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In fact, European institutions them- European books equal to the scholastic selves are not altogether exempt from philosophy of the Ilindoos. the influence of this vicious principle : We may easily innagine that a marr legitimacy, taken as an absolute rule; who has raised himself so inuch above hereditary nobility, and the privileges the level of his countrymen by his inof the first-born, are the same thing; tellectual attainments, cannot exactly or rather, are remnants of it, which resemble them in his conduct. He cannot without difficulty be destroyed. not only refrains from their supersti
Rammohun Roy, adapting his mea- tious practices, (which is not saying sures to the place and the times in much in his favour, since he might do which he lives, as well as the sort of so from various causes not highly laumen he is attempting to enlighten, does dable,) but, what is much inore imnot oppose the institution of custes by portant, all his conversation, his actions abstract reasonings, (for they would be and manners evince a powerful sentiuseless,) but by the authority of the ment of individual dignity; whilst, in Vedant, which he is careful not to bring general, meanness and feebleness of into disrepute, and of which he pro- mind are characteristic of the Hindoo. fesses to be but the commentator. The Influenced, like those around him, with discretion which regulates his conduct the spirit of order, economy and knowprevents any action revolting to the ledge of the value of money, acquired prejudices of his fellow-sectaries, or by their mercantile education, Ramcapable of affording an excuse for his mohun Roy does not view the augexclusion. He has, nevertheless, risen mentation of property as the most above many littlenesses : he scruples important object : his fortune consists not to seat himself with an European of the wealth he received from his anwho is eating ; sometimes he even in- cestors : he does not give his mind to vites Europeans to his house, and treats any kind of commercial speculation. them according to their own taste. He would consider that mode of life Far, however, from wishing to lose his beneath his station and the duties of Brahminical dignity, it is upon that he a Brahmin. He derives no pecuniary founds his enterprise ; asserting that advantage from his works; and, in all it is his duty, as a Brahmin, to instruct probability, desirous as he may be of his countrymen in the sense and in the power and distinction, he would not real commands of their sacred books. accept of the Government any place His efforts are directed towards the that should be merely lucrative; to destruction of that prejudice which solicit one of any description he would prevents the different castes from eat- not condescend. It is not likely, howing together. He considers that this ever, that the Government will make amelioration is the most essential, and trial of his inclination: it would not will effect every other, even the poli suit the policy of the present masters tical amelioration of his country-and of his country to give encouragement this is an object to which he is not to a subject whose soul is so lofty, and indifferent. Every six months he pub- whose ingenuous conversation often lishes a little tract, in Bengalee and in shews, in a strain half serious and half Englisli
, developing his system of the- jesting, all that he wishes to be able to
and he is always ready to answer do for his country. He cultivates a the pamphlets published at Calcutta friendly connexion with many Euroor Madras in opposition to him. He peans, distinguished by their rank or takes pleasure in this controversy; but their merit; he appears not to seek although far from deficient in philo- connexions of any other kind. Within sophy, or in knowledge, he distinguishes the last year or two he has been less in himself more by his logical mode of society than formerly. reasoning than by luis general views. Rammohun Roy, as has already He appears to feel the advantage which been shewn, is not yet forty years old; it gives him with the Methodists, some he is tall and robust; his regular feaof whom are endeavouring to convert tures and habitually grave countenance him. He seems to have prepared him- assume a most pleasing appearance self for Itis polemical career from the when he is animated. He appears to logic of the Arabians, which he regards have a slight disposition to melancholy; as superior to every other ; he asserts The whole of his conversation and likewise, that he has found nothing in manners shet, at first sight, that he is
