of Mrs. Flora Annie Steel, but this curious and unaccountable child of genius is not of the guild of the singers. Her stories are true instances of the spirit of minstrelsy sounding the note of a nature that loves because it must, and sings out of very gladness of the beauty of others. But Mrs. Steel is a strong poet from another time and class. To-day’s bards have done as their fathers did before them, turned missionary, and are devoting, their best energies to forcing round pegs into square holes destroying in the process poetry and mythology and folk custom as well as rare and beautiful* virtues that they are too ignorant to appreciate. . The same thing happened long ago, when emissaries from Rome trampled out Irish culture lest it should make against the Faith. It happened again in the past century when the Scottish Highlands were rendered barren of the folk tales by the efforts of the Kirk—now far too enlightened to countenance its own vandalism; but the wild growths can never be replanted ! It never happened so completely in Scandinavia and in this fact probably lies the secret of the national vigour of Norway.

For there can be no doubt that when all that ought to represent Art and refind pleasure and growth of imagination in a community turns puritan, yoking itself to the car of a single idea, and that foreign, the result is simply loss of culture, of course, the May Day Festival has fled before the face of steam factories and streets at right angles, and the Board School Inspector ! But the people whom it has left are less, not more well educated by that fact. Lists of European capitals and their sites will never make up to them for love of Nature, and joy in beauty, and eye for form and colour.

Not long ago, an acute critic, comparing visits to-England thirty years ago and now, remarked on the number of types common then that have since disappeared. We should look in vain now for a Mr. Pickwick or a Mrs. Poyser. We have organised the national character till it is as monotonous as its prototypes, the yard of calico and the daily paper. Those odd, whimsical, lovable persons of a generation ago, rich in unexpectedness, full of human nature, with surprising mental areas of illumination every now and then are gone. They belonged to a time when every man was closer to life, and to the smell of ploughed fields, than he is to-day: they could no more have reached their individuation in cities than could May Day or Midsummer’s Night, or All Hallow’s Elen; Are we glad or sorry for such a happening ? Shall we hasten to encourage the repetition of the process elsewhere ?


Surely, if missionaries realised, even in a general way, the “ lie ” of such social phenomena, they would make fewer mistakes in their dealings with their clients, and we should hear less of the so-called criticism which at the present disgraces the English language.

A Hindu father told me how he had allowed his little daughter to attend a school kept by two English women. At the end of eight or nine months he was examining the child as to her progress in reading, and found to his horror that she had acquired the use of a large number of impossible epithets.which she employed freely in connection with the names of Rama and Krishna, two epic heroes who are regarded by most Hindus as Incarnations of the Divine Being in the same sense as Buddha or Christ. The man removed his child at once, and most of us will feel that the sense of loathing and distrust with which he henceforth regarded his English friends was richly deserved. For whatever may be thought of the worship of Rama and Krishna as divine personages—and our estimates of this practice will be as various as our own creeds— we must at^least recognise them as the national ideals* guardians of those assimilated treasures of aspiration and imagination that we call civilisation and morals. It is quite evident that were this function of the legendary heroes recognised, even a missionary would take the trouble to think out some theory of them as great men, which, like the Unitarian views of the Founder of Christianity, would leave much that they represent intact, and continue their service to social cohesion and amelioration. It is possible that in the particular case in question the fault did not lie with the English Women in charge of the school, but with some low class Christian servant or Eurasian student. But if this were so, it is all the more clear that Christianity in India does not stand for social integration but rather the reverse. For it is one of the functions of religious sects to put their followers in touch with the great formative forces of life about them. Whatever its faults may ^ be, the Salvation Army does this* amongst ourselves. The virtues which it applauds may be elementary—sobriety, honesty, cheerfulness* for instance—but they are virtues which we all recognise as such. The men and women to whom it introduces its recruits may be crude sometimes of type lacking many of the graces of the drawing-room* but they are good and earnest, however limited in range and ideal and they make steadily for strong and hearty citizenship. On a very different plane, Comtism fulfils a similar function. -It binds its members into great cosmopolitan and cosmooeval groups substituting world and race for the sect and party of a lower definition but taking just their method of emphasising accepted virtues—the high intellectual passion for Truth, and the widest reaches of human sympathy, this time—and following them up to the characters and ideals in which they all converge.

The sect that fails to do this, the religion that tells a man that all he has hitherto held to be right is really wrong, is bound to do social mischief, incalculable social mischief, since the learner is almost certain to infer that in like manner what he has hitherto held to be wrong is right. No wonder then that Christianity in India carries drunkenness in its wake, and that so many of those who can afford 'to choose will have any rather than a Christian servant.

India has had her own great religious and social reformers, had them repeatedly, continuously, abundantly. She has known no abuses which they have not laboured to remove. Ram Mohun Roy in the nineteenth century did not combat Sati more zealously than Nanak in the fourteenth. Mr. Benjamin Waugh amongst ourselves is no more eager a foe of infanticide than was the same teacher. Our Socialist friends do not work so unsparingly for equality as did Chaitanya of Nuddea in Bengal. And these men Were no futile dreamers. Nanak founded the Sikh nation, and is a strong influence to this day. Chaitanya did more to Hinduise non-Aryan castes than any other single man that ever lived. Do the Christian missionaries wish to take a place in line with these in the national development ? If so, while they stand for whatever religious ideas please them, let them relate themselves organically to the life and effort of India. Let them love the country as if they had been born in it, with no other difference than the added nobility that a yearning desire to serve and to save might give. Let them ibecome loving interpreters of her thought and custom, revealers of her own ideals to herself even while they make them understood by others. When a man has the insight to find and to follow the hidden lines of race-intention for himself, others are bound to become his disciples, for they recognise in his teachings their own highest aspirations and he may call the goal to which he leads them by any name he chooses, they will not cavil about words. Indeed from such a standpoint, India is already Christian perhaps: but, her resistance to western propaganda, varied by her absolute indifference to it, is infinitely to her credit.

It is strange to see those very disciples who were so solemnly warned when first sent out against taking money in their purse, or two coats a piece it is strange to see those not only enjoying all the comforts of refined European life themselves, but hating and despising the people about them for their greater simplicity and primitiveness. It is the more extraordinary since their Master, if he were to reappear at their doors with all the habits and ideas of His Syrian birth about Him, would inevitably receive a warmer welcome, and feel more at home with their Indian neighbours than with themselves. What was He but a religious beggar, such as we see oh the Indian roadsides every day ? How was He provided for ? By subscriptions and endowments ? Did He not rather wander from hamlet to hamlet, taking His chance at nightfall of the cottager’s hospitality, or the shelter of some humble building ? What had He to do with the comforts of existence ? His were the long nights of prayer and meditation on the mountains and in the garden. We send our religious teachers to the East to spend days and nights of worldly ease and comfort in the midst of a people who actually do these things, and they have not the wit to recognise the fact, much less the devotion to emulate it.

Nothing could be more significant of all this than the criticisms that we hear poured out at every missionary meeting. Have we ever seen greatness of any kind that was not associated with the power of recognising one’s own kinship with all ? What made Charles Darwin ? The eye to see and the heart to respond to the great sweep of one infinite tide through alLlhat lives, including himself. What made Newton ? Trie grasp of mind that could hold the earth itself as a mere speck of cosmic dust in the play of the forces that govern us. Even the warrior, whose whole business seems to be antagonism and separation, becomes distinguished on condition only of his sense of union with his followers. And the saint or the poet never yet was to whom all was not human and all more beautiful than myself. To such men condemnation is not easy, slander is impossible. An orgy of sensation provoked by libel, be it of individuals or of nations, whether at afternoon tea or from a church pulpit, would seem to them unspeakable vulgarity. They could not breathe in such an atmosphere. Yet something of the saint, something of the poet, we might surely hope to find in those whose lives are given to spread a message of glad tidings in far-off lands. And surely there has been the sainthood of a good intention. Has there been that of a noble execution ?

If there has, why have emissaries so rarely, on their return, a good word to say for those amongst whom they have been ? Why, to take explicit instances, do we never hear from them of the strength and virtues of Indian women ? Why only of their faults and failures ?

Why have the missionaries created and left in tact, wherever people were ignorant enough to be imposed upon, the picture of the crocodile luncheon of babies served up by their mothers, along the Ganges banks ? Everywhere I have met people who believed this story, and I have never heard of a professed apostle of truth who tried to set the impression right. Infanticide occurs in India, under pressure of poverty and responsibility, as it occurs in all countries ; but it is not •practised there any more than here, nor is it lauded as a religious act; nor is it perhaps anything like so common as amongst ourselves. There is no custom of insuring a baby’s life for £ 5, when the funeral expenses are only £ 2, nor is there any infant mortality ascribable to the intemperance of mothers in that country. Why have we never heard from the missionaries of the beauty of Hindu home life, of the marvellous ideals which inspire the Indian woman, of the Indian customs teeming with poetry and sweetness ?

Is the answer to be found in the preconceived idea which blinds the would be observer, or is it the intellectual ignorance which keeps him unaware that there is anything to be observed ? Or is it possibly a meaner motive still, the idea that if a true and lofty tone is taken, money will not be forthcoming to support his own career ? I have had the privilege of listening to the accounts of three classes of persons who were supposed to be warm religious friends of the Indian people, educational missionaries, lady doctors, and modern occultists. Their statements were sincere and deliberate expositions of the outlook they had been enabled to take on Hindu life. I listened in vain for one strong word of appreciation for the problems which Indian society has undoubtedly solved, or a single hint that they understood the positive ends for which that country was making. But in every case the conviction seemed to be, that the dignity and hope of the speaker’s own gospel depended absolutely upon showing the hollowness and rottenness of other form of life. The last mentioned exposition was easily disposed of. It was confined to a discussion of sattee, infanticide, and thuggism as the most representative factors of Indian experience which could be discovered ; touched upon also the worst sides of caste, and propounded the theory that England's responsibility to the East would be fulfilled when she had persuaded Oriental people to “ give up their ridiculous old habits ” and take to ways which occultists would consider more rational. From lady doctors we hear of the medical and surgical darkness of the Indian village— greater, if they are right, than that of parallel populations in England fifty years ago. One of the most offensive customs, to their minds, is that of the isolation of a woman at the moment of child-birth. Now, whatever this custom shows—and it is not perhaps universally applied with the full consciousness of the reason that prompted it originally—it does certainly indicate a very elevated state of medical culture at some past epoch in Hindu history. The room in which birth takes place must afterwards be broken up and taken away. Hence a simple mud-hut is built outside the house. When once the child is born, for some days the mother may not be visited by any member of the household. She is attended only by an old nurse and whatever medical advise may be called.

Is this treatment then so very inhumane ? Yet it is exactly what we blame the Hindu people for not adopting in cases of plague and other infectious diseases. It is, of course, easy to imagine that rules of such a nature may often be badly, even stupidly, applied but there can be no doubt that they demonstrate very clear and distinct ideas of bacteriology at their inception. All through the caste rules, and regulations for bathing, run similar scientific conceptions which astonish competent observers by their hygienic desirability. It is, of course, a pity that medical-science everywhere is not up to the twentieth century London level; but in this respect India is not more degraded than England, Scotland and Ireland themselves. There is no country district, far from railways, strong in old traditions, and containing persons who have not had the inestimable benefits of Board School instruction, where, at the same time,, doctoring is not done that the city hospitals and the London physician would refuse to countenance. But this fact is a phenomenon of ignorance (or good sense, as the case may be): it is not due to the wrong and' vile nature of the Christian religion. It rouses sometimes our regret, occasionally our admiration, but never with any justice our contempt or hatred. One of the evils of our present organisation of skill is the complete inability induced by it to appreciate the value of tradition and mother wit. It is easy to point out flaws in Indian village medicine, midwifery, and what not; but how do we account for the great dignity and suppleness of the general physical development, and1 for the marvellous freedom of the race from skin blemish of any kind ? This, too, in a country where the germ fauna is at least as dangerous as that other fauna of the jungle which includes the tiger and the cobra. In urging these points I am not denying that modern science can aid, but only that it has no right to despise village lore.

Every system, of course, mistrusts every other. This is the superstition of party. To this fact I trace the phenomenon, detailed by the medical missionary sometimes, of men of sufficient means saying, “ If you can cure her for 2os. (probably ten rupees) you may do so ”—alluding to a wife or some other women-member of the speaker’s household. The Christian charity of the lady doctor rushes immediately to the conclusion that his wife’s or mother’s health is a matter of complete indifference to her client. Ergo, that most Hindu men are similarly careless. Ergo, the Hindu men hate and despise Hindu women.

Supposing the anecdote to he the true, and I raise-this doubt advisedly, could reasoning be more absurd ? It does not occur to the physician that her knowledge or honesty may be viewed with suspicion as against old and tried methods of treatment in which everyone has confidence.    ,

It is impossible to deal at length with other and more wide reaching charges. Caste, in missionary eyes is an unmitigated abuse. They confine themselves to an account of its negations and prohibitions, ignoring all its element of the trades guild and race protection type. And they say all this while every

moment of their lives in India has been a ratification of that new caste, of race prestige which is one of the most striking phenomena of an imperialistic age. But if I were a Hindu I do not think that missionary criticisms of caste would disturb me much. I should realise that this was the form which the life of my people had assumed, that in it was comprised all that the word honour connotes in Europe; and that the critics in question had given no sign as yet of understanding either their own society or mine intelligently. The point that I should find seriously annoying would be their animadversions on the position of women in India. To prove that these can be very galling I need only say that in one speech to which I listened I heard the following thirteen statements made and supported: (i) That the Hindu social system makes a pretence of honouring women, but that this honour is more apparent than real;    (2) That women, in India are deliberately kept in ignorance;    (3) That women in India have no place assigned to them in heaven save through their husbands; (4) That no sacramental rite is performed over them with Vedic texts ; (5) That certain absurd old misogynist verses, comparable to the warnings against “ the strange women ” in the Book of Proverbs, are representative of the attitude of Hindu men to their women folk in general; (6) That a girl at birth gets a sorry welcome; <7) That a mother’s anxiety to bear sons is appaling* 4t her very wifehood depends on her doing so; (8) That the infanticide of girls is a common practice in India; (9) That the Kulin Brahman marriage system is a representative fact; (10) That the parents unable to marry off their daughters are in the habit of marrying them to a god (making them prostitutes> as an alternative (“ The degradation of the whole race of Hindu women lies in the very possibility for any one of them of the life which a temple girl must live ”) ; (11) That Hindu wedding ceremonies are unspeakably gross; (12) That the Hindu widow lives a life of such misery and insult that burning to death may well have seemed, preferable; (13) That the Hindu widow is almost always immoral. To which in like manner the following replies may be made:

(1)    That the observer must have been incompetent indeed. There are few great relationships in human life like that between a Hindu man and his mother. Hindus cannot even excuse Hamlet for reproaching Gertrude. “ But she was his mother ” they exclaim,, when all is said. And this little fact is very significant.

(2)    That the incompetence of the observer is evident once more. It is clear that illiteracy is the form of ignorance referred to. It is not true that women are deliberately kept so ; but if they were, is their knowledge of house-keeping and cooking of no value? Is their trained common sense worthless? Can a woman even be called illiterate when it is merely true that she cannot read and write, though at the same time she is saturated with the literary culture of the great Epics and Puranas ?

It is interesting to note that the best-managed estates in Bengal, are in the hands of widows. Lawyers invariably respect their opinions. Ahalya Bhai Rani was an instance of the same kind in the Maharatta country.

(3) What this means I have been unable to find out. If it had been said .that the husband had no place save through his wife it would have been more intelligible. For the Vedic views made the man a responsible member of the religious community only after marriage, and as long as both lived. ,

The whole motive of Sattee, moreover, was that the wife’s sacrifice might ensure heaven to the husband. Was the speaker perhaps thinking of Mahommedans ? Even on their behalf I would repudiate the statement.

This appears to be simply untrue. Some of the greatest teachers mentioned in Hindu Scriptures are women. And it is now many hundreds of years since the Bagavat Gita was composed for the sake of bringing recondite truths to the knowledge of even unlearned persons, including women and the working-classes.

(5)    The speaker does not mention that every

Hindu husband names his wife a my Lukshmi ” or “ Fortuna.”    ' '

(6)    This may be true in some cases, as it is in England, and in all patriarchal societies. I know numbers of families in which the opposite is true, and such an attitude is unthought of, as we expect to be here.

(7)    Generally speaking a Hindu woman’s wifehood no more depends on her bearing sons than an English woman's. The need of a son can always be met in India by adoption.

(8)    Infanticide of girls did occur commonly at a given period amongst certain Rajputs, and amongst these only. It is in no sense a common Indian practice, any more, if as much, as it is a common London practice.

(9)    Another instance of the same kind. Kulin Brahmans are a particularly high caste. If a marriage cannot be made for a daughter of this caste, her father may give her to any man of sufficient rank—and the marriage may be merely nominal, or may extend to making her once a mother. This is an abuse of caste. It concerns a very small number, however, and began to die the instant the modern organisation of information drew the attention of society to it. A leading orthodox Hindu, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, led the crusade against it. I should like to add that the custom is not, to my thinking, an abuse of the worst type—such as the desire of parents to make eligible matches for their daughters may lead to in all countries—since it is quite compatible with the physical vigour of the bride, and with her efficient discharge of whatever duties of motherhood may fall to her share.

