VOL. I., No. 7 - APRIL, 1880
The State of Christianity
Kaliya Mardana or the Crushing of Kaliya
The Mind is Material
Ode to India
Physiology of Marriage
Cremation in America
A Personal Statement of Religious Belief
Cock and Bull
Return to Section 1
The entire space in a monthly magazine as large as this might be filled with extracts from the journals of Europe and America showing the misbehaviour of Christian clergymen and influential lay representatives of the Christian religions. Our purpose in alluding to the fact is neither to gratify the prejudices of "Heathen," nor strengthen the scepticism of "Infidels" — ourselves included in either class. In what little has been said, and the more that is to appear in these columns, we are merely performing a plain and imperative duty to the great Eastern public into which we have become incorporated. Experience now supplements the information previously derived from reading, and we see the missionary emissaries of Christendom withholding the truth, and by specious stories labouring to entice our people to desert their noble Aryan faiths and become converts. If this would make them better, wiser and happier; if the new religion were more conducive to public or private good; if the chapters of Western history showed that the lofty ethical code arbitrarily ascribed to Jesus had elevated the nations professing it; if in Great Britain, Russia, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, the United States of America, or any other "Christian" country, there were fewer crimes, and those of a more venial character, than in lauds where —
"The Heathen, in his blindness,
Bows down to wood and stone;"
— then we might at least hold our peace. But it is exactly the reverse in nearly every one of these particulars. From one end of Christendom to the other there prevails neither real peace, brotherhood, contentment, firm religious faith, nor a preponderating tone of morality in official or private life. The press bristles with the proofs that Christianity has no right to be considered as an active purificatory force. More may be added. The gradual liberation of thought by the progress of scientific research has undermined the very foundations of the Christian religion, and the edifice, erected during eighteen centuries with so much difficulty and at such appalling sacrifices of human life and national morality, is tottering like a tree that sways to its fall. The picture of social morals that one finds in the journals of every Christian country would so shock the Hindu mind, that it would be no wonder if a general rising should drive out of the country, between two days, every missionary, bishop, priest, deacon, or lay teacher calling himself a Christian. For, bad as India may have become in these degenerate days, and forgotten as may be the pure religion of the Veda, there is not a community throughout the Peninsula, which would not be able to show among Natives a better average of morality, of sincere religious fervour, and of security for life than either of the communities from which these proselyters come. Last month, an editorial of that powerful American newspaper, the New York Sun, transferred to these pages, showed us that despite the large worldly advantages offered, there was a marked and significant decrease in the proportion of young collegians who were preparing for the priestly calling. This month we reprint the following brief but pointed remarks of Puck, a satirical weekly journal of New York, which were called forth by the most recent clerical scandal: —
OUR SPIRITUAL GUARDIANS.
What is the matter with all the ministers of the Gospel? The example set by Plymouth Church's great preacher has not merely been followed by smaller fry, but often improved on and varied, according to the taste and fancy of the holy individual.
It is not a pleasant picture for the conscientious Christian who believes in going to church regularly and listening to the word of God as expounded by the clerical gentlemen who may happen to have the floor of the pulpit.
We scarcely know where to begin — the list of these eccentric pastors is such an appalling one.
The special weaknesses of the Rev. H. W. B. are pretty well understood; he has, however, found humble imitators in the Rev. Mr. Hafermann, of the Hoboken Lutheran Evangelical Church who kisses his cook for "pure" Christian motives, and for her spiritual welfare, and the Rev. Mr. Trumbrower, pastor of the Porter Methodist Episcopal Church, also in Hoboken, who is getting himself talked about for his osculatory practices with one Mrs. Boh, a member of his flock, and a married woman, by the way.
But while Hoboken, with its Hafermann and Trumbrower, may eventually prove a worthy and formidable rival to Brooklyn and its notorious pastors, it is not going to carry off all the honors in clerical misdoings. Connecticut, represented by the Rev. Mr. Hayden, will not permit it. It goes in for something a trifle stronger than mere kissing. It goes for higher game — betrayal and murder; true, not proven according to the opinion of an intelligent jury, but unpleasantly probable.
New York has of late been a little behindhand in crooked clergymen, although, as becomes a patriotic citizen, the Reverend Mr. Cowley will not allow it to be left altogether out in the cold.
The story of the saintly Mr. Cowley's executive ability in his management of the Shepherd's Fold, and dieting its little inmates, is already familiar to everybody, and we fondly hope that Mr. Cowley will soon become familiar with the interior of a cell in some respectable jail.
There are many more of these saintly sinners, who have distinguished themselves in a greater or lesser degree; but we forbear mentioning their names. The subject is not an inviting one, but yet it must not be shirked; on the contrary, it must be vigorously handled, for the protection of our wives, our daughters, our children, and for everything that is dear to us in our domestic life.
These men — these pastors — to whom practically the care of our families is confided, are constantly disgracing themselves.
It is not a question of the misfortune of any one denomination, disgraced by these unworthy guardians. Protestant, Catholic, Atheist and Jew are alike interested in the exposure and punishment of the public teacher who betrays his trust and misuses his privileges.
The above editorial is accompanied by one of the cleverest cartoons we have ever seen. In sarcasm and disdain it matches the most famous caricatures of Gilray or Hogarth. Catholic and Protestant clergymen are depicted in their proven characters of voluptuaries, peculators and sensationalists; each picture being inscribed with proper names, extracted from the records of the law-courts. No wonder that decent young graduates should prefer any other profession than one which is so rapidly falling into disrepute. Who can be surprised at the growing scepticism throughout Christendom? We are approaching the crisis of the Western religion, and none but a bold and enthusiastic apologist dares deny that its doom is sealed. Without the revival of Aryan philosophy, for which we are labouring, the West will tend towards the grossest materialism; but with the opening of that long-sealed fountain of spiritual refreshment, we may hope that there will arise, upon the ruins of the bad new faith, the superstructure of the good old one, for the salvation of a world given over to vice and folly.
A few weeks ago, an audience of nearly 4,000 persons of the better class gathered at Chicago, to listen to a defence of the memory of Thomas Paine by that splendid American orator, Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll. Paine was one of the purest, wisest and bravest apostles of Free Thought that the Anglo-Saxon race has produced. He wrote The Age of Reason — a book which, if the missionaries were governed by the spirit of fair-play, would be on the shelf of every mission library in India, so that their "Heathen" pupils might read both sides of the Christian question. For this crime, the noble author was persecuted in the most malicious ways by Christians. His name was made the synonym of all that is vile and malevolent. His enemies, not satisfied with lying about him while alive, desecrated his grave, and we have ourselves seen his monument at New Rochelle, New York, bespattered with dung and battered with sticks and stones. But time heals all injustice, and now, seventy years after Thomas Paine's death, his memory is vindicated. He died almost solitary and alone, deserted by friends, and his services to American liberty all forgotten. But now, thousands and hundreds of thousands of the most intelligent and influential ladies and gentlemen of America have cheered to the echo Colonel Ingersoll's glowing periods.
In the address above alluded to, for a verbatim report of which we are indebted to the Religio-Philosophical Journal, the Spiritualist organ, to which an allusion was made by us last month, occur the following passages: —
In his (Paine's) time the church believed and taught that every word in the Bible was absolutely true. Since his day it has been proven false in its cosmogony, false in its astronomy, false in its chronology and geology, false in its history, and so far as the Old Testament is concerned, false in almost everything. [Laughter.] There are but few, if any, scientific men, who apprehend that the Bible is literally true. Who on earth at this day would pretend to settle any scientific question by a text from the Bible? The old belief is confined to the ignorant and zealous. The church itself will before long be driven to occupy the position of Thomas Paine. The best minds of the orthodox world, to-day, are endeavouring to prove the existence of a personal deity. All other questions occupy a minor place. You are no longer asked to swallow the Bible whole, whale, Jonah and all, you are simply required to believe in God and pay your pew-rent.
Paine thought the barbarities of the Old Testament inconsistent with what he deemed the real character of God. He believed the murder, massacre, and indiscriminate slaughter had never been commanded by the Deity. He regarded much of the Bible as childish, unimportant, and foolish. The scientific world entertained the same opinion. Paine attacked the Bible precisely in the same spirit in which he had attacked the pretensions of the kings. He used the same weapons. All the pomp in the world could not make him cower. His reason knew no "Holy of Holies" except the abode of truth. The sciences were then in their infancy. The attention of the really learned had not been directed to an impartial examination of our pretended revelation. It was accepted by most as a matter of course. The church was all-powerful, and no one else, unless thoroughly imbued with the spirit of self-sacrifice, thought for a moment of disputing the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. The infamous doctrine that salvation depends upon belief, upon a mere intellectual conviction, was then believed and preached. To doubt was to secure the damnation of your soul. This absurd and devilish doctrine shocked the common sense of Thomas Paine, and he denounced it with the fervor of honest indignation. This doctrine, although infinitely ridiculous, has been nearly universal, and has been as hurtful as senseless. For the overthrow of this infamous tenet, Paine exerted all his strength. He left few arguments to be used by those who should come after him, and he used none that have been refuted. The combined wisdom and genius of all mankind cannot possibly conceive of an argument against liberty of thought. Neither can they show why any one should be punished, either in this world or another, for acting honestly in accordance with reason; and yet a doctrine with every possible argument against it has been, and still is, believed and defended by the entire orthodox world. Can it be possible that we have been endowed with reason simply that our souls may be caught in its toils and snares, that we may be led by its false and delusive glare out of the narrow path that leads to joy into the broad way of everlasting death? Is it possible that we have been given reason simply that we may through faith ignore its deductions and avoid its conclusions? Ought the sailor to throw away his compass and depend entirely upon the fog? If reason is not to be depended upon in matters of religion, that is to say, in respect of our duties to the Deity, why should it be relied upon in matters respecting the rights of our fellows? Down, for ever down, with any religion that requires upon its ignorant altar its sacrifice of the goddess Reason; that compels her to abdicate for ever the shining throne of the soul, strips from her form the imperial purple, snatches from her hand the sceptre of thought, and makes her the bond-woman of a senseless faith.
