Mission of Our Master – Part II – Comparative Religion

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Part II – Comparative Religion



By Swami Vivekananda

MOST of us are born believers in a personal religion. We talk of principles, we think of theories, and that is all right; but every thought and «very movement, every one of our actions shows, that we can only understand the principle when it comes to us through a person. We can grasp an idea only when it comes to us through a materialized ideal person. We can understand the precept only through the example. Would to God that all of us were so developed that we would not require any example, would not require any persons. But we are not; and, naturally, the vast majority of mankind have put their souls at the feet of these extraordinary personalities, the Prophets, the Incarnations of God, – Incarnations worshipped by the Christians, by the Buddhists, and by the Hindus. . . These are the sign-posts here and there, which point to the march of humanity,; these are verily gigantic, their shadows covering the earth, – they stand undying, eternal! As it has been said by Jesus of Nazareth : ” No man has

* From ” The Message of the East.’,

seen God at any time, but through the Son.” And that is true. And where shall we see God but in the Son ? It is true that you and I, and the poorest of us, the meanest even, embody that God, even reflect that God. The vibration of light is everywhere, omnipresent ; but we have to strike the light of the lamp before we can see the light. The Omnipresent God of the universe cannot be seen until He is reflected by these giant lamps of the earth, – the Prophets, the man-Gods, the incarnations, the embodiments of God…..

We all know that God exists, and yet we do not see Him, we do not understand Him. Take one of these great Messengers of light, compare His character with the highest ideal of God that you ever formed, and you will find that your God falls-short of the ideal, and that the character of the Prophet exceeds your conceptions. You cannot even form a higher ideal ‘of God than what the actually embodied have practically realized, and set before us as an example. Is it wrong, therefore, to worship these as God ? Is it a sin to fall at the feet of these man-Gods, and worship them as the only Divine beings in the world ? If they are really, actually, higher than all our conceptions of God, what harm is there in worshipping them ? Not only is there noharm, but it is the only possible and positive way of worship. However much you may try, by struggle, by abstraction, by what-soever method you like, still so long as you are a man in the world of man, your
world is human, your religion is human, and your God is human. And that must be so. Who is not practical enough to take up an actually existing thing, and give up an idea which is only an abstraction, which, he cannot grasp, and is difficult of approach except through a concrete medium ? Therefore, these Incarnations of God have been worshipped in . all ages and in all countries. . . .

Let us therefore find God not only in Jesus of Nazareth but in all the great Ones that have preceded Him, in all that came after Him, and all that are yet to come. Our worship is unbounded and free. They are all manifestations of the same Infinite God. They are all pure and unselfish. They struggled, and gave up their lives for us, poor human beings. They each and all suffer vicarious atonement for every one of us, and also for all that are to come hereafter.

In a sense you are ,all prophets ; every one of you is a prophet, bearing the burden of the world on your own shoulders. Have you ever seen a man, have you ever seen a woman, who is not quietly, patiently, bearing his or her little burden of life ? The great prophets were giants – they bore a gigantic world on their shoulders. Compared with them We are pigmies, no doubt, yet we are doing the same task; in our little circles, in our little homes we are bearing our little crosses. There is no one so evil, no one so worthless, but he has to bear his owa cross. But with all our mistakes, with all our evil thoughts and evil deeds, there is a bright spot somewhere, there is still 12 somewhere the golden thread through which we are always in touch with the Divine. For, know for certain, that the moment the touch of the Divine is lost there would be annihilation. And because none can be annihilated, there is always somewhere in our heart of hearts, however low and degraded we may be, a little circle of light which is in constant touch with the Divine.

Our salutations go to all the past prophets, whose teachings and lives we have inherited, whatever might have been their race, clime or creed ! Our salutations go to all those God-like men and women, who are working to help humanity, whatever be their birth, color or race! Our salutations to those who are coming in the future, – living Gods, – to work unselfishly for our descendants!


By Swami Paramananda.

The life of Zoroaster and his teaching take us Backto a period of history which is dim to the ‘human mind, because we have to depend ‘ more on tradition than on actual historical facts. If, however, we reject everything that is not proved absolutely true by history, there are many noble and lofty ideals which we shall be forced to leave out. How little is historically recorded about the life of Jesus the Christ! In our studies therefore we should follow the example of the Indian swan, who, when a cup of milk mixed with water is placed before it, knows how to separate the milk from the water and drink only the milk. In the same manner we must learn to take the essence and concern ourselves less with material evidence. If we would benefit by the study of the Great Ones we must open ourselves to the inspiring influences shed forth by their lives and words, and seek to apply these in our own life. Sri Ramakrishna tells of two men who went into a mango orchard : one of them busied himself with the statistics of the orchard, counting the trees, the branches, the leaves and the fruit; while the other man went straight to the gardener,’ made friends with him and gained permission to eat the mangoes. Similarly there are two different types of * A lecture delivered in America.

truth-seekers. One type is always busily engaged in> dry intellectual details; the other troubles himself little about historic accuracy but seeks realization of the spirit. Intellectual investigation has its place and can be of great assistance and profit; but when it creates prejudice and limits our scope of vision it becomes a serious obstacle to our higher progress.

From this broader view-point let us now try ta study the life of the great prophet of Persia. The Persia of Zoroaster however was a very different Persia from that of modern times, for the people who lived there at that period were not Semitics but were one of the original groups of the Aryan family. When the* ancient Aryans migrated from Central Asia, the earliest settlements about which we know were in India and Persia and these two branches were closely akin in their language, thoughts and ideals. John Fiske writes in his ” Excursions of an Evolutionist “From a minute survey of the languages and legends of this whole region, it has been well-established that the dominant race in ancient Persia and in ancient India was one and the same; that it approached India from the North-west; and that a great religious schism was accompanied by the west-ward migration of a large part of the community, while the other part proceeded onward, and established itself in> Hindustan.” There can be no doubt that the Zend spoken by the Aryans who settled in Persia resembles wonderfully the Sanskrit of the Indo-Aryans; and Max Muller declares : ” In a wider sense India, or at
all events the Aryan conquerors of India, may even claim some share in the ancient religion in Media and Persia, known to us by the Zend-Avesta, the sacred book of the Zoroastrians. The most ancient portion of the Avesta, the Gathas, and the hymns of the Rig-Veda are certainly the products of the same intellectual soil.” .

The conception of God as One Supreme Deity found in the Avesta is identical with the One Absolute Existence, Knowledge and Bliss of the Rig-Veda. The Iranians (the name given to those ancient Persians) worshipped one God, the Loving Ruler of the Universe, known as Ahura-Mazda; and they possessed the same lofty social and religious ideals as their brothers in India. But after a full tide of culture there nearly always follows a low tide of what we call degradation. Not that the moral and spiritual ideals are lost, but the people fall into superstition. They lose the spirit of religion and deal with only the letter, the outer forms. This was what happened in Persia prior to the advent of Zoroaster. The wonderful ideals of meditation, prayer, renunciation of wordly ambitions degenerated into laziness and love of material gain. Contemplation became the occupation of indolent beggars who resorted to it as the easiest means of livelihood. The conception of Ahura-Mazda as^the One Ominscient, Omnipotent Being was gradually obscured; and evil-worship, devilworship, black magic, sorcery, and other religious abuses became prevalent.

It Was in such a period of eclipse that Zoroaster Was born. Great divergence exists in the datss given for his birth, but it is now generally accepted that it occurred in the seventh century before Christ – not long previous to the time when the Jews were carried into captivity, while their return to Jerusalem took place less than a generation after his death. He is also spoken of as a contemporary of Thales and Solon and we find various Greek and Roman authors alluding to him as the leader of the Magi as well as a very great sage. His family, it is said, belonged to the royal house of Minocheher, one of the most powerful rulers of Persia. Different stories are told of the miraculous character of his birth. One of them recounts that the glory, emanating from Ahura-Mazda, passed down from heaven to earth and abode in the house of Zoroaster’s mother, Dughdu, until she was born. It then entered into her and dwelt there until she had attained the age of fifteen, when she gave birth to her first-born, the Saviour of Iran. But prior to his coming, it is related, she shone with such splendour because of the Divine Glory within her that her father believed her bewitched and sent her away into the land of the Spitamas, where in due course she married the son of the lord of the village in which she was sojourning. This explains the surname ” Spitama ” which the prophet bore and which signifies “holy ” or c<sacred.”

Many supernatural happenings accompanied Zoroaster’s advent, the Avesta and other records tell us. Trees, plants, the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, all showed unusual signs of rejoicing : a divine light shone in the house, while Ahriman an d his evil demons fled and hid themselves in the nethermost regions. There is also a tradition, as old at least as the time of Pliny, that the child instead of crying asiie came into the world laughed aloud.^ Various cruel attempts were made on his life, we are told. Wicked sorcerers sought to burn him in a great fire but he was miraculously rescued. Then they tried to have him trampled to death by a herd of oxen, but the leading ox stood over the helpless little form and protected it from the feet of the herd. At another time he was thrown into a den of wolves but instead of being harmed he was guarded and suckled. All these narratives show a striking similarity to those told in India of the miraculous escapes of the Baby Krishna from the cruel persecutions of the wicked King Kamsa several centuries earlier.

From his infancy Zoroaster gave evidence of remarkable gifts. At the age of seven he began his education under a wise teacher ; and later, we read in certain of the Pahlavi writings, those very sorcerers who had so long plotted against him are openly rebuked and confounded by the young boy in much * the same way as Christ put to confusion the learned Rabbis in the Temple at’Jerusalem. At fifteen years of age he was given the Kushti or holy thread, which must have been a very ancient Aryan rite marking the second or spiritual birth. The custom still exists
in India today, and by the sacred thread every Brahmin boy at an early age is initiated into the spiritual life thereby becoming a
Dwija or “twice-born.” From this period Zoroaster manifested an ever-deepening spiritual yearning and distate for wordly pleasure as well as a’ growing compassion for suffering humanity, until at the age of twenty “abandoning wordly desires and laying hold of righteousness,” to quote the text of the Zat-sparam, he left his father’s house and wandered forth to seek new light. “There are no other specific details in Pahlavi literature,” Prof. Jackson writes, ” to fill up the period from this moment to the coming of the revelation when he was thirty years old. They were undoubtedly the years of meditation, reflection, and religious preparation that correspond to similar periods of divine commun-ings and philosophic introspection in other religious teachers. Parallels might easily be cited. It is to this period of Zoroaster’s life that the scholiast of the Platonic Alcibiades apparently alludes when he relates that Zoroaster kept silent for seven years ; and it is referred to by Pliny in the statement that for twenty years Zoroaster lived in desert places upon cheese. According to Porphyrius and Dio Chrysostom, he passed his time upon a mountain in a natural cave. The mountain is illuminated by a supernatural fire and splendour. Lightnings and thunders were about the summit of Sinai also, and clouds and thick smoke shrouded its sides, while the base of the mountain quaked violently, when the voice of the Lord spoke
unto Moses. The Avesta mentions the ‘ Forest and the mountain of the two Holy Communing Ones’ – Ahura Mazda and Zarathustra – where intercourse was held between the god head and his prophetic-representative upon earth.” These years of seclusion in the wilderness disprove conclusively the claims of many who suppose that Zoroaster was against the life of contemplation and renunciation.

It was in his thirtieth year that the first revelation came to him. While standing at dawn on the bank of the river Daiti, he beholds a resplendent figure of the archangel Vohuman (Good Thought) approaching him, bearing in his hand a shining staff. The archangel, after bidding him cast off his mortal garment, leads him before the Lord, Ahura Mazda, and. Zoroaster offers his worship to the Deity, after which he goes ” forward and sits down in the seat of the enquirers.” The prophet then receives the command of the Lord to carry the new Message to the people of Iran. Three times in the same day does the vision come to him. Thus inspired and strengthened the great teacher sets out to accomplish his God-appointed mission. For ten years however he meets only struggle and opposition and then at last succeeds in gaining just one convert, his own cousin. Throughout this time, we learn from the Avesta, the prophet is constantly tempted and assailed by Ahriman, the Evil One or devil of the Zoroastrian Bible; but through his unswerving faith and unfaltering devotion to Ahura-Mazda he overcomes the Tempter, as

Christ did in the Wilderness and Buddha under the Bodhi tree.

With the conversion of King Vishtasp Zoroaster entered on a new and more triumphant period of his mission. Like Constantine in Christianity the king became the staunchest upholder of the new Faith. But this was achieved not without toil and persecutions. For two years the prophet strove against bitter priestly enemies at the court, who dominated both king and courtiers ; and he was forced to bear imprisonment, denunciation and ceaseless dispute. When however the king became convinced of his supernatural power, he made Zoroastrianism the State religion and even waged holy wars to establish it. The thirty-five years which elapse after King Vishtasp embraces the new religion up to the time of the prophet’s death in the seventy-seventh year of his age mark a period of tireless activity. Records of far missionary journeys are preserved and stories are told of conversions in Greece, India and even in Babylon-But few of these can be authenticated and it is generally believed that most of them were added later by enthusiastic adherents of the faith. There can be ho doubt however that the new Message spread in time throughout Iran and probably passed the border into some of the neighbouring countries.

What was the Message ? Dualism is the characteristic feature of Zoroastrian teaching. Ahura-Mazda, the all-knowing Deity, the Lord of Light, stands on the one hand, while on the other stands Ahrimam,
Lord of darkness, waging unceasing war against Him. Corresponding with these spirits of Good and Evil,, we find an eternal heaven and an eternal hell similar to those of Christian theology. The weapons given to man by Zoroaster with which to conquer the Evih One and attain heaven are Good Thoughts
(Eumata) Good Words (.Hukta), Good Deeds (Rvarshta). Every’good thought deals a blow at Ahriman, who is -perpetually trying to overthrow us and turn us away from the kingdom of heaven by enshrouding our mind in darkness. When man performs a good deed he strikes another blow at the Tempter, so likewise when he speaks good words. ” Turn yourself not away from three best things – Good Thought, Good Word, and’ Good Deed,” is Zoroaster’s admonition. ” I praise the well-thought sentiment, the well-spoken speech, the well-performed action.” All his social, moral and religious ideals are based on this triad of virtues. By ” Good Thought” man is able to meditate and commune with his Creator. By ” Good Words” and ” Good Deeds” he fulfills his duty towards his fellow creatures. ” Good Words” include integrity and truthfulness in all dealings with others. A man who practises this-virtue must never break a contract or bear false witness or fail to repay his debts; he must also refrain from hurting the feelings of others, and he must foster brotherly love for all his fellows. By “Good Deeds” he is directed to relieve suffering and distress; to help the poor, whether worthy or unworthy; to irrigate and cultivate the soil, to drain the marshy
places, to provide food and fresh water wherever needed, and to devote the surplus of his riches to charity.

It is evident from these injunctions that the prophet’s chief aim was to bring the spirit of religion into every day life. The people, who were growing visionary in spiritual matters, were given something tangible to do. ‘ The long forgotten ideals of their ancient faith once again blossomed into beautiful /realities. It was not a new message that was
brought, for the spiritual necessity of purity in thought, word and deed permeates all Ancient Aryan teaching ; but Zoroaster gave it with new force and insistence.

” Purity is for man, next to life, the greatest good – that purity is procured by the law of Mazda to him who cleanses his own self with Good Thoughts, Words and Deeds.

“Make thyself pure, O righteous man! Anyone in the world here below can win purity for himself, namely, when he cleanses himself with Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds.

“Commit no slander, so that infamy and wickedness may not happen unto thee. For it ¦is said that slander is more grievous than witchcraft.

“Form no covetous desire, so Jiiat the demons •of greediness may not deceive thee, and the treasure of sthe world may not be tasteless to thee.

“Indulge in no wrathfulness, for a man when he ‘indulges in wrath becomes then forgetful of his duty
and good works and sin and crime of every kind occur1 unto his mind, and until the subsiding ofi the wrath he is said to be just like unto Ahriman-(the devil.)

“Commit no lustfulness,,so that harm and regret: may not reach thee from thine own actions.

“Bear no improper envy, so that thy life may’ not become tasteless.

“Indulge not in slothfulness that the duty and good work which thou shouldst do may not remain-undone.

“With enemies fight with equity, with a friend proceed with the approval of friends. With a malicious man carry on no conflict and do- not molest him in any way whatever. With a greedy man thou shouldst not be a partner and do not trust him with the leadership. With an ill-famed man form no connection. With an ignorant man thou shouldst not “become a confederate and associate. With a foolish man make no dispute. With a drunken man do not walk on the road. From an ill-natured man take no loan.

“Thou shouldst not become presumptuous

through any happiness of the world, for the happiness of the world is like as a cloud that comes on a rainy day, which one does not ward off by any hill.

“Thou shouldst not become presumptuous-

through much treasure and wealth, for in the end it. is necessary for thee to leave all.

“Thou shouldst. not become presumptuous through great connections and race, for in the end thy trust is on thine own deeds.

“Thou shouldst not become presumptuous through life, for death comes upon thee at last and the perishable part falls to the ground.”

