by Bhagavan Das (Published in 1934)
FROM Righteousness doth rise all lawful Wealth,
Whence the Fulfilling of all just Desire
Why walk not then that Way of Righteousness !
Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His Righteousness,
and all these things shall be added unto you.
Every fresh proclamation by a great soul (1) of the One Eternal Essential Religion of the Oneness of God, the Supreme all-pervading Principle of all Life and Consciousness, the Universal Father, (2) of [Page 2] the consequent Brotherhood of Man, and (3) of the resultant natural Duty of whole-hearted Love and Service of and Co-operation with Fellowmen, which is the indispensable condition and sure source of all peace, prosperity, progress and happiness — every such re-proclamation has been followed by a fresh civilisation in human history.
5000 to 600 B.C., Vaidika Upanishad Period;
and 600 B.C. to 700 A.D., Bauddha Period
This Essential Spiritual Religion, embodied in the Upanishads and the Gita, formed the basis of the ancient Indian civilisation from about 5000 B.C. to about 600 B.C. Then it decayed. Tirthankara Parshva-natha, about 850 B.C., and again Tirthankara Mahavira Jina, about 600 B:C., endeavoured to put new life into it. But chiefly the Buddha, contemporary with Mahavira Jina of India, Laotse and Confucius of China, and Pythagoras of Greece, proclaimed it in a new form, here, some 2,500 years ago, revived the decaying civilisation, and gave it a new lease of life.
This re-stored intellectual and emotional energy of the people indirectly helped the growth of the magnificent Empire of Chandragupta and his teacher and prime minister; Chanakya-Kautilya, (contemporary with Alexander and his teacher Aristotle, and nearly so with the emperor Shi-hwang-ti and the philosopher Mencius of China), and directly developed the yet more magnificent, [Page 3] and, what is far more, in all history matchlessly beneficent, empire of Chandraguptas grandson Ashoka Priya-darshi, the Tender-eyed. the Lover of Mankind. Its vitality lasted for about 1,200 years. Then, having exhausted its missionary fervour, its preaching and teaching ardour, its literary activity, its colonising enterprise, it began to fail. Yet it lingered on for another 400 years or so, here and there, in this country, and then sank back again into the Vaidika ways, out of the degeneration of which it had arisen as a Great Reform.
During this period, the Vishv-atma, the Ruh-i-Kul, the Oversoul, the Collective-Mind, sent two other great teachers; Jesus the Messiah, to the Hebrew race, nearly 2,000 years ago, not to destroy but to fulfil the Old Testament by the New; and Muhammad the Prophet, to the allied Arab race, about 1,400 years ago, to give to it the same Eternal Word of God in the language of the Quran.
Innahu la fi zubur-il-awwalin ... Le kullé qaumin had ... (Q).
(This that I am now uttering unto you,
Is to be found in th ancients sayings too;
For prophets have been sent to every race.)
These two forms of Religion, the Christian and the Islamic, were also predestined to come to India, and to make their contribution to the new civilisation which is to grow up here under the guidance of Providence. [Page 4]
Buddhism declined, together with its corresponding magnificent civilisation, i.e., its special language and literature, its architectural and other arts, its forms of worship, its social manners and conventions, because, it would seem, of the loss of virtue, and the gradual growth of indolence, love of ease, luxury, avarice, vice, sin, tantrika practices of black magic, jadu, hypocrisy, crimes, and, finally, political intrigues, in the great viharas, the monastery-universities; and because of the fostering of excessive Buddha - idol - worship, and literalism and formalism outside the viharas; in consequence of all which the priests lost the trust of the people.
Then Shankaracharya taught the Eternal Spiritual Religion afresh in the sixth century A.D. (or seventh, or even eighth, according to some scholars). Owing, however, to various social causes and reactions, and to the activities of some of his immediate precessors, Kumarila and his disciples, who had tried hard to revive the ritualistic side of the Vedic religion, in opposition to Buddhism, certain hardenings of internal divisions and differences of castes and sub-castes were left behind, in place of the living elasticity and power of transformation and assimilation of all sorts of tribes and groups which the ancient Indian Vaidika Scheme of Social Organisation, or socio-religious polity, known as Varn-ashrama Dharma, had freely exercised till then. Such rigidity may perhaps have had some use in that time of active antagonisms, [Page 5] for marking off Buddhists from Vaidikas, or as a safeguard against looseness in sex-relations, or as a help in reducing vocational misfit or excessive competition; but afterwards, running to irrational excess, it became a source of great weakness and degeneration. The essentials of Buddhist culture and its main forms of life-expression were gradually reabsorbed in the new revival of Vedic religion (not without the accompaniment of conflict and some bloodshed) and disappeared therein, after the recognition of the Buddha as a great spiritual avatara, and of his teaching as identical in essence with Shankar-acharyas.
Having, during many centuries, spread, like the banyan tree, long branches over, and dropped strong aerial roots and planted them firmly in Ceylon, Tibet, China, Japan, Burma, Siam, and the adjoining countries and Islands, (and perhaps wafted a few missionaries, like leaves, to far-off Mexico and Peru also [See Louis Mitchell; Conquest of the Maya; also the story in the Maha-bharata, of how Arjuna saved the life of the asura Maya, and how. afterwards, the grateful Maya built the wonderful Palace and Hall of Audience of Yudhisthira ] across the Ocean, as some researchers and enthusiasts are beginning to think, guessing that Yucatan is Yoga-sthana, and Guatemala is Gautam-alaya) — having done this, Buddhism dried up in the original root and trunk, whereby Greater India lost its great adjective.
Harsha-vardhana, emperor of North India, with his capitals at Sthaneshvara (Thaneshar) near Delhi [Page 6] and at Kanya-kubja (Kanauj) near Lucknow, was contemporary with the Prophet Muhammad, and nearly so with the Persian King Nausherwan the Just, for having been born within whose reign the Prophet congratulated himself. He seems to have made some effort to reconcile Brahmanism and Buddhism, and gave generous hospitality to the famous Chinese traveller and Buddhist scholar, Hiouen Tsang (or Yuan Chwang), about the middle of the seventh century A.D.; but his effort was not successful.
700 A.D. to 1600 A.D. Shankar-acharya;
advent of Islam and Christianity; Sants and Auliyas
Just about this time, i.e. the middle of the seventh century, A:D., Islam came to the shores of Malabar, and then, a little later, in the last years of that century, to those of Sind. To the Malabar coast, Arabs had been coming for long, in pre-Islamic times, for trade purposes. And in these southernmost parts of India, Islam spread slowly and quietly, by peaceful attraction, without any political pressure, down to the end of the thirteenth century A.D., when southern India was invaded by Alauddins general, Malik Kafur.
