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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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ing ysic physical growth as to endanger bodily health or

even life itself. The attention of the youth of the
country has already, thanks to the Physical Training and Field
games Association, been drawn to those healthful and recreative
exercises and field-sports which will give the body the vigour and

1890.~J8ai Bahadur P. RanganadJia Mudaliyar.

the elasticity required to undergo without injury to severe mental
effort. It is said that " all work and no play makes Jack a dull
boy." Of the Hindu boy, it will be truer to say that all work
The art of an< ^ no P^ ma kes him a feeble boy. Hindu boys,
"losing time all but a few excepted, need still to be taught tho
wisel y-" art of "losing time wisely." With a variety of

examinations to pass, with the high-pressure methods of impart-
ing instruction in vogue, and 'with a hereditary aptitude for
conning things by heart, the Hindu youth is sorely tempted tc
pore over his books day and night, forgetting that he has a
bodily frame to build up as well as a mind to stock with know-
ledge. Such utter disregard of physical health out of excessive
anxiety to cultivate the mind must produce the most disastrous
results, feebleness, want of spirits, functional derangement,
premature arrest of bodily growth, if not death itself. " This
over-education/ 3 says Herbert Spencer, " is vicious in every'way,
vicious as giving knowledge that will soon be forgotten ;
vicious as producing a disgust for knowledge; vicious as
neglecting that organization of knowledge which is more impor-
tant than its acquisition ; vicious as weakening or destroying
that energy without which a trained intellect is useless ; vicious as
entailing that ill-health for which even success would not com-
pensate, and which makes failure doubly bitter."

I may, in this connection, exhort you and the like of you to
remember that on you devolves tho duty of diffus-

Dmuse know- . .. J ' .

ledge among mg among your countrymen true notions concerning

your country, natural objects and natural forces. There is much
truth in the familiar couplet :

" How small of all that human hearts endure,
That part which kings or laws can cause or cure."

Much the greater part of human misery is due to ignorance,
ignorance in regard to the properties of the things around and
about us, ignorance in regard to the character of physical
forces, ignorance of the invariable sequences of cause and effect
in the realm of nature. Let it be known to the many as it is
now known to the few that "pestilences will take up their
abode only among those who have prepared unswept and
ungarnished residences for them/' and how much human suffer-
ing 1 could be avoided or mitigated. There is small cause for
wonder, though there is much for sorrow, in the fact that such
large numbers periodically fall victims to cholera, small-pox,
and typhus. How is it possible for people to be healthy when
they are ill- washed and ill-fed, when their houses are ill-
drained and ill-ventilated, when their towns have narrow streets
reeking with noxious odours from accumulated garbage,, when

264 University of Madras.

the water they drink and the air they breathe contain the germs
of disease and death ? Is there ground to hope that the masses
will, in their present state of ignorance, find oat what it is that
makes human beings fall like grass beneath the mower's scythe,
and hasten to adopt the remedies that science has devised for
alleviating human suffering and prolonging human life ? Can
they be made to feel that their houses require to be kept clean
and white-washed, that their drains need flushing, that their
streets need widening ? Are they likely to realize the need for
preserving the wells and tanks that supply drinking water
free from impurities of all kinds ? What they are likely to say
and do is what they have so often said and done, and that is to
plead poverty and inability, and to submit themselves with such
resignation as they can command to the decrees of an over-
ruling fate. Graduates of the University, I wish I can, by any
words of mine, make you feel what a vast field of useful labor
lies before you in imparting to your fellow-countrymen tho
rudiments of natural knowledge. You know the saying that
he who makes two blades of grass grow where only one grew
before, is a benefactor to his country. Judge then what immense
benefit you will confer on the generation to which you belong
and through them to succeeding generations, if through your
exertions men learn to lead healthier lives and to suffer less
from the maladies that flesh is heir to.