Such are some of the fundamental commandments of the Zoroastrian faith, which show us how high was their standard of morality and how erroneous is the prevailing idea in the West that Parsis are mere fire or sun-worshippers. One can as well call the Christians cross-worshippers. A Parsi scholar in •referring to this writes : ” It is popularly believed that the Parsis are sun-worshippers or fire-worshippers, and thus once more do we stumble up against the old fallacy of confusing the symbol with the idea it represents – the shadow with the substance. In brief, •fire is always fire to the Parsis, but it is sacred in so far as it symbolizes the great truth of purification, the divine law. And the fire temples, where fire is kept constantly alight by burning sandalwood and incense, are symbolical and intended to remind them of the wise maxim, ‘ Try and live a pure life by Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds.’ This maxim may indeed be said to contain the whole essence and substance of the Zoroastrian teaching.” In the Vedic Scriptures also fire is regarded as one of the most perfect symbols of the Infinite because it swallows up all impurities, remaining itself pure and uncontaminated.

Zoroaster’s influence did not die with his bodily
death but it continued to inspire and glorify his race, lifting Persia to such great eminence among the civilized nations of ancient times that Max Muller even claims that had Darius conquered Alexander the Great at the battle of Marathon, a pure form of Zoroastrianism would have driven out the whole Greek pantheon. From century to century the new faith continued to flourish and gain ground until the Arabs struck it a death blow at the battle of Nehavand in 642
A.D. From that time Persia became a Mohammedan country while a mere remnant of faithful followers of the prophet of Iran, unwilling to adopt the new creed, took refuge on the western shores of India. Thus driven out from their own soil, they once more found shelter with their Aryan brothers from whom they had parted long before. Hear they have lived ever since, freely and independently, building their own temples and continuing to worship their Supreme Deity according to their own ancient customs. The Hindus have not accepted the religion of the Parsis, nor have they tried to influence the Parsis by their own religion, for India has always been the land of tolerance. The very basis of Indo-Aryan civilization indeed is universal sympathy. The Vedic philosophy and religion give a. wide platform on which all the different races, creeds, denominations and faiths of the world can stand and recognize the One Divine Spirit as the common Father of all.

Zoroaster is not the name of an individual, just as Christ or Buddha is not the name of an individual; it means a state. Zoroaster signifies ” Righteous.” Some also give to it the meaning ” Holy Singer, ” one who came and dedicated his life to singing the glory of Ahura, the Lord of Light. The truths which this great prophet brought still live and inspire men ; so although we may not know positively from an historical standpoint who he was, what he was, how long he lived, we know that his message of Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds not only uplifted his own community or race, but it sounds a note which reaches all races, all peoples. And if we take the essence of that which he gave, we may uplift ourselves and realize that Supreme Spirit, Whom he called Ahura-Mazda and Whose Symbol he proclaimed as Fire. Let us too light an altar fire in our hearts, the Fire of Love and Wisdom, and cherish it with pure thought, good words and right action, that we-may be cleansed of all impurity and attain that Highest Goal to which all true religion leads.


By Swami Abhedananda.

THE religion’of Jesus the Christ was not like the orthodox Christianity of to-day; neither did it resemble the faith of the Jewish nation. His religion was a great departure from Judaism in principles and ideals, as well as in the means of attaining them. It was much simpler in form and more sublime in nature. The religion that Christ taught had neither dogma, creed, system, nor theology. It was a religion without priests, without ceremonials, yithout rituals, or even strict observances of the Jewish laws.

As in India Buddha rebelled against the ceremonials, rituals, and priestcraft of the Brahmans and introduced a simpler form of worship and a religion of the heart, so among the Jews, nearly five hundred years after Buddha, Jesus of Nazareth rebelled against the priestcraft of Judaism. Jesus saw the insufficiency of the Jewish ethics and ideals and the corruption and the hypocrisy of the priests. He wished to reform the religion of his country and to establish a simpler and purer form of worship of the Supreme Being, which should rest entirely upon the feelings of the heart, not upon the letter of the law.

The God of Jesus was not the cruel and revengeful tribal deity of the house of Israel; He was the

* A lecture.

Universal Spirit. He was not like the tyrannical master of modern orthodoxy, who kills, damns, or saves mankind according to his whim; He was a loving Father. Jesus’s worship consisted not in ceremonials, but in direct communion between his soul and the Father, without any priestly intermediary. The idea of God as the ” Father in heaven ” did not, however, originate with Jesus the Christ, as modern Christians generally believe; it existed in the religious atmosphere of northern Palestine as a result of the Hellenic influence of the worship of Jupiter – Greek, .Zeus-pitar; Sanskrit, Dyus-pitar, which means 4t Father in heaven,” and hence Father of Universe. The worship of Jupiter was introduced into Babylon and northern Palestine by Antiochus Epiphanes between 175 and 163 B.C. Although the orthodox Jews revolted against this innovation, yet there were many liberal-minded Jews among the Pharisees who liked the idea, accepted it, and preached it. One of the most prominent of the Jewish priests, who was considered by many as the true master and predecessor of Jesus and who was held in great esteem by the Pharisaic sect of the Jews, inculcated this belief in the merciful and fatherly character of God. His name was Rabbi Hillel. The Talmud speaks of this Babylonish teacher in glowing terms, declaring that he was next to the prophet Ezra. It was Hillel who first preached the Golden Rule among the Jews. He used to spend much time in meditation and study, and recommended such practices to his
disciples. Hillel died when Jesus was about ten years old. ‘

Thus we see that the idea of the Fatherhood of God existed in northern Palestine at the time of Jesus, and was preached in public by Rabbi Hillel. Moreover, at the same time Philo and other Neo-Platonist Jews in Alexandria were teaching the fatherly character of God and the only-begotten Sonship of the Logos, or Word/ Both the Fatherhood of God and the Son-ship of the Word were known to the Greeks and other Aryan nations, especially the Hindus’of ancient India. Jesus of Nazareth took up this grand Aryan idea and emphasized it more strongly than any of his predecessors in Palestine.

At the time that Jesus appeared in Galilee the religious atmosphere of the place was permeated with Persian doctrines, Hellenic ideas, Pythagorean thoughts, and the precepts of the Essenes, Thera-peutae, Gymnosophists, and the Buddhists of India. Galilee was aglow with the fire of religious enthusiasm, ‘kindled by the ardour of social and political dissensions. The Jews were already divided into three principal sects – the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Essenes. Each of these was trying to gain supremacy and power over the others. The Sadducees were the conservative and aristocratic class, while the Pharisees and the Essenes were essentially liberal. It was a time of great disturbance – of intrigues, insurrections, rebellions, and wars. Such a period naturally kindles tfhe fire of patriotism in the hearts of a nation and lorcesits members to become active in every possible way. The misfortunes and calamities that befell the descendants of Israel made them remember the promises of Jahveh which were handed down to them through the writings of the prophets, and forced them to seek supernatural aid in the fulfilment of those promises. The unconquerable pride of the sons of Israel – that they were the ” chosen people ” of Jahveh the only true God, who was their governor and director – stimulated their minds with the hope that through the supernatural power of Jahveh, the kingdom of their great ancestors would be restored : that a member of David’s house would appear as the Messiah (the Anointed), sit on the throne, and unite the twelve tribes of Israel under his sceptre, and govern them in peace and prosperity. This was the* first conception of Messiah that ever arose in the minds of the Jews. It was the principal theme of the poets and prophets who lived during the Babylonian exile. The glory of the house of Israel and the earthly prosperity of the sons of Jahveh were the highest ideals of the Jews. They did not mean by Messiah a spiritual Saviour of the world. The Christian idea of this term owes its origin to the Zoroastrian conception of the “coming Messiah ” Soshiyanta, who, according to the promise of Ahura-Mazda, would appear on the Day of Judgment, destroy the evil influence of Ahriman, and renovate the world. This idea was accepted by the Pharisees, while the orthodox Jews repudiated it.

Although the mind of Jesus, according to the synoptic Gospels, was not free from the superstitious beliefs of the Jews, and the national traditions of his time; although he accepted the Zoroastrian conception of a ” coming Messiah ” that the end of the world was immanent, as well as the Persian ideas (which did not exist in Judaism before the Babylonian captivity) of the renovation of the world, the .immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the dead, the Day of Judgment, the punishment of the wicked, and the salvation of the righteous ; although Jesus believed with the Pharisees in the Persian conception of heaven and hell and the devil, and saw many angels ascending and descending over his head – yet he realized that the kingdom of God was a spiritual kingdom : that it was within himself. He felt the presence of the Father within him, and asked his disciples to feel likewise. The Jews understood by the kingdom of Jahveh the kingdom of this world and the prosperity of the’ house of Israel. But Jesus spiritualized that ideal and taught a reign of righteousness and justice; not a- reign of strife between nations, but a kingdom of peace and love. Jesus preached this idea among his people in the same way that Buddha declared that he came to; establish a kingdom of peace and love,and righteousness upon earth. Buddha did not use the expression ” kingdom of God,” but preferably ” kingdom of justice, peace, and love.” Jesus had to use the former expression because it was dominant in the minds of the people about him. ,

These ideas regarding a kingdom of peace and love were scattered in northern Palestine for at least two centuries before the Christian Era by the Buddhist missionaries. It is indeed a well-known historic fact that the gospel of peace, good-will and love was preached in Syria and Palestine by Buddhist monks nearly two hundred years before Christ. Their influence was felt most deeply by the Jewish sect called the Essenes, or the Therapeutae, to which sect, as many scholars believe, Jesus himself belonged. It is interesting to note the similarities between the Essenes-and the followers of Buddha. The Buddhists were also called Theraputta, a Pali form of the Sanskrit Sthiraputtra, meaning the son of Sthera, or Thera : One who is serene, enlightened, and undisturbed by the world. Thera was one of Buddha’s names. These people had the power to heal disease.

Readers of the history of India are aware that in 249 B C Asoka the Great, the Buddhist emperor, made Buddhism the state religion of India and sent missionaries to all parts of the world then known to him to preach the gospel of Buddha. He sent missionaries from Siberia to Ceylon, and from China to Egypt. These missionaries preached the doctrines of Buddhism, not by bloodshed and sword, but by scattering blessings, good-will, and peace • wherever they went. The edicts or stone inscriptions of Asoka were written during his lifetime. One of these edicts mentions five* Greek kings who were Asoka’s contemporaries, – Antiochus of Syria, Ptolemaos of Egypt,.

Antigonus of Macedon, Magas of Cyrene, and Alexander of Epiros. The edict says that Asoka made treaties with these kings and sent Buddhist missionaries to their kingdoms to preach the gospel of Buddha. «* Both here and in foreign countries/’ says Asoka, ” everywhere the people follow the doctrine of the Beloved of the gods, wheresoever it reacheth.” Mahaffi; the Christian historian, says : <c The Buddhist missionaries preached in Syria two centuries before the teaching of Christ, which has so much in common (with the teaching of Buddha), was heard in northern Palestine.” <

The labour of these Buddhist monks were not fruitless in these places. They continued to preach through parables the highest ideals of religion, from generation to generation. Their communities, bound to a life of celibacy, which was not a Jewish custom, increased from age to age as outsiders joined their ranks. Even the Alexandrian Neo-Platonist Philo, who was a contemporary of Christ, mentions in his writings once or twice the ” Indian Gymriosophists,” or Buddhists, and says that the Essenes numbered about four thousand at that time. The doctrines of the Essenes, their manner of living, and the vows of their communities show the results of the Buddhist missionary work during the two centuries immediately preceding the birth of Christ. Pliny says : – “ The Essenes live on the western shore of the Dead Sea. They are a hermit clan – one marvellous beyond all others in the world, without any women, without the joys of domestic life, without money, and the associates of the palm-trees.”

One of the peculiar practices of the Essenes was the bath of purification, which was also a peculiarity of the Buddhist monks. The life led by John the Baptist was typical of that • of a Buddhist monk. Exactly like a Buddhist, the Essene rose before sunrise ‘ and said his morning prayers with his face turned towards the East. When the day broke he went to work. Agriculture, cattle-breeding, beekeeping, and other peaceful trades were among his ordinary occupations. He remained at work until 11 o’clock ; then he took a bath, put on ^ite linen, and ate plain vegetable food. The Essenes abstained from meat and wine. They also wore leather aprons, as did some of the Buddhist monks. The Essene novice took solemn oath to honor God, to be just toward his fellow-man, to injure no one either of his own accord or by order of others, not to associate with the unrighteous, to assist the righteous, to be ever faithful to all, always to love truth, to keep his hands from theft and his soul from unholy gain. There were some who joined* the order after having lived a married life.

Ernest Renan says : ” The Essenes resembled the Gurus (spiritual masters) of Brahmanism. ” ” In fact ” he asks, “might there not in this be a remote influence of the Mounis (holy saints of India)?” According to Renan, “Babylon had become for some time a true focus of Buddhism. Boudasp (Bodhisatta), another name of Buddha, was reputed a wise Chaldean and the founder of Sabeism, which means, as its etymology indicates, baptism.” He also says: ” We may believe, at all events, that many of the external practices of John, of the Essenes, and of the Jewish spiritual teachers of the time were derived from influences then but recently received from the far East” – meaning India. Thus we can understand that there was an indirect influence of the Buddhist monks upon the mind of JesuS through the Essenes, and especially through John the Baptist.

Although Jesus never pretended to have created •the world, nor to govern it, yet his. followers worshipped and loved him as the Messiah; and later on’ the writer of the fourth Gospel identified him with the ” Word ” or Logos, of Philo, about the latter part of the third century of thet Christian Era. According to the synoptic Gospels, the idea of the advent of the end of the world and of the reign of justice and the kingdom of God grew so strong in the mind of Jesus that apparently it forced him to think that he – the Son and the bosom friend of his Father- – must be*the executor of God’s decrees, and that through him*such a kingdom of justice and goodness’ should be established. This thought gradually led him- to believe that, as he was the Son of .God, he should be the universal Reformer, born to establish the- kingdom of God.

The fundamental principles of the religion of Jesus, however, were purity,’charity, self-denial, control of passions, renunciation of and non-attachment to wealth and to earthly things, intense faith, forgiveness and love for enemies, and the realization of the unity of the soul with the ” Father in Heaven.” During the one year of his public life as a spiritual teacher, Jesus taught his disciples these principles and showed them the way to practice them by his living example. But all these grand ethical and spiritual doctrines, upon which the religion of Jesus was founded, were practised for nearly three centuries before Christ by the Buddhist preachers in Babylon and Syria, and they were taught in India for ages before that. The same ideas were inculcated by the Vedic sages, by the Vedanta philosopher^, and afterwards by the Avataras, or Incarnations of God, like Rama, Krishna (who lived about 1400 B.C.), Buddha (547 B.C.), Sankara, Chaitannya, and Nanak, and also by Ramakrishna of the nineteenth century. If we study the lives of these men, we find that, like Jesus, each one of them lived a pure, spotless, and unselfish life of renunciation, always loving humanity and doing good to all.

*Those who have read the doctrines of Buddha know that the ethical teachings of Jesus seem like repetitions of what Buddha taught. Those who have read the Bhagavat Gita, or the Song Celestial, will remember that the fundamental principles of Krishna’s teachings were purity of heart, self-denial, control of passions, renunciation, love towards enemies, forgiveness, and the realization of the unity of the soul with

the Father. In short, the religion of Christ was taught before Him by Buddha and Krishna in India. Like -Jesus the Christ, Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita: “I am the path. Follow me and worship one God., I existed before the world was created. I am the * Lord of all.” And again: ” Giving up the
formalities of religion, come unto me; follow me
; take refuge in me. I shall free thee from sins and give eternal’ peace unto thee. Grieve not.” . ,

But although Jesus the Christ did not teach a. new religion, still he came to fulfil and not to destroy. He gave a new life to the old truths, and by his, wonderful personality impressed them upon the minds, of his own people. ( ‘


By Swami Bodhananda.*

HINDUISM is a very old religion. Scholars have failed to assign any date to its beginning. The Vedas are the source of this religion, or it may be said to have existed since the first Vedic inspiration. By Hinduism we must not understand a religion that shows the way to liberation alone, but it is the science of the origin, growth, and maturity of all the relations between God and man, between soul and soul. It does not consist in dogmas and doctrines, but teaches us how to realize the fundamental harmony that underlies all phenomena. In this sense it is eternal. So long as there has been creation, there has been this religion also. It is the very backbone of the universe.

According to the Hindus, the Vedas are not the work qf man. They are the accumulated treasury of the knowledge that has been revealed to the saints and sages of all countries and all times. The Hindus do not take anything merely on personal authority, but on principle. They know that truth is eternal -and unchangeable, and from whatever source it comes it is acceptable to them. They have solved the problem of existence and discovered the grand unity that is the background of all variety. They * A contribution to the ” Vedanta Monthly Bulletin.”

hate no religion, criticise no creed, but harmonize all the methods of self-knowledge or God-consciousness* from the stand-point of ultimate unity.

