[Written for the New York Echo on June 2, 1878]
Christendom sends its missionaries to Heathendom at an expense of millions drained from the pockets of would-be pious folks, who court respectability. Thousands of homeless and penniless old men, women and children are allowed to starve for lack of funds, for the sake, perhaps, of one converted "heathen." All the spare money of the charitable is absorbed by these dead-head travelling agents of the Christian Church. What is the result? Visit the prison cells of so-called Christian lands, crammed with delinquents who have been led on to felony by the weary path of starvation, and you will have the answer. Read in the daily papers the numerous accounts of executions, and you will find that modern Christianity offers, perhaps unintentionally but none the less surely, a premium for murder and other heinous crimes. Is anyone prepared to deny the assertion? Remember that, while many a respectable unbeliever dies in his bed with the comfortable assurance from his next of kin, and good friends in general, that he is going to hell, the red-handed criminal has but to believe at his eleventh hour that the blood of the Saviour can and will save him, to receive the guarantee of his spiritual adviser that he will find himself when launched into eternity in the bosom of Christ, in heaven, and playing upon the traditional harp. Why, then, should any Christian deny himself the pleasure and profit of robbing, or even murdering, his richer neighbor? And such a doctrine is being promulgated among the heathen at the cost of an annual expenditure of millions.
But, in her eternal wisdom, Nature provides antidotes against moral as well as against mineral and vegetable poisons. There are people who do not content themselves with preaching grandiloquent discourses, they act. If such books as Higgins' Anacalypsis, Inman's Ancient and Pagan Christian Symbolism, and that extraordinary work of an anonymous English author — a Bishop, it is whispered — entitled Supernatural Religion, cannot awaken responsive echoes among the ignorant masses, who do not read books, other means can be, and are resorted to — means more effectual and which will bring fruit in the future, if hitherto prevented by the crushing hand of ecclesiastical and monarchical despotism. Those whom the written proofs of the fictitious character of Biblical authority cannot reach, may be saved by the spoken word. And this work of disseminating the truth among the more ignorant classes is being evidently prosecuted by an army of devoted scholars and teachers, simultaneously in India and America.
The Theosophical Society has been of late so much spoken about; such idle tales have been circulated about it — its members being sworn to secrecy and hitherto unable, even if willing, to proclaim the truth about it — that the public may be gratified to know, at least, about one portion of its work. This much, we are now permitted to do, and we embrace the opportunity with alacrity, for, unlike our antagonists, the Christians, we are disposed to declare open war and not resort to forgery, intrigue and Machiavellism to accomplish our ends. The Theosophical Society means, if it cannot rescue Christians from modern Christianity, at least to aid in saving the "heathen" from its influence. It is now in organized affiliation with the Arya Samaj of India, its Western representative, and, so to say, under the order of its chiefs. A younger Society than the Brahmo Samaj, it was instituted to save the Hindus from exoteric idolatries, Brahmanism and Christian missionaries.
The purely Theistic movement connected with the Brahmo Samaj had its origin in the same idea. It began early in the present century, but spasmodically and with interruption, and only took concrete shape under the leadership of Babu Keshub Chunder Sen in 1858. Rammohun Roy, who may be termed the combined Fenelon and Thomas Paine of Hindustan, was its parent, his first church having been organized shortly before his death in 1833. One of the greatest and most acute of controversial writers that our century has produced, his works ought to be translated and circulated in every civilized land. At his death, the work of the Brahmo Samaj was interrupted. As Miss Collett says, in her Brahmo Year Book for 1878, it was only in October, 1839, that Debendra Nath Tagore founded the Tattvabodhini-Sabha (or Society for the Knowledge of Truth), which lasted for twenty years, and did much to arouse the energies and form the principles of the young church of the Brahmo Samaj. But, exoteric or open religion as it is now, it must have been conducted at first much on the principles of the Secret Societies, as we are informed that Keshub Chunder Sen, a resident of Calcutta and a pupil of the Presidency College, who had long before quit the orthodox Brahmanical Church and was searching for a purely Theistic religion, "had never heard of the Brahmo Samaj before 1858" (see The Theistic Annual, 1878, p. 45). Since then the Brahma Samaj, which he then joined, has flourished and become more popular every day. We now find it with Samajes established in many provinces and cities. At least, we learn that in May 1877, "fifty Samajes have notified their adhesion to the Society and eight of them have appointed their representatives. Native missionaries of the Theistic religion oppose the Christian missionaries and the Orthodox Brahmans, and the work is going on livelily. So much for the Brahmo movement."