If a man should tell you he had the most beautiful painting in the world, and after taking you where it was, should insist upon having your eyes shut, you would likely suspect either that he had no painting or that it was some pitiable daub. Should he tell you that he was a most excellent performer on the violin, and yet refuse to play unless your ears were stopped, you would think, to say the least of it, that he had an odd way of convincing you of his musical ability. But would his conduct be any more wonderful than that of a religionist who asks that before examining his creed you will have the kindness to throw away your reason? The first gentleman says: "Keep your eyes shut; my picture will bear everything but being seen." [Laughter.] "Keep your ears stopped; my music objects to nothing but being heard." [Laughter.] The last says; "Away with your reason; my religion dreads nothing but being understood." [Laughter.]
So far as I am concerns, I most cheerfully admit that most Christians are honest and most ministers sincere. We do not attack them: we attack their creed. We accord to them the same rights that we ask for ourselves. We believe that their doctrines are hurtful, and I am going to do what I can against them. We believe that the frightful text, "He that believeth shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned," has covered the earth with blood. You might as well say all that have red hair shall be damned. It has filled the heart with arrogance, cruelty, and murder. It has caused the religious wars; bound hundreds of thousands to the stake; founded inquisitions; filled dungeons; invented instruments of torture; taught the mother to hate her child; imprisoned the mind; filled the world with ignorance; persecuted the lovers of wisdom: built the monasteries and convents; made happiness a crime, investigation a sin, and self-reliance a blasphemy. It has poisoned the springs of learning; misdirected the energies of the world; filled all countries with want; housed the people in hovels; fed them with famine, and, but for the efforts of a few bravo infidels, it would have taken the world back to the midnight of barbarism, and left the heavens without a star.
At that time nothing so delighted the church as the quanities of endless torment, and listening to the weak wailing of damned infants struggling in the slimy coils and poison-folds of the worm that never dies. No wonder the church hated and traduced the author of the "Age of Reason." England was filled with Puritan gloom and Episcopal ceremony. The ideas of crazy fanatics and extravagant poets were taken as sober facts. Milton had clothed Christianity in the soiled and faded finery of the gods — had added to the story of Christ the fables of mythology. He gave to the Protestant church the most outrageously material ideas of the Deity. He turned all the angels into soldiers — made heaven a battle-field, put Christ in uniform, and described God as a militia general.
Progress is born of doubt and inquiry. The church never doubts — never inquires. To doubt is heresy — to inquire is to admit that you cannot know — the church does neither.
More than a century ago Catholicism, wrapped in robes red with the innocent blood of millions, holding in her frantic clutch crowns and sceptres, honors and gold, the keys of heaven and hell, trampling beneath her feet the liberties of nations in the proud moment of almost universal dominion, felt within her heartless breast the deadly dagger of Voltaire. From that blow the church can never recover. Livid with hatred she launched her eternal anathema at the great destroyer, and ignorant Protestants have echoed the curse of Rome.
Paine knew that across the open Bible lay the sword of war, and so where others worshipped he looked with scorn and wept. And so it has been through all the ages gone.
The doubter, the investigator, the infidels, have been the saviours of liberty. The truth is beginning to be realized, and the true intellectual are honoring the brave thinkers of the past.
But the church is as unforgiving as ever, and still wonders why an infidel should be wicked enough to endeavour to destroy her power. I will tell the church why I hate it. You have imprisoned the human mind; you have been the enemy of liberty; you have burned us at the stake, roasted us before slow fires, torn our flesh with irons; you have covered us with chains; treated us as outcasts; you have filled the world with fear; you have taken our wives and children from our arms; you have confiscated our property; you have denied us the rights to testify in courts of justice; you have branded us with infamy; you have torn out our tongues; you have refused us burial. In the name of your religion, you have robbed us of every right; and after having inflicted upon us every evil that call be inflicted in this world, you have fallen upon your knees, and with clasped hands implored your God to finish the holy work in hell.
Can you wonder that we hate your doctrines; that we despise your creeds; that we feel proud to know that we are beyond your power; that we are free in spite of you; that we can express our honest thought, and that the whole world is grandly rising into the blessed light? Call you wonder that we point with pride to the fact that infidelity has ever been found battling for the rights of man, for the liberty of conscience, and for the happiness of all? Can you wonder that we are proud to know that we have always been disciples of reason and soldiers of freedom; that we have denounced tyranny and superstition, and have kept our hands unstained with human blood?
It does seem as though the most zealous Christian must at times entertain some doubt as to the divine origin of his religion. For eighteen hundred years the doctrine has been preached. For more than a thousand years the church had, to a great extant, the control of the civilized world, and what has been the result? Are the Christian nations patterns of charity and forbearance? On the contrary, their principal business is to destroy each other.
More than five millions of Christians are trained and educated and drilled to murder their fellow-Christians. Every nation is groaning under a vast debt incurred in carrying on war against other Christians, or defending itself from Christian assault. The world is covered with forts to protect Christians from Christians, and every sea is covered with iron monsters ready to blow Christian brains into eternal froth. Millions upon millions are annually, expended in the effort to construct still more deadly and terrible engines of death. Industry is crippled, honest toil is robbed, and even beggary is taxed to defray the expenses of Christian murder. There must be some other way to reform this world. We have tried creed and dogma and fable, and they have failed — and they have failed in all the nations dead.
If to love your fellow-men more than self is goodness, Thomas Paine was good. If to be in advance of your time, to be a pioneer in the direction of right, is greatness, Thomas Paine was great. If to avow your principles and discharge your duty in the presence of death is heroic, Thomas Paine was a hero.
At the age of seventy-three death touched his tired heart. He died in the land his genius defended, under the flag he gave to the skies. Slander cannot touch him now; hatred cannot reach him more. He sleeps in the sanctuary of the tomb, beneath the quiet of the stars.
A few more years, a few more brave men, a few more rays of light, and mankind will venerate the memory of him who said:
"Any system of religion that shocks the mind of a child cannot be a true system.
"The world is my country, and to do good, my religion."
By Rao Bahadur Dadoba Pandurang,
Senator of the Bombay University, Author of the "Marathi
Grammar," of "A Hindu's Thoughts on Swedenborg," &c.
The sixteenth chapter of the First Division of the tenth Skandha of the Shrimad Bhagavata contains a very romantic description of the manner in which Krishna overcame the fury of the great Hydra, named Kaliya, who had one hundred and one heads and lived in a deep part of the river Yamuna (the modern Jumna). By the poison which he always vomited from his mouths, eyes, and breath, he contaminated the whole of that part of the river, so much so that no living thing, whether animal or vegetable, could live in that region for miles together. One day, in a hot season, while Krishna was roaming on the banks of the Yamuna with his comrades — the shepherd boys, — and his herds of cattle, the latter being very thirsty drank water from that part of the river, and immediately died. When Krishna saw them all in that state, he, with his stave from which flowed the water of immortality, brought them all back to life. Being thus amazed at their individual revival, they attributed it to the special favor of Krishna. On their return home, the shepherd boys circulated the news of this miracle of Krishna amongst all the inhabitants of Vrindavana, and they all wondered at it, but they knew him not.