In northern India, too, down to the end of the tenth century, i:e., the beginning of the raids of Mahmud of Ghazna there was very little fighting between the followers of the two religions as such, [Page 7] except perhaps in Sind. We may also note that Mahmud Ghaznavi was almost an Indian. The countries now called Afghanistan and Baluchistan were parts of India in his day, and their population, and also of great parts of Turkestan, was wholly Hindu or Buddhist, shortly before his time, and largely so in his day. His raids too, were, in motive, probably very much like the dig-vijaya, ashva-medha, and raja-suya (accession and coronation and overlordship) raids of Hindu kings. From the eleventh to the sixteenth century, the new religion and the old competed with one another, for the favour of the Indian people, somewhat more strenuously. Yet, it seems, they did so without any clear collective consciousness, on either side, that it was a struggle between the religions as such. The battles were principally motived by the ordinary ambitions of warrior-chiefs for plunder, martial glory, political supremacy, extension of territory. Thus even the religiously liberal, but politically imperialistic, Akbar drove the brave and noble Hindu queen Durgavati of Garha Mandala, (Gondwana), famous in ballad, to her death in A.D. 1566, and overran her territory and plundered her wealth, accumulated during many generations; and he also, similarly, caused the death of the equally valorous and famous Musalman queen Chand Bibi of Ahmadnagar, in 1596; Imperialism is more murderous than communalism. So, on the other hand, Aurangzeb, whom history knows as [Page 8] a bigot, was not an altogether indiscriminate iconoclast. He seems to have sincerely disliked the irrational superstition almost inseparable from excessive idolatry. But — so traditions current among the Hindus themselves say, and traditions have their psychological value, even when not historically provable his instructions were that those shrines should be spared, the keepers of which could show any extraordinary mystical or mysterious power. Apar-nath ka Tekra(a large stone building, at Lakshmi-kunda, in Benares) is said to have been built by him for Apar-nath, because the latter showed him some extraordinary feats of Hatha-yoga. He also made a grant of several villages (still in their possession, with the exception of a part of one which was acquired for the grounds of the Benares Hindu University in 1915-16) to the heads of the sect of Jangamas, because of a display of their mysterious fire-walking powers, which powers they retain to this day, and exhibit to the public now and then (the present writer having witnessed the ceremony twice). The temple of Someshwara-nath in Arail, near Allahabad, also still enjoys part of the jagir granted to it by him, and the priests have still in their possession the original Persian firman making the grant, signed by Aurangzeb himself. Other instances can be quoted. An amusing one is recorded by Kincaid and Parasnis, (A History of the Maratha People, III, pp: 9-10): Aurangzebs men-at-arms had [Page 9] tried to plunder the temple of Jejuri ... one of the holiest spots in the Deccan ... but had been ignominiously driven out by a swarm of hornets that miraculously issued forth from a hole in the temple wall. The bigoted Emperor, convinced against his reason, of the power of a Hindu idol, bestowed on it a diamond worth a lakh and a quarter!
Clerical writers, contemporaneous or subsequent, of chronicles, poems, and histories, have greatly exaggerated their accounts and colored them more or less thickly with the odium theologicum, and given a fanatical and very unwholesome religious complexion to the incidents. If Indian History, in all these centuries, is carefully scrutinized, it will be found that there have been quite as many battles between Hindu king and Hindu king, and between Musalman king and Musalman king, as between Hindu king and Musalman king; and also that, in very many of these battles, Hindu as well as Musalman soldiers and captains have been present on both sides. Mahmud Ghaznavi himself had Hindu soldiers in his armies, and one of his great generals was a Hindu named Tilak. It is well-known that some of the best generals of Akbar and also Aurangzeb were Hindus. No doubt there was a great deal of savage slaughter of human beings, and barbarous vandalism in the utterly wanton destruction of the finest buildings, religious and secular, and, of course, [Page 10] no end of plunder and rapine; but that was common to all wars all over the world in those medieval centuries, the general horror being relieved only by generous acts of personal chivalry, here and there. We may also note that the religio-political wars and persecutions in other parts of Asia and throughout Europe, in all that period, were more bitter and murderous, more sharply defined as between Christian and Moor or Pagan, or as Crusade against Saracen, or Inquisitional torturing of heretics, or war between Roman Catholic and Protestant, and so on.
The incoming religion was an openly proselytising creed. The indigenous religion had thrown away and lost the vital power of assimilation, very clearly embodied in the Vedic injunction, Aryanise, civilise, the world. The noble significance of the word Arya, from ri, to go, indicated by its etymology, may be expounded, thus,
He who is worthy to be gone to, approached, for help in trouble, and to whom people in distress run for relief therefrom he is Arya. The self-denying, other-helping; philanthropic person is the true Arya. [Page 11]
This assimilatively civilising, reforming, refining power, inherent in the very nature of Essential Religion, as a message for all from, and a call of all to, the God within and without — this power; the indigenous religion had formerly possessed and exercised fully and freely. Thereby, in pre-Buddhistic and Buddhistic times, it had, by ceremonies like the vratya-stoma, accommodated and incorporated all sorts of vratya, i:e. nomad groups, tribes, communities, scattered all over India, or coming from outside, into its own shalina, i.e., settled industrial - economical - political - educational organisation of chatur-varnya, four temperamental - vocational classes, which are the four inevitable natural estates of every civilised (or even semi-civilised) realm, and which are only systematised and regularised in and by Varn-ashrama Dharma with clear partitioning and balancing of rights and corresponding duties between the four. Not only had it lost this power of inclusion and assimilation; it had begun to exclude, to positively drive out; it was ossifying into innumerable mutually touch-me-not castes and sub-castes.
Only when Hindus at large realise that Hinduism has developed prolific germs of fissiparous degeneracy within itself, whereby it has literally driven away millions, generation after generation, from its own fold into the folds of other religions, chiefly Islam, and, to a much smaller extent, [Page 12] Christianity — only then can the further rapid decay of Vaidika Dharma be stayed; only then will it revive and purify itself, as Swami Dayananda and some others have desired and endeavoured that it should, and will help to purify other religions also, by force of active example, from that excessive literalism, formalism, insistence on Non-Essentials and neglect of Essentials, which is the main cause of all religious conflicts; only then will it draw the worlds attention to those Spiritual Essentials which are common to all religions, and the insistence on which alone can promote good will and righteousness, and therefore peace and material prosperity throughout the human world.
It is well known that followers often try to outrun their leaders, and ruin their work by excess of zeal. History tells us that the Prophet Muhammad desired Khalid to bring to him a certain Arab chief, for persuasion into the fold of Islam, which word also has a noble significance, viz., Love of God and submission to His will, whence inner and outer salm, shanti, peace. Khalid was unfortunately short of temper, long of sword, strong of arm. He was fashioned for the work, not of teacher and preacher, but of soldier. The Arab chief demurred to his peremptory summons. Instead of bringing him whole, body and soul, Khalid brought his head, separated from both, to the Prophet. Muhammad expiated the great sin by much fast, vigil, and prayer to God for [Page 13] forgiveness. So the Vedic scriptures, while enjoining cleanliness of body and purity of mind, and careful avoidance of all unwholesomeness and impurity in diet and of all disparity of psycho-physical temperament in marriage, as naturally and properly do all scriptures of all religions, nowhere give countenance to the self-righteous and senseless exclusiveness and pretentious and hypocritical dont-touch-ism which are the most outstanding features of Hinduism today.
It cannot be re-iterated too often that while Hinduism may have lost some adherents because of other reasons, it has lost a vastly greater number by perfectly voluntary conversion, out of spontaneous choice, as a means of quick and easy escape from the tyrannies of the perverted and distorted caste-system, into the more sympathetic and solidarian brotherhood of, and lesser inequality of status in the new religion. To mention one or two characteristic instances:
The case of Kala-Pahar, Black Mountain or Black Giant, (also known as Kala-yavana in Assam), is well-known in Bengal. Originally a brahmana of the name of Raja-chandra (called Raju by Muslim historians), outcasted by his fellow-brahmanas on utterly false and trumpery charges of breach of trivial caste-customs, he formally embraced Islam, and, then, as commander of Nawab Dauds forces, in the second half of the sixteenth century, destroyed numberless temples and oppressed [Page 14] and punished the brahmanas. The story of Sultan Sikandar, who reigned in Kashmir at the end of the fourteenth century is somewhat similar. His ancestors had recently adopted Islam, and he wanted to go back into the Hindu fold; but the Pandits declined to receive him back. He is now remembered as the Idol-Breaker and as having forced the bulk of the population to conform to the Muslim religion.
