Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

to their Government; that, in spite of the many defects of that Government-maybe, ugly and serious defects—their system of administration, though very costly, is honest in its cardinal principle; that he cannot replace that Government by any composed of his own people if the British offer to withdraw from it altogether; that the anarchy which will be the inevitable result of that withdrawal will create unthinkable havoc among his people, and their age-long institutions of highly civilised living—a catastrophe compared with which the defects of British rule are as nothing.

This, then, is the mental attitude of the great majority of the Hindoos, whose chief grievances I am going to lay before the King-Emperor with all humbleness. This great majority of the Hindoos form also the great majority of the present population of India, two hundred and twenty out of three hundred and twenty millions, a ratio of about three to four, including the Sikhs, whose grievances are the same. This is, therefore, worthy of the special attention and deep sympathy of his Imperial Majesty.

The chief moral grievance of these people is the system of education at present prevalent in India. This unmodified, badly imparted English education and concepts of an outlandish, hourly shifting civilisation, is killing the Hindoos mentally and morally. The Hindoo does not care for physical death; passing out of life is to him like passing out of one wayside inn into another : be believes in re-birth. It is mental disease or death that counts with him. English education and Western civilisation are not bad in themselves; they are both good, perhaps excellently good for the mental development of the peoples in whose soils they have sprung up. Unmodified Hindoo ideals or rules of life will not suit either the English or European or American people. They can never replace their inborn, age-grown, habit-hardened national ideas. The new and old ideas will have a hard conflict, and a patched-up peace will result in denationalisation, which will rob its victim of almost all the good virtues of his race, as well as of the new race whose education and civilisation he has adopted, but failed to assimilate because his mind's stomach is not fitted for such food. In the case of the Hindoo filled with badly assimilated ideas and concepts of the new philosophy of life developed in the West, the results are even worse. His old civilisation is very old, ay, worldold, despite what blundering Orientaksts may say. You can no more kill his world-old moral, philosophical, religious, social and domestic instincts than you can wipe out history from the bosom of Time. And this new English system of education is so nauseatingly materialistic, all-intellectual and soul-killing, that the Hindoo mind, being essentially spiritual, has failed to assimilate it. Its fine spiritual stomach cannot digest such gross

VOL. LXXI-No. 419

a

[ocr errors]

intellectuality and materiality. The result is the unhinging of the mind, brain, and the heart-soul. This is intellectual insanity or eccentricity, if you will, and its extreme cases have produced the ‘Anarchists' who concocted plans for freeing India from the British yoke by bombs and pistol-shots.

But even these woeful results are considered by the unspoilt Hindoo as being less disastrous than the more permanent effects which this insane system of Western education has produced on the mind and character and the religious, social, and domestic conscience of the people. It is fast removing from their minds the healthy ideals of life and conduct founded upon the wisdom of the illuminated sages of the past. It is destroying their inborn belief in Karma' and 'Reincarnation,' the belief that birth in high and low stations of life is not accidental, but is due to the actions of past existences, which enables them to endure the untoward state of things existing for the moment with comparative contentment, and prompts them generally to good, unselfish actions in the present for the benefit of their next incarnation. It is robbing them of the jewel of their soul, the jewel which they alone, through all the ages, have preserved and enjoyed ; that jewel is the faith that God is the only goal of existence, and that temporal power and prosperity are a mere nothing compared with the priceless privilege of spiritual awakening. It is breaking up their harmonious order of communal, social, and domestic life by infusing into their minds the spirit of pure self-aggrandisement. Large joint families, which were examples of mutual affection and dependence, are being divided into selfish couples with their own immediate issues, poor, unfortunate relations being thrust out into homeless helplessness and want.

It is alienating the hitherto exemplary love and attachment of grown-up sons from their ideally loving parents, and transferring them exclusively to their wives and children, who, in their turn, repay their parents with ingratitude. Gratitude, which is one of the predominant virtues of the race, is being felt as a very inconvenient burden to bear. Respect for superiors and reverence for saints and sages, or rendering honour where honour is due, are fast diminishing. The educated’ classes, rapidly losing faith in everything relating to religion, have learned to deny the existence of God and to ridicule the very idea of spiritual life. Envy, hate, discord, dissension, greed, and selfishness are ever increasing wherever this ' new light' is making progress. Money-making is getting to be the one ambition in life, possession of money the recognised badge of respectability. Selfish interest alone is the inspiration of sympathy and mutual helpfulness. Drunkenness has become a fashionable vice, formerly confined to the lowest of pariabs. In short, a race of people possessing the highest, noblest

6

ideals of life is being daily demoralised by the influence of crude and artificial morals and ideas, yclept education and civilisation. It is eating into the vitals of the parent source of all refinement and culture of both the Old and the New World. The roots of the world-old Hindoo civilisation are buried deep within the soul of the universe, and the spectacle of a day-old child, begotten of delusion, attempting to suck her life-blood, like a vampire, ought to afford mournful contemplation both to good men and gods. And yet the main boast of British rule in India is that it has conferred upon the people the inestimable boons of education' and 'civilisation,' which none of the disarmed people there dare, under the dread of loaded guns, pronounce curses.

The above need not irritate the votaries of Western civilisation. It is a true picture and a true estimate of the effects of Western civilisation on the East. It is not in the least overdrawn. If any of my Western readers be impatient with my remarks about the characteristics of his dear civilisation, let that reader consider that to him they may be provoking because they have not been expressed before. The superficial West criticises the deep East in and out of season, and calls it barbarous and backward. The deep East smiles its bland smile of silence at such criticism. It even excuses the frivolous conclusions of the West about Eastern men and manners, knowing its circumscribed mental vision, its small power of judgment, its lack of knowledge of what is real refinement; knowing it to be a mere child. But this silence has only made the child more conceited, and emboldened it to criticise the East more and more, until it has come to think that the East is so idiotic that it has not power enough to think for itself, much less to contradict its criticisms, still less to criticise the West, the

superior' West. But things have gone to extremes. A reply has become necessary. The Far East has replied with the sword. India, the soul of the East, out of the fulness of her heart, must reply in words of wisdom and loving protest.

