The Path – December 1893

INDIA BETWEEN TWO FIRES — A Brahmin

The above is the general topic for discussion by our dailies and weeklies just now. It seems to me that the above is perfectly true, but not in the sense they take it. India, educated, thinking India, is now truly between two fire; on one side is the fierce fire of materialism and intellectual selfishness, fanned by our foreign education, casting a lurid glare on our impoverished condition, making it doubly hideous; on the other side is the yet but tiny spark of our Sanatana Dharma, which the Theosophical Society is ever trying to fan into a flame, and which even at this stage is shedding its calm radiance over the minds of men. Young men, graduates of our Universities, are swayed to and fro, now abject followers of the men of science, now inclined toward our Religion; now a rank skeptic, now a new convert to a belief in the Shastras. Brothers do not agree with each other; one a bigot of science, and the other no less a bigot of his idol. Father and son, younger and elder, husband and wife, master and servant, teacher and students, all of them disagree; the one a rigid Hindu, the other a hater of all beliefs and dogmas. Truly we are passing through strange and dangerous times, and none can say whether it will be all plain sailing hereafter or there is a breaker ahead.

Twenty years ago, it was twenty years and no more, we two students, while boldly declaring our Religion to be Hinduism, considered ourselves something like heroes; and now many seriously question the truth of that which they do not find in the Shastras. Now the question is, which is to win at last, bigotry or Theosophy? By bigotry I mean bigotry either in Science or Religion, materialism or transcendentalism; for they are equally pernicious, equally limiting further progress, intellectual as well as spiritual. Even now the war has commenced between disbelief and belief on the one hand and between reasonable belief and blind faith on the other, and many are passing from blind disbelief to blind faith without pausing to think what they are doing; so belief is between two fires, and yet hopes to win at last.

There are two very popular weekly papers in Bengal. One condemns all that is foreign, is opposed to all innovations and reforms (even the Railway and the Telegraph, strange as it may appear to you); the other would REFORM everything Indian, and condemns all that we have. Both are largely read, both admired by many. So those that think calmly and judge soundly are between two fires; yet they fondly hope that they will in time prevail.

On the one hand, the introduction of Western civilization is ever increasing our wants; on the other, we are, for many reasons, becoming poorer and poorer; many find themselves unable to make the two ends meet, others are in pinching want. While foreign luxuries are becoming common, our means of livelihood are becoming scarce, and we find ourselves between, two fires as regards our economic condition.

You in the far West may not sympathize with our thoughts and aspirations, with our movements and actions, yet purified, regenerated India, rising Phoenix-like from the ashes of its dark Kali Yuga, would be able to yet instruct the West by expounding its time-honored Shastric teachings, and in that relation, if not in others, it is bound to the West by the holy tie of spiritual sisterhood, a tie that can not, should not, be ignored by you.

And it is in that belief that I write to you, let Theosophy and Brotherhood prevail all the world over, let us help each other in the cause of Spiritual Progress of Humanity, and there are those who will assist us, as they have founded the Society to which we all have the honor to belong.


The Path

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