That in 1,200 years, from A.D. 700 to the present times, the Muslim population has grown from nil to about 25 p.c., and only 25 p.c., and the Hindu shrunk from about 100 p.c. to about 65 p.c:, and only 65 p.c.; (the remaining 10 p.c. being covered by other religions, Christian, Parsi, etc.) — this fact is mathematical proof, on the one hand, that the Hindu majority as such has never thought of oppressing any other religious minority as such, but has, instead, fostered many such minorities and helped them to grow in its midst; (e.g., the Christian, which began to form in southern India in the very first century A.C., and which has grown here peacefully and slowly ever since, except when the first Portuguese invaders attempted forcible conversion for a while; and the Parsi, which established a colony in Surat, fleeing from Persia in the seventh century A.C. because of Arab invasion); and, on the other hand, it is proof that Islam has not spread so much by the sword as by the quiet pressure of political influence in the times of [Page 15] Musalman kings and emperors, and by its attractiveness for the so-called lower castes or depressed classes of the Hindus, helped by the repulsiveness of Hinduism for those lower castes — repulsiveness proved by the very adjective lower, nicha-jati, applied to them by the self-styled higher.
Yet sufficient core of virtue was left in the older religion to enable it, not only to avoid complete extinction, but to touch and stimulate a responsive chord in the being of the younger. Many good and great teachers, sufis and auliyas, ahl-i-dil, men of heart; as distinguished from ahl-i-daul, men of worldly goods and worldly mind, gradually arose in India within the pale of Islam, or came from outside into the influence of the best spiritual atmosphere of this country, (as distinguished from the degeneracies of its practised religion), to teach to the people, as far as possible, in the new language of the times, in popular form, the ilm-i-sina, the doctrine of the heart, Tasawwuf, that is to say, the eternal Atma-vidya, Upanishad, Para-vidya, Guhya -vidya, Rahasya-vidya, Theo-sophia, God-wisdom, as distinguished from the ilm-i-safina, the doctrine of the page, apara-vidya; the spirit as distinguished from the letter, the substance from the form, the core from the surface; the jnana-kanda and bhakti-kanda from the mere karma-kanda, the haqiqat and tariqat from the mere shariyat. [Page 16]
On the other side, within the pale of Hinduism, appeared from time to time, good and great teachers, earnest men, devotees of God, bhaktas and jnanis, sadhus and sants, saints and sages, individuals belonging to the same spiritual race as the sufis and auliyas, who also taught the same eternal truths in popular language, and endeavoured to tone down the differences of the surface between creed and creed and caste and caste. Vedanta and Yoga of the one side, Tasawwuf and Suluk of the other began to recognise fraternal resemblance in each others faces. In the last quarter of the sixteenth century, the Emperor Akbar, like the Emperor Harsha-vardhana, a thousand years earlier, made a brave effort at the reconciliation of all religions; an effort to complete, with the help of political influence, the spiritual work of the hermits, durveshas and sannyasis, faqirs and mahatmas, akhunds and swamis; while his contemporaries of Europe, Bloody Mary and scarcely less bloody Elizabeth of England were torturing and murdering Protestants and Roman Catholics respectively, and awful crimes against humanity were being committed, in the name of religion, in the Netherlands, France, Spain, and other countries.
But the time was not yet ripe. More heating and melting of the metals, in the fire of unhappy contests, was needed before they would weld into a sound and useful alloy. Hotter fires, of wars due to fanatical frenzy, have been used by Providence, [Page 17] in the West, to stimulate, on the one hand, collective consciousness, common sentiment, on the plane of mind, in respect of deliberately-held principles of life-conduct, (as distinguished from merely physiological herd-ing or even racial or national horde-ing, on the plane of the body), and; on the other hand, to make human beings realise the reductio ad absurdum of bigotry in religion; then to usher in the Age of Science; to lead that age, by excess of reaction, to the contrary extreme of frantic sensuality and horrible misuse of science, whence political and economic world-wars and world-bankruptcies; finally, let us hope and pray, to bring round again, on a much higher level, in the cyclic chakra of samsara, the world-process; the Age of Religious Science or Scientific Religion, when the Human Race as a whole will see that Spirit and Matter, Soul and Body, Religion and Science, are interdependent, are aspects of the same one Truth.
The Gradual Fusion of Hindu and Islamic Cultures
In the centuries after the tenth, Islamic religion and also political rule slowly advanced, and Hinduism — no longer true Vaidika Dharma (which words etymologically mean all the best that the modern words Scientific Religion can convey) receded, socially and also politically, largely because of the same Spirit of separativeness, and each for himself, and consequent weakening, internal and external. Yet the natural [Page 18] and inevitable result of all these historical processes was that Hindus and Musalmans were constantly influencing each other, affecting and changing each others ways of life, as neighbours, in times of peace, and even in war, for both Hindu and Muslim soldiers were often to be found on each side. All this tended necessarily towards an amalgamation of cultures. Even so, today; we see assimilation of European ways of thinking and living, by well-to-do Hindus and Musalmans both, going on in the larger towns, and tending to serve as a means of closer approximation between these two, but sterilised in this respect by artificially created divisive politico-economic deceptions. The difference is that this new assimilation is one-sided, not reciprocated by the western resident, because he is politically dominant over both Hindu and Musalman in a manner in which these two never have been over one another, and because he lives apart, is not a neighbour, is not, (with the exception of the small community of Eur-asians or Anglo-Indians) a child of the soil (as every Indian Musalman is now, being a descendant of Hindu ancestors, paternal, or maternal, or both), does not adopt India as his motherland, and does not make it his home permanently. The few noble exceptions to this general practice of the western resident only prove the rule.
The amalgamation of the two cultures progressed slowly, because the outer forms of the two religions [Page 19] were different (though scarcely more so than those of the several sects of Hinduism or even those of Islam). But it progressed steadily because of constant neighbourhood and the interweaving of manifold social relations, and because, after all, the inner truths of both were the same.
They accepted ideas and practices from one another in philosophy, science (medicine, astronomy, etc.), fine arts (architecture, music, painting, calligraphy, illustration and illumination of manuscripts, weaving and embroidering and dyeing of fine cloths, shawls, blankets, and carpets, of cotton, silk, wool, and gold and silver thread, jewellery, perfumery, etc.), and crafts (metal-working, utensil-fashioning, weapon-making, etc.). The ways of living (housing, clothing, dietary, etc.) approximated more and more. Both joined in each others festivals freely. Hindu and Muslim kings wore the Same type of dress, at least for formal occasions. Many of the most favourite flowers and confections of India today have Persian-Arabic names; halwa, barfi, murabba, sharbat, gul-ab, gul-i-daudi, gul-i-shabbu, itr, etc., have become household words in Hindu homes; so dal, chapati, roti, puri, kachauri; tarkari, phal, sag, achar, pan, bela, chameli, etc., in Musalman homes; in northern India. The names of the cloths, clothes, utensils, and articles of furniture, used by Hindus and Musalmans alike, are an inseparable mixture of Samskrt and Arabic-Persian words, in the Hindu-Urdu or Hindustani speaking [Page 20] parts of India. Lala, as a title of respect, is used exclusively among and for Hindus, particularly in northern India; never now among Musalmans; yet, so Gibbon informs us incidentally (Ch. 58; Roman Empire), it is a Turkish-Mongolian word; it must have come into India with the Moghals. It must also not be forgotten that if Muslims are meat-eaters, so are the vast majority of Hindus, the only difference being that the one avoid one animal as too beneficent to humanity to be killed, and the other another as too unclean to be eaten. The scriptures of both equally forbid spirituous liquors.
As Hindus have added to their pantheon and their scheme of worship, all sorts of Muslim takiyas, dargahs, maqbaras, faqirs, auliyas, so would the Muslim masses have probably taken to mandiras, tirthas, sadhus, yogis; etc., also, if only Hindu priests had been less narrow-sighted and exclusive, and more large-hearted and liberal-minded. As it is, millions of Muslims offer milk and eatables on the altars of Shitala, the goddess of small-pox, in villages, and, less happily, Shia Musalmans have learnt to imitate the dont-touch-ism of the Hindu; and certain Sufi sects, in their internal organisation, have adopted offices and names from corresponding Hindu sects of Sanyasis and Udasis, such as Sir-gur (Shri-Guru), Bhandari, Upakari, Chauk, etc..
