Imatges de pàgina


when so much that seems to us the outcome of a broken frame of body and an overwrought state of mind, contains nevertheless so much that is true and wise and beautiful. Protap Chunder Mozoomdar, who was fully aware that his friend was sidered by many, particularly by missionaries, as a self-deluded enthusiast, 'nay, as an impostor, gives us the following account of him when his influence was at its height. The Hindu saint,' he writes, “is now a man under forty, 'he is a Brahmin by caste, he is wellformed in body, but the dreadful austerities through which his character has developed appear to have permanently disordered his system, and inflicted a debility, paleness, and shrunkenness upon his form and features that excite compassion. Yet in the midst of this emaciation his face retains a fulness, a childlike tenderness, a profound visible humbleness, an unspeakable sweetness of expression, and a smile that I have seen in no other face. A Hindu saint is always particular about his externals. He wears the garua cloth, eats according to strict forms, refuses to have intercourse with men, and is a rigid observer of caste. He is always proud and professes secret wisdom. He is always a Gurugi, a universal counsellor, and dispenser of charms. This man, Ramakrishna, is singularly devoid of any such claims. His dress and diet do not differ from those of other men, except in the general negligence he shows towards both ; and as to caste, he openly breaks it every day. He repudiates the title of a teacher or Guru, he shows displeasure at any exceptional honour which people try to pay to him, and he emphatically disclaims the knowledge of secrets and mysteries.' This shows that he never was an occultist or esoteric Mahâtman. Mozoomdar declares that his religion was orthodox Hinduism, but, as it would seem, of a very strange type. He worshipped no particular Hindu deity. He was not a worshipper of Siva, of Vishnu, or of the Saktis. He would not even be considered as a professed Vedântist. And yet, according to Mozoomdar, “he accepted all the doctrines, the embodiments, the usages and devotional practices of every religious cult. Each in turn was infallible to him. He was an idolater, and yet most faithful and devoted in his meditations on the perfections of the one formless, infinite Deity whom he terms Akhanda Sach-chid-ananda, i.e. the indivisible, real, intelligent, and blissful. His religion, unlike the religion of ordinary Hindu Sådhus, did not mean much dogma, or controversial proficiency, or outward worship with flowers and sandal, incense and offerings. His religion meant ecstasy, his worship transcendental insight, his whole nature burnt day and night with the permanent fire and fever of a strange faith and feeling. His conversation was a ceaseless breaking forth of his inward fire and lasted for long hours. He was often merged in rapturous ecstasy and outward unconsciousness during the day, particularly when he spoke of his favourite spiritual experiences or heard any striking response to VoL, XL-No. 234


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them. Though he did not worship the Hindu deities in the ordinary
fashion, each of them was to him a force, an incarnate principle tend-
ing to reveal the supreme relation of the soul to that eternal and
formless Being who is unchangeable in his blessedness and light of

This last sentence does not convey any very clear meaning. What
Ramakrishna seems to have meant when he represented Siva, Krishna,
and other gods as helping to reveal the eternal and formless Being
could only have been the Vedânta doctrine, as explained by Râmânuga,
namely, that these gods and even the Lord himself, when conceived
as Creator and Ruler of the world (the Isvara), are only so many
forms or persons behind which the true Being (Brahman) must be
discovered ; that they are not real in the highest sense of reality, but
that nevertheless their phenomenal character derives some reality
from their being the transitory manifestations of the only true Being,
the Brahman without a second. Brahman alone is true, all else is
false.' Krishna, a god, according to our ideas, of very doubtful
antecedents, became to him the incarnation of bhakti, or loving devo-
tion, and we are told that while meditating on him, his heart full of
the burning love of God, the features of the Mahâtman would sud-
denly grow stiff and motionless, his eyes lose their sight, and while
completely unconscious himself, tears would run down his rigid, pale,
yet smiling face. His disciple says : Who will fathom the depth
of that insensibility which the love of God produces ? But that he
sees something, hears and enjoys when he is dead to the outward
world, there is no doubt. Or why should be in the midst of that
unconsciousness burst into floods of tears, and break out into prayers,
song and utterances, the force and pathos of which pierce through
the hardest heart, and bring tears to eyes that never wept before
through the influence of religion?'

I have given this description as I find it. I know I can trust the writer, who is a friend of mine and has lived long enough in England and in India to be able to distinguish between the language of honest religious enthusiasm and the empty talk of professional impostors. The state of religious exaltation as here described has been witnessed again and again by serious observers of exceptional psychic states. It is in its essence something like our talking in sleep, only that with a mind saturated with religious thoughts and with the sublimest ideas of goodness and purity the result is what we find in the case of Râmakrishna, no mere senseless hypnotic jabbering, but a spontaneous outburst of profound wisdom clothed in beautiful poetical language. His mind seems like a kaleidoscope of pearls, diamonds, and sapphires, shaken together at random, but always producing precious thoughts in regular, beautiful outlines. To our ears, no doubt, much of his teaching and preaching sounds strange, but not to Oriental ears, or to ears accustomed to the perfervid poetry of the East. Everything

