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to divinities and usages in favour among tribes with which they came in contact, when their systems became consolidated and antiquated by the conserving influence of their priestly teachers, it is not to be believed that they would go westwards, among those who were wholly alien to them, and held of no account, in order to draw from them fresh religious exhibitions. The tide of thought and superstition has always, in ancient times, flowed the other way, from the East to the West, and never, as far as we can discern, from the West to the East. Many of the corresponding constituents are moreover of an acknowledged antiquity, such as to remove them from the possibility of owing their origin to a Christian source. Nevertheless, the fiction is cherished that the ristians have introduced to the Hindús certain important features found common to both bodies.
In support of this allegation, the assumption is made that the gospel found its way to India in the first days of the Christian
There have been from remote times Christian settlements at Cranganore, in the province of Travancore, and there is a suburb of Madras called St Thomé, inhabited for some considerable period by Christians. The churches of Travancore are of the Syrian denomination. They owe their origin to Nestorians fleeing from persecution to this coast at the earliest in the fifth century. Cosmas, one of the first travellers who has given any account of Christians in India, states that in A.D. 522 Christianity was there successfully preached. The Travancore Christians are mentioned in the Kerul Oodputtee, a famous historical record of the province of Malabar, in about the sixth century. Their first bishop was Mar Thomé, a name highly reverenced and still kept up among them.
The Portuguese, landing in this neighbourhood at the beginning of the sixteenth century, imagined, or chose to say, that the Thomé in question was the apostle Thomas (Mr F. Wredé, in As. Res., VII., 365-368, note; Cap. C. Swanston, in Jour. of As. Soc., I., 171-173). St Thomé is also said to have been a scene of the apostle's labours, and where he suffered martyrdom. But the whole of these allegations simply depend upon the confusion of the names, that of the Syrian bishop of the sixth century being taken for that of the alleged apostle of the first. St
Thomé, in non-Christian circles, ever bears its primitive name of Mylapúr. The Christians there are either Portuguese or Romanists. Litigation is frequent among them for church property, and no higher antiquity is ever claimed by either of the contending parties than would associate them with the Portuguese immigrants of the sixteenth century.
Thus, when we seek for historical supports whereon to frame a sufficiently early period for the settlement of Christianity in India, the whole is dispersed into thin air. But even could the required date be accorded to the Christians, we have still to imagine what means the converts could have had for influencing the Brahmanical literature. The supposed Christians, if we may judge according to existing experience, would be the uneducated portion of the people. “It is a notorious fact,” observes Jyram Row, a native of Mysore, in a lecture delivered at St George's Hall, London, in 1871, “that, notwithstanding the unremitted operation now nearly for a century of a vast machinery, specially designed for this purpose, and worked under the most favourable auspices, Christianity cannot name its proselytes from any part of the more intelligent and educated classes of our community whose total number at any time could not be counted on one's fingers. Not less notorious is the fact that nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand of the converted Hindús are from the very dregs, the Parias, of our population.” “It is a significant fact, the missionary ever avoids an educated Hindú” (Scott's Series). If such is the character of the converts of the present day, what must it have been, in the period claimed, eighteen hundred years ago ? And the geographical difficulties must also be remembered. The Christian agents would be people of the southern coasts, while the region to be operated upon, the centre of the Brahmanical literature, was far north in the interior—Benares, Oude, Agra, &c.—at a distance of a thousand miles. And how were the poor outcasts of these coasts to act upon the astute Bráhmans so removed from them, even if they could get at them? What was there to induce the Bráhmans, remaining wholly uninfluenced by the doctrines of Christianity, to pick up scraps from the machinery or skeleton of Christianity, and introduce them surreptitiously, into their own matured and revered scriptures ? The proposition has only to be fairly stated to be seen to be untenable.
The similitudes between what has been taught by the Orientals in connection with their religion, and what the Christians teach, are numerous and striking. In judging thereof it is not always necessary to suppose that there has been actual plagiarism. Occasionally the figures are such as might occur to the mind of men in various places and at various times, naturally and independently. But these equally enter into my argument, for if the Hindús have had conceptions through the process of ordinary human thought, it cannot be conceded that the Christians have received theirs from a supernatural source.
The use of sacrifice to appease and propitiate the governing divinities is a system of universal occurrence among Pagan nations, and it forms the very groundwork of matured Christianity. “Without shedding of blood is no remission of sins" is a precept the Pagans have all known of from the remotest ascertainable times. The institution of sacrificial rites among the Hindús, the most ancient people of whom we have any records, long preceded the existence of the Jewish nation, on the foundation of whose scriptures the Christians have constructed their scheme. In this chain of practice there is no break at which it is possible to see that there was a reestablishment of the usage on the basis of a special revelation. Jews and Christians follow the system on the same grounds that the Pagans have had for it all along. The usage proceeds from the laudable desire to satisfy and conciliate the Almighty, but upon the grossest misapprehension of his real attributes and of our position towards him. Nor would any but those who are steeped in ignorance, or blinded by long-maintained prejudice, think of transferring their guilt and its consequences to another, or suppose that the production of a material substitute could serve to atone for or remove the stains of spiritual transgressions.