The Vedas declare, ” That which exists is one; sages call it by vari’ous names.” The whole universe is the projection of Brahman. He- is the material and efficient cause of the universe. He has not made it (in the manner of a potter or a goldsmith) out of a material that existed beside himself, but he has manifested himself in the form of the universe. Since He is one without a second, nothing could exist where He was not. Hence, the Hindus say, creation is eternal. They do not admit of the beginning of creation, because ” beginningv means something coming into existenge that did not exist before. They believe in cycles, i.e., the projection of the universe out of Brahman, its existence in the manifested form . for a length of time, and its dissolution into Brahman again. In admitting the beginning of creation there would be a great fallacy. In the first place, that would make Brahman cruel and partial. Because ” beginning of creation ” means beginning of Karma. Why did he create Karma that binds us and subjects us to’all sorts of sorrows and sufferings ? Why in His reign should there be inequalities and iniquities ? The Vedas say Karma is eternal. It eternally rests in Brahman. In the dissolution, Karma remains in seed-form; in the projection, it sprouts up and bears fruit. If Karma is eternal, is there, then, no escape from it ? Yes! By knowing Brahman we can escape the
clutches ot Karma. Knowledge is the only means to go out of Karma. In the second place, beginning of creation would make Brahman limited. What would He create if. He is the only entity that exists ? Why should He have desire for creation ? He is full and perfect. He wants nothing. If He should want anything He would no longer be infinite and free, but bound and limited. The Vedanta solves the problem in this way. It says the’ universe is projected from Brahman and is dissolved into Him without any desire or effort on His part, as we inhale and exhale without any voluntary effort whatsoever.

Brahman is characterized by Sat, Chit, and Ananda, t. e., He is Existence absolute, Knowledge absolute, and Bliss absolute. But the question naturally arises, If Brahman is existence, knowledge, and bliss, whence do all these evils (relativities and dualities) come ? The Vedas declare there is no such thing as evil. It is ignorance, delusion, that makes us see evils. This delusion is an inscrutable and mysterious force resting in Brahman. It is beginningless in itself, but it has an end. With knowledge it ceases to exist, for the individual. The dispersion of this delusion or attainment of knowledge is the one great task in our life. r

It may be further argued, if Brahman is sometimes manifested and sometimes unmanifested, then He is subject to change, and as such unreal. No. These are the different states of Brahman. As a Snake is
now moving and how motionless, but is the same snake all the time, so it is the same Brahman with different forms. The sea with waves and the
sek without waves is still the same sea. The sum-total is constant and invariable. This is the Vedic conception of creation and creator.

Besides the Vedas, the Hindus have a number of other Scriptures known as the Smritis and Puranas The word ” Smritis ” means ” things remembered.” They embody the traditional or memorial laws and institutions handed down by inspired legislators. These laws and institutions are not eternal and universal. They change with the change of circumstances. They do not hold good for all ages and all countries. The ancient Hindu sages knew that human mind always adapts itself to” environments. What is good under a peculiar condition may not be good under a different condition. So they laid down special laws suited to the special social conditions of a certain epoch. These Smritis are recognized as true in so far as they do not disagree with the Vedas. If any part of them differ from the Vedas, that part is rejected. So we see these Scriptures have no eternal value. They change in every stage of social evolution, and as such have a local and temporary value only. The Puranas comprise the whole body of Hindu mythology ; – ancient history, legends, traditions, symbols, etc., etc.

Thus we see that the Scriptures of the Hindus are divided into philosophy, ritual, and mythology.

The plilosophic portion is based upon the Vedas, the ritualistic portion is embodied in the Smritis, and the mythological portion in the Puranas. These divisions show the deep insight of the Hindu teachers into the various natures and dispositions of human-mind, and the various conditions through which a human society evolves. For each stage of evolution they prescribed special laws and conditions. As one dish cannot suit the taste of all persons, so one mode of thought or religion cannot suit the taste of the whole human race. Different individuals must have different creeds, according to their individual nature, tendency, and capacity. The Hindus at a very ancient time discovered that all religions lead to the same goal. The Hindu child is taught to chant in* his daily hymn: “As the different streams rising from different sources all flow into the sea, so, O Lord, thou art the one goal for the different paths of religion that human mind takes through different inclinations.* *

In a Hindu family each member may have his own-creed. The husband may be an Advaitist (monist), the wife a Dvaitist (dualist), and the son or daughter a Vishistadwaitist (qualified monist). They never quarrel because of their difference of creed. They know that purity or sincerity of heart is the only thing necessary to attain to knowledge or to see God. God is omniscient and all-merciful. He looks through our heart. He resides in our heart. If the heart is pure, if it is full of devotion and love, He is sure to
come to us. He does not care for external forms of worship. Call Him father or mother, friend or master, it makes no difference to Him. The Hindus are thus wonderfully liberal and tolerant in matters of faith. They know that we, every one of us, are children of God and are sure to reach Him sooner or later. Every individual has started from God and is sure to end the march in ‘God. From the highest flight of Vedantic monism down to the grossest form of fetishism and materialism, each one has a place in the Religion of the Hindus. They know that different methods are necessary for different individual conditions. From the perfected man down to the smallest worm, each one is manifestation of Brahman. The difference lies in degree and not in kind. The one thread runs through the whole string of manifestation.

Their philosophy says that in nature there are three elements, satva, rajas, and tamas. The characteristic of satva is illumination, of rajas activity, and of tamas darkness. The whole range of creation ;is comprised in these elements. Every individual is straggling to manifest himself, to perfect himself. This is the Hindu idea of Evolution. In every individual there is soul which by its nature is bright and luminous but is covered by the veil of nature. The whole struggle is to ‘break through this veil. Absolutely there is no difference between individuals and individuals. Each one will attain perfection sooner or later. Taking his stand on this broad conciliatory

principle ot synthesis, the Hindu says even the atheist or the materialist is not without religion. The materialist believes in matter as a constant entity. The Deist believes in God. Both believe in something. That man is really atheistic who does not believe even in himself, in his judgment, reasoning, etc. He believes his conclusion to be true and infallible which is the result of his own judgment, which again is the outcome of the consciousness of his Self or Ego. Why would he not allow another man to believe in his own consciousness when it tells him that there is an entity like God or Brahman or Soul ? The materialist or atheist is as much a believer in some permanent entity as the theist or Deist. The Hindu calls that man an atheist who can deny his own existence, which is impossible. For by what will he deny himself ? The sense of ego per-meats all his actions and thoughts. So according to the Hindu the term atheist is a misnomer in the sense of an unbeliever. This ego is a permanent quantity. _ *

The Hindu conception pf theism is based upon the belief in an eternal entity. Call him by any name – :God or nature or reasoning or soul. It does not matter in the least. The Hindu Scriptures emphatically say God is personal and impersonal and beyond them all. He is with name and form if you choose to think Him so. He is without name and form if you call Him so. Name and* form are mere superimpositions, limitations. He is the absolute existence, ithe permanent basis, the noumenon behind all changes, all manifestations and all phenomena.

Now a word about Hindu image worship or symbol worship or idolatry. The Hindu is never a worshipper of idols, but he worships an ideal. In his idol he sees the representation of his ideal. His idols are never awkward or ugly. They are very beautiful and attractive. They call th6ir idols Devas or Devis (bright and beautiful ones). They do not look upon them as made of stone or clay or wood, but they always see their highest ideals manifested in them. They worship these imagea with love and devotion and ascribe to them all the divine qualities, such as all-powerfulness, omnipresence, omniscience. They regard them as spiritual helpers, and practise concentration on those divine images. In their temples one will always find a holy association, a holy vibration, a holy atmosphere.

We, every one of us, are more or less image-worshippers. Some worship a mental image, some a material image. The one internal and the other external, or the one concrete, the other abstract. The Hindu knows that our mind is always scattered on external objects. He gathers together that scattered mind and fixes it on an external object’ first, which is very attractive and beautiful, and gradually concentrates it on an internal image or object or quality. His idea is to go from the concrete to the abstract and from the abstract to the absolute. His process is always slow and steady. Because a violent process always brings a nervous disorder. When he has been able to concentrate on an external concrete image which to him is very lovely and holy, he passes on slowly and puts his mind on an internal or abstract image or quality; and when he has become well practised in that, he sends his mind on to the absolute which is superconsciousness. This is the Hindu idea of image-worship. Now, he uses some words in his worship which also represent an ideal. In these short words he puts a large sense. He uses one word, say, for three or four sentences* The whole essence of those sentences is compressed” in that one word. That one word is therefore very sacred and valuable to him. He repeats it and thinks of its meaning and thus saves a good deal of time and strain. The image worship and the symbol-worship show the artistic and economic side of Hindu mind. These images and forms are the perfections of Hindu art. Of course now-a-days one may find caricatures, distortions, and abuses of these images, but these are more due to the degeneration of Hindu art for want of culture and encouragement than to the fault of the Hindu conception of idol worship or form worship. Idol worship or symbol worship is not in fault at all; the men into whose hands it has fallen are altogether responsible for these misrepresentations and misinterpretations.

To the Hindus religion is a practical thing. It is a matter of life, a matter of realization with them. As in the moral world, laws are necessary as means
to enable us to go beyond laws, so in the religious world symbols and usages and images are necessary, as means to enable us to reach the end of realization. No amount of laws can make a people moral and good unless they feel from their heart the necessity of being moral and good. The government is making so many laws, the society so many restrictions, but why are the people still immoral, still vicious ? The secret of making a people moral does not necessarily lie in enforcing external laws, but in changing their habits by awakening in them the sense of a dignified manliness. Unless and until they can be roused to that sense of dignity and self-respect there can be no true morality for them. This is the Hindu idea of morality, to go beyond laws through laws. The Hindu does not like the idea of being kept down by a whip or by fear of punishment. He believes in natural growth and unfoldment. According to him, unless a man can think that he is part of God, that he is pure and perfect by nature, he cannot be truly moral. Liberty is the condition of .growth. Give liberty, give high suggestions, and everything will come right. If we really want to make a man moral we must * rouse this lofty consciousness in . him, we must suggest to him that he is not sinful, he is not vicious, but he is pure and perfect. The Hindu always sees divinity in man. He loves all men as gods on earth. He hates none, he injures none. His whole struggle in life is to feel religion, to live religion, td make it his blood and pith, and
marrow, and to help others to realize this ideal ok religion.

Whenever there is any extraordinary manifestation of prowess, valor, skill, purity or love, the Hindu worships it as God. He worships Rama, he worships Krishna, he worships Buddha, Jesus and Sankara ; he adores Vyasa, Mapila, Socrates, Plato and Kant. He admires the genius of Bhaskara, Kalidas, Shakespeare, Napoleon, Nelson, Newton, Faraday, Galileo and Marconi. He sees the manifestation of the absolute Brahman in all these teachers and philosophers and heroes and scientists. He knows that holiness* purity and perfection are not the exclusive possession of a country or nation. Wherever and whenever there is any necessity for them, they manifest themselves.

The Hindu teachers have taught four principal ways of attaining to God : by knowledge, by devotion, by unselfish work and by meditation. Those who take up the way of knowledge practise discrimination and dispassion. They always distinguish the right from the wrong, the real from the unreal. They say that the universe is unreal and Brahman or God is real; and according to them, becoming one with Brahman is the highest freedom, greatest bliss. Those who choose the path of devotion worship God in some form, either as an incarnation or teacher or hero or the Lord of the universe. They establish some relation with their God and through intense love they try to reach Him. They call Him father, mother*

Lord, or friend or any other sweet name, and think Him as the nearest and dearest to them. They give up everything in the world in their devotion to Him. The unselfish workers look upon work as the be-all and end-all of their life. They do not even care for their own salvation. They are ready to serve humav nity at the cost of their health and wealth and life. They forget all selfish considerations in their sympathy for humanity. The way of meditation consists in the eight-fold practice, like posture, breathing, concentration, attention, etc. Those who follow this way observe some restrictions of food, habitation and action. They are very moderate in everything. The Hindus look upon these paths as so many radii of a circle. They start from different places but all converge to the same centre. Sri Krishna, the great harmonizer of creeds, practised in his own life all these methods and declared : ” Through whatever way men follow me I reach them in that way. They are all coming unto me (knowingly or unknowingly).” As the sun is the one great source of heat and light, so the one, infinite God is the source of all true knowledge.

Hinduism is thus the great synthesis of religions. Within its wide arms all the creeds and faiths of the world are welcome. It excludes none, but harmonizes all, sympathizes with all. The one thing that it avoids is sectarianism, bigotry and insincerity. Its watchword is ” peace and not fight, love and not hatred, co-operation and not disintegration.”

Universality and practicality are its cniei teatures. it shows the ways to material, moral, intellectual and spiritual advancement. It lays down special duties for special conditions of life and the methods of fulfilment of those duties. It wants us to be strong and straightforward, to be loving and energetic, to be pure and sincere. Its goal is freedom of self-realization.


By Swami Bodhananda

CHINA defies the world in three things, – her age,population, and industries. The Chinese come from the Turanian race, that migrated from Western Asia and settled on the banks of the Hoang-Ho 4,000 years before Christ. The recorded history of China goes as far Backas that age and her civilization is one of the oldest in the world. The Chinese population is over 400,000,000, or more than one-fourth of the whole human race. Chinese industries are famous all over the world. The Wall of China is one of the great wonders of the world. It was built in the ‘third century B.C., to protect the country against invasions. It is i,2oo miles long, twenty-five feet high and broad enough to permit six horsemen to ride abreast. It is said that ” in it there is enough material to build a belt six feet high and two feet wide that would reach twice around the world.”

The Chinese are the most moral nation in the world. In China there is only one criminal in every 3,787 ; while in Scotland, one of the most civilized Christian countries, one in every sixty is a criminal. Among Mohammedans one is a criminal in every 856.

In China only one is a criminal in every 3,787 of the masses, and still your people send missionaries to

* Abstract of a lecture delivered in America.

China. You who have read Chinese history will recall how it is said that in spite of the preceding Greek and Roman civilizations and 1,300 years of Christian teaching, Europe in the fourteenth century was 2,ooo years behind the China of Confucius. You may have also read how the Prime Minister of China, during the opium war over sixty years ago, wrote to Queen Victoria, imploring her not to import opium into-China – an article she would not have introduced into* her own country. He said, in part: We think you are a good and gracious Queen, but why do you want to do that to others which you would not have done* to yourself ?This was one of the first teachings of Confucius and the Chinese endeavor to live up to it. Confucius was born in 551 B. C., in the State of Loo. The sixth century B.C. is a remarkable period in the history of the world. It saw the birth of Buddha in * India, of Pythagoras in Greece, and of Confucius in China. Royalty was abolished in Rome in 509 B. C.»« the last Roman King, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, being deposed and driven out in that year. Democracy was established in Greece, and the Jews were delivered from the Babylonian captivity by the Persian Emperor, Cyrus the Great, in this century.

The father of Confucius, Shooh Leang Hie, was. a military officer. He was a man of Herculean strength. Report says that once, when his men besieged a city, the gates were piirposely thrown open to entice them in and as soon as they entered the portcullis dropped. But Shooh Leang Hie by
his giant force raised it and held it up until all were out and thus saved them from instant death.

When seventy years old he married a second’ time. He was a widower and had nine daughters, but he thought of perpetuating himself, through, a son. He went to the family of Yen (one of the most respectable Chinese families) and applied for a daughter. There were three marriageable girls but the-age of the suitor was against him. The father, Yen interceded for the noble man and pointed out to his daughters the virtues that adorned his hoary head. He said : “He is old and austere, but you need have no .misgivings about him; which of you will have him ? ” The older daughters answered not a word, but the youngest maiden, Chingtsze said, “Why do you ask us, father? It is for you to determine.”‘ “Very well,” said her father in reply, ” you will do it.” She accordingly married Shooh Leang Hie and within a year there was born to her the now world-renowned reformer, Confucius. ,

When Confucius was three years old his father died. His mother was a very clever and good woman.. She devoted all her energies to the training of her son. At fifteen he had learned all that his . masters were able to teach him. , When seventeen, he accepted the position of magistrate and revenue collector in an agricultural: .district. At the, request of his mother he married when nineteen. He had a*. son and a daughter. The duties of office required! his separation from his wife after’ four years of
marriage. His mother died when he was twenty-three years old. He resigned his position and shut himself -up in his house to spend in solitude the three years of mourning for his mother. This was the custom in that country. He spent these three years in study and contemplation. Then he traveled through the country. Two distinct periods of his life were spent in travels. In these wanderings he used to be accompanied by three disciples. He divided his ^disciples into four classes. To the first he taught morals, to the second rhetoric, to the third politics, and to the fourth the style of written composition. Confucius was a great moral and political reformer; he was not a religious teacher. His older, contemporary, Lao-Tze, was an ascetic and his teachings were mystic, monistic and transcendental, while those of “Confucious Were dualistic, agnostic and practical. He taught practical ethics.

When he was traveling one day he saw an old woman weeping by a tomb. He sent one of the disciples to inquire the cause. She said her husband, father-in-law and son were killed by a tiger in that place. The disciple said, ” Why don’t you then remove from here ? ” The woman replied, ” Because here there is no oppressive government.” On hearing this from the disciple, Confucius remarked, ” An oppressive government is really fiercer than a tiger.’ Another time, when visiting statues in a royal palace, he saw a big metal statue of a man with a triple clasp •on the mouth. On the Backof the statue were inscribed
these words : ” The ancient people spoke little and* like them we should avoid loquacity. Many words-invite many defeats. Those who talk much are sure to say something it would be better to have left unsaid.” He drew the attention of the disciples to-* these words and said, ” Observe, my children, these words are true and commend themselves to our reason.” On another occasion he arrived at the summit of a mountain, and, looking below, he heaved; a heavy sigh as of pain. The disciples inquired the cause and he sadly said: ” My children, looking: from this height on people below. I find they are • continually running after worldly pursuits and trying to get ahead of each other. There is scarcely one* who is not thinking how he can best gain advantage over and if necessary destroy his neighbor. Sadder still it is to be incapable and helpless to remedy the • evil. You have probably thought this matter over. Tell me in turn what you would do if you had the power.” One of them replied: ” I would defend the weak and the oppressed and, if necessary, would conquer and execute the oppressor and thus establish right and order.” *c You speak as a soldier,” Confucius -quietly commented. The second disciple then said :
I would throw myself between the contending parties-and dilate on the horrors of war and blessings of peace, the ignominy of defeat and the miseries brought on the bereaved widows and orphans and thus establish peace.” “You are an orator,” said Confucius.. The third, after much reluctance, gave this opinion : .