(10)    The expression “ marriage to a god ” is nowhere in use in Northern India. The statement bears its regional birth mark on ‘its brow. It is southern and perhaps Western in application. We touch here on a new class of social phenomena—Indian prostitution customs. To say that it occurs to the respectable Hindu father to make his daughter a prostitute because he cannot find a husband for her, more easily than the same idea would present itself to an English gentleman, is utterly untrue. It is absurd on the face of it. The whole of caste is born of the passionate depth of the contrary sentiment. The chastity of women is the central virtue of Hindu life. “ The degradation of the whole race of Hindu women lies in' the very possibility for any one of them of the life which a temple girl must live.” This is no more true of Hindu women than a corresponding statement would be of English women. There is a sense in which the pitfalls of life yawn before the most favoured feet. But it is a limited sense. If a Hindu woman once leaves her home unattended, without the knowledge and consent of her mother-in-law or her husband she may be refused re-entrance for ever. But this is a witness to the severity of the moral code, not to its laxity.    •

(ii) “ That Hindu wedding ceremonies are unspeakably gross. They are not so, amongst people who are not gross. Like the Church of England Form for the Solemnisation of Matrimony, they may sound a note in the music of life more serious and responsible than is to the taste of an a fternoon tea-party. Colebrook’s “ Essays ” give all the details and translations which will enable the student to compare the two rites. All that I can say is that I have been present at many Hindu weddings, and have been deeply touched by the beauty and delicay of all the proceedings. There is a good deal of nonsense and teasing of the young bridegroom in the women’s-apartments. Not unlike such half-obsolete festivals as All Fools* and Saint Valentine’s Days. On this occasion the youth makes friends with his future sister-in-law. The fun is a little more exuberant than grave elders may enjoy, but it is one of the few opportunities of the kind which Hindu breeding permits to boys and girls. It requiries vulgarity of mind to read more serious offences into it.

(12) As to the misery of Indian widows, it is not too much to say that every statement yet made by a Protestant missionary has been made in complete ignorance of the bearing of the facts. Hindus are a people amongst whom the monastic ideal is intensely living. In their eyes the widow, by the fact of her widowhood, is vowed to celibacy and therefore to poverty, austerity, and prayer. Hence her life becomes that of a nun : and if she is a child her training must lead to the nun’s tlife. It is not true that she is regarded by society with aversion and contempt. The reverse is the case. She takes precedence of married women as one who is holier. We may regret the severity of the ideal, but we have to recognise here, as in the case of monogamy, that it indicates intensity of moral development, not its lack. It may bear hard upon the individual, but redress cannot lie in lowering of standard, it must rather consist of a new direction given to the moral force which it has evolved.

(13) The last contention which I have noted is the most serious of all, and I have heard it repeatedly in England and America in the course of missionary descriptions. I need hardly say that I know it to be grossly untrue.

It is interesting to note that these thirteen statements fall into three different groups, (a) statements which are absolutely and entirely false—(1), (3), (7), (u), (13); (b) statements which are the result of misinterpreting or overstating facts—(2), (5), (12); and (c) statements which may be true of certain limited localities, periods or classes, but to which a false colour has been given by quoting them as representative of Hindu life in the whole—(4), (8), (9) and (10).

The last group is the most important for two reasons; in the first place it has an air of seriousness and security which goes far to give credibility to the whole argument, and in the second it furnishes a complete exposure of the method of making up evidence. .

In the case of (4), we have a quotation from an old catechism of many centuries ago :    “ What is the

chief gate to hell ? A woman. What bewitches like wine*? A woman,” &c., &c.; made as if it were the most up-to-date collection of modern Indian proverbs. We see the use of the thing the moment we look at it^ but the missionaries continvie to quote it with their accustomed gravity. One understands that in theic eyes anything is justified that will warn the heathen of the error of his ways, but surely this poor little dialogue has been seriously, over-worked. I have never read a missionary publication on the woman question in which it was not used, and I have never met with a Hindu, however learned, who would otherwise have known of it. On investigation one discovers that sentiment of this kind was common in the monkish literature of the Buddhist period. It could probably be matched from the monastic writings of our own middle ages. In (8) we have an abuse which concerned one caste in the Rajput districts, used as if it were true of all castes all over India, and this in face of the terrible tu quoque which might be retorted against the accuser. It cannot be too clearly understood that India is a continent, not a country ; and that to gather together the exceptional vices and crimes of every people and Province within her borders and urge them against “ India ” or “ Hinduism ” is about as fair as to charge a Norfolk farmer with practising Corsican vendetta, on the strength of the latter’s being a European ” custom. In (a) one more we have the sin of a small and high caste charged in a way to make it seem true of the whole country. Kulin Brahmans cannot be more than one in 1,000 of the Bengali population, and they 'exist only in Bengal. We have also the deliberate ignoring of the way in which Hindus themselves have worked against the abuse.

And in (io) we have the sweeping-in of prostitution customs, without a word of warning, as if they were part of the respectable recognised life of the Indian people, and as if in the possession of such a class at, all, the Indian people were incomparably depraved. Do the missionaries really affect such innocence ? But if they do, at least let them observe the Indian fact accurately. In this custom of marriage to a god (or to a tree, as in Bengal), quaint as it sounds, there is a tremendous protecting fence thrown round girls. No Hindu man, however abandoned will outrage the unwedded maiden. Before these poor victims, therefore, can take up the practice of their profession, they have to go through a form of marriage. Hence the device in question. Can we make as good a statement for ourselves ?

If the outrage were on the other side, if Hindus had been in the habit of sending in their emissaries to convert us from the error of our ways, and if these emissaries on their return had grossly abused our hospitality ; had forgotten the honour of the guest and blazoned our family misfortunes to the whole world; had made harsh criticisms on us as individuals, because they had been allowed the opportunity of seeing us t}y the hearthside, when the formalities of public life were put aside, if in fact they had violated our confidence, what should we have felt ? What should we have said ? Yet their doing so would have been comparatively insignificant, for power and influence are in our hand, not in theirs. Probably no single fact has tended to widen the distance between the races in India like this of missionary slander-Certainly nothing has so deepened our contempt. For, say what he will, the only class of Europeans who have been admitted to Hindu homes at all, and have made a business of reporting what they saw there, has been Protestant missionaries, medical and other. It sseems as if to them nothing had been sacred. In all lands, doctors and clergymen see the misfortunes of the home,* and professional honour keeps their lips sealed. But here all has been put upon the market. Medical records (always unpleasant reading) have been detailed in public, from platform and pulpit. And the professional consideration that ought to have prevented such dishonour only intervene, if at all, to forbid the use of speaker’s names in connection with statements made by them in full publicity to large audiences.

Another miserable fallacy remains. There are three classes of people whose opinions are quoted by missionaries in evidence of the sins and weaknesses of Hinduism. They are; (i) native reformers; (2) Christian converts; and (3) any exuberant fool who has been discovered.

II We all know how much'the first kind of evidence is worth. Just picture the “ Woman’s Rights V agitator comparing the positions of Eastern and Western women! How does she receive the suggestion that the Oriental has points of right and of authority which she cannot emulate ? The idea is

intolerable to her. Yet only an hour ago she may have been pointing out the bitter degradation of her own position, classed as she is in the voting lists with “ criminals, lunatics, and paupers.” It is evident that the anxious reformer uses languages amongst its equals that he would be very sorry to hear taken au pied de la lettre by the would be interpreters of his country’s customs. He would be the first then to point out that the expressions he had used had &purely relative value.

Much more is this true of the utterances of the reformer who has lived for years blinded by the ink of his own gall. We know how in such cases there can be a growth of bitterness and perversity which isolates the thinker and makes his conclusion on social problems absolutely worthless.

Christian converts in India are isolated by the very fact of baptism. And the present generation having been born Christian, have often little more than the missionaries account of it, for the life habits of their own country people.

It cannot be too widely understood that one writer like Mrs. Steel, or one disinterested student of' Indian life like Fielding in Burmah, is worth all that has yet been contributed from all missionary sources put together. And if it is too late to change the present generation of workers, surely it is only the more timely to demand on the part of English people such a standard of sympathy and culture that the mission- * ary without a through and appropriate education for his task shall twenty years hence be a thing of the past.


We have held up a double standard of the artistic opportunity open to the class we have been considering, and of the obligation of professional discretion. When we hear the banker publicly discussing his client’s accounts or the physician making known his patient’s poverty and ignorance we conclude that at least these people are not held as human beings, since service of their need has no more bound the server to keep their confidence than it would bind the veterinary surgeon or the dog doctor. But it is not, at any rate conscious. The whole raison detre of the missionary’s-positions is a passionate impulse of human brotherhood. The idea that the souls of men are in eternal peril if they do not hear a certain tabulated historical statement may be true or false. It is sure that as long as such an idea appeals to conscientious people they are bound to make some missionary efforts. And the intention must approve itself to us as noble. But that sustained integrity which constitutes nobility of action is a vastly more difficult matter than this. And at this point the missionary is hampered by the tradition of his class. A certain given interpretation of caste, of zenana, of the native intellect, is imposed upon him at the outset, and few minds could break through such preconception even to the extent of ful-• filling the first conditions of the disciplined student of phenomena.

As artist and scientist then we must perhaps consider him lost. There still remains the ideal of the religious teacher. Why should he not succeed in this ?' It is a part that admits of sectarian bitterness, provided only it be backed up by holiness of personal life in some form that we can understand. It admits also of intellectual ignorance, provided there be spiritual insight. Was not the strongest empire that the world ever saw converted by a few fishermen. The Apostle need not be a scholar, he need not be an artist,, he must be a saint.

It is here that we come upon the most curious paradox, of all. Preaching an Eastern religion tO' an Eastern people, the ideals of the East are for once perfectly in place. It - is a golden moment Count Tolstoi may have difficulty in obeying the words of Christ literally, while fulfilling the demands of life. But in India the one teacher who would be understood would be he who possessed neither gold nor silver nor brass in his purse, who had not two coats, neither shoes nor yet staves who saluted no man by the way being too much bent on the errand before him, and the repetition of the Name of God; who would be absolutely indifferent to the consequences for himself personally, offering himself up in very truth as a lamb amongst wolves. Every door in that country would swing open before such a visitor even if he railed against the family gods. The Christian ideal might be demonstrated successfully in India now as it was in Italy, in the days of St. Francis, by the

Begging Friars, for India has retained the ideal of such life even more completely than Italy ever had it. To the Individual Christian therefore who is willing to accept the charge laid upon him, the way is clear. Let him go forth to the gentle East strong in his mission filled with burning renunciation “ as a lamb amongst wolves.” There will be no room here for marrying and bringing up of children ; no room for distinctions of rank or of race; no room for anxiety about provision or gain.

Is this the ideal that the Missionary follows ? If not, why not ? True it is not the only useful career that he may adopt. An educator who has deeply understood the problems of India, and is ready to help her to solve them in her own way is perhaps even more necessary. The poet who makes two races love each other and the country is worthy of all the admiration he excites.

But has the missionary any right to claim the indulgence without the criticism of all these rolls? Has he any. right to be fanatical like the religionist without being ascetic like him ? To be wanting in common sense and accuracy like the poet, without contributing joy and beauty ? To be in receipt of regular pay and live a comfortable life like the pro-fessional man, without any regard for the professional man’s honour ?

And are the public, who have so long permitted this thing to be, entirely without blame ? Let us demand something better, and something better must be offered. The appeal is to Caesar.— West minister Review.


By Swami Trigunatita. TO-NIGHT’S subject is whether there is a difference between a Christian and a Hindu; but I think I ought to add one word more: whether there is a difference between a true Christian and a true Hindu. Or, rather, is there any difference, in reality, between any two religions of the world ? In this wider or more Catholic way, we will deal with our subject of to-night. It is not that I being a Hindu shall try to defend my faith only. The Hindu is the real and great “Defender of Faith ” in general—of all the faiths in the world : Let us see:

We know Christianity is the name of a religion ; and Hinduism, also, is the name of another religion. We say a religion. Religion is a word that is considered as a common noun, not a proper noun; and if it be a common noun, then it must be a general term and not one particular name for one particular thing. Had there been only one religion in the world, then we would have called it the Religion, written with a capital R. When there are several religions in the world, we are not to suppose that one religion must be an exclusive one for the whole world. It is a generic term. If you look into a dictionary you will

* A Sunday lecture delivered in the rooms of the Vedanta Society, San Francisco.

find that the meaning of religion is a mode ot worship of God,—a mode.    That is religion. There are many religions on the face of the earth ; many modes of the worship of God—many different paths to the same goal. In former days some Christians and some sectarian missionaries thought that their religion would be the exclusive one for the whole world ; but now, in these days of comparative study, nothing can be exclusive. When we compare all the religions of the world, we find some unity in all of them. Comparative study has that great advantage. Unless we compare things, we cannot know general or common laws, we cannot discover the science and philosophy that are underlying every one of them.

To speak of even science itself, we cannot say that there is only one science in the world. We must say several sciences—science of man, science of beast, science of trees, science of earth, science of even history, philosophy and religion, etc. When we compare all the sciences, we find some grand unity, some grand truth, some great uniformity, common to every one of them. This is the science of sciences. This is the Truth. And this Absolute Truth must be truth at all times, and must never fail to be so in any condition. This is the essence of science, of all sciences. This Absolute Truth is the ultimate aim of every religion, of every philosophy, either directly or indirectly; nay, of every science, of every art, of every nation. That is our goal. That is the goal of every being, of every thing, of the whole creation.

Every mind, every life, nay, every doing of ours is tending towards the same Absolute Truth, either consciously or unconsciously. One thread passes through every pearl in the garland, and that keeps them all in order. All radii meet at the same centre. There is no difference, in reality, between any thing in the universe, be it animate or inanimate, abstract or concrete; such being the case, how can it be possible for a religion which deals with God, the highest ideal, the highest truth attainable, to bear any difference from any Other religion ? No wise man finds any difference in any religion. There is no such thing as difference. All—one. All differences are just on the surface; they are all apparent, not in reality. All ideas of difference are relative. There cannot be any shade of difference in the real truth, in the Absolute truth. There cannot be any difference in 4he eye of God, He being our Absolute Truth. We do not want apparent truth or apparent God. We do not want relative truth or relative God. God is the one Great Centre without a second, and all the religions are but the radii, all equal straight lines, leading to the same Point. So, all are equal. There is no difference.

Take another point of view: If we say that truth may be both absolute and relative; and when we make any difference between any two religions, we make it from a relative point of view. Now, even in this case, we are mistaken. In the first place, as we have just said that we do not want relative or apparent truth. We do not believe in it. Relative or apparent difference is no difference at all. We cannot accept it. So long as the*centre is one—God, there is no difference or inequality in the radii even if they individually come from several directions or various starting points in the great circumstance of the universe. If the difference be not in reality, then it is not worth our consideration. We want real things; we deal with real things, the things—the ideas—that will lead to the One Real Thing. We want to realize that One Reality in everything. How can we then look into anything with an idea of finding some difference in it ? So long as a person finds any difference in anything, he cannot be expected to realize the One Absolute Reality in everything. Wtien we shall see God, we shall see God in everything. If we want to see God, we should look upon everything in the light of God. Our life, our character, our ideal, all will be built on our thoughts or ideas. If we ourselves are good, the whole world will be good. The world is the projection of our ideas. It is the reflection of our mind. Not only that; as a matter of fact, no difference can be of a real nature.

In the next place let us take even the scientific point of view of relative truths. What is science ? Science means “ knowledge arranged under general principles and truths.” These general laws, principles and truths must not fail at all under certain conditions. If any department of knowledge is found to contain ^uch laws, it is called a science.

So with religion there are some common laws, and those laws must abide in every religion, and whatever religion teaches t^iose common laws must be taken as a true and scientific religion. ^

As a matter of fact, every religion, nay, every sect, contains such general laws of mental, moral and spiritual growth of man. When we compare properly all the religions of the world, we find that every religion has the same object in view and bears strong similarities with every other religion. We will mention later on some such similarities. Of course, different modes of thinking may be adopted by the different systems of faith or religion. But all these different modes and thoughts are arranged under general laws and principles, and they all produce the same effect on the spiritual growth of man.

We must remember that we must be very sincere. Or, the spiritual laws of any religion will never produce proper effect. When we serve a person, we should do it very sincerely. When we adopt a religion, we ought to be very faithful to it. We must fulfil all the conditions put forth by that religion, to be fulfilled by us, or that religion cannot produce any effect on us. When we say we are Hindus, or Christians, or Buddhists, we ought to prove ourselves as true Hindus, or true Christians, or true Buddhists. Otherwise we are untrue ; we are, as the Bible says, hypocrites, not true to our words; and, you know, in some places in the Bible, it is said that we shall be judged by our words.

We should mean with all our hearts whatever we utter. Before we speak anything, before we utter any word, we ought to think of what we are going to say. You know, when we speak a word, we spend some energy. When we speak, what happens ? We spend some energy, and what is the process? First we think of something that is within us ; then we feel it; then we express it in words. And when we think or feel or mean within us, we give rise to an energy that is stored up within us. We are full of energy. Our existence, our lives, are stores of energy. Life is nothing but energy. And whenever we think, whenever we feel, we give rise to some energy which is immediately expressed. Of course, speaking is less impressive and less expressive than doing a work. Let us take the lowest expression of our energy—speaking ; if we do not fully mean what we say, then we lose our energy ; and loss of energy, is, you know, a check of growth, a loss in our growth.

