Skip to main content

Full text of "The heart of Hinduism [microform]"

See other formats

CTbc University of Cbica^o 





THE ; 

/ v 




Reprinted from the (t Times of India." 

\ ' \ I ',. ! 

9 - C. ' , 






L The Jarring Notes Now. 

It was a remark of the German critic Heine,- 
directed against such philosophers as Kant/ 
Fichte, and Schelling, that the moment a reli- 
gion solicits the aid of philosophy, its ruin is 
inevitable. The history of Hinduism shows 
that, always soliciting the aid of philosophy 
in its own way, it has, whether for good or 
evil, managed to hold its own in this couii- 
tr? for centuries ; and it looks even now as 
if, notwithstanding our age of reason and 
science, and the attacks of reformers, Hin- 
duism goes its own way, indifferent to the 
comments of higher criticism. But the fact 
in reality is not so and has never been so. 
Hinduism, as we now see it, is not one reli- 
gion but many, a mixture of creeds and a cult, 
of' compromises- Hence the difficulty of de- 
nrung it. lor some months now there has 
been a controversy in important centres of 
Hindu life and thought over the questions: 
"What is Hinduism?" arid "Who and what 
is a Hindu?" Various answers have been given 
but with little agreement among the comba- 
tants. A learned judge of one of our High 
Courts, himself a high-caste Hindu, respected 
for his piety and knowledge of the Shastras, 
declared recently in his presidential* address 
at a, Social Conference, that no one could be 
regarded as a Hindu, who did not believe iri 
the infallibility of the Vedas ,as God's reve- 
lation:. At iirst sight thi seems a safe defi- 
nition. But .tested by the facts of history and 
of current life, it proves unsatisfactory. The 
two questions above stated were raised in con- 
nection with a certain official document now 
remembered as the Gait Circular. Mr. Gait, 
the Census Officer of the Government of India, 
denied that Mahars and others of the untouch- 
able class were Hindus. The Hindu com- 
munity throughout India protested. Now, 
many of these untouchables have no idea of 
the Vedas, and such of them as have have 
been heard to say that the Vedas have been 
their ruin and have, therefore, no binding 
force. Tukaram, the Maratha Saint, changed 
"Miymns saying that even the Vedas could not 

comprehend God : and he is still regarded aa 
a Hindu- Nay, the Vedas themselves declare 
that their voice became silent before the im<- 
penetrable mystery and majesty of God. 


Perhaps the learned Judge had in mind the 
fact that, when Buddhism and Jainism pro- 
claimed war against Hinduism and denied the 
infallibility of the "Vedas, the upholders of 
Hinduism denounced the Buddhists and Jains 
as pakhandis, meaning atheists and apostates- 
L But Hinduism all the while did not fail to 
borrow from the very apostates whom it con- 
demned. We have the high authority of the 
eminent Orientalist, Sjir Ramkjrishna Blian- 
darkar, that idol-worship 1 , which prevails so 
largely, almost universally, among Hindus, is 
conspicuous by its absence in the teachings of 
the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad 
Gita ; and that it was probably borrowed by 
Hinduism from the Buddhists and the Jains- 
These latter did not believ_ in a personal 
Deity ; but when any of their great men died 
they made statues and busts of them and 
worshipped them. And Hinduism has follow- 
ed in their wake. Nevertheless, such is the 
uncritical spirit Tampiant among us, most 
educated Hindus defend idol-worship as if it 
was of the essence of Hinduism. If it were, 
we should not have had that sweet chant of 
the Maratha Saint Namdev, condemning the 
worship of idols and citing the authority <of 
his preceptor, Yisoba Kheehar, a Brahmin. 
And Yisoba Kheehar and his disciple Namdev 
are unto this day reverenced as holy Hindus- 

The saint Ramdas has in his caustic manner 
pointed out the evil of idols and idol-worship : 
"Many gods have risen and run. riot; it is a 
medley of ghosts and deities ; the One 
Supreme God has been forgotten; so all has 
become a hotch-potch of worship. Hence the 
thinking power has been destroyed. Who knows 
the difference between the true and the false in 
this market cry of the Shastms and the noises 
of the gods? So everything has come to ruin 
and the ' power of discriminating between 
truth and untruth has been lost." No wonder 
when educated Hindus talk and write fn de- 
fence of idol-worship as if it constituted the 
heart of Hinduism, some Christian critics of 
that religion take them at their word and be- 
come uncritical themselves. But a few months 
ago, a Christian dignitary, addressing a 
Christian congregation, reminded them that 
they were living in the land of the heathen 
and asked them to pray for the heathen people 
of this land in the words uttered from the 
Cross: ' 'Father, forgive them, for they do not" 

know what hey do." I am not sure that a 
prayer uttered with reference to Pharisees and 
Sadducees, who were not of the heathen, is apt 
with reference to a people because these wor- 
ship idols. The teaching of the Master him- 
self is a lesson to us on this point. In all He 
said there is not a word of condemnation 
of idol-worshippers, although the atmd'spnere 
was full at the time of idolatry. And 
that was not because the Master approv- 
ed of idol-worship but it was because He, who 
gazed into the hearts of men, saw that the 
worship of idols is not the only idolatry, but 
there is, equally bad, the idolatry of the heart, 
of pride, place and fortune. And, if we hear 
that in mind, who from among us, whether in. 
Asia or Europe, America or Africa, can 
escape condemnation as heathen, and hearing 
the deep and silent voice of the Master teach- 
ing us all the prayer:' "Father, forgive us, 
for we do not know what we do." 

Hinduism Baffles Definition. 

Neither the "Vedas then nor the custom of 
idol-worship can give us. an insight into the 
heart of Hinduism. Within the fold of Hin- 
duism itself, the fallibility of the former and 
the degradation of the latter have been pro- 
claimed and asserted by large bodies of men, 
who yet are acknowledged Hindus. To get to 
that heart is not, I admit, easy, because Hin- 
duism, as it is now, is a creation of many and 
diverse teachings, or, as some of our books 
declare, it is an ocean difficult to fathom. 
Hence the jarring notes now among those who 
attempt to define it. Where great scholars and 
learned Judges have failed, it would be pre- 
sumptuous on my part to make the attempt 
and define what Hinduism is and who is a 
Hindu. "Sir," said I the other day to a 
Shastri, conversation with whom has been of 
great benefit to me, "Sir, have you observed 
what they have been saying about Hinduism?" 
He asked: "What have they been saying?" 
I replied : "The question has been raised 
"What is Hinduism?", and many have answer- 
ed; but no two agree." My Shastri, steeped 
as it were in the dialectics of the master-mind, 
Shri Shankaracharya, rejoined as follows: "The 
fact that people do not agree in their definition 
of Hinduism points of itself to its all-com- 
prehensiveness. Hinduism v baffles all definition 
like Brahma, (God) whom it worships. The 
ancient Rishis sought to define Brahma as 
This and That, and failing, ended by defining. 
Brahma as "Not This or That." This is the 
Shastric way ; it does not solve the question 
but it points a morall. That question was 
definitely started in connection with what is 
now known as the B'asu Bill, to confound those 


who opposed that proposed legislation on the 
ground that, if it became law, and permitted 
intermarriages between Hindus and non- 
Hindus, or between Hindus of different castes, 
it would endanger Hinduism and lead to 
chaos. For the purposes of that controversy, 
the question "What is Hinduism?" may be 
of great and practical use. To meet the logic 
of orthodoxy and bewilder it, the question has 
value as one of dialectics. But life is not logic 
.altogether, it is more than logic ; and no ortho- 
doxy or bigotry has been killed by mere 
reasoning. It is more to the purpose of the 
needs of these times, the demands of the voice 
of the age, to enquire in a humble spirit, what 
the central truth of Hinduism is, and how 
that truth has, amidst its vicissitudes, illus- 
trated itself in the lives of the people. You 
know the health of a man, it is said, from 
the condition of his extremities. So in the 
case of a people, to know the heart of their 
religion, you must go to the humblest and 
lowliest of them. Those on whose toil we 
live, who know no luxury and who live in 
Jauts talk and converse with these, I humbly 
think, lets us into the heart of Hinduism as 
nothing else can, for, from their lives, thoughts, 
and struggles we come to know in a vivid man- 
ner both the dignity and the degradation of 
Hinduism the dignity of its essential truth, 
the degradation it has suffered in consequence 
>of drift from that truth. 