In regard to the relation in which you stand to Government,
I have nothing new to say, but trite as what I may
ernmenk G V " sav w ^ sourl d, I cannot pass over so important a
topic. The benefits that the British rule has con-
ferred on us are so well and widely appreciated that a very brief
mention of them is all that is necessary. You enjoy a security
of person and property, unknown to your fore-fathers; you
have received the precious gift of British Literature and Western
Science ; the countless ways in which the genius and industry of
man have compelled the forces of nature to minister to his
material wants have been placed within your reach. In addition
to these great blessings, you enjoy a freedom of thought and
speech which it cost your rulers centuries of painful struggle to
win. You who have received such benefits are bound to be
grateful, and mark my words, you will, in my opinion, be acting
most unwisely, if by any thing you say or do, you let it be thought
that you are wanting in grateful loyalty. It may well be that
you are not content with what you have already got, but remem-
ber that you owe this very sense of a better condition of things
than the present to that wise generosity which prompted our

1890. Rai Bahadur P. Rnnganadha Mudaliyar. 26-",

rulers to raise us from a state of ignorance and moral stagnation
to a state of comparative clearness of intellectual vision and
moral activity. Ask by all means for what more you may want,
but ask in such a way that there may be no doubt or misgiving
in regard to your loyalty and obedience to established authority.
And before you ask for more, satisfy yourself thai what you ask
for is desirable and necessary, Those who have given so much
are entitled to credit for willingness to give us all that it is good
for us to have. You who have received a liberal education are
peculiarly bound to guide your fellow-countrymen with wise and
moderate counsel. It is at once your dut}' and your privilege to
act as interpreters between the rulers and the ruled. See that
you interpret aright to the ruled the motives and intentions
of the rulers, and help the governing authorities by faithfully
making known to them the wishes and feelings of the people.
The task that a Government like that of British India has to do
is a rough and trying task. Do not make it harder by wilful
misrepresentation. The teachings of our religion and philosophy,
the traditions of the past, and the best interests of the present
are all on the side of loyalty and fidelity, and approving as I do
all reasonable desire on your part to make yourselves useful in
the sphere of political administration, I call upon you as the
inheritors of an ancient civilization to steer clear of courses of
conduct that will do no good, but may do much harm by rousing
into activity such unhealthy feelings as jealousy and disaffection.
There has, of late years, been a great deal of talk and writing
about local self-government, talk and writing for the most part
misleading. According to some, the people of India will never be
fit to govern themselves ; according to others they possess already
the necessary fitness, let a jealous bureaucracy deny it as stoutly
as they may. Let me advise you to reflect on one aspect of the
question. Self-government ordinarily means the governing of
a people by themselves, but it may also mean the governing of
one's self by one's self. The true measure of the people's fitness
for self-government in the former sense is to be found in their
fitness for self-government in the latter sense. Only those are
fit to command who have learnt to obey. If a great majority of
the individuals composing a community are characterized by
weakness of purpose, error of judgment, blind adhesion to
custom, and ill-regulateil desires, it is idle to expect such a
people to possess in a collective capacity the intellectual and
moral virtues required for a wise and beneficial management of
Raise your- their own affairs. Your first duty then is clear,
selves individu- Raise yourselves individually. Acquire a sound
aUy * knowledge of the laws of human well-being and