above mediocrity. He frequently talks usage obtains, an extensive circulation of going into Europe, but apparently has been given to this little anonymous considers it desirable tirst to mollify. tract, whose author is undoubtedly so far the prejudices of his countrymen, Rammohun Roy. liis name is in time that he may not by that voyage, which title-page of the other writings about is regarded as unlawful, expose him- to be mentioned, published in Benself to excommunication. It is very galee and Hindoostanee, and then in doubtful whether he will succeed in English: in all of them his object is to this attempt; the hope, however, which combat the polytheism of his countryhe cherishes, is a decided proof of the men from their sacred books; to concharacter of his mind. It may here vince them of the unity of God, and be remarked, that almost every man to detach them from idolatry, and who has done more in this world than from the prejudices of the castes. come into life, exist a time, and die, The first of these is entitled “Transhas proposed to himself some object lation of the Ishopanishad, one of the of this nature ; not chimerical, yet dis- Chapters of the Yajur Veda ; which tant and difficult of attainment, which proves the Unity and Incomprehensimay continually impel him to exertion, bility of God, &c. By Rammohun support him through his arduous ca- Roy. 8vo. Calcutta. 1816." There reer with the ennobling conviction of is a long and well-written preface to not living in vain, and invigorate him, this tract
. The author puts under reand charm away the pain of occasional quisition the sacred books which condisappointments, with the certainty of tain the doctrines, the history, and the leaving at least some worthy object of literature of the Hindoos, the Veds, pursuit for a future generation. and all the writings of the most cele
It is singular that thuis philosophic brated authors, the Puranas, the TunIndian, who, as has been shewn in this tras, and the Shasters; and, by a great little sketch, has enlarged views re- variety of quotations, proves that they specting the amelioration of the men have all admitted the unity of God. of his country, has not the least idea Some of these works, indeed, appear of improving the females ; of whom he to contradict themselves, by speaking avoids even the mention. We must of many gods and goddesses; but this suppose that this sort of prejudice, is reconciled by their declaring freinspired by the Shasters, though ge- quently that homage paid to material neral amongst the Hindoos, has been beings is allowable only for persons perpetuated in so enlightened a mind incapable of elevating their minds to only by the circumstances of Rammo- the idea of a supreme, invisible Being ; hun Roy's domestic life: it is known that this mode of worship; gross as it that every member of his family verifies is, may form a bridle to vicious desires, the proverb, by opposing with the but that idolatry should be despised by greatest veliemence all his projects of all whose understanding is more cultireform. None of them, not even his vated. wife, would accompany him to Cal- Many well-informed Brahmins are "cutta ; in consequence of which, he convinced of the absurdity of polyrarely visits them in Bordouan, where theism ; but its rites and festivals being they reside. They have disputed with a source of wealth to them, a means him even the superintendence of the of turning the credulity, the weakness education of his nephews; and his fa- and the patience of the Hindoos to natical mother shews as much ardour their own profit, they desire not to put in her incessant opposition to him, as an end to superstition ; on the conhe displays in his attempts to destroy trary, they encourage it, and keep the the idolatry of the Hindoos.
people from the knowledge of the Calcutta, Nov. 8, 1818.
truth. Their adherents also feel satis
faction in the idea that the divine nature Amongst the works sent over from dwells in living men, whom they transBengal is an English translation, printed form into gods ; yet that they resemble in December 1818, of a conference, other men in their birth, outward aporiginally written in Bungla, against pearance and passions.
This falsc the custom of burning widows alive on notion, pleasing to the senses, is dethe funeral pile of their husbands. In structive of the principles of morality. the countries in which that detestable A Hindoo who makes or purchases an ilol, fails not to consecrate it by cere- the high repute in which he is held by mones, by ineans of which he believes the public for his wealth, talents and it fames animated with the pretended acquirements, could shield him from goni which it represents, and that a their malice and persecution. Only sapernatural power is conferred on two tracts in defence of idolatry have this rain image. If it be of the mas- been published against him: the first (uline sex, he marries it to another of was contained in the Jourual of Ma. the feminine gender, with all the mag- dras, and was answered by Rammonificence of nuptial ceremonies. From hun Roy; the second is an Apology that moment the idol is considered the for the present System of Hindoo arbiter of his destiny; he pays his ado- Worship, by a Brahmin of Calcutta, rations to it; offers it food morning who sees nothing incredible in his 330 and evening; if the weather be hot, millions of gods and goddesses, the refreshes it by the use of a fan ; if principal of whom are Seva, Vishmes, coll, he places it at night in a com- kabi, Ganesha, the Sun, the Moon, fortable bed.
the Elements. Our author put out an Some Europeans of little informa- answer in English, entitled A Second tion on the subject, Rammohun Roy Defence of the Monotheism of the sats, have propagated the opinion, that l'eds. 8vo. Calcutta, 1817. the idols of the Hindoos were but In this work he presents a new symbolical beings, employed to lead series of unanswerable arguments to the soul to the contemplation of the the Brahmins, whose hypocrisy, baseDivine attributes.