II. Hermit or Householder? 

No sacred text has more powerfully exercised 
deep influence on the Hindu community of 
all shades of caste and opinion than that which 
is embodied in the words dha-nna, artha, 
kama and moksha, meaning, duty, wealth, 
desires, and final absolution or salvation. This 
has become a household text, familiar more 
or less to the highest and the lowliest of 
Hindus. It forms the pivot of Hindu society. 
It has been the soul, so to say, of Hindu 
philosophy and theology ; round it has raged 
many a controversy. Thfe Hindu jurist has 
borne it in mind in laying down the principles 
of Hindu law ; and the Hindu law-books, from 
which our courts take their dicta for the 
administration of justice, refer to it now and 
again as if it formed the root of law as of 
religion and society. The lower classes of 
Hindu society may not utter it as do the 
higher classes, but familiar talk with them as 
to the destiny of man in this world soon con- 
vinces you that the spirit of the text has 
formed their views and ideals of life. 

The text means that man lives for the pur- 
suit of four objects in this world for duty, for 
the acquisition of wealth, for the satisfaction 
of his desires, and, lastly, for the attainment, 
of salvation after death. Some exponents of 
Hinduism represented by the sv,Lool of Jaimini, 
called the Mimamsaka school, to which a 
Hindu lawyer, well-knowing hisi duty, turns 
for the interpretation of an obscure or difficult 
text in the authoritative works on Hindu law, 
deny the last of these four objects. Accord- 
ing to them, there is no such thing as moksha 
or salvation as a separate object; the first 
object, dharma, meaning duty, involves and 
leads to salvation. Jaimini's opponent, 
Badarayana, the father and founder of -what 
is called the Vedanta school, holds to salvation 
as a distinct object by itself. However this 
be, the text itself, as it is, is practically ac- 
cepted as phrasing life's ideals by the Hindu 
community and even the meanest coolie hasl 
some consciousness of it. 

What is Dharraa ? 

Of the four objects, dharma or duty haa 
predominance. This is the second universal 
truth of Hinduism. There is no jarring note 
as to that. Duty is taken to be the predomi- 
nant object, because the other objects derive 
their source and strength from it. Then comes 
the question, what is Dhwma or Duty? ft 

means, primarily, belief in the Deity, and 
secondarily, the performance of all the duties, 
sacred and secular, prescribed by the Shastras 
and society. What these duties are, whether the 
Vedas are all in all that is a. tangled web of 
Hindu religion and society; but writing as a 
layman for lay readers, anxious to put my 
finger on what has been accepted by all ex- 
ponents of Hinduism of acknowledged autho- 
rity as a maxim of universal truth, I may 
say that the highest Dharma, i.e., Duty, is 
laid down by all as consisting in what is 
called atma darshana, meaning the realisation 
of the Supreme Spirit which is in every human 
being. That word darshana again is a house- 
hold word among Hindus. The Bhatia or 
Bania, man or woman, whom you see in the 
early hours of the morning or at sunset in 
Bhuleshwar, going to pay his or her homage to 
the Vallabhacharya Maharaja, will tell you, 
when you ask where they are going, that they are 
going for darshana. Literally it means " to 
see," but, spiritually and the word embodies 
a spiritual idea it means "a vision," the master 
light of seeing. The pilgrim goes to his sacred 
place of pilgrimage for his darshana, that is, 
realising his vision of God. So also, when the 
King Emperor was at Delhi, and large crowds 
of people used to assemble on the roads, from 
where they expected their Sovereign and the 
Queen Empress to pass, and policemen with 
their batons used to press the crowds back and 
tell them to go away, the words of the police 
being: Jao hyase (go away from here), the 
assembled people were heard to say : Badshaha 
ke darshana karke jayange (we shall go after 
making the darshana of the Emperor). 

So atma darshana, which Hinduism recognise,? 
as the highest duty, means a vision of the 
Supreme Soul who resides in each of us, and 
the vision or darshana means realising the 
Supreme, not merely seeing but attaining to 
Him, becoming at one with Him. It is best 
interpreted in the words : "Behold, the King- 
dom of God is within you!" 

How is this "vision" to be realised? That, 
again, is a vexed question of Hindu theology 
and philosophy. Some say, by karma, or 
action; others say, by jnana or knowledge. 
The Bhagavat Parana has a passage in which 
the differences of opinion on this point are 
mentioned and God is made to say: "I am 
not pleased with the practices of Yoga (medi- 
tation and action), or with the religion of 
Sankhya (knowledge), or with the study and 
following of the Vedas, or with performance of 
penances, or by renunciation, or sacrifices, or 
charity and acts of public utility, or by alms, 
or fasts or worship of gods, or recitation of 
secret mantras, or visits to sacred places, or 
rules of restraint and religious observances, so 


much as I am pleased by the company of the 
Good, which destroys all other companionship." 
The Bhagavad-Gita brushes aside all these 
different modes of realisation of the Supreme 
and centres it in Love of God and Man, which 
is the same thing as saying: "Love the Lord* 
thy God, and love thy neighbour as thyself." 

The Acquirement of Love 1 

But love is an active quality. How is it best 
acquired, if the supreme end of existence is 
atma darshana or realisation by each of us of 
the Supreme Soul and the salvation consequent 
upon that realisation? Here again, we have 
one school within the fold of Hinduism divid- 
ed against another. According to one school, 
man has four stages in life. Beginning as a 
student, living the life of a bachelor, he 
passes to the second stage, that of marriage, and 
becomes a grihasta or householder ; then he 
enters on the third stage, that of an anchorite ; 
and he ends by becoming an ascetic (yati)- 
Unless he ends his life as an ascetic, he can 
find no salvation ; there is no true alma 
darshana for him. The first three stages, well- 
lived, may lead him "to, heaven after death but 
he must come back to earth and pass through 
its turmoil again and again. The other school 
holds otherwise. According to it, the house- 
holder, who lives the active life of a family 
man, and serves his fellows and his country, 
who is, in other words, what Green calls, "the 
honest citizen," can find salvation without 
ending his old age in asceticism, provided he 
acquires wealth justly, is cultured, is hospit- 
able to guests, keeps sacred the memory of 
his ancestors and the saints and sages, and is, 
above all, truthful. This latter school is repre- 
sented by the Bhagavad-Gita and by the" great 
Yajnyavalkya, the legislator of Hindus, greater 
than even Manu, because all Hindu law 
and polity, as now observed, derive their force 
from him. Yajnyavalkya himself ended his 
days as an ascetic, after having distributed his 
property among his wives. But he knew better 
than he practised he knew man. was a sociable 
animal and that asceticism must mean the decay 
of society. And his teaching constitutes the heart 
of Hinduism. It is a trite saying that a Hindu 
lives to marry ; and it is true that caste and 
custom have marred the glory and sanctity of 
the institution of marriage as the means of 
atma darshana. But Yajnyavalkya knew what 
asceticism and celibacy must lead to in civi- 
lised societies witness the condition of France 
just now. So his gospel given to Hindus was 
in effect this : "Become grtihastas or house- 
holders." And following him the sages of 
Hinduism have laid down: "Asceticism and 
celibacy are not for the age of Kaliyng, which 
means the present age.." 


The " Mild Hindu." 

The "Vishnu Parana, which charmed the soul 
of Emerson, upholds the householder as the 
only favourite of God and makes light of the 
ascetic as a person of little or no worth. The 
Bhagavad-Gita was written to keep men to 
the world to perform their duty by action and 
an active life, instead of running away from it 
in the name of God and despjsing it. So also 
Ramdas, the saint of Maharasthra, says : 
"Live the ordered life of a family man and 
realise the Supreme Soul and then you will 
gain both this world and the next." And 
saints such as Tukaram preached the same. 