Now Krishna being omniscient could trace this poisonous state of the waters of the Yamuna to its very source, and with a wish to restore the river to the original purity of its water, and thereby benefit all the creatures which drank at it, he made up his mind to expel the monster from his watery stronghold. Soon after, one day in the absence of his elder brother Balarama, the boy Krishna, while herding his cattle with his comrades, suddenly climbed up a tall Kadamba tree on the bank of the Yamuna, and plunged himself into its deep waters, in the presence of all his comrades. Soon after his entrance into the water, Krishna beheld an enormous, hideous-looking black serpent coming out, staring at him. The monster exhibited a look full of great wonder at the boldness and audacity of a boy of so tender an age in thus encroaching suddenly upon the environment and abode of so powerful a being as himself, in that deep and secluded part of the river, to which no living creature could have any access. But, when he further saw the boy laughing and playing with all ease and boyish gambols, in his own mansion, his wonder changed soon into a fearful ire, at this dauntless audacity of the boy in thus disturbing the waters of Yamuna and the peace of his own mind. He, therefore, seized the boy and entwined his body all around with his own. When the shepherd boys could no longer bear the long absence of Krishna in the waters, they suspected that something very serious had happened to him, and, therefore, they immediately ran home crying, to communicate this intelligence to his parents. These, followed by all the men and women of Vraja, hastened to the spot at which Krishna was suspected to have been drowned. His brother Balarama did not join the crowd, for he was perfectly aware of the divinity of Krishna and of his omnipotence. From an elevation they all discerned there the most perilous situation of their darling Krishna, coiled as they found him by a large black serpent, ready to kill him. When they beheld this, they began to weep and cry, as they did not know how they could extricate him from the grasp of that monster. Being fully conscious of their sincere love and devotion for him, Krishna made his own small body swell out and enlarge from within the coilings of the serpent, to such an extent that the monster could no longer hold him but at the hazard of his own life, and was, therefore, too glad to disentangle himself, and to let Krishna alone. Now full of rage, the monster stood at a distance from Krishna, and looked at him with his eyes and breath vomiting, and his split tongues rolling in virulent poison, and ready to bite him. Krishna, like Garuda, (the great eagle of Vishnu) at once darted upon him, seized him by the tail, whirled him round and round till he had lost all his vigour and strength, and then, all of a sudden, jumped upon his wide hood and began to dance upon it with all the gracefulness of an accomplished waltzer. It has been already noticed that Kaliya had one hundred and one heads forming this wide hood on which Krishna kept up dancing. During this merriment of Krishna, and the distortion of the monster under its operation, while the former was allowing the latter to raise up and lower down his heads one after another under the graceful movements of his heels and toes, keeping time harmoniously with the celestial music, which the gods were glad to bring in aid, the heavenly orchestra kept up the hilarity by the symphonic modulations of the voices and songs of the celestial nymphs singing the praises of Krishna for his victory over Kaliya, while the angels with their wives poured down flowers on his head.
The great serpent was thus completely overpowered; and ejecting blood and venom from all his mouths, and being no longer able to bear the tortures and the most excruciating pains to which he was subjected, he now sought the mercy and protection of Krishna, knowing him to be the Great Lord of all creatures, and the First Cause, who rewards the virtuous and punishes the evil-doers. In the meantime Kaliya's wives, who had witnessed the punishment that was thus inflicted on their husband, came forward, worshipped Krishna, and expressed acquiescence in the justice of all that he had done as the Lord of the creation and the Punisher of the sinners; but at the same time with all humility they craved his pardon for the sin of their dear husband. Then follows the praise and prayer offered by them to Krishna, replete with sublime aid philosophic thoughts in respect to the Great Divine Being and the justice of His dispensation in this world; suggesting, at the same time, that the punishment, which he inflicts on the sinners, ends only in their reclamation and final bliss. Pleased with this prayer, Krishna released Kaliya, and ordered him to remove his abode from the river Yamuna, and choose instead some part of the wide ocean; where Garuda, from whose terror he had taken his refuge thither, would no longer torment him. Kaliya obeyed his order; and the river Yamuna was restored to the everlasting purity and freshness of its waters.
Interpretation of the above myth.
The above Aryan myth, so well known throughout the length and breadth of India to all Hindus, as to form the theme of daily songs in their mouths, is one of the many which have appeared in some shape or other in the old annals of all nations from time immemorial, preserving its prominent characteristic in basso relievo of the story of a great serpent having been killed by the manifestation of a divine or superhuman power. Among the many exploits of Krishna, mentioned in the Shrimad Bhagavata, such as the destruction of devils and monsters, and the preservation of peace and happiness amongst all the people who were devoted to him, — the crushing of the serpent Kaliya who had one hundred and one heads, and from the fear of Garuda, (the great eagle on which Vishnu rides) had taken refuge in the watery recess of the Yamuna, bears a striking resemblance to one of the twelve labours ascribed to Hercules in the Grecian mythology, viz., the victory over the monster Hydra with his seven, twelve, and, according to Diodorus, one thousand heads, in the lake of Lerna. From the fact of an instantaneous death being produced by the bite of a serpent, and the consequent great dread in which that animal has been universally held by mankind, as well as from its natural subtlety in doing evils of all kinds, it appears to me to be no wonder that it should be held as type and representative on our earth of the Prince of the devils, and that there should exist a natural enmity and hatred between it and man; conformable to the figurative language of the curse pronounced by God against that animal as mentioned in the Old Testament — "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall braise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Gen. iii. 15. There are many other passages in the Bible pointing to the bruising of the serpent's head by the heel of man. And I now leave it to the taste, of my readers to judge how beautiful and graphic does this illustration of this fact appear in the above Aryan myth of Kaliya Mardana.
Allow me now to go into the philosophical and psychological sense involved in this myth, as I can hardly afford to forego regarding it in that light, and seeing how nicely the several points of coincidence meet to illustrate the almost universally accepted fact of the ultimate conquest of good over evil, of light over darkness. In the above parable, Yamuna may be said fairly to represent the ever-flowing stream of the principle of love and joy, emanating from the great fountain-head of all goodness — God. It is also the gush of the light of the Chidakasa, the principle of life and activity, (call it for the sake of illustration here the astral light of our days, if you please) shrouded by darkness in all its shades and degrees of the elemental Akasa, as is well typified by the dark appearance of the water of that river as described by the Hindu poets of India, innermostly pervading the whole universe, and forming in man his spirit (this word is used here in the sense in which the theosophists distinguish it from the soul). Now this flow of light and happiness represented by the Yamuna is found disturbed by a monster with many heads taking refuge in its deep and solitary abyss, causing sorrow and misery to all the outside world around. Who would not now suspect the monster to be the great evil-doer, the prompter of Eve and Adam — Satan, Ahriman, or by whatever other name you may be pleased to designate him — lying concealed in the human heart? Krishna's plunging himself into the river from a high kudamba tree on its bank to find out and punish Kaliya, hid in its depth, may well be compared to the tracing of the evil and misery of this world to their very source by a mind elevated by divine knowledge. Further, Krishna's dancing gracefully, and in the spirit of triumph and exultation upon the wide hood of Kaliya, from which were peeping out his one hundred and one heads and mouths, each vomiting blood and poison, as I conceive it to be the ne plus ultra, as if it were, of the whole comedy and tragedy it involved in this healthful myth.
Kaliya's one hundred and one heads and mouths, each containing a bifurcated tongue and vomiting blood and poison, are emblematic of the thousand ways in which the guile and subtlety of Satan, or the principle of Evil, work misery and woe in the kingdom of God; and Krishna's pressing them down and disabling them one after another so as never to rise up again under the pressure of his heel and toes in his graceful waltz, is just the very exultation which a godlike saint or a yogi would naturally feel at the gradual subjucation by him of all his bodily passions, thoughts, and emotions; and, at last, of the very source which gives rise to all these, viz., the human mind, or mundane will, according to our Western metaphysicians, the most subtle but powerful force which works in the human heart. To complete the sense of the whole metaphor, and endow it with an air of unqualified truth, Krishna is not, like Hercules, represented herein as effecting the destination of his foe in toto, as it was absolutely in his power to do if he chose; but he only permits Kaliya when completely overpowered, and when he besought his mercy and protection, to change his quarters somewhere else, in the wide ocean, never to annoy and disturb the peace and happiness of his own people and the creatures of his favorite Vrindavan; shewing thereby, that God only protects them from evil who devote themselves to Him, and not the wide world abroad, which is astray and alienated from Him.*
* Or again, does not the permission granted to the serpent to betake himself to the fathomless depths of the sea, indicate that, though we may purge our individual natures of evil, it can never be extirpated but must still linger in the whole expanse of the Kosmos as the opposing power to native goodness, which maintains the equilibrium in Nature — in short, the equal balancing of the scales, the perfect harmony of discords? [ED. THEOS.]
Bombay, 9th March 1880.
By Joshi Ootamram Doolabhram.
Guru of the School of Astroloqy and Astromy in Baroda.
The statement in the November number of the THEOSOPHIST that the levitation of the human body has been seen by many reputable witnesses in India, is strictly correct. I myself am able to testify to the fact. In the year of Samvat 1912 (1856) I was making an investigation into ancient chemistry and sought out a competent instructor who could give me some of the information which I desired. After much search I found at the city of Broach, in a temple of Mahadev, situated on the banks of the river Narbada, an ascetic (sanyasi) who was practising "yog," and enlisted myself as his disciple. He was a man of apparently 35 years of age, above the average size of man and with a beautiful countenance animated with a great intelligence of expression and cheeks suffused with a very peculiar roseate hue which I have never seen on any mortal's face before or since. His head was shaved, and he wore a saffron robe of a sanyasi. He was a native of Panjab. He was known to us under the name and title of Narayenanand. Like all men of his class, he was exceedingly difficult to approach, and would neither accept me as a pupil, nor allow me to put myself on terms of any intimacy until he had satisfied himself by the closest questioning as to my real intentions and capacity to learn the science of Yog. I will pass over these details and simply state that, at last, I gained my object, was accepted as a pupil, received his blessing, and served him, first and last, for more than two years. During this time I learnt many things practically, which I had previously known only from reading our sacred Shashtras. I discovered many secrets of nature, and saw ample proof of the power in man to control the forces of nature, my preceptor among other things practicing "prannayam" or the suspension of the breath. I will not pretend to explain, in the language of Western science, the effect produced in the human body by this branch of Yog Vidya. But this much I will say that, while the Sanyasi was absorbed in contemplation, during his performance of "prannayam" sitting in the prescribed posture of "Padmasan," his body would rise from the ground to the height of four fingers, and remain suspended in the air for four and five minutes at a time, while I was allowed to press my hand beneath him three or four times, to satisfy myself beyond a doubt that the levitation was a positive fact.
