John Wilson.

A second exposure of the Hindu religion : in reply to Narayana Rao of Satara, including strictures on the Vedanta online

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Online LibraryJohn WilsonA second exposure of the Hindu religion : in reply to Narayana Rao of Satara, including strictures on the Vedanta → online text (page 1 of 11)
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" Oh ! bid the patient Hindu rise and live.
His erring mind that wizard lore beguiles,
Clouded by priestly wilei,
To Bpnseleea nature bows, for nature's God."

Sir W. Jones.











P R E I A C E.

The work to which the following pages are
a rejoinder, was lately published in Bombay.
It bears the English title of '' A Reply to the
Rev. Mr. Wilson's Exposure of Hinduism ;"
and the Marathi signature of Svadeshadharmd-
bhimani, or \u Espouser of his Country's Re-
ligion. A copy of it was brought to me some
months ago by my old antagonist Mora Bhatta
Dandekara; and he declared to me that he
approved of it, and had acted as its editor.
On perusing it, I perceived that it correspon-
ded with a manuscript tract which had been
sent to my friend R. C. Money, Esq. by Nar-
ayana Rao, the English teacher in the Semi-
nary established by His Highness the Raja
of Satara; and, on inquiry, I found that this
individual was its author. Though, as I have
learnt, it is not satisfactory to the more intel-
ligent natives, I have thought it right to reply
to it. This, I have been the more induced
to do, because it has afforded me an opportu-
nity of considering several topics, especially
connected with the Vedanta, or esoteric system
of the Hindus, to which the pamphlet of Mora


Bliatta did not particularly direct my atten-
tion, and of thus enabling me to animadvert,
to a greater or less extent, on all the most im-
portant subjects which are the grounds of
discussion between the Hindus and Christians.
In the course of the argument which I have
pursued, I have been led to make some stric-
tures on the writings of Rama Mohana Roy.
The sentiments of this remarkable character,
have been much misunderstood. No person,
however, who possesses the slightest acquaint-
ance with the Vedanta, will fail to perceive in
his pamphlets the advocacy of its grossest
pantheism. The Reform w hich he desiderated,
if obtained even in its highest degree, would
deprive the more intelligent Hindus of their
idols ; but leave them in a state little superior
to that of Atheism. Gymnosophy, even in its
most refined forms, can contribute nothing to
the effectual amelioration of man in this life ;
and it affords nothing but the prospect of
dreary absorption after death.

Though it is my persuasion, that Hinduism

" ^ as dark as witch'ries of the nigbt,

Was formed to harden hearts and shock the sight,"

I have endeavoured, when exposing it, to write
of it with feelings of Christian kindness to its
unhappy votaries. Nothing but a regard to
their welfare in time and eternity, has induced
me to take up my pen ; and I beg of them to
continue to extend credit to me, and my feU


low-labourers, for the benevolence of our in-
tentions, and to believe that any thing which
is inconsistent with the deepest charity, is not
what we would for one moment seek to defend.
While I have attemp-ted to turn the Hindus
from their idols, I have also endeavoured to
lead them to the service of the living God, and
the embracement of the salvation of his Son
from heaven. The contrast which I have pur-
sued between Hinduism and Christianity, will
not, I trust, be without its use to candid in-
quirers, and even to those Christians, who
may have been accustomed to survey their
own inheritance without casting their eye over
the dark places of the earth, where Satan's
right to empire has scarcely yet been dispu-
ted. It may lead them, with an intensity of
gratitude, which they may never hitherto have
experienced, to adopt the language of the
Psalmist, "Their sorrows shall be multiplied
that hasten after another god: their drink of-
ferings of blood will I not offer, nor take up
their names into my lips. The Lord is the
portion of my inheritance and of my cup: thou
maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto
me in pleasant places ; yea I have a goodly