I would, if possible, educate and elevate these people by my life and example.” ” You speak like a sage,” was the master’s reply.

When fifty-one years old, Confucius obtained a splendid position in his native State of Loo. He was appointed Minister of Crime by the Duke of that State. He discharged his duties so ably and well that crime practically ceased. Dr. Legge says, “The penal laws lay unused, for no offenders^ appeared. Dishonesty and dissoluteness were ashamed and hid their heads.” This prince was very much devoted to Confucius. About this time he had among his disciples 500 mandarins. But the prosperity and success of this State awakened the jealousy and fears of the Duke of the neighboring State of Tsze. He at first tried various methods to turn the Duke of Loo from his able minister but all these failed. At last he devised a plan which succeeded. He sent a present of eighty beautiful maidens to the Duke of Loo whose duty it was to recall the Duke from public duties to the enjoyment of personal pleasures. The Duke now listened to his minister with scant attention. His suggestions were neglected, his advice was spurned. He was too high spirited a man to accept such treatment, yet he was loath to resign a post that enabled him to do so much good to his country. But he could not stand idly by and see the Duke openly defy the laws and treat him with contempt. He finally resigned his post and left the capital.

He then recommenced his travels. But this time

his wanderings were unpropitious and he was not appreciated. State after State refused him appointment. At last, when sixty-nine years old, he returned to Loo and devoted the remaining few years of his .life to the completion of his literary works and teaching disciples. Confucius died when seventy-two years old (in 479 B.C.). He was buried with great pomp and multitudes observed mourning for three years. The Empress of the Shun dynasty erected a marble statue on his grave, which bore this inscription : ” The most sagely ancient Teacher. The allaccomplished and all-informed King.” The eighteenth day of the second moon is kept sacred by the Chinese as the anniversary of his death. , A few days before his death, his son and a favourite disciple died. He was saddened by these bereavements and one morning, rising from his bed he said : –

” The great mountain must crumble,

The strong beam must break,

The wise man wither away as a plant.”

The same evening he took sick and in a few days died. ‘

Confucius was silent on all theological and ‘metaphysical questions. To all such questions his one reply was: “Do your duty.” He did not localize or recognize heaven, hell or purgatory. The Chinese word for ” heaven” is Shaingte, which means neither a person nor a place, but the universal spirit or life – or the law that governs all things. To him the universe was a stupendous mechanism. He did .not believe in special creation.

Once a disciple asked him about the service of the spirits of the dead. Confucius said: ” While-
you are not able to serve men alive, how can you serve their spirits ? ” The disciple then asked about death and the master’s answer was ; ” While you do not know life, how can you know about death ? “

Confucius left no theology. He had great veneration for ancient customs and usages. According to-him upon the observance of the laws of five fundamental relationships all social and political well being and happiness depend. Those are between the sovereign and the subject, between the parent and the child, between brother and brother, between friend and friend, and between husband and wife. If these relations are rightly observed and the duties appertaining to them, are properly performed, then all happiness in individual and social life follows.

A disciple asked, ” Is there not one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life ? ” Confucius said. ” Yes ; it is ‘ reciprocity’ – What you do not want doae to yourself do not do to others.” Confucius inculcated practice of virtues and not the observance of ceremonies only. He laid down five virtues as cardinal which must be practised that right may prevail. These virtues are (I) Humanity (Love, and charity towards all); (2) Impartial justice ; (3) Conformity to ancient rites, laws and usages; (4} Rectitude of intention ; (5) Sincerity.

Confucius was a great writer. For centuries his-writings comprised the literature of China. He wrote
five books (called ” Classics “) ; these with four others written by him and his followers form Chinese literature. .

The original name of this sage was Kong-Futze (Kong, the master). Kong-Futze was Latinized into Confucius by the Jesuit missionaries in the 16th Century A.D.

The Emperor of China visits the tomb of Confucius twice a year, kneels and bows his head before it 9 invokes blessings and makes offerings. So tremendous is the influence of the teachings* of Confucius in China and so highly is his memory held by Chinese that even little children sing every day: –

“Confucius! Confucius! How great was Confucius!

Before him there was none like him! O .

Since him there has been no other.”

Confucius was confessedly a great and good man – an intellectual giant. He never claimed to be an ” original thinker or maker but a transmitter!” He strove to direct the attention of men to the duties of social and political life in the most unassuming way. ” X teach you nothing,” he said, ” but what you might learn yourselves.” He aimed exclusively at fitting people for conducting themselves honorably and prudently in life. .

Confucius neither spoke nor knew of any Vox Dei, neither feared nor flattered Vox Populi.


By Swami Vivekananda.

IN every religion we find one type of self-devotion particularly developed. The type of working without a motive is most highly developed in Buddhism. Do not mistake Buddhism and Brahmanism. In this country you are very apt to do so. Buddhism is one of our sects. It was founded by a great man called Gautama, who became disgusted at the eternal metaphysical discussions of his day, and the cumbrous rituals, and more especially with the caste system. Some people say that we are born to a certain state, and therefore we are superior to others who are not thus born. He was also against the tremendous priestcraft. He preached a religion in which there was no motive power, and was perfectly agnostic about metaphysics or theories about God. He was often asked, if there was a God, and he answered, he did not know. When asked, about right conduct he would reply* – Do good and be good. There came’five Brah-man£, who asked him to settle their discussion. One said, – Sir, my Book says that God is such and such, and that this is the way to come to God. Another said, – Th&t is wrong, for my Book says such and such, and this is the way to come to God; and so did

* In the course of a lecture delivered in Detroit, U. S. A., Swami Vivekananda made the above remarks on Lord Buddha

the others. He listened calmly to all of them, and then asked them one by one. ” Does any one of your Books say, that God becomes angry, that He ever injures any one, that He is impure ?” ” No, Sir, they all teach that God is pure and good.” Then, my friends, why do you not become pure and good first* that you may know what God is.” .

Of course I do not endorse all his philosophy. I want a good deal of metaphysics, for myself. I entirely differ in many respects, but, because I differ, is that any reason why I should not see the beauty of the man ? – He was the only man who was bereft of all motive power. There were other great men, who all said they were the Incarnations of God Himself, and that those who would believe in them would go to heaven. But what did Buddha say with his dying breath ? ” None can help you; help yourself; work out your own salvation.” He’ said about himself, ” Buddha is the name of infinite knowledge, infinite as the sky; I, Gautama, have reached that state ; you will all reach that too if you struggle for it.” Bereft of all motive power, he did not want to go ,to heaven, did not want money; he gave up his throne and everything else, and went about begging his bread through the streets of India, preaching for the good of men and animals with a heart as wide as the ocean. He was the only man who was ever ready to give up his life for animals, to stop a sacrifice. He once said to a king, ” If the sacrifice of a lamb helps you to go to heaven, sacrificing a man

-will help you better, so sacrifice me.” The king was astonished; and yet this man was without any motive power. He stands as the perfection of the active type, and the very height to which he attained, shows that through the power of work we can also attain to the highest spirituality.

To many the path becomes easier if they believe in God. But the life of Buddha shows that even a man who does not believe in God, has no metaphysics, belongs to no sect, and does not go to any church, or temple, and is a confessed materialist, even he can attain to the highest. We have no right to judge him. I wish I had one infinitesimal part of Buddha’s heart. Buddha may or may not have believed in God; that does not matter to me. He reached the same state of perfection to which others come by Bhakti – love of God, Yoga, or Jnana. Perfection does not come from belief or faith. Talk does not count for anything. Parrots can do that. Perfection comes through the disinterested performance •of action.


I AM not a Buddhist, as you have heard, and yet I am. If China, or Japan, pr Ceylon follow the teachings of the Great Master, India worships Him as God incarnate on earth. You have just now heard that I am going to criticise Buddhism, but by that I wish you to understand only this: Far be it from me to criticise him whom I worship as God incarnate on earth. But our views upon Buddha are that he was not understood properly by his disciples. The relation between Hinduism (by Hinduism, I mean the religion of the Vedas) and what is called Buddhism at the present day, is nearly the same as between Buddhism and Christianity. Jesus Christ was a Jew and fehakya Munj was a Hindu, but with this difference ; the Jews rejected Jesus Christy nay, crucified Him, and the Hindu has exalted Shakya Muni to the seat of Divinity and worships Him. But the real difference that we Hindus want to show between modern Buddhism and what we should understand as the teachings of Lord Buddha, lies principally in this ; Shakya Muni came to preach nothing new. He also like Jesusy came to fulfil and not to destroy. Again, I repeat – Shakya Muni came not to destroy, but he was the fulfilment, the logical conclusion, – the logical development of the religion of the Hindus.

ine religion or tne tiinaus is aiviaea into two-parts : the ceremonial and the spiritual; the spiritual portion is specially studied by the monks.

In that there is no caste. A man from the highest caste and a man from the lowest may become a monk in India and the two castes become equal. In religion there is no caste ; caste is simply a social condition. Shalcya Muni himself was a monk, and to his glory he had the large-heartedness to bring out the truth from the hidden Vedas and throw it broadcast all over the world. He was the first being in the world who brought missionarising into practice – nay, he was the first to conceive the idea of proselytising.

The great glory of the master lay in his wonderful sympathy for everybody, especially for the ignorant and the poor. Some of his disciples were Brahmans. When Buddha was teaching, Sanskrit was no more the spoken language in India. It was then only in the books of the learned. Some of Buddha’s Brahman disciples wanted to translate his teachings into Sanskrit, but he steadily told them : ” I am for the poor, for the people; let me speak in the tongue of the people.” And so to this day the great bulk of his teachings are in the vernacular of that day in India.

Whatever may be the position of Philosophy, whatever may be the position of Metaphysics, so long as there is such a thing as death in the world, so long as there is such a thing as weakness in the human heart, so long as there is a cry going out of the heart of man in his very weakness, there shall be a faith in, God-

On the philosophic side the disciples of the great Master dashed themselves against the eternal rocks of the Vedas and could not crush them, and on the other side they took away from the nation that eternal God to which every man and woman clings so fondly. And the result was that it had to die its natural death in India, and at the; present day there is not one man or woman who calls himself a Buddhist in India, the motherland of its birth. ,

On the other hand, Brahminism lost something – that reforming zeal, that wonderful sympathy and charity for everybody, that wonderful leaven which Buddhism brought into the masses and which rendered Indian society so great that a Greek historian who writes about India was led to say that no .Hindu was known to tell an untruth and no Hindu woman was known to be unchaste.

We cannot live without you, nor you without us. Then believe that separation has shown to us that you cannot stand without the brain and philosophy of the Brahman, nor we without your heart. This seoara-tion between the Buddhists and the Brahmans is: the cause of the downfall of India. This is why India is populated by 3,oo;,odo,ooo of beggars, and th^t is why India has been the slave of conquerors fpr the r last 1,000 years, Let us then join the wonderful intellect of the Brahman wjth the heart, the noble soul, the wonderful humanising power of the Great Master.



THERE are three religions in China: – Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism; or in other words, we may say that the religion of China inculcates the tenets of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. For nearly two thousand years these three have existed in perfect harmony, moulding the social, political, moral and religious ideals of nearly four hundred millions of people. Confucianism and Taoism are religions indigenous to the country, while Buddhism was introduced from India in the year 65 A.D. The founders of the former were Confucius and Lao-Tze, both of whom lived at the same time in the Sixth Century’ B.C. It is very remarkable to notice how the tremendous tidal wave of spirituality inundated the Asiatic Continent, revealing four great shining stars, the perfected feouls on the highest crest of.that spiritual wave: – one in Persia, Zoroaster, the great prophet of Iran, and the founder of Zoroastrianism ; the second in India, Buddha, the great founder of Buddhism; while the third and fourth were in China. They all appeared almost simultaneously in the same’spiritual cycle, brought divine wisdom with them and afterwards became the moral

* A lecture delivered before the “Brooklyn Institute of Art and Science.”

and spiritual leaders among different nations. Each of them helped mankind by distributing that wisdom, and by founding the religion which was suited to the people among whom they flourished.

The two Chinese prophets, Confucius and Lao-Tze, are not ‘regarded as saviors, like Krishna and Buddha, but are known as great sages and philosophers. The teacher of Taoism was fifty-three years older than Confucius, but they met !each other, and the substance of their conversation has been handed down to us by Chinese historians.

Unlike Confucianism, Christianity, Buddhism, or Mahomedanism, the religion of Taoism was not named after its founder, Lao-Tze. He was born 604 B.C., in the third year of the reign of the Emperor Ting Wang, of the Cho Dynasty. We do not know the name of his parents. Tradition says, “The Master Lao was conceived under the influence of a star. When he received the breath of life we cannot fathom, but once when asked, he pointed to the plum tree (in Chinese ” Li ” ), under which he was born, and adopted it as his surname. We do not understand whence came the musical sounds that were heard, but he kept his marvellous powers concealed in the womb of his mother for ¦ more than seventy years. When he was born the hair of his head was already white, and he’ took the designation of Lao-Tze (Old Boy).” These words were inscribed in 586 A.D. by the Emperor Wan-Ti on the stone tablet in the temple built in memory of Lao-Tze at
his birth place, in the village of Chu-Jhren, Li County, belonging to the Ku province of the State Chu. It lies in the East of what is now the province of Honan. Besides this inscription on the stone tablet, we find a very brief account of Lao-Tze’s life in the famous historical records, or Shi-Ki of Sze-Ma-chien, the Herodotus of Chinese history. This Shi-Ki was completed in the year 91 B.C. We have still another short account of Lao-Tze’s life, by his renowned follower, Chwang-Tze, who lived in 330 B.C.

Both of these accounts say that the family name of this great Soul was Li (plum tree), and his name war Er (ear), but after his death he was called Tan,, meaning (long lobed), long lobes being a sign of virtue. His appellation was Po Yang, or ” Count of Positive Principle.” He was popularly called Lao-Tze (the Old Boy, or Philosopher), which signifies One who* remains childlike even when old.” Lao-Tze was one of the recorders at the Royal Court of Cho, and especially in charge of the secret archives, as State Historian.

In the year 517 B.C., Confucius (who was then about 35 years old), went to the library of Cho in order to consult Lao-Tze on some ceremony regarding ancestor-worship. Referring to the ancestors, Lao-Tze said to Confucius:

” The men about ‘whom you talk are dead, and their bones are mouldered in dust; only their words are left. If a nobleman finds his time he rises, but if he does not find his time he drifts like a roving plant,
and wanders about. ‘ -I observe that thfir wise merchant hides his treasures deeply, and appears as if he is poor ; and that the wise man, though his virtue be, complete, assumes an: attitude as though he were stupid. Put away your proud airs, your many desires, your affectation and wild plans. They are of no advantage to you, Sir. This is all I have to telb you, Sir.”

Hearing this; Confucius left,, and being unable’to grasp Lao-Tze’s ideas, he said to his disciples:

know how the birds can fly, fishes swim, and animals run; but the runner may be snared, the swimmer hooked, and the flyer shot by the arrow. But there is the Dragon – I cannot tell how he mounts on the wind through the clouds; and rises to heaven. Today I have seen Lao-Tze, and can only compare him* to the Dragon.”

The Historian also says that Lao-Tze lived most of his life in Cho, cultivated the Tao and its attribute and his chief aim was to keep himself concealed and unknown. But seeing the decay of the dynasty, he left Cho, and went away to the barrier gate leading out of the Kingdom on the North-West frontier. There the custom house officer, Yin Hsi, said to Lao-Tze, u Sir, you are about to retire, let me request you to compose a book for me.” To fulfil his request, the old philosopher wrote a book in two parts, setting forth his views on Tao and its attributes, * in more than five thousand Chines© characters. Then he departed; no one knows where he died.

This is the whole of the historical account of Lao-Tze’s life that we can get. Some European scholars, like Prof. Douglas, believe that Lao-Tze was a descendant of the Western nation of the Chinese Empire, which may have been in connection with India in ancient times. He also maintains that his peculiar long ear was the sign of his non-Chinese tribe, which inhabited the Western frontiers of old China. His surname, Li, indicates that perhaps Lao-Tze descended from the important tribe of that name which was dispossessed by the invading Chinese, and was driven to seek refuge in South-Western China. Furthermore, Prof. Douglas says: ” However that
may be, it is impossible to overlook the fact that he imported into his teachings a decided flavor of Indian philosophy.** He goes so far as to say that Lao-Tze’s Tao resembles the Brahman of the Vedanta of pr£-Buddhistic Indian Sages.

The teachings of Lao-Tze are contained in the book which he wrote himself in the Sixth Century B.C., and which is known as Tao-Teh-King. This title was given by Emperor Ching, of the Han Dynasty, 156-143 B.C. He issued an imperial decree that Lao-Tze’s work on Tao and the Teh, which means the virtue or characteristics of Tao, should be respected as a canonical book or ” King.” Hence it is called Tao-Teh-King.

