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THIS is partly a reprint and partly an enlarged and amended version of some papers contributed by me to the National Oriental Congresses of Paris in 1897, and of Rome in 1899. The first section now headed, “Social and Personal," is in part a reprint of a paper contributed to the Oriental Congress of Rome under the title of “ The Religious Situation of the Hindu Society in India," while the second section is an enlarged version of the concluding portion of th at paper. The third section, headed "Philosophy,"is partly a reprint, with 30 ne additions and alterations of a paper contributed to the Oriental Congress of Paris ia september 1897, and published in their report, while its second portion is an elaboration of the concluding section of that paper. Section IV is an entirely new section.
The object of the publication is to present the teachings of Hinduism, as gathered fro n its most authentic and recognized sources, on all important phases of the social, religious and philosophic life of the Hindus, in a simple manner, free from unnecessary details, technicality, and all controversial matter, in order to induce modern Indians to approach their religion in a more appreciative and reverent spirit, and foreign thinkers to study it in a spirit of greater love and sympathy. The treatment is in no sense full or exhaustive, but I hope that with the present revival of Hinduism so noticeable in India, others possessing greater knowledge and wider opportunities for observation, will take up each of the subjects treated of in these pages in greater detail and do fuller justice to them than I have been able to do.
My studies of the Hindu S’astras in the original, my visits to many of the chief places of India and Europe, and my observation of the daily life of the Hindus have left upon me the deep impression that the future of this country lies neither with the outand-out revivalist, nor with the out-and-out iconoclast who would entirely alienate himself from the past, and would have Hindu Society remodelled according to methods of present Western culture. The latter mistake has been made in France, with the
result that the French are now less prosperous as a nation than they were before. On the other hand, I also feel that the Hindus cannot, like any other nation of the world, wait and let their social and religious institutions take care of themselves, nor claim perfection for all that is taught in the S'astras, ancient or modern. The only course, therefore, open to them, is to adopt ancient iostitutions to modern circumstances, retain so much of the old as is suited to modern times, and gradually make the necessary changes in the remainder. These, I believe, are the lines on which the best and most thoughtful of Indian reformers have moved in the past and are moving at present. I do not advocate the doctrines of any sect or cult of Hinduism, ancient or modern, but have only ventured to give a brief outline of Hinduism in its most catholic spirit, and feel that in spite of all differences of caste or sect, there is still much common ground upon which all Bindus could meet and work for their country's good. My advocacy of Sanskrit as the common national language of India for purposes of higher religious iastruction, and the improvement of the vernacula rs for conveying the same to the masses, will, I hope, bave the sympathy of not only my Hindu, but of my foreign readers also. On the other hand, in holding up Rama and Krishna, as described by their contemporaries, as rational ideals, ! feel almost sure of the reader's concurrence in the conviction that, without a human person or persoas to whom a nation could assimilate its life, it cannot be great. I have described both these heroes only as men, though the highest and the best men in India; and I think that, apart from the disputed question of their being incarnations of the Deity, their lives as men furnish the loftiest ideals for modern educated Indians to follow. I have, therefore, tried to show at some length what they really did as men, and not what they have been represented to be by their unwise admirers or by their adversaries. My advocacy of the Vedántic ideal of religion is based upon my deepest conviction that it has always been the religion of not only the hermit or the recluse, but of the wisest and the best men of India engaged in the busiest affairs of life, as well as of the wisest and the best of other countries also. The conditions of a country may largely influence the lives and character of its people, but human nature can be changed but little by extraneous circumstances, and I feel that, taking it as it is, the religion of the Vedanta
is as suited to modern times as when the Upanishads were taught by the Rishis in the forests, when the Institutes of Manu were promulgated, when the Mahabharata was recited by Vyása to his pupils and the Puranas written in his name by later writers, when Indian reformers, like Buddha, Sankara, Kabir, Nanak Chaitanya promulgated their respective cults, or Súr Dás sang of the greatness of Krishna, and Tulsi Dás of that of Rama. By far the largest portion of the quotations made in these pages is from the Mahábhárata, because it embodies the teachings of Hinduism on almost every important subject of religion and philosophy in the fullest, possible manner, and affords a complete picture of Hindu Society in the palmiest days of its civilization in a manner unparalleled by any history or epic, ancient or modern. In all cases the translations have been carefully made from or compared with the original. I, however, feel that in many places I have failed to do justice to the beauty or the terseness of the original, and hope that the reader will kindly remember that I am writing in a foreign language with which I am imperfectly acquainted, and which does not often admit of exact expression of Eastern thought, especially in its higher philosophic aspects. If these pages con tribute towards stimulating the study of Hinduism in a spirit o love and sympathy among their readers, my labours will be amply rewarded.