What is this civilisation, anyway? I have lived in four of its chief centres for more than seven years. During this time I have studied this civilisation with the little light with which my Brahman birth has blessed me. And I must confess that I have been deeply pained by the facts which that study has revealed to me. Oh, what saddening facts! One need not go to India to test the truth of my fragmentary portrayal of the degrading effects of this civilisation upon the Hindoos. Let him look about himself and mark its ravages upon his own people here, how it is sapping the moral foundation of its deluded victims in the lands where it has sprung into being, and where it is holding its undisputed sway. And I challenge him to deny that this vaunted civilisation of his is dragging him down from his high estate. It has practically

abolished the idea of a human soul, and whatever of it is believed in by some is its false shadow. It is daily degrading divine humanity into unashamed animality. It has raised selfishness to a religious creed, Mammon to the throne of God, adulteration to a science, falsehood to a fine art. It has turned holy matrimony into a farce, the marriage certificate into waste paper, connubial blessings into a chance of lottery. It has banished all seriousness from life, and made it a mere plaything. Self-seeking is its breath, self-will its law, self-conceit its essence, self-deception its philosophy. It has created artificial wants for man, and made him a slave of work to satisfy them. It ha's made him ever restless within and without, and robbed him of leisure--the only friend of high thought. He knows no peace, hence knows not himself or his real object in life. It has made him a breathing, moving, hustling, fighting, spinning machine, ever working, never resting, never knowing even the refreshing rest of a sound sleep. It has made him a bag of live nerves, ever stretched to high tension. He

a has learned to call licence liberty, breach of social laws and shirking of responsibilities independence, slavery to his own wild will freedom. It has deified sensuality, glorified materialism, beautified sin. It has split human societies into atoms, families into units, fighting against each other. It has sapped the foundation of home life, and, its trunk severed from its roots, its roof-tree threatens to fall, shaken by each passing breeze. Its vulgar haste and love of sensation are invading even the realm of religion, which is being classed with fads and crazes. Its boasted scientific inventions have done more harm than good to humanity's best and permanent interests; they serve only the surface life which alone its votaries live and know. It is hinting at love as a microbe, reducing romance to illicit love. It openly proposes the killing of chronic patients and all old people under sixty in America, and, to some extent recently by its mystic philosopher Maeterlinck, in Europe. Humility is hateful in its estimation; conceit and brute force constitute its superior individuality. It has abolished reverence, depth of character, real genius, real poetry, and real philosophy. It is getting to consider poverty as almost a crime, dark skin a badge of inferiority of brain and mind. Flattery is its juice of life, insincerity the substance of courtesy. Morality is mere sentiment, sentiment mere weakness, constancy and chastity antiquated foolishness. That which affords instant pleasure is of worth; that which involves waiting to be enjoyed is deemed worthless. Gross material enjoyment, in short, is its heaven of happiness, its ideal salvation. In the language of the Vedas, Civilisation is Mâyâ-the magic illusion of woman and gold.

This Mâyâ every Hindoo, or Buddhist, or Confucian, or Shintoist is taught from childhood to beware of and to resist, and the influence of its subtle force is greatly counteracted by the vibrations generated by daily practice of religious formulas and spiritual devotion, which is the machine-like rule of household life in the East.

I repeat that the present system and substance of university education is mainly responsible for the systematic demoralisation of the Hindoo character, because it is out of gear with the moral, intellectual, and spiritual principles and instincts of its recipients. This system has to be materially changed, and should be replaced by one more in consonance with the natural ideals, national aspirations, and world-old mental characteristics of the people. No use trying any more to modernise the ancient Hindoo mind, for the simple reason that it is too solidly ancient even now to be modernised, despite the hammering at it of all new and aggressive, but daily shifting, systems of thought. The Hindoos must be given their own literature, their religions, philosophies, and Shastras to study in the beginning, in order to build a foundation, and upon that foundation you can rear a superstructure of modern wisdom in a mixture of old and new styles, built with the bricks made out of their old-world national mentality. This will keep their temper healthy and harmonious, and loyal to law and order, which they love more because of their innate spiritual aspirations, which can only be satisfied by a reign of peace.

It is a greater disaster to the Hindoo nation than to the Government, that its youths should be filled with the germs of bombast, and in many cases of ‘ anarchism '-which is really patriotism run mad. They will lose more if their boys should lose their racial mentality and individuality of character than they will gain by political freedom. From the most ancient time down to to-day they have been living sustained by the strength of their spiritual and moral heredity, and because they have avoided new-fangled notions of life which each new-born civilisation is presenting for their acceptance. Hence they have the best anchorage to keep afloat on the surging Ocean of Time. To try to destroy, consciously or unconsciously, their age-long spiritual consciousness, is not only to commit the worst sin, but to bring destruction upon those who attempt it. The Hindoos are not a new race of people, who can be 'civilised' by modern methods. This is patent from the failure of Mahomedanism, Christianity and Western civilisation to engraft themselves permanently upon the Hindoo consciousness. It looks like success, as it does now in the case of civilisation, in regard to somne Hindoos, only for a while; soon it will be nowhere. It is through English education, imparted in infancy, that 'civilisation' --whatever that fantastic realism may mean--got hold of

« VorigeDoorgaan »