The term ” Tao ” has been a subject of great discussion among different European scholars. Some have translated it as ” The Way “; others have called it “The Eternal Word or Logos “; others again ” Eternal Being.” Some called it 7 Reason,” others say it is the same as ” Nature ” of modern science. The Buddhists use the term “Tao ” for enlightenment, and so on. It literally means ” Path ” or ” Way ” or ” Method.” As the word ” Brahman ” of Vedanta cannot be translated into English by one word, so there is no English term for ” Tao.”

Lao-Tze says Tao is One; it was in the Beginning, and it will remain for ever. It is eternal and immutable, it is omnipresent, bodiless, immaterial and imperceptible by the senses. It is nameless and indescribable. We look at it, and do not see it, and we name it the Equable; we listen to it, and do not hear it, and we name it the Inaudible; We try to grasp it and we do not get hold of it, and we name ‘it the Subtle ; with these three qualities it cannot be made subject of description, hence we blend them together, and obtain the One. It is called the mysterious abyss of existence. It is the mother of all phenomena, of heaven and earth, it existed before the personal God. It is the producer of God, just as in Vedanta, we know that Iswara, or the personal God, is the first manifestation of Brahman.

Tao is impersonal, yet it is” individualized in all living creatures, especially in man. As in- Vedanta,. Brahman, the Absolute being, when individualized, is called Ji vat man, so Tao, or the Way of Heaven, when individualized, is called the Tao, or Way of Man. The Way of Heaven, and the Way of Man
are far apart, yet they are one in reality. Chwang-Tze says: ” What is it that we call the Tao ? There is the Tao, or Way of Heaven; and there is the Tao, or Way of Man. Doing nothing and yet attracting all honour is the Way of Heaven; doing, and being embarrassed thereby, is the Way of Man. It is the Way of Heaven that plays the part of the Lord ; it is / the Way of Man that plays the part of the Servant. The Way of Heaven and the Way of Man are far apart. They should be clearly distinguished from each other.” *

Thus the student of Vedanta will be able to understand the Philosophy of Lao-Tze more easily than the majority of European scholars who do not know Vedanta. Tao is prior to God. Lao-Tze says :

” I do’not know whose son it is. It might appear to have been before God.”

” I do not know its name, and I give it the designation of the Tao (the Way or Course)
Making an effort (further) to give it a name I call it The Great.

” Great, it passes on (in constant flow). Passing on, it becomes remote. Having become remote, it returns. Therefore the Tao is rgreat; Heaven is great; Earth is great; and the (sage) king is also great. In the Universe there are four that are great, and the (sage) king is one of them:’

” Alan takes his law from the Earth ; the Earth

* Sacred Books of the East, Vol. XXXIX, page 306. t Tao-Teh+King, Ch. IV, Verse 3.’

takes its law from Heaven ; Heaven takes its law from the Tao. The law of the Tao is its being what it is.” *

” The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tao. The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name.”

” (Conceived of as) having no name, it is the Originator of Heaven and earth; (conceived of as) having a name, it is the Mother of all things.”t

It is difficult for Christians to believe that there can be anything that is prior to God; or in other words, that which is God’s Ancestor or Father. But according to Lao-Tze, Tao is the Father of God. This idea we do not find in any other philosophy than Vedanta, which teaches that the Absolute Brahman, which is nameless, formless, incomprehensible and yet the source of all phenomena, like the Tao, is prior to Iswara, the personal God.

Again, Tao manifests itself in the Laws of Nature. Tao is not merely an abstract principle, it is the object of a We and reverence. In an interview with Confueius, Lao-Tze spoke about Tao, as given in the texts of Taoism: ‘ *

” When Confucius was in his’ fifty-first year, he had not heard of the’ Tao, and went South to Phei to see Lao Tan, who said to him, * You have come, Sir; have you? I have heard that you are.the wisest man of the North ; have you also got the Tao ? • ‘Not yet/

* Tao-Teh-King, ChTxXV, Verses 2, 3, 4. ~

+ Tao-Teh-King, Ch. IV, Verses 1, 2.

was the reply ; and the other went on, * How have you sought it ? ‘ Confucius said, ‘ I sought it in measures and numbers, and after five years I had not got it.’ * And how then did you seek it ? ‘ “I sought it in the Yin and Yang, and after twelve years I have not found it/ Lao-Tze said, * Just so! If the Tao could be presented (to another) men would all present it to their rulers; if it could be served up (to others) men would all serve it up to their parents; if it could be told (to others) men would all tell it to their brothers ; if it could be given (to others) men would all give it to their sons and grandsons. The reason why it cannot be transmitted is no other but this – that if, within, there be not the presiding principle, it will not remain there, and if, outwardly, there be not ihe correct obedience, it Will not be carried out. When that which is given out from the mind (in possession of it) is not received by the mind without, the sage will not give it out; and when, entering in from without, there is no power in the receiving mind to entertain it, the sage will not permit it to lie hid. there. Fame is a possession common to all; we should not seek to have much of it. Benevolence and righteousness were as the lodging houses of the former kings; we should only rest in them for a night,> and not occupy them for long. If men see us doing so, they will have much to say against us.

” The perfect men of old trod the path of benevolence as a path which they borrowed for the* occasion, and dwelt in Righteousness as in a lodging

which they used for a night. Thus they rambled in the vacancy of Untroubled Ease, found their food in the fields of Indifference, and stood in the gardens which they had not borrowed. Untroubled Ease requires the doing of nothing; Indifference is easily supplied with nourishment; not borrowing needs no outlay. The ancients called this the Enjoyment that Collects the True.

” Those who think that wealth is the proper thing for them cannot give up their revenues; those who seek distinction cannot give up the thought of fame; those who cleave to power cannot give the handle of it to others. While they hold their grasp of those things, they are afraid (of losing them). When they let them go, they are grieved, and they will not look at a single example, from which they might perceive the (folly) of their restless pursuits: such men are under the doom of Heaven.

” Hatred and kindness ; taking and giving ; reproof and instruction; death and life: – these eight things are instruments of rectification, but only those are able to use them who do not obstinately refuse to comply with their great changes. Hence it is said ” Correction is Rectification.” When the minds of some do not Acknowledge this, it is because the gate of Heaven (in them) has not been opened. ” *

Chwang-Tze, the follower of Lao-Tze, says r. ” This is the Tao; there is in It emotion and sincerity but It does nothing and has no bodily form. It may

* Sacred Books of the East, Vol, XXXIX, pp. 354-357.

be handed down (by the teacher) but may not be received (by his scholars). It may be apprehended (by the mind), but It cannot be seen. It has its root and ground (of existence) in Itself. Before there were heaven and earth, from of old, there it was securely existing. From It came the mysterious existences of spirits, from It the mysterious existence of God. It produced heaven ; It produced earth. It was before the primordial ether.” *

Does this not remind one of similar passages of the Ancient Upanishads which describe the nature of Brahman ?

Regarding Tao, Lao-Tze himself says that Tao produces all things, and nourishes them, it produces them and does not claim them as its own; it does all yet it does not boast of it ; it presides over all, and does not control them. That is what is called The Mysterious Quality of the Tao.

” All things are produced by the Tao, and nourished by its out-flowing operation. They receive their forms according to the nature of each, and are completed according to the circumstances of their condition. Therefore all things without exception honor the Tao, and exalt its outflowing operation.” t

As Brahman the Absolute is the corner-stone of the philosophy and religion of Vedanta, so Tao the Absolute and Eternal One is the fundamental principle

* Ibid, p. 243.

Tao-Teh King, Ch, LI, Verse 1.

of the philosophy and religion of Lao-Tze. The word ” God” (in Chinese ** Ti “) is mentioned only once in Chapter IV, describing Him as posterior to Tao. Lao-Tze never identified Tao with God as his later followers have done. Furthermore, there is a great similarity in the methods of realizing the Tao as given by Lao-Tze, to those given in Vedanta, especially in Raja Yoga. Lao-Tze speaks of what is called in Raja Yoga Samadhi, in these words : ” The excellence of mind is in Abysmal stillness.” He also speaks of purity, kindness towards all living creatures, •contentment, self-control, and higher knowledge as the means for attaining the Tao. Concentration and breathing exercises are also considered to be helpful in the path of Tao. Lao-Tze says: When one

gives undivided attention to the vital breath and brings it to the utmost degree of pliancy he can be-¦come as tender as a babe; when he has cleansed away the most mysterious sights (of his imagination) he can become without a flaw.”

Again he says : ” He (who knows the Tao) will keep his mouth shut, and close the portals (of his nostrils), (the gates of the senses). He will blunt his sharp points and unravel the complications of things; he will attemper his brightness, and bring himself into agreement with the obscurity (of others). This is called the ‘ Mysterious Agreement.’

” (Such an one) cannot be treated familiarly or distantly; he is beyond all consideration of profit or injury ; of nobility or meanness; he is the noblest man
under heaven”* * Compare the above with the teachings of the Bagavad Gita.

Chwang-Tze says: ” What is meant by ‘ the True Man ?’ The true Men of old did not reject (the views of) the few; they did not seek to accomplish (their ends) like heroes (before others); they did not lay plans to attain those ends. Being such, though they might make mistakes, they had no occasion for repentance ; though they might succeed, they had no self-complacency. Being such, they could ascend the loftiest heights without fear; they could pass through water without being made wet by it; they could go-into fire without being burnt; so it was that by their knowledge they ascended to and reached the Tao.

” The True men of old did not dream when they slept, had no anxiety when they awoke, and did not care that their food should be pleasant. Their breathing came deep and silently. The breathing of the true man comes (even) from his heels, while men generally breathe (only) from their throats. When men are defeated in argument, their words-come from their gullets as if they were vomiting. Where lusts and desires are deep, the springs of the Heavenly are shallow.

* The True men of old knew nothing of the love of life or of the hatred of death. Entrance into life occasioned them no joy ; the exit from it awakened no resistance. Composedly they went and came. They did not forget what their beginning had been, and

* Tao-Teh-King. Ch. LVI, Verses 2,3.

they did not inquire into what their end would be. They accepted (their life) and rejoiced in it; they ‘forgot (all fear of death) and returned (to their state before life). Thus there was in them what is called the want of any mind to resist the Tao, and of all attempts by means of the Human to assist the Heavenly. Such were they who are called the True men.”*

When love and enmity, profit and loss, favor and disgrace do not affect the sage – he becomes world-honored. Does this not remind us of the sage described in the Bhagavad Gita by Krishna, in 1,400 B.C. ?

Lao-Tze, like Krishna spoke of non-attachment to the works of the senses.

” The way of the Tao,” says Lao-Tze, ” is to act without thinking of acting; to conduct affairs without feeling the trouble of them; to taste without discerning any flavor; to consider what is small as great, and a few as many ; and to recompense injury with kindness.”

Lao-Tze describes the heart of a holy man: The holy man possesses not a fixed heart. The hundred families heart he makes his heart. He universalizes his heart and the hundred families fix upon him their eyes and ears. The holy man treats them as all his children. The holy man does not travel and yet he has knowledge. He does not see the things, and yet he defines them. He does not labour and yet he completes.”

* Sacred Books of the East Vol. XXXIX, pp. 237, 238.

Lao-Tze taught self-restraint and renunciation. He says: ** No greater sin than yielding to desire ; no greater misery than discontent; no greater calamity than acquisitiveness.”

As Christ said : Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shaft be added unto you.” So did Lao-Tze teach nearly 600 years before Christ, ” Let the eternal Tao have its way, and otherwise be heedless of consequences, for all will be well.”

Virtue according to Lao-Tze meant, ” To imitate in all things Heaven’s Tao.”

Lao-Tze taught the virtue of simplicity in habits, saying : ” Abandon your scheming ; put away your

gains, and thieves and robbers will not exist,

Hold fast to that which will endure,

Show thyself simple, preserve thee pure,

Thine own keep small, thy desires poor.”

He taught his disciples, ” Renounce ,learnedness> and you have no vexation.”

According to Lao-Tze the holy man or sage is he who manages affairs without doing anything, and conveys his instructions without the use of speech : ” The multitude of men look satisfied and pleased, as if enjoying a full banquet, as if mounted on a tower in spring. ” I alone,” says Lao-Tze, ” seem listless and still, my desires having as yet given no indication of their presence. I am like an infant which has not yet smiled.”

Lao-Tze believed not in artificial modes of government by making strict laws, not in war, but in allowing nature to take its own course. He says : ” I will do nothing (with purpose), and the people will be transformed of themselves. I will be fond of keeping still, and the people will of themselves become correct. I will take no trouble about it, and the people will of themselves become rich; I will manifest no ambition, and the people will of themselves attain to the primitive simplicity.”

Lao-Tze requests the government simply to a.d-minister, and not to govern. He does not believe in its interfering with the natural development of the people, but he urges everybody to practice non-acting, non-meddling, non-interference. His ideal was : ” The less laws and prohibitions there are, the less crime will there be. The less welfare of the people is forced by artificial methods, the greater will be their wealth and prosperity.” ^

Through this kind of non-action (or ” Wu-Wei ” in Chinese) everything can be accomplished. Philo, the Neo-Platonist, conceived of God as Non-action.” He called God the ” Non-actor.” By this he did not. mean that God is passive, but that He is Absolute Existence. Indeed, God’s activity does not mean exertion, as many people think, ‘but it means ” His Omnipresent Effectiveness.”

Lao-Tze’s philosophy exerted a strong influence on Tolstoi, who also regarded non-action as a virtue, while labor is not a virtue. Thus Lao-Tze’s philosophy stands in strong contrast to the philosophy of

Confucius. Confucius stood for good government, laws of propriety, good manner, but Lao-Tze did not believe in moralizing, but in natural spontaneity of the heart of the people, and independence. Confucius sought the favor of kings and princes, while Lao-Tze renounced them all. Confucius wanted to reform the external habits of life, but Lao-Tze wanted to reform the internal bent of the heart of the people.

” At an interview with Lao Tan, Confucius spoke to him of benevolence and righteousness. Lao Tan said : ‘ If you winnow chaff, and the dust gets
into your eyes, then the places of heaven and earth and of the four cardinal points are all changed to you. If mosquitoes or gadflies puncture your skin, it will keep you all the night from sleeping. But this painful iteration of benevolence and righteousness excites my mind and produces in it the greatest confusion. If you, Sir, would cause men not to lose their natural simplicity, and if you would also imitate the wind in its (unconstrained) movements, and stand forth in all the natural attributes belonging to you ! – ” why must you use so much energy, and carry a great drum to seek for the son whom you have lost ? The snow goose does not bathe every day to make . itself white, nor the crow blacken itself everyday to make itself black. The natural simplicity of their black and white does not afford any ground for controversy ; and the fame and praise which men like to contemplate do not make them greater than they naturally are. When the springs (supplying the pools) are
dried up, the fishes huddle together on the dry land. Than that they should moisten one another by their gasping, and keep one another wet by their milt, it would be better for them to forget one another in the rivers and lakes. ”

‘ Confucius taught the Golden Rule for the first time in China in the Sixth Century B.C., although it was inculcated in India by the Vedic sages as well as by Krishna and other Saviors. [The Christians claim that Christ taught it for the first time, but the fact is that it was Rabbi Hillel (who died when Christ was ten years old), who preached it among the Jews for the first time.] Confucius, however, put the -same idea in a negative form, ” What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” But Lao-Tze, like Krishna and Buddha, went beyond this in the field of Ethics, by teaching, ” Return good for evil.” When Confucius was asked by one of his disciples regarding the truth of this teaching of Lao-Tze, he replied: ” What then will you return for good? Recompense injury with Justice and return good for good.” Hearing this Lao-Tze said : ” The good I meet with goodness, the bad I also meet with goodness, for virtue is good throughout.” .

” There are three precious things,” says Lao-Tze, which I prize and hold fast. The first is gentle compassion; the second is economy; the third is humility (not presuming to take precedence in the world). With gentle compassion I can be brave, with

* Sacred Books of the East, Vol. XXXIX, p. 357.

economy I can be liberal. Not presuming to claim* precedence in the world, I can make myself a vessel fit for the most distinguished services.” Indeed, Lao-Tze was a great Yogi I

Thus we see that Lao-Tze’s philosophy inculcated the highest ethics, the purest method of living, and a grand discipline for mind and body. It had also the germ of a monistic, religion, like that of Vedanta, although it was never developed in the same manner as it was in India.

The followers of Lao-Tze retired from the world, lived in caves and forests like the Yogis of India andJ practised the virtues taught by their Master. The* list of the Taoist hermits in China is a very long one. They spent their lives in secluded retreats shut in by mountains, sheltered from the burning sun by the-thick foliage of trees, striving to rise above love and hatred, pleasure and pain, and to attain the original purity and simplicity of Tao. Even now there are to’ be found some Taoist hermits in the caves of the Mount of a Hundred Flowers. Their arms are crossed against their breasts and their nails have grown so long that they curl around their necks. Some of them are over three hundred years old, according to the Taoists of China.

