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“ This led one of the gentlemen to observe, that surely the sceptics must admit, that if the miracles recorded were real facts, they must be irrefragable proof of the truth of what they were wrought to attest ; and that in so serious an affair the sceptics are under a solemn obligation to examine faithfully the evidence that they were actually wrought, which if they did, they would find that evidence decisive.
“ The Rajah instantly assented to this, but I thought I perceived by his manner that he had a slight surmise that the observation might possibly be meant to bear on himself, with some implication of a doubt, in consequence of what he had said of the inferior efficacy of the proof from miracles, whether he had an entire conviction of the reality of those recorded miracles; for he said, very pointedly, that any argument on that subject was quite superfluous as to him, for that he did believe in their reality.
“ It was of sceptics generally that he spoke; but I thought it probable, (from recollection of something in one of his writings,) that he had especially in his mind the Hindoo sceptics, whose imaginations have been so familiarized with the enormous prodigies of the Brahminical Mythology, that, in spite of their rejecting them as monstrous fables, they retain an exaggeration of ideas, an incapacity of apprehending the true proportions of things, which will not allow them to see any thing great and impressive in the far less prodigious wonders of the Jewish and christian scriptures : besides that their revolt from the belief of the fabulous miracles creates in them a tendency, unchecked by any due strength and discrimination of reason, to reject all others.
“ In the conversation with the Rajah in a party who had the gratification of meeting him in a few days later, there was not any distinct reference to his religious opinions. It turned on the moral and political state and prospects of India; and on an elucidation, at great length, of certain dogmas of the Indian philosophers.
« If these few sentences can be of the smallest use to you, in any statement you may have to make or maintain respecting the Rajah's professions on the subject of religion, they are quite at your service for that purpose.
“ I am, &c.
“ J. FOSTER.”
I addressed inquiries, in the same terms with the first series in the note to Mr. Foster, to Dr. Jerrard, the able and intelligent Principal of Bristol College. Very pressing claims on his time and attention, obliged him repeatedly to postpone the execution of his purpose to give me a full reply; which I knew would be to the same effect with that of Mr. Foster; and at last he found it necessary to satisfy himself with sending me the following brief answer to my questions, which he has authorized me to employ in any way I judged proper.
“ 1. The Rajah Rammohun Roy expressed his belief in the divine authority of Jesus Christ, as an inspired teacher of righteousness, and an accredited messenger from God.
“ 2. He explicitly declared that he believed in the miracles of Christ generally, and particularly in his resurrection, which he said was the foundation of the Christian faith, and the great fact on which he rested his own hopes of a resurrection."
Character of Hindoo Idolatry. The following extracts from the writings of the Hindoo Reformer, will assist to convince those not yet acquainted with the subject, that the idolatry of his countrymen has a direct and almost necessary tendency to debase the undera standing, and to render the heart impure and incapable of the highest affections. See also the extracts in the Discourse, pp. 32-36.
“ So tenacious are those devotees in respect to the honour due to their chosen divinities, that when they meet in such holy places as Haridwar, Pryag, Siva-Canchi, or VishnuCanchi in the Dekhin, the adjustment of the point of precedence not only occasions the warmest verbal altercations, but sometimes even blows and violence. Neither do they regard the images of those gods merely in the light of instruments for elevating the mind to the conception of those supposed beings; they are simply in themselves made objects of worship For whatever Hindoo purchases an idol in the market, or constructs one with his own hands, or has one made up
under his own superintendence, it is his invariable practice to perform certain ceremonies, called Prán Pratishtha, or the en- . dowment of animation ; by which he believes that its nature is changed from that of the mere materials of which it is formed, and that it acquires not only life but supernatural powers. Shortly afterwards, if the idol be of the masculine gender, he marries it to a feminine one, with no less pomp and magnificence than he celebrates the nuptials of his own children. The mysterious process is now complete, and the god and goddess are esteemed the arbiters of his destiny, and continually receive his most ardent adoration.