The human mind is material, and dies with the death of our mortal frame. I define mind to be the result of the harmonious union and adjustment of the visible and latent organisms, or the organs that make up the human frame having its seat in the centre of the nervous system. Metaphysics acknowledges the truth that where the cause is mortal, the effect must be liable to destruction. This is an axiomatic truth, and it requires no Hamilton, no Bain, to prove its validity. Well then, here the organs jointly form the cause, and the mind is their result. These organs perish with the death of the body, for they form only the different parts of the body, consequently, the human mind, the result of their union, perishes with them.
The mind possesses or exercises certain powers or functions. It reasons, judges, thinks, conceives, remembers, and imagines. In its healthy state it performs all its functions duly and fully; but when diseased, it loses one or other of its powers or loses them all. In a fainting fit or senselessness, for instance, the mind ceases to perform all its functions, and the man, who is the subject of it, has the consciousness of nothing passing within. These facts clearly prove that the mind is as mortal as the organs are, of which it is simply the result.
To illustrate the matter more fully, let us take the common example of a watch. The mechanism of a watch, when duly adjusted, produces motion; but when it is in a disordered state, or when it stops working, motion and the pointing out of time by the hands, cease to exist at the very same time. What does this prove? It proves very clearly that an effect bears the same nature as does its cause, or causes jointly assimilated.
From what has been stated above, a man may be naturally led to ask that, if our mind is mortal, we are mortal too; and with the dissolution of our mortal frame, every thing of us will be brought to an end, and, consequently, there cannot possibly be any future world reward and punishment subsequent to our death. The following statements will suffice to satisfy the enquirer. Man possesses two important essences, the of life and the soul. It is beyond man's power to understand what these essences are in reality, unless he can actually see them by going into the spiritual world, which no man, till he is "born again," can possibly do. The full comprehension of spiritual objects the enlightened spirit can only have. We can have only a faint idea of them by a comparison of these with the material objects we see and feel.
The soul of man has the same relation to the Supreme Soul as a ray of light has to the sun, and our life bears the same relation to our soul which the reflection of the ray bears to the ray itself; in other words, as the reflection is to the ray and the ray to the sun, so is our life to our soul and our soul to the Supreme Soul.
As a corroborative evidence of what I have asserted above, I simply cite here a passage from the First Book of the Pentateuch — "God made man in his image, out of his likeness."*
* We hope not. For, as we have no other possibility of judging of God but from his micrograph — man — we would have, were it so, to give up the Deity in disgust and turn to absolute atheism. — ED. THEOS.
As to the proof of the immortality of our soul and life, I have simply to assert that the eternal existence, the immortality of the Supreme Soul, is undeniable, therefore the immortality of our soul and life is also undeniable, for one is the cause and the other the effect, and, as I have stated before, the effect bears invariably the same nature as does its cause.
Jeypore, 9th March, 1880.
Why slumbers India when 'tis time to wake?
Untimely sleep is wilful suicide.
Alas! she sleeps, but sleep may never hide
The heavings of that heart, which soon must break!
Despair— hard usurer! — will from her morrow
Deduct more than his fair share from her ease,
And pay her but in tears!
Oh Mother! rise superior to thy sorrow;
Thou art yet young in years:
Can ages make thee old? The stars, the sun,
As bright as they begun,
Will shine on thee alway, renewing thy life's lease.
Mother of many nations! wake again
To all the grandeur of thy destiny:
The world is thine, and from thee, and in thee,
And but awaits to hear the joyous strain,
Which like a burst of music shall vibrate,
With oft-repeated echoes, to its soul!
Is not the world thine own?
Have not mankind to thee consign'd their fate?
Why art thou passive grown?
It is not destiny's stern-wrinkled frown,
That keeps thee lowly down;
For thou art great — above all fate's control!
Yet wake once more, and be again the Ind,
The holy realm of hope to youth and age,
The land of universal pilgrimage,
Whose name and fame were borne on every wind,
To deepest cave terrene and highest star!
Alas! now hecatombs are piled alone
Of anguish and despair!
Thou hast no monuments but in the far
Twilight of acres gone:
And pilgrims no more to thy shores repair
For worship as of old: —
The idol is ador'd but for its baser gold!
Dost thou not hear the harsh and grating laugh,
With which thy meaner rivals feed their spite?
"India is living and yet dead" — they write
Upon the slab of thy mock cenotaph.
Oh! rise superior to all slander — say,
India is once again herself, and death
Is baffled of his prey!
Behold! how all the world hangs on thy breath,
And in thy kindling eye
Reads the proud promise of a newer birth;
Whilst thy unclouded sky
Showers its splendours on the gladsome earth
O, for a trumpet loud to blow a blast,
That would resound from the north glaciers frore,
Far down to spicy Ceylon's southern shore!
Then should the sleeping echoes of the past
Shake off their lengthened lethargy, and rouse
The actions and the thoughts, that gave them birth.
Did not the best on earth
Pledge for thy choosing their most sacred vows?
Mother! hast thou so soon
Thy Buddha and thy Sankara forgot?
Forgot the mighty boon?
Thou wast their living hope, thou wast their dying thought!
My pen is guided by an unseen Power,
And as I write a vision stirs my soul:
Methinks thou standest on the highest goal,
Which Fate reserved thee for thy happiest hour.
Oh noble pride; Oh majesty serene!
Thou standest like a queen,
And at thy feet whole nations sinking low,
Look on thy glorious brow,
And kneel in love and worship!
Do I see
A dream, a phantasy?
Oh, wake me not! If sleep
Can minister to hope, why shall I wake and weep?
S. J. P.
ABOUT THE YEAR 1848, MR. STRICKE, AN APOTHECARY attached to the Madras Medical Department, was travelling on duty in the districts, when one day a Byragi presented himself before him and asked for some oil of cinnamon, a request which was readily complied with. In return, however, the Byragi offered to communicate a mantra or charm, against scorpion stings, and Mr. Stricke, not liking to hurt the feelings of the man, noted down the charm. A few days after, a person stung by a scorpion, was brought to him for treatment, and he seized the opportunity for trying the charm before having recourse to any drugs he had with him. He, therefore, picked up a small twig, and, ascertaining the area of the pain, which extended to a few inches above the bite, waved the twig down to the wound as was directed, reciting at the same time the mantra, and to his astonishment the very first recitation reduced considerably the sufferings of the man; and continuing it a few minutes longer the pain subsided and the man left the place recovered. Mr. Stricke soon had another opportunity for trying it — this time it was his own wife that was bit by one of these noxious reptiles; he tried the antidote, and succeeded. He thenceforward adopted this simple care in some seven or eight other cases that came to him for treatment. Satisfied as to the efficacy of the remedy, he communicated it to a friend of his, one Mr. Brown, a merchant. Mr. Stricke died since, and his son, an assistant master in one of the Madras High Schools, obtained from the said Mr. Brown a copy of the charm and tried it himself in several cases with similar results. The following is the charm which we have obtained for the benefit of our readers: —
"Ong Parathmay pachaminya sardhamath Keetvas Sampardha Choo."
First ascertain from the sufferer the extreme limit of the pain, then take a twig and wave it thence down to the sting as often as the charm is repeated, and till the pain has subsided or reaches the wound. Any smarting left behind could be relieved by bathing the part with some eau-de-Cologne.
By Sakharam Arjun, Esq., L. M. & S.
Acting Professor of Botany, Grant Medical College, Bombay.
The present state of India, as compared to that of former days, shows some striking changes. The physical weakness of its people, their want of moral courage, and their impoverished state, all occupy the thoughts of thoughtful men; and those who are wise are ever trying to discover the causes that may have led to these changes. It is agreed that there are several such causes, and among the chief, our marriage customs.
Let us consider how far the modern science of physiology proves these three facts, viz., (1) the necessity of marrying at a mature age, (2) the unnaturalness of early marriages, and (3) the necessity for instituting widow re-marriage.
It is an accepted fact that one can only attain Dharma (truth), Artha (money), Kama (desire), and Moksha (final bliss) by possessing physical strength. It is, therefore, imperative that we should preserve our constitution in order to attain every sort of enjoyment. And, as we find that marriage affects our constitution, we must see under what circumstances it should be contracted. By marriage is meant the most intimate relation between man and woman, and not merely that preliminary ritualistic ceremony which the Hindus have first to pass through, long before the connection between husband and wife is formed.