Notwithstanding the exclusiveness of the Hindu, neo-Muslims often kept up relations with their old [Page 21] brahmana priests. Learned men, poets, physicians; and astrologers of the other community were almost always attached to the courts and houses of royal and other powerful families of each community. In legal matters also, there was approximation. The Khojas of the south follow Hindu law. The Muslim Taluqdars (landholders) of Oudh, like their Hindu confrères, observe the law of primogeniture, though it is not in accord with the Muslim law or Fiqah. Muslims in the U.P. and the Punjab seldom give the daughters share to her, though Fiqah requires it.
Such approximation was natural and inevitable, when the vast majority of the Muslim population was recruited from the ranks of the Hindus, and could not give up lifelong habits at once or altogether. Indeed, if the custodians of the Vaidika Dharma had retained the needed qualities of head and heart, they would have easily retained all this population in the old religion, and, more, would probably have been able to absorb the new-comers into it. As it was, the comparatively very few Musalmans who came from other countries, when they settled here permanently, were compelled by the social and climatic conditions of the country to adopt many of its habits. Converted Hindu women, married into Muslim households, retained many of their religious and semi-religious customs and practices, and considerably modified Muslim home-life. If Hindu chiefs, in those early days, could [Page 22] have had the necessary length and breadth of vision, and could have, not only given daughters to, but taken daughters from, friendly Muslim chiefs, who were quite willing — as Pauranika Kshatttriyas married women of the deva, daitya, rakshasa, yaksha, gandharva, naga, and other races, as Chandragupta married a Greek princess — the fusion of the two cultures and religions would have been completed long ago. It may be noted here that, though the religious communities, other than the Hindu, which inhabit India, do not call themselves Hindu, yet the members of all, as much as the Hindus, are equally called Hindi, quite rightly and naturally in the near west; i.e., Persia, Arabia, Turkey, Egypt — because Hind-i means inhabitant of Hind, i.e., India; (as Bengal-i of Bengal, Madras-i of Madras, Panjabi of Panjab, Gujerati of Gujerat), which was the original meaning of the word Hind-u also:
The tale of the political and other alliances and friendly social relations; of chivalrous mutual loyalties to the extreme end, famous in Rajput ballads, as in the case of king Hammira of Ranthambhor and his Muslim refugee against Sultan Alauddin; of religious reformers in both communities with common aims of rapprochement, and of their partial success and partial failure, because of the play of priestcraft and kingcraft on the inherent weaknesses of human nature — this tale might be prolonged indefinitely. [Page 23]
Errors, evil ideas, and evil practices, have a tremendous power of persistence. The curse of caste-exclusiveness has crept into even the Muslim and the Christian populations of India, here and there, though, of course, in a milder form. Milki Muslims try to marry with only Milki Muslims and Khatik Muslims with only Khatik Muslims, e.g., in the U.P., and, in Goa, Brahman Khristis (Christians) with Brahman Khristis, and Kshattriya Khristis with Kshattriya Khristis, and so on. That a pernicious idea or practice, patently evil and irrational, may yet keep a whole vast and even intelligent, educated, civilised, nation in its vampire grip, for centuries after centuries, is illustrated by the fearful custom of the cramping; torturing, and disfiguring of womens feet in China — which was abolished only recently, after the great revolution there, in 1912. The case of the mutually untouchable, rigidly hereditary castes and sub-castes of India is similar.
God, presumably, wants the world-drama to be prolonged indefinitely, and a drama is not possible without the maya of both wisdom and error, good and evil, truth and falsehood, love and hate, alliance and conflict, laughter and tears. Therefore, perhaps, the fusion is being delayed.
Almost the most important consequence, and the clearest proof, of the amalgamation, is the steady growth and development of the Hindustani language, the destined Lingua Indica, in its two forms, [Page 24] Hindi and Urdu. But even here, Providence, for further testing, strengthening. and educating of the people, has introduced antagonisms. The Upanishad tells how,
What the gods tried to do, of and for good, their step-brothers, the titans, ran after and stained with sin and evil. The Puranic conception of the divine saint Narada fomenting quarrels between kings by exciting their pride; the Hebrew conception of the Archangel Azaziel commanded by God, to become Satan and tempt human beings for their testing and ultimate salvation through suffering — all expound the same eternally-repeated phenomenon. Religional and political mis-leaders and wire-pullers are always staining unselfish work with selfishness, always thwarting the efforts of the good-leaders to guide mankind in the right direction. God would not be known if he were not contrasted with Satan. As the Persians say,
Subut-i-shay ba zidd-i-shay.
All things are proven by their opposites.
Since A.D. 1600: The Larger Synthesis
A larger and fuller synthesis was needed than even the mysticism of the saints and the idealism [Page 25] of Akbar had contemplated, and than was possible in their day — a synthesis based on a more varied and more extensive experience, by the whole of India, and of more religions than two, and to be achieved with the help of the rationalising, reconciling, welding power of widespread science and philosophy.
Accordingly, a third great religion and its corresponding civilisation, with potency of extraordinary material power, was brought prominently upon the scene by Providence. Portuguese, Dutch, French, and English exponents of Christianity (stained with excessive avarice, as Islam is with violent excitability and intolerance, and Hinduism with superstitious, hypocritical, fissiparous self-righteousness), came to India, and gave new turns and forms to the growth of the new culture. The emotional, as well as intellectual, political, economic, and scientific education (by experience) of the people, for their ultimate solidarisation, through experience of new ways, new ideas; new conveniences, and the far too heavy price that has to be paid for them in the shape of new miseries, was intensively and extensively stimulated.
The convulsive and greatly belated effort made by India in 1857, to recover her political footing, rapidly slipping away, or, rather, already slipped away, from beneath her, failed — because she had not yet learnt the lesson that Providence wished her to learn. She had yet to pass through more [Page 26] sad experience of separatism and its consequences, in all the main concerns of life — religion, as the root and trunk, and domesticity, social relations, education, recreation, art, economics, politics, as the shoots and branches thereof. She had yet to realise — as indeed have all the mutually antagonistic nations of East and West alike, and as those of the West are trying to, slowly, very slowly, through the new ideas and new methods of the League of Nations — that we are all parts of One Great Whole, all members and limbs of the same One Organism, like head, arms, trunk, and legs,
Bani-Adam aza-i-yak-digar and,
and that rational consultation, conference, cooperation, accommodation, far-sighted planning, are far more beneficial to all concerned, in the long run, than passionate militancy, rivalry, sabre-rattling, haphazard patchwork, muddling along, aggressive self-assertion, and other-exclusion.
The Soul of the Muslim Religion
After 1857, the soul of Muslim religion and culture concentrated itself in one person largely for a new effort of self-rejuvenation. A great leader arose among the Musalmans — Sir Sayyad Ahmad Khan. He felt that if Islam was to be preserved from decay in India, some departure [Page 27] had to be made from the traditions of religious as well as political orthodoxy. He saw the necessity of taking the younger generation in hand. His great educational work, with its consequences, some foreseen, and others unforeseen, because of complications with new religio-political movements, is well known in India.
The Soul of the Hindu Religion
By some deep disposition of the same all-pervading Oversoul, of which smaller credal, racial, national group-souls may be regarded as limbs and organs, the soul of Vaidika culture and religion awoke almost simultaneously to a keen sense of the great weaknesses that had come upon it and were eating at its heart like cankers; and it felt premonitions of the Materialism also that was advancing from the west, in the wake of the foreign political domination, to despiritualise and demoralise India, by hypnotising it with the glamour of machine-power and of the artificial objects of sense-enjoyment created thereby, and making its mind a mere machine for copying the outer mischievous ways of Western civilisation, without their counter balancing virtues.