If we want to have a steady spiritual growth, we must be very true in our every word. Whatever we say we must mean in its full significance. Hindus also say the same thing very strongly. Our Master used to say in Bengali very often that “ man mookh akkara.” That is, “ make your mind correspond with your word.” You must mean whatever you will say. That is the first step.

Nowadays, many words have been losing their significance. Formerly, when a word first came into use, it had its full significance; but in the course of time, unconsciously, it commenced losing its significance, and now we utter most of our words without any meaning, so to say. For instance, when we say that all are one, we simply say it in words. We do not mean it to its full extent. If we meant fully well what we said, that we are all one, then and there we would realize that unity along with our words, along with that force. You know, everything is but force. Everything is a different manifestation of the same force; and if we do not abuse that force, then we can grow very quickly and steadily, and if that force be utilized to its best advantage, then whenever we utter a word, we shall gain something. If we say that we are all one, if we do not mean it to its full extent, if we mean it only partially, then we can only get a partial gain. And if we simply utter words like parrots, then we lose all our energy. That is the reason why we do not grow so quickly ; why we do not get any benefit from our spiritual culture. We are not true to our words even, far from speaking of our deeds! We do many things without using our knowledge, nor our consciousness, nor our reasoning.

God is a thing to be worshipped, to be known. That is our problem. How to know him ? There must be several ways, several modes, although God is one. Every great religion says that God is one ; but in what sense ? I say I have my father ; you say you have your father ; some one else says he has his father. Now, do you mean that my father should be the same as yours and his ? Not necessarily. But all these persons are fathers, no doubt. They are called by the common name “ father,” although they have each a different personality and an individual name, as John, James, Charles, etc. They are fathers of different sons. It is not meant that there should be one person as the father to all men. It is the same in regard to God. God is God, but He may be worshipped in different ways and forms. He may be termed in different words. Different nations worship differently. No wonder. Different nations must have different manners. Their manners, customs, modes of life, modes of worship, everything must be different. If there had been no difference of manners add customs and of nations, there would not have been the beauty of nature, the grandeur of nature. The grandeur of nature is in variety and not in unity. Unity is in the essence; but the external thing, the outward expression is variety. That is the grandeur, the beauty. As an illustration, in embroidery, there is one ground work, and over that we do our superficial work. So with everything. Nature is uniform everywhere, in every department. So with religion. Every religion must be different, and free. Whenever we study comparative religions, we find that all the religions bear some common truths, and because they bear these common truths, they are taken as religions. If we say that in our religion we have these tenets and that no other religion has the same, then We are wrong ; we have not studied the other religions deeply. If we study very closely, we shall find common laws, common rules, common doctrines.

Let us take, for instance, Christianity and Hinduism. One of the principal doctrines of Hinduism, is re-birth, transmigration. Christians say that we cannot be born again. There is either eternal heaven or eternal hell. But some students who have studied comparative religions thoroughly will say:    no;

Christianity admits this principle. In the Bible, if we read the Bible very closely, we shall find that somewhere in Matthew it is said that Elias came again, and Christ meant—in the body of John the Baptist. If Christ had no belief in the transmigration of the soul, in re-birth, how could he have said that Elias would come in the body of John the Baptist. In several other passages, we find that Christ believed in re-birth. Of course, mortals with limited knowledge and reason cannot understand every scripture. If we come across true Christians, they will tell us, yes, everything is possible. Nothing can be impossible in the creation of God.

The next great doctrine, say in Christianity, is the belief in Christ. Unless we believe in Christ, we cannot be Christians and we cannot be saved. That is the common faith, but true Christians will not say that. When they say that Christians must believe in Christ and Christians only will be saved, then we must understand that they have not sufficiently advanced even in their own religion, <in their practical life of religion. If we study the matter thoroughly, we shall come to know that Christ ’ means anointed, or consecrated. It is a Greek term, meaning anointed, consecrated. Anybody that is consecrated can be a Christ.

Now, Jesus of Nazareth was the first person who became specially anointed by spiritual power and he was called “ The Christ.” But, in the course of time Christians came to mean that the term, “ Christ” should be applied only with reference to Jesus of Nazareth. Now this is a creation of man, and not of Christ or of God. Christ never said that no other Christ would ever come, that no other Saviour would come. The statement that Christ would only come once was only promulgated by later generations. There are several passages in the Bible where Christ said that he would come again. Now, Christians of modern times think that Christ meant the resurrection, but it is not clear in those passages that he meant the resurrection. Did He ever die ? Has He ever died, that He might have a resurrection ? His coming means appearing before us in human form. He can appear before us hundreds of times, in different ages, among different nations, in different forms, and in different ways.

Christ is ever living. He said in one place, “ Do not touch me : “I have not yet ascended to my Father.” He said that after his physical death. “ You do not touch me, I have not yet ascended to my Father and yours, to my God and yours.” He said those very words. We learn two great things from this. First, religionist. When his physical body died, people thought that He died, but He did not, He was the spirit. He cannot die. He is immortal. His body died. In the next place, before His death, He entered into Samadhi, or trance. He gave^up all consciousness of His body, and was simply in His spirit, and it was then that the cruel people could crucify Him. He remained in Samadhi all the time. In Hinduism we have this same tenet, that whenever- a person goes into Samadhi, no other person should touch him. In the case of our Master, when he entered into trance, we never touched him. If we happened to touch him, then he suffered terribly, and afterwards told us never to touch him again whenever He would go into a trance. And so, when Christ said “ do not touch,” it meant that He was in Samadhi, that He was separate from his body.

When He said to his disciples in one place “ If your enemies kill you, you do not think they can kill your soul. They will kill your body, but they cannot kill your soul.” So, it is said in our Gita, that the soul cannot perish, cannot be killed, cannot be burnt. The soul is quite separate from the body. It is infinite, eternal, imperishable. Body is perishable. Body dies. We are not bodies. We never die. So, Christ says in the Bible. “You cannot die. Your soul cannot be killed. You are the soul; you are the spirit.” There are several other passages where there is a great similarity with Hinduism, and not only with Hinduism, but with all the other religions religious of the world. For instance, in the Bible Christ says “ You give up everything; you sell everything and give away to the poor and follow me; ” and in another place, He says “ Whoever loves his father, mother and children more than he loves me, does not love me.” The Gita says the same also,  Giving up all your duties, you follow me; you do what I say and I will deliver you from all sin.” And so, Christ says, “You follow me; I will take care of you.” In every religion it is mentioned that the worship of God is the highest duty.

Not only in these few cases, but in several other cases, we find such similarities. For instance, Christ says: “Whenever you enter into a house, you salute.” Hindus also when they enter into a house, first salute. They first remember God and then they enter into that house. In another place, Christ says, “ Whatever will be given to you, you will eat with pleasure.” So, in the Gita, it is said that whatever will be given to us to eat, we should be satisfied with.

There are many other similarities between the different religions of the world. Let us take the word “ Om ” “ Om ” is the symbol of the Absolute, and the word “ Om ” is pronounced in the beginning and in the end of every prayer or mantra or chant or anything like that. So you have “ Amen.” “ Amen,” in sound even, has much similarity with “ Om.” And Amen means, may it be so. So, also, the word

"Om" means may it be so. It is tne imminent ot the prayer, or of the mantra.

Then, there are several customs in the Church that have a great similarity with ours in the temple. For instance, touching the forehead with the hand, and saying, “ In the name of the Father;” then touching the stomach, <cIn the name of the Son;” then the left shoulder, “In the name of the Holy;” and then the right shoulder, “ Ghost.” So, “ In the name of the Father, in the name of the Son, in the name of the Holy Ghost,” we make on our body the sign of the cross. Hindus also say certain words while worshiping, words similar to the above, and we call it in Sanskrit Anganyasa, meaning purification of the body. If we place some ideas of God on our body, then we think that our body is consecrated, and if the body is properly consecrated the mind will necessarily beiso. With such a body and mind, we can worship properly.

There is another thing about the mission of •Christ. You know, the word “ Christ ” means anointed, and it also means Messiah, or mediator. Now, if the word “ Christ ” means mediator, then it just corresponds with our “ Guru.” Guru is the mediator. He is in the middle. He is the Son of God. He has come from heaven to save man. And our Guru means the illuminator. He will illumine our soul. And we take the Guru as God himself. There is no difference between Christ and God, between God the Father and God the Son.    4

I nere is much similarity between the Koman catholic religion and Hinduism; some high Christian monks do not act like priests; they do not attend rites ; neither do the Vedantists or high Hindu monks. At the time of death the dying persons are brought to some sacred and open place in some Catholic communities ; and other people chant, pray and anoint the dying persons. Anointing is something like the Hindu Chandrayana or the rite performed for the deliverance from sins.

When a person advances greatly in his spiritual growth, he gets a very intense love toward God. We call it Bhakti. Bhakti means in English, love of God. When that love of God increases, he becomes united, as it were, with God. He becomes one with God, in the fervency of his love. In that love he thinks that he and God are one. In some Christian churches, even now, some nuns and monks think that Christ is their most beloved. Some nuns put rings on their fingers as a sign that they are married to Christ. They receive the ring from the Communion. Some persons think that Christ is their own brother. So, also, in Hinduism, there are sects who cultivate the practice that God is their brother. We call it Sakhya Bhava, meaning brotherly affection. We establish some relation with God; and in order to get nearer to Him, in order to be closer and closer, we establish some closer relationship. The closest relationship is that of husband, or of father, or of mother, or of brother. In every religion there are such pious persons who practice in that way. We have to go about it in a practical way, so we take up all these means. And when our love has increased very much, we feel as if we had lost our individuality in the existence of God; and that is union. Whether a person be a Christian or a Hindu, he becomes united with God. Then he does not say Christ, or Buddha or Krishna, but God, Iswara, Brahman, The Absolute. When that love increases to such a pitch, then there is no difference; then there comes the union of the soul, the union of everything.

THE INDIAN EPICS * By Swami Saradananda.

India is a land of extremes. In the physical, in the mental and even in the spiritual realms, you will find the display of extremes. Here the mighty Himalayas, rising tier above tier, losing their heads in snow and clouds remind you of the everlasting rock of ages, and there the plains in the east and south, stretching far and wide for miles and miles, touch the horizon at every point of the compass, and not a sigle knoll or mound breaks the monotony of the scene. Here the mighty rivers rushing headlong towards the sea, drown acres in their fulness during the rains, and there for miles around lie spread the golden sands of the western desert, where water is as precious as gold itself. In the realm of literature, that sure representative of the minds of the people, we find the same wide varieties. It has its heights of spirituality, which will carry you to the very door of the Infinite, its rushing, tumbling, tearing, rational flows which will sweep everything before them, its calm and graceful meanderings through banks of love and poetry charming to the senses and appealing to what

* A lecture first published in the Brahmavadin.

is beautiful in human nature and its depths of treasures untold, inexhaustible and of purest ray serene-Where in the history of literature do you find such exuberant growth of religious poetry as you find irn the Vedas and the Puranasf ? Where so many Epics of the first order to elevate and enlighten the sense of* the beautiful and present ideals of character and beauty which will yet take hundreds of years for the race to attain in any nation or clime ? Where did the* lyric and the drama first attain to that sublime height yet unsurpassed in any other language ? Whence did music and medicine and mathematics and a thousand* other arts and sciences which have given so much for the betterment of man physically, morally and intellectually, come to the boasted civilisation of the West ?' The researches of the antiquarian, have proven undeniably that the gladdening sun of civilisation rose first in the East; that sages from the far west in the* shape of arts and sciences did really travel and bless the new Messiah, the new born babe of civilisation* who has saved the West from the bondages of superstition and ignorance; that plague-smitten, famine, stricken and down-trodden though she be at present,. India lent her helping hand in the far past, and helped us to rise to the realms of light and prosperity. But to return to our subject.

Vast and wide as the dark blue oceans rolls the sea of the Indian Epics. In volume the two great national epics, the Ramayana and the Maha-Bharata. alone will eclipse the glory of the epics of any other

language. The seven books of the Ramayana* which is regarded by the Hindus as the older of the two, and which according to the western scholars were said to have dated about 1,000 B. C., contain 48,000 lines, while the eighteen books of the Maha-Bharata (i,2oo B. C.) contain 22o,ooo lines. The 24 books of Homer’s Iliad contain 13,693 lines and the 12 books of Virgil’s ^E/neid, 9,868 lines ; while the central story alone of the Maha-Bharata, leaving aside the various episodes which serve as feeders to the main theme, contains 50,000 lines and is regarded by the scholars of the west, to be as old as i,2oo B. C. Add to these the two Epics of the Raghu-Vamsa, the adventures of the family of Raghu, the great scion of the solar dynasty and the Kumara-Sambhava or the birth of the God of war, by the great poet Kalidasa, and the various other epics written in the different dialects in comparatively modern times and you will see that the comparison of Indian Epics with the ocean is not an exaggeration. The two latter Epics of Kalidasa were written, according to Jacobi who judges from astronomical dates in the works themselves, about 350 A. D. Kalidasa, according to the tradition was not only the best dramatist and one of the best Epic poets of India, but his lyric, ‘ T^he Cloud Messenger* was one of the best of its kind.

The Puranas alone contain 1,600,000 lines and their date as assigned by the scholars of the west is between 8th and 16th •centuries A. D. But there is reason to believe that at least a part of them were composed much earlier.

Translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith, m.a.

The strict adherence to the unity of action, the wide variety and complexity and yet subserviency to the main story of the numberless episodes, the beautiful and natural painting of persons and characters, the deep vein of moral and religious sentiment that pervades the whole, and the beautiful yet faithful painting of nature and man as acted upon by her, all these will ever preserve the position of , the Indian Epics in the highest rank of literature ; and are not these the essentials of Epic poetry ? Apart from the aid which the Ramayana and the Maha-Bharata have rendered to the student of antiquity, apart from their value to the student of history, apart from the incalculable benefit, which they have rendered to the people of India, by holding up constantly before their eyes the lofty ideals of strength and virtue, they will always preserve their first rank amongst the noble specimens of art. Hundreds of dramas and epics and lyrics have drawn their inspiration from these fountain heads, hundreds have been supplied with their themes from the numerous episodes pervading the' two, hundreds have drawn thence the ideals of art and poetry and beauty and perfection and the grace of finish and yet they remain exhaustless as ever, shedding their influence now as in the remote, past. What epic in the history of the world has supplied the devotee of religion and the higher life, with godly ideals, which have charmed, fascinated and governed his whole life ? What has soothed the aching heart of a mother bereaved of her only child and spread the calm and repose as of the morning over her troubled breast ? What has steadied the faltering steps of Weakness and sin ? What has held up hope before the eyes of abject penury and made the inequalities of human conditions and the disappointments of life more bearable ? What has worked miracles in healing the diseased, raising the dead, and perfecting the imperfect as have the Ramayana, and the Maha-Bharata ? Stand back or approach with reverence meet in the fields of the Epics of India, c* for the ground thou treadest is holy ground.” Ages have rolled since Rama, the son of a petty prince, saw the light for the first time in the vales of the beautiful and peaceful Ayodhya, ages have gone since he played those boyish pranks by the side of the rushing current of Sarayu, made immortal by the pen of Valmiki, ages have passed away since he first experienced the ups and downs of our mortal life, the caresses and buffets of that mysterious something which ever transcends the human vision, ever slips our eager grasp, call it the fate inexorable or Karma or heredity or chance or what not, ages since he was nominated one day the successor to the throne and banished the next through the jealousy and intrigue of his step-mother and yet the painting is so vivid, the charm so potent, that we live and move again in that dim hazy light of bygone time. We see him pass with his beautiful and ever-devoted wife, the divine Sita, the’pure, the chaste, the matchless, the goddess-ideal of noble womanhood for all times in all