The heart of the Hindu community, then, is 
at the core the heart of the man who tries to 
win and realise the Kingdom of God within 
him by means of the life of a householder, 
keeping his home to serve his society and State, 
because it is the home out of which come the 
State and Heaven. But the school of asceticism 
has not failed to exercise its sinister influence 
on that heart, and so the Hindu has come to be 
a mixture of the householder and the ascetic ; 
he struggles blindly between the two, and hence 
the "mild Hindu," his chaos and confusion, 
his innumerable castes, and dissensions. And 
yet there is the heart, would we but see it, 
hear it whole, and bring it back to its original 
soundness ! 

!!. Maihari the Mahar. 

One of the most touching episodes in the 
biographies of the statesmen who took part 
in forming and founding the British Empire 
in India is that connected with the life and 
career of each of the two brothers, Heaty 
Lawrence and John Lawrence. They w^re 
among the heroes of British India in the mutiny 
period. They were deroted to each other; but 
each had his angle of view different from that 
of the other on public questions. Henry be- 
friended the cause of the aristocracy in India. 
To keep up the prestige of the ruling classes 
and nobles was his main ideal of Government. 
John, who afterwards became "Viceroy of 
India, and was a zealous Christian, was for 
the elevation of the masses ; and to him is 
ascribed the saying that even the meanest and 
most illiterate coolie in India can think and 
talk of the immortality of the soul in a man- 
ner which would have put to shame the aver- 
age Athenian of the time of Socrates and Plato. 

We meet daily with proofs of that saying as 
we mix with men of the lower classes in Hindu 
society and hold converse with them. Of many 
of that land which I could narrate, here is 
one which is apposite to my purpose as reveal- 
ing the obscured heart of Hinduism. 

The Pious Pilgrim. 

I happened one morning to visit an 'enlighten- 
ed and pious Hindu lady whose name is well- 
known throughout India. As she was speak- 
ing to me in chaste and classical Marathi, 
which makes her conversation graceful, an old, 
almost blind man, scantily clad and dirty, 
came up, led by a woman, and addressing the 
lady said: "Bai Saheb" (meaning, Madam), 
"Maihari greets you and begs for alms. A few 
days more and he will be off to Pandharpur 
for his annual pilgrimage." "Very well," 
replied the lady, "Maihari, come to me just 
the day before you start for Pandharpur and 
I will pay you your railway fare." "WHat, 
Bai Saheb!" cried Maihari (that was his name) 
"talk you of railway? Not for me- Here is 
a pair of legs which my Vithya" (meaning the 
God Vithoba of Pandharpur), "has given me, 
and so long as these last, not for me your 
railway. I shall trudge on to Pandharpur 
with the help of these legs of mine." "Be it 
so," answered the lady, "when you start, I will 


give you something. Come then." The man 
left and soon after, happening to meet him, 
I entered into conversation with him. 

He was a Mahar, of the caste of Chokha 
Mela, the Mahar saint, whom Hinduism holds 
in deep reverence. This Malhari spoke to 
me of human life as a prison ; he sang hymns 
comparing man to a parrot confined in a cage, 
with hisi soul encased in his body ready to flit 
after death to its home, where dwells God, and 
become absorbed in Him, if while on earth 
the man has led a righteous life, and despised 
samsara (the world). Having listened to Mal- 
hari for half an hour, as he was sermonising and 
singing, I questioned him. "Now, Malhari, you 
talk of a righteous life. May I ask what 
your life has 'b'een? You go about abegging ; 
you live on charity ; what has brought you to 
this pass? You say this samsara (world) is 
nothing and we must despise it. And yet 
you have a wife?" 

The Story of his Life. 

To Malhari my question was a po'ser. The 
woman with him was his wif e ; and to a Hindu, 
be he high or low, his wife is his samsara, 
his symbol of hisi world and worldliness. "Sir," 
said he, "you have hit the weakest point in 
me, and I do not know how to answer. You 
are my master and I, an ignorant Mahar, must 
tremble to argue with you." "But tell me 
your story, Malhari. Be frank and I will not 
judge you." "Very w;ell,. Sir," he replied, 
"hear the story of my life's burden. I was 
not born a beggar ; my parents left, when they 
died, three sons including myself, and some 
lands as our patrimony. The lands are situat- 
ed in a village near Khadkala. All three of 
us brothers married and lived together by 
cultivating the lands. In course of time my 
eye-sight began to fail me and I could not 
work. Nor could my wife work, for she had 
to help me. We had no children ; my brothers 
had. Quarrels began and they ill-treated me 
and my wife. Tired of life, I felt I ought to 
give up the world and become an ascetic. But 
an ascetic with a wife? How could that be? 
So I went to Dehu, the birthplace of the saint, 
Tukaram, to consult some holy man there. I 
met one and begged him to be my Guru 
(preceptor), and give me a mantra (a sacred 
chant for constant utterance)." He said to 
me: "Malhari, you are illiterate; what mantra 
can I give to a man who can neither read nor 
write? Do this give up your lands and your 
brothers ; give up the world ; chant the name of 
Hari (God); visit Pandharpur at least once a 
year and live on alms, What about my wife? 
I asked the Guru. Let her follow you, he 


advised. That was enough for me. Since then 
I .have left lands, home and brothers, and 
have been half ascetic, half householder, wan- 
dering about, living on charity, and yet keep- 
ing a sort of home, dull and dreary and that 
because of my Bhagu." Here Malhari's wife 
interposed. "Look here, Sir," she said, "how 
haughty he is"! He calls me Bhagu, as if I was 
of no value, and he complains because I am a 
drag on him and because, with me by his side, 
he cannot be a full-fledged ascetic." Malhari 
retorted: "That is woman's pride! I call 
her by her pet name, Bhagu, but she wants ma 
to use her full name, Bhagirathi, when I 
speak about her to others. How hard are 
women to please ! And yet my Vithya (the Deity 
at Pandharpur) 'knows how Malhari loves his 
wife and lives for her in this world of 

Malhari's Doctrine. 

"If that is so," I said to Malhari, "here is 
a proposal I make. You say you have a share 
in your ancestral lands and that your brothers 
have been enjoying them without giving you 
anything for your share of the profits. Ask 
them for your share; if they refuse', sue for 
partition, and I will help you with money. File 
a suit and recover your share." That offer 
was by no means tempting to Malhari. The 
blood on his face rose; he exclaimed, "Sir, 
Malhari is not to be tempted in that way. Go 
back to my lands, and fall again into the 
snare of the world! And that after I have 
once abandoned it and given myself up to my 
Vithya?" (the God at Pandharpur)- "No, no, 
to accept your offer would be perdition for 
Malhari, who has given up samsara" (the 
world and family). "Now, Malhari," said I, 
"you wrong yourself there again. Who will 
sa,y you have given up the world and worldli- 
ness when you have a wife, and you go> about 
abegging for her and yourself?'' He 
answered: "Sir, I am a Mahar, the 
lowest of the low, with only this much 
to comfort me that at the leading of the 
palanquin of the saint Chokha Mela to Pan- 
dharpur, I am given a prominent place. What 
do I know; what can I understand? Because 
I have a wife and. 'beg, you say I am yet of 
the world and as worldly asi any of you. Be 
it so ! I am only following my Guru. He 
directed me and here I am. Call me what you 
like, whether a worldly man or an ascetic. 
Enough for me to live for my Giod Vithya 
and my wife Bhagu. She is my Parvati (i.e., 
goddess.) I cannot give up either they are my 
salvation. What needs a Mahar more, or any 
man who cares for his soul?" 