The soul of Vaidika Dharma, in its urge of self-preservation by self-renewal, concentrated itself also in one individual largely for a time. A great leader arose among the Hindus too, simultaneously. Swami Dayananda Saraswati after [Page 28] deep heart-searchings, wanderings in forests and in mountains, and inner conversion of soul from formalism to essential philosophical and spiritual religion, felt it his mission to purify Vaidika Dharma from the manifold evils that had crept into the practice of it and corrupted it very largely from a blessing into a curse. He felt inspired to endeavour to re-Aryanise, re-civilise, India, along lines that would restore the best of the old, and make possible the selection of the good and avoidance of the bad in the new. He retired from the world, became a sannyasi — a true missionary of God, vowed to poverty, devoid of worldly riches and desires, so that spiritual riches might flow in, in ample measure, in their place — and began the work of his mission, by public preaching, in Agra, in 1863. Back to the Vedas; worship the One God within and without all; organise yourselves, organise your Society, by the true Varna and Ashrama Dharma, of karmana varnah, i.e., four natural vocational classes according to temperament or swa-bhava and corresponding appropriate karma, i.e., means of living, occupation, bread-winning profession, and division of the individual life into the four natural stages, regularly — this was his cry, as against time-wasting, intellect-stunting, superstition-fostering, separatism-nourishing worship of multitudinous idols, animals, plants; and against rigidly hereditary and mutually more or less touch-me-not castes [Page 29] and sub-castes; of which there are now some three thousand, according to the Census Reports — everyone of these unable to intermarry with any other, and almost all of them unable to interdine also, in respect of at least some if not all preparations of food and drink.
The Two Protagonists
Swami Dayananda began his public teaching in Agra, in 1863, as said above; and the Arya Samaj was founded, in Bombay, in 1875. Sir Sayyad Ahmads first school was started in Moradabad in 1861; and in 1875 was started his school at Aligarh which, two years later, became the Mohomedan Anglo-Oriental College. Swami Dayananda wrote rationalist commentaries on the Vedas, with extraordinary learning. So did Sir Sayyad Ahmad on the Quran. Both were anathema to the orthodox Pandits and Maulvis respectively. From 1863 to 1883, Swami Dayananda wandered incessantly, all over the upper and larger half of India, like the Buddha, preaching, and holding disputations with the orthodox pandits, in town after town, and arousing keen interest and controversy among the Hindu public. The movement took strongest root in the Punjab and western U.P., but its influence spread all over India, and helped to energise many other movements in which the reviving life of the Indian [Page 30] people is trying to find expression. After the Swamis passing away, as the best memorial to him, a Dayananda Anglo-Vedic School was founded at Lahore in 1886. It developed into a College in 1888. Its name is significant of its purpose, like that of the M.A.O. College of Aligarh, and, today, it is one of the most distinguished educational institutions of the land.
Swami Dayananda may certainly be said to be the first pioneer and principal author of the latest Hindu revival, as Sir Sayyad Ahmad Khan of the Muslim. Justice M.G. Ranade, himself a man truly great, judged by no matter what standard — this is the generous verdict of an Englishman, Kincaid, (vide Kincaid and Parasnis, A History of the Maratha People, I, 271) wrote of the Swami, after his death:
Religious fervour, a daring and adventurous spirit born of a confidence that a higher power than mans protected him and his work, the magnetism of superior genius a rare insight into the needs of the times and a steadfastness of purpose which no adverse turn of fortune could conquer, a readiness and resourcefulness rarely met with, ... true patriotism which was far in advance of the times, and a sense of justice tempered with mercy — these were the sources of strength which enabled him to organise a great movement like the Arya Samaj.
The Growth of Collective Consciousness
Many other movements and forces are very interesting and important to consider, for historical as well as practical purposes, in connection with the religious and moral growth of mankind, e.g., the Wahabi movement of Arabia, the Doukhobortski of Russia, the Babis and Bahais of Persia, the Spiritualists of U.S.A., the Theosophical Society (which has branches in all the continents, including some fifty civilised countries of the Earth), and, with special reference to the Hindu and Muslim revivals of India, the Brahmo Samaj, the Qadianis, the Deobandi Anjuman-i-Islamia, the Poona Sarva-janika Sabha, the Fergusson College, the Ganapati festivals and Shiva-ji celebrations, the Nagari Pracharini Sabha of Benares, Swami Vivekanandas Mission and Ramakrishna Homes of Service, the Shibli Dar-ul-ulum of Azamgarh; and finally the Hindu Sabhas and Muslim Leagues. But they cannot be dealt with here at length, though they have all helped, directly or indirectly, the two revivals, the growth of the two collective communal consciousnesses, the two distinct common sentiments, in India. The two have, very unfortunately, been separate and separatist, under the pressure of internal and external circumstances and crafty and sinister influences acting on human weaknesses.
The general idea of socio-religious reform may be said to be common to the Arya Samaj and Sir [Page 32] Sayyad Ahmads school of thinkers. At one time, the latter were dubbed as Necharia (naturists) by orthodox Maulvis, some of whom have been heard to say jocularly to friendly orthodox Hindus: Your Arya Samajis are our Necharias and Wahabis. The Arya Samaj is as iconoclastic and unitarian in theory, as Islam, especially in the reformist Wahabi sect which is opposed to all tomb-worship as much as to idol-worship: Yet because the one believed exclusively in the sacredness of the Samskrt language and the word of the Veda; and the other in that of the Arabic language and the word of the Quran, and the one thought that one set of forms was the only correct way of worshipping God, and the other that another ritual was the only such, and neither cared to look beneath the words and the rites and note that the same ideas and heart-feelings and aspirations underlay both the different ways and terms, the preachers of each began to use very harsh language against the other, Khuda was overpowered by Khudi, Brahma was defeated by Maya, Universalism by Egoism, and the two sets of reformers clashed violently, and hindered the general progress instead of advancing it.
As a thoughtful writer of the Qadiani sect says: Custom, convention, book-worship, letter-worship, mulla-worship, pir-worship, these, in short, were so many fetters on the Musalmans Soul, keeping it in a state of perpetual slavery. Death and [Page 33] decay was consequently the order of Muslim society. [ Muhammad Yakub Khan, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. the Man]
It will be readily observed that the words of the quotation describe Hindu society equally well and exactly, if we only substitute Pandit, Purohit, Guru, for Mulla, and Pir, and add tomb-worship in the one case and idol-worship in the other. It is also a noteworthy coincidence that Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (in north-western India) began his reforming work very shortly after Swami Dayananda and Sir Sayyad Ahmad began theirs. The motive idea of all was the same socio-religious reform. Yet because of the defects permeating the mental and moral atmosphere of the country, mentioned before, they, any more than the Wahabis or Ahl-i-Hadis, have not progressed as they should and would have, if they had joined, and as they ought to even now join hands, on the common platform of science and reason and the new Lingua Indica, for the general welfare of the Indian people instead of any particular section, as the Japanese Shintoists, Buddhists, Confucians and Christians, or the Chinese, Confucians, Laotsians, Buddhists, Christians, and Musalmans, or the Egyptian Musalmans and Christians (Copts), have done for the welfare of their respective countries.