For my former little work, there was a much
greater demand among the natives, than even
my experience of their readiness to engage in .
religious discussions, led me to expect. Many


copies were purchased by them; and, in some
instances, perused with good effects. Several
natives have assured me, and some of my cor-
respondents, that it has proved the occasion
x)f destroying their confidence in the reUgion
of their fathers. To all the well-wishers of
the natives who interested themselves in the
circulation of both its Marathl and English
editions, and especially to the friends who
have translated, or proposed to translate, parts
of it into some of the dialects in use in places
remote from this Presidency, I return my
trordial thanks. Their unsolicited, but kind,
exertions, have afforded me the greatest en-
<:ouragement in the prosecution of my labours.
To several friends, I am indebted for the
loan of several Sanskrita M. 5!.S., which were
not in my possession, and which I have used
for enabling me to judge of the fidelity of ex-
isting translations, and opinions, and correctly
to make some original extracts. It was my
intention, at one time, to have quoted more
liberally from the Upanishads than I have
done. The inspection of a great number of
them, led me to perceive, that while they a-
bound in metaphysical errors, there is a great
accordancy in the few principles which they
respectively unfold, and to which attention
should be particularly directed.

J. W.

Bombay. Oct. 1834.


When I published the Exposure of the
Hindu Religion, in reply to Mora Bliatta Dan-
dekara, I expressed the hope, that I should
be ready, at any time, to answer "what might
be said in reply. I did this, because I was
convinced, that, on all the essential points
which had passed before my notice, I had de-
clared nothing but the truth; and, because I
was persuaded, that any attempts which might
be made to defend Hinduism, would prove
only the occasion of a fuller and more dis-
tinct exhibition of its errors, and might issue,
through divine grace, in the embracement of
Christianity by those who might make them,
or by those who might witness them. Enter-
taining these sentiments, I was by no means
sorry when I heard that a reply to my work
was published. I considered, that whatever
mioht be its nature, and whatever the abilitv
with which it was written, it would iadirectlv


advance the cause which I have at heart; and
that the discussion of its merits, would serve
to destroy some of the refuges to which su-
perstition hetakes itself in the hour of its

On perusing the tract of "The Espouser
of his country's Faith," I found, that no direct
attempt was made to remove any of the many,
and serious objections, which I have urged
against Hindiiism. The fact proved inter-
esting to my mind; and, considering the edu-
cation which my opponent has received, and
the spirit with w^hich he w'rites, I could not
avoid coming to the conclusion, that to the
badness of the cause of Hinduism, and to no
want of will to support it, the circumstance
is to be attributed. My convictions took this
turn, notwithstanding the apparent contempt
for my opinions which is expressed, wdien it
is declared, that " the Padre would have got
his doubts (on the subject of Hinduism) solved
by applying to any very learned individual.'
They were confirmed, by my observing, that
my opponent is anxious to make his reader
believe, that I am actuated by "no other mo-
tive than that of leading people to apostacy,
by conquering them through much speak-
ing, and inveigling them into a snare ;" by
my observing that impressions unfavourable
to Hinduism are extensively spreading in
consequence of the discussions which have


lately taken place ; by my knowing that sev-
eral attempts to write a reply to me had been
in vain made ; and by my perceiving that Nar-
Ayana Rao would never have satisfied himself,
when professing to reply to me, with indirect
and obscure arguments, had he been able to
use others of a different kind. Nothing is a
greater proof of weakness, than boasting when
action is required.

Narayana Rdo, in the introduction to his
tract, expresses his disapprobation of my re-
mark: — ''The generality of mankind, in this
country in particular, make little or no inqui-
ry on the observances of religion. They regu-
late their practice on the faith which they
repose on the words of their parents, and the
doctrines of their priests." He informs us that
the observation has no particular application
to the Hindus; and that it extends with all its
force to Christians. I must be allowed to
express a different opinion. While it is a fact
that Christians do use, as is incumbent on
them, their parents and their teachers, as
helps in the acquisition of knowledge, they
are far from resting their faith on these pa-
rents and teachers. Such of them as are
worthy of the name which they bear, are able
to give a reason of the hope which is in them.
They are all commanded in the Bible to read
and study it. They are encouraged to exam-