Chwang-Tze, the renowned follower of Lao-Tze, was a great sage. He realised Tao, and interpreted the Master’s ideas in his lucid and elegant style. He considered the world as a dream. He says ; How do I know that the love of life is not a delusion ? ‘

And that the dislike of death is not like a young person’s losing his way, and not’ knowing that he is* (really) going home ? . . . Those who dream of
(the pleasures of) drinking, may in the morning waiP and weep ; those who dream of wailing and weepings may*in the morning be going out to hunt. When they were dreaming they did not know it was a dream but when they awoke they knew that it was
a dream. And there is a great awaking, after which, we shall know that this life was a great drean>” *

Does not this sound like the utterance of one-who is a true Jnana Yogi ? V

There is a very interesting story told of* Chwang-Tze himself on his deathbed. At the last moment he requested his weeping relatives to leave his body uninterred. He said, ” I will have heaven* and earth for my sarcophagus, the sun and moon shall be the insignia where I lie in state, and all creation shall be mourners at my funeral.” When his friends implored him to withdraw his request because the birds would mutilate his corpse, he smiled and. said, ” What matters that ? Above are the birds of the air, below are the worms and ants; if you rob one to feed the other, what injustice is there done ? “

Taoism did not begin to be a popular religion* until after the introduction of Buddhism in China. At that time the pure teachings of Lao-Tze were mixed with all kinds of superstition, ancestor-worship, spirit-worship, pursuit of Alchemy, search after the

* Sacred Books of the East, Vol. XXXIX, pp. 194-195.

pills of immortality, black magic and sorcery. These corruptions are still very predominant in modern Taoism. Like the Delai Lama of Tibet, and the Catholic Pope of Rome, Taoism has its Pope, whose name is Chang, and who is commonly called Chang Tien Shih, or Chang, the Heavenly Teacher. He is the incarnation of the first Chang Tao-Ling, or Pope, who lived in . the First Century, A.D. He has a palace in the province of Kianghsi, where he has all the comforts and luxuries of an actual sovereign. He is a great exorcist, and wards off evil spirits, many of whom he has bottled up in big jars kept in long rows in the palace.

As in Buddhist’ temples in China, there are images of three precious ones, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha ; so in modern Taoism there are three pure or holy ones : the Perfect Holy One, the Highest Holy One, and the Greatest Holy One. The Perfect Holy One is the first. It represents something like God the Father, who presided over chaos at the beginning of the evolution of the world. Here we should remember that Taoism does not believe in Creation, neither in a Creator, but in evolution, and Tao is the starter of evolution, the transformer. The second of the Taoist Trinity is called the Highest Holy One, who is the most High Prince, Lao, the usual title of Lao-Tze. The Third is the Greatest Holy One, or the great virtue of Lao-Tze and his teaching.

Taoism has borrowed from Buddhism this idea -of Trinity as well as its form of worship, liturgies and
temples with images which did not exist before the advent of Buddhism in China. Like Buddhism, Taoism has its monks and nuns who wear yellow caps. Taoism has also borrowed from Buddhism the idea of a Purgatory and of the reward and punishment after death, as also the idea of rebirth. But Lao-Tze believed in the immortality of the soul and said: “He who dies and yet does not perish has
longevity.” He also advocated the theory of reincarnation or transformation of the soul after death. He never feared death, but called it a natural end of coming. The greatest of Lao-Tze’s appeals was for self-conquest. As in Vedanta, self-conquest is considered as the highest virtue, so Lao-Tze says : ” He
who overcomes others is strong, but he who overcomes himself is mighty,” According to Lao-Tze the-realization of Tao through self-conquest is the attainment of Salvation.

” The Heaven-honored One says : Sincerity is. the first step towards (the knowledge of) the Tao; it is by silence that that knowledge is maintained ; it is with gentleness that (the Tao) is employed. The-employment of sincerity looks like stupidity; the employment of silence looks like difficulty of utterance ; the employment of gentleness looks like want of ability. But having attained to this, you may forget all bodily form ; you may forget your personality ; you may forget that you are forgetting. He who has taken the first steps towards (the knowledge of) the Tao knows where to stop ; he who maintains.

the Tao in himself knows how to be diligently vigilant; he who employs It knows what is most subtle.

11 When one knows what is most subtle, the light of intelligence grows (around him) ; when he can know how to be diligently vigilant, his sage wisdom becomes complete; when he knows where to stop, he is grandly composed and restful.

” When he is grandly composed and restful, his sage wisdom becomes complete ; when his sage wisdom becomes complete, the light of intelligence grows (around him); when the light of intelligence grows around him, he is one with the Tao.

This is the condition which is styled the True Forgetfulness; – a forgetting which does not forget; a forgetting of what cannot be forgotten.

” That which cannot be forgotten is the True Tao. The Tao is in heaven and earth, but heaven and earth are not conscious of It. • Whether It seem to have feelings or to be without them, It is (always) one and the same. ” *

* Sacred Books of the East, Vol. XL, pp. 266-267,



In proportion as we love truth more and victory less, we shall become anxious to know what it is which leads our opponents to think as they do – Herbert Spencer.

‘TAHE Talmud, which forms the subject of our pre-

I sent essay, represents the main literature of a nation which has produced some of the greatest lawgivers, prophets, poets, philosophers, and statesmen, that according to Monsieur Renan and others, it furnishes us the clue to the understanding of the New Testament, and that in this treasure-house of the Hebrews may be found the rarest gems of religious thought and lofty morality, of sound doctrine and deep learning, as may well be expected from a book which – to borrow an expression from the great humanitarian Reuchlin – ” was written by Christ’s nearest kinsmen.”

The word Talmud is derived from the Hebrew verb Lamad, to teach, to learn. It comprises the body of ” Oral Law,” or the juridico-political, civil, and religious code of the Jews, and forms as such a kind of complement to the Mosaic or written Law, which it explains, amplifies, and enforces.

This Code, like that of Justinian, embodies all departments of national, civil, criminal, and local law, * Abridged from a contribution to the Brahmavadin•

but unlike all other works of this kind, it not only compiles and classifies the sanctioned decrees but also argues and discusses them, and we are made to see with the vividness of the drama how the final decision is being arrived at from amidst the conflict of opinions and the ‘pros and cons of their arguments. Scholars and schools of many centuries take part in these discussions. The subjects discussed have not merely reference to religion but also to philosophy,, metaphysics, medicine, jurisprudence, history* science, ethics and what not. Buxtorf does not exaggerate in maintaining that the Talmud, contains all and everything. The chief elements of, and the thread running through, these discussions however are the Scriptures, for, as an ingenious writer well remarks, ” Every verse and every word in the latter became, as it were, a golden nail upon which it hung its gorgeous tapestries.” •

It is really touching to see how faithful, in weal and in woe, the^e world-wanderers of centuries cling to this book and what an amount of love and tenderness is being lavished on it. The tender relation between Israel and its Scripture is beautifully expressed in the Talmud by the simile of bride and bridegroom. There was once a man who betrothed himself to a beautiful maiden and then went away, and the maiden waited and waited, and he came not. Friends and rivals mocked her and said, ” He will never come.” She went into her room and took out’thn-letters in which he had promised to »be ever faithful..

Weeping she read them and was comforted. In time he returned and inquiring how she had kept her faith so long, she showed him his letters. Israel in misery, in captivity, was mocked by the nations for her hopes of redemption, but Israel went into her schools and synagogues and took out the letters, and was comforted. God would in time redeem her and say, How could you alone among all the nations be faithful ?” Then Israel would point to the Law and answer, ” Had I not your promise here?”

And so they kept on studying these letters, and every generation during the first seven centuries of our era thought to discover therein some hidden meaning, some new interpretation, and what they found they deposited in the Talmud or rather the Talmuds ‘r for there are two collections bearing this name : first, the Talmud Yerushalmi, or *( Jerusalem Talmud/* edited by R. Iochanan ben Eliezer, called also Bar Naphha or the “Son of the Blacksmith,” rector of the academy of Tiberias, about three hundred years after the destruction of Jerusalem (250 A. D); second, the. Talmud Bavli, or c< Babylonian Talmud,” which has been accepted as a fixed rule, edited by Rabbi Ashe ben Simai, surnamed Rabban t.e., our teacher, president ot the Babylonian Academy, and completed in the year 498 by his disciple and friend, Rabbi Abina. Xhe former consists of four, the latter of twelve big folio volumes, which embody the Mishna, the two Gemaras or ” Complements of the Mishna the Thoseftath or ” Appendices,” the Boraithoth or 17

‘* Supplements,” and an endless variety of Hagadoth or traditions: –

” Where the charming olden stories,

Tales of angels, famous legends,

Silent histories of martyrs,

Festal songs and words of wisdom,

” Hyperboles, far-fetch’d it may be,

But impressed with deep conviction,

Full of glowing faith – all glitter,

Bloom and spring in great abundance.”

There is an essential consideration never to be lost sight of in the appreciation of the spirit of Talmudism. It is that every portion of the Talmud is a compound of two distinct elements, viz., the Halacha (rule) and the Eagada (saying), or to quote again from Heine, who, following ” the unerring instinct of the poet,” has given some remarkable information about the Talmud, speaks thus of this feature in his Bomancero : –

” As the heavens pour down upon us,

Light of two distinct descriptions :

Glaring day-light of the Sun And the moon-light’s softer lustre –

Thus two different lights the Talmud Also sheds, and is divided In Halacha and Hagada……”

The Halacha has been extracted from the complicated Talmudical discussions by a system of canons, the application of which requires many years of hard study and practice. Heine justly compares it to a….

” Fighting school, where the expertest Dialectic athletes both of Babylon and Pumpeditha Carry on their mental combats.”

The Talmudic student whose, brain is reeling from witnessing those mental combats on rules, rites,

regulations, and observances, seeks refuge in the Eagada, which includes all the Talmudical allegories, parables, proverbs, maxims – ingenious and touching applications of Scriptural examples ; in short, all that tends to point a moral and adorn a tale. We cannot refrain from mentioning here two names at least of those dialectic athletes in order to show of what material some of the men were made who contributed to the production of the Talmud – Rabbi Hillel, the, Great or Elder, of whom Renan in his Vie de Jesus said ; ” Hillel futile vrai maitre de Jesus, s’il est permis de parler de maitre quand il s’agit d’une si haute originalite”* (p. 35), and his grandson Gamaliel I., the Elder, (30-51 C. E.) at whose feet sat the Apostle Paul thus owing his great mental achievements to the intellectual discipline of the Talmud.

Speaking of Hillel, it occurs to us that the golden rule, the pride and praise of Christians,’ was riot originated by Jesus. Long before him this maxim was taught by Krishna, Manu, Buddha, Socrates, Seneca, Lao-tse, Aristotle + Isocrates J, Confucius, § and

* (Hillel was the real teacher of Jesus, if we may say teacher when speaking of so lofty an originality.) _

Diogenes Laertius relates that Aristotle (died after 322 B. C.) being asked how we ought to conduct ourselves towards our friends answered: ” As we would wish they would carry themselves towards us.”

X Isocrates, who lived 400 years before the publication of the Gospels, said : “We must’ not do to others, that which would cause anger if it were done to ourselves.”

” What you do not wish done to yourselves, do not to •others “; or, as in the Conversations (Book XV. c. 23,) where it appears condensed like a telegram : Ki su pok uk uk su u ing i.e.%Self what not wish, not do to man.” .

others. But besides Jesus another Jew – and would to God every Christian anti-Semite bore always in mind that the man he worships as God belongs to this-despised race ! – another Jew, we say, gave utterance to this noble sentiment. It is related in the Talmudic-Treatise Sabbath (page 31) that once a gentile came to Hillel and declared his readiness to embrace’ Judaism provided he could teach him the whole law during the time that he could stand on one leg. He thought to confound the Rabbi by this strange and, to his mind, hardly realizable condition ; but how great was his surprise when Hillel unhesitatingly replied that he could satisfy this condition. ” Whatever is not pleasant unto thee,” he said,11 do it not unto thy fellow-man.” ” But what of the great number of books filled with laws, commandments, doctrines, rituals, etc.?” the gentile exclaimed some what disconcerted. ” They are,” replied the Rabbi* benevolently, <c but the commentaries upon this, one fundamental precept. Go and reflect upom it,” and thereby won over the man to the Jewish, religion.

Monsieur Renan is right in claiming that the New Testament can only be understood by the light of the Talmud, and we find therefore that Wettstein and others use it, in illustration of it. It is indeed the great fountain by which the New Testament has. been fed. Of every noble sentiment, every sublime truth, every admirable trait of Jesus We find ther.e numerous examples. ” The following parallels from*

the Talmud to the sayings of Jesus contained in the Gospels will bear out this statement.

Matt. V. 7 Sabbath, fpl, 151, col. 2

Blessed are the Rabban Gamaliel said – He merciful, for they who is merciful towards his shall obtain fellow-creatures shall receive mercy. mercy from heaven above.

Matt. V. 44. Sanhedrin, fol, 48, col. 2, 49 :

Blesss them col. 1 : Rabbi Yehudah said, that curse you. Be rather of the accursed than of those that curse.

Matt. VI. 1.

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them.

Matt. VII. 2. For with what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged.

With 1 what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again.

Chagiga, fol. 5, col. l : Rabbi Yamai said to a man who gave alms in such a public manner : – You had better not give him anything. In the way you gave him you must have hurt his feelings.

Sabbath, fol. 127, col, 2 : The post-Mishmaic teachers said: He that judges his neighbour charitably is himself judged charitably.

Sanhedrin, fol. loo, col. I : Rabbi Meir said : With what measure man metes, it shall be measured to him from heaven.

Baba Bathra, fol. 18, coL 2 : Rabbi Johanan, surnamed Bar Napha, said: Do they say, Take the splinter out of thine eye, he will answer, Remove the beam out of thine own.

Matt. VII. 4. Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye.

Matt. VII. 5.

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see, etc.

Baba Metzia, fol. 107, col. 2: Baba Bathra, fol. 60, col. 2. Resh Lakesh said: What is the meaning of the passage, Examine thyself and search ? (Zeph. II. II). He who will reprove others must himself be pure and spotless.

The Talmudical standard of ethics, as already may be seen from what has been given above, is very high. The largest philanthropy is recommended toward all classes of human beings. ” Feed the hungry among the idolators,” says the Talmud,. ” clothe the naked, mourn with the bereaved, and bury the dead, to the end that peace and good will may prevail among all the families of man.” There isa beautiful picture in the Hagada: ” When the Egyptian host lay dead on the sands of the Red Sea, the heavenly choir chanted hymns before the Almighty ; but the Lord forbade them, saying, * Know ye not that the Egyptians are my children no less
than the Israelites ?” The liberality of the Talmudists manifests itself in the maxim adopted: ” The upright of whatever creed shall inherit a portion of the world to come.” The equality of men is pointed out in the words, ” And these are the ordinances by which
men shall live” – not Israelites, not the priests, not the Levites, but men. The law given on Mount Sinai, the masters said, though emphatically addressed to one people belongs to ail humanity. It was not given in a king’s land, not in any city or inhabited spot, lest other natioas might say, ” we know nothing of it.” It was given in God’s own highway, the desert, not, in the darkness and stillness of night, but in plain day, amid thunder and lightning. And why was it given on Sinai ? Because it is the lowliest and meekest of the mountains – to show that God’s spirit rests only upon them that are meek and lowly in their hearts.

* * *

The following Talmudian maxims are well to be remembered.

‘ Do not laugh where others cry, nor cry where others laugh, and do not make noise where others sleep.” (Jalkut I.)

” Do not rejoice at the fall of thine enemy, for God who permeates thee dislikes such a thing.” (Abot, 4,19,)

” He who is liked by men is also liked by God but he who is disliked by men, he also will not find favour in the eyes of God.” (2)

Rabbi Hillel’s maxim was, ” If I do not act for myself, who can do it for me ? When I am alone by myself, what am I ? If I act not now, when shall I ? He also taughtJudge not thy neighbor until thou art placed in the same circumstances.”

” Let a man believe that whatever occurs to him is from the Blessed One. For instance, when a wicked man meets him and
abuses nim, and puts him to shame, let him receive it with love, and say. The Lord told him to curse, and he is the messenger of God on account of my sin.’ ”
(Kitzur Sh’l’h, fol. 7, col. 2.)

” If – which God forbid ! – thy neighbor has done thee an evil, pardon him at once ; for thou shouldst love him as thyself. If one hand is accidentally hurt by the other, should the wounded hand revenge its injury on the other?” (Ibid ., fol. 9, eol. 2,)

” A man should always desire that his neighbor may profit by him, and let him not strive to profit by his neighbour. Let his words be pleasant with the children of men if they shame him, and let him not shame them in return. If they deceive him, let him not deceive them in return and let him take the yoke of the public upon his shoulders, and not impose it on them in return.” (Ibid, fol 8, col. 1.)

The passages inculcating charity and almsgiving in the Talmud are so numerous that they by themselves would be enough to fill a whole volume. Here are a few specimens: –

Rabbi Simon : ” He who gives charity becomes rich.”

Rabbi Eleazar : ” Ho who gives charity in secret is greater than Moses.”

Rabbi Ashe: ” Charity is greater than all. The house which opens not to the poor will open to the physician.”

Rabbi Judda: ” No one should sit down to his meals until he has seen that all animals dependent upon his care are provided for.”

” He who sets aside a portion of his wealth for the relief of the poor will be delivered from the Judgment of hell.” Of this the parable of the sheep that attempted to ford a river is an illustration. One was shorn of its wool and the other not; the former therefore managed to get across, but the latter being heavy-laden sank. (Gitten, fol. 7, col. 1.)

Both Rabbi Yohaman and Abba say, ” It is better to lend to the poor than to give to them ; for it prevents them from feeling ashamed at their poverty and is really the more charitable manner of aiding them.”