India, followed by his ever faithful brother. We see and feel the burden in his heart, the throbbing of his breast from shattered hope, the abject hopelessness of the whole situation, and yet we see also the bright sunshine through the lowering clouds in the sense of duty done, of promise fulfilled, of conscious moral strength, of the consecration of the love of a noble woman and a noble man. We see clouds and sunshine, lights and shadows, misery and joy, despair and hope all fused and blended and intertwined one great panorama and feel and realise what complex beings we are, how contradictory the actions of the organ called the mind, hojv wide a field for the ever-raging battle of the gods and demons, and how man, the noble child of nature, as soon as he is sure that the gods must conquer the demons ; the noble, ignoble; the pure, the impure, the perfect, the imperfect ; the spirit, the flesh in him; he finds his place for ever in the bosom of the 1“ intense inane,” above all sorrows and afflictions, all joys and pleasures, all hopes and despairs, and realises that noble truth of ages, “ thou, thyself are the ocean of light and love absolute, eternal and infinite.” To return to our story. On went the three never to return to the home of their childhood till fourteen long and weary years were passed. They crossed the Ganges and struck through the heart of the hills and forest. of Central India ; the trees of the forest supplied them with food and cooled their heat by fanning them with their tender, graceful arms; lovely brooks chased their thirst away and spoke of peace and consolation by their sweet murmurs, and the birds sang the lullaby apd put them to sleep las they laid themselves in their lowly beds of grass and moss, under the shade of the star-bedecked sky. What else could they want, what more delight, they who were satisfied with their love for one another and ready to lay down their lives for one another? They travelled from one place to another, from one hermitage to another and formed warm friendships with sages and their wives. Let none wonder at the mention of hermits living with their wives, in the shady retreats of beautiful forests. In India marriage was a relation not of the body to the body but of the soul to the soul and the name for wife was * partner in religion.* They lived above the desires of the flesh and even now you will find rare instances of such lives though bound to each other by marriage forever. And is not that the ideal of all marriages or ought it not to be ? Aye, man ! you can raise a thousand arguments against it, you can deceive yourself and say that if all live up to that high ideal the world will run its course through to-morrow, as if to save the world from utter ruin and fall you deliberately sacrifice yourself and live in the flesh, you can brand it with the terrible brand of renunr ciation and condemn it and think you have performed a sacred duty for the preservation of the race, but when you retirehnto your own heart, you will find that you are a slave to your passions and emotions, that you have been led to defend carnality through selfishness, that the preservation of energy for spiritual ends is also obeying the natural laws and the higher laws of nature, and your heart will of itself bow down and worship those who have got that perfect self-control, which is never disturbed by the ever fascinating call of the senses. And yet thou who art struggling hard to gain the sound sense of self-control, despair not if by habits contracted through distant births, thou art allured to the tempting waters of the senses. Know that sooner or later thy efforts will be crowned with success, that from immorality man rises to the higher ground of the moral laws, and the perfect obeying of the moral laws, makes him one with the Father, the Ocean of light and love, absolute. But to return. On went the three through shady groves and virgin forests, by the banks of leaping, tumbling streams, to the tops of green-clad hills, till charmed by the scenery at the entrance of the southern plains they built little cots of wood and straw and determined to spend the remaining year or two of their forest life there where the sweet-speaking Narmada rushes out of her marble embankments and hastens to meet the outstretched arms of her beloved ocean. All went smoothly for a time. Sita, the ever-patient Sita, forgot all the troubles of her wandering in making friendship with birds and deer and trees and stones and looking after the comforts of the two brothers. But this did not last long; the enemy came in the form of the powerful king of Ceylon, who charmed by the beauty of this lovely lotus in the forest, carried her by force when the brothers were away. The clash of steel sounded then by the cocoanut groves of Ceylon and the king defeated and killed, Rama returned with his wife and brother to his native land and ascended the throne, rewarding his generals for their devotion and valour with suitable grants and presents. The story goes on here to relate the latter portion of the life of Rama. One chapter of his life is finished with his ascension to the throne. Will the next be a happy and peaceful one ? The brief respite that followed after these hard trials and troubles, will that last till all k troubles are ended in the deep sleep that knows no waking ? The enchanter raises his rod again; the dim shadows begin to move before your fascinated gaze. We see the ideal king in Rama, his hopes and joys, his troubles and sorrows all blended, fused, unified with the destiny of his people. He does not seek his enjoyment outside that of his people. He is sacrificing his pleasure and comfort and consolation and whatever he might call his own on the altar of duty. But the god would not be satisfied, the sacrifice would not be complete till he bears to the altar the one being, for whom he would willingly lay down his own life a thousand times, the one heart whose genial rays have enriched, beautified and made sunshine on his soul in the dark days and hours of trial affliction. Deeds of heroism and sacrifice, when man forgets himself entirely in the abundance of love for others, when looking upon life in a broad, all-embracing universal way he feels the throb of the universe in his own heart, the pulsation of the over-soul in his own, when the fulness of the relative life and love raises him to that high pinnacle of glory, where he sees and feels the glimmerings of the grand old truth, “ through every hand He works, through every foot He moves, through every eye sees and every ear hears ; He pervades in and out of all,” mysterious and wonderful, though we may call such acts madness and fanaticism they will always appeal to the inmost heart of humanity. Who will not be moved by the unshaken faith of Abraham over his son’s pyre, the calm smile of Socrates over the cup of Hemlock, the ° Father forgive them” of Jesus on the cross, the renunciation of Buddha to bring light to the suffering millions, the sacrifice of Rama of his dearly beloved, Sita for the good of his people ? The palace closed its wide portals over the lady of* sorrows, never to open again but the hermitage threw open its poor latch but wide sympathetic heart and embraced her and her sons as its own kith and kin: And Rama completed his sacrifice by raising a golden image of Sita and making her the queen of the realm and carrying a never-failing love and devotion for that ideal of noble womanhood who never complained under the burden of her sorrows and ever looked " upon Rama as her own, her beloved. Thus ends the main story of Ramayana. I have dealt with it at length in order that it should make us better understand the ideals of the people. The oldest bard of India, Valmiki, exhibited a wild enthusiasm over the beauties of nature. Whole chapters of the Ramayana are full of the most minute observations of the rising and falling shades of the dawn and night, of the change of seasons, of green glades and murmuring brooks, of the constant shiftirigs of the clouds over the blue bosom of the infinite heavens and of the swelling, surging, foaming waters over the bosom of the dark deep.

The painting of the conflicting passions of human mind, the dramatic situation of human events, and the viewing of human life from a high artistic standpoint, will make the Ramayana to be regarded in all ages as one of the best Epics in the world. We have not had time to refer to the beautiful portraiture of brotherly love that pervades the whole book. The deep vein of moral and religious sentiment and the high ideals of human relations that run through the poem are engrafted deep in the hearts of the millions of India. Every girl is taught by the mother to store in the inmost recesses of her heart the divine ideal of Sita and to strive in her life to emulate her example. Many a man begins or ends the day with a chapter or two of the poem and looks upon it not only as a work of art but also as a sacred scripture, and Rama has found a place for ever in every Indian heart as one of the Divine incarnations, for his purity, love and unselfishness and noble sacrifice for the cause of his people and country and of the whole world. Lives of such as these are not limited by time or space. They are the everlasting rock of ages, giving shelter to the drowning millions in all times ; of them it is spoken in the Scripture. “ Wherever thou seest a wonderful and extraordinary manifestation of power, beauty or spirituality, know that I, the Lord, am manifesting myself in those forms.”

Grand as are the paintings of nature and man in the Ramayana, those of the Mahabharata are not less so. The simple pathos of the former is like the beautiful Ganges flowing gracefully and quietly over the plains, while the intense throes of the tragedy of the latter is like the rushing, tumbling, roaring mountain current cleaving its path through rocks and stones in its way to the bosom of the infinite ocean. The one has the beauty and solace of a comedy while the other rises to the sublime height of tragedy. Here too as in the former the scene lies now among the intrigue and jealousy of courts and kings and anon amid the calm repose of forests and hermitages, only, the ups and downs of human life, the constrast and complexity of human events, the conflict and contradictory nature of the human sentiments and emotions, all come out with a clearer, brighter and more intense light and vividness. To bring before your mind the picture of the age of which the poet speaks, you will have to recall to yourself, the age of Greek history when Socrates lived and moved, or the condition of Palestine at the birth of Christ, when a mighty race and people had fallen into the sloughs of darkness and unbelief and the mire of hypocrisy and immorality. Such an age in any nation or clime, requires and necessitates as the history of the world shows, the birth of a Socrates, a Buddha, a Christ, or a Krishna. The Indian society was undergoing such a throe and convulsion. The wave of progress which had carried it to the pinnacle of high morality and civilisation, had been followed by a depression and the time had come for the rise of another wave. The poet paints with wonderful vividness such a portrait of such a people. The characters in the poem are on the one hand a noble galaxy of brave, strong, pure, sacrificing and unselfish men, at the head of whom appears the noble and charming sun of the groves of Brinda, the Divine Krishna, and on the other a set of mean, selfish, greedy and immoral and yet powerful men, who are ever inclined to make a bad use of their power and position. The main story describes the conflict of two cousins for the power and supremacy and the throne of a kingdom whose capital was Hastinapura, a place very near to the famous modern town of Delhi. One had the right by birth but the other, whose blind father was the guardian of them both and acted as king during their minority, tried every means to dispossess the former. He made many attempts on the life of his rival, but was ultimately overthrown in the great battle of Kurukshetra, in which all the kings of the northern India and many outside of it joined on one side or the other.

* The poet raises his gigantic structure on that.

subtle conflict of the human emotions, the good and the bad, the pure and the impure, the self and the non-self, the duals, the opposites which form the basis of the manifold manifestation of the physical, the mental and the spiritual realms. Our poetry and philosophy, our science and art, our morals and religion, all that tend to improve, better and elevate , man, from the flesh to the mind, and the still higher realm of the spirit, all have their origin there—Hail, Mother of all distinctions, goddess divine, Nature ! Where would have been our progress and improvement, our knowledge and enlightenment, our visions of the sense and of religions above the sense, if thou hadst not spread Thy charm and lived and moved in and through all ? All that move and do not move, all* that feel and do not feel, all that think and do not, think, what are they but Thou : the infinite breath of the infinite Love ? And what is that, that is beyond Thee? the unspeakable, the unthinkable, the unknowable, and yet the Power whose light makes the sun and the moon and the stars bright, makes the fire burn and the mind think, and attaining which we go beyond what is known and unknown. “ The lethe of nature can’t trance him again, whose soul sees the Perfect, which his eyes seek' in vain.”

The poet of the Mahabharata is instensely practical. You are thrown at once in the midst of human events  of striking situations. The clamour and noise of the court rouses your attention, you see the contend-, ing cousins from their infancy, and ,the germ of jealousy between them which sprouts up and ultimately develops to a gigantic tree ; your heart goes out towards them when you see the five brothers worn with persecution turn their heavy steps towards the forest, straining their eyes to look at the faint ray of light in the belief that the right shall conquer, that truth must come out victorious, you feel the vanishing of all light and hope and the gradual settling down of the darkness, the subtle temptation to forsake the path of truth and righteousness and the struggle of the brave mind which says * get thee behind me, tempter, and come out victorious.” You get blended with their hopes and joys, sorrows and afflictions, trials and temptations, and rise with their rise and fall with their fall. A strong vein of religious sentiment pervades the whole of the poem. Here too is a religion which is to be carried into the very midst of our daily life, amid the roar of battle, as well as in sweet and dear relations of hearth and home, amid the strife and confusion of the business-life as well as the calm and repose of the hermitage. Mark the opening of that beautiful episode, the Bhagavad-Gita, in the poem and you will be convinced of this intense practicality of the religion of India. Amidst the lowering clouds of intense human events, flashed that dazzling light of spirituality, which attracted the attention of the north and the south; roared that mighty thunder, whose-peal is still reverberating through the East and the west. Amidst the deafening din of the meeting of armies, amidst devouring jealousy, anger and hatred, amidst the intense madness and hysterics of excitement, amidst every possible distraction that can be thought of or imagined, rose the calm and , sonorous voice of the Divine-human Krishna, assuring us that every man is following the path of religion and rising higher and higher by whatever he is doing, that through resistance, he is rising to the higher plane of non-resistance, through morality to that of spirituality through diversity to that of unity, and perfection. Krishna, the sweet blending of justice and love, of religion and practically, of the highest philosophy, elevating above the bounds of time and space, above the realms of law and causation, with intense work for work’s sake, Krishna, the beautiful union of heaven and earth, what language can express the deep* debt of gratitude which humanity owes to Thee ? The ignorant and blind alone deride Thee and criticise Thy actions, for they have not the eyes to see nor the ears to hear ! the bright visions that Thou sawest or the music that Thou heardest. But Thou,, who sawest the fall of heroes in the mighty battle of Kurukshetra with perfect calm and composure, who sawest the death of Thy own flesh* and blood with a sweet smile on Thy lips, who met Thine own end with perfect peace and joy, who art the harmonious blending of love and non-attachment, nothing can remove from Thee the halo of glory and majesty and peace and blessedness, that surrounds Thee for ever and ever. But to return. Beautiful as is the episode of the Bhagavad-Gita, and striking and picturesque its position, it is one among many of such philosophical discourses, which serve as ornaments to the graceful body of the Epic. The thousand other episodes, -such as that of Savitri, the faithful wife, who by her devotion brought her dead husband back to life, of Sakuntala and her love, of Bhishma, the moral hero, and his sacrifice, that have supplied the theme to a vast number of dramas and other writings in after times, and which are entirely of a different type to the former kind, are so beautiful in their settings, elegant in grace and finish, complete in their parts and appealing to the sense of the beautiful, that they will ever attract the admiration of the learned. Truly it has been said “ that the grand Epic of the Mahabhara-ta is an epitome of the whole world” and that “whatever you do not find in that Epic, you will not find in the whole of India.” It is impossible to estimate the influence of these two Epics on the daily lives of the people. It is difficult also to determine whether they have exerted greater influence on the moral and religious sentiment of the teeming millions as sacred writings or on the sense of the beautiful on account of their literary and artistic excellence. Old and young, learned and ignorant, women and men all know of the wonderful exploits of Rama, the ordeal of fire and banishment of Sita the noble lady of sorrows, the heroism of Arjuna and the Herculean strength of Bhima. In caves and temples, in window and door sills, in the houses and cottages, in copper and brass utensils and, in short, everywhere you will find some portion of the history of Rama or some part of the Mahabharata, carved in grotesque or beautiful figures. The boys in the glow of the evening with wide open eyes hear these stories from their mothers and get excited over the exploits of the heroes or shed tears of joy at the account of innocence protected or virtue rewarded and evil-punished. The girls hear the wonderful story of the faithfulness and love of a Sita or a Savitri and. observe fasts on days in which it is written, they were born. The old treasure up in their minds the grand truths of philosophy and religion which flowed from the lips of the God incarnate, a Krishna or a Rama.

We will conclude the paper with a few words on another Epic of India. The divine singer Kalidasa marches at the head of the noble procession of the poets of India. The smooth and easy flow of language, the purity of diction, the accurate painting of nature, above all the striking illuminating similes and epithets and the sublime height to which he rises in his description of nature and man, carry you along, to the very inmost sanctuary of the temple of the Muse and leave you charmed, intoxicated and yet refreshed with the sweet grace of her form. Mark his description of Uma, the noblest ideal of divine womanhood, for ancient and modern India, in his. Kumarasambhava. Her childhood, her faint recollections of a former existence, in which she laid down her life on the altar of love and faithfulness, her intense love and admiration for Siva seen at first in the germ, then developed into a mighty banyan sending root after root and holding the ground with firmer and firmer grasp, the unfolding of the innocent beautiful bud into a full-blown flower, all bring her in a real tangible form before you. You see her graceful form, bright as a sunbeam, playing with her friends, you almost feel you would turn her from her intense purpose of conquering the flesh by austerity and meditation, and at the next instant realise that it is in vain, the waters of the river though soft hew down the rocks and find their path to the ocean and no one can turn them back to their source. The mother persuades in vain. Will she succeed ? Will this frail delicate flower which trembles and droops at the weight of a bee, hold her head at the heavy weight of a bird ? She goes; she succeeds; she finds out her destiny, that she is to be the bride of One who cares neither for wealth, nor power, nor prosperity, whose only power is self-control and only riches illumination, whose love and sympathy have made Him a refuge of the fallen and the weak and whose unbounded knowledge has raised Him to the position of the lord of lords. True and faithful to his first love, he was passing his days in meditating on the deep mystery of life and death, unfathomable even by gods, on the “ One without a second,” who manifests Himself as the many. High above in the shady groves of the Himalayas, where the stately pines sing of peace and strength, and birds of wondrous plumage chant their matins and speak of love, where the crystal foaming brook, like a maiden rushing to meet her lover, dances down from rock to rock, and the deer roams freely filling the air with the perfume of musk, Siva the god of gods, the matchless, the pure, was sitting on a boulder, like a graven image, immersed in meditation, his mind like the flame of a lamp unmoved by the wind, rising straight on the bosom of the infinite Self. Nothing can be compared to the sublime height to which the poetry rises here in this description of the meditation of Siva. The great peculiarity of Kalidasa’s writing is his wonderfully striking similes. They speak like a beautiful painting. In describing a thing his method is to throw picture after picture before the reader’s eyes and to sum up the whole in one grand panorama. Mark the verse where by the command of Nandi, the devoted admirer of Siva, whose nature became still and silent so as not to disturb the meditation of Siva: “ The trees stopped swinging their boughs, the bees silenced their humming noise, the birds left off singing in the trees, the deer stopped their roaming; the whole face of the forest looked as if painted on a canvas, as soon as he gave the command.” Then again the beautiful picture given a few lines below of the sudden appearance of Spring and Cupid on that peaceful forest to move Siva from his deep meditations and bring his mind down to pleasure and love, is simply marvellous. But to return to our story. Uma finds Siva in this sequestered spot, began to serve him in little ways and by and by gained his attention.

Then follows the burning of Kama, the personified carnality by the wrath of Siva when he felt himself moved by the beauty of Uma and finally a spiritual union between the two.

Thus ends the story in the sacred writings of the love of Siva and Uma; the poet of course deviates more or less from it. His other epic the Raghuvamsa, recounts the whole story of the Ramayana and is full of striking pictures, and has a life and originality of its own. The various other Epics written from the fifteenth century downward in the present spoken dialects of India, we have neither time nor space to deal with. Enough to say that they too have charms and beauty of their own and are full of the genuine -expression of the human heart.


By Swami Brahmananda

IN the present age we find religious agitation more or less almost everywhere. And even the highly educated English-knowing people instead of being mere atheists side with some agitation or other. Among the religious inquirers we find men of different natures. Some say, * as it is the custom, be initiated by the hereditary guru, count the beads and perform religious austerities, which we.see people doing, and you are sure to realise God. One should not forsake his hereditary guru, it is a great sin to do so, conse: quently whatever be the character of the guru without any ado be initiated by him and perform religious rites’. They themselves do the same. Sometimes, they read or hear the Mahabharata or the Puranas. and some of them go through the Tantras also.

