Sidor som bilder

logy only to denote religious rites

cribed by Hindoo lawgivers, which .cconcilable with the commonly received memils of moral duty; as, for instance, the crime of suicide prescribed to widows by Ungeera, and to pilgrims at holy places by the Nursingh and Koorma Poorans. I do not, therefore, admit that works, taken in the latter sense (that is, the different religious acts prescribed by the Sastra to the different classes of Hindoos respectively) are necessary to attain divine faith, or that they are indispensable accompaniments of holy knowledge ; for the Vedant in the chapter 3d, section 4, text 37th, positively declares that the true knowledge of God may be acquired without observing the rules and rites prescribed by the Sastra to each class of Hindoos; and also, examples are frequently found in the Ved, of persons, who, though they neglected the performance of religious rites and ceremonies, attained divine knowledge and absorption by control over their passions and senses, and by contemplation of the Ruler of the universe. Menu, the first and chief of all Hindoo lawgivers, confirms the same doctrines in describing the duties of laynen, in the texts 22d, 23d, and 24th of the 4th chapter of his work; and in the Bhashya, or commentaries on the Ishopanishad, and on the other Upanishads of the Veds, the illustrious Sankaracharjya declared the attainment of faith in God, and the adoration of the Supreme Being, to be entirely independent of Brahminical ceremonies; and the Ved affirms that 66 many “ learned true believers never worshipped fire, nor any 6 celestial god through fire.” The learned Brahmun,


although he has acknowledged himself, in p. 9th, line 6th, of his treatise, that, “ in the opinion of San

karacharjya the attainment of absorption does not

depend on works of merit” (or, properly speaking, on religious rites), yet forgetting the obedience he has expressed to be due to the instruction* of that celebrated commentator, has immediately contradicted his opinion, when he says in p. 9, 1. 9: “ It has also been “ ascertained that acts of merit (Brahminical rites) “ must be performed previously to the attainment of 6 divine knowledge;" for, if divine knowledge were to be dependent on the observance of Brahminical rites, and absorption dependent on divine knowledge, it would follow necessarily that absorption would depend on Brahminical rites, which is directly contrary to the opinion of the commentator quoted by the learned Brahmun himself.

Moreover, the learned Brahmun at first states (p. ll, l. 12) that, " in the ancient writers we “ read that a knowledge of Brahm, or holy knowledge, “ is independent of acts” (religious rites); but he again contradicts this statement, and endeavours to explain it away (p. 11, l. 24): “ Thus when the “ Sastras state that absorption may be attained even “ though the sacrificial fires be neglected, the praise of “ that holy knowledge is intended, but not the depre“ ciation of meritorious acts” (Brahminical rites). Here he chooses to accuse his scripture, and ancient holy writers, of exaggerated and extravagant praise of holy knowledge, rather than that the least shock should be

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]


given by their authority to the structure of paganism and idolatry. From this instance, the public may perceive how zealous the learned Brahmun and his brethren are, in respect to the preservation of their fertile estate of idolatry, when they are willing to sacrifice to it even their own scriptural authorities.

Upon a full perusal of the treatise, it appears that the arguments employed by the learned Brahmun have no other object than to support the weak system of idol-worship; inasmuch as he repeatedly declares, that the adoration of 330,000,000 deities, especially the principal ones, such as Siva, Vishnu, Kali, Gunesh, the Sun and others, through their several images, has been enjoined by the Shastras, and sanctioned by

I am not a little suprised to observe, that after having perused my Preface to the Ishopanishad in Bengali (of which during the last twelve months I have distributed nearly five hundred copies amongst all descriptions of Hindoos), the learned Brahmun has offered no objection to what I have therein asserted, relative to the reason assigned by the same Shastras, as well for the injunction to worship these figured beings, as for the general prevalence of idol-worship in this country.

In that work, I admitted that the worship of these deities was directed by the Shastra ; but, at the same time, I proved by their own authority, that this was merely a concession made to the limited faculties of the vulgar, with the view of remedying, in some degree, the misfortune of their being incapable of comprehending and adopting the spiritual worship of the true God. Thus, in the aforesaid Preface, I remarked : “ For they “ (the Poorans, Tuntras, &c.) repeatedly declare “ God to be one, and above the apprehension of the “ external and internal senses. They indeed expressly “ declare the divinity of many gods, and the mode of “ their worship; but they reconcile those contradict“ing assertions by affirming frequently, that the di“rections to worship any celestial beings are only “ applicable to those who are incapable of elevating 6 their minds to the idea of an invisible being." And, with the view to remove every doubt as to the correctness of my assertion, I at the same time quoted the most unquestionable authorities, a few of which I shall here repeat. Thus corresponding to the natures of “ different powers and qualities, numerous figures have s been invented for the benefit of those who are not “ possessed of sufficient understanding.”

6. The vulgar “ look for their gods in water; men of more extended “ knowledge, in celestial bodies; the ignorant, in wood, “ bricks, and stones; but learned men in the universal 66 soul.”

“ It is impossible for those who consider pilgrimage as devotion, and believe that the divine “ nature exists in the image, to look up to, communi“cate with, to petition, and to serve true believers in 6 God.”

Such indeed is the prevalent nature of truth, that when to dispute it is impossible, the learned Brahmun has not been always successful in concealing it, even when the admission is most fatal t , his own argument. In p. 28, 1. 34, he says : “ But to those it is enjoined 6 who, from a defective understanding, do not perceive " that God exists in every thing, that they should

worship him through the medium of some created

[ocr errors]

“ object.” In making this acknowledgment, the learned Brahmun has confirmed the correctness of all my assertions; though the evident conclusion is, that he and all his followers must either immediately give up all pretensions to understanding, or forsake idolatry.

In my former tract, I not only proved that the adoration of the Supreme Being in spirit was prescribed by the Ved to men of understanding, and the worship of the celestial bodies and their images to ignorant, but I also asserted, that the Ved actually prohibited the worship of any kind of figured beings by men of intellect and education. A few of the passages quoted by me in my former publications, on which this assertion rests, I also beg leave to repeat.

“ He who worships any God except the Supreme “ Being, and thinks that he himself is distinct and 66 inferior to that God, knows nothing, and is con6 sidered a domestic beast of these gods." "A state

even so high as that of Brahmâ, does not afford real 66 bliss.” “ Adore God alone. None but the Supreme

Being is to be worshipped; nothing excepting him “ should be adored by a wise man.” I repeat also the following text of the Vedant : “ The declaration of the 6 Ved, that those that worship the celestial gods are “ the food of such gods, is an allegorical expression, " and only means that they are comforts to the celes“ tial gods, as food to mankind; for he who has no “ faith in the Supreme Being, is rendered subject to “ these gods; the Ved affirms the same.” No reply therefore is, I presume, required of me to the arguments adduced by the learned Brahmun in his treatise for idol-worship; except that I should offer some


« FöregåendeFortsätt »