Imagens das páginas

Such be thy days.-O'er Coke's black letter page,
Trimming the lamp at eve, 'tis mine to pore;
Well pleased to see the venerable sage,
Unlock his treasur'd wealth of legal lore;
And I, that lov'd to trace the woods before,
And climb the hill a play mate of the breeze,
Have vow'd to tune the rural lay no more,
Have bid my useless classicks sleep at ease,
And left the race of bards to scribble, starve and freeze.
Farewell. When mildly through the naked wood,
The clear warm sun effus'd a mellow ray;
And livelier health propell❜d the vital flood,
Loitering at large, I pour'd the incondite lay,
Forgot the cares and business of the day,
Forgot the quirks of Lyttleton and Coke,
Forgot the publick storms, and party fray;
And, as the inspiring flame across me broke,
To thee the lowly harp, neglected long, I woke.


Theology of the Hindoos, as taught by Ram Mohun Roy.

THE Scriptures, or sacred books of the Hindoos, are called the Vedas. These books they suppose to have been written, and bequeathed to them, by their great legislator, Brama. They are in the Sanscrit language, and of very remote antiquity. The period in which they were written has not been ascertained. Interpolations, it is said, are found in various parts, which have made some suppose the books themselves to be of modern origin. It has, however, been decided by the learned, that, except these occasional interpolations, they are genuine, and very ancient.

These books contain the doctrines of the Hindoo religion. They are interpreted and taught by the Bramins. The language in which they are written is no longer spoken, and has been very little known till lately even in Asia. It was confined almost entirely to the Bramins, whose interest it was to keep the knowledge of it from the people. It was used by them solely in the offices of religion. While they alone understood the language in which their sacred books were written, they could interpret them as they chose, and exert an influence almost unlimited over the credulous and superstitious minds of the ignorant. The consequence was, they multiplied rites and ceremonies, increased the dignity of their offices by rendering them more necessary and important, and finally involved the worship of the followers of Brama in the grossest idolatries. Although the Vedas taught the existence, the unity, and overruling providence of a Supreme Being, and the propriety, if not the necessity of worshipping him as a being invisible and of pure intelligence; yet the Bramins carefully concealed this from the people, and insisted on the barbarous sacrifices and idol worship, which had been introduced and perpetuated by their order. Hence millions of people have been for many ages

systematically, and the greatest portion of them conscienciously devoted to a kind of worship most debasing in its effects, and which has a tendency to keep alive many of the worst passions, and encourage the worst vices.

A considerable excitement has lately been produced in India by the attempts of a very wealthy and learned native, named Ram Mohun Roy, to restore the pure doctrines of the Vedas. He has translated several chapters of these sacred books into the Bengalee language, and circulated them among his countrymen. The parts, which he has translated, are those, which treat of a Supreme Being, his character, and the worship he claims. These had been entirely overlooked by the Bramins. He seems to have just views of the absurd and wicked practices of his countrymen in their religious ceremonies, and a strong desire to wipe out so gross a stain in the human character. Already he is said to have many followers. Numbers, who knew nothing of the Vedas, except from the interpretations of their priests, are made acquainted with its true and most important doctrines. They have formed themselves into societies for the purpose of mutual improvement. Their influence is spreading, and strong hopes may justly be entertained of great and beneficial results.


We have before us three pamphlets published during the last eighteen months in Calcutta by Ram Mohun Roy. The two first are translations from the Vedas, with prefatory and introductory remarks. They were originally printed in Bengalee, but afterwards translated into English by the author. purpose to give such extracts from these pamphlets as may serve to make our readers somewhat acquainted with the present religious notions of the Hindoos, the pure doctrines of their sacred books, and the views and motives of the learned native, whom we have mentioned.

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Although born a Bramin,' he observes, and instructed in my youth in all the principles of that sect, being thorougly convinced of the lamentable errours of my countrymen, I have been stimulated to employ every means in my power to improve their minds, and lead them to the knowledge of a purer system of morality. Living constantly among Hindoos of different sects and professions, I have had ample opportunities of observing the superstitious puerilities into which they have been thrown by their self-interested guides, who, in defence of the law, as well as of common sense, have succeeded but too well in conducting them to the temple of Idolatry; and while they hid from their view the true substance

of morality, have infused into their simple hearts a weak attachment for its mere shadow. The chief part of the theory and practice of Hindooism, I am sorry to say, is made to consist in the adoption of a peculiar mode of diet, the least oberration from which, even though the conduct of the offender, may in other respects be pure and blameless. is not only visited with the severest censure, but actually punished by exclusion from his family and friends. In a word, he is doomed to undergo what is commonly called loss of cast.