ine the evidences of Christianity, and to weigh
them with the greatest attention. They point
to works written by men of the greatest talent
and learning, in which all the objections of
infidels are removed, and which are entitled
to command the assent of every candid mind.
Very different indeed, is the state of matters
among the Hindus. Ham Mohan Roy, one
of the most ingenious defenders of Hinduism,
makes the following remarks in reference to
its votaries: — " The greater part of Brahmans,
as well as of other sects of Hindus, are quite
incapable of justifying the idolatry which they
continue to practice. When questioned on
the subject, in place of adducing reasonable
arguments in support of their conduct, they
conceive it fully sufficient to quote their an-
cestors as positive authorities !"* The com-
mon people every-where declare, that they
know nothing of Hinduism independently of
what is told them by their parents and their
teachers. They are not permitted either to
read or listen to the Vedas. They must view
the Brahmans as the mouth of God with regard
to them on the most dreadful penalties. They
must, if they happen to contradict them, fall

* Arc the Ved^ntist's to whom the Rijd prided himself on belong-
ing a whit more able to give a reason of the hope, or rather of the
doubt, which is in them? One of the most learned of their number
lately declared to me, that it never was intended by God, that the reli-
gious profession of any one class should appear reasonable to another.

prostrate before tliem, and lliiis make an atone-
ment for the expression of their own senti-
ments. They must, if they imagine ought
against a Brahman have "hot lead" accor
ding to Manu, " poured down their throats."
They are thus in a great degree prevented
from thinking for tliemselves. The " Gods
upon eartli" are now-a-days scarcely in a bet-
ter situation. Though they are permitted to
read, they are scarcely permitted to reason.
One of their most approved maxims is a pas-
sage of the Gita : —

" One's own religion, though worthless, is bet-
ter than the religion of another, however well
instituted (or followed:) one's own religion is
profitable at death, whilst that of another bear-
eth fear.'* The Hindu religion may be char-
acterized as averse to investigation. The
words of Christ, "Every one that doeth evil
hateth the lisrht, neither cometh to the liiiht
lest his deeds should be reproved," may be
considered as an explanation of the attempt

* This verse is thus translated by the learned Sir Charles Wilkins : —
" A man's own religion, though contrary to, is better than the faith of
another, let it be ever so well followed, &c." Vigiina cannot, how-
ever, bear the interpretation which is put upon it. In Professor H.
H.Wilson's lexicon, it is thus rendered: — "Void of all qualities.
Bad, worthless, having no merit,"


which was made by its framers to preserve
its books ill darkness. I hope that the time
is fast approaching, when men shall individu-
ally examine its claims, and appear resolved
to yield their assent to nothing connected with
religion which does not appear to them to be
consistent with the dictates of eternal truth.

Narayana Rdo represents me as coming to
the conclusion, that the Hindu Religion is false,
from the general truth stated by Mora Bliatta,
that "all men are naturally stubborn, sinful
and ignorant." The assertions whichhemakes
on this subject are founded in error. I do not
say, as he represents the matter, that "all
men are naturally stubborn, sinful, and igno-
rant and therefore the Hindd religion is false;"
but I say that "all men are naturally stub-
born, sinful, and ignorant, and hencey it is not
to be wondered at, that many persons should
be found conducting themselves according to
a false religion; that they should imagine
that by that religion they should be saved ;
and that they should shew no disposition to
enter into the true religion."* I would attri-
bute the misquotation which has been made
of my remark to inadvertence, and not to wilful
perversion; but I would remark, that in all
religious discussions, the effort should be made
to avoid misrepresentation.

* Exposure of Ilind^ilsin. p. 30.


Having made these observations on the
introduction to Nar^yana llao's tract, I now
proceed to consider the arguments which he
has adduced with the view of supporting the
cause which he has espoused. They may be
briefly stated as follows. The different Reli- ,
gions which are prevalent in the earth agree
in all essential points. To all of them res-
pectively seeming objections may be stated.
The solution of the objections which maj^ be
urged against Christianity, involves the solu-
tion of the objections which have been urged
against Hinduism. With respect to these ar-
guments, I go to issue with him.

In order to prove that the essential and
principal doctrines of the various religions
agree with one another, Nar^yana Kao has
constructed the following table of alleged

The one God is the The one God is the
Lord. Lord.




Imperceptible and in-
describable inform.