There are persons who say that those who are free from the marriage-tie are most happy. But it is quite sufficient to refer such to what a great European scholar of the last century said, viz., "If marriage has its evils, celibacy has no charms."
The male and the female are the two forces in this world, and without the mingling of the sexes it would come to an end. It is in the order of nature that when both attain a certain age they should feel the instinct of love, to satisfy which they must adopt proper means. Now, if there were no marriages, men would use improper means to satisfy their desire. An abnormal intimacy with numerous women would be formed. The voluptuary would discontinue any one of these as soon as the woman becomes old and loses her charms. There would be no real love between the two; and, as the excellence of the progeny depends to a very great extent upon the amount of love between the parents, the human race would gradually degenerate. But when certain rules are fixed for the performance of lawful marriage, all these evils are avoided. Because, it is not mere amorous desire that creates real love, but the charms of the marriage relation, which attract the sexes towards each other. Marriage, therefore, a true and natural marriage, is the real source of every happiness. Let us now consider the circumstances under which its consummation will conduce to perfect happiness.
The first point to be noticed, is that of the proper age of the parties. The most learned philosophers, after having weighed all the circumstances, such as climate, &c., have expressed an opinion that there should be no marital relationship permitted until a few years after the age of puberty has been respectively attained. This will conduce to their moral and physical good. The man should be between 25 and 30, at the time of his marriage, the woman between 15 and 20. And, although a certain animal instinct may assert itself at an earlier period, still there is a difference between this desire and that arising in them after they respectively attain the abovementioned ages.* Therefore, the custom among us of performing early marriages, and of bringing about their consummation as soon as the wife reaches a certain crisis, has a pernicious effect, inasmuch as it tells upon the constitution of both, and tends to prevent their having a family. If there be any progeny at all, it is sure to be weak. Ranmer, the famous historian, says that in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the common people of Europe were tall and stout, but the nobility were short and weak. This he attributes to the evil practice among the aristocrats of performing early marriages. Henry VII. was very weak, because he was born when his mother was only ten years of age. Besides, young parents are themselves ignorant of the proper way to bring up such weak children, and turn them into the right path. This course of performing early marriages, therefore, but increases the population without begetting sons able to work for either their country or for themselves, but only to pass through life with feeble and diseased constitutions. Besides, the Calcutta Nizomut Adalat Report gives many instances in which girls suffered from excessive haemorrhagia in consequence of too early an assumption of the duties of wife. Again, if a man marries at the proper age, he has all the advantages of a constitution, whereas if married early, he becomes very weak, cowardly and without any vigour. Ought not these facts to open the eyes of our countrymen to the sense of their duty towards themselves and their country? Does it become them to stubbornly adhere to their foolish and pernicious customs? Do they forget that they have to deal with giants, and that if proper steps are not taken to gather physical strength, and thus be able to resist the stronger physique of these men mountains, the latter will soon be found so powerful that they would be able to trample on the miserable Indians like mosquitoes? My countrymen, if you have any religious scruples, the very Dharmsindhu, which is your chief authority on all points of religion, suggests to you certain remedies. For instance, it is said that if a girl attains the age of puberty before she is married, her parents, or whoever may perform the ceremony, should give a cow in charity, and so on. Cannot these things be easily done? And if with all these evils and their remedies before us, we do not set to work now, when we can no longer plead ignorance, we shall be the cause of our own destruction.
* A learned friend has taken exception to this on the ground that if the feeling of passion arises in men at the age of sixteen or seventeen, it would be going against nature to say that they should only be married when they are between twenty-five and thirty years. Our reply is: — Habit is second nature. If, therefore, our custom of early marriages were gradually abolished, nature would not precociously move the young men of our country at that early age at which it does at present. For instance, one who takes his meals at 8 o'clock, feels hungry, at that hour, while to another who takes them at 9, that becomes the hour when he feels hungry, and so on. It is, therefore, a question of the peculiar nature of the individual and not that of the law of nature. It is the law of nature that persons should have the feeling of desire, but that this should happen at a certain age, is not its law. That is a matter of individual habit.
Again, talking of religious difficulties, does not Dharmsindhu strictly prohibit the marriage of a girl before she is six years of age? And do our countrymen adhere to it? In many instances girls are married when they are not even five years old. Nay, they go further still. They marry their children while they are not even able to stand at the ceremony, but are in the cradle!! What can be more foolish and monstrous than that! Has not the time arrived to check the progress of all these stupidities and seriously adopt measures that will result in good to our country?
The second point to be noticed, is that of the proper relative ages of the husband and the wife. Among the Guzarathis we find instances of the couple being of the same age, or sometimes of the wife being even older than her husband. This is against the course of Nature. It is a recognized fact that women very soon attain the age of maturity, and, as it is desirable that the sexual feeling in the husband and the wife should end at the same time, it is necessary that there should be a difference between their respective ages of about ten years. This is the united opinion of the best Western physiologists. Women lose that feeling at the age of forty-five, men at fifty or fifty-five.
Now let us consider what sort of woman should be chosen for a wife. She must be healthy and have no disease, or else not only will she be a burden to her husband, but she will bring forth sickly children. A woman with quite a white face and a body like a wax statue, though herself healthy, will never have healthy children. It is better always that a bright-complexioned man should marry a little darker-coloured woman; for if both are very fair, the progeny is almost sure to be scrofulous, and scrofula is a very bad disease.
Again, it is necessary that their temperaments should be different, because they will then be more likely to have a great love for each other, which is one of the principal things that ensure good progeny. The science of chemistry proves that two substances of opposite qualities have a great affinity to each other. Thus, the tendency of an acid is to combine with an alkali, and these substances are of exactly opposite properties. The result of such a combination is well known to be a salt, which differs from either, but unites the substances of both. Moreover, the historical cases of distinguished personages confirm our statement that the greater the love between parents, the better the progeny. Lahu and Kusha, you remember, were more powerful even than their father Ram, whose love for Sita (his wife) is taken as the standard of extreme love between husband and wife. Abhimanyu, so renowned for heroism even in his youth, was the son of Subhadra, to marry whom Arjuna (the father of Abhimanyu) was very desirous, and had gone so far as to pretend that he was a Sannyasi. Similarly, Ghatotkacha was not the son of Droupadi but of Hedamba, whom Bhima loved so ardently.
We might quote such instances, but it is useless, since it must be conceded that we have sufficiently established our point.
Let us now consider what constitutes an improper marriage. The following appear to be the points: — (1)— Mutual dislike of the couple; (2)— a great difference between their respective ages; (3)— the marriage of the old with children; (4)— the marriage of one man with various women; (5)— and the marriage between persons of the same blood.
Among us, the first of these probably results from the stupidity of the parents. They do not care whether the young couple have, or are likely to have, any love for each other, but perform the ceremony because they choose. And thus the happiness of the young couple is often destroyed beyond remedy. Once that the seed of dislike is sown, it grows fast. The ill-matched couple may seem happy, but who knows what passes in the inmost recesses of their hearts? And the more you try to reconcile them to each other, the stronger grows their hatred.
The second and the third owe their origin to the prohibition of widow-remarriage among us. If widowers were not allowed to remarry as widows are not, our people would long ago have been freed from the stigma of selfish partiality which attaches to their name. Our widowers want wives, but they will not have widows. And what then follows is evident. Young girls fall victims to their old husbands, and naturally an element of dislike is introduced, the consequences of which have already been described.
As regards the fourth point, that is a custom prevalent in many parts of our country among the Brahmins of the "Kuleen" caste. It is useless to describe here all the horrors and evils that result from this atrocious custom. The science of physiology proves to us the impracticability of a person being able to satisfy the desire of two women. Let our readers, then, imagine the atrocity of the crime of these Brahmins who are husbands to even seven or eight women at the same time.
And now we will turn our attention to the fifth point, that of the union of persons of the same blood. We cannot trace the origin of this practice, but Manu and other religious reformers have absolutely prohibited such a thing. This custom prevails to an extremely great extent among the Parsis of our country. One of our Parsi friends informs us that it arose from the misconception of some passage in their religious book. But it is now high time that people should turn, consider and realize the evils begotten by this horrible custom of marrying cousins. They naturally begin to dislike each other very soon, and, what is worse, their progeny degenerates. Such a marriage sows the seed of disease in the family, and scrofula, consumption and such other diseases are the undoubted results. The lap-dog is a striking illustration of our statement. These dogs are the progeny of the children of the same parents, and we all see how very weak and puny the species of lap-dog is. I have a considerable practice among the Parsis, and I find that diseases of the above nature prevail to a great extent among them. I have personally attended the case of a woman who was married to her cousin and gave birth to a child that had no brain at all. It would require a chapter to mention all such cases that have come under my personal observation.
Before concluding, however, I would request my Parsi friends to take this grave matter into their hands, and adopt proper means to check these evils, after due investigation into the facts has been made. At the same time, I would ask all my countrymen to consider seriously what has been stated here and open their eyes to the peril they have brought upon themselves, and under the weight of which they will be crushed by their own act, if the necessary remedy is not applied in time.