There are some men who read some of the Sastras by themselves. Now-a-days translations of the Gita, the Puranas, the Upanishads, the Vedanta Sutras and of works on the Philosophy of the Yoga have been published and some by the help of these books, without any assistance of a Pandit try their best to make out the real essence of the Sastras and take up some method of prayer from them according to their personal choice and follow the same ia

* Translated from the Udbhodana.

practice. Either they do not acknowledge the necessity of a guru or if they admit they do not profess it to be unavoidably necessary. Some people do not pay the subject particular attention. Among them there are some who say that if you have not a Siddha Guru {i.e.t one who has realised God) it matters little whether you have a guru or not. So he says 1 when I find a Siddha Guru I will adopt him as my guru’. Some of them associate with Sadhus and some do not do anything at all. .

God is omniscient, He will surely hear if you pray to Him. He will give you whatever you want so what is the necessity of an external guru ? This is the opinion of a few others. Again those who hold the opposite view say that nothing can be done without a guru but any guru will not do, a Siddha Guru is necessary. These who are initiated by their hereditary guru and are performing religious rites according to the prevailing custom—if they are asked about their practices, they reply that they are merely following their guru's instructions but do not know whether we are progressing or not. Have the disturbances of the mind settled down ? No, that is not even appeased. Moreover it is seen that their love towards God is not increasing day by day, the attraction that they have for wealth and their lust, not a spark of that even, have they for God.

From these various opinions ihe question arises whether the Guru is necessary in any way for one's salvation or for leading a religious life ?

If the reply is in the affirmitive then it is an unavoidable necessity i. e., it is impossible to gain salvation without a guru. And what qualifications should a guru possess ?    *    i

For a proper solution of these problems we must depend on reason, the Sastras, and the sayings of the sages.

Firstly, let us see what follows from discussion. Those even who think very little will easily understand that prayer and ceremonial are but individual actions, but the world has never, seen a person who just .after coming out of the womb went to some lonely place and sat in meditation without getting up again. Many people understand this for there is no such fool as will deny that by reading the Sastras i .or other books and by hearing various religious discussions and discourses from many persons, a person forms some idea about God and religion. Those who insist on the necessity of a guru are wanting perhaps in such knowledge as that by associating with a sadhu or by passing long hours with a sage and observing his practices there can be no advancement or from earnest devotion in prayer, from benevolent actings and other qualifications a desire to possess those qualities does not always come. Perhaps they fear that they have to pay respect to a single individual and have to follow his teachings for ever. How, far is this true ?

In reply to it, it may be said that whatever branch of knowledge a man .desires to. learn some how or other he feels the necessity of a teacher. Not that a man cannot learn anything without depending upon any external help but it takes longer time, much perseverance and a great deal of suffering. As a general rule we learn first what our forefathers had learnt and then try to acquire something more personally. This acquirement from others is not like a brainless creature chewing the cud supplied to it by some one, but it requires great self-effort. To learn from others means to make them one’s own. This is also true in the case of a spiritual guru. If we can bind ourselves in some strong spiritual bond to some really great man, the truths that he conceived during his life-time become easy of acquirement in this life of ours.

Furthermore a really advanced guru has a special power in that he clearly understands the spiritual nature of his disciple and knowing that he explains the way being led through which the disciple may easily attain salvation or realise God. Moreover if there is any possibility of constant association then he helps him up to the last moment by interpreting the means of avoiding all possible disturbances during sadhana and by teaching the higher and higher methods of attainment according to the advancement of the disciple. Every one of those who is fortunate enough to get a real guru holds this opinion that there is a great difference between the initiation by a true guru and the hereditary guru in general. A true guru imparts a special spiritual power with the mantram during initiation and he teaches the mantram also according to the nature of the disciple so that by far less effort and Sadhana, the follower becomes successful.    .

There is another advantage which a disciple gains from a true guru. The guru in fact carries the burden of responsibility i. e., if perchance the disciple slips astray, he employs various means both external and spiritual to set him again in the right path. In case any disciple after acquiring a perfect knowledge of all the teachings of his guru seeks for a far higher conception, then he is at liberty to take up .another higher guru but unless the disciple is far advanced it is better to depend wholly on a single guru; otherwise he cannot hold his spiritual conception firm and fast. Regarding the obedience to guru’s orders it may be said that a true guru never commands unjustly and also it is necessary to observe for a long time before taking up any one as a real guru. Those who are desirous of having a real guru should so long live with and examine his character of a guru till they get a real and earnest belief in him as a true Sadhu ?

Some one may discuss that if I have the capacity to judge a real guru then I myself am a guru. Regarding this it may be said that t it is simply false logic. Do you not really distinguish good from bad in every step ? If you are destitute of that judgment why do you call some good and some bad ? If you have not the power of judging a man by observing his character and by finding out whether he has conquered lust, anger, has high devotion and wisdom and is uncovetous, then you should rather sit in a lonely corner and with folded hands pray to God and ask “ O God! give me the power of judging good and evil.” Some are cheated for the reason that they do not examine the guru properly but take him to be perfect. When you have once taken him as your guru why do you hesitate carrying out his orders in every respect ? Can he ever lead you in an evil way ? Then it is clear that they alone who have not in the least derived any benefit from being initiated by the hereditary guru and who are really eager to realise God, that are at liberty to adopt a real guru. If it so happens that after being initiated by a real guru, it becomes impracticable to have his association, either due to his having given up the mortal garb or due to his stay after, then if one thinks it necessary, he may learn from any other great man without giving up the method of Sadhana he has already learned from his guru. It is said that Avadhut adopted 24 minor gurUs.

Now let us see what the Sastras say about this. It is impossible to discuss the subject of guru fully with the help of Sastras in this short article. I will discuss it elaborately in another article. Here I quote a few passages from the Smti v hich is the fountain source of all authority. Thus says the Sruti:—

In order to know Him, the disciple with pieces of firewood (for Yagna) on his hand should go to a guru who is well versed in the Vedas and has supreme devotion to God.

He who has an Acharya (guru) gains wisdom.

Ashcharyo bakta, kushalosya labdha * He who teaches and he who learns about the Supreme Soul, both of them should possess marvellous qualifications.

* Na narenabarena prokta esha subijnayo bahuda chintyamanah. *

If He is interpreted by a defective guru, even by a good deal of long meditation He cannot be well understood.

Yasya deve para bhaktiryatha deve tathd Gurau

Tasyaite kathitahyarthah prakasante Mahat-manah”    •

He who has deep devotion to the Supreme Soul and has equal devotion to his guru, within the heart of that great man blooms forth the truths taught by the Sastras.

There are good many such instances in the Sruti.

Most of the people know that lots of such evidence are to be found in the Tantras also. In them there are nice discussion about the qualifications of a guru and prohibitary rules regarding the selection. It is needless to lengthen the article by quoting them here. The entire purport of them all is that realisation can be attained by performing Sadhana under the guidance of a true guru. ‘ Whatever be your heredithry guru be initiated by him.’ Such like statements are also made in some places but these are no doubt words introduced by the selfish gurus after their downfall. Religion is not a mere social affair and there is not in the least any feeling of mutual obedience or social popularity. The hereditary guru i? e„ he who was my father’s guru may be honoured socially, and if I am able I may give him sufficient money but when that sincere restlessness as 1 O God! how shall I realise you ’ arises in the heart where shall I go then except to that place where my yearning will be satisfied ? Where shall I go in search of water leaving him by whom my thirst will be quenched ?

The great sages, if they are asked, say that by learning the methods of Sadhana from a guru who has realised God, being advised by him in every step, being enlightened in every pace by the light of truths realised in his life, we have come to this state. If you really want to realise you also have to follow the same method. All great men hold this opinion that a true guru only can interpret the difference. It is seen that wherever there was a marvellous expansion of any religion there was a really great man as helper in the background. People in their ordinary parlance, say that this man’s power is due to the blessings of his guru. We have read in the Sastras that there is a God, men say that there is a God but a real guru says * I have seen God.’ He shows his disciple also the way to see God and leads him slowly on the way. At the very sight of a real guru a devotional feeling towards him naturally arises. From his very appearance it seems as though he has tasted some supernatural happiness and is absorbed in the bliss sinking deep day by day. As soon as one goes near him all the sorrows and miseries of the world pass away and not a bit even of worldly thoughts is left in the mind. By his holy touch the sleeping power of Brahman within is awakened and the disciple sees the ocean of bliss on all sides.    ,

What cannot a disciple do for such a guru ? Is it not natural for a disciple to be grateful to him ? ' Know thy guru as the Brahman,’ says the Sastra. Can this be done to a professional guru ? But we do it easily to one who has realised God. Those who bring forth such childish reasoning at that it is not right to know a man as God, it is profanity against the Almighty, and are not inclined to recognise the Guru as Brahman himself but owing to ignorant dualistic views always imagine an indefinite gulf between the creator and the created, we advise such people to r6ad and understand carefully the Advaita Vedanta and to practise Sadhana along with it. .

No question can arise whether this guru is a; Brahmin or Sudra, Hindu, Mahomedan or Christian, Sanyasin or a householder. He who knows Brahman is a guru and Brahmins etc are mere titles.

What more is there to [say ? I have seen many gurus in this world and have taken advice also but to. no purpose, because they bear no testimony of having known the Brahman. Their worldly attachment had not fled. The power of consciousness and renunciation is not to be found in them. To take advice from: ordinary gurus is as fruitless as to ask the direction1 of a place from a blind man. That power they cannot introduce with their advice. I have heard and also believe that a guru who has known the Brahman introduces with the mantram such a strength in the mind of his disciple that the disciple acquires altogether a new life. From that very day he begins a new faith and a fresh life. I have heard good many advices from ordinary gurus but none has left any impression on the heart. Once I heard a story on this subject from a great man:—

Once upon a time a king had a dislike for the world. He heard that Parikshit gained divine wisdom by hearing the Bhagavat for seven days. So he called upon a neighbouring Pundit and began to hear the Bhagavat. He heard it daily for two months but he gained no wisdom. Then he asked the Brahmin that while Parikshit heard Bhagavat for seven days only and gained divine wisdom how it was that he gained nothing though he was hearing it for two months and told him if he did not give any satisfactory explanation by the next day that he would not get any remuneration whatever. The Brahmin returned home exceedingly sorrowful dreading the terrible displeasure of the king but he could not find out any reply even after much thinking. He was sorely troubled and began to think of this world and the next putting his hand over his face. Now he had an intelligent and much devoted daughter. Seeing her father so sorry she worried him to tell her the cause of his grief and at last moved by filial affection he was obliged to give out to her the cause of his sorrow. The girl laughed and said c O Father do not mind it. I will give the reply to the king.’* The next day the Pundit appeared before the king’s court accompanied by his daughter and said ‘ My daughter will give the reply to your question.’ The girl said, * If you want to have the reply you must hear what I say.’ The king consented and the Brahmin’s daughter ordered the sentries to bind herself as well as the king against' two pillars. Being ordered by the king, they did so-Then the girl said * O King, release me out of this bondage.’ What! You speak of an impossibility, I myself am in bondage and how can I release you ? ’ said the King. The girl then laughed and said c O king ! this is the.reply to your question. The king Parikshit was a hearer who earnestly wanted salvation and the preacher was no other person but Sukhadeva who had renounced everything, was much devoted to Brahman and was very wise. Hearing Bhagavat from him the king Parikshit gained divine wisdom. But my father who is excessively attached to the world is reading the Sastras in order to get money. How can you get that wisdom from him ?

From this illustrative story it can be made out that there is no chance of our being free from bondage without being guided by a true guru.

We hear a few other remarks on this subject. Some people say that howsoever be the disciple if he can get a real guru, he is sure to get' salvation. Others again say that whatsoever be the guru, the disciple attains salvation if he possesses faith, love and devotion. We disagree with them both for such cases are very rare in this world. As a general rule both the guru and the disciple should be proper people. We see great many differences among the disciples of the same great man. It is so owing to the natures of the disciples themselves. If the disciple possesses devotion, humility, and perseverance, then he can easily assimilate the essence of the teachings of a guru. From what we read in our sastras about the guru and his disciple it is generally well understood that the duties that are laid down for the disciple so discipline his mind and body that he turns out to be a true man.

It may be said that we hardly find that sort of devotion now-a-days and many are strongly for doing away with it. If this devotion to guru becomes extinct from our land, then all good qualities as ardour, faith, uprightness etc., will surely vanish and selfishness will reign in society in the name of freedom. You may examine him before you adopt any person as your guru but having adopted him once, you must form your mind in such a manner that you will sacrifice your life even at his word. Many persons may think that if we depended on the guru in such a way our freedom of mind would disappear and gradually we would become a lifeless mass. There is no ground for such an apprehension. A real guru never checks the freedom of mind but rather so guides his disciple that he finally gains mental freedom, is able to stand upon his own legs, shaking off the bondages of the senses, mind, family, society and soars high like a free bird. How much obligation do men feel for a small-sum of money or a little corporeal help from others ! Why then do you think it unjust to show your gratefulness to him from whom you have vcome to know the essence of life or the means of getting the greatest thing and from whom you have received constant help to acquire it ? There is no nation so grateful as the Hindus. The day on which the Hindus forget their devotion to their gurus, there will no more exist the Hinduism of the Hindus. Remember the story about the devotion of Upamanyu to his Guru in the Mahabharata. That devotion, that uprightness, that boundless faith in the guru’s words, once raised India to her highest pitch of glory. If India rises again she will rise through this devotion to guru, through the recognition of guru as God, not mere God of imagination but as God visible. If we become ready to sacrifice our lives for him, then only we shall be able to perform great actions. Not only shall we be able to secure our own salvation but we shall also be able to do something for our Motherland and for our nation also.



WHENEVER religion is abused and irreligion prevails, I manifest Myself. To save the righteous, to put down the evil-doers, and to establish religion again, I take birth in this world from age to age.” These are the words we find in the Bhagavad-Gita declared by Sri Krishna, the teacher of mankind, when explaining the laws of nature, and thereby freeing and making conscious of His true self to his disciple, Arjuna, in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, some five thousand years ago.

We have not heard them repeated by anybody since then, perhaps, in the same way, but we have seen their actual performance, their fulfilment in this world of ours, in different countries, whenever occasion demanded it from time to time. But nowhere do we mark it so vividly as in India, the cradle and motherland of all the religions of the world, so to speak.

When, long after Sri Krishna’s time, there began to be perpetrated all sorts of iniquities and slaughter in the name of Vedic Religion in India, then and there we find the advent of Sakyamuni Gautama, the Buddha, thundering against the malpractices of the time with the authority of an Avatara, and setting things right again. The force of religion and morality

* Lecture delivered in America.

which Buddha gave to the world acted in the land of its birth for a long, long time. The students of history know what an amount of marvellous effect it produced throughout the length and breadth of India ; nay, far beyond it, at the time of the celebrated King Asoka the Great, and after.

But nothing is permanent in this world, nothing is constant,.nothing perfect. Like all other things of this world, subject to change, subject to reaction, there came a reaction even in the doctrine preached by the Buddha himself, in course of time, through the ignorance which resides in men’s minds; and again there began to be practised all sorts of inhuman and barbarous acts in the name of religion to gratify the animal nature of man, thus drowning the country in rank materialism and superstition once again.

When in this way the whole of the Indian religious sky was made gloomy and fearful; there appeared once more in one corner of it a luminary, who, by his wonderful power of light, of reasoning and spirituality, chased away the darkness for good and made the atmosphere. healthy again. And this luminary was our Sankaracharya himself.    i

As in the case of all other Divinities on earth, we hear many miraculous stories about the birth of Sankara ; but I would not speak much of them here. He was born in a family of a high-caste Brahman in a village of Kerala, in Southern India, about 800 A.D.

His father was a religious devotee of an orthodox type, whose great pleasure consisted in the worship of

Shiva, the presiding Deity of peace and benevolence. A truly learned and good man, Shivaguru, for that was the name of Sankara’s father, spent all his life in the performance of religious duties and had become old. He was happy in all other respects except that he could not pay off his debts to his Pitris (the manes). This alone made him unhappy. A man, according to the Sashtras which Shivaguru followed, is involved in three debts from his very birth. Deva-rina, Rishi-rina and Pitri-rina ; the debts to the Gods, the bright ones,—the debts to the seers, the sages,—and the debts to the fathers, the manes. And these debts are paid off by a man in three different ways. By leading a pure religious life and making sacrifices to the Gods, one is freed from the first of these debts. By studying the Scriptures and becoming quite conversant with them, one pays off to the seers the second of the debts; and by giving birth to a legitimate child, one is freed from the debt one owes to the fathers, which is the third in the list. Now Shivaguru got rid of the first two debts by all the means he could ; but as to the third, he was quite helplessly involved. As he became old he had very little hope of making himself free that way, but he believed in the grace of God. So he made up his mind to undergo certain penances prescribed by the Shastras in order to obtain a son by Divine grace, the last resort one can possibly .take to. Shivaguru, after consultation with his devoted wife who was none the less miserable for want of a child, repaired to a lonely place convenient for his

purpose of devotion, and betook himself to all sorts of austerities and worship by the observance of fastings and repetitions of Mantrams, of the holy name of God, and the like. In this way, when he was Engaged in his sincere prayers one night, he saw in his dreams his Ishtam, the Ideal, who appearing before him, said :  Get up, my son and go thy way. I am well pleased with thee. Thou shalt have thy wishes fulfilled. I will be born to thee as thy son.” This pleased him beyond expectations. He went home and related everything that had happened to his wife and they were both exceedingly happy. In time, Visista, the wife of Shivaguru, bore a beautiful son, and as they got him through the grace of Shivam, the Sankara, they liked to call him Sankara. We need not go-through the miraculous occurrences that are described regarding his birth and so forth. Let me say that he was born and grew gradually till he was five years old, when his parents became thoughtful about his education; for it is the custom with the Hindus to send their children to school even when they are five years old, after initiating them in the ceremony of Vidyarambha, the inception of education. The lives of the Hindus are so indissolubly connected with religion and God that they can seldom do anything without the performance of some religious ceremony. Hence we find so many ceremonies performed in the lives of the Hindus, as we see done nowhere else. With the Hindus every ceremony has some deep meaning ; every ceremony brings some vital change in life.