266 University of Madras.

progress, endeavour to lead pure and blameless lives, strive to
control the lower passions of your nature, and, by constant
practice o self-denial, learn the luxury of doing good. Of this
be sure that, to the extent to which you become wise and virtu-
ous men, to that extent only will you be fit to exercise political
power, and the fitness to exercise such power must, as history
sufficiently proves, be followed sooner or later by the attainment
of it. It may fall to some of you to conduct native
Indian l^ress* 116 Newspapers, in English or in one of the Verna-
cular languages. I trust the Press is destined to
become as powerful an organ in India as in England, but that
this high destiny may be accomplished, the writers to the
native papers should be imbued with a fitting sense of respon-
sibility, and should endeavour to reflect public opinion faithfully
as in a mirror. I know that in India public opinion has to be
educated as well as represented. This makes the responsibility
all the greater. The native Press should keep steadily in view
the cardinal requisites of progress, a desire to find out what
is true, just, and beneficial, and to avoid what may secure tem-
porary advance at the cost of more or less permanent injury;
an ever-present feeling that large masses of men can move but
slowly onward, and that the true secret of success is " to hasten
slowly ;" a cordial recognition of all that is good in existing forms
and methods, and a settled conviction that l< political institutions,
to be efficient, must grow up from within, and not be imposed
from without." The native Press is yet in a state of infancy.
Faults of indiscretion deserve, therefore, to be treated with indul-
gence. I have often noted a desire to produce sensational effects,
a p-roneness to exaggerate, a warping of the judgment due to
defective knowledge, and a tendency to make intemperate invec-
tive do duty for sound and sober criticism. Permit me to urge
that the plainest mode of saying a thing is almost always the most
effective mode, and that no criticism strikes so vigorously home
as that which bears the evident impress of a careful study of facts,
and of a desire to judge without fear or favour.

Allow me to say a few words next on social reform. It is
said that human opinion has to pass through
form three phases, "the unanimity of the ignorant,

the disagreement of the inquiring, and the unani-
mity of the wise." Having after long ages emerged from the
state of unanimity of the ignorant, we are now passing through
the necessary transition stage of the disagreement of the in-
quiring. The fault will be ours, if we do not so order things
in this second stage, as to make the nearest approach posssible

1890. Rai liakadur P. Itunyanadha Mudaliyar. 267

to the third stage, the unanimity of the wise. I am sincerely
convinced that real progress is possible, in this as in other
directions, only if the guiding spirits of the movement are men
of enlightened views, sound moral impulses, and a living relig-
ious sentiment, men capable of looking before and after, men
not so blindly attached to the past as to oppose every thing new
nor so rashly bent on reform as to despise every thing old.
Never lose sight of the fact that you have to carry the masses
with you, and that in consequence some of the social and relig-
ious changes that the educated few may be ripe for will have
to be postponed ; and that true wisdom and philanthropy re-
quire that while you have your faces set in the right direction,
and while you have the courage to declare your convictions, you
walk warily and slowly so that your less favoured brethren
may follow your lead at such pace as is good for them. Observe,
I do not commend the practice, which is only too prevalent, of
talking and acting in a manner entirely at variance with one's
own thoughts and feelings. Such incongruity between the
inner and the outer life is the very death of all that is pure and
noble" and self-denying. According to the best light in you,
approve only of what you consider to be right, and so conduct
yourselves as to make it clear, that you neither justify nor excuse
injurious customs and debasing superstitions. The Western
ideas and sentiments that you have imbibed in the course of
your education will and must urge you to advance, but as in
human affairs good and evil are inextricably blended together,
and the desire to obtain a thing is no guarantee of fitness to use
the thing desired wisely and well, I would solemnly entreat you
to look before you leap, and to make sure by observation, by
study, and by reflection that in your impatient unwillingness to
bear the ills you have, you do not fly to greater ills you know
not of. ' Prove all things/ A spirit of rational and searching
inquiry is the necessary outcome of the scientific discipline that
you have had. You cannot help feeling the absurdity of assum-
ing that all our thinking has been done for us by our ancestors.
If through indolence, or love of selfish ease, or fear of con-
sequences, you fail to think for yourselves, and if you neglect
your opportunities of doing what you can to make your domestic
life and your social surroundings harmonize better with the
needs of the present, you will, believe me, be unworthy of the
education you have received; you will betray the trust the Uni-
versity reposes in you ; you will be false to your-
Prove all i i i j. -r J

things; hold selves and false to your countrymen. IsayagaiE

fast that which < prove all things/ but "hold fast that which is
good." While I feel nothing but respect in regard