He is to be known by Omniscient.

his disposition and

properties. Omnipotent.




Modes of Worship.

Lord of the Universe

Modes of Worship.

Merit, enjoyment, li-

"All people," he observes, "who reckon
that their religion is ordained by God, observe
these essential principles, and forsake them

It will be observed that Narayana Rao, in
giving this illustration of his sentiments, does
not attempt to prove their correctness. It
was incumbent upon him, however, to have
done this, because I had directly stated my
opinion in opposition to his view in the fol-
lowing terms. " It is a fact that the different
religions prevalent in the earth are, in gene-
ral, directly opposed to one another in their
essential principles. Some of them exalt God ;
others evidently and directly dishonour him.
Some of them are Monotheistic; others are
Polytheistic. They give opposite accounts
of the character and attributes of God. Some


of them declare that he was at first destitute
of qualities; others that he is unchangeable
in his nature, and that from the beginning he
possesses every excellence. Some of them
teach that he never can sin; others that he
has sinned, but cannot be charged with ini-
quity. Some of them declare that he is accep-
tably worshipped by images; others, that idol-
atry is the abominable thing which he hates.
They give contradictory statementsof the cre-
ation, and duration of the world, and the vari-
ous changes which have taken place upon it.
Their accounts of men are of a conflicting
kind. Some of them declare that the soul of
man is a part of God; others, that it is quite
distinct from the divinity. Some of them
teach that mankind are pure at birth ; others
that they are sinful from the commencement
of their existence. Some of them recognize
the system of caste ; others ascribe the same
origin to men, and declare that God requires
all men to love one another as brethren. Some
of them declare that men can work out a righ-
teousness of their own ; others, that they must be
indebted for salvation entirely to div ine grace.
In some instances, they teach that the soul of
man has its state unalterably fixed at death ; in
others, they inform us that it will pass through
a multitude of births. Each of them indi-
vidually declares that the others are false."*

* Exposure, p. 102, &c.


It certainly appears strange to me, that
Narc'iyana Rao, with these remarks before
him, ai.d with tlie statement respectino- the re-
proach of the Divine Being by the aceoimts
which are given in the Hindu rebgion of Brah-
ma, Vishnu, and Shiva, could have satisfied
himself with a mere assertion. 1 cannot avoid
the conclusion, that he clearly saw that any
attempt to reason on the subject would be
attended with a complete failure; and I can-
not with-hold the conviction, that a further
Exposure of the Hindu Religion, in connec-
tion with the subjects to which he only adverts,
cannot but be profitable.

In entering on this subject, I make a general
remark to which the Hindus n ay find it advan-
tageous to attend. Men have received from
God a religious constitution, and certain reli-
gious endowments, which are addressed by tlie
works of God, and the providence of God ; and
they cannot altogether avoid forming some re-
ligious opinions, and cherishing some religious
feelings. The iii»ht of Nuture gives them
valuable instruction respecting the existence,
character, and providence of God, and the na-
ture, duty, and destiny of man; and, connected
with these subjects, they not unfrequcntly pos-
sess some traditionary information. The voice
of conscience pleads within them for truth and
righteousness. It is consequently to be ex-


pcctetl, that among all the nations of the vvorUl
there should be some accordance in certain re-
ligious principles. This accordance, liowever,
can never reconcile the difterentand conflicting-
accounts of God and man which are contained
in books respectively professing to be given by
inspiration of God. The inference to be drawn
from these dittereneeSj is, that some of the
books have not come from God. He must ever
declare the truth. His statements must ever
be consistent with one another.

When we compare two objects together,
with the view to form an estimate of their res-
pective importance, we must dwell on the points
in which they differ from one another, as well
as on those in which they resemble one ano-
ther. I shall illustrate this principle by put-
ting a plain case. Suppose that any individual
were to declare that a monkey is as important
as Nurayana Rao; and to construct a table of
resemblances to prove his assertion, he would
undoubtedly expose himself to universal deri-
sion. Were he to say, that Narayana Rao and
the monkey had each one head, one mouth,
one tongue, two eyes, a skin, the faculty of eat-
ing and walking, &c; and were he to maintain,
in consequence of these resemblances, that in
all essential points they were the same, he
would, if the folly of his remark would permit
an answer to be given at all, be immediately
told, that he had overlooked the most impor-


taut points^, and particularly the mental and
moral consfitutioii of Nurayana Rao, which
exalts him immensely above the object to
which he was compared.