The details just ness and folly he exposes ; dwelling, given prove the erroneousness of 'this amongst other subjects, on the sepaopinion. It has, nevertheless, been ration of castes, and the actions by adopted by many of the Hindoos who, which persons are subject to lose caste. beginning to feel the absurdity of their He proves that that institution had no worship, are eager to escape the ridi- place in the ancient system of theocule and shame attached to it, by fogy, and that it is a subsequent invenmeans of this subterfuge. This cir- tion. At the head of this institution cumstance, says the Reformer, gives is the caste of the Brahmins, who have strength to my hope of seeing them raised themselves to the highest posone day abjure their superstitions to sible dignity by investing their birth embrace the worship of the one God, and quality with fantastic splendour ; 23 prescribed by the Vedas, and taught representing themselves as gods upon by common sense.
earth; the Brahmins are in India About the middle of the last cen- what the members of an oligarchy and tury, the religion of the Hindoos dete- the feudal lords are in Europe, but still riorated, especially in Bengal, so that worse, and that is saying a great deal.
some essential points they differ They have broken the ties of social from the natives of Behar, Tirhoot and life, not only by the separations formed Benares; and have estranged them by the castes, but by isolating, as it atres from their ancient worship, to were, the members of the same family adopt an idolatry denominated the from each other : a Hindoo who affects religion of the Tuntras, in opposition great rigidity cannot share his dinner in that of the Vedas. This idolatry, with his brother whom he is visiting ; chiefly of modern date, is more revolt- and if the brother touch any of the ing than that of the Greeks and provisions of his guest, the latter must Romans, since it is not only childish instantly throw away what remains, and impure like theirs, but still more and even destroy the utensils * in inimical to the principles
of virtue: for which it was contained. the mythology of the Hindoos offers The Hindoo religion allows of taking to their imitation the most infamous another or several more wives during sensuality, ingratitude, cunning and the life of the first, in such cases as reachery ; all which is the work of the the drunkenness, extravagance, incuBrahimins, interested in encouraging rable disease, sterility, &c. of the wife; rices which to them are
a fruitful but with respect to this right, such It is to be expected that Rammohun Roy shonld be an object of hatred to
See a Second Defence of the Monothese men; and certainly nothing but theistical System, pp. 41, 42.
source of gain.
licence has been given, that a private glish an Abridgment of the Vedant.* person sometimes marries thirty or The sum of his arguments is, that God forty wives, merely to satisfy his brutal is an unknown Being, that he is the desires.
true Being, the Creator, the PreIdeas of morality are still further server, and the Destroyer of the debased by the superstition which at- universe.t taches more value to vain observances In the translation of the Ishopathan to the precepts of the law of nishad, among the quotations from the nature: thus, according to the doc- sacred books of the Hindoos, we find trine of the Brahmins, loss of caste, the passage, I am what he is, i similar with all its privileges, is incurred by to the text of Scripture: ego sum qui the infringement of certain ceremonies, sum: je suis celui qui est. It is well but not by murder, theft nor perjury. known that in India there have been For these crimes there are easy means preserved to the present time a vast of expiation, most of which are a number of traditions, facts, maxims source of wealth to the Brahmins. and customs, to be found in our Holy The mere difference of the material, Scriptures. Willian Jones has given the form and the efficacy of chaplets, examples of them; Burder has made and the manner of using them, is a them the subject of a work in 2 vols. boundless science, which would of 8vo. ;$ and Ward has lately entered itself furnish a large library.
into an extensive and curious investiHe who pronounces the word gation of these coincidences. || Doorga, a name of the goddess Cali All the writings of Rammohun, or Parvati, the wife of Siva, is justi- which have been sent over by M. fied, although he be living in adultery ; d'Acosta, are in English. Life is so he who exclaims, even involuntarily, short, time so precious, and every thing Salutation to Hari, and he who does relating to religion so worthy of attenbut look at the Ganges, though think- tion, that, whilst lamenting the want ing of some other object, are delivered of leisure to translate those works into from their guilt. We may fairly in- French, we shall, perhaps, be happy stitute a comparison between these enough to inspire some learned and privileges and the doctrine of Indul- zealous Christian with a resolution to gences propagated in France by certain execute that desirable project. Let publications and missionaries.
us return to Rammohun Roy. The The Veds, or sacred books, contain- success he has already had leads us to ing the religion of the Hindoos, are hope for still greater: nor extremely voluminous, and the sub- without ground for hope, since we find jects of which they treat often obscured that his perseverance is unabated, and by a confused manner and metaphori. that he has announced the speedy pubeal style; the great Byas, according to lication of other works of a similar our author, made a sort of harmony tendency to the former. The modeand abstract of these books upwards ration with which he repels the attacks of two thousand years ago. This ab- on his writings, the force of his argustract, entitled the Vedant, the autho ments, and his profound knowledge of rity of which is scarcely inferior to that the sacred books of the Hindoos, are of the Vedas, contains all the proof of proofs of his fitness for the work he the unity of God; but as the Brahmins has undertaken; and the pecuniary reserve to themselves the explanation sacrifices he has made, shew a disinteof it, Rammohun Roy has translated restedness which cannot be admired it into Hindoostanee and Bengalee, and and encouraged too warmly. gratuitously distributed the translation among his countrymen. And, in order to convince his European friends of the Vedant, &c. 8vo. Calcutta, 1818.