268 University of Madras.

to the intentions and motives of those among us who would fall
back on the Shastras for working out a new social scheme for the
people of India, I must take the liberty to say that that method
seems to me to be inadequate, nay more positively injurious.
The Shastras are worthy of all reverence as handing down to us
the traditions of a by-gone civilization. No social reformer can
afford to despise them, or to neglect their study. But it is
abundantly manifest that rules and observances and institutions,
that suited the men of a by-gone age, can hardly suit us, who
live under a very different environment. The method of finding
in the Shastras chapter and verse in support of this or that
reform may carry us some little way forward, and that only
after a long struggle over texts and interpretation ; but I feel
convinced that such a re-casting and re-construction as would
eliminate from our social life the elements that have for so long
held an iron sway, and paralysed our intellectual and moral
The Shastraic energies, could be achieved only by modifying the
method of social Shastraic injunctions, and not by a tacit, conformity
to them. I have said that the method under
criticism is injurious, and my reason for saying so is that what
might be gained by placing reform on a false basis is nothing as
weighed in the scales against what must be lost. This wrong
method will and must stand in the way of many important reforms
that every true friend of India would wish to see accomplished,
and I would, therefore, impress upon your minds the necessity for
giving this subject your most earnest consideration. By all means
venerate the past ; be proud of the relics of ancient civilization that
abound in India ; admire our ancient philosophy for its depth and
subtlety and penetrative insight; and love our ancient literature
for its sweetness and pathos and wealth of profound moral and
religious sentiment. But remember that the richer the legacy you
have inherited from the dead, the stronger the obligation to make
the lives of present and future generations something the better
for your self-denying labors in the cause of national progress.

I fear I have already overtaxed your patience. I shall

Im rovement content myself, therefore, with making a mere

of the Verna- mention of two other important duties that you

culars. have to perform. You have to cultivate the study

of your mother-tongue, and to improve it to such an extent as to

make it a fit medium for the cominunicat : nn of Western ideas in

Science and Philosophy. You have to promote the education of

Education of your women, and to make your fellow-countrymen

women. understand that the education a woman wants is

nut that which will make her a better sort, of household drudge

1890. Rai Bahadur P. Runganadha Mudaliyar. 269

or a more agreeable kind of play-thing, but that which will
make her fit to sympathize with, her husband's aims and aspira-
tions, to offer him wise counsel, and so to bring up her children
as to turn their natural endowment to the best account.

It has been often pointed out that there is among you much
industry but little thought, great power of acquisition but small
power of production. The charge, I fear, is well grounded.
This unsatisfactory result is, I have no doubt, in some measure
due to the vicious methods of teaching necessitated by the
demands of the long series of examinations that our young men
have to pass, and the small scope allowed for the free play of
the intellect when its whole energy is spent on the mere acqui-
sition of knowledge, and there is little power and less inclination
for assimilating and organizing the knowledge acquired. You
do not need to be told that yonr education has but just be:un.
It has begun not only in the sense that you have to go on adding
to your stock of knowledge to keep yourself abreast of the times
in which you live, but also in the sense that you have to reflect
on what knowledge you have already gained, and make it a part
of your intellectual furniture. Most, if not all of yon, will have
to discharge professional duties of one kind or another. Your
education up to this point has been intended to fit you for every
path of life. You have now to choose some one path. See to it
that the path you choose is such as is suited to your tastes and
capabilities. I count it superfluous to advise you that profes-
sional success cannot be attained without a careful study of
principles, and without that skill in the application of principles
which is to be gained only by constant practice. The tendency
to study almost exclusively codes and acts, rules and regulations
is a survival of scholastic habits that needs in your case to be
checked and counteracted, rather than encouraged. Let me
warn you, therefore, of the danger you have to guard against in
your ardent pursuit of professional success, the danger of learn-
ing only what bears on your profession and of neglecting
altogether those humanizing studies, whicli are necessary to keep
the intellect fresh, active and healthy; the danger of your
letting the mind move in well-worn grooves, the danger of your
becoming slaves to routine. Remember that while you have to
improve your professional knowledge and skill, you have also to
keep up the habit of studying the wise and noble thoughts of
the living and the dead. It is only by doing so that you may
hope to have a well-balanced mind, a mind with a clear sense
of the true and the just, a mind with a keen sense of the
beautiful in nature or art, a mind instinct with noble feelings.