The seers of old in India had through the light of spirituality and truth, determined for certain, that human life was not created for the purpose of the gratification of the senses, but it has some higher end in view to perform. They found that the sense enjoyments to which men become attached, and for which they strive so much, are not peculiar to them alone, but all other animals are prone to them in common with men. All other creatures of the world eat, sleep, beget children, and feel pleasure and pain, and become afraid, just in the same way as men do. There is not much difference between them in these respects. But to men alone is given the power of distinguishing good from evil, of having control over their passions, of becoming masters of them all, if they only desire it, and of trying to act conscientiously and with a firm determination in that direction, and thus make themselves free; and by making themselves free from all bondages, they can know their real self and get beyond all the dual throngs of this world of relativity and serve the purpose of life once for all. This is possible for men alone, and therefore it behoves them well to at least try for that laudable end, without giving themselves up as slaves to their passions and acting according to their dictates for life long, thus being put in the same class with the brutes, only having better opportunities.

This the seers of old in India understood and realised in their lives ; and in order that men may obtain this freedom from all passions and have mastery over them all even in this life, they enjoined upon them in the Shastras to divide their lives into four parts; namely, Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vana-prastha, and Sanyasa, with their allotted duties to be performed in each. In the first part of life is to be observed the Brahmacharya, Brahma meaning the Vedas, the Scriptures, and Chara, to follow ; that is, to lead the life of a religious student. We all know how opportune it is for anyone to learn when young. In childhood the mind remains unsullied, ready to receive and eager to know all it can, and the impressions it receives at that time are never effaced during the whole life ; and so it is the purpose of the Shastras to suggest to the young minds of the children all the truths and moral teachings that might be ' useful to them when they would become men. Not only this, the pupils are asked to live in the house of their teachers and always remain in their company, from whose life’s example they might learn how to live rightly and form their own character. When they have grown old enough and have made themselves well versed in all departments of knowledge and quite able to think for themselves, they would return to their homes and take to some useful profession according to their individual taste and capabilities and' try to carry out the principles in life which they learned as students.

Now our Sankara came to that part of life which was considered to be fit for Brahmacharya, and his father, who had himself enjoyed that blessedness in life in its time, was not slow to make arrangements for his beloved son to enter into it. On an auspicious day he had him initiated and led him to the abode of a competent teacher and committed him to his care. Sankara, who evinced signs of greatness and genius even from his infancy, began to learn from his teacher all the Scriptures with their branches in a regular way and by his inborn power of retentive memory and extra-ordinary merit, became quite proficient in them all in a very short time. In short, he turned out a true master of all the branches of knowledge of the time, before long, and his name and fame went far and wide as a great genius in learning. Learned men from all parts of the country came to meet him, were extremely satisfied with his gentle behaviour and simple manners of life, and went away well pleased with his vast erudition, power of grasp, and tact of explaining things in a way which they had never found anywhere else. Now, when in this way Sankara had made himself known as a great exponent of Shastras, his father one day came to see him,, and after being acquainted with his exceptional virtues, both of character and knowledge, became highly pleased with him and asked of his teacher if he could take his son home. The teacher, who felt himself proud of having such a student and who loved him more than his own son, was sorry to part with him, but, nevertheless, he gave his consent and blessed him and asked him to continue in the study of the Vedas and in explaining them to students like .himself. This was the fifth year that he had been living with his teacher, and in this short time, even in his tenth year of life, he could make himself a great authority in matters of education and learning. He not only read and digested all the difficult books then extant, but freely discussed them and made commentaries on them for the convenience of others. His power and method of argumentation were unique, and he did not let a thing go unless he made it perfectly clear and popular.

Now after taking leave of his teacher, according to the Shastric rules, he came back to his home where his mother had been waiting for him with a longing heart to see her only child who had become* renowned even at such a young age. He was very happy to meet her and made obeisance to her. Thus Sankara lived in his father’s house once again, now as a teacher expounding most difficult parts of Shastras, and making friendships with all the learned and great men of the time from far and near. Men began to pour in to have the opportunity of hearing and learning from him, and he too was glad to teach them untiringly and well. In this way he taught a goodly number of students in all the branches of knowledge and was able to make his position in society a prosperous and influential one. In fact, now, he had almost everything in life that could make a man happy in this world. Wealth, honour, fame, friends, health, education, character, he had all these things. But in spite of all these Sankara could not feel happy*

Sincere and true to the principle, Sankara began to think that true it was that he had learned a good deal and had become so famous, but had he become truly learned ? He had not solved yet the problem of life at all. He had read many things in the Shas-tras, but had he realised them in his life ? If not, what was the good of his learning them ? They were only a burden to him rather than being any good to him. He understood very well that an ounce of practice was really of more worth than tons of theories. He began to think how should he realise in his life the truths he had learned in the Shastras. He looked around him and he became all the more sorry. For the condition of society was very miserable at that time. Learned men there were many, but their learning consisted in books only. They could speak nicely and explain the Shastras well, but their words did not correspond with their actions. They did not themselves do what they asked others to do, and their minds were solely engaged in earning money and enjoying material things. Sankara saw this and became more anxious for himself. His sense of responsibility was so great that he began to blame himself for all these things, and determined in his mind to become a good example for them all himself. He thought that without Spiritual regeneration there was no way to better the condition of men. But how to do that was the question.

When Sankara was in this state of mind, it so happened that Shivaguru, who had become very old breathed his last. This sudden death of his father brought a great change in Sankara's life. He performed the funeral ceremony of his father according to the prescribed rites with the help of his friends and relatives, and observed all the injunctions made in the Shastras for the occasion. He did all these coolly and' well, but there was something acting within him which brought about a complete change in his life. He loved his father very dearly, and his death, his removal from the earthly existence struck him severely. He had been discussing about life and death in his mind since some time past. Now the actual death of one whom he held nearest and dearest brought the question home afresh and mad5 it vitally intense. He grew serious at once and began to think about the* question of death very earnestly. He determined to solve the question once for all, by any way he could. He knew that to accomplish such an object in life, one’ must be wholly devoted to it, must try with his heart and soul to make it a success. He read in the Upanishads that by knowing Him, the Paramatman, one gets beyond death. There is no other way to it.’ Neither by progeny, nor by wealth, but by renunciation alone, man attains to immortality. So he became eager for renunciation. He wished to give up everything for the sake of the Knowledge of Self. But when jie remembered about his mother, he thought his case to be hopeless. Nevertheless his determination for realising the Spirit grew so strong that at last he resolved to speak his mind to his mother and take her permission on the subject.

When he was in this mood he composed very beautiful pieces of poetry, and I like to present some of them to you in their translation form. They are full of renunciation and are indeed “ Moha Mudgaram.” a blow to illusion. They run thus:

“ What use is there in your thinking of gaining wealth and possession, there is not a particle of happiness in them. 1 Even from a son there is danger for the rich,’ is a proverb told everywhere.

" Who is thy wife,—who is thy son ? This world is very curious indeed. Whom do you belong to and where do you come from ? Think about the truth of all this, brother.”

“ Be not proud of your wealth or relatives, neither of your youth, for time steals them all in the twinkling of an eye, so subject to change they all are. Know this, and detaching yourself from all these, quickly enter into the realisation of Brahman.”

” In enemy or in friend, in sons or in relatives, take no heed of making strife or peace. Be even-minded to all if thou desire^t to attain to the state of being universal without delay.”

“ Unstable as the water on a lotus leaf, so is the life of man. The company of sages in this world, even for a moment, can be like a boat to cross the sea of birth.”

“ Day and night, evening and morning, autumn and spring, come again and again. The time is passing and our lives are ebbing, but the wind of hope is not abating. Worship the Lord, worship the Lord, ignorant as thou art.”

“ Wrinkled becomes the body, the head grows grey, toothless becomes the mouth, and the staff held by the hand shakes terribly, still the cup of desire remains unchanged as ever. Worship the Lord, worship the Lord, ignorant as thou art.”

“ A child, always engaged in play; when young, busy in making love; in old age, merged in anxiety ; not one is mindful of the Lord Supreme. Worship the Lord, worship the Lord, ignorant as thou art.”

“ Where there is birth, there is death, there is lying in the mother’s womb again and again. This is the manifest evil in this world. How can you, O man, expect to cross this shoreless sea of Samsara without the grace of the Lord ? Worship the Lord, worship the Lord, ignorant as thou art.”

Now he not only thought and wrote all this, but actually settled in his mind to live this life. He said to his mother that unless a man dies even when he is alive, he cannot be free from the anxiety of death. He had read in the Shastras that sages die in their life time by being initiated in Sanyas, and he fully believed it. So if she would kindly allow him to take Sanyas, she would make him really happy. He said he had never before asked anything from her, and he hoped that she would not refuse him this first boon. His mother, who was of a very spiritual nature, quite understood the truth of his sayings, but could not easily be persuaded to yield. But at last, however, she was prevailed upon to give her consent to let him go, on condition that he should come and see her before her death and do the needful at that time. Sankara agreed to her proposal and left everything behind him for the purpose of gaining the knowledge of the self beyond death. After consoling his mother to every possible way and after making arrangements for the needs of her life, Sankara took leave of his friends and pupils, and went out on a pilgrimage, first in the hope of finding a true sage who had attained his real self and thus had become free, in order that he also in his company and by his instructions, might attain to that state. He travelled in different parts of the country and came to the banks of the river Narmada, where he met Goudapada, an old Sanyasin, living in a cave. Sankara instinctively understood that he was a man who had attained his real self, and he asked this sage to initiate him into his holy order. Goudapada, who thought Sankara to-be a fit person in every way, was very glad to make friendship with him, but as he had taken a vow to remain completely absorbed in Brahman, he did not undertake to initiate him, but asked him to see Govindapada, his favourite disciple, for the purpose. Accordingly, he went to Govindapada, and finding him just the type of man he wanted, gave himself up-to him and implored him for his deliverance.

Govindapada was extremely pleased with Sankara’s worth and abilities, took him into his care and initiated him into the order of Sanyasins, which he claimed to have come down from the beginning of this Kalpa or cycle. However that may be, after taking the necessary instructions from his spiritual teacher, Sankara engaged himself in deep meditation on his real self which survives death. He tried to« join his speech to his thought, then that to intellect, and again those three in the soul, and finally these all into the Paramatman which is the Real Self. This was a process of Yoga or union with the Supreme. He practised this for sometime, being regularly, trained up by his Guru, the spiritual guide who had perfected himself in this path. For such a gigantic thinker like Sankara, sincere.and true to the backbone in his principles, it did not take a very long time to realise his true self with the help of one who had already realised it. Sankara, after working out his own salvation in this way, became free and happy. Now he-bowed down to his teacher, thanked and praised him, and asked his advice as to what he should do next. His teacher, finding him thus illumined with the light of the knowledge of truth, which was added to his already vast amount of other powers, both moral and intellectual, requested him to preach the truth he had realised in his own life. Sankara, whose mind was so full of sympathy for others, Was happy to receive such an order from his teacher, and began his preaching in right earnest.

Before Sankara left home for good, we have-seen how deplorable was the condition of the learned men of society, and where the condition of the men of light and learning was such, we can easily imagine what must have been the condition of the generality of the people. In short, there was no fixed principle among the people. They were divided into various sects, whose object in life was Bhoga, enjoyment. “ Eat, drink, and be merry. Death ends all,—there is nothing after death.”—this materialistic doctrine was preached everywhere, and this thought reigned supreme. The effect was that men tried their best to enjoy themselves in the pursuit of sense pleasures, without ever arriving at satisfaction. There was no order, no peace in society. In this state of things Sankara began his preaching of Spirituality, by meeting the best men of the time and convincing them about the spiritual truth he realised in his life, thus making converts of them first, and then of their followers, with much ease. In this way he travelled throughout the length and breadth of India, and by his own example and force of advanced thought, vast learning and power of argument and influence of spirituality, succeeded in stemming the tide of materialism that was flowing through the country with an irresistible force.

Of all the brilliant converts he made Mandana Misra, subsequently known as Sureswaracharya, was supposed to have been the greatest. He was the principal of a College of a great University of the time, and was considered to be an intellectual giant in the land. Sankara heard about him and went there to meet him. At first he was denied an interview, for Mandana had no respect for the Sanyasins of that time, most of whom were very much degenerated, but at last he met Sankara and was defeated by him in a great discussion which lasted for days together. The most interesting part of the discussion was that it was. presided over by a very learned lady who was chosen as umpire, and she was no other than the wife of Mandana himself. With the conversion of Mandana to Sannyas, there came a regular revolution in the then society. He had many other learned disciples besides Mandana, and with their help he succeeded in changing the minds of men to better thoughts by the diffusion of his Vedantic ideas broadcast.

When everything was going on well in this way, Sankara felt a strong desire for seeing his mother, and became anxious to start. Soon he went home but was very sorry to find her sick. She was thinking of him and became exceedingly happy to see him' again, but that happiness of hers did not last long, for in a short time she gave up her mortal form. Sankara did all to please her in every way he could in her last hours, and managed to do all the necessary things on the occasion according to her will.

Here we see another example of the truth of the saying that prophets are not honoured in their own native land, for he was very much ‘ ill-treated by his relatives and own men at home during this time. But, even-minded as Sankara really was, it did not affect him at all. After some time, he again left his native land to see his disciples and instruct them to do good works for humanity. He wished them to continue their preaching and teaching among all classes of men by founding schools and centres in different parts of India.

In this way establishing order and peace in the country and finding the people once more engaged in virtuous deeds, Sankara made his way towards the Himalayas to enjoy a peaceful rest which he so badly needed. But he could not enjoy it for long. There in the silence and peace on the summits of the Himalayas, with the lofty ideas in his brain which he depicted in his writings and the commentaries, which though given out more than one thousand years ago, are so much appreciated by the best thinkers of today, even among the Oriental scholars of Europe and America, Sankara merged his Prana in the Universal in his thirty-second year of life, and became one with Brahman, the Absolute Existence-Knowledge-Bliss.

Sankara did not preach any doctrine of his own, but he expounded and taught the philosophy that existed in the Upanishads from time immemorial. He wrote commentaries on sixteen books, which are commonly known as the “ Three Prasthanas,” the three ways to salvation. They are on twelve of the principal Upanishads, on Bhagavad-Gita and on Vyasa Sutras or Uttara Mimamsa, which is very comprehensive and exhaustive and is famous by the name of Sariraka Bhashya, and also two other very useful books called Vishnu Sahasranama and Goudapadiya Karika. Besides these, he composed a good many original books on Vedanta philosophy in which he tried his best to make the Vedanta philosophy very popular and explanatory.

The object of the Vedanta philosophy is to make man free from all bondages of life by making him conscious of his real self called Paramatman, the Supreme Being. Vedanta philosophy, in short, teaches that Brahman alone is real, everything else is unreal, and the human soul is the Brahman, not separate from Him. He is one without a second. Existence, Knowledge and Bliss is His nature. So the human soul is immortal, ever conscious and free and full of bliss. As the sun, though really one, appears as many in different water-pots; as one sky appears as many in different enclosures, so the one indivisible Atman appears as many in different bodies which are the creation of Maya, the Nescience. As different ornaments made of gold, though^ they have different names and forms, yet are all one gold essentially, so is the Paramatman one appearing as many in names and forms through Maya. As the wave is nothing but water although it has a name and form for itself, so are the names and forms apparent only. Maya is the cause of them. This Maya is the power of the Brahman. It is ignorance without beginning. It has three qualities by which it binds all creatures. The Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas; the calmness, the activity and the inertia. These have many different phases by which Maya creates the whole world. It is neither real nor unreal. It is not real, because after a man has attained his real self, it doss not exist. It is not unreal, because it exists when a man does not realise his real self, but thinks that he is a body and has name and form. It is very inscrutable, this Maya, an indescribable something. But this is true, that it vanishes after the realisation of the Brahman, which is pure, One without a second. He that knows this Brahman as his own self gets rid of all fears, for all fears come from the knowledge of another different from the self. When a man knows all to be One, and that One his own self, of whom then shall he be afraid ? So Vedanta philosophy teaches discrimination of real from unreal things. It teaches one to give up the unreal. It teaches self-control, both internal and external. It teaches patience, concentration of mind, and respect and faith in Truth. It asks men to hear about Atman, the Self, to think 'on It, to meditate on It, and then to realise It. For no sooner is the Atman realised than all the knots of the heart are rent asunder, all doubts are cut off, and all the duties of life are fulfilled. Blessed is he indeed who can attain this. Blessed is he who strives for this. May the Dispenser of all good turn our attention to this. May we all become really happy and blessed.