The Hindustani language, splendid achievement and proof patent of the amalgamation, in one most important respect, of the Hindu and Muslim [Page 34] cultures, with its two forms, Hindi and Urdu, has done very great work in newly unifying India, by spreading a common medium of exchange of thought all over India. It has travelled into all corners of the country. Hindus by the million have studied Urdu; by the hundred thousand, Persian; by the thousand, Arabic; and Musalmans by the lakh, Hindi; and by the score, Samskrt. If Musalmans have studied Samskrt little, the reason largely is that Pandits would not teach them. Scores of Musalman poets have written splendid Hindi poems, some being classics of the highest order; and hundreds of Hindus have written admirable classic Urdu poetry as well as prose. It should be noted that the only differences between Urdu and Hindi are (1) the difference of script, and (2) the use in Urdu of more Arabic-Persian words, and in Hindi of more Samskrt words; the syntax being exactly the same, as also the bulk of the vocabulary. Partly out of aversion to intellectual exertion, and partly out of mere communalist zid, obduracy, Hindus and Muslims have, for sometime now, been jibbing, the one against so-called high Urdu, the other against high Hindi. No doubt, some writers, in each, affect an unnecessarily stilted style; still, the knowledge of a few hundred extra woods; Arabic-Persian for the one, and Samskrt for the other, is eminently desirable. As the famous German thinker, poet, and statesman, Goethe, has said, no one knows his own mother-tongue [Page 35] properly, unless he knows some foreign language also. The one way to get behind the sound to the sense, to distinguish between the word and the thought, to overcome letter-worship, to transcend not only idolatry but also Vedolatry, Quranolatry, Biblolatry, is resolutely and with unbaffled intelligence, to recognise the same thought, the same friendly familiar face, behind many masks of many languages. The Yoga-sutra points to the need for such discipline of the soul:
The introspective meditation which confuses together, does not distinguish between, the word, the object meant by the word, and the cognition of the object and of the word, is tainted and influenced by personal likes and dislikes, and is therefore erring and unable to behold the exact truth. The evil power of catch-words is well-known.
Educational Institutions and the Collective Consciousness
Two other educational institutions; besides the D.A.V. College, which have directly helped in the Hindu Revival, may be referred to here. The Gurukula of Kangri was founded in 1902, by Swami Shraddhananda (then known as Mahatma Munshiram), a heroic figure, in life and in death, (he was assassinated with a revolver by a misguided Muslim [Page 36] fanatic on 23rd December, 1926 ) [The ‘curious coincidence’ is worthy of note that Swami Shraddhananda had the English translation. by O.C. Wood; of J. von Hammer’s The History of the Assassins long out of print, reprinted for public circulation in the beginning of this same year, 1926 ] and worthy successor of Swami Dayananda (who also was poisoned by the agents of the favorite courtesan of a Maharaja whose immoral conduct and neglect of State-duties he had publicly denounced). This institution is a direct product of the Arya Samaj. The other is the Benares Hindu University, It began as the Central Hindu College, founded in 1898, by Dr. Annie Besant, to whom India owes special and deep gratitude. The original idea of Dr. Annie Besant and her Indian and European colleagues was to start a Theosophical College, where the common essentials of all the living religions would be taught side by side and consistently with other subjects, especially scientific. But the idea was not found workable, for lack of a sufficient number of colleagues and students from communities other than the Hindu, at that. Time. The more limited and feasible one was therefore decided on, of an institution where endeavour should be made to rationalise and liberalise Hinduism by teaching modern subjects as well as the essential, principles of Sanatana Arya Manava Vaidika Dharma (the same as those of the other living religions also, with the one exception of the systematisation of Varna and Ashrama), and [Page 37] thereby to solidarise the heterogeneous mass of Hindus, crumbling into thousands of fragments under the delusion of rigidly hereditary castes and sub-castes and mutually exclusive sects and sub-sects. The C.H. College grew into the Benares Hindu University in 1916, through the self-sacrificing and unremitting labours of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya. The M.A.O. College also became the Aligarh Muslim University in 1917.
A New Departure Needed
Such institutions have undoubtedly done great good work in their day, and helped to unify and strengthen their respective communities splendidly. But now they are over-shooting the mark, and stimulating, not healthy emulation, but harmful rivalry and antagonism.
It is high time that they should drop their denominational and communal names and character, and become simply and purely religious and scientific, rational, and national, in the best sense of the several words. Good customs, by excess; do grow corrupt; then the old order should yield place to new, that God fulfil himself in other ways.
If this is not done, the fissiparous tendency will increase, and instead of progress there will be terrible regress. Already we have not only Hindu and Muslim Universities and many Hindu and [Page 38] Muslim schools and boarding houses, but also a Kayastha Pathashala, a Bhumihar College, a Kshattriya College, a Khalsa (Sikh) College, a Shia (Muslim) College, many Arya Samaj Colleges and Schools, many Sanatana Dharma Colleges and Schools, many Christian Colleges and Schools, Agrawal Schools, Khattri-Sarasvata Schools, Anglo-Bengali Schools, Chaube Hostels, Rajput Hostels, Kshattriya Hostels, Vaishya Hostels, Marathi and Punjabi and Bengali Hostels, and so on. So, beginning with a general Social Conference, (which was first held about twenty-five years ago, as a Supplement to the Indian National Congress) intended to reform, re-organise, and unify all Indian society and social life, we are now having scores upon scores of Conferences of the most miserable little sub-castes, even the names of which one had not come across before, unless one had occasion to wade through a Census Report. So, in matters civic and politic, each wretched little group, consisting of one petty sub-sect, however small in numbers, calling itself a minority, wants to have its own representative in every elective body of nominal or actual Swa-raj, local or general Self-government. So, trade-unions and services-associations and professional-associations are multiplying, each to promote the interest of its own members against all others — and this is happening not only in the East, but in the West, whence indeed the East has caught the new social diseases and their [Page 39] quack remedies. So, it appears, in the West, in pursuance of the principle of self-determination — a word indicating much the same thing as Swa-raj or Self-government, but coined by President Wilson for just a change, as the other was getting hackneyed and monotonous, or, perhaps, to indicate more specifically the stage preliminary to definite Self-government — many more new little States have and are trying to, come into being, as based upon separate linguistic or racial or sub-racial groups. So, in India, new little Provinces, with separate administrations; are forming, or being proposed.
What is this acute separatism due to? — a separatism, the reductio ad absurdum of which is that every individual should `self-determine himself away and apart from every other self-determining individual.
It is due to the forgetting of the real nature of that Swa which, when rightly known, is the quintessence, the source, the ever-upwelling fount, of all genuine Religion, all Spiritual Purity, Whole-ness, Heal-th, all unselfish trust and co-operation, whence alone all stable Material Prosperity, Wel-fare, Weal-th, for all; and, when wrongly misconceived, is the cause of all Spiritual Impurity Dis-ease, selfishness, whence perpetual internecine dissensions and consequent Material Ill-fare and Misery for each and every one. We have forgotten that Swa means the higher, wiser, better, unifying, all-including, un-selfish Universal Self; and [Page 40] have come to believe that it means only the lower, smaller; false, separative, short-sighted, grasping, cunning, self-ish self. Self-government is truly such only when the governing and legislating persons embody the higher and not the lower Self.
Circumstances made the separate development of the two communal common sentiments, Hindu and Muslim, inevitable, and even perhaps desirable, for a while, for the purpose of solidarising countless fragments (for Muslims also have scores of sects and sub-divisions, while Hindus have thousands) into at least two strong groups, though the serious error of not keeping in the fore-front, as guiding Pillar of Light, the Ideal of the Higher Unifying Self, is frustrating even that purpose.
The Way of It
The time has come when a further and more difficult, but absolutely necessary, synthesis is needed, viz., the solidarising of the two sentiments into one sentiment, Humanist Patriotism; under the brooding beneficent influence of Universal Religion (Theo-Sophia, God-Wisdom, Tasawwuf or Sufism, Gnosis, Brahma-Vidya, Atma-Vidya, Ilm-i-sina, Raz-i-Marifat, Rahasya-Vidya, Gupta-Vidya, Guhya-Jnana, the Sacred Science, Scientific Religion) and of the two groups into one group, the Indian Nation, or, better, the Indian People — for the word People has softer, more humane, more [Page 41] inclusive, and less aggressive and exclusive, associations than the word Nation — under the guidance of the firm conviction that it is only one though a very large part among all the inseparable and inter-dependent parts of the Human Race, the Great Macrocosmic Man.