AGRA, December 1899.
THE favourable reception accorded to the first edition of Hinduism, Ancient and Modern, and the many kind notices both in the press as well as by scholars in and out of India, have encouraged me in bringing out a second anå greatly enlarged edition of the book. At the suggestion of several scholars some portions have been re-written, others greatly enlarged and much new matter added regarding the past and present religious and social condition of India. The book is now more than double the size of its predecessor. Of course, in any attempt to shw the past of a religion or society, you have greatly to depend upon books, which, in a country like India where historical observation has not always been as accurate in point of periods and dates as elsewhere, may be greatly tinged with the individual views of their authors, On the other hand, in attempting to describe the present, your observation may be defective or limited. I am fully conscious of both these defects. All that I claim is to describe Hinduism in the present and the past from recognized sources and as much of personal observation as I can command. I have also tried to keep clear of the too common tendency to belittle everything that cannot be traced to a Western source, or which has not met the approval of Western scholars, or to take everything contained in Sanskrit as gospel truth and every institution of Indian society as perfect.
To the Introductory chapter have been added papers on what is Hinduism, the Hindu idea of time and the chief sources of our religious literature. In the portion, “Social and Personal,'' the papers on Caste, the Sanskaras, and the Asramas have all been revised and greatly enlarged with reference to the statistics of the last census, the progress of reform in the various reform bodies in the country and the popular views on the subject. In the paper on the “Life of the Bindus in the Past as well as the Present,'' wome additional information has been given regarding the ways of our people and the causes of decay of our civilization. The por.
tion dealing with the Religions of India has been entirely re-cast with reference to the doctrines of the various religious sects, both ancient and modern, their attitude towards reform in the parent religion, the influence of their doctrines upon the lives of their followers, and their numerical strength as gathered from the latest figures. The accounts are necessarily very brief, but they will serve to indicate generally the line taken by their originators and followers in the direction of reform. In describing the popular Hinduism of the present day, attempt has been made to trace the history of the worship of some of the objects of worship of modern times, and how such worship can be purified. Some account of tbe religion of the masses as seen in everyday life and of their code of morality, has also been given. The creeds of the people vary in various parts of the country, but their code of morality, their objects and methods of worship, except in the wildest and most primitive parts, are similar in all parts of India. In the portion relating to Hinduism as illustrated in Practical life, much addi. tional information has been given regarding the lives and thoughts of those who ought to form the ideals of the nation now-a-days. The portion relatiog to Philosophy has been re-cast with reference to the doctrines of the various schools of thought in order to compare more fully with the Vedanta the last great system which ipfluences the thoughts and characters of the people of India, and is also finding its way largely in other parts of the world. The papers on the question of origin of the world, the various views about God, the individual soul, free-will, liberty, karma and the attainment of moska (release) have been added with a view to make the subject more complete. The chapter on · Life after Death" has been enlarged with reference to both the sastric and the popular as well as the view of European scientists on tbe subject. The last portion, headed “ Miscellaneous," contains papers on Truthfulness in modern Hindu society--Reform movements in ladia--the Indian Sidhu--the Badrikasrama and Practical reform in religious and social matters. Some of these papers were contributed to the East and West Magazine of Bombay. Others have been written for the purpose of this work. A most powerful and learned Introduction has been very kindly added by one of the worthiest and most earnest of India's sons, His Holiness Swami Rama Tiratha Ji Maharaja, M.A. The Swami is a graduate