HE, who has tried to penetrate the dim vistas of time in the history of India with *a fair and candid heart, must have been impressed with the wonderful systems of philosophy, and ethics, and religion, which the Indian mind produced even at a period when the rest of the wor;ld was sleeping in darkness and ignorance. All along the way he may see signs of the tidal waves of spirituality which from time to time covered the length and breadth of the land, of mighty religious tornadoes which swept away everything that stood as an obstacle before them, and of great religious upheavals which raised the country higher and higher, till it reached the highest point of development in spirituality to which man has ever risen, and probably can ever rise, in the principles of the Vedanta,—principles wide as the heavens, and embracing all the different particular religions which have already come, or will ever come in the future. Reason stands aghast at finding that all the difficult problems in religion and metaphysics with which it has been grappling for a solution through all these years have already been solved by sturdy old minds; and not only solved, but carried into practice in daily life. It can at first scarcely credit that Kapila propounded the Sankhya theory of cosmic evolution and

* From the Brahmavadin.

involution thousands of years before the Christian era, that the doctrine of Karma goes further in explaining the diversities of human life than the theory of heredity, that the Vedanta has proved beyond the least shade of a doubt the ultimate unity of all individual souls in the One indivisible Ocean of Knowledge, Existence, and Bliss, and that all the different religions are so many different ways leading to that One, call it God, or the Absolute, or the Brahman, or by any name you please. But our duty this evening is not to deal with these high flights of Indian thought, but to see what effect it has had in developing the moral and ethical side of the Hindu mind. And, at the very outset, the question meets us—is any high philosophy, or religion (for philosophy and religion are synonymous in India) possible without a high standard of morals ? The answer which the Vedanta gives to this question is always in the negative. No one can rise to the highest stage of spirituality without being perfectly and absolutely pure and high in point of morality. Look at the founders of the different religions ; were they pure, or impure ? Examine the lives of the Vedic Rishis (“the seers of thoughts”) who attained to stiper-consciousness; or of Buddha, or Christ, or Sankara, or Chaitanya, or even of the founders of the lesser sects in India or elsewhere, as Nanak, or Kabir, or Knox, or Calvin—were they pure or impure men ? Has God ever manifested Himself through an impure channel ? Never. These founders have always been men pure in thought, word, and deed; and what did they teach, every one of them ? That morality must be the basis, the foundation, upon which spiritual life should stand ; it must be the corner-stone of the spiritual building. Here the Vedic Rishis, and all the Prophets of other religions, are at one. This has been beautifully expressed in the Katha Upanishad, where Nachiketas, the son of a king, goes to Yama, the God of Death and the controller of all, to know the way to perfection. Yama teaches him first how, by fulfilling all duty, and being moral, he will go to the higher spheres, and have the exalted enjoyments which those spheres afford. But Nachiketas is not satisfied until he is taught the secret of death,—which part of us is eternal, and which dies. He values knowledge far higher than the enjoyments even in other and higher spheres. So Yama enters upon that beautiful discourse on soul, and on the attainment of the higher spiritual life which transcends the sphere of morality and duty, which we find in our famous Katha-Upanishad.

Examining into Buddhism we find there also the same thing. The teachings of the Buddha have bien divided into two main parts, one the Eina-Yana (the lower way, or the preparatory way, to be followed by householders, and men living in society), and the second the Maha-Yana (the great way, which directly leads to Nirvana, and which is to be followed by the monks/ or those who, though living in society, are practically out of society.) In the first way, duty and morality4 have been particularly expounded and insisted upon; and in the other it is taught that, when a man is perfectly established in them, when morality has become as natural to him as breathing itself, he may attain to that highest stage which is beyond all morality and immorality, because it is beyond all relativity. Looking into Christianity we again find the same thing there again. When a young man came and asked of Jesus the way to perfection, He told him to live according to the laws (and what are laws but morals ?). The young man was not satisfied, and said he had been livin'g according to the laws from his childhood; to which the Son of man replied in those deeply impressive words : “ If thou wilt be perfect go and sell all that thou hast and give it to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and then come and follow me.” But to return to what the Vedanta says on this point. The Vedanta insists that the one condition that is essentially necessary in the man who is trying to attain to the super-conscious state by following its principles is that he should be perfectly established in the fourfold ways.” These fourfold ways are :— i. The conviction that absolute truth is outside the pale of all, phenomenal existence. 2 That the enjoyments which this life in other spheres, affords, are trifling indeed, and not worthy to be aimed at. 3. The possession of these six treasures :—(a) the control of mind ; (6) control of body and the organs; (c) the bearing of heat and cold, pleasure and pain, and all the duals, to a certain extent without feeling disturbed ; (d) the gathering of the mind from external objects at will, and directing it to the internal; (e) the faith in the fact that there is a stage and a better stage of life beyond, of which the sages speak—and they speak the truth ; (/) the holding of the mind to one chain of thought, and forgetting all others. 4. An intense desire to gain liberation by knowing the truth. We can see from this how highly morality is regarded by the Vedanta ; and indeed it teaches from the beginning that the man who has not established himself in morality can never attain to high spiritual truths. Then again, according to the Hindus a man is born with the four following kinds of duties, and he must fulfil them first, before he can pass on to any higher stage of spirituality. The duties are described as so many debts which every man owes by the, circumstance of his birth. The first is the debt to his fellow-beings, or all humanity; and this is to be paid by men becoming good members of society, by charity; and by doing unselfish good to all. The second is the debt to all the Rishis, or seers of truth. How is this to be repaid ? By believing in them, by studying the Vedas, of such books as contain the revealed knowledge which these Rishis discovered, and by trying to realise the high spiritual truths taught by them and by trying to live up to them. The third is the debt to the forefathers. This is to be repaid by becoming a good and dutiful son, by keeping up the line of the family unbroken by begetting children in marriage, and by bringing them up in the path of truth and religion. The last debt is the debt to the gods or the bright ones, and this is to be repaid by worshipping them by means of sacrifices. These fourfold debts Were in ancient days, repaid in the first three of the four stages into which the life of a man was then divi* ded, namely (i) Brahmacharya or the life of a student, in which absolute continence was kept up; (2) Garhasthya or family-life, into which the student entered by marriage after finishing his studies; (3) Vanaprasthya or forest-life, which the man took upon himself after fulfilling the duties of family-life by bringing up his children and doing his duties as a member of society;    (4) Sanyasa or monk-life, in which he gave all ceremonials and devoted all his time and energies to realising his own oneness with the one infinite ocean of knowledge and Bliss. This was the general way in which men passed from stage to stage of their lives in olden times. But there were special laws for those who were exceptionally spiritual. They passed from the student-life at once to the life of a monk, as was the case with Sukha, the son of Vyasa and with Vamadeva and some others. In modern India the life of a Hindu man is practically made up of only two stages ;—Grahasthya or household-life covers the first three divisions of the old arrangement, and then there is Sanyasa or monk-life. Even now the married man cannot take upon himself the duties of monk-life unless he has performed and fulfilled all the duties of married life. In the Maha-Nirvana-Tantra it is said,—“He, who forsakes a devoted wife and young children and takes to' monk-life, will never be able to realise God, and will incur sin—and this law has not at all become dead letter. Marriage in India has ever been regarded as a sacrament and a very holy bond ; it has never been inten- • ded to serve as a charter for unbridled display of passion. The name for wife there is Sahadharmanii. e., one who practises religion with her husband, or a partner in religion. This word itself shows how highly the marriage-relation between man and woman is looked upon. Man and wife were regarded as forming one whole, one unit, as is expressed in the term’ ardhangi, another name for the wife, meaning the half of the body. The Gods could not be pleased, no prayers would be heard, if worship was not performed jointly by husband and wife in their family-life. A beautiful story illustrating this is related in the Sankara-dig-vijaya, or the Conquests of Sankara, the greatest metaphysician the world has ever produced, whom the Hindus regard as a divine incarnation. It is said that, when he was travelling all over India and converting the country back to Vedantism after the downfall of Buddhism, he met a very learned man, a great leader of men, who was teaching the ritualistic portion of the Vedas to a large body of pupils. He was of opinion that the one end and aim of human life was to go to higher spheres of enjoyment by performing meritorious works here on earth, and that all the Vedas and all the old seers (Rishis) taught to the same effect, and that to gain the superior enjoyments which the higher world afforded, was one end and aim of the life of man. Sankara, when he met this man, told him that he was teaching a false doetrine, which the Vedas never advocated. So they entered into a discussion, making the wife of the man the umpire between the two, *and with this condition, that . the man defeated would become the disciple of the other, Days and nights were passed in discussing the question and both sides held their ground very well; till, on the seventh day, the man was defeated by Sankara and had to admit that not enjoyment but knowledge was the end of life, not going to the heavens but becoming one, with the infinite Ocean of Knowledge and Bliss was the gist of the whole teaching of the Vedas. According to the condition with which they started the man was called upon by Sankara to enter the monk-life by becoming his disciple. But the wife, who decided impartially in favour of Sankara, interfered, and said “My dear sir, don’t be overjoyed. You have conquered only the one-half of my husband. Here is the other half; you will have to conquer this before you can make a monk of him.” And Sankara had to defeat the learned lady before he could make the man his disciple. Those who have read the book know that he met with very hard work in his argument with the wife. This man eventually became one of the greatest of the disciples of Sankara, the best commentator on the writings of his teacher, and a great leader of the monks of India.

The one great point of,the teachings of Vedanta is that man’s spiritual evolution does not stop with the evolution of a high code of ethics alone, but there is another higher step to which he reaches, another link in this process of evolution and involution which completes the circle. And this step is to be gained, not by denying, but by the fulfilling of all laws,—not by throwing overboard all duties, but by the right performance of all duties, not by discarding society, but by being useful members of it, not by contracting the self, but by expanding it to its farthest limit, not by a man’s thinking of himself as a cut and dried entity separate from the universe, but by feeling and realising that he is one with this universe. This universe, according to Ramanuja, the great leader of the qualified Monists in India, has been produced by the contraction of the knowledge of the soul, by the soul’s forgetting that it is the store-house of all knowledge and bliss, and that it is one with the Infinite Ocean of Knowledge which forms the background of the universe, and called God, or the Absolute, or Brahman, or Atman, or by so many different names. And liberation is to be attained by the expansion of the knowledge of the soul, when it will feel its union with the Divine and with the universe which is nothing but a projection out of the Divine. Monism goes only a step further than the position of Ramanuja and teaches that* perfect liberation is to be attained when the individual soul will not only feel this union and see the unity in the sura-total of all these differentiations, but will feel its identity with the Deity. This stage the Vedanta describes as the state of realisation, or the super-consci" ous. The three states of the human mind, the subconscious, the conscious, and the super-conscious, are not three distinct minds, but the three different stages of the one and the same mind. Modern science has discovered the process in the theory of evolution, how the sub-conscious develops into the middle plane, the conscious existence, and the Vedanta is one with it as far as it goes, but it says further that this leaves the evolution (or as the Vedanta says the involution) incomplete ; the conscious will have to develop into the super-conscious, and then alone will the process be complete. All our struggles individual, social and' human are for that end trying to gain that higher stage. There alone will man find the permanent basis of ethics, of religion, of everything. . . . There, if an illiterate men enters,“lie will come out a sage, a prophet. The founders of the different religions, the religious giants whom the world has produced, and will produce in the future, have been and will be men who raise and will raise themselves to this higher stage. This is the stage which was described by Buddha as Nirvana, by Christ as being one with the Father, by the Mahomedan Sufis as Analhak, union with the truth, and in the famous aphorisms of the Vedanta as “ Thou art that Infinite Ocean of Knowledge and Bliss or “I am that Absolute Brahman.”

The universe according to the Vedanta is one indivisible whole. It is by mistake that we think our<-selves separate from the rest of the world. In the external world our bodies represent so many different points in the one vast ocean of matter, in which there is no break. Behind that lies expanded the one universal ocean of mind, in which our minds but represent so many different- whirlpools, and behind that? even, is the Soul, the Self, the Atman, the store-house of all knowledge, power, and bliss. So though there is but one soul shining above, there are so many millions of reflections on the millions of whirlpools in the mental ocean, and these reflections are nothing but so rpany individual ages. So that when a man raises, himself to the super-conscious, he sees the One Sun that is shining above the . mental ocean, he knows that he is not a particular reflection but the Sun himself, who has given rise to all the reflections in the ocean of fine matter, called the mind* And where lies the basis of all ethics ? In the fact that I am one with and not separate from the universe, that in injuring you I injure myself, in loving you I love my-' self. In the fact that behind this manifold diversity there is unity, or, as the Vedantist says, behind these names and forms there is that one eternal, unchangeable Ocean of Knowledge, and Bliss, which is our real nature. “ This universe has been projected out of that Ocean of Bliss Absolute.” That Divine is trying to* manifest itself through all these names and forms, and the evolution of nature into higher and higher forms-is caused by this struggle of the Divine within, to manifest itself better and better. Or as Patanjali says in his Yoga Aphorisms. “ The change of one species into another is by the infilling of nature.”

Every form or organism is a conduit through which the Divine is trying to manifest itself and all that we need to do is to remove the barriers, which obstruct this flow of the Infinite within. With every act of love and sympathy, every performance of duty, every observance of mprality, man is trying to go beyond himself by feeling himself on^ with the universe. He is abnegating his lower self, and does not • in this selfabnegation lie the basis of all ethics ? Examine all the ethical codes which the world has ever produced and you will find this one great fact taught,—to live up to the higher self by denying the lower. Consciously or unconsciously every code of ethics is leading to that. They may not give you adequate reasons why a man shall be moral and deny himself, but are we not thinking according to the laws of logic with every act of reasoning, though we may not have read a single page of logic? The Vedanta supplies the reason why we should be moral, why we should do good to others, why we should love all humanity as ourselves. Behind all these varied codes]of ethics lurks that one great truth that we are one with the Universe. He who lives up to that one central truth has truly renounced himself. He who does not know this truth but tries to become a perfectly moral man, in thought, word, and deed, he too is unconsciously living up to that truth. This word renunciation has got a very bad name now-a*days. Yet every religion has enforced it often and often. It is the corner-stone upon which all religions, all ethics have been built. Nay we are practising it every day of our lives consciously or unconsciously. A man loves his wife, his children, his country, what is he doing all the time ? Is he not renouncing himself ? True renunciation, which every religion teaches, do not consist in isolating, one’s self from everything and every being, but in expanding one’s self more and more widely, embracing the whole of the universe in one’s self by love. For not in isolation or contraction, but in expansion, consist life and progress; this is the teaching of the Vedanta.

Examining the different standards of ethics in different countries and different religions, we find that they vary from one another im many particulars.. What is regarded as moral in one country and one religion is not regarded so in another. In short take the most general principles and you will find them almost identical with one another, but go to the particulars and you will find them differ from one another, more and more widely. What makes this difference ? Does the Vedanta give any answer to it?. Yes. In order to understand this we shall have to examine a little what the Sankhya says about the origin of the cosmos, and the supplement of the Vedanta upon it. Maya, or Prakriti, or the creative principle of Iswara, the ruler, is made up of the harmonious and even flow of the three qualities or particles (for they are synonymous) of Satwa (the bright and effulgent), Rajas (or active), and Tamas (or dull and opaque). This even flow is disturbed at the beginning of the cycle, when creation starts afresh, and the three begin to act upon 'One another. They produce first the Prana (the cosmic or primal energy) and the Akasa (the primal matter). Then the Prana begins to act upon the Akasa and produces or evolves first the mental ocean (or the universal consciousness) and the individual whirlpools (which represent the individual minds). Then out of this mental ocean is evolved the gross ocean of matter and the gross individual forms. So that as individual whirlpools in the ocean of mind and as gross manifestations we shall always vary. Look at the particular differentiations and you will never find any two of them exactly alike. But there is unity behind the diversity, there is a centre to all these radii. Grasp it and you grasp the whole thing. Nothing which is true for one mind exactly fits another. What is law then ? It is the method or manner in which our minds grasp and connect a series of mental phenomena. It is also internal and not external, and what is known as general or universal laws, such as gravitation, etc., which apply to all individual minds, are the methods by which our minds connect themselves with one another and with the whole of this mental ocean. These universal laws are also relative, and apply only to those minds which are in the same degree of vibration, or, in other words, in the same plane of existence. But to beings whose minds represent matter in a different degree of vibration these laws will not hold good. They have different laws for their plane of existence, different methods by which they perceive the connection between themselves and the whole mental ocean. So we see that if we pay attention to particulars, we shall find that every particular differentiation has its own laws. If we rise a little higher in generalisation we shall find different laws for different planes of existence, and when we rise to the highest, to the Ultimate Unity we go beyond the province of all law ; for how can    there be any law where there is no differentiation, no two, not even the subject and the objects. There alone the law-maker, the law, and the objects of law become one, and this is the highest point of evolution. Law is only possible in the realm of relativity.