In December, 1876, our Society burned in America the body of one of its Councillors, who had requested that his remains should be so disposed of. The preliminary funeral ceremonies were of a distinctly "Heathen" character, and attracted the attention of the whole nation, when described and commented upon by the seven thousand American journals. The ceremonies themselves were performed about the 1st of June at the Masonic Temple in the presence of thousands. At that time there was no proper crematory, or building for the burning of the dead, in the entire country, and public opinion would not have permitted the burning to take place in open air, after the Aryan fashion. The body of our Councillor — the Bavarian Baron de Palm, then residing in the United States of America — was accordingly embalmed, and placed in the "receiving-vault" of a cemetery, a place provided for the reception of bodies not immediately to be buried. It lay there until December, when a proper crematory had been built by a wealthy gentleman of Pennsylvania, Dr. F. Julius Le Moyne, on his own estate and in spite of the protests and threats of his neighbours and strangers.
This being the first case in America of cremation, our Society determined to have every doubt solved as to the legality of this method of sepulture, under the laws of America. The statute books were carefully searched by a special committee, and not a line or word was found which prevented a person from disposing of his or her body according to choice, provided that there should be no sanitary or police regulation infringed. A formal request was made for permission to remove Baron de Palm's remains from the receiving-vault in Brooklyn — a suburb of New York City — to Pennsylvania for cremation. This was granted after some examination of the statutes by counsel to the Brooklyn Board of Health; and the President of that body accepted an invitation to witness the novel ceremony, and actually did see it. So, too, did the official representatives of the Health Boards of a number of other cities, and one — Dr. Asdale of the Pittsburgh (Pa) Board of Health — actually helped Col. Olcott, Dr. Le Moyne, and Mr. Henry J. Newton, to put the corpse into the hot retort of the cremation-furnace. The unanimous declaration of all these scientific gentlemen, after seeing the whole process of the burning, was that it was neither opposed to the interests of law, of public health, or of decency. And, as the President of the Presbyterian College in the town, where the cremation took place, was one of the orators at a public meeting held after that ceremony, and distinctly said that the Christian Bible did not prohibit this form of sepulture, the way was open for the introduction of this great reform. Science had long denounced burial as the worst possible means of getting rid of the dead, and it only wanted such a practical illustration as this, of the decency, cheapness and entire feasibility of cremation, to inaugurate a new era in this direction.
Naturally, such a change as that from burying to burning must be a very gradual one. The public's reason is first to be convinced, then its unreasoning prejudice removed. The first bold step finds its imitators here and there, and then, when the people find that nothing bad has happened to either themselves or the reformers, the change, if a good one, is adopted. This process is going on in the United States with respect to cremation. The first flash of Christian indignation at the "barbarity" and "heathenism" of the Theosophical Society passed away, the echoes of the journalistic gibes are gone, and our name, as promoters of one of the most beneficial social reforms possible, has fixed for itself a place on the page of American history.
The De Palm cremation has, within the last three-and-a-half years, been followed by those of the venerable Dr. Le Moyne himself, Mrs. Benn. Pitman and several others, and it is within our personal knowledge that the wills of a number of Americans, of both the sexes have been carefully drawn so as to compel the surviving relatives to burn the testators' bodies instead of burying them. A case of cremation, of special interest and importance, is found in the latest American journals that have reached us. The subject was a young Mr. Charles A. McCreery, partner in one of the wealthiest piece-goods houses of New York, and an orthodox Christian in faith. The cremation was conducted at the Le Moyne place with the greatest privacy, as the deceased's family were bitterly opposed to burning, though they could not refuse the young man's request. But the sharp-witted Sun reporters, who discover everything worth the trouble to find out, got a clue to the facts, and Mr. McCreery's father very properly decided to give the whole truth publicity. It then appeared that
"when Baron de Palm was cremated and the subject of cremation was discussed, he advocated that method of disposing of dead bodies, and, indeed, of everything that, from its nature, was meant to be put out of sight."
This being the father's own statement, no one will deny that this case is directly traceable to the example set by the Theosophical Society. The influence that the McCreery cremation will have upon public opinion in America is very great. Not only the high respectability of the deceased himself, and the wealth, piety and standing of his family, but also the admiring testimony of the clergyman, who superintended the burning together with the deceased's brother, as to the freedom of the process from all objectionable features, will combine to give cremation a forward impulse in the Great Republic.
The following brief extracts are from the New York Sun's special report: —
"We thought we were doing the very best thing," said Mr. McCreery, "in trying to keep the affair quiet. It was my son's desire, and we shrank from publicity. There are many people who may blame us, who think cremation a heathen practice, but I cannot help that. Were the consequences manyfold more disagreeable, we would not hesitate. We did what we thought was right and we are satisfied. My son was a man of tremendous will power. He never undertook anything in his life that he did not accomplish except the one thing of getting well of his disease. But that will-power has made itself felt even after his death, and what he willed to have done has been accomplished. It was not the freak of an enthusiast. He died in the faith of his fathers, a devoted Christian, and we are comforted."
"Well," continued Mr. Mc.Creery, "nothing more was said about the matter to me until after his death. Then we found in his desk a paper containing some requests, among them the following."
INWOOD. Oct. 21, 1879.
'MY DEAR PARENTS: having for various reasons formed a great aversion to the ordinary methods of burial, it is my solemn wish that, after full assurance of my death has been secured, every possible effort should be made to have my body burned.'
"This request coming in this way, we did not think we could possibly refuse, although it was exceedingly painful for us to accede to it. Not that I am so opposed to cremation, but it was going against my whole education and the customs of my forefathers. But I made up my mind that his request must be carried out at all events, and then the question arose how best to do it. He had requested that there be no publicity attached to the matter, and we were certainly anxious to keep the matter quiet; but, whether we could do it openly or quietly, we were bound to carry out our son's wishes. Mrs. McCreery and myself found that we could take no part in the arrangements. Our feelings would not permit us to do anything, and so the whole arrangements were turned over to my eldest son, J. Crawford McCreery, and our pastor here, Mr. Payson. After Charlie's death the body was placed in a hermetically sealed metallic coffin, from which the air was exhausted, and that placed in a wooden coffin, and deposited in the receiving vault in Woodlawn Cemetery. Mr. Payson will tell you all the rest."
Mr. Payson, who for five years has been the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Inwood, a small, slender, scholarly-looking young man, said: "I agree with Mr. McCreery that it is best to have no more concealment. I now know what cremation is, and I am glad to have an opportunity of speaking of it. I was with Charlie much throughout his illness, and he talked frankly with me. He loathed the idea of ordinary burial, and spoke in the strongest terms against it. He said that the idea of being put into the earth, there to decay, and possibly to have his bones cut into by labourers laying out new streets, was horrible. He believed in cremation, and he said to me: 'I am quite sure that if my father knew my wishes he would go so far as to build a furnace himself if necessary.'"
"Yes and I would," exclaimed Mr. McCreery, with deep feelings.
The report describes in detail the negotiations between the family and Dr. Le Moyne's executors for the privilege of using the furnace, and the transportation of the body by rail to the place of cremation. The Rev. Mr. Payson then continues his narrative as follows: —
"Then the coffin was taken into the reception room of the crematory. It is a fire-proof brick building, about thirty feet by fifteen, divided into two apartments, the reception room and the retort. The latter is of fireproof brick, and the fires are under it. When the doors were opened, and I looked in, all my opposition to cremation disappeared, for then came from the retort a lovely, rosy light, which I could compare to nothing but the rosy morning light on the snow peaks of the Alps, as I have seen it in Switzerland. The body was prepared by being taken from the coffin, placed in a crib, and covered with a sheet, saturated with a solution of alum. The crib is shaped like an ordinary crib, but is made of rods of iron, just close enough to hold the body. The alum cloth was to prevent any smoke or unpleasant odour. The body was not decomposed. Being placed in the crib, it was wheeled into the retort, and there rested in the rosy light. There was absolutely nothing whatever repugnant to the senses — no flame, no smoke, no odour of any kind. The alum cloth remained for sometime apparently intact. Then little by little, it disappeared, as did the body, the pure ashes falling to the bottom of the retort. It was about 11/2 in the afternoon when we placed the body in the retort, and in less than three hours it was reduced to ashes."
Mr. Payson mistakes the purpose for which the alum-saturated cloth is used. It was adopted at the De Palm cremation, at the last moment, for the sake of decency, the body having to be put into the retort naked, and it being understood that the progress of the cremation was to be watched through the small draught-hole in the iron door, by many scientific men and journalists present. The Baron's body was sprinkled with sweet spices and gums, and strewn with flowers and evergreen branches. But this was merely an expression of tender regret at the loss of a friend; there were neither smoke nor unpleasant odours caused by the burning. The body lay in its iron crib in a white hot atmosphere, and its tissues and other consumable parts were gradually resolved into vapour and passed off into the atmosphere, while the white and gray ashes were left behind as the sole visible remnants of what had once been a man.