I met Malhari this year again, more feeble 
than last year, but spiritually as alert, with all 
his crudeness of creed. As I was busy reading 
one morning, his voids greeted me : "Hari 
Vithale!" he began, invoking the name of his 
Deity Vithoba. "Malhari is come, alive, not 
dead, though he tried his best to die at 
Pandharpur last Kartiki. That thief Vithya" 
(meaning the God Vithoba) "has sent me back 
alive, though I wanted to die." "Malhari," 
said I, "how irreverent you are when you 
speak thus of your god ! You call him a thief?" 
He was unabashed and replied. "And why not, 
when he won't have me out of this life and 
robs me of my right to die and get rid of this 
world of sorrows.'' So saying Malhari prayed 
and sang his hymns for me and parted with 
these words, before proceeding to Pandharpur: 

"Saheb, Malhari may not live to see you 
again. If he dies, there is his Bhagu" (wife), 
"Ms samsava. She is to Malhari the goddess 
Parvati," and, clasping her and crying, he said 
to me and begged: "If Malhari dies, take cara 
of his Bhagu, who has made his life." 

IV. Mari the HousehoSdet 

Malhari the Mahar, of whom I wrote in my 
last article, presents himself as one of the 
numerous class of Hindus, who, betaking 
themselves to what they consider asceticism, 
live as beggars and form the idle portion of 
the community, the despair of statesmen and 
the burden of society on whose charity they 
live. Begging, it is said, has become a pro- 
fession in India ; and Hindu society has gone 
on countenancing it on religious grounds. 
Charity is regarded as the prime mark of duty 
on the authority of sacred texts ; and to turn 
out a beggar without giving him something is 
considered impious. But the tests have been 
misunderstood. The charity that is commended 
is that to a deserving person, not to all indis- 
criminately. The Brahmin by the very essence 
of his being, is required to live a life of self- 
denial; begging as 'an incentive to simple 
living and. corrective of luxury has. bcooma 
the Brahmin's birth-right. He set the example ; 
and it has filtered down more or less to the 
masses. "That is the road for all which is 
trodden by the shistas," meaning the wise, 
says a sacred text which has become prdVer- 
bial among Hindus. The Brahmin as the wise 
led the way for one purpose; the icKe follow 
it for another. But for all that, let us not 
misjudge the heart of Hinduism in this res- 
pect from the number of beggars that throng 
the streets in India. The Hindu by tradition 
and Shastm is a householder; and the house- 
holder's sense 'of dignity and seljf-respecfc 
prevails, to an extent perhaps unknown to 
many or most of us who judge from what we 
see on the surface, in the streets or in the 
market place, but known to him who visits 
huts and cottages and gets an insight into the 
souls of their inmates. How often have I met 
in my village rambles with prioofs of this 
hidden heart of Hinduism ! One incident 
among many I have come across will suffice 
and it is an incident which has taught me a 
lesson in humility. 

The Dignity of the Householder. 

One morning, as I was out for a walk in a 
village, I came across a group of men, women, 
and children, all Marathas. They had travell- 
ed in bullock carts from a city and were 
journeying to their village, because the season 
of cultivation was near. They unyoked the 


bullocks to rest awhile before marching om 
As often happens in such oases, the men were 
all quarrelling, the women were unpacking 
to cook fctod, and the children were crying,- 
It was all a babble of tongues. As I stood 
observing, I found one child piteously crying 
to its mother for something tto eat. The 
mother, busy unpacking, was chiding the child : 
"Dead thing, keep quiet, what can I give you 
to eat here in this jungle?" The sight of 
the crying child moved nie and I said to the 
mother: "Look here, there is withinl a few 
yards from here a man selling mangoes. Buy 
some and give to the child. Here are some' 
eopper coins for you to buy." I made the 
appeal, expecting response. But the woman 
turned her anger from the child to me and 
said, "A Bajirao has come!" Bajirao was a 
Peshwa, who lived ostentatiously and any man 
who makes a parade of his wealth is called a 
Bajirao. "A Bajirao has come!" continued 
the woman; ^'Do you think we are beggars 
that you offer money? Keep your copper to 
yourself, we have hands and feet and can 
work and earn like you." I thrust the coins 
back into my pocket and attempted to explain 
but the woman would not listen. She kept on 
saying: "If you are a Bajirao, be so at home. 
Don't insult us because we are poor." Soon the 
woman's husband, noticing the incident, ap- 

geared on the scene. He was more calm than 
is wife- I told him what had occurred ; 
he said: "My wife, sir, is right. We are 
workmen, though pdor, and live on what 
little we 'earn by our toil. It_is a shame to 
live on charity." For thousands of beggars 
that we meet, how many more there are who 
stand by that sentiment in their lives! The 
former are the degradation, the latter the 
dignity of Hinduism the dignity of its house- 
holder, not of its hermit. 

A Typical Example. 

Of this dignity, my friend Hari the 
householder is a typical example. Him 
I met in one of my village rambles 
tone evening. Two Kunbis, whom I 
did not know, were walking along the village 
road ; one had in Ms hand a sari, a pink cloth 
such as is worn by Hindu women. He was 
quietly listening while the |other kept on talk- 
ing. I was within hearing distance and felt 
interested in the talk. It was all about high 
prices, and high wages 1 . "Wages rise and yet 
living is dear. The play of God isn't it so, 
Hari !" Hari was the man with the sari in his 
hand. His companion weriE on : ' "You have 
peace under this Sirkar; you can work and 
sione can rob. And yet coin is losing in value. 
What my father got for a rupee I cannlo't 

get for five rupees. God's play again ! Car* 
you account for it, Hari?" Hari was not a 
currency man or ru/piee reformer- He was only 
listening at least seemed to listen, he gave 
no response to his companijon's question. Some- 
thing was apparently weighing on his mind, 
and his companion shortly discovered that. 
"What ails you, Hari, to-day? You are silent 
and seem depressed." Hari broke his long 
silence and said : ''It is this sari which bothers 
me." "The son? What about it, my man?" 
asked the companion. Hari answered : "It is 
of an inferior quality and I am not sure she 
of my house" (meaning his wife), "will like it." 
"But why should that trouble jrou? Women 
must take what their husbands give and what 
matters it s|o long as your wife gets a sari to 
wear ! What a fool to bother about a wife 
and her saril" That was the companion's phi- 
losophy. But Hari's view of home life was 
higher. "Ganu !" he said to his companion, 
"you talk like that to me but I knjow how you 
fear your wife at home. Let your wife make 
you miss your food one day and you will know 
what it is to have a wife and displease her." 

A Kumbi and his Wife. 

Conversation between the two would have run 
on and I should have gleaned perhaps more of 
the philosophy of home life from these two 
rustics, whom I was following within hearing 
distance all the while, had I not rather hastily 
intervened. At this juncture that last remark of 
Hari started my mind like lightning. Though 
I did not know the man, I thought I should 
at once take the familiar air (of conversation 
with him. "Well said, Hariba! You don't 
mind my asking you why you have been worry- 
ing so much over that sari. You take it for 
your wife- Why do you think she won't like 
it?" "Saheb," he answered, "it is this way. 
When I attend a marriage or lother ceremony 
in my caste, I try to dress my best ; if I feel 
like that, why should not my wife feel like- 
wise on her own account?" "But, Hariba, 
Ganu has just told you wives should take what 
husbands give them and you yourself but just 
now spoke to Ganu as if. you thought a wife 
was made to cook for and serve her husband. 
Why then do you care so much for what your 
wife will say about the sari you have bought 
for her?" "Saheb," said Hari "there is a 
saying: bayfeo kayto samsara" (it is the wife 
who makes the life). Nahi bayko, nahi ghar, 
nahi swarga. i.e. No wife, no hlome, no hea- 
ven." "My good man," I asked him, "where 
did you learn this wisdom from?" Hari replied : 
"Where does a Kunbi learn from? From his 
bapdada (his ancestors)..'- That was how Hasi 


