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for trustworthy information on many obscure portions of Indian religious literature not yet examined by European scholars, and a hope that on my return, should health and strength be spared to me, I may have
I increased my powers of usefulness within my own province, and be enabled to contribute more than I have yet effected towards making England and India better known to each other, or at least towards making Oxford an attractive centre of Indian studies, and its lecturerooms, museums, and libraries sources of accurate knowledge on Indian subjects.
Oxford, October 1875.
TO THE FIRST EDITION.
THE present volume attempts to supply a want, the
? , existence of which has been impressed upon my mind by an inquiry often addressed to me as Boden Professor :-Is it possible to obtain from any one book a good general idea of the character and contents of Sanskrit literature ?
Its pages are also intended to subserve a further object. They aim at imparting to educated Englishmen, by means of translations and explanations of portions of the sacred and philosophical literature of India, an insight into the mind, habits of thought, and customs of the Hindūs, as well as a correct knowledge of a system of belief and practice which has constantly prevailed for at least three thousand years, and still continues
1 The volume is founded on my official lectures.
to exist as one of the principal religions of the NonChristian world 1.
It cannot indeed be right, nor is it even possible for educated Englishmen to remain any longer ignorant of the literary productions, laws, institutions, religious creed, and moral precepts of their Hindū fellow-creatures and fellow-subjects. The East and West are every day being drawn nearer to each other, and British India, in particular, is now brought so close to us by steam, electricity, and the Suez Canal, that the condition of the Hindū community-mental, moral, and physical — forces itself peremptorily on our attention, Nor is it any longer justifiable to plead the difficulty of obtaining accurate official information as an excuse for ignorance. Our Government has for a long period addressed itself most energetically to the investigation of every detail capable of throwing light on the past and present history of the Queen's Indian dominions.
A Literary survey of the whole of India has been recently organized for the purpose of ascertaining what Sanskrit MSS., worthy of preservation, exist in public and
1 See the caution, last line of p. xxxi, and p. 2. Although European nations have changed their religions during the past eighteen centuries, the Hindūs have not done so, except very partially. Islām converted a certain number by force of arms in the eighth and following centuries, and Christian truth is at last creeping onwards and winning its way by its own inherent energy in the nineteenth ; but the religious creeds, rites, customs, and habits of thought of the Hindūs generally have altered little since the days of Manu, five hundred years B. C. Of course they have experienced accretions, but many of the same caste observances and rules of conduct (āćāra, vyavahāra, see p. 217) are still in force; some of the same laws of inheritance (dāya, p. 270) hold good ; even a beggar will sometimes ask for alms in words prescribed by the ancient lawgiver (bhikshām dehi, Manu II. 49, Kullūka); and to this day, if a pupil absents himself from an Indian college, he sometimes excuses himself by saying that he has a prāyas-ċitta to perform (see p. 278, and Trübner's Report of Professor Stenzler's Speech at the London Oriental Congress).
Competent scholars have been appointed to the task, and the result of their labours, so far as they have hitherto extended, has been published.
Simultaneously, an Archæological survey has been ably conducted under the superintendance of Major-General A. Cunningham, and we have most interesting results published and distributed by the Indian Governments in the shape of four large volumes, filled with illustrations, the last issued being the Report for the year 1871–72.
An Ethnological survey has also been set on foot in Bengal, and a magnificent volume with portraits from photographs of numerous aboriginal tribes, called Descriptive Ethnology of Bengal, by Colonel Dalton, was published at Calcutta in 1872. This was preceded by a valuable guide to the Ethnology of India, written by Sir George Campbell
. Even an Industrial survey has been partially carried out under the able direction of Dr. Forbes Watson, who proposes that a new Museum and Indian Institute shall be built and attached to the India Office.
Moreover, Sir George Campbell caused to be prepared, printed, and published, during his recent administration in Bengal, comparative tables of specimens of all the languages of India—Āryan, Drāviļian, and aboriginal—the practical benefit of which requires no demonstration on my part.
But there are other official publications still more accessible to every Englishman who will take the trouble of applying to the proper authorities.
Those whose horizon of Eastern knowledge has hitherto been hopelessly clouded, so as to shut out every country beyond the Holy Land, have now a clear prospect opened out towards India. They have only to study the Report of the Moral and Material Progress and Condition of India during 1872–73, published by the India Office, and edited by Mr. C. R. Markham. At the risk of being thought impertinent, I must crave permission to record here an opinion that this last mentioned work is worthy of a better fate than to be wrapped in a blue cover, as if it were a mere official statement of dry facts and statistics. Its pages are full of valuable information on every subject connected with our Eastern Empire—even including missionary progress--and the carefully drawn maps with which it is illustrated are a
a highly instructive study in themselves. The revelation the Report makes of what is being done and what remains to be done, may well humble as well as cheer every thoughtful person. But emanating as the volume does from the highest official authority, it is in itself an evidence of great advance in our knowledge of India's needs, and in our endeavours to meet them, as well as an earnest of our future efforts for the good of its inhabitants.
The same must be said of Sir George Campbell's exhaustive Report on his own administration of Bengal during 1872–73. This forms a thick 8vo volume of about nine hundred pages, and affords a mine of interesting and valuable information!
Most significant, too, of an increasing interchange of Oriental and Occidental ideas and knowledge is the circumstance that almost every number of the Times newspaper contains able articles and interesting communications from its correspondents on Indian affairs, or records some result of the intellectual stir and ferment now spreading,
Another very instructive publication, though of quite a different stamp from the official documents mentioned above, is M. Garcin de Tassy's Annual Review (Revue Annuelle) of the literary condition of India, which is every year kindly presented to me, and to many other scholars, by that eminent Orientalist. It is delivered annually in the form of a discourse at the opening of his Hindūstāni lectures. Though it deals more particularly with the development of Urdū and other linguistic studies, it gives a complete and reliable account of the intellectual and social movements now going on, and of the progress made in all branches of education and knowledge.
as it has never done before, from Cape Comorin to the Himālaya mountains.
Another noteworthy indication of growing inter-community of thought between the East and West is the fact that every principal periodical of the day finds itself compelled to take increasing account of the sayings and doings—wise or unwise-of young Bengal, Madras, and Bombay. Our attention is continually drawn by one or another publication to the proceedings of native religious societies—such as the Brahma-samāj, Sanātana-dharmasamāj, Dharma-sabhā, &c. 1 — or to the transactions of literary and scientific clubs and institutions; while not unfrequently we are presented with extracts from vernacular journals?, or from the speeches of high-minded Hindūs, who occasionally traverse India, not as Christian missionaries, but seeking, in a spirit worthy of Christianity itself, to purify the Hindū creed and elevate the tone of Indian thought and feeling. All this is a sure criterion of the warm interest in Oriental matters now taking possession of the public mind in Western countries.
But still more noteworthy as an evidence of increasing personal intercourse between England and India is the presence of Hindūs and Muslims amongst us here. Many of the more intelligent and enlightened natives, breaking through the prejudices of caste and tradition that have
There appear to be two sections of the Brahma-samāj or Theistic society established in India. One clings to the Veda and seeks to restore Hindūism to the pure monotheism believed to underlie the Veda. These theists are followers of the late Rammohun Roy. The other society rejects the Veda and advocates an independent and purer theism. Its present leader is Keshab Candra Sen.
2 The increase in the number of journals and newspapers in the vernacular languages, conducted with much ability and intelligence by native editors, is remarkable. An Urdū and Hindi paper called Mangala-samūćāra-patra, printed and published at Besvān, by Thākur Guru Prasad Siph, is, through his kindness, regularly transmitted to me.