“ At the same time, the worshipper of images ascribes to them at once the opposite natures of human and of super-human beings. In attention to their supposed wants as living beings, he is seen feeding, or pretending to feed them, every morning and evening ; and as in the hot season he is careful to fan them, so in the cold he is equally regardful of their comfort, covering them by day with warm clothing, and placing them at night in a snug bed. But superstition does not find a limit here : the acts and speeches of the idols, and their assumption of various shapes and colours, are gravely related by the Brahmins, and with all the marks of veneration are firmly
believed by their deluded followers. Other practices they have with regard to those idols which decency forbids me to explain". Transl. pp. 90, 91.
Idolatry, as now practised by our countrymen, and which the learned Brahmun so zealously supports as conducive to morality, is not only rejected by the Shastras universally, but must also be looked upon with great horror by common sense, as leading directly to immorality and destructive of social comforts. For every Hindoo who devotes himself to this absurd worship, constructs for that purpose a couple of male and female idols, sometimes indecent in form, as representatives of his favourite deities ; he is taught and enjoined from his infancy to contemplate and repeat the history of these, as well as of their fellow deities, though the actions ascribed to them be only a continued series of debauchery, sensuality, falsehood, ingratitude, breach of trust, and treachery to friends. There can be but one opinion respecting the moral conduct to be expected of a person, who has been brought up with sentiments of reverence to such beings, who refreshes his memory relative to them almost every day, and who has been persuaded to believe, that a repetition of the holy name of one of these deities, or a trifling present to his image or to his devotee, is sufficient, not only to purify and free him from all crimes whatsoever, but to procure to him future beatitude”. Transl. p. 168.
See also, among other places, pp. 149, &c., 177—179, 188.
In the Second Defence of the Monotheistical System of the Veds, in reply to an Apology for the present state of Hindoo Worship, 1817,* occurs the following passage, which is very characteristic.
* The Defence of Hindoo Theism, to which this Second Defence is a sequel, has, in the imprint, “ Calcutta, 1827”. This must of course be an error ; and in several other instances the date in the imprint is obviously not taken from the first edition. The order and dates of the
“ I have now to notice the friendly advice given me by the learned Brahmun : • But at all the events, divest yourself of the uneasy sensations you profess to experience, at witnessing the worship paid to idols, prepared at the expense and labour of another'. In thanking him for his trouble in offering me this counsel, I must, however, beg the learned Brahmun to excuse me, while I acknowledge myself unable to follow it; and that for several reasons. 1st. A feeling for the misery and distress of his fellow-creatures is to every one not overpowered by selfish motives, I presume, rather natural than optional. 2dly. I, as one of their countrymen, and ranked in the most religious sect, of course participate in the disgrace and ridicule to which they have subjected themselves, in defiance of their scriptural authority, by the worship of idols, very often under the most shameful forms, accompanied with the foulest language, and most indecent hymns and gestures. 3dly. A sense of the duty which one man owes to another, compels me to exert my utmost endeavours to rescue them from imposition and servitude, and promote their comfort and happiness". Transl. pp. 175, 176.
PASSAGES QUOTED AT LARGE IN THE
« PRECEPTS OF JESUS”.
MATT. V. vi. vii. ix. 10-17. x. 16-42. xi. 25-30. xii. 1-13, 30--37, 46–50. xiii. 1-33. xv. 1-20. xvi. 5–28. xviii. xix, 3–30. xx. 1-16. 20-28. xxi. 23-44.
first five tracts appear to be (1) Abridgment of the Vedant, 1816. (2) Translation of the Céna Upanishad, 1816. (3) Translation of the Ishopunishud, 1816. (4) Translation of the Moonduk-Oopunishud, 1819. (5) Translation of the Kuth-Oopunishud, 1819. Such are the dates given in the enumeration of Rammohun Roy's writings, in the Preface to the London Edition of the 6 Precepts of Jesus”, by the Rev. Dr. T. Rees.