This is possible only by (1) a systematic Study and inculcation of The Essential Unity of All Religions,in all educational institutions specially, and among the public generally (as is the purport of the second Object of the Theosophical Society); (2) by due study of the ancient Indian Science of Social Organisation the true Varn-ashrama Dharma, in comparison with the other old as well as the many modern schemes of socialism and types of states and forms of government, to see whether and how far the Ancient Solutions of Modern Problems, which problems are harassing all nations and not only the Indian, are practicable, under modern conditions, and (3) by formulating, as the result of such study a Scheme of Organisation of Society which will provide an adequate technique, in the present age of physical science and machinery, for successfully making an equitable division of work and enjoyment in accordance with the essential Ethical Teaching of all Religions: Do as you would be done unto , (which is the purport of the First Object of the T.S.) [Page 42]
So long as there were some three hundred quarrelling Daimyos (Rajas, Maharajas, Nawabs) in Japan, with a nominal Emperor (Mikado) and a real Shogun (Prime Minister) — so long it was in imminent danger of being swamped beneath the flood of advancing western Imperialism and Capitalism. But innate tremendous reserves of virtue and strength transformed the pygmy, by the miraculous power of the utter self-sacrifice and renunciation of the Daimyos, in two short weeks of June, 1869, into a giant ready to face the world. Japan was inspired by, and aglow in every tissue with; the Higher Self, even though she may not have clearly recognised — perhaps does not yet clearly recognise — that Higher Self, in consequence of which non-recognition; she may be in danger of internal troubles, from the self-same spirit of capitalist and militarist Imperialism taking possession of her mind too completely and making it begin to operate, not simply defensively, but also offensively.
If India is to recover her soul, if the work of her great and genuine reformers is not to go in vain, if their innermost and best hopes and wishes are to be fulfilled, if Material Wealth and Prosperity are to come back to her, she must clearly understand the meaning of Spiritual Health and Purity, must understand the nature of the true Spirit, the Higher Self, irrespective of, nay, as above and apart from, all particular languages and words and books [Page 43] (whether Veda, or Quran, or Bible, or Avesta, or Grantha, or Tripitaka, or Agama), and must learn to recognise the Goodness and Wisdom, which are that Higher Selfs primary manifestation in the human world, behind any and every credal mask and label, wherever such Goodness and Wisdom may be found.
The Charter Oath of Japan (1868) says:
Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world to greatly rear the foundation of the Empire. The Ancient Institutes of Manu, the foundation of Vaidika Dharma as primal Digest of the Veda, enjoined the same, long ago:
Good brides, valuable sciences and arts, useful laws, sound rules of hygiene and sanitation, excellent advice, wise maxims, and gems and jewels of all kinds — shall be gathered diligently from everywhere. (The indication of inter-marriage, under proper conditions, may be noted incidentally).
Genuine Religious Reform consists, not in blind self-assertion and other-rejection, but in re-interpretation of the old, in conformity with changing times and circumstances and newly discovered facts; in putting aside of whatever of our own old has become unsuitable; in taking up of whatever of any others new is shown by attested [Page 44] reason to be useful, and in grafting of it on to the good in our old; and always in avoidance of excess, the one sole cause of the corruption of good customs. This is what Swami Dayananda and Sir Sayyad Ahmad Khan both seem to have essayed in their new Veda-Bhashya and Tafsir-i-Quran respectively.
(No-thing is good simply because tis old;
No-thing is bad merely because tis new.
The wise choose either, after scrutiny;
The others follow blindly others views.)
Follow, not the Letter, but the Spirit
When men grow excessively attached to forms and words, and begin to neglect the Spirit, then that Spirit, as Providence, arranges to have the forms and the languages broken up and replaced by others, whether the forms and words be religious (Veda, Quran, Bible; Mandir, Masjid, Church; Svastika, Crescent, Cross; Image, Maqbara, Eikon, etc.); or political (monarchy, oligarchy; republic, etc.) or economic (individualism, trade-unionism, socialism, etc.); or domestic (endogamy, exogamy, polygamy; sacramental, contractual, free, etc.) etc.. The ultimate purpose of religious conflicts and political wars seems to be to lift [Page 45] Mankind from narrow-minded nationalism and religiosity to Philanthropic Internationalism and Humanism.
Attachment to mere words and catchwords is such a great hindrance to the progress of the soul; that all scriptures warn us against it.
Gar ze sirre marifat agah shawi,
Lafz bi-guzari, su mani ravi.
Beware of the letter which killeth, and follow the Spirit which giveth life.
We must all learn to see the common meaning behind the various words of the various scriptures. We should dwell on the good points of others, the bad of ourselves. We should help others to find out the bad in themselves, by pointing out the bad in ourselves; by setting a good example. This is what the Swami and Sir Sayyad endeavoured to do, when they pleaded against the corruptions that had crept so abundantly into Hinduism and Islam. Not by picking holes in other religions, and opposing and rejecting them, but by dwelling on their good points and combining and assimilating them with those of our own; not by emphasizing differences, but by insisting on agreements, may followers of the various creeds be reconciled. If we want peace and unity between the followers, we must first emphasise the essential [Page 46] unity between the religions. If we go on saying that the religions differ but that the followers should unite, we shall never succeed in uniting them.
In Japan — whose conditions, a hundred years ago, were, in many respects, similar to those of India, except that she was an island, and had a much smaller and more compact population — Formalistic Confucius was welcomed, apparently without any friction (the indigenous religion being Shintoism). Democratic Mencius and other high apostles of classic note followed. Buddha together with his grumbling disciples, was received — it is true with some grumbling at first — and taken close to the bosom. Mystic Laotse and his inscrutable adherents were not repulsed. The egoist Yang and the cosmopolite Mih were read and tolerated. The great reconciler was the saintly statesman, Prince Regent Shotoku, to whom the country owes much for its elevation from the status of semi-barbarism to that of culture, himself a devout Buddhist, an ardent patriot; and a thorough Chinese scholar. He announced the following principle: Shinto is the source and root of the Way, and, shot up with the sky and the earth, teaches man the primal Way; Classicism (Confucianism) is the branch and foliage of the Way, and bursting forth with man, it teaches him the middle Way; Buddhism is the flower and fruit of the Way, and appearing after mans mental power matured, teaches him the final Way. Hence, to love one in preference to another only shows mans selfish passion......[Dr. Inazo Nitobe, Japan, pp. 61; 365-370 (Modern World Series) ] Christianity, at first repelled in Japan, because of political reasons, had hands extended and arms opened to her, so soon as those reasons vanished. “The introduction of another foreign system of faith will add a new cubit to the stature of the nations mind, without depriving its predecessors of their authority. Indeed, each new religion enlightened the old.And spiritual things and material things cannot be separated. Some western writers have treated liberty entirely apart from religion; but historians will scarcely be able to sever the two. Without the right conception of personality, liberty is mere license. We talk of equality; but is the idea of equality possible without that of the Brotherhood of Man, which is a corollary drawn from the belief of the Fatherhood of One God? We talk of womans rights and female suffrage; but can we have a just conception of sex equality without grasping the higher synthesis of personal equality of all individuals? We talk of social justice, of amelioration and relief; but is it possible to comprehend their real import, without first accepting the spiritual relation of man to man in the scheme of the universe?
These are quotations from a Japanese writer. It is very re-assuring to find the ideas one holds [Page 48] valuable, regarded as such by another mind also — a mind of high quality, too — and expressed by it in other words. The testimony of a son of marvellous Japan — who is not only a thoughtful and brilliant writer, but a practical man of affairs, having worked for seven years in the International Secretariat of the League of Nations at Geneva the connection between Religion, on the one hand, and Civics - Politics - Economics, on the other, or, in the words of our sub-title, between Spiritual Health and Material Wealth, is very valuable. Men everywhere, and especially in India, have to achieve spiritual purity by genuine Religious Reform, on the principle of acceptance of the thoroughly tested Good, wherever it may be found; and the rejection of the Bad, however dear it may have become to us — always under the guidance of the One Supreme Spirit, Paramatma, Allaho Akbar, Ahura-Mazada, the One God within and without all, the Universal Self, the sole (Supra-Conscious even where consciously rejected and denied) Cause of all Synthesis and of all Co operation in all Good Works.