The Rabbis have always taught that kindness is more than the mere almsgiving of charity, for it includes pleasant words with the more substantial aid.

To woman the Talmud ascribed all the blessings of the household. ts All the blessings of a household* come through the wife, therefore should the husband honor her.” Again, ” Love thy wife as thyself; honor her more than thyself.” ” He who lives unmarried, lives without joy.” ” If thy wife is small, bend down and whisper in her ear.” ” He who sees his wife die has, as it were, been present at the destruction of the sanctuary itself.” ” The children of a man who marries for money will prove a curse to him.” Rabbi Jose said, ” I never call my wife * wife * but ” home,” for she indeed makes my home.” Another Rabbi has said: ” Men should be careful lest they cause women to weep, for God counts their tears.” – “Tears are shed on God’s altar for the one who forsakes his first love.” – ” Who is best taught ? He who has learned first from his mother.” – In a case of charity where both men and women claim relief, the latter should be first assisted. If there should not be enough for both, the men should cheerfully relinquish their claims.

A propos of woman, and as a set off, the following romantic story, paraphrased from the Midrash Shir Hashirim, will be read with pleasure : (From Talmudic Micsellany of Paul Hershon).

A certain Israelite of Sidon, having lived many years with his wife without being blessed with offspring, made up his mind to give her a bill of divorcement. They went accordingly to Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, that legal effect might be given to the act of separation. Upon presenting themselves before’ him the Rabbi addressed them in these fatherly words : ” My children,” said he, ” your divorce must not take place in pettishness or anger lest people should surmise something guilty or disgraceful as the motive of the action. Let your parting therefore be like your meeting, friendly and cheerful. Go home,

make a feast, and mvite your friends to share it with you ; and to-morrow return and I will ratify the divorce you seek for.” Acting upon this advice, they went home, got ready a feast, invited their friends, and made merry together. 44 My dear “, at length said the husband to his wife,44 we have lived for many a long year lovingly together, and now that we are about to be separated, it is not because there is any ill-will between us but simply because we are not blessed with a family. In proof that my love is unchanged and that I wish thee all good, I give thee leave to choose whatever thou likest best in the nouse and carry it away with thee.” The wife with true womanly wit promptly replied, 44 well and good, my dear.” The evening thereafter glidbd pleasantly by, the wine-cup went round freely and without stint, till first the guests one by one and then the master of the house himself fell asleep, and lay buried in unconsciousness. The lady, who had planned this result and only awaited its denouement immediately summoned her confidential handmaids and had her lord and master gently borne away as he was to her father’s house. On the following morning, as the stupor wore off, he awoke, rubbing his eyes with astonishment. 44 Where am I ?” he cried, 44 Be easy, husband dear”, responded the wife in his presence. 441 have only done as thou allowedst me. Does thou remember permitting me last night in the hearing of our guests to take away from our house whatever best pleased me ? There was nothing there I cared for so much as thyself; thou art all in all to me, so I brought thee with me here. Where I am, there shalt thou be ; let nothing but death part us.” The two thereupon went Backto Rabbi Shimon as appointed and reported their change of purpose, and that they had made up their minds to remain united. So the Rabbi prayed for them to the Lord, who couples and setteth the single in families. He then spoke his blessing over the wife, who became thenceforth as a fruitful vine, and honored her husband with children and children’s children.

* * *

We have already seen that the lalmud contains almost all the ethical doctrines of the Gospels, but it offers also a great number of maxims for which we search in vain in the New Testament. Take for instance those referring to study and the acquisition • of knowledge. ” No boor,” we are taught “can become pious, nor an ignorant man a saint.” (Avoth, chap. 2. mish. 6). Hillel taught: ” Study is more
meritorious than sacrifice.” Again, ” The man who hunts after fame shall lose his good name ; he that does not care for knowledge goes backward ; he that does not progress in knowledge commits suicide ; but the man that uses learning for – self-glorification deserves to be forgotten.” (
Abot, I, 13.) Rabbi Tyra said : ” The best preacher is the heart, the best teacher is time, the bpst book is the world, the best friend is God.” ” Say not,” exclaims the Talmud, <c I will study the scriptures and the explanation of its teachers, in order that people may praise me as a Chaham or sage, as Rabbi or master; but study from pure love to God and to bind thyself closely to Him through the knowledge and understanding of His. word. Love, not reward, love of truth, let this be the word of redemption when thou sittest at the feet of the Masters of the Law.” (Nedarim, 62.) ” See,’r it says, ” there are studies which are ice-cold, without soul-warmth and without love : – these are those whose object is not self-ennobling and the instruction of others but only selfish purposes. Opposed to such are those studies which seek and wish nothing but truth and knowledge and their diffusion ; these are studies, of love to God and thy neighbour.” (Suhkah, 49).

* * *

Of the high esteem in which learning and the office of a teacher are held among the Jews, the.-following, extracted from the Talmud, gives evidence: ” He who learns from another one chapter, one-halacha, one verse, one word, or even a single letter
is bound to respect him.”
(Avoth, chap. 6, mis. 3.) 44 There was drought, and the most pious men prayed and wept for rain, but none came. An insignificant looking at length prayed to Him who causes the wind lo blow and the rain to fall, and instantly the heavens covered themselves with clouds and the rain refreshed the earth. ‘ Who are you ?’ They cried, * whose prayers alone have prevailed ?* And he answered, ‘ I am a teacher of little children.’ “

Education is one of the virtues the interest of which the Jew considers he enjoys in this world, while the capital remains intact against the exigencies of the world to come. These are: – The honoring of father and mother, acts of benevolence, hospitality to stangers, visiting the sick, devotion in prayer, study, and promotion of peace between man and man (Sabbath. fol. 127, col. 1)

* * *

The Talmudists were quick to recognize the fact <that man is bound with innumerable ties to the world, that for our lives, our destinies, our very thoughts we are dependent on our fellow-men, in short that the individual Karma is intricately interwoven with the Karma of Humanity. This dependency upon others was the ever-recurrent subject of reflection and .discussion of the Talmud teachers. None realized this dependence more than they who

saw their own lives constantly subjected to its hard’ and heavy torture. But while ‘realizing their mutual dependence on one another, the Talmud sages , also realized in this inter-dependence the necessary condition for the welfare both of the individual and the whole of mankind. ” In the whole alone,” we read in Midrash rabba, ” we are of some significance, but outside of it, -nothing, for in the whole alone our individual shortcomings are mitigated.” This thought most beautifully shines forth in the explanation given of the symbol of the Lulab, the festive nosegay prepared by the Jews for their* Feast of Tabernacles. ” In this nosegay,” they say,, ” there are represented two kinds of fruit-bearing trees, the palm and the hadar, and two other kinds-of trees which bear no fruit at all, the myrtle and the water-willow – as here the one belongs to the others, as the former without the latter would constitute but half of the nosegay ; so you too are not complete if taken out of the whole of which you are a member.” ” In your midst too,” adds the Midrash rabba, ” there are some who unite virtue with culture, some who practice virtue without culture, others who possess culture without virtue, and others again who’ have neither the one nor the other. These things, however are only noticed in their incomplete fragmentary form, so long as they are disunited and separate* but as soon as they enter into the circle of the whole, all deficiencies are balanced and the one alleviates-the other.”

We are constantly admonished in the Talmud that the greatrfess of virtue and vice, the sanctity of love and friendship, the condemnation of hate and malice, ought to be measured and judged by the motive alone. ” In the outward action,” we read in Sanhedrin f. 38, ” we often are all alike, but it is the motive alone that distinguishes men from one another.” And in the Midrash rabba we find almost verbatim the wise precept of the Bhagavad-Gita, that we should abandon in our actions all selfish motives and perform them only as a sacrifice to God. Antigonus of Socho, who flourished in the third century before the common era, taught: ” Be not like servants who serve the master with a view to receiving rewards; but like servants who serve their master without the view of being rewarded, and then you will be truly Godfearing.” (Whom does this not remind of the injunction in the Bhagavad-Gita – ” Do not be incited to action by the hope of receiving reward” ?) The worship of God out of love is therefore given preference to that which is dictated by fear.

The above extracts are, we believe, sufficient to prove on the one hand Mousieur Renan’s assertion that ” concerning alms, piety, good works, gentleness, the desire of peace, complete disinterestedness of heart, Jesus had little to add to the doctrines of the synagogue,” and that, on the other hand, the ethical doctrines of the Jews need not blush in the presence of any of later origin.

The two principal doctrines of Hinduism, Karma and Transmigration, are also taught in the Talmud. Thus we read Hillel once saw a skull floating on the surface of the water and he said to it: ” Because

thou didst drown others, thou wast drowned, and at the end will those who drowned tfyee also be drowned.” Here we have in a nut-shell the essence of the Universal Law of Retribution. Rabbi Akiba said : ” Man goes bail for himself for everything he

receives and for all that he does; his life is always in a net of retribution that is spread out over all men.”

* * * Transmigration is known in the Talmud as the <4Din Gilgal Neshommes.” The great Talmudist, Rabbi Manasseh ben Israel, in his previously mentioned work s^ys on page 77 (Warsaw edition, 1876): – *

” The doctrine of transmigration is an indisputable dogma, accepted as such by the whole congregation of our faith, and none is there found who dares contradict it except Soadja Tajjumi and Bardarschi, but all other Jewish authorities, especially those initiated in the Kaballa, place implicit faith in this doctrine. Without this doctrine how can we reconcile the many contradictions of life, i.e., the suffering of the pious ? This doctrine is plainly indicated in the Thora (Pentateuch), God pronouncing sentence on Adam for his disobedience says: 4 In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the ground ; for out of it wast thou taken ; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,’ which means that after he had sinned he had again to return to earth, working out bis salvation {Karma). Likewise it is religiously maintained by our teachers and sages,” says he, ” that Adam, the name of the first man, is symbolic of Adam, David, and Moschiach (Messiah), which plainly tell us that the soul of Adam reincarnated in David, and David, because of his sin against Uriah, will have to come Backagain in the person of the Messiah.”

From these few passages we might conclude that the Rabbis of the Talmud believed in the doctrine of transmigration. In the Zohar (Kabbala) however transmigration is boldly taught. There we are plainly told that the only remedy or salvation for the sinning or sinful soul is to purify itself through successive re-births. Nay, the Zohar maintains that transmigration is a punishment inflicted on the wicked who knowingly pervert the will of the Most High and stain their souls, which came alike pure and holy into this world.

* * *

Let us hope that this study will not only tend to remove existing prejudices against the Talmud but also awaken interest in and sympathy for the Jewish race and their rich literature! It is not by searching for the bad in other peoples* faiths, but for the good they contain, that we can approach truth and at the same time help to give birth to that ” fellow-feeling ” which ought to go to cement alL religions in a bond of noble brotherhood.


I. – By Swami Ramakrishnananda.

MOHAMMED was a great devotee of God. He could not reconcile himself to the religion which was then in vogue in his country. He used to go to th$ Syrian markets with their images of gods, and he would reflect within himself, ” How can these be God ? He cannot be created by man.” Later on when he was employed as a shepherd by Khodija, while his flocks were grazing, he used to medidate upon God and pray to Him for illumination in the cave of Mount Hara near Mecca. One day by the grace of God illumination came, when in a moment he went to the seventh heaven, led by the angel Gabriel. It is said that although he blindfolded himself with seven layers of cloth, still he could not get tud of the light of illumination. This story shows that Mohammed’s light was that of inner illumination ; that is, his inner mind was illuminated by wisdom. From that day forward, out of him came words of wisdom, which the wisest men of those days could not utter. When we study the Koran we cannot fail to hear the direct words of God pouring out of the heart of Mohammed, the illiterate prophet. He was not at all educated in books, still his words were so

* From the ” Universe and Man.”

impressive, so chaste and well chosen, that the idea of God using him as His mouthpiece is forced upon one. This is a very clear proof that real knowledge is to be found inside the Self, beyond the region of the Individual mind, as there alone can the universal mind of God sit supreme above all the minds of His Creatures.

II. By Swami Vivekananda*

AND then comes Mohammed, the Messenger of equality. You ask, ” What good can there be in his religion ?” If there were no good, how could it live ? The good alone lives, that alone survives; because the good alone is strong, therefore it survives. How long is the life of an impure man, even in this life ? Is not the life of the pure man much longer ? Without doubt, for purity is strength, goodness is strength. How could Mcjhammedanism have lived* had there been nothing good in its teaching ? There is much good. Mohammed was the prophet of equality, of the brotherhood of man, the brotherhood of all Mussalmans.

Mohammed by his life, showed, that amongst Mohammedans there should be perfect equality and brotherhood. There was no question of race, caste, creed, colour or sex. The Sultan of Turkey may buy a Negro from the mart of Africa, and bring him in chains to Turkey; but should he become a Mohammedan, and have sufficient merit and abilities, he

* From a lecture on ” The Great Teachers of the World.”

might even marry the daughter of the Sultan. Compare this with the way in which the Negroes and the American Indians are treated in this country! And what do Hindus do ? If one of your missionaries chance to touch the food of an orthodox person, he would throw it away. Notwithstanding our grand philosophy you note our weakness in practice; but there you see the greatness of the Mohammedan beyond other races, showing itself in equality, perfect equality regardless of race or colour.


GOD manifests in the form of a man that man may comprehend what God is. The Absolute is declared to be unknowable and unthinkable, hence He-is beyond the reach of the human mind. But to make it possible for man to understand Him, He assumes personal aspects and comes as a Christ or a Buddha. This is what is meant by a Divine Incarnation. Such a manifestation serves as the connecting link between God and man. He is Divine enough to be in touch with God and human enough to be in touch with man, so that man may realize Divine things through Him.

To truly grasp what an Incarnation is, however, we must have like qualities and show them forth in our lives. The words and actions of a great teacher no one can wholly understand until he has risen to the same plane of spiritual consciousness. When we have the same thing in us that was in Christ or in Buddah, then it is possible for us to comprehend what they taught. Until then, what they say and do must remain a closed chapter. We can never draw the picture of a great Being either to satisfy ourselves or others until we have the same qualities. One who speaks of Christ must himself be Christ-like in his life,

Extract from a lecture.

love and wisdom, else his words will carry but little weight. When our inner being becomes attuned with the Supreme, then alone can we express Him in our words and actions. That is why all the Divine Seers unanimously declare the absolute need of the practical application of Spiritual teaching. ” Being and becoming ” is the watchword of the sages. Let your light shine, that light within, the light of your living soul, let that shine forth, then all the clouds of doubt and ignorance will be dispelled and you will be able to comprehend the Divine. When your heart becomes pure you must see God. No one can prevent you. No church, no priest, nothing can keep you .from seeing God.

To the majority the Christ-consciousness or the direct perception of Truth seems something unattainable. But that cannot be. What has happened once will happen again. What has been done can be done : that is the law. The purpose of a Divine Incarnation is not merely to manifest His super-human and miraculous powers, but to point out to mankind by His life and example the goal of existence and man’s Divine birthright. Saviors do not come to proclaim things which are impossible for man to attain. No, we think them impossible because we do not try to practise them, so our religion degenerates into a blind and thoughtless acceptance of certain fixed forms and doctrines. When religion thus becomes a matter of mere belief and exists only as a theory, having lost its living quality, then God incarnates in human form to

re establish spirituality and destroy materialism. As. it is declared in the Bhagavad-Gita: –

” Though I am unborn and of unchangeable nature, and though I am Lord of all beings, yet by ruling over my Prakriti (Nature) I come into be ing by my own Maya (Mysterious power). Whenever there is decline of virtue and predominance of vice, then I embody Myself. For the protection of the good and for the destruction of evil-doers and for the re-establishment of Dharma (virtue and religion) I am born from age to age.”

Thus God manifests Himself at different periods of history in order to give tangible knowledge of His Divine nature. To make things that are incomprehensible to the finite mind, comprehensible, He takes finite form. He comes not to display His own glory; no, but to show man how as man he can manifest God; or as St. Augustine puts it – ” God was made man that man might become God.”

The purpose of the life and teaching of a great Savior is to open man’s eyes to his own higher Self, to awaken more love for God than for mundane things; or in other words, to make a mortal feel conscious of his immortal nature. In order to gain this consciousness and make it a part of our being We must learn to practise the Christ-Ideal in our every-day life. We must picture it. We must make it living to our heart. We must feel its reality. As we cultivate this habit of feeling the living Presence within, our vision will become more and more open
to subtle spiritual facts, which otherwise remain vague and unreal. People’s sight varies. Things which we may see plainly are not visible to the blind man ; so in the days of our inner blindness, we cannot see God or understand His manifestations. This was the case with the Scribes and Pharisees, who although scholarly men possessing the full knowledge of the letter, yet failed to understand Christ because they lacked that inner light which comes only through practice of the spirit. With most people the spiritual life is a matter of theory. They have just a little intellectual grasp of it; that is quite enough for them. But practice is the whole of it and not having practical experience in religion, we can never penetrate the inner depths of anything.