This wonderful system of ethics, and the philosophy of ethics, was not built in a day. It must have taken ages for the Hindu mind to evolve it. It is very difficult to determine the exact date when it was found out. But this at least can be said, that the Hindus were the first to discover it; and from the day of its foundation, it has helped and still is helping almost all the great religions of the world. It influenced Buddhism, the first missionary religion of the world, directly. Through the Gnostics and the Alexandrians, it influenced Greek philosophy. It is said that Pythagoras went to India and the influence of Hindu ethics ie distinctly traceable in his doctrines. And lastly this system of ethics influenced directly or indirectly Zoroastrianism and Christianity.

In order to trace the gradual evolution of ethics, and the philosophy of ethics, it is necessary that we should consider a little of the history of India. The one great peculiarity of India that the student of history finds, is that the Hindus never regarded anything as unnecessary, to be thrown away ; they believe that man travels from truth to truth and not from error to truth. What is truth for one mind under some circumstances might not appear as truth when one arrives at a higher stage in the process of evolution ; yet that apparent error helped him to come up to the higher truth, and there will always be found minds which have arrived only at that point in the appreciation of truths. For is not truth as we know it as much relative as anything else, and have we arrived at any truth which will always remain unchanged, however much the environment may vary. So the Hindus always preserved the lower truth which helped them to come up to the higher ones. For instance starting from Dualism when they discovered or evolved the higher truths of qualified Monism and ultimately Monism, they did not throw away dualism, or qualified Monism, but regarded them as stages in the process of development. They had no quarrel with them, for they knew that in order to come up to Monism man must rise through the other two stages. And so on with all other physical, social,and moral truths. For instance, they knew writing thousands of years ago, and yet committing the Vedas to memory and not depending upon the books is regarded as sacred even now, and there are many who-do it up to the present day. The production of fire by friction with two pieces of dry/wood was probably the primitive method pursued thousands of years ago and yet it is done by the priests even now in performing some of the sacrifices. These instances will suffice to convince that if there is any country in which the greatest number of links in the process of evolution in any department can be found, it is India, for in other countries men have always considered that they are travelling from error to truth and have thrown away as unnecessary all the lower steps of the ladder by which they have come up to the higher. This extreme veneration for the past has preserved many things as they were thousands and thousands of years ago.

The first great positive fact that comes before us in the early history of India is that Vyasa, a great sage, divided and classified the Vedas into the four great divisions the Rik, the Sama, the Yajus, and the Atharwan, and that he collected all the historical narratives up to that time and called them the Maha-Bharata, or the history of the great descendants of the king Bharata. This Vyasa was a contemporary of Sri Krishna, whom the Hindus regard as the greatest of all divine incarnations. Vyasa divided each of the first four divisions into three parts, the Samhitas (the hymn portion), the Brahmanas (the application of the 11 hymns to different sacrifices and the directions how the different sacrifices are to be performed), and the Upa-nishads (the'knowledge portion). So each of the Vedas was divided in fact into two great portions, the sacrificial or work portion, which included the Samhitas and the Brahmanas, and the knowledge portion, or the Upanishads. After classifying the Vedas, Vyasa wrote also the famous Aphorisms of the Vedanta, or the philosophy of the Vedas, based on the knowledge portion of them. He had a great disciple, who supplemented his master's works by writing a philosophy of the work portion of the Vedas, known as the Purva-Mimamsa. It is difficult to determine the age of Vyasa and Krishna, but Hindu scholars are one in their opinion that the age of Krishna preceded the age of the Buddha, and that Rama, the hero of the great Epic .Ramayana, was born before Krishna. So the early histpry of India before the advent of Buddhism may be divided into these three great periods :

(1)    The earlier Vedic period, before the Vedas were classified.

(2)    The period of Ramayana, the age of Rama and Vasishta.

(3)    The period of MahaBharata, the age of Krishna and Vyasa.

The first of these three periods must have covered many thousands of years, and all that we know and can know of the period is from the narratives in the Vedas themselves. The facts that we gather from these narratives show that the Aryans have already come to the rich valleys of the Indus and the Ganges, and have already settled there by conquering the aborigines. They were a nation of growing people, with young blood in their veins, highly moral, and religious. They were pushing their inquiries into every department. Truthfulness and morality were regarded very highly. The marriage system had already been introduced, and chastity in women was highly honoured. The caste system was already growing naturally amongst them, and they had divided themselves into the two castes, the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas (or the warriors). Those who were highly advanced in spirituality in society and were devoting all their energies towards that end were regarded as Brahminsj and the rest, who were devoting their energies to conquest and war and other affairs, were the Kshatriyas. We find that this caste system was not regarded as very rigorous—the best men in society were regarded as Brahmins, and^the qualities of a man made him a Brahmin and not the circumstances of his birth. We find that men from the lower ranks were continually coming up and being regarded as Brahmins, and that Brahmins were not only teachers of spirituality and performers of sacrifices, but that they were joining the armies in times of necessity, and some of them were great generals and teachers of the art of war, down to the time of the Maha-Bharata, where it was related that almost all the famous warriors of the age had learned the art of war from Brahmin teachers. Everywhere we find the trace that the caste system arose naturally on account of social conditions, as in every other nation, and had nothing to do with their religion. Then again we find that they had already made considerable advances in material civilization. Grammar, Astronomy, and Music, were regarded as essentially necessary for a man’s education, and for the reading of the Vedas. In reading the Upanishads or the knowledge portion of the Vedas, which must have evolved long after the Samhitas, or the hymn portion, we find that the Hindu mind had evolved with long strides. They had already found out a great system of philosophy, the Sankhya system, for we find mention of the founder of this system (the sage Kapila) in one of the Upanishads.

“ Thou who gave birth to the great seer of truth, Kapila, in the beginning, ” etc. The polytheism of the Samhitas has already come to monotheism; nay, some of the great sages have already arrived at the . truths of monism and the unity of the soul. The Devas, or the bright ones of the Samhitas, have come to be regarded as so many positions in the universe which good and righteous men go and occupy for a certain number of years, by performance of meritorious actions here, and the higher spheres, or heavens were regarded as being as much subject to change and destruction as this earth. The theory of the cosmology* of Kapila, that nature is evolving and involving from* all eternity, has been universally adopted. Looking at material civilization, we find descriptions of the courts of good and great kings, as Janaka in the-

Chandogya, of female education, and institutions of female monks, who were discussing abstruse metaphysical questions with the men in the courts of kings, the description of Aranyakas, or men who with their wives were living the latter part of their lives in beautiful forests or by the sides of rivers, and devoting themselves entirely to religion and meditation. All along we fihd traces of the fact that the development of a high spiritual life, by becoming moral in thought, word, and deed, and by fulfilling all the duties in the family and in society, has become the end of the life of man.

Another curious fact comes to our notice in reading the Upanishads. The Brahmin caste we have seen is highly extolled in the Samhitas, or the hymn portion, as in the hymn to the Purusha, or the Supreme Being, in the Rig Veda Samhita, where the evolution of all nature, or all the particular manifestations from the infinite being, have been described. The Brahmin caste is described as having come out of the mouth of the Supreme Being, thus showing its supremacy over all others. But in reading some of the Upanishads, we find the Kshatriya, or the warrior caste, extolled above all. The Kshatriyas are described as the founders and teachers of the great truths of monism. This shows plainly that the word Brahmin, applied to men originally in its literal sense of the knower of the Brahman, or the infinite being, has become degenerated and the word Brahmin has come to be applied to the priests, who have made the church and religion their profession. Coming to the age of Ramayana and the Maha-Bharata, we find that the Brahmin caste has again risen to the top. The caste must have produced some very great seers, as Vasishta and others, whose noble lives helped to bring the caste forward again. This went on very well for some time, till, long after the influence of Krishna and the Bhagavad-Gita had gone down, we find the Brahmins degenerated again into priestcraft, trying to shut out the real religion of the Vedas from the mass-of the people and preaching to them only of sacrifice, and going to heaven, as the end of man’s existence. But before we pass to the consideration of the reform and life brought back again to the people by the mighty heart of Buddha, we shall have to trace the evolution through the two ages of Ramayana and the tyaha-Bharata.

The ages of Ramayana and the Maha-Bharata are interesting to the student of history inasmuch as they show the effect which the high ethics and philosophy which the Hindu mind evolved during the time of the Upanishads, had on the daily life and progress of the people. High ideals of character in the social and religious field come before us one after another. Great men in every department of life attract our attention, and women who were ideals of chastity and virtue. The family relations and the social relations were based on as good a ground of morality as we have now, at the present day, in any country or society^ Nay even more so ; judging from the records of the period we find that the people of that age obeyed the moral laws far more than we do at present with all our boasted talk of ethics and ethical standards. Mark the truthfulness, the self-control, the love of what is good and noble in Rama, or Yudhis-thira, how many of us come up to that to-day ? or the noble self-sacrifice of the great hero Bhishma ; is it any way inferior to the sacrifice which the noblest of us has made to-day for love of our parents ?

Looking to society we find that with the extension of kingdoms and the growth of a high order of civilization, the caste system has grown side by side. The people have been divided into the four castes, and the caste laws have grown more rigorous than in the time of the Upanishads. The lower castes are fast becoming in a way hereditary trade-guilds, but between the two higher castes we find communication, and intermarriages ; and it was not until after the age of Krishna and the Maha-Bharata that we find the two upper castes absolutely separated. The battle of Kurukshetra marks a great change in the social and political life of India, and not only of India but the adjacent countries of Afghanistan and Persia, and the kingdom of Bahlika or Balkh ; for in the Maha-Bharata we find that all these countries belonged then to the Hindus ; the people intermarried * with one another and the kings of these countries fought in the same field, either on one side or the other. Of course the whole of India and the adjacent countries were divided then into little states, and the ruler of each state was called the king of that state and the king who conquered in battle all the others was recognised as the emperor of all. Almost all the kings who joined in the fight at Kurukshetra were killed. One great factor of society, the warrior caste, became thus almost annihilated. The result was that the other half, the Brahmins, suddenly rose to great power. The high spiritual teachings of Sri Krishna and the Bhagavad-Gita, went on very well for some time. But the disturbed balance in society was never restored, and the conservation of power grew more and more on the side of the priests. Education which was up to this time in the hands of the upper classes, fell entirely into the hands of the Brahmins. The Brahmins thus forgetting their real aim in life became more and more selfish and tried to obtain more and more power in society. They began to preach that pleasing the gods, the bright ones, by means of sacrifices and going to heaven is the end of man. The real religion of the Vedanta was practised by a few only, and those few left society and took to the forest life, or the life of a monk, and the great mass of people in society had become more ignorant and superstitious day by day, when the great Buddha, “ the ocean of light and compassion ” took his birth. He joined the order of monks in his thirtieth year and by means of his pure life and courageous preachings, succeeded in bringing back the true Vedanta religion to the people. He preached against the caste system, the killing of animals in sacrifices, and against sacrifices in general. Before the birth of the Buddha, the people of India were a great race of meat-eaters and wine drinkers. He preached against both, and drove these vices from the country; and the influence of his teaching is still there in as much as the Indians even at the present day are a nation of vegetarians and teetotallers. Buddhism was in fact a great social reform. It broke down the caste system and freed society from its evils, and it brought education and religion from the forest back again into society; for the religion which Buddha taught is nothing more nor less than the Karma-Yoga of the Vedanta, which teaches that unselfish work will lead men to the highest stage of development, the super-conscious state.

Freed from the trammels of ignorance by the powerful touch of the Buddha, society and the people rose again to a high stage in progress. The condition of India of this period can best be seen by reading the accounts which the Greeks have left of the country and the inscriptions of the Buddhist king Asoka. In the Greek accounts we find that the people are strong and brave and highly moral, so much so that in many places there was no use for any law-courts. Truthfulness is natural to them. The women are all chaste and beautiful and educated. They are a very kind people and extermely hospitable.

In the inscriptions of Asoka we find that India •is the first country which sent missionaries of religion to Persia, to China, to Antioch, to Alexandria, and to various other countries. The root of all religion, so runs the inscription, consists in this— “ to reverence one’s own faith and never to revile that of others. Whoever acts differently injures his own ’ religion, while he wrongs another’s. Duty is in respect and service* Alms and pious demonstrations are of no worth compared with the loving-kindness of religion. The king’s purpose is to increase the mercy, charity, truth, kindness, and piety of all mankind. Good is liberality; good it is to harm no living creature ; good is the care of one’s parents, kindness to relatives, children, friends, servants. ”

In time Buddhism got mixed up with phalla’s worship and other symbols and ceremonials prevalent in Tibet and other parts of Asia, and degenerated India more than elsewhere. The Buddhist preachers began to teach that total extinction or annihilation, was the meaning of Nirvana and the end of life, and that there was no soul, no after-state of existence. The result was the people became degenerated day by day as is shown in the mass of writings of the period, the later Puranas and the lower Tantras. But nowhere has been the truth of the saying of the Bhagavad-Gita, so much illustrated as in India,

“ When virtue becomes corrupted, and irreligion prevails, I take my birth, and establish religion again. ” The birth of the great teacher Sankara at this time saved the country again from the bondage of vice , and corruption. He is perhaps the greatest philosopher that India has ever produced. His pure life and great genius enabled him to guide the country safe through the period of religious anarchy which' prevailed at the downfall of Buddhism; He wrote his. famous commentaries on the Vedanta aphorisms while he was only sixteen, the study of which made Schopenhauer predict “ that the study of Vedanta wiH' produce as great a revolution in the West as the Renaissance did during the middle ages. ” He joined* the order of monks early in his life and spent the last sixteen years of his life—for he lived only up to his 32nd year—in converting India back to Vedantism from the corrupted form of Buddhism.

The ethics and the philosophy of all ethical standards according to Sankara, we have already seen. It remains now only to see what effect the teachings, of Sankara had on the life of the people. The date of Sankara is, like the chronology of most other things in India, wrapped up in mystery. The Hindus place him nearly as far back as the first or the second century after the birth of Christ, while modern scholars place him between the 6th and 7th centuries-of that era. In any case the Mahomedam conquest of India took place long after the birth; of Sankara and the account which the Mahomedans give of the country and the people will suffice to show' the high ethical conditions in India brought about by the teaching of Sankara’s philosophy. The Mahomedans when they first: came to India found the. people brave, loyal, truthful, kind, and hospitable. They would not be false'to their enemies or use any unfair means even in the battlefield. They would not march their soldiers over their enemies corn fields, or poison the wells, which the Mahomedans did often. The women were very chaste, and the men were perfectly moral and peaceful. The women had an almost equal position in society, as the laws as regards property and inheritance show. Then again reading the history of the Mahomedan period we find that almost all the great generals and politicians were Hindus. Names as Mansingh and Jay a Singh and Todar Mall were the great supports of the empire. The immortal bravery of Rama Pratap of Chitore, and Shivaji in the south shows that the nation had not died out. The immortal names of many noble women, who shed their blood for the country confront us. The heroism and wonderful military genius of Chand Bibi, the bravery of the women of Chitor and the calm and well balanced political abilities of Ahalya Bai, strike us with admiration. But the general effect of the Mahomedan rule was deteriorating to progress. The caste system grew more and more rigid as the Mahomedans tried to force their religion on India. The Zenana system was a copy of the conquerors in some places and in others a natural outgrowth of their persecutions. But the conquerors gained much. The study of Hindu philosophy and ethics calmed their fanaticism, produced amongst them the order of the Sufis and brought them to a high condition of moral development. The change which has been produced in them by coming in contact with the Hindus is well seen when we compare the Mahomedans outside of India with those who are' living there.

One more influence .remains to be traced. It is that of Christianity. Those who believe that Christianity will supply India with a higher system of ethics or a higher religion are mistaken indeed. The student of history knows well the fact that high system of ethics-which Christianity teaches evolved in India long before the birth of Christ and not only evolved but was carried into practice in the daily life of the people. But the one great thing which Christian people have done in India is the revival of free-thought. Before the English arrived the country was too much: tied up with the old authorities and liberty of thought was almost abolished. Western education has helped* progress by bringing back again the liberty of thought. Then again trade competition with Western nations is breaking down the trammels of the caste system every day. The comparative study of the different religions has brought home the conviction that the ethical standard of Vedanta, if not superior to all is inferior to none. But the one bad thing which the Christians have done and still are trying to do is to belittle and destroy the high ideals of the nation. II India knows anything and has anything to give to-the world, it is her religion, and she knows only too' well how to judge of a system of ethics and religion,, if it is not carried out in the daily life of its preachers. Day by day it is coming out clearly that India will accept Christ as one among her many high ideals but will never become Christian by giving up her own.

The one strong fact which shows the strength of the Vedanta and its ethics is that it has survived and triumphed in its turn over all the numerous invasions of the existing great religions. It does not require a strong centralised government to push its ethics and religion which many other religions do as shown in history. Where is the old religion of Zoroaster, now that the political supremacy of the Persians has gone down ? Or of Islam ? Going down every day. But the principles of the Vedanta religion have survived and triumphed above all, though India has been in political bondage for many hundreds of years. The religions of the Huns, the Goths, the Parsis, the Mahomedans, and of the Buddha, and Christ too, have tried and are trying to assert their influence, backed by strong centralised governments. But the Vedanta has incorporated them all within itself and will ever do the same, because it is based on principles broad as the heavens, which underlie every particular religion, because it teaches that the whole universe is one indivisible unit so that by loving you I Jove myself, and by hating and doing injury to you I am doing the same to myself, and because it teaches the grand truth that all the different religions are true ; tthey are so many different ways to attain to that Infinite Ocean of Knowledge, Existence, and Bliss.