"A PERSONAL STATEMENT OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF" is the title of a pamphlet now just appearing at Bombay. It is an unexpected, and very unusual piece of literature; and the subject is treated in a way to startle the whole of the Protestant Church, call out an inward chuckle of satisfaction from the Jesuits, and provoke extreme dissatisfaction among the Conservative, church-going, Anglo-Indian officials. Yet it is an honest and sincere profession of faith. Simple and dignified, without one word of recrimination against those who will be the first to throw stones at him, entirely heedless of possible consequences, the author — a District Judge, we believe — Mr. G. C. Whitworth, comes out bravely and without ostentation, to tell the truth to the world about himself. He has "come to the conclusion that it is better that every man's opinions, whether right or wrong, should be known;" and feeling that he "will never reach that state of straightforwardness and simplicity of conversation and conduct" after which he is striving, he does not wish to remain any longer "in a false position," and hence renounces Christianity publicly and in print.
All honour to the man who is brave and honest in this century of sham beliefs and shameful hypocrisy! — who, regardless of all dangers — and such an act entails more than one — throws off the mask of false pretence that stifles him, with the sole motive of doing what he deems his duty to himself and those who know him.
Mr. Whitworth not only tells us what he believes no more in, but also makes a statement of, the personal belief that has superseded the Christianity he now repudiates.
Before he was as certain as he now is of what his duty in this question was, he used to wonder what orthodox churchmen would advise him to do. "I have heard," he says, "of such a thing as stamping out, or trying to stamp out, unbelief from the mind. I suppose the process is to set before yourself the idea that it would be a good thing if you could believe, and then to determine to act on all occasions as though you did, until at length it comes to seem to be a matter of course that you do believe. Now such a course of conduct seems to me to be wrong. I cannot see how a man is justified in trying to settle by resolution what he will believe, and in stifling instead of fairly examining doubts which may arise as to his past belief. Nor does any one recommend this course to persons of a different creed to his own." . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . "And though," he says further on, "I would not willingly suggest doubt to the mind of any person happily free from it, and worthily occupied in this world, I can in no degree concur in the opinion that it is necessary to keep up artificial religions for the sake of the unenlightened masses. 'Government by illusion' is an expression I have lately heard. I cannot but think that the bare truth is better. More particularly, if you think that a God of infinite power credited and governs the world, does it seem unreasonable to suppose that he means those of his creatures that are comparatively wise to invent erroneous notions about him for their more ignorant fellows to believe. We have been so long accustomed to associate such things as worship, prayer, sacraments, and holy offices with religion that some men seem to fear that, if all these were got rid of, nothing would remain. That is not my experience. It should be remembered that all immoral and dangerous persons are either already without religion — in which case they could lose none if the doctrine of Government by illusion were given up — or else that the religion they have has been useless to them."
After that Mr. Whitworth states his present religious belief and says —
"I believe that it is every man's duty to do what he can to make the world better and happier. That is the whole of my creed. I aim at no precision of language. Many other formulas would do as well. So to live that the world may be better for my having lived in it — is the one most familiar to my thoughts. The meaning is plain, and there is nothing new in it. . . . . . To me it seems absurd to attempt to devise a creed, or even to take, with any fixed resolution of keeping it, a ready-made one. What a man finds in the actual experience of his life to be good, that is what he must believe. . . . . . .
"Now before I attempt to explain how I find the simple creed, I have enunciated, better than all the dogmas I once believed, I will refer to certain points on which (though they do not belong to my religion) I shall no doubt be expected, in such a publication as this, to express distinct opinions.
"Such a question is: — 'Do you believe in God?' Now I wish to be perfectly frank, but it is beyond my power to answer this question clearly. I certainly did, until within a few years, believe in God, but then I had a particular conception of him — namely, the being known as God the Father in the Church of England. Now, I am sure, we are not warranted in holding that conception, and I have formed no other distinct conception of God. I cannot say I believe in God when the word conveys no distinct meaning to me; I cannot say I do not believe in him when my thoughts seem sometimes to require the use of the name. Perhaps that impression is due only to an old habit. We hear it said that the existence of God is proved by the manifest design of the universe. But what sort of God? Surely one of finite, not of infinite, power. The world is very wonderful; but how can we call it a perfect work? There are some terrible things in it. Perhaps it will be perfect, but time cannot be necessary to infinite power. I heard a preacher once expatiate on God's power and love as shown in the structure of an animal. He took the mole as an example, and explained how its every part was perfectly adapted to the peculiar manner of its life. But what if a ploughman kills the mole? Carefully provided as all its properties were, they all have failed. Then the preacher spoke of the wonderful providence by which some plants are made to purify pestilential air. But we in India know that other plants by their natural decay poison instead of purifying the air. So, what do such examples prove?
"I am not dismayed or distressed at such puzzles, because I cannot say whether or not I believe in God. The world teaches me plainly that there are countless things which I cannot know.
"My attempt to answer the above question is sufficient to show that I do not believe in the divinity of Christ, or of any other supposed incarnation of God. I add that it is between twelve and fifteen years since I had any such belief."
As to a future life, the author neither affirms belief nor disbelief. He hopes we may live after death, but he personally feels no conviction of it. "My religion then," he goes on to say, "it may perhaps be said by those devoted to any of the recognized religions of the day, leaves me without any God, without prayer or worship of any kind, leaves me a weak mortal struggling alone with the difficulties of this life. Well, if I hear such things said of my religion, I shall bear it
patiently. . . . While I am writing this in the saloon of the 'Venetia,' this 23rd of November, I can hear the passengers at service, over-head, singing —
'Leave, ah leave me not alone,
Still support and strengthen me.'
If some of them are less alone then I, it should not make me discontented, for I know that I am better with my religion than I, the same person, was with theirs. But, notwithstanding those objections which many persons will make, I do deliberately put forward this religion of mine as something better for humanity than any other . . . I believe that most, or at least very many, men of business, working men, are as I am. If, as a fact, men do not already hold the creed that I do, I do not expect that by anything I can say they come to do so. But there are two things which 1 can still hope. I hope their those of my readers who really believe no more than I do but who in a half-hearted way cling to dogmas, which indeed to them are dead and ineffective, will examine and see what they really do believe and what they do not, distinguishing between those articles of belief which they give effect to in their lives and those they hold merely for want of energy to throw away. And I hope that those, who find their actual belief to be less than or different from what their neighbours have been led to suppose it to be, will ask themselves the question whether they ought not in some way or other to remove the misapprehension and make their lives speak truly to all who behold them.
"But there are two classes of persons to whom I can hardly hope to make intelligible the stop I am taking in publishing this statement. The first class is the clergy and all persons engaged in teaching and propagating any religion; the second, all idle persons. These two very different classes seem to me to be less likely than other persons, to discover that the religions they observe are false if they are false. Rather are they likely, as I conceive to find them, whatever they are, to be sufficient and satisfactory. In the case of the first, because religion is the business of their lives; and in the case of idle persons, because what they have of religion is better than the rest of their lives . . . . A man's life and his religion should be one and the same thing. That, which is not part of what his life ought to be, ought not to be a part of his religion. And it seems to me quite intelligible that, a man whose business is religious teaching should make his life and religion one and the same, though. much of the religion be false, without ever finding the test of true and untrue. It' a man's duty is to explain or teach a certain doctrine, he may find it very difficult to make people believe or understand it; but he will not be in a position to say — well, this doctrine may be true or false, but it has nothing to do with my life. It has to do with his life."
The author, explaining how his creed is a bettor religion for the world at large than any other, says: —
"In the first place, this religion seems to me to have the property of being constantly present in a way which other religions are usually not. I do not think it is sufficient to devote an hour, or two hours, or twelve hours a day to religion. I think the whole day should be devoted. But, in order for that to be, religion must consist of daily life, and there must be no distinction of spiritual and temporal, of religious and secular of Sunday and week-day, of priest and people. The fact that one day is to be kept holy, means that others are distinctly recognized as being something less than holy; and the fact that a holier and purer manner of life and conversation is expected in one particular class of men, means that such high attainment, though practicable, is not expected of the bulk of mankind.
Of course all men require time, apart from their proper business, for patient meditation and reflection on the tendency of their lives; all men require the advice of others of different experience to themselves; all men should have time for the time and the pleasure that life affords. But why should some of these things be called religious, and others non-religious or secular? Is the thing good or bad? — is the question that my religion asks; and it asks it equally whether the things be an act of charity or a game of tennis. If religion and daily life are not one and the same, it will happen that the first is sometimes made to give place to the second. If a church catches fire at the time of public worship, the priest and people must run out. Their religious services is interrupted, but they obey the dictate of a truer religion which bids them save their lives. That, which need never be interrupted is the true religion — namely, always to do what is best to be done.
"I next claim for my religion that, as a fact, it has created. in me a greater love of the human race than I had when a Christian. When I thought there was virtue in prayer and religious services, and that my first duty was to save my own soul, my sense of the duty of rendering service to men and my sense of pleasure at the thought of particular services done to particular persons, whether friends or strangers, were certainly less than they are now. If it be said that the difference in me is due not to the change of religion, but only to the improved perception and knowledge that years bring, I can only reply that the two causes seem to me to be identical. My religion I have neither invented nor selected: it is what my life has taught me.