* See Translation of an Abridgment that the superstitious practices which
ť Ib. p. 21. deform the Hindoo worship are a See Translation of the Is. Houanis, departure from its primitive institutions, he last year published in En- $ See Oriental Customs, &c. by Sam.
Burder, 8vo. London, 1802.
| Sec Account of the Writings, ReliSee a Second Defence of the Mo- gion and Manners of the Hindoos, &c. notheistical Systemh, pp. 44, et seq. and by W. Ward, in 4to. Seramporc, 1811. P. 55.
The division of the Hindoos into English, and quotes Locke and Bacon. castes has hitherto appeared the greatest on all occasions. From the view he obstacle to their conversion to Chris- thus takes of the religions, manners tianity. That obstacle is not insur- and customs of so many nations, and mountable ; the same may be said of from his having observed the number the absurd doctrine of polytheism, of different modes of addressing and which cannot continue to be maintained worshiping the Supreme Being, he by a civilized people. If once the Hin- naturally turned to his own faith with doos can be convinced that there is but an unprejudiced mind, found it perone God, and that they are all children verted with the religion of the Vedas of the same Father, who is no respecter to a gross idolatry, and was not afraid, of persons, then the fall of Brahminical though aware of the consequences, to prejudices and of idolatry, will prepare publish to the world in Bengalee and the way for the triumph of the gospel. English his feelings and opinions on
the subject; of course, he was fully [We cannot find a fitter place than prepared to meet the host of interested this for the insertion of a short account enemies who, from sordid motives, of Rammohun Roy, taken from p. 106 wished to keep the lower classes in a of a “ Journal of a Route across India, state of the darkest ignorance. I have through Egypt to England, in the years understood that his family have quitted 1817 and 1818. By Lieut-Col. Fitz- him that he has been declared to have clarence.” 4to. 1819.
lost caste—and is for the present, as “There has never been, to my know- all religious reformers must be for a ledge, an instance of any Hindoo of time, a mark to be scoffed at. To a condition or caste being converted to man of his sentiments and rank this our faith. The only conversion of any loss of caste must be particularly painkind, if it can be called so, that has ful, but at Calcutta he associates with come within my observation, was that the English: he is, however, cut off of a high-caste Brahmin, of one of the from all familiar and domestic interfirst families in the country, who is not course; indeed, from all communicaonly perfectly master of the Sanscrit, tion of any kind with his relations and but has gained a thorough acquaintance former friends. His name is Ramwith the English language and litera- mohun Roy. He is particularly handture, and has openly declared that the some, not of a very dark complexion, Brahninical religion is in its purity a of a fine person, and most courtly pure Deism, and not the gross poly- manners. He professes to have no theism into which it has degenerated. objection to eat and live as we do, but I became well acquainted with him, refrains from it, in order not to expose and admire his talents and acquire himself to the imputation of having ments. His eloquence in our language changed his religion for the good things is very great, and I am told he is still of this world. He will sit at table with more admirable in Arabic and Persian. us while the meat is on it, which no It is remarkable, that he has studied other Brahmin will do. He continues and thoroughly understands the politics' his native dress, but keeps a carriage, of Europe, but more particularly those being a man of some property. He is of England ; and the last time I was very desirous to visit England and enter in his company, he argued forcibly one of our universities, where I shall against a standing army in a free coun- be most anxious to see him, and to ry, and quoted all the arguments learn his ideas of our country, its manbrought forward by the Members of ners and customs."] - "he Opposition. I think that he is in nany respects a most extraordinary Sir, In the first place, he is a re
. igious reformer, who has amongst a gent persons express an opinion, eople more bigoted than those of Eu- that the question concerning Liberty ope in the middle ages, dared to think and Necessity involves difficulties from or himself. His learning is most ex- which the human mind cannot easily ensive, as he is not only conversant with extricate itself, I conceived that it ne best books in English, Arabic, San- might not be useless to shew, that as crit, Bengalee and Hindoostanee, but a philosophical question it is as simple as even studied rhetoric in Arabic and as need be, and adunits a most clear