Nai ayana Rao has proceeded exactly on this
principle in his comparison of Hinduism and
Christianity. He has confined his attention
to what appeared to be resemblances, and he
has overlooked the striking' differences whicli
exist. I shall now shew, that, in every one of
the points to which he adverts, Hinduism is not
only opposed to Cin'istianilyj but even to reason.

I. I begin with what is said respecling the
Character of God.

The Christian Scriptures^ in the accounts
which they give of the Character of God, and
which are to be found in a great variety of
places, and in a great variety of forms, exhibit it
in a very peculiar, and strikingly glorious, man-
ner. Tiiey inform us, in opposition to all the
speculations of Polytheists, that "the Lord
our God is one God," who is '' from everlasting
to everlast ing/' the '''same yesterday, to-day and
for ever," and " with whom there is no variable-
ness, neither shadow of turning." They attri-
bute to him, both by direct language and by
the ascription of glorious works, every perfec-
tion which we can imagine. They speak of
him as a "Spirit;" and, instead of confounding
him, like other ancient books, with his works


around us^ and reprcscntinii' them as part of his
substance, and assignuig' to hiin a local habita-
tion, they rcpreseut him an calliui;" them into
existence, by his povveiTul energy and word,
to which nollung- is impossible, and to which
nothing- is difficult, as filling heaven and earth,
and as being' every wliere present. They
speak of him as omniscient, as knowing the
thoughts and intents of man, as intimately ac-
quainted with all his ways, and cs inspecting*,
direct inij, and observing every object which
exists. They speak of him as holy in his na-
ture, his name, his word, and his works ; as inca-
pable of committing sin, or encouraging sin,
cr of allowing it to pass without the manifesta-
tion of its opposition to his pure nature. ''He
is the rock," say they, ''his work is perfect ;
for all his ways are judgement : a God of truth
and without iniquity, just and right is he."
They speak of him as good, by declaring, that
he " is good to all; and his tender mercies are
over all his works," and by extolling him as
*' the Lord God merciful and gracious, long-
suffering, and abundant in goodness and in
truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression and
sin." They speak of him as the Universal
King and Governor, as saying " I, even I, am
He, and there is no God with me: I kill, and I
make alive; 1 wound, and 1 heal: neither is
there any that can deliver out of my hand;"
as doino- according to his will in the armies of


heaven^ and amon^^ the inliabitants of the
earth; and as glorious in holiness^ fearful in
praises, doing wonders." They speak of him
as the universal Judge, \vho is '"just and true
in all his ways," and *^'who will render unto
every man accordin'j^ to his works " They
give, in short, an account both of his moral and
natural attributes which accords with reason,
at the same lime that it surpasses its discovei'-
ies; and, instead of degrading his perfections
by the acts and providence which they attri-
bute to him, as is the case in all other books
which profess to be a divine revelation, they
greatly exalt them. They are thus peculiar.
It has beeii found difficult to describe a perfect
character amouii' men. How much more dif-
ficult must it be to describe without error, the
perfect and infinitely glorious character of God
himself, and to preserve consistency, with
that character, in the accounts of the great and
multifarious works ascribed to him ! In the
view of these circumstances, we are compelled
to admit, that the writers of the Bible were
divinely insi)ired, aiid that it is indeed the
word of God.

Different, indeed, notwithstanding the asser-
tion of Nartiyana Rao, is the case with regard
to tlie Hindu Shastras. They ldasj)heme the
divine Being in regard to every one of the par-
ticulars to wl^ch he adverts as proving their


agreement with the Bible. This proposition
I shall illustrate under several heads.

1. In the Jirst place, the Hindu Religion is

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Online LibraryJohn WilsonA second exposure of the Hindu religion : in reply to Narayana Rao of Satara, including strictures on the Vedanta → online text (page 1 of 11)