philosophised in his untutored and yet to me 
.valuable way. I wanted to philosophise in my 
turn. "Look here, Hariba! You value your 
wife so much; I infer she is a reasonable wo- 
man or else you would not speak of her with 
respect. But now tell me, are there many of 
your fellows who try to .please their -wives like 
you? Are there- not many who ill-treat their 
wives?" "Ill-treat?" answered Hari, "some 
there be, but, we Kunbis know the worth of a 
wife ; she works with and for us, and if we 
beat her, we know we cannot do without her, 
she can do something wlorse than beating and, 
Saheb, let me tell you if you will believe me, 
if husbands beat wives, > wives know how to 
make life hot for husbands, though they won't 
beat in return." "Ah! Hari," cried I, "tKat 
is what you fear will happen to-diay to you 
when you return hjome and present yourself to 
her with this gift of an inferior sari. It is 
not love but fear of her that troubles you." 
Hari was ready with his reply : "Call it lova 
or call it fear, Saheb. What do we Kunbis 
know about either? All we are taught by our 
elders is to have a wife and to keep her 
pleased, because she makes samsara (the 
family)." Here we parted but ujot before I 
comforted Hari with some advice: "Have you 
children, Hari?" "Yes, Saheb, I have by 
God's grace." "Well then, I will tell you a 
way that strikes me to get you out of this worry 
about the sari. Should your wife grumble, be- 
cause it is inferior in quality, tell her you 
have saved mjoney just for her sake and your 
children's." "Well, Saheb, that is godly ad- 
vice, and I will follow it, though this fool of 
a Hari had not the least idea of saving money 
for his wife and children when he bought the 
sari in the bazar. I bought it, because there 
was none better to buy." 

V. Man's Cause is Woman's. 

There are among us thtose and their number 
is large whose blind patriotism and prejudice 
against the West leads them to think that 
every great thing conceived or done in the 
West, from Darwin's evolution down to Edi- 
son's invention, from the steam-engine to the 
aeroplane, was known to ancient Hindus and 
that we have nothing to learn from but every- 
thing to teach to the nations of Europe and 
America. Only the other day one of these blind 
patriots lectured at Poona that chemistry and 
physiology were known to our ancestors much 
better than to modern Europe and that the 
medical science of the present day was mere 
child's play before what ancient India knew of 
medicine. The late Mr. Justice Telang used to 
tell us of a typical instance of this want of 
judgment among us. A Hindu graduate in Law 
and Arts, who had held a high judicial office in 
a Native State and afterwards taken to the legal 
profession in Bombay, once observed to him : 
"I believe every bit of the Ramayana to be 
sober history." It is this kind of exaggeration 
and lack of the critical faculty that retard 
progress. Nothing is lost, everything is 
gained by a dispassionate and sober examina- 
tion of our past. It is no disparagement of 
our ancient literature, science, and religion 
to confess where it lacked. There is a great 
deal to be proud of in it, but what that is 
must be discerned wisely and well. 

One thing to be proud of in that res- 
pect is the ideal of womanhood as our ancient 
sages conceived it. "Woman's cause is man's-" 
So sang Tennyson : and every schoolboy in 
India knows it by heart. But the song of the 
heart of Hinduism was even sweeter: "Man's 
cause is woman's." From what I have said of 
my two friends, Malhari the Mahar and Hari 
the Householder as types of Hindu manhood, 
one thing is clear that even the most illiterate 
and lowliest Hindu realises somehow that it is 
the woman who makes or mars man that she 
is his samsara or world. This faith has gone 
deep into the soul of Hinduisnij though in its 
actual process through the centuries it has got 
distorted. Of preceptors, the mother stands 
the prime, says a sacred text which, para- 
phrased in the words of Henry Drummond's 
Ascent of Man, means that "the machinery of 
Nature is designed in the last resort to turn 
out mothers-" Man, as I pointed out in my 


second article, lives for duty 3 wealth, desires 
and salvation (dharma, artha, kama and 
moksha). These, says another text, can be 
attained mainly through woman. And the 
spirit of these texts has entered into the daily 
life of the people ; hence that epigram of 
my friend Hari, the householder: "No wife, 
no home, no heaven." It is the Tennysonian 
idea of modern times affirmed even better ages 
ago by the heart of Hinduism. 

.The Way to Salvation. 

Having laid down that the life of a house- 
holder leads to salvation, that is, to atmadar- 
shana or the realisation in this life of the 
Supreme Soul in man, the sages went on to 
describe how the man should live as a house- 
holder for the purposes of that realisation. A 
householder must first have a house, called 
in Sanskrit griha, to live in. What is "a 
house?" A building of brick and mortar, or 
of wood, or stone, one would say. "No, that 
is not it,'' says in effect the lawyer Apararka 
in a spirit of veiled humour. A griha or 
house- means a wife. She is the griha and 
therefore the grihini, the holder of the house. 
Without her, the material thing called home 
is soulless for the purpose of a householder's 
life. Hence the famous Sanskrit saying fami- 
liar to Hinduism : "A house is not the house 
but it is the wife who is the house." 

With their minds fastened on that idea, the 
sages, who gave us laws, declared : "Woman is 
born pure and undefiled." That is the into- 
nation, for instance, of that premier of Hindu 
law-givers, Yajnyavalkya, in these sacred 
words: medhya vai yoshito hyataha. The 
characters of Sita, Damayanti, Savitri and a 
host of other women pictured in the Puranas 
have become proverbial as models of chaste 
womanhood. But, I humbly conceive, to get 
to the heart of Hinduism and hear its note of 
woman's worth, we must go to something an- 
terior to the Ramayana or the Mahabharata 
or the Puranas. 


Two figures pictured in the Upanishads 
stand out as typical of the great heart of Hin- 
duism one that of Nachiketa, a boy, the 
other that of Uma, a woman, the former pre- 
sented as the ideal of manhood, the latter 
as the ideal of womanhood. 

Nachiketa's story, shortly stated, is this. His 
father performed a religious ceremony and, as 
was customary, gave all his possessions as fee to 
the priests. These possessions included cer- 
tain cows- The cows were old and decrepit, 

incapable of giving milk and barren. Naahi- 
keta did not like such futile gifts. He thrice 
inquired of Ms father why he gave useless cows 
as fees to the priests and receiving no answer, 
asked: "Father, you have given your all but 
me. To whom do you give me?" That roused 
the father's ire and the father in his anger 
said : "I give you to Yama, the god of Death." 
"Be thou dead," said the father. Nachiketa 
lobeyed and went to the abode of Yama, the god 
of Death. Yama pleased with the boy's faith 
and piety, asked him to beg for three boons 
which he said would be granted. Nachiketa 
asked first for restoration to him of his father's 
favour, secondly for a knowledge of "tbe 
heaven-giving fire." These two boons were 
granted. The last and most important re- 
mained. "What becomes of man after death? 
Where goes and how fares his immortal soul? 
Teach me this. That is the third boon I ask." 
Yama told the boy that the question had been 
left undecided By tKe gods of old because it 
was not easy of comprehension; so he asked 
Nachiketa not to press the question. But the 
iboy was persistent. Yama sought to draw him 
away by promising him _ riches, kingdoms, all 
the wealth and pleasures' of the world. Nachi- 
keta said he did not care for the transitory 
glories of earth he would know all of the 
soul's fate after death. Aad Yama had to 
yield and gratify his curiosity. 

We Hindus are all Nachiketas more or less, 
though we have lost his decision of character 
and persistence of purpose, whether old, adult 
or young. Nine out of ten of us instinctively 
feel inclined to hang on the lips of any one, who 
would tell us what goes on in the world here- 
after and what becomes of the soul after death. 
The unseen is more potent for us than the 
seen. Lacking the nerve and verve of Nachi- 
keta, we dream the unseen, we pursue the seen 
and both in a clumsy way and fail to realise 
either. The faculty or visionary power of 
Nachiketa is a power for good, if rightly cul- 
tivated ; it is weakness, if it is misdirected by 
mere dreaming, idling and pleasure-seeking, 
But the faculty is there. Hindu boys may cavil 
at Christianity and ridicule the Bible ; but let 
a Christian missionary pitch a tent and hold 
forth on the Bible, swarms of young Hindus 
will gather and listen, for they want to know, 
like Nachiketa of old, what there is to say of 
the soul and life eternal. What they come to 
know with one ear, they may, as .many do, let 
out with the other, but the curiosity is there. 
Nachiketa lives, however obscured, in us all. 