The theory of the Hindús is that their gods are actually supported by the offerings of food made to them (Mr Williams, Ind. Ep. Poet. 52, note). They assume thus that there is the same life in their divinities as in themselves, and that it requires the same sustenance. The Jews appear to have had a similar idea. A portion of the offering was burnt and
“ for a sweet savour before Jahveh," and a portion was assigned to Aaron and his sons— that is, to the priests, representing the people, as their share (Exod. xxix. 25, 26). God and man thus partook together the same supporting food. The making such offerings to dead ancestors is a very ancient custom. There have been found in a cave at Aurignac, in the south of France, evidences of its observance among the people of the immeasurably remote stone age.* The Hindús, from the earliest days, have thus paid honours to their deceased ancestors. The rite is called Sráddha, a word meaning faith, confidence, reverence. It consists in making the deceased offerings of rice-meal, water, &c. Here is the same theory, namely the establishing communion with the dead by devoting to them food such as the offerers themselves subsisted on. The sentiment is strongly expressed in the Christian scriptures. “I am the bread of life,” Jesus is represented to have said.
Except ye eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." “He that eateth my fresh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me and I in him.” As Hindús offer cakes and water in memory of their departed ancestors, so the Christians commemorate the death of the founder of their faith, and the head of their family, their second or “last Adam,” by partaking of bread and wine. Jesus, in the capacity of a sacrifice, goes up to the nostrils of the Deity “for a sweet smelling savour” (Eph. v. 2). The offerers are ever identified with the offering. The believers in Jesus are those who have been "planted together (with him) in the likeness of his death” (Rom. vi. 5). They also reach the nostrils of the Deity as a sweet savour of Christ” (2 Cor. ii. 15). The participating together the bread and wine, representing his flesh and his blood, is their sacrificial communion, effected in the same fashion and spirit as in all the Pagan and Jewish sacrifices; and it embraces also an expression of the ancestral rites, such as have occurred in the cave of Aurignac, and been ever kept up in their Sráddhas by the Hindús. It is fellowship of life avowed by maintaining life with elements of sustenance common to all concerned, the object commemorated, and those who commemorate him.
The Soma of the Hindús, which is the Haoma of the Zorcastrians, illustrates the same idea. It is an exhilirating beverage, drank by the gods, and conferring on mèn immortal life. (Muir, Sansk. Texts, v. 258, 262). The plant producing it “ is spoken of in the Zend Avesta as the word of life, the tree of life, and the source of the living water of life” (Barlow on Symbols, 115). Jesus is said to having spoken of dispensing “ living water ;” “rivers of living water” were to flow out from his followers ; he is to “ lead them unto living fountains of waters ;" he is to “ give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely ;" "a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeds out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” There is also by the river “ the tree of life” in the heavenly Jerusalem. And Jesus holds out to his followers the expectation of drinking with him the fresh juice of the grape, the Christian Soma, in his Father's kingdom (Matt. xxvi. 29 ; John iv. 10; vii. 38 ; Rev. vii. 17 ; xxi. 6 ; xxii. 1, 2).
* “The Development of Creation on the Earth,” 51, 52.
Fire also is a potent religious element. Agni, the god of fire, is an agent for conferring immortality (Muir, Sansk. T'exts, v. 284). Fire, in the Hindú estimation, purifies all things (T. Wheeler, Hist. of Ind. I. 397, note). Sítá, the bride of Ráma, having been in other hands than his, has to be tested by fire, and the god Agni leads her out of the flames, uninjured by the ordeal, and delivers her as attested pure to Ráma (M. Williams, Ind. Ep. Poet. 87). At the last day “ the eternal Vishnu assumes the character of Rudra the de. stroyer, and descends to reunite all his creatures with himself.” The earth, “the region of the atmosphere, and the sphere of the gods,” are all consumed by fire (Wilson, Vishnu Purána, 632). It is the same in the Zoroastrian creed. The earth is fused with fire, and with all its inhabitants is thus purified (Döllinger, Gentile and Jew, I. 412). Even Ahriman is to be in this manner purged by fire, and with all the evil as well as the good genii, will sing the praises of the author of all good (Mr Ravenshaw in Jour. of As. Soc. XVI. 101). “Every man's work,” say the Christians, “shall be made manifest : for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire ; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." The works may be all burnt up, and the man himself saved, “yet so as by fire” (1 Cor. iii. 12-15). "The heavens and the earth" are “reserved unto fire" against this great day of judgment. The heavens shall pass away