One man may go to church, pray and sing hymns in the name of Jesus, appearing righteous, but this cannot make him spiritual or bring him blessing so long as he does not manifest the teaching in his life mr and there may be another who may never go to a church or utter the name of Christ, but who through the practice of holiness and purity so embodies and radiates the Christ-spirit that he becomes a living symbol of the Christ-life. Such a soul alone truly honors Him and proves a worthy follower. As it is said in one of the Buddhist Sacred books : ” Now it is not thus, Ananda, that the Tathagata (Incarnate One) is rightly honoured, reverenced, venerated, held sacred and revered. But the brother or the sister, the devout man or the devout woman, who continually
fulfils all the greater and the lesser duties, who is correct in life, walking according to the precepts, it is he who rightly honors, reverences, venerates, holds sacred and reveres the Incarnate One with the worthiest homage. “

We do not honor our Savior by merely belonging to a creed founded in His name or by offering Him lip-praise. Only as we learn to shape our’lives after the model of His own do we show ourselves worthy of Him ; and this can be done only by living His teachings. Jesus the Christ Himself taught this lesson to His disciples, when He said to them : ” And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say ? Every one that cometh unto me, and heareth my words and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who digged and went deep and laid a foundation upon the rock : and when a flood arose, the stream broke against the house and could not shake it; because it had been well builded. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that built a house upon the earth without a foundation ; against which the stream brake, and straight way it fell in ; and the ruin of that house was great. ‘ ‘


By S. E. Waldo.

IN endeavoring to enter briefly upon a comparative study of Vedanta and Christianity, I wish first to thoroughly make clear that such study in no way enters into a question of merits, but simply deals with the available facts in each case, setting them side by side and endeavoring to gain from an unbiased comparison such lessons of toleration and sympathy as they may be able to teach us. People are every day growing to understand the value of such study and mottling connected with the World’s Fair at Chicago is likely to have a greater or more lasting »effect upon mankind than the impetus given in this direction by the Parliament of Religions then held. Long, long ago, however, nearly three hundred years before the birth of Jesus, the famous Buddhist King Asoka, who then ruled India and was perhaps one of the greatest and noblest of her many great and noble rulers, called together a religious convention, where all the religious * sects of those days could meet in harmony and love ‘to set forth their respective views and learn from one another.

After that, King Asoka sent missionaries into all fthe then known world and the records show that these Buddhist monks reached as far West as Antioch

* From the ” Vedanta Monthly.”

and Alexandria. But the most beautiful thing about the sending of these missionaries was the advice given to them by the great king who sent them. The very words have been preserved to us all these centuries, having been cut into rocks in a language so old that Only of late years have the inscriptions been deciphered. And they are models for every nation and every religion to copy, though we of the West have been accustomed to regard those good old Buddhists as ” heathens, ” and have only in a few instances and very recently come to perceive that in many respects they were far our superiors. In all ages and under all circumstances the Hindus have stood for perfect tolerance in religion. Save by their various conquerors, there has never been any such thing as religious persecution in India. When, then, the noble King Asoka sent out his missionaries, he charged them to disturb no man’s religion; but if they found any whom they could help, to do so; and to teach them with love and sympathy, but never with harshness. How different the methods of conversion often employed by the followers of Jesus !

When we study Christianity from’the historical standpoint, what do we find ? We find a book that teaches that over one thousand nine hundred years ago was born in Judea a child who grew up to be a great Teacher of His people, and whose name to-day is known all over the civilized world. Upon the sanction of His words as recorded in this book is founded the authority for all the doctrines and teachings of
the Christian religion. This is the reason why the church has always so vigorously opposed anything that could weaken the historical nature of the religion it teaches. Too much is made to rest on the question of the actual historical existence of Jesus, that is, upon a personality instead of upon a principle. And this is true of all the great religions that are built up around a particular person or founder. If the historical account of the life of such a person can be seriously shaken, the whole system of doctrines built on the personality is shaken too. This is one great advantage possessed by Vedanta. It rests on eternal principles, not on persons. All the great religious teachers that have come in India, even all those recognized there as Divine Incarnations, have been merely illustrations of these eternal principles, which exist quite independent of these living illustrations and which would continue to exist if these embodiments of their everlasting truths had never come before mankind. The Swami Vivekananda says: –

” Every one of the great religions in the world excepting our own is built upon such historical characters, but ours resti upon principles. There is no man or woman who can claim to have created the Vedas. These are the embodiment of eternal principles; sages discovered them, and now and then the names of these sages are mentioned, just their names ; We do not know who or what they were. But what cared, they, these sages, for their names ? They were the.

preachers of principles; and they themselves, as far as they went, tried to become illustrations of the principles they preached. At the same time, just as our God is an impersonal and yet a personal God, so is our religion a most intensely impersonal one, a religion based upon principles, and yet it has an infinite scope for the play of persons ; for what religion gives you more Incarnations, more Prophets and Seers, and still waits for infinitely more ? The Bhagavad-Gita says that Incarnations are infinite, leaving ample scope for as many as you like to come. It is vain to try to gather together all the peoples of the world around a single personality. It is difficult even to bring them together around eternal and universal principles. If it ever becomes possible to bring the largest portion of humanity to one Way of thinking in regard to religion, mark you, it must always be through principles and not through persons.”

The Hindus are, most of them, willing to accept Jesus as an Incarnation among other Incarnations, but not to regard Him as the only one the world has ever known. This is where Vedanta shows its marvellous breadth, in its full recognition of the actual unity of all religions. In fact, what Vedanta recognizes is religion itself, not any particular expression of it. It grasps the principle of religion, and leaves each special religion to work this principle out in the way best adapted to the needs of the people and the period that have produced that special religion. This universal toleration and acceptance in Vedanta is what makes Hinduism appear diverse, even polytheistic, to-superficial observers. To the Vedantin this diversity simply indicates that variations in external forms are’ necessary and inevitable among different grades of development. To assert that there is only one way of seeking the Infinite God seems to him an unwarrantable and somewhat arrogant assumption of1 wisdom.

Among the Hindus dates and names and other historical facts receive but little attention. The thing said is of so much vaster importance to them than the ¦ name and date of the speaker or even the place where it was said, that these details are frequently overlooked altogether. An utterance is valued for its intrinsic worth and gains but little additional weight or force from the name of him who uttered it. In the West, it is apt to be exactly the opposite way and an utterance is of importance just in proportion to the position of the person making it. We have already seen that Vedanta is not dependent upon the historical existence of any person or upon the teaching of any founder for its spiritual and ethical sanction. Neither is it bound to any book, nor to any special revelation. ” With it revelation is a perpetual stream that never ceases to flow.” Revealed knowledge does not crystallize into something final, but is expected to be eternally obtained by man and to be suited to his growing needs. Vedanta’places the basis of religion in the nature of man himself. It recognizes that in reaching the ultimate goal of all thought and reason, a final unity must
be found ; that the Self, the Absolute, can be but One, and that therefore God and man are essentially one. Not only so, but this unity of existence must include all being. ” That which exists is One, Sages call it variously ” is a basic truth in Vedanta.

Surely here is to be found a common basis for all religions, and it is not unreasonable to hope that the time may come when harmony in religion may prevail all over the world – not harmony in modes of worship, but harmony in the great essentials that will lead to wise and loving toleration of the differences Jn external forms of expression. When once we have grasped this idea of the absolute oneness underlying all the variety to be found in the world, no more can there be hard feelings that another does not see life through just the same spectacles as ourselves. Then the name of the particular religion we profess will be of trifling importance. All the religions can then work in harmony for the spiritual uplifting of mankind, sure that each has the same end in view, and that creeds and doctrines and ceremonials and names are but the ” outer crust,” covering yet not hiding the Reality behind them all.

Because Vedanta is founded on principles and not on personality, it is the one religious philosophy of the world which has nothing to fear from science. It includes three stages as natural evolutionary steps. It has a copious mythology and a most extensive and varied ritual, but behind all these and supporting them is a wonderful philosophy, the real foundation
of the whole structure. No ” mgner criticism will
ever shake that to its foundations. There have been in our time grave discussions as to the validity in the Christian religion of the Eden myth and of Jonah and the whale. From the tenor of some of the views advanced by clergymen all over the country, one would suppose that the latter was one of the bulwarks of Christianity ! Those more advanced thinkers in our pulpits who dare proclaim that Christianity rests upon a basis more substantial than the literal fact that a great fish swallowed a man and after three days was glad to part from him, are even looked upon with doubt and distrust by their brother preachers. The weakness of a merely historical religion could not be more forcibly shown. The grand truths contained in the teachings of Jesus would be none the less great even were the whole of the Old Testament swept.. away. They can afford to rest on their intrinsic worth without being bolstered up by any ” authority” whatsoever ; and it is owing to the fact that appeal to authority has been supposed to add to their weight and value, that the feeling is now so prevalent that whatever undermines the authority must of necessity undermine Christianity itself. God forbid that it should have to rest upon such a foundation as that!

We have to learn that ” things are in the Bible because they are true, and not true because they.are in the Bible.” We must recognize that’ in our Scriptures too we have the three stages, – ceremonial, mythology, and a little philosophy. That there is any
of the latter at all is due to the influence of Greek thought. All the Aryan races are given to philosophical speculation, but not the Semitic ; and Christianity includes the Old Testament as well as the New. The former is really a record of how the Hebrews arrived at the concept of Monotheism ; how Yahveh or Jehovah developed from the God of a desert tribe into the One God of all the worlds, the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings. The very titles prove the fact that from being one among many Yahveh gradually grew to be the One and Only God. One by one, theology has had to let the old traditions slip ! It was hard to let the story of creation in six days out of nothing pass into the realm of -mythology, and even yet many still cling to it as direct revelation. Slowly, slowly the theologians are learning that instead of weakening the tree of spiritual life, it grows* stronger through having the dead branches lopped off that with the removal of bonds and fetters it makes a larger, freer growth; and that really religion has* nothing to fear from any source, if it will only be its own authority through the inherent truth of its essential facts, instead of trying to support itself on any extraneous authority whatsoever.

For some Christ-ideal is the highest; and especially is this the case in the West, because it has been evolved here and it fits in with our aspirations and modes of thought. But surely we can love Jesus and strive to live a life in accordance with His teachings without any quarrel with our brother of the East
who finds his aspirations realized in Buddha or Mohammed or some other great Teacher. If all those ” who profess and call .themselves Christians,” would only devote themselves as faithfully and earnestly to the practice of their belief as do the Mohammedans and Hindus and Buddhists, they would undoubtedly develop a spirituality far in advance of anything that has ever been known in Christian lands and which would go far to make real the song of the angels, ” Peace on earth, and good will to men.” If we loved God more we should assuredly love our fellow creatures more, and that love would bring the recognition that all mankind are brothers, children of one God; and carried to the highest point, such love would lead to the realization that God and man are one.


IF the succession of German thinkers who made the seventeenth, eighteenth and half the nineteenth centuries famous by the boldness with – which they undertook to grapple with the mysteries of our being, failed to get within any measurable distance of an actual solution, their efforts, nevertheless, served an excellent purpose. They succeeded, for example, in establishing a logical and scientific necessity for a God, in Whom the world of sensation possessed whatever of reality it could claim. The object which all men seek either by philosophy, or by religion, or by science is a unity which was never created and which is therefore Infinite, but from or on account of which all that we see, feel and h£ar exists. That the search is not in vain and that such an Infinite is discoverable may very properly be taken for granted in that the idea is universal in all minds. So much the German School has conceded. But that the Infinite cannot be reached through the finite, if it needs proof at all, has once and for all been made abundantly clear, we should imagine, by the succession of failures of such trained intellects as went to make up the history of the German transcendental period. If there be any doubt on this point, let us briefly examine into some of the aspects of the question.

Mind is a part of time, space and causation and lies therefore within time, space and causation. To think, we have to think in time ; it is irftpossible to conceive anything which did not begin in time, which is not preceded by previous time and which will not be succeeded by time. Our thoughts are’., also in space; the human mind fails to conceive anything which has not form, indeed the only idea of thought itself is this giving of shape. The mind is a storehouse of information; and when it is required to bringany part of this information into consciousness, the mind selects the idea and makes a mental image of it. The mind also exists under the law of causation ; so much all physical sciences concede, – that what is now is the effect of what has been. If the mind then is Within these three laws, obviously it is impossible to bring even the whole of time, of space, or of causation within the knowledge of the mind. But each of these three laws precludes an Infinite’; for an Infinite which has the limiting elements of time within it is a contradiction, so with space and causation. If it be impossible for the mind to grasp the whole truth of these laws, how then can it possibly hope to comprehend that which even goes beyond these ? 1 . . •

Yet, as before stated, the Infinite exists, therefore it must be discoverable; but in confining ourselves to limited means, we are making that discovery an im* possible undertaking. We can never know the Absolute. What then can we do ? We can realize that
we are the Absolute. The very idea of an Infinite precludes a second. From this it must follow that this univefse must also be that Absolute. Obviously it it so, but – and here the Vedanta is saved from degenerating into Pantheism – this universe is not as-it appears to us. It exists, but not as we know it. The idea that there are differentiations and consequently imperfections is a super-imposition caused by ignorance ; but there is still a reality upon which these mistaken notions appear. Hence we see that the Vedanta is neither pure realism nor pure idealism; and yet either of these is explicable in the light of Vedanta, in as much as it says there is a Reality which appears as material and yet is not material. In that appearance is all that is true of realism. In the statement that, given an infinite, there cannot also be an independent finite lies all that is true of idealism. But above and beyond both of these is the Truth, the Reality, which is neither material nor immaterial, but which contains within itself all that is true of either. As it is declared in the Bhagavad-Gita : ” There are two beings in the world – the perishable and the imperishable; all the creatures are the perishable and the Immutable Spirit abiding within them is called the imperishable. But another, the Highest Being, is* designated the Supreme Spirit, who pervading the three worlds, supporteth them – the Eternal Lord.”

In seeking to find an existence out of which phenomenal existence has sprung, we are all, no mattes
in what direction our inquiries are turned, actuated, as I have already said, by the desire to discover an independent Being, which, while explaining all that we see, feel and hear, in no way relies upon either a previous existence or the present world of sensation for its establishment. In other words we who are subject to the bondages of matter seek something which is free. Descartes says that the proof that there is a God is the universal belief that there is, and he is, merely expressing in different language the old Stoic idea that man is born with certain natural conceptions of good, by which he is able to distinguish positive good from good which is transient and dependent on surrounding circumstances. In the same way we are entitled to insist upon the existence of freedom because of the universal belief that freedom is possible, and of the universal attempt to obtain that freedom, either in the material world or by release from it. That the conception of what this freedom is, wherein it lies and how it is to be reached, varies, makes no difference to the belief that there
is something which is free. For example, Vedantists of the Advaita or Monistic school will hold that this freedom is always existing within us, our own Soul; Dvaitists or dualistic Vedantists regard freedom as service of God without the restrictions which life in this world imposes; Schopenhaeur says it is the will which is free; the Stoics say that there are natural conceptions, born with every man, which, if allowed to guide us, will free us not only from unhappiness,
but from happiness tempered by evil; Buddhists say it is annihilation of the law of Karma.

Take away the idea of freedom, where shall we find the justification for ethics, apart from the motive power ? If God is most expressed in man and the best-life is that which is nearest to what we conceive to be the nature of God, then each man’s conception of God becomes the thing to be obtained. But ethics teaches the renunciation of the ego – not we, but thou and all. Ethics tells us that we realize the greatest good in the greatest number. If, however, that good is expressed in each man’s highest conception, in order that there may be life, since manifested life is based on variation, there must be difference of conception, and the question arises which is the greatest good, my conception or yours ? Universality is then impossible on these lines; and with the dethronement of universality, ethics also must go and utilitarianism must take its place. Utilitarianism is the recognition and practice of that which appeals to each and every individual as most beneficial. Taking an extreme case, it may appear to me that I shall best obtain my own comfort by the removal of my neighbour. But that neighbour in his highest possible manifestation is also God, and we are face to face with an absurdity – God the enemy of God.

If we once recognize the necessity for relativity in matter – and no science, no stretch of imagination will permit us to deny it – we must necessarily therefore look beyond or outside of matter for that freedom

which we are all convinced is to be found; and the Atman of the Vedantin seems to meet every requirement. It is immaterial arid therefore not dependent on limitation; and being beyond limitation, it must be One, without a secofid which can limit and condition it. If it is One only, it is consequently universal; and this universality establishes the necessity for ethics. Every ” natural conception ” of good finds explanation, the reason for law and order is made clear, the greatest good for the greatest number is established as an indisputable fact ” The sage is he who looks with an equal eye upon the Brahmin, the cow, the elephant, the dog, and the Chandala. Even in this life they have conquered heaven whose minds are firm fixed on this sameness. For Brahman (the Supreme) is one and the same to all; therefore such are said to be living in Brahman.”

If we regard this as the truth, we can very well understand why the happiness of one is best obtained in the happiness of the many; because in hurting another the injury is equally mine, and because the greater the expansion of good, the more powerfully must it be felt not only by all, but by each one affected by the expansion. Freedom then must be possible by release from the bondages of matter, but can never be possible in matter. Neither can we afford to look lightly on another point. While we are still dependent on others, our strength, like everything else, is also limited and must always remain so. Good work requires” strength and courage, to perform it. For this

reason also the conclusion of the Vedanta is infinitely preferable. If there is only one expressing itself in these many, what occasion remains for fear ? The Self cannot kill the Self, neither can It injure It in any way. Death and failure are impossible to me while you live and succeed, for your success is mine and my failure merely contributes to your success, the fruits of which I enjoy equally with you. Therefore the Vedanta not only disproves the possibility of abject weakness, but gives the best of all reasons for the struggle towards absolute strength, in which alone lies that Bliss which is but another name for freedom.

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