If we, Hindu men, are editions of Nachi- 
keta, however feeble, our women are editions ol 
the Uma of the Upanishads. They have re- 
tained the lustre of their prototype more than 


we men have retained the grit of our pro- 
totype, Nachiketa. Uma's story is this. The 
gods, having won victory over the demons, be- 
came proud. .They boasted that the victory 
was due to their own prowess, not to God's 
grace. To> tame their pride God sent down 
the woman Uma, and she opened their eyes 
and made them realise that their power came 
from the Supreme Spirit. And they learnt the 
wisdom of humility. The lesson is woman, be 
she mother, wife, sister, or friend is destined 
to be man's mentor and reformer. She is 
made to tame him. 

The Homely Life, 

If she fails in that mission among us, whose 
is the fault ? Not hers. Hinduism of later ages 
has kept her down and she has taken her 
revenge; She has taken us down with her. But 
for all that, she retains the potential p<ower of 
Uma to humble us. How many a Hindu wife has 
sacrificed herself silently for her husband and 
Striven to reform him when erring! 
How many a husband has run riot with 
his life and when ruin has overtaken him, re- 
lented when, it was too late, and felt his last 
comfort in his wife's silent sacrifice and faith- 
ful though futile attempt to redeem him! One 
incident will illustrate my point. Just as I en- 
tered on my career as a member of the legal 
profession thirty-one years ago, an) old 
Hindu visited me one day and I have never 
forgotten the advice he gave me and the tears 
he shed in recounting his own experience of 
life: "My dear boy, I am ah old man and may 
die any moment. I feel interested in you and 
have come to congratulate you on your suc- 
cess at the law examination. But better than 
my congratulations is my advice. Beware of 
a voluptuous life. Lead a homely one. Here 
I am eyes almost gone, weak of body 
and ailing. What do you think it 
is due to? In the prime of life, I led the life 
of a nightwanderer. I would return home at 
3 or 4 in the morning. To see what? My 
poor wife sitting and waiting with a lamp 
flickering by her side and with tears in her 
eyes. For some months she protested and re- 
monstrated ; and her reward was my blows and 
slaps. She gave up that soon because her an- 
ger and advice made me worse. Every time I 
came back like that, I expected her to rate 
me; and then, I thought, I should beat her. 
But dear soul ! not a word she uttered ! As she 
heard the steps of my feet outside, she quietly 
opened the door and took me in she had been 
watching and waiting for this brute of her 
husband, all the while tears running down her 
face. Her silence kept me silent. Efc brought 


remorse, but for the moment only. The sense 
of pleasure was too strong and I ran my ruin- 
ous course until I became a wreck. Here I 
am ! And now I see, how unworthy I have been 
of that noble, patient, suffering soul of a 
woman, my wife. She has taught me by her 
sufferings the lesson of life. It is too late, and 
yet not too late. To have a wife like that is 
to possess God himself. And, decrepit as I 
am, and gladly as I would leave the life I 
have ill used, I wish, to live only to make 
amends to her for my past failure. Learn from 
me and live-' 1 

VI. The Art of Achara. 

One recurring question which has been per- 
plexing Hindu Society is why do so many edu* 
cated Hindus die prematurely? Several medi* 
cal men and some laymen have attempted to 
solve the question. Some say it is hard work, 
forgetting that hard work rarely kills a man. 
Huxley came to the conviction that the real 
destroyer of hardworking men was "not their 
work, but dinners, late hours and the universal 
humbug and excitement of society." Others say 
it is the strain and stress of modern life, as if 
our ancestors who lived strenuous_ lives had no 
worries to fight. Old age, according to Vijna- 
neshwara, the author of the law book Mitak- 
shara, begins not earlier than 70, and a Shudra, 
he says, if he reaches the age of 80, must be re- 
spected by all. That shows what old age meant 
at one time in India, the climate of which we 
curse instead of cursing ourselves for our indis- 
cretions in life. We go to other climes for health 
and long life and become the fools whose eyes 
are on the ends of the earth. 

Hinduism is a creed of Fate, it is said j and 
to a large extent it is so, as we find it. But 
our law-giver Yajnyavalkya condemned fatalism 
as a wrong theory and practice of life- If a 
man reap in the present life the fruit of his 
actions of a previous life, it follows he can also 
reap the fruit of his present life here and now- 
For what means reaping in the present life the 
fruit of actions of a past life but reaping now 
the result of the voluntary effort of a past life? 
Man has paiirasham, manhood, the power to 
dare and do. Expanding that dictum of the 
great law-giver, his commentator Vijnanesh- 
wara, w'hose Mitakshara gives us our Hindu 
law, explains that a great deal depends on hu- 
man effort, as is evident from the facts of daily 
life, and that, if it were not so, if luck were 
everything and labour nothing, the science of 
medicine would be useless. 

Let us try this dictum with reference to the 
question of longevity, and hear the beat of 
the heart of Hinduism as to it. The saying is 
attributed to Henry Ward Beecher that a man 
ought to be ashamed of himself if he could not 
live to be 70. Manu, our Hindu law-giver, goes 
further. He would have said we ought to be 
ashamed of ourselves if we could not live to foe 
100. He observes that we can all live to be 
centenarians. Here is his text: "A man lives 
to be 100 years old, .even though 

he be devoid of distinguishing marks or quali- 
ties, if lie be a man of invariably good achara 
(conduct), has strong faith, and is free from the 
vice of fault-finding." 

A Story and a Moral. 

The force of this text hangs on the word 
achara, which has played for better and for 
worse an important part in the regulation of 
Hindu life, sacred and secular. Achara means 
good or righteous conduct, behaviour, or action. 
In the religious sense, it means ritual. An 
orthodox Hindu is an ultra ritualist the Brah- 
min especially. The rules prescribed for his 
daily life are laid down with minute particu- 
larityhow to rise, stand, speak, pray, sleep 
and so on as if he was at every step in dan- 
ger of contamination from the world- The 
orthodox Brahmin walking along a public road 
or in a private house will go about skipping as 
if he must avoid at every step anything likely 
to pollute him. Hence in certain parts of the 
Canarese country, Brahmins are called skippers, 
men who do not walk straight and steady but 
jump like frogs. The sight is rarely seen now 
in cities, but in villages it. is familiar ; and even 
in cities it is not absent. Go to Bhuleshwar or 
other places where genuine orthodoxy 
meets your eye! We laugh at this but 
before we laugh, let us look to the 
genesis of this skipping habit of the 
orthodox Brahmin. Dr. Turner, the Health 
Officer of Bombay, wants, in order to prevent the 
spread of tuberculosis, a law making it penal 
for persons to spit on public roads. In these 
days of liberty, such a law is not likely to be 
easily welcomed. But I presume the orthodox 
Hindu, _if he knows his Hinduism, must gladly 
accept it as helpful to his ritualistic sense. He 
skips as he walks because he is afraid of put- 
ting his feet on the spittle of people and getting 
contaminated. If he no longer skips, that is 
because the public road, being everybody's, has 
become nobody's, and the Brahmin, has learnt 
to spit like the Shudra. It is the comedy of caste 
all purity for the twice-born, and all impu- 
rity for the Shudra ; but the Shudra has taken 
his revenge and dragged down those who have 
kept him low. 

Spirit of Ancient Law. 