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seems to become purified in his mind. Nothing, I believe, is so hideous as the popular worship of Kali in India. To Ramakrishna all that is repulsive in her character is, as it were, non-existent, and there remains but the motherhood of the goddess. Her adoration with him is a childlike, whole-souled, rapturous self-consecration to the motherhood of God, as represented by the power and influence of woman. Woman in her natural material character had long been renounced by the saint. He had a wife, but never associated with her. Woman,' he said, 'fascinates and keeps the world from the love of God.' For long years he made the utmost efforts to be delivered from the influence of woman. His heartrending supplications and prayers for such deliverance, sometimes uttered aloud in his retreat on the riverside, brought crowds of people, who bitterly cried when he cried, and could not help blessing him and wishing him success with their whole hearts. And he succeeded, so that his mother to whom he prayed, that is the goddess Kali, made him recognise every woman as her incarnation, and honour each member of the other sex, whether young or old, as his mother. In one of his prayers he exclaims : 'O Mother Divine, I want no honour from man, I want no pleasure of the flesh; only let my soul flow into Thee as the permanent confluence of the Gangâ and Jamunâ. Mother, I am without bhakti (devotion), without yoga (concentration); I am poor and friendless. I want no one's praise, only let my mind always dwell in the lotus of thy feet.' But what is the most extraordinary of all, his religion was not confined to the worship of Hindu deities and the purification of Hindu customs. For long days he subjected himself to various kinds of discipline to realise the Mohammedan idea of an all-powerful Allah. He let his beard grow, he fed himself on Moslem diet, he continually repeated sentences from the Koran. For Christ his reverence was deep and genuine. He bowed his head at the name of Jesus, honoured the doctrine of his sonship, and once or twice attended Christian places of worship. He declared that each form of worship was to him a living and most enthusiastic principle of personal religion; he showed, in fact, how it was possible to unify all the religions of the world by seeing only what is good in every one of them, and showing sincere reverence to every one who has suffered for the truth, for their faith in God, and for their love of men, He seems to have left nothing in writing, but bis sayings live in the memory of his friends. He would not be a master or the founder of a new sect. “I float a frail half-sunk log of wood through the stream of the troublous world. If men come to hold by me to save their lives, the result will be that they will drown me without being able to save themselves. Beware of Gurus!'



THERE may possibly be two opinions as to the course that Lord Salisbury has taken in making public the correspondence with the Government of the United States, in an intermediate stage, while negotiations are still pending. It may be said by some that both the petty question (and it will be ridiculous or criminal if it ever becomes more than a petty question) of Venezuela, and the great question of a general treaty of obligatory arbitration in all or some classes of dispute between ourselves and the United States, are matters which the executive power should deal with on its own responsibility, and should make up its own mind without seeking outside counsel in the middle of the voyage as to the tack on which they would do best to sail. We have need to know,' Lord Salisbury explained to the House of Lords (July 17), 'what is the trend of public opinion on these matters. We desire, in a question which is certainly not one of party, that the best intellects that we have on both sides should apply themselves to a matter that affects the welfare of the human race in a singular degree, and especially the good relations of a State with which we so desire to be on good terms as the United States of America. Therefore we have laid the papers on the table, and we hope to derive from such attention as noble lords on both sides of the House may devote to them, much guidance with respect to the subsequent conduct of the negotiations that we have to pursue.' All this would have made Lord Palmerston and the Foreign Office of his day gasp with horror, and I do not know that one could pay Lord Salisbury a higher compliment.

The Prime Minister would hardly have taken this unusual though perfectly defensible step, or have invited public discussion of negotiations still pending, unless he believed that the two governments were approaching pretty closely within sight of one another, and that public discussion would supply whatever momentum may be required for overcoming the obstacles that still remain. The papers themselves confirm this impression. They deal with two matters-first, the dispute with Venezuela, and second, proposals for å general scheme of arbitration, which the question of the Venezuelan

that a

boundary brought once more into prominence. On the first of these issues, as can easily be shown, the difference between the British and American Governments has become so narrow, rupture would be preposterous and intolerable. On the second, though the principles at stake go deeper, and demand a wider survey, yet things have advanced far enough to justify Mr. Olney's hope in the closing despatch of the series (June 22) that 'persistent effort in the line of the pending negotiations will have results which, if not all that the enthusiastic advocates of international arbitration anticipate, will be a decided advance upon anything heretofore achieved in that direction.'

In spite of the promising aspect of either of the two questions, Lord Salisbury's speech, his publication of the papers, and the papers themselves, all indicate that, both in the narrower and the broader · issue, a miscarriage of the event is still possible. This would not be the first time in history that a favourable moment had been allowed to pass; that an indolent assumption that things were sure to turn out well, was the very circumstance that ensured their turning out ill; that an excessive fear of a too rapid or summary decision ended in smothering the whole faculty of decision; and that an easy-going trust in Providence and a fatalistic confidence in the wisdom of Downing Street lulled the nation into a slumber from which they awoke to find a very disagreeable storm whistling about their ears.

What is important for us at the present hour is that as many people as possible in this country should know both plainly and precisely how matters stand between ourselves and the American Government, what position is taken by Lord Salisbury and what by Mr. Olney, and what are the definite points on which the Prime Minister desires to ascertain the trend of public opinion.' Whatever

may be said for it or against it, we must bear in mind that the American position on the question of Venezuela is not affected by proposals for a general scheme of arbitration. The American Government stands in that matter just where it stood before. Writing so late as the 12th of June, Mr. Olney says with some emphasis : 1

I deem it advisable to recall attention to the fact that, so far as the Venezuela boundary dispute is concerned, the position of this Government has been plainly defined, not only by the Executive but by the unanimous concurring action of both branches of Congress. A genuine arbitration issuing in an Award, and finally disposing of the controversy, whether under a special or a general Treaty of Arbitration, would be entirely consistent with that position, and will be cordially welcomed by this Government. On the other hand, while a Treaty of General Arbitration providing for a tentative decision merely upon territorial claims, though not all that this Government deems desirable or feasible, might nevertheless be accepted by it as a step in the right direction, it would not, under the circumstances, feel at liberty to include the Venezuelan boundary dispute within the scope of

1 Enclosure 3 in No. 24.

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