And now, with regard to the Arya Samaj, The Indian Tribune of Allahabad uses the following language in speaking of its founder:
The first quarter of the sixteenth century was no more an age of reformation in Europe than the last of the 19th is in India. Similar causes to those which had operated to bring about a mighty reformation in Europe are, at this moment, working in India. From amongst its own "Benedictines," Swami Dyanand Saraswati has arisen, who, unlike other reformers, does not wish to set up a new religion of his own, but asks his countrymen to go back to the pristine purity and Theism of their Vedic religion. After preaching his views in Bombay, Poona, Calcutta, and the N.W. Provinces, he came to the Punjab, last year, and here it is that he found the most congenial soil. It was in the land of the five rivers, on the banks of the Indus, that the Vedas were first compiled. It was the Punjab that gave birth to a Nanak. And it is the Punjab that is making such efforts for a revival of Vedic learning and its doctrines. And wherever Swami Dyanand goes, his splendid physique, his manly bearing, his erudite discourses, his thundering eloquence, and his incisive logic bear down all opposition. People rise up and say: We shall remain no longer in this state of ignorance, we shall think and act for ourselves, we have had enough of a crafty priesthood and a demoralizing idolatry, and we shall tolerate them no longer. We shall wipe off the ugliness of ages, and try to shine forth in the original radiance and effulgence of our Aryan ancestors.
The Swami is a most highly honoured Fellow of the Theosophical Society, takes a deep interest in its proceedings, and The Indian Spectator of Bombay, April 14th, 1878, spoke by the book when it said that the work of Pandit Dyanand "bears intimate relation to the work of the Theosophical Society."
While the members of the Brahmo Samaj may be designated as the Lutheran Protestants of orthodox Brahmanism, the disciples of the Swami Dyanand should be compared to those learned mystics, the Gnostics, who had the key to those earlier writings which, later, were worked over into the Christian gospels and various patristic literature. As the above-named pre-Christian sects understood the true esoteric meaning of the Chrestos allegory, which is now materialized into the Jesus of flesh, so the disciples of the learned and holy Swami are taught to discriminate between the written form and the spirit of the word preached in the Vedas. And this is the principal point of difference between the Arya Samaj and the Brahmos who, as it would seem, believe in a personal God and repudiate the Vedas, while the Aryas see an everlasting Principle, an impersonal Cause in the great "Soul of the universe" rather than a personal Being, and accept the Vedas as the supreme authority, though not of divine origin. But we may better quote in elucidation of the subject what the President of the Bombay Arya Samaj, also a Fellow of the Theosophical Society, Mr. Hurrychund Chintamon, says in a recent letter to our Society:
Pandit Dyanand maintains that as it is now universally acknowledged that the Vedas are the oldest books of antiquity, if they contain the truth and nothing but the truth in an unmutilated state, and nothing new can be found in other works of later date, why should we not accept the Vedas as a guide for Humanity? . . . A revealed book or revelation is understood to mean one of two things, viz: (1) a book already written by some invisible hand and thrown into the world; or (2) a work written by one or more men while they were in their highest state of mental lucidity, acquired by profound meditation upon the problems of who man is, whence he came, whither be must go, and by what means he may emancipate himself from worldly delusions and suffering. The latter hypothesis may be regarded as the more rational and correct.
Our Brother Hurrychund here describes those superior men whom we know as Adepts. He adds:
The ancient inhabitants of a place near Thibet, and adjoining a lake called Mansovara [Manasa-sarovara], were first called Devneggury [Devanagari] or god-like people. Their written characters were also called Devneggury or Balbadha letters. A portion of them migrated to the North and settled there, and afterwards spread towards the South, while others went to the West. All these emigrants styled themselves Aryans, or noble, pure, and good men, as they considered that a pure gift had been made to humanity from the "Pure Alone." These lofty souls were the authors of the Vedas.
What more reasonable than the claim that such Scriptures, emanating from such authors, should contain, for those who are able to penetrate the meaning that lies half concealed under the dead letter, all the wisdom which it is allowed to men to acquire on earth? The Chiefs of the Arya Samaj discredit "miracles," discountenance superstition and all violation of natural law, and teach the purest form of Vedic Philosophy. Such are the allies of the Theosophical Society. They have said to us: "Let us work together for the good of mankind," and — we will.
H. P. BLAVATSKY.
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