The rules of achara laid down for the Hindu 
are tediously minute, most of them seem to our 
modern sense grotesque, and many ridiculous. 
But they were laid down in the infancy of 
society, when its members, in the earlier stages 
of their evolution, had to be spoon-fed like 
children. We have got beyond that stage and 

24 . 

iieed not observe them literal,!/ 
or mostly. St. - Paul "-aid , < that 
fee who was born of the Spirit needed 
not the bond and fear of law to restrain him. 
So also the saints of the Bhakti school ,o| 
Hinduism, which'; emphasised the law of love 
as the bes^-and .^M*"- 1 "-*. worship and law ^ 
life,, hav&. .,-life of love of 

and Ma?> ' ae merit acquired ron -| 

observance ot n. .. rules of achara. BufjfT 
though the rules are out of date for us, theit^ 1 ' 
spirit remains and ^at spirit is the heart i|T 
Hinduism. The ruL_ -vere framed on tjife 
principle which, borroi, , substantially .|/ihe 
language of , our law-giver Yajnyavalkya ? and 
his commentator, Vijn?0fi|hwaf'a, might-- be 
summed up in these v*' 5 : ,, "Begin with th%. 
eare of thy body and? { ' ,^ with the cure -q$P 
thy soul."' ' fH f- 

That sums up the rules of achara prescribed 
for the householder^ or the honest citizen, fast- 
en your attention? on their leading lights. The 
householder must rise early in the Corning, 
for the early hoiirs of the morning, just wfln 
the shad'es of the darkness of night slowly 
give way to the light of day, are the hours Off 
Grod^BrahmaMuhurta), fit for communion and ^ 
meditation, ri because it is then that the gods ^ 
drink ambrosia, the nectar of Heaven. J| 
And it |' : is then man can gather up || 
his thoughts and steady himself by prayer to |f 
meet the work and worry of the day's life. M 
That is Sandhyfy a word which literally meanj^ 
"the bordering circle between the darknessiind 
the dawn;" and this rule of achara of ; Hin- 
duism reminds uss of what one of the -sweet 
singers of Christendom has said in pointing 
out that "all nations and all faiths of cuBi- 
yated men have chosen the twilight hour, moiga.^ 
ing and evening^ for their devotion." j^'ne 
rules of Hindu ^"bara are very particular 
about cleaning thv -dgth and bathing. > There 
is a ceremony (Y>""" C *"~ -r;^^.,.^ r .^.---- ^.vx 

teeth; it is callfl,-- ...,-. ; ''; ' 

lit has a hymn:"* ; 

used for cleani^j ;_'. , ;, 

life, strength, ^,,.. 
children, cattle, &<^ ; 
wisdom, insight." Why^ 
bark used for clea.ninj 

health and strength (JfV, ,, ,**.<*& 

medical science; and seei,,, . , '.. /i^i Europe - 
are waking up to be careful about their teeth. 
Then conies bathing "to bathe is to perform 
an act of high religious merit," says the -lead- 
ing text; and from Hindus Englishmen have 
borrowed the habit of daily bathing. Other 
nations in Europe are still backward but 
they too are slowly learning. "The wise ever 
bathe/' said and sang Guru Nanak. I will 


not 1 encumber this article with details on this- 
subject of the ^!iousehojlcler ? is . uchara or routine 
of life; but 'suffice it to say ihat it all comes 
to a careful exercise of the body: and mind as 
the, 5; ,,,raeans for the elevation of the Soul in 
"\0if> a well-ordered life of hard work and 
i Ire enjoyment, with ^ '- ->* /*,fvn+-H in the 
Supreme above and th. ( ted on 

t ^e earth below. 


lie Ruin of the Hindus 

1, &$? 

liv is a travesty of tb/ ,, ; irt of Hinduism to 
say 'that it treats- tK, ,,.;,, tidy as nothing, the 
soul as everything. ? -xnat teaching, counten- 
anced- by som Purairs? and bigoted priests, 
ha|ybeen the ruin Hindu. The Garuda 

-.^rana with all its aery strikes the true 

n % when it says thai, person can attain 
the four objects of life dnarma, artha, kama 
and moksha without the body and that there- 
fore Hhe body should be well preserved by pure 
livmg. Realising the value; of health to 
holiness, th Nandi Purana extols the philan- 
thlBpist whose charities are devoted to the 
erection of health homes and sanatoria for the 
benefit of the public. My friend, Sir Ehal- 
chandra Krishna, who has laid the.Hindu pub- 
, : ,#iic under deep obligations to him % means of 
|| the sanatorium for consumptives at ]arla, but 
| Whom the rich of the Hindu public) have yet 
'1|,to help for the success of th institu|ion, can- 
Xr snot do better than inscribe on its 1 portals the 
;sc|ent verse which says : "That manj who, 
chintably minded, gives money, 'for or erects sa- 
natoria, is th philanthropist; he has achieved 
the true purpose of life; he is sanctified." For 
realisation, of the Supreme Soul, man must 
thiipk and 1 act ; for pure and| strong thought 
' l^h comes of meditation (Yoga), there must 
be ferst purity and strength^ of body (satva 
shuddhi), and for that j>?"r/^ and strength 
there - must be the eating'- ii good and pure 
5 ' * 7 " " 't the teaching of 

. philosophers. 

Cleanliness is 

u of Hinduism 

is itself godli- 

J body leading to 

ing. That is the well- 

*or the householder 

jo fo u., apied mind, a seeking 

of pure .. ... pleasures, meditation in 

th small hours of the morning and in the 
evening all summed up in a righteous life. 

Club Life, 

We laugh at these old quaint rules of 
achara. Their spirit was for good and must 
be good- We die young, or, if we live long. 



we make -wrecks of ourselves because we neglect 
the* rules of achara. We are however wak- 
ing up to the pure needs of the body ; physi- 
cal exercises, rules of hygiene, are being 
understood. But the age with its light has its 
darkness too. Clubs, gymkhanas, social par- 
ties and' recreations these will save us only 
if we bear in mind that health means holi- 
ness. The present Bishop of London (Dr. In- 
gram) the other day said in his lecture on 
"Ideals" that when clubs were started to 
afford opportunities for healthy recreation and 
education, they often ended In cheap billiards, 
and led to exciting pleasures. Many 
a Hindu has been ruined that way, but 
I hope not many are being ruined now in point 
of body and mind. Back to the ancient high- 
way of Hinduism its Sadachara, the spirit, 
not the letter of its rules of a life of orderliness 
regulated by the light of what is best and in- 
spiring ias. the teachings of the modem West ! 

. Love the Law of Life. 

No religion is worth the name which has 
nob taken its stand on the rule that love is 
the law of life- The Cross stands for right- 
thinking men as the historic symbol of that 
law, and is the inspirer of modern civilisation. 
However much that civilisation may seem to 
fall short of its ideals, though, materialism ap- 
pears to obscure now and again the life and 
work of its spirit, the Cross of Christ is the 
light of advancing mankind. "Love the Lord 
thy God," and 'love thy neighbour as thyself," 
the immense truth of that law was proved to 
Carlyle by the trite example of an Irishwoman 
described by him. She, a poor destitute thing, 
living in a parish, went from door to door, 
asking for alms of the parishioners. All turn- 
ed her out; want and distress led to disease^ 
she caught the typhoid and died. And dying 
she gave the disease to the parishioners and 
the parish died with her. That is the pro- 
blem of life solved by the sacred words: "Love 
thy neighbour as thyself." What more do 
we want to make life worth living? 

A War of Words. 

