where they are to take their place in the battle of life and in the work of the world. It is neither reasonable to expect, nor is it desirable, that the student from Madras or from Bengal should go to Benares or Aligarh for a university education; and the proposal to establish a Christian university in one particular city of India was rejected for the same reason.

Another weighty argument against the proposal was that the life of the university ought not to be sectarian. It was held to be undesirable to educate in a narrow and exclusive atmosphere men who were intended to take an important place in life alongside of their fellow-countrymen. Many who had the strongest belief in the importance of religious education opposed the scheme for a Christian university on the ground that it was wrong to lead Christians to regard themselves as separate, in respect of the great interests of life, from those of other religions with whom and amongst whom they had to do their work. On the other hand, it was also considered most important to have the influence of Christianity maintained in relation to all classes of the people. It was a true-hearted faith in the worthiness of the creed that led men to reject the proposal that those already influenced by it should be segregated for education from, and prevented from meeting in their university life with, those who profess other creeds. The separatist policy was disapproved.

I do not myself believe in the wisdom of founding these sectarian institutions. By the time a man comes to university life he must know, and ought to know, something of the differences of religious belief that exist in his world, and ought at least then to begin an intelligent examination of the grounds of his own faith. Influences should undoubtedly be brought to bear upon him to maintain his religious faith and life; but it is a narrow system, and one which tends not to strength but to weakness, to segregate the young people of one religion and teach them apart. It is what one might expect from a timorous and shortsighted sectarianism.

It is, therefore, somewhat striking to see that the proposals to establish these Hindu and Muhammadan universities have been the occasion of a remarkable interchange of courtesies between the leaders on both sides. The Aga Khan, generally accepted as the Indian Muhammadan leader, telegraphed to the Maharajah Bahadur of Darbhanga congratulating him on the success which has attended the agitation in favour of a Hindu university. His Highness offered the Maharajah a donation of five thousand rupees to the scheme, and wished it success. The Maharajah, who is the great leader of orthodox Hindus and the head of the movement for the Hindu university, intimated in the name of the Hindu community their thankful acceptance of this

generous donation. He presented twenty thousand rupees as his own contribution to the cause of Muhammadan education,' and concluded with these words: 'Let us, both Hindus and Muhammadans, pray to God that we remain united with each other, steadfast too in our loyalty to our gracious sovereign, ever zealous in the cause of education, ever faithful to the respective creeds of our great ancestors.' To this the Aga Khan replied, 'I most sincerely and gratefully thank you for your generous donation. My greatest ambition is to see Hindus and Muslims love each other, and each help the faith of the other.'

Hinduism has always maintained a position of isolation in regard to other creeds. It has never been a proselytising creed; for Hinduism is a matter of birth or hereditary position. It is true that a tribe as a whole may be accepted into Hinduism, occupying the position of a low caste within that system; but no individual can enter into any caste except by birth and hereditary right. Muhammadanism, on the other hand, has always been recognised as a proselytising creed; and the correspondence above referred to cannot but be a matter of considerable surprise. There is no doubt whatever that the cordial co-operation it indicates is due to the strong feeling that exists among both Hindus and Muhammadans that purely secular education has been a very serious injury to the life of the rising generation in India. There is an earnest desire for religious education, which has found its expression in this demand for sectarian universities.

The religious college, though it also may be called in a sense sectarian, is not objectionable in the same way as the religious university; because, after all, it is the university that regulates the education; and while the sectarian college will bring its own religious influences to bear upon the students, it will still preserve the realisation of the fact that they have to enter into life in competition with, and have to study alongside of, students of other faiths. The breadth of the education is in this way secured. To establish a sectarian university will be a retrograde measure; and if that sectarian university aims at controlling the education of the adherents of its own creed throughout India, the result may well be expected to be disastrous to progress. It must tend to maintain narrowness of view, intolerance of character and religious antipathies.

The important point is that the university controls education in affiliated institutions. It maintains the standard of secular education. It stamps with its imprimatur what is good and successful in secular education. At the same time there is nothing in the constitution of the university system that necessarily prevents the training of students in morality and religion. The principles laid down by Government are in this respect perfectly

[merged small][ocr errors]

sound; but I believe that the demand for these sectarian universities has arisen from our failure in practice to deal effectively with the religious and moral training of the students. I do not think that the demand would ever have arisen had religious education not been so much handicapped, and in many cases rendered impossible, under the Government system of higher education as worked out in practice.

The Government system has failed, not because of its own defect, but because of defects in its application and administration. I suppose that there is no one in any country who does not realise that departmentalism can frustrate any policy if it is permitted uncontrolled to work out its own methods, and to obstruct anything that it does not accept as in accordance with its interests. This has been deplorably exemplified in the educational system of India. The Government policy has been one thing; but the departmental application of it has been far too much permitted to be something quite different. The policy laid down by the Despatch of 1854 was that Government should be entirely neutral in the matter of religion, but should assist with liberal grants-inaid every sound educational institution without taking into account for the purposes of the grant any religious instruction given. It was a sound and suitable policy for India. Effective inspection was relied on to maintain the efficiency of these private institutions; but the inspectors were directed not to interfere with the religious instruction, not to give any grant in respect of it, and not to reduce any grant earned by secular education on account of the existence of religious instruction. The Government of India and local governments were directed to do their utmost to maintain and extend private effort in accordance with this system, and not to enter into competition with, or in any way discourage or obstruct, private institutions.

