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ART. I.-RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE OF THE REFORM
ATORY MOVEMENTS IN HINDUISM.
[SECOND ARTICLE.] Is this new Theistic Uprising in India a spasmodic effort, without relation to the general thought of the people? Or is it a logical growth, and important to the life of India ? Studied in any light, it is of vast moral and religious significance. Men of such pure life and rich mental endowments as Rammohun Roy and Chandra Sen may be charged with that vanity, confined to no age or race, which takes its supreme pleasure in molding the opinions and bending the purposes of men, and through them as willing adherents in founding a new social and religious structure. But there is a more just solution of such careers. That Dayanand, the least admirable of the Brahmic apostles, and the most unfavorable to Christianity, was a deceiver, and playing a stage-trick, is denied both by the voluntary sacrifices of his youth and his steady preaching of theism in his maturer years. When India shall have become wholly Christian, it will not be surprising if it shall appear that the bright day has been hastened, not alone by the sublime labors of Christian missionaries, with their pure Gospel from the Occident, but also, though in an inferior degree, by those grosser and weaker efforts from the very body of the Hinduism of the Orient. It is one of the historical glories of Christianity, that for its greatest triumphs it not only marches to victory by virtue of its own irresistible potency, but that it transmutes all that is good in the hostile ranks to minister to the final achievement. There is every indication that the theists, who have laid the foundations of all the Samajes, are, like neo-Platonism and other predecessors of all Christian ages, building more wisely than they know. The
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appearance of Rammohun Roy at the head of the whole theistic movement of the last half century is not the first time that better thoughts, gathering around the finest elements of monotheism, have crystallized in distinct approaches to the scriptural conception of the divine unity. As the Hindu goes back to the eldest hymns of liis Vedas, he finds that they breathe the spirit of monotheism. Even the pantheism of India has its foundation in God's unity. The present Hindu idolater, when closely questioned, does not deny the oneness of the Supreme Ruler.* He holds that his many gods are only manifestations, incarnations, and material forms of the one God. Every now and then, in the better and purer periods of Indian history, a new emphasis has been placed on monotheism. A postles of a weak forin of theism have arisen and protested against the gross idolatry.
In the twelfth, thirteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries the Vaishnava reformers protested against the degradation of the original monotheistic faith. They inculcated a doctrine which was an approximation toward the Christian idea of God's unity and personality, as set forth in the first article of the Church of England : “ The one Supreme God, of infinite wisdom, power, and goodness, the Maker and Preserver of all things," was taught clearly and forcibly by those four great reformers-Rainanuja, Madhva, Vallabha, and Caitanya. But the apple of gold was set in a picture of spurious silver. That this one God could descend and become incarnate in warriors, thinkers, and even lower animals, was a fatal weakness. A Supreme God of many possible descents was no god at all. Reactions came on, and the last idolatrous state was worse than the first.
The great reformer of the sixteenth century was Kabir, one of the twelve disciples of Ramananda.t He set before him
* Monier Williams, Religious Thought and Life in India, pp. 475, 476.
+ Monier Williams places Kabir in the sixteenth century (Religious Thought and Life in India, p. 476). Slater assigns bim to the fifteenth century (Keshab Chandra Sen, etc., p. 21).
self the iinpossible task of fusing Brahmanism and Muhainmedanism. He rejected both the Vedas and the Quran ; discarded idolatry and caste; preached the unity of God; and made brotherhood, based on love to God and the practice of good works, the spiritual bond of his disciples.* His followers came from both the Hindu and Muhaminedan folds, and at his death he was canonized. Shortly after him arose, in the sixteenth century, the “ Luther of the Punjab”-Nanak Shah. He founded the Sikh sect, which still exists, and has its stronghold in the Punjab. Govind, the tenth Sikh teacher, impelled by the persecutions of the Sikhs by the Mohammedans, so shaped the policy of his adherents that the Sikhs and Muhammedans have ever since been implacable enemies. Thus the brotherhood became as much a fiction as that of the Jews and Samaritans. Even the Muhammedans, who have never claimed any sympathy with idolatry, have attempted the same undertaking of reconciling the conflicting religions of India.
Of the five Mogul emperors, Akbar was in many respects the greatest.
He was also the most tolerant. He was the Marcus Aurelius of India. He borrowed from all the faiths of which he knew, and thus set up his fabric of the divine monotheisin on Hindu, Parsi, Mussulman, Jew, and Christian foundation. He was so eclectic in his opinions that the passion gave color to his matrimonial tastes, and this “guardian of mankind,” as his subjects adoringly called him, was so impartial as to take one empress from the Hindu fold, another from the Muhammedan, and a third from the Christian.
All these efforts at producing a reaction against the idolatry of India were failures. All possible zeal and voluntary pov. erty were employed. In vain was it declared that the original teachers of Hinduism were monotheists. There was no basis of general truth on which to build. There was no Gospel from which to learn the true incarnation; no Christian Church to serve as a model; no consecrated Christian lives in which to see the practical lesson of the divine unity in huinan existence.
From the days of Nanak Shah and the great Akbar, in the sixteenth century, down to Rammohun Roy, there was serious attempt to find in the Vedas a principle of divine uvity and to preach it to the people. For three centuries the millions of India were destitute of a teacher in whom conld be seen the faintest approach to one who had caught sight of a syllable of the divine oracles. It has been only in the present century, since the missionaries planted the banner of the cross in all the centers, and carried it into the very jungles, that a new race of reformers has arisen, and preached the abolition of easte, the brotherhood of all men, and the unity of God.
* Slator, Keshab Chandra Sen, etc., p. 21.
That there is variety in the theological bases of the four Samajes need not surprise. The three Samajes which arose in Calcutta have most affinity with Christianity. The leaders breathed the very atmosphere of the Gospel. They saw its preachers, churches, schools, and press. It was the faith of the conquerors and rulers of their country. Would these reforiners ever have arisen without the practical lesson of the Gospel before their eyes ļ No.
No. Take the rays from the Scriptures out of the words and work of all three, and there would be nothing left. The most eloquent periods of Chandra Sen were spoken of Jesus, while the greatest book produced by any of these theists—The Oriental Christ, by Mozumbarwas an attempt to give to Christ an Eastern character. The Arya Samaj, which has little to say of Christianity, and speaks of it only to oppose, arose in a part of India where Christianity is less dominant. But even its very methods are borrowed from those adopted by the missionaries. After the manner of these missionaries, its seven itinerant preachers of the Veda go through the country, pitch their tents at the inelas, or fairs, and preach three or four hours a day. They are establishing an Arya college at Ajmere, and already have an orphanage in Ferozepore, and are starting one in Bareilly. The president of an Arya Samaj proposed to the Rev. Mr. Neeld to join him in opening schools among the low.caste people of Budaon,
The plausibility of the arguments of the preachers of this most hostile of the four Samajes is so well conceived, so forcibly presented, and so safely guarded that the common people are easily led astray. Some of the native members of the congregation of the Rev. Mr. Neeld told him, after hearing the preaching of the Aryans, that those preachers were Christians! What wonder? The methods which they employ—their advocacy of schools and female education, their bold repudiation of