The Spiritual League of All Religions as
Complement of the League of All Nations
A great step is taken in the march of civilisation when men agree to have their disputes decided by a disinterested, impartial, philanthropic, rational [Page 49] third man as arbitrator, instead of settling them by duelling and the fighting of retainers. (The modern law-court is very different from the philanthropic arbitrator', by the way. It only repeats the physical duelling and hired sword-play in terms of intellectual duelling and hired tongue-play, and is more ruinous to the parties concerned; perhaps, than the older way. It but illustrates the psychic law of titans staining with sin the work of the gods). A very great step, the penultimate step, in civilisation will be taken when the nations all genuinely agree to decide their disputes, not by war, but through Tribunals composed of the most venerated Rshis, Auliyas, venerated Elders, of all the nations. In the ancient days of India, it seems, such Rshis used to act as travelling Inspectors, supervising, advising, and correcting States and Kings, besides having permanent locations in several famous Ashramas, to which kings and ministers used to go for instructions. The Human Oversoul seems to be making a great effort to induce mankind to take this step towards the Great Synthesis, the larger concept of Human Brotherhood, on the Material, i.e., political and economic, side, by means of the League of Nations, started in 1920, and located at Geneva, after the lesson of the need for it had been driven home by the awful devastation of life, labour, resources, during the World War. The League has its travelling and inspecting Commissioners [Page 50] also. But the work of this penultimate step will not be really and sincerely done, will not be completed, until the ultimate step is taken, of evolving a Spiritual League of All Religions, which is the indispensable complement to the Material League of Nations. The Theosophical Society, which was born in the U.S.A. in the same year that saw the birth of the Arya Samaj in India, viz., 1875, has in it the seed of such a Spiritual League in it. The U.S.A. made a great effort to vivify the seed; with its Parliament of Religions, at Chicago, in 1893. It made yet another and apparently greater effort, with the World Fellowship of Faiths, held also at Chicago in 1933.
The Theosophical Society, and other associations with at all similar objects can make very valuable contribution to this work of placing the keystone on the Arch of Civilisation, by interpreting afresh the Varn-ashrama Manava Dharma in the light of the laws and facts of psychology, and doing this in such a way, with application to current problems, as to appeal not only to Hindus, but to communities of all religions whatever, and also to those who, for various reasons, have become shy of, or disgusted with, the word religion, and wish to think in terms of only civics, politics, [Page 51] economics, but are not determined to fling aside all psychology.
Varn-ashrama Dharma is the practical result of the application of the theoretical, philosophical and psychological, principles of Scientific Religion to human affairs. This Varna Dharma, the Scheme of the Rights and Duties of the several Vocational Classes which make up Society, this Social Discipline and Organisation, or Organisation of the Social life of the whole Human Race; this Ashrama Dharma, this orderly laying out and systemisation of the Rights and Duties of the several stages of each Individual life, this Individual Discipline and Organisation; this Dual Code of Socio-Individual Life, this interweaving of Socialism and Individualism, is the very Flower-and-Fruit of the great tree of which Veda, Knowledge, all True Science and Scientific Religion, is the Root. The re-growing of such Flower-and-Fruit, by bathing and re-vivifying the almost dried-up Root, the Scientific Principles of All Religion, with the waters of fresh interpretation, is the true object of all Religious Reform.
Some say that the individual problem is the world-problem; others, that the world-problem is the individual problem; Manus Varn-ashrama Dharma implies that there are two interwoven problems, that neither can be solved in separation from the other, that the solution of each depends upon the solution of the other, that both must be solved simultaneously, in combination, or not at all. [Page 52]
The fine words, Varna and Ashrama, having lost their real primal significance through the eroding and corroding action of Time, the need seems to have arisen now to replace them by some such words as Socio-Individual Duty and show their connection with Spiritual Purity and Material Prosperity.
Names, Words, are all-important. Ill-chosen ones may repel from the best matter. Well-chosen ones may attract to the poorest stuff. A rose, under another name, may smell less sweet; may not be smelt at all. We have therefore to choose words which might appeal to all sorts and conditions of men. Material Prosperity appeals to the vast majority of mankind, patently; Spiritual Purity to the remaining few, and, with limits and reservations, to a good many among the others. The two together embrace all mankind. Spiritual Health, the Basis of Material Wealth ( dharma which would be ih-artha as well as amutr-artha ) would probably lure the tough-minded as well as the tender-minded, the modern go-aheads as well as the ancient sleepy-heads, the wide-awake economicians, politicians, and downright physicians as well as the dreaming meta-physicians, the clever up-to-date scientific experts as Well as the old-fashioned pandits, mullas, padres.
It will probably be agreed generally that the Material welfare of all depends upon the right performance of Individual Duties and Social Duties [Page 53] by each. It will not be so generally agreed what these duties are. We have to show that the right Scheme, defining these two sets of Duties and interweaving them harmoniously, depends upon Spiritual, i.e., Psycho-physical, Science, and that the widespread will to perform the duties can be created by means of Education through the right quality of Educators.
Rightly interpreted, the ancient Indian Code of Socio-Individual Life and Duty seems to provide a mould into which all the tribes of Man can be poured, a very practicable technique whereby all the peoples of all countries can be included harmoniously in an International Organisation of the Human Race, the dreamt of Federation of the World, a Universal Brotherhood actually, objectively, and systematically at work (and not merely subjectively and sentimentally felt ), without any single person having to change against his will his present racial, national, or credal name, and yet without distinction of race, creed, caste, color, or sex.
Theosophy only can help us to this right interpretation; and by reviving, within each religion, and as the very heart of each religion, the Essentials which belong to all religions, can provide us with the antidote which will slay the Poison of Communalism. Since Communalism is an ethical - psychological - religious Disease, it can be cured only by an ethical - psychological - spiritual Remedy, [Page 54] and not by any artificial arithmetical mechanical electoral quack devices.
This Spiritual Science, Theo-sophia, of which psycho-physical science is an important part, teaches (as the fundamental basis of all its other teachings) of the One Life and Consciousness which runs through and upholds all the Universe, which is the Principle of Unity amidst Multiplicity, which is the cause of co-operation amidst competition, of unselfishness amidst selfishness, of alliance for existence amidst struggle for existence, of altruism and socialism amidst egoism and individualism, which is the source of that Righteousness, on the achievement of which, all things else add themselves, the realisation of which in and through the performance of Socio-Individual Duty is the essence of the Spiritual Health whereon only is based lasting Material Wealth, and which only can permanently solve the Communal, Racial, National, and all other problems that vex human beings not only in India, but in all countries of this Earth.
AUM -ÃMÏN - AMEN
Whoever placeth faith blindly in anything outside of him-Self, other than him-Self, elsewhere than him-Self, be that thing priest, or ruler, or religion, or religious scripture, or this or other [Page 55] world, or god or anything or any being — he will be taken advantage of, deceived, enslaved, by that other. Therefore ever bear in mind that these all are in thy-Self; that whatsoever they are to thee, thy-Self hath given that aspect unto them; that they depend upon thy-Self, and not thy-Self upon them. Thy Self, the Self of all, the Universal Self, the Principle of all Life and Consciousness, is above, below, before, behind, right, left, and first and last and all around. The Self is verily all. He who thinketh, knoweth, seeth thus, he rejoiceth in the Self, he attaineth Self-government, he can roam through all the worlds at will. But they who think otherwise than thus, they are governed by others, their countries perish, they move not in other lands at will. The greatest good, therefore, for man is that he should know him-Self, the Self of all. That Self should be most diligently sought after and discovered. He who knoweth It becometh Self-governed.
May all cross safely beyond the places difficult to cross; may all see good days; may all achieve righteous intelligence; may all rejoice everywhere; may it be well with all the Worlds; may all know Happiness and Peace.
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