Page images

West Provinces. The work of Dubois is valuable and accurate for some Districts of Southern India. Arthur's Mission to Mysore contains an excellent chapter on the subject. The best account of the Muhammadans is probably found in the Qanoon-i-Islam by Herklots.

CHARACTER OF THE HINDUS. As Missionary operations must be guided to a large extent by the genius of the people, a few remarks may be made on some of the features of Hindu character. The ordinary Hindu under Brahminical influence is taken as the type. The Muhammadans and Wild Tribes are excluded at present.

Attachment to Form.-This is a characteristic of all orientals ; but especially of the Hindus. Custom is the great law. The tremendous system of CASTE originates in the same principle. Caste has far more influence over the people than anything else. Compared with it, the whole Hindu pantheon is a bagatelle. As is well known, the Brahmans, Kshetriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras, are supposed to have been produced from the mouth, the breast, the thighs, and the feet of Brahma.. Dr. Duff thus illustrates caste, and points out some of its effects

the character :The great family of man, in the opinion of the Hindus, is made up of different genera and species, each as essentially distinct from the rest as one genus or species of birds, beasts, or fishes is from another. Each such genus of man constitutes what is reckoned one of the primeval castes, and each such species one of the subsequent divisions or sub-divisions, which now amount to many hundreds. However closely different birds, beasts, and fishes may resemble each other in outward appearance and general characteristics, each kind will keep itself distinct by its food, its habits, and its sympathies; will associate and congenialise with those of its own kind, in preference and to the exclusion of others. It would be monstrous if the members of one genus would cease to resemble and unite with the members of its own genus and mix with and adopt the distinguishiny marks and babi's of another. It would be strange indeed were the lion to graze like the ox, or the ox to slay its prey like the lion. The special capabilities also of service to be derived from any particular genus or species of animals can110t be transferred to another. A sheep or an ox, for example, cannot be made to answer the same purpose as a horse. It would be unnatural to expect that an ox should carry a rider as swiftly as a horse can, and wrong to make the attempt to train him for the race-course.


“ Ideas somewhat akin to these seem to form the groundwork in the Hindu mind of the prevalent notions of caste, and inay help to account for the fact, that the points considered most essential in caste are food and its preparation, intermarriage within the same caste only, hereditary occupation, and a peculiar sympathy with the whole caste, which, taking the form of imitativeness, leads an individual Hindu to follow the example of his caste, just as a sleep or a wild pigeon follows the example of the flock. These ideas also may so far explain the ground of the local variations observable in the customs and usages of the same caste. In one place a Hindu will consent to do what in another he would peremptorily refuse to do, simply because in the former he is countenanced by the example of his brethren, and not in the latter ; just as a flock of sheep or pigeons may, from accidental causes, somewhat vary its habits or movements in different localities.”*

The Rev. E. Storrow remarks :

"I shall if I choose' I will do as I please' phrases an Englishman delights to use, “just to show his independence. Most men in India, on the contrary, would qnestion either the sanity or the sense of any one who used them freely. They shrink from whatever is personal, new and peculiar. Every one seems disposed to sink his individuality into the general life of the community to which his caste altaches him."'+

Dr. Caldwell thus corroborates the above, and mentions the course which must be followed in Missionary effort:

“Opinions do not as in England extend equally from class

[ocr errors]


* The Indian Rebellion, p. p. 324-6. + India and Christian Missions, p. 93.

to class, but only circulate with a gyratory motion within the caste in which they originated. Ordinarily the enlightenment and evangelization of one class produces scarcely any perceptible effect upon others. It is the custom for every caste and class to have prejudices and practices of its own ; and it is not the custom for any caste or class to imitate or borrow from its neighbours. Consequently every caste, or at least every circle of castes, must be made the subject of special Christian effort." *

The Hindus are still further bound together by their family system. Married sons generally live under the paternal roof. Should one of them evince any desire to embrace Christianity, the whole force of family ties would be exerted against him, and every effort would be made to deprive him of wife and children.

Arthur shows the bearing of the system upon the progress of conversion :

" Each family and each caste is impacted in itself, and concreted with all the others, each person forming but a particle of the mass.