On the contrary, the rigid observance of this grand article of Hindoo faith is considered in so high a light, as to compensate for every moral defect. Even the most atrocious weigh little or nothing in the balance against the supposed guilt of its violation. Murder, theft, or perjury, though brought home to the party by a judicial sentence, so far from inducing loss of cast, is visited in their society by no peculiar mark of infamy or disgrace. A trifling present to the Bramin, with the performance of a few idle ceremonies, is held as a sufficient atonement for all these crimes; and the delinquent is at once freed from all temporal inconvenience, as well as all dread of future retribution.

My reflections on these solemn truths have heen most painful for many years. I have never ceased to contemplate with the strongest feelings of regret, the obstinate adherence of my countrymen to their fatal system of idolatry, inducing, for the sake of propitiating their supposed deities, the violation of every humane and social feeling. And this in various instances ;-but more especially in the dreadful acts of self-destruction and the immolation of the nearest relations, under the delusion of conforming to sacred religious rites. I have never ceased, I repeat, to contemplate these practices with the strongest feelings of regret, and to view in them the moral debasement of a race, who, I cannot help thinking, are capable of better things;-whose susceptibility, patience, and mildness of character render them worthy of a better destiny. Under these impressions, therefore, I have been impelled to lay before them genuine translations of parts of their scripture, which inculcates not only the enlightened worship of one God, but the purest principles of morality-accompanied with such notices as I deemed requisite to oppose the arguments employed by the Bramins in defence of their beloved system. Most earnestly do I pray, that the whole may sooner or later prove efficient in producing in the minds of Hindoos in general a conviction of the rationality of believing in and adoring the Supreme Being only-together with a complete perception and practice of the grand and comprehensive moral principle-do unto others as ye would be done by. Translation of the Ishopanishad, Introduction, pp. 2—5.

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The author's great object seems to be, to do away the wor ship of idols, and introduce in its stead that of one Supreme Being. He begins, therefore, by making numerous quotations from the sacred books, showing, that the writers not only taught the existence and attributes of such a Being, but the proper mode of worshipping him. God is without figure, epithet, definition or description-he, who is the eternal Being, is God.' The vulgar look for their gods in water ; men of more extended knowledge, in celestial bodies; the ignorant, in wood, bricks, and stones; but learned men, in the universal soul.' The Supreme Spirit is one and unchangeable. He overspreads all creatures; is merely spirit, without the form either of any minute body, or of an extended one, which is liable to impression or organization. He is pure, perfect, omniscient, the ruler of the intellect, omnipresent, and self existent. He has from eternity been assigning to all creatures their respective purposes.' Many other passages similar to these might be selected, but these are sufficient to show that the notions of the Supreme Being, as expressed in the Vedas, are just, and calculated to lead the mind to true conceptions of his character and perfections.

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But notwithstanding the repeated mention in these books of one overruling Power, invisible and incomprehensible, Ram Mohun Roy acknowledges, they indeed declare the divinity of many gods and goddesses, and the modes of their worship.' But still he says there is no contradiction. The authors of the books themselves affirm repeatedly, that the directions to worship any figured beings are only applicable to those, who are incapable of elevating their minds to the idea of an invisible Supreme Being, in order that such persons, by fixing their attention on those invented figures, may be able to restrain themselves from vicious temptations, and that those, who are competent for the worship of the invisible God, should disregard the worship of idols.' He urges this point a good deal. In another place, after stating the doctrines of the Vedas relative to the unity of the Supreme Being, and also of a plurality of gods and goddesses, he goes on to say, that the worship of the sun and fire, together with the whole allegorical system, was only inculcated for the sake of those, whose limited understandings rendered them incapable of comprehending and adoring the invisible Supreme Being.' This is the only mode of interpretation, he thinks, by which the different parts of the Véds can be reconciled; and if they will not admit of this exVol. VI. No. 3. 50

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