This policy was necessary, and was prescribed, on two grounds. The first is that the finances of India are inadequate to deal with the educational requirements without assistance from private liberality. I need not dwell on this here. The other is that the religious difficulty cannot otherwise be met. This policy has been again and again declared by the Government of India; and in Lord Curzon's resolution of 1904 it was anew emphasised. That resolution says: The progressive devolution of primary, secondary and collegiate education upon private enterprise, and the continuous withdrawal of Government from competition therewith, were recommended by the Education Commission in 1883; and the advice has been generally acted upon. But while accepting this policy, the Government at the same time recognise the extreme importance of the principle that in each branch of education Government should maintain a limited number of institutions.

both as models for private enterprise to follow, and in order to uphold a high standard of education. In withdrawing from direct management, it is further essential that Government should retain a general control by means of efficient inspection over all public educational institutions.'

This is precisely the policy laid down in 1854. If it had been fully maintained, there is no doubt that the divorce of education from religion, which is now so bitterly complained of by Hindus and Muhammadans, as well as by Christians, would not have been so complete. It is often difficult for departmental officers to give full and generous recognition to the work done by agencies other than their own; and too little pressure has been brought to bear upon the Education Department to carry out fully the policy of the Government. It was the hope of many that this defect would be remedied by the appointment of a member of the Executive Council of the Viceroy in charge of education. This hope is not yet realised. There is at the present time, in certain quarters, a tendency all the other way. The Government of Madras have taken up the position that the 'limited number of institutions' to be maintained by Government means at least one for each district. They are, therefore, increasing the Government schools. Nowhere is this policy less called for than in Madras, where private effort has done more for education than perhaps in any other Province. The announcement of this intention has called forth earnest protests on behalf of many of those most interested in education in that Presidency. The non-official members of the Governor's Council have strongly protested against the change of policy, and secured from the Government a reluctant promise that no steps will be taken towards carrying it out until it has been submitted to the Member for Education in the Government of India.

The special fostering of Government institutions in India is particularly injurious to the interests of religion, which have now come to be regarded by people of all classes as of great importance. The feudatory chiefs and the great Muhammadan and Hindu associations, no less than Christians, have all combined to urge upon the Government of India the necessity for religious education. But it has been held to be impossible to provide religious education in Government institutions; and to seek to confine education mainly to them and so perpetuate a system of education which excludes religious instruction will be not only, in the opinion of most people, disastrous to the moral training and character of the rising generation, but will also be contrary to the wishes of the peoples of India themselves of all creeds and races. It is this strong sentiment in favour of religious education that has united Hindus and Muhammadans in their demand for sectarian univer

sities. I sympathise with them; but I believe that they are not seeking the true remedy.

Let me endeavour to look at the proposal to establish a Hindu university from the Hindu point of view. This does not commit me to approval of the scheme: many Hindus oppose it. It is natural that the Brahmos, though they do not desire to be regarded as non-Hindus, should oppose a scheme, the main object of which seems to them to be to maintain those features of Hinduism which they have repudiated ; and the principal Brahmo organ of Calcutta has pronounced against the scheme, as retrograde in character. Opposition is not confined, however, to such as these. Public meetings have been held, attended by orthodox Hindus, at which the proposal has been condemned. A typical resolution may be quoted: That this meeting is of opinion that the proposed Hindu university is not desirable in the best interests of the Indian people, as it is calculated to retard the national progress and to emphasise the present distinctions of caste.' This is the view of many influential Hindus, who believe in religious education and wish to arrange for it, but feel the necessity for a wider educational outlook than Hindu tradition and practice in themselves afford.

[ocr errors]

Some of the supporters of the scheme appeal to the patriotic and religious sentiment of the Hindus by proclaiming that they are restoring the old Indian system. But this is only to mislead. The old Tols Mutts and Sangams, in which the sacred writings and religion of the Hindus were taught, were no more like the modern university than were the monasteries of the middle ages. These Hindu institutions still exist, and can be visited with deep interest. They are certainly not at all like what the promoters of the present scheme desire, a Hindu university on modern lines.' It is true that we hardly know definitely the place that the Hindu religion is to have in the curriculum of the proposed university. Only one person of authority has said anything definite on the subject. He is the secretary of the Sri Bharat Dharma Mahamandal, the great society for the maintenance and propagation of orthodox Hinduism. Of this society the president is the Maharaja Bahadur of Darbhanga, the wealthiest and most influential of the promoters of the proposed university. The Secretary, in a letter to the Hindu of the 4th of December last, laid down certain general propositions regarding that university. Among these the following is significant: The faculty of Theology-the religious department of the university-should, of course, be under the control of Varnashrami Hindus.' That is to say, it should be controlled by those who desire to perpetuate the order and caste system of Hinduism.

[ocr errors]

If this is merely a description of a faculty separated from the rest of the life of the university, it may be regrettable, but need

« VorigeDoorgaan »