A man's mind consists of the traditions of the ancients, the usages of his caste, and the dogmas of his sect ; independent principles, independent convictions, independent habits, he has none -- You cannot move him without disintegrating the mass. It is no light work, A Hindu mind is not dissevered from the system, but by the application of vast forces. Slowly and painfully it disengages itself, it halts, and heaves, and writhes before finally parting :—and many even some Missionaries) treat this as an obstacle to the spread of Christianity in India. Is it so ? Most indubitably, if the object of Christianity be to gain, in a few years, a given number of converts. But if her object be to pervade all the regions of Hindustan ; then the social bonds, which at first retard individual conversions, so far from being obstacles to a universal revolution, are but agencies which infallibly conduct to the remotest depths of the country the impression made by the Missionary at the surface... Where the population is limited, and the relations of society are loose, it is, humanly speaking, comparatively easy to convert a man to Christianity. This conversion is of unspeakable importance ; it saves a soul from death. But what relation has this event to the stability of Satan's empire in the continents that contain more than half the human family ? Scarcely any. A jewel has been snatched from destruction, but no stone struck from the foundation of the citadel of evil. Not so with the conversion of one forming part of a system which embraces a continent. His escape

* Tinnevelly Shanars

rends a link in a chain whereby millions upon millions were bound... In no country will individual conversion, in a given locality, be slower at first than in India ; in no country will the abruption of masses from the great mountain' be so vast or so rapidly successive."*

There is no such thing as patriotism among the Hindus. “The Indian,” says Max Muller," never knew the feeling of nationality.” The only persons who understand the idea are the few who have received a superior English education. The rules of caste form the standard of public opinion. It may be observed, that all the crimes committed by Nana Sahib had no effect upon his position as a Brahman. If, however, conscience-smitten, he had taken into his house a European orphan child, saved from the massacre at Cawnpore, and allowed him to drink out of his own cup, his caste would have been irretrievably ruined.

Hindus, somewhat enlightened, begin to feel caste to be a heavy yoke; but it is not so with the people generally. 'I'hey “ love to have it so." Strange as it may seem, some of the lowest in the scale are the greatest sticklers for the system. The Pariahs, or tomtom beater caste, and the shoemakers have occasionally bloody contests about caste privileges. Dubois

says :

“ Gentlest of all creatures, timid under all other circumstances, here only the Hindu seems to change his nature. There is no danger that he fears to encounter in maintaining what he terms his right, and rather than yield it, he is ready to make any sacrifice, and even to hazard his life.”

* Mission to the Mysore, pp. 313-315.

The grounds of dispute often are, whether a person has a right at his marriage to be carried in a palanquin, whether drums may be beaten, whether flags of certain colours may be displayed. Dubois mentions a fierce dispute, originating in a shoemaker at a festival sticking red flowers in his turban, which the Pariahs insisted that none of his caste had a right to wear. One phase of the Hindu mind is thus exhibited.

The Hindu love of form is strikingly displayed in numberless superstitious observances. If attention to ceremonies constituted religion, the Hindus would be the most religious people in the world. The Rev. Lal Behari De remarks, that the Hindus eat religiously, drink religiously, bathe religiously, dress religiously, and sin religiously. Persons who have been very observant of outward forms, become intensely self-righteous and devout after their fashion. But, on the whole, there is most painful apathy with regard to the concerns of the soul. The remarks of Lacroix with respect to the Bengali apply very much to all the Hindus:

Though naturally very acute, and fond of religious controversy, when it relates to mere theories and sperularion, it is truly sad to find them often quite unimpressedl, when addressing them on more serious and practical subjects; such as the holiness and justice of God, the polluting nature of siu, its universality, guilt and heinousness, repentance, salvation, death, judgment, eternity and other topics of this kind, which among nearly every other people create solemnity and reflection. Nay, this indiffer. ence and apathy are in the Bengalis, at times, carried to the extent of levity; as is seen by their endeavouring to turn even the most solemn truths into ridicule, and to make them a inatter of jest and laughter; thus rendering it at the very outset alınost impossible to fix their attention in such a manner as to fasten conviction on their heart and to do them any good."*

Visits to temples are, in many cases, the pic-nic parties and pleasure tours of the Hindus. The women are

* Calcutta Conference Report, p. 25.

« PreviousContinue »