"This religion has again this advantage that it allows you no rest or permanent happiness except with a sense of duty done. It knows nothing of idle 'drawing nearer to God.'
You must not speak of ' leaving with meekness your sins to your Saviour.' Your sins are your own, and you cannot leave them to any one. The best you can do is to outweigh them with good, but get rid of them you cannot. There is no absolution. Think of that when you are disposed to do a bad deed again. If you do it, it will remain for ever. The balance of good, if even you get a balance of good, will be finally less by reason of that bad debt."
We verily believe that, though Mr. Whitworth gives no name to his deity and simplifies his religion, so as to make it appear to be hardly a religion at all, yet he is a truer religionist than any Church-going dogmatist. His religion recognizes and worships but the latent divinity in-dwelling in himself. Like Elijah, he sought for the Lord in the strong wind — but the Lord was not in the wind; nor was he in the earthquake, nor yet in the fire. But he found Him in the "still small voice" — the voice of his own CONSCIENCE, the true tabernacle of man. The author without belonging to our Society is yet a true-born Theosophist — a God-seeker.
And yet the Rev. T. J. Scott, assailing us in a long letter to the Pioneer, says Christianity never had such sweetness, sympathy, life and power, as now!
THE FOOLISH EMBARGO LAID UPON SWAMIJI DAYANAND Saraswati by Mr. Wall, the Benares Magistrate, has at last been resumed, and that learned and eloquent Pandit was to have rescind his lectures on the evening of the 21st March. Before granting the permission — which the Swami ought never to have been obliged to ask — Mr. Wall had a conversation of nearly an hour with him. 'I'he excuse, offered by the Lieutenant Governor for the action in the premises, was that it was not safe for the Swami to lecture in the Mohuram holidays! The subject of the opening discourse was "The Creation." In the same letter which contained the above particulars, Swamiji says, "Though I am very anxious that my autobiography, which you are publishing in your journal, should be completed, I have not yet been able to give the necessary time to it. But, as soon as possible, I will send the narrative to you."
A long-felt want has now been supplied by the publication, by the Bombay Arya Samaj, of a monthly journal devoted to the news about the Samajes throughout India. It will be a convenient medium for the promotion of friendly intercourse, and thus keep active the enthusiam of members for the cause of Vedic reform. It is edited by Mr. Sevaklal Kursondass, Treasurer of the Bombay Arya Samaj, at 61, Jugjivankika Street, and issued at the nominal rate of annas 12 for City, and Re. 1 for Mofussil subscribers, in advance.
THE "TREATISE ON VADANTIC RAJ YOGA," BY THY MADRAS
Mahatma Giana Yogi, Sabharpaty Swami, a chapter of whose life was given in our magazine last month, has appeared, and may be had at the Mitra Vilas
Press, Lahore, Punjab, at annas 8 per copy.
It is one of the most curious pamphlets ever printed, and will doubtless have a very large sale. A review of it will appear next month.
PANDIT SURYA NARAYAN HAS BEEN DELEGATED by the Society of. Benares Pandits to translate into English the contributions to these columns of members of that Sabha. He is one of its secretaries.
Some months ago, the THEOSOPHIST was taken to task by certain Christian Roman Catholic friends, for crediting "supernatural" cock and bull "inventions" about spirits and mediums, as told in spiritual organs, while never quoting one such fact from the "far more trustworthy Catholic organs." Whereupon, as the policy of our paper is one of strict impartiality, we yielded, to the demand of one who was both an esteemed friend and a subscriber, and promised to ransack the Roman Catholic papers sent us for trustworthy, demoniacal ghostly literature. We did so, and fell upon Marshal MacMahon's strange adventure with the devil in Algiers. (See THEOSOPHIST for December, 1879.) We were assured by the same friend that Marshal MacMahon being alive, and, moreover, a very pious Catholic, and the paper which printed the story being itself highly respected, trustworthy organ of the American Roman Catholic bishops, it was impossible to doubt its voracity. It was "absurdly incongruous" in us to think for one moment, that side by side with the "best authenticated miracles of Our Lady of Lourdes" and other places as noteworthy, the Catholic Mirror (of Baltimore, U. S. A.) would publish, at the risk of its literary and Christian reputation, a flim-flam fabrication, a canard. So we copied the adventure, word for word, as we found it in the Mirror of Sept. 13, 1879, prefacing it with this remark of equivical confidence in its exactness, as every one can see: — "We admit. it the more willingly since had any such story originated with either the Theosophists or the Spiritualists, it would have been straight-way ridiculed and set down as a cock-and-bull fable. But circumstances alter the case with the Catholics; none, however sceptical at heart, will dare laugh (above his breath) at a story of supernatural 'miracles' worked by the saints or by Satan and his imps. Only Spiritualists and Theosophists . . . deserve to be called ' lunatics' for believing in phenomena, produced by natural causes."
The Marshal's alleged adventure was reprinted in the London Spiritualist. Let the editor of that paper now speak:
"We recently asked that the truth of some alleged supernatural experiences of Marshal Mac Mahon, which had been quoted by The Theosophist (Bombay) from a Roman Catholic newspaper, should be inquired into by some of our readers. The following letter from Miss Douglas is the result: —
DEAR MR. HARRISON, — I sent to my sister, Mrs. Douglas Bayley, now in Paris, the No. of The Spiriutalist in which appeared the marvelous adventure. Marshal MacMahon, said to have been related by himself, begging her to inquire if there was any degree of truth in it.
"She write that there is none. Being well acquainted with the Marshal's Aide-de-Camp, the Baron de Langsdorff, she spoke to him on the subject; he said he could not believe there was any truth in the story, or he would have heard of it; however, he took The Spiritualist containing it to the Marshal, who declared there was not the slightest foundation for it. Very truly yours,
'J. H. DOUGLAS.'"
We thank Miss Douglas and Mr. Harrison for trouble they have taken, and hope the lesson, which the cases teaches may not be lost upon these who stand up
stoutly for the infallibility of the Roman Catholic Church. For, it would appear, they indulge in "cock-and-bull stories," as much as other mortals do, while pretending to a greater trustworthiness.
WE HAVE RECEIVED FROM THE UNIVERSALLY ADMIRED Gujerati Poet, Narmadashankar Lalshankar, his spirited Ode on Theosophy, which, owing to a misunderstanding and no fault of his, had not reached us before. It is in the Gujerati language, with an English translation, and will appear next month.
A GLARING PROOF OF THE AXIOM THAT RELIGIOUS bigotry is always lined with hypocrisy and often with crime, is instanced in the recent case of a most revolting infanticide in France. 'The heroine of the deed appears in the lugubrious and monstrous image of the widow of one Francis Violo Versseron. She is a woman aged 35, who lived it St. Colombin, and who was sentenced to death, but, to our regret, the sentence has been commuted to transportation for life. Such fiends ought to be put out of the way for ever. The following facts are found in the official report in the Republique Francaise.
The heartless mother, longing for remarriage and finding her only son, eight years old, in her way, poisoned him with arsenic paste, known as "rat-poison," under circumstances of the most revolting character. The prosecution, while bringing out one by one the proofs of her guilt, showed her at the same time a most pious Roman Catholic. The day before the one she had deliberately fixed for poisoning, she took her little Ernest to confession, "to prepare him for death," she said, "in the way it behoved her like a true Catholic." On the morrow, when the poison had been administered to him with her own hands, and the child was writhing in the convulsions of his death-agony, she despatched one of her neighbours for some "holy water," and busied herself, before the eyes of the dying boy and in the presence of acquaintances, with preparations for his "laying out" and funeral. Then, as the unfortunate victim did not die fast enough to suit her, she put in his mouth one more dose of poison, and made him swallow it by shoving it down his throat with her finger. Throughout the terrific details of this family drama, the murderess acted with perfect composure and without the least pang of regret. The neighbours say that she herself had gone to confession prior to the deed, and got absolution from her cure (parish priest) for her intended crime by declaring it in some covert words misunderstood by the priest. Such cases are known to have happened before, and in more than one instance where the crime was of the blackest character. Indulgences and written plenary remittances of sin in the shape of the Pope's bullas have been found suspended on the neck of nearly every decapitated bandit, professional highwayman and murderer in the Compagne of Rome. If, then, Popes will remit for a cash consideration any murder, in advance of its commission, are we not justified in thinking that the poisoner Versseron had also obtained what she accepted as a valid clerical absolution for her premeditated infanticide? "Like master, like man."
AMONG THE MOST RECENT ACCESSIONS to the Fellowship of the Theosophical Society is a well-known Magistrate and Collector of the Punjab.
AMONG THE ARTICLES HELD OVER FOR WANT OF ROOM is one of interest to Arya Samajists entitled "A Deserter," from the pen of one of our Aryan brothers.
The Proprietors of the THEOSOPHIST acknowledge, with thanks, the following additional subscriptions all paid in advance.
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Chintamon H. Sohni, Esq.
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