270 University of Madras.

I now conclude, but before concluding, I congratulate you
in the name of the University on the honors you have attained,
and bid you go forth into the world, and win your spurs in the
battle of life. The University to which you belong will watch
your career with anxious solicitude, and expect you not simply
to do the best you can, each for himself, but also to do the best
you can for your fellow-men and your mother country.



When Lord Connemara appointed me to deliver the
customary address on this occasion, it was with mixed feelings
that I undertook the duty. And the more I have thought of
it, the more divided have my feelings become. On the one
hand, I feel gratified to be associated with the distinguished
men who in years gone by have stood in the place I occupy
to-day. On the other hand, I cannot but reflect that this
high privilege brings with it great responsibility. My pre-
decessors have on behalf of the University, offered to gradu-
ates of former years a cordial welcome to the world of letters
and science. It is for me to see to it that the welcome offered
to you shall not be less warm and sincere. An ideal of duty,
pure and lofty, has year after year been presented to graduates
on their admission as members of the University. It is for me
to give earnest heed that, in presenting this ideal to you to-day,
it shall not be lowered or taruished.

I am reironded to-day of twenty years ago, when for the
first time I attended as a spectator at a Convocation
Q ^ s University. However much this gradua-
tion ceremony may, by reason of repetition, lose
in attractiveness to a superficial on-looker, it has an abiding
charm for the man who retains through life his sympathy with
the struggles and triumphs of the youthful seeker after know-
ledge. I can recall as if it had been but yesterday the eloquent
words in which your predecessors of twenty years ago were
addressed by one who was even then coming to be recognized as
a power for good in Southern India; though at that time he had
not secured the hold on the affectionate esteem and gratitude
of your countrymen which his great abilities, his liberality,
his self-sacrificing devotion have now deservedly won for
him. On that occasion the Rev. Dr. Miller sought to instil
something of his own enthusiasm into the breasts of the young
men just admitted to be members of the University, appealing

1891 Dr. Duncan. 271

to them with all the power which eloquence and sympathy can
give to prove themselves worthy sons of an ancient people. In
the years that hjive come and gone since then, the newly admit-
ted graduates have had the privilege of listening to addresses
some of them aglow with the fire of eloquence, some of them
laden with that practical wisdom which the observation and
reflection of years bring to the philosophic mind. If my remarks
are characterized neither by the eloquence of the orator, nor by
the wisdom of the sage, I may at least hope that they will afford
you some encouragement, stimulus, and guidance at this impor-
tant period of your lives.

I am charged, ladies and gentlemen, with the pleasing duty
of offering you, in the name of the Chancellor, Vice- Chancellor,
and Fellows, a cordial welcome as members of the University of
Madras. We hold out to you the right hand of fellowship in
no grudging spirit. The dignity you have this day attained
unto has been honourably won after long-continued and arduous
toil. It has been won in a field in which wealth and birth confer
no privileges, where each man has to depend on himself, where
intellectual force, controlled by a resolute will and a lofty con-
ception of duty is the principal factor of success. Looking
back on the years of study that have had their fitting consum-
mation to-day, many of you will think with regret of much that
has been left undone, of mistakes made, of precious hours and
days wasted, of energies misapplied. And it is most fitting
that you should at this important stage of your lives lay to heart
the lessons of experience. But do not allow regrets for the past-
to shut out from your view the possibilities of the future. Brood-
ing too much over past failures is apt to weaken the knees of
action, leading one to the fatal conclusion that, because the best
has not been made of the years gone by, it is useless to prolong
the contest. At no time of life should men, reflecting on the past,
give way to despair, and least of all when, like you, they have just
got beyond the threshold of it. If, notwithstanding mistakes and

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 60 of 66)