How stands the heart of Hinduism as to 
that? What is its answer to that question? As 
in the world of Christianity, there has been 
a war of "words over such questions as "Is 
man saved by faith or by works?" so in the 
ranks of Hinduism, the battle has been fought 
over the question: "Is man saved by karma 
(action) or by Jnana (knowledge)." The con- 
troversy has raged for centuries, but man is 
more than controversy. God and Religion 
were before Reason began. Reason never 
created a religion, said Hegel, and that is true. 
The Hindu philosophers sought knowledge 
hoping to gain love from it. But the multi- 
tude were not saved by the logic-chopping 
faculty until there arose the school of Bhakti 
or Love which is represented by the 
teachings of the "Song Celestial," called the 
Bhagavad-Gita. Its doctrine is the same as 
that of "Love the Lord thy God; love thy 
neighbour as thyself," and might be aptly 
summed up in the words of Browning : 
"So let us say not, since we know we love, 
But rather, since we love, we know enough." 
The history of this Bhakti school forms the 
most bright page in the dark volume of the 
history of Hinduism. It sought to level up 
the masses; it tried to give knowledge to the 

Sfettdra ; it aimed at breaking the pride of 
the priest; and, as Mahar devotees say when 
they sing and praise God, the degraded castes 
of Hinduism, abandoned by the Vedas and 
the Shastras, despised by the twice-born, tr'eat- 
ed as the filth of the earth, would have been 
crushed out of existence t had not the saints 
of the Bhakti school come to their rescue. 
They live still the lowest but that they lire 
at all is due to the life and heart put into 
them by this Great Heart of Love of the 
Bhakti school which has the Bhagavad Git* 
for its Bible. 

The Doctrine of Love. 

The doctrine of Love as the fulfilling of all 
law is not absent from earlier teachings. For 
instance, after describing the four stages of 
life, the student, the householder, the ancho- 
rite and the ascetic, arid specifying the duties 
and symbols of each stage, Manu says that a 
man is not saved by his badge, meaning no man 
earns salvation by mere formal observance of 
the rules of any of the four stages ; and he puts 
his point neatly : "Not the external badge but 
tt is brotherliness which is the cause of dharma 
(duty)." Our other law-giver Yajnyavalkya fol- 
lows the same line. "In whatever ashrama or 
stage of life a man be, let him remember duty 
consists in sympathetic behaviour towards 
others." It is this doctrine which gradually 
developed into the religion of Love it assumed 
a precise shape in Buddhism and was taken up 
principally by the Bhakti school which pro- 
claimed that love of man leads to the love of 
God. We all know the legend about Buddha. He 
met once the Giant of -Hate. The latter drew 
his sword to kill Buddha and said : "Love 
shall yield to hate." Buddha replied : "Then 
I love even you." That subdued the Giant 
and he was turned into a dove, which ever 
afterwards hovered over the head of Buddha. 

According to the Bhakti school, which makes 
Duty (dharma) hang on the love of God and 
single-minded devotion to Him, God's devotees 
are threefold. (1). Those entirely absorbed in 
th'e contemplation of God and thinking of 
nothing else ; (2) those who, loving and con- 
templating God', help all their fellows without 
distinction as His- Children and suffer and 
sacrifice themselves for their sakes ; and (3) 
those who contemplate and love God but have 
not acquired the power of helping others. Thfc 
first and last are not the true devotees. It is the 
second class who are the most beloved of God 
those who carry their love of God into actual 
life and live for others by the faithful per- 
formance of duty in the spirit of self-sacrii- 
flee. It is they who become godlike. 

Failing of the School. 

This school of Love has indeed failed to raise 
Hindu society as Christianity has raised so- 
ciety elsewhere. The untouchables the pariah, 
the mahar, the tiyar and the treatment 
accorded to them form the standing 
disgrace of Hinduism. But the heart of 
Hinduism is sound, if we will only 
hearken unto its still small voice. Casto 
is the curse of India as it exists and has 
existed in its present form. And yet Hinduism 
worships Mahar Saints, and delights to tell 
how Suta, the reciter of Puranas, a chandala^ 
the most despised of castes, became by his 
life of devotion one of the worshipped of men. 
Suta was a child of a Shudra father and a 
Brahmin mother, and yet his devotion made 
him famous. Says he: "Happy do I feel to- 
day that, though the issue of a mixed marriage, 
yet by reason of the kind regard I have re- 
ceived from these revered elders, I congratulate 
myself upon my worthiness as a man. The 
privilege of converse with the great and good 
accorded to me has quickly removed the weight 
of low birth that lay heavy on my heart." 

And here let me conclude by illustrating my 
point by one of my interviews with my friend, 
Malhari the Mahar, with whom I have already, 
made my indulgent reader familiar. He was 
one day recounting to me his sorrows and 
struggles with tears in his eyes and 
concluded : "sorrow has been my share 
but it has been sweet." "Why?" I ask- 
ed and before Malhari answered, his 
wife, whose eyes were also wet, said: "Why 
but because there is He with us who seeketh 
us, sinners as we are!" When this was said 
I had for my companions two friends, a Chris- 
tian missionary and his wife. Those words of 
Malhari's wife struck the deepest chord of 
sympathy into the heart of my lady friend 1 
and she remarked: "That is the Christian idea 
of the lost sheep and the Great Shepherd 
God seeking sinners ! Where did this woman 
get that from?" We had no time to cross 
examine Malhari's wife then, because I was 
intent upion hearing him, not his wife. Eut 
next day when Malhari and his wife saw me 
again, my lady friend urged me to question 
the woman and find out how she had learnt 
that God seeketh sinners. "Bhagirathi, " 
I said, addressing Malhari's wife, "You spoke 
yesterday of God seeking sinners," (the ori- 
ginal words in Marathi were to ahena amha 
papyana dhoond toi"); "What did you mean? 
where did you learn that?" The woman was 
confused. She replied : "What do I an 
ignorant woman know?" Malhari came to her 
rescue. He explained that his "Vithya, mean- 
ing his God at Pandharpur was always with 

the sinner to correct him by his love and 

That idea of God seeking sinners is the 
central truth of the Bhakti school of Hin- 
duism. It lies undeveloped and obscure in 
the minds of millions of low caste Hindus, 
as we call them. But it is there, constituting 
the heart of Hinduism. 'And how darkened 
is that heart because of erring faiths and 
preposterous customs, which hold high as 

The Shastras. 

There are those now who say that social 
reform must be based on the Shastras. What 
are the Shastras? The suggestion is made 
that Government should appoint a Commission 
to determine the fundamental principles rf 
one portion 6f. the Shastras which constitutes 
Hind'u law. Commissions, says a proverb, are 
screens. In this case Commissions must 
necessarily prove confusion worse confounded. 
The Shastras themselves say : "Do not follow 
that which is contrary to the popular voice, 
even though the Shastras prescribe it." 
iVijnaneshwara, author of the Mitakshara, 
again and again cites that saying of the 
Shastras with unqualified approval. 'And the 
Parashara Smriti, which is held to rule Hin- 
duism in this age, tells us that whatever prevails 
in any particular age as the duty of the twiee- 
bom must not be condemned, because they, the 
twice-born, are the products of their age. Liter- 
ally translated, the text says : "they are Yuga 
rupa," which means that the twice-born castes 
of any particular age take their forms and 
usages, from their times. That means 
adapt yourself to the needs of the age and 
your environment ; do not be led by the letter 
of the Shastras, because men change with age. 
If in this age of commerce fo-f nations and 
elevation of the masses, we find that caste as 
it exists is a peril and that the treatment 
accorded to the untouchables is a sin socially 
and politically, we must hark back to the 
heart of Hinduism sounded by Vijnaneshwara 
and Parashara in Ithe manner noted above. 
"Universal Love is the law of life," that is 
at the bottom the keynote of_ that heart 
struck by nothing more musical in Hindu 
literature and religion than the beautiful 
Aryan couplet, of which that ever tto be re- 
membered of Oriental scholars, Sir William 
Jones, has remarked that ''written at least 
3>,QOO years before Christ, it "pronounces the 
duty of a good man, even in the moment of his 
destruction, to consist not only in forgiving 
but even in a desire of benefiting his destroyer, 
as the sandal tree, in the instant of its 
overthrow, sheds perfume on the axe which 
fells it." 

Printed and published by E. G. Pearson for the Proprietors 
of the Times Press, Bombay, 

~i ' 




APR 24 - 


APR I 9 


The heart of Hinuism 


\ ^-sv^*' yy C" 

U) *" Q . u 


? 4 


-<- > 

t- - ' , 1 T- - 

~1, - ^ -f v. ,' 

s- y 

754 712 


44 754 712