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the way from teaching servants' children to read and translating
Christian books into their own vernaculars to sending gifts of money to
a suffering student in Vienna.

Social service is carried on along lines not very different from those
pursued in Lucknow. Sunday schools, visits to outcaste villages, and
lectures on health and cleanliness have their place. A new feature is
the dispensing of simple medical help, which not only relieves the
recipients, but teaches the students what they can do later when in
their own homes. Another distinctive venture is the "Little School" in
the college grounds, where volunteer workers take turns morning and
evening in teaching the neighborhood children, and thus get their first
taste of the joys and difficulties of the teacher's profession.

An interested girl thus expresses her ideas on the subject of social
service. Her emphasis upon the positive side of life speaks well for her
future accomplishment:

"Though the condition of the people is deplorable we need not despair of
making matters better for them. Instead of giving the mere negative
instructions that they should not drink, or be extravagant with their
money, or get into the clutches of money lenders, we can do something
positive. Some interesting diversions could be invented that would
prevent men from frequenting drinking houses. With regard to their
extravagance on certain occasions, we might suggest to them ways in
which they could lessen items of expenditure. To prevent their being at
the mercy of money lenders, co-operative societies may be started in
order to lend money at a lower rate of interest; or to supply them with
capital or with tools in order to start their work.

"To remove the other evil of ignorance with regard to health, we may go
into the villages and give them practical lessons on cleanliness. We
could tell them of the value of fresh air and give them other needful

"In doing social work of this kind, there are many principles we ought
to have in mind. Instead of telling a poor man with no means of living
that he should not steal it would be better to see that he is somehow
placed beyond the reach of want. Another is that instead of merely
imparting morality in negative form, it would be better to point out to
them some positive way in which they could improve. More important than
any of these principles is that instead of thinking of 'bestowing good'
on the people, it would be more effective, if we co-operate with them
and enlist their initiative, thus enabling them by degrees to be fit to
manage their own affairs."

Applied Sociology.

Certain parts of the curriculum also tie up closely with community life.
Economics and essay writing lead into fields of research. Essays and
contributions to the College magazine, "The Sunflower," bear such titles
as the "Social Needs of Kottayam District," which goes into the causes
of poverty and distress in the writer's own locality, or "The Religion
of the People of Kandy," written by a convert from Buddhism who knows
from her own childhood experience the beauties and defects of that great
religious system.

An intercollegiate essay prize was won by a Christian college girl who
wrote on her own home town, "The Superstitions and Customs of the
Village of Namakal." She writes:

"A set of villages would also be seen where the people are very much
like the insects under a buried stone, which run underground, unable to
see the light or to adapt themselves to the light. The moment the stone
is turned up, so much accustomed are they to live in the darkness of
superstition and unbelief that they think they would be better off to go
on so, and refuse to accept the light rays of science, education, and
civilization, which are willingly given them."

The list of current omens and superstitions which she has unearthed may
prove of interest to Western readers who have little idea of the burden
of _taboo_ under which the average Hindu passes his days. The essayist

"An attempt to enumerate these superstitious beliefs would be useless,
but the following would illustrate the villagers' deep regard for them,
It is a good omen to hear a bell ring, an ass bray, or a Brahmini kite
cry, when starting out to see a married woman whose husband is alive.
They believe it to be an excellent omen to see a corpse, a bunch of
flowers, water, milk, a toddy pot, or a washerman with dirty clothes,
while setting out to give any present to her or her husband. No Hindu
man or woman would set out to visit a newly married couple if he or she
hears sneezing while starting, or proceed on the journey if he or she
hears the wailing of a beggar, or happens to see a Brahmin widow, a
snake, a full oil pot, or a cat."



The College Woman and India.

Many of the students are full of ideas as to the various places which
women may fill in the economy of the India of the future. Among the
professions open to women, teaching is of course the favorite. Its
opportunities are shown in the following:

"The University women who, more than any one else, have enjoyed the
fruits of education and the privileges of college life are naturally
very keen on imparting them to the million of their less graduate
sisters. Almost every student in a college is now filled with a greater
love and longing to help the uneducated women. Thus, most of them go out
as teachers. Some of them work in their own schools, or take up work
either in a mission school or a government school. Some of the graduates
are now in a position to establish schools of their own. The pay for
teachers is usually lower than that earned by women in other positions,
but the fact that so many women become teachers shows that they care
more for service than for salary, for surely this is the greatest
service that they as women can give to India."

Another student has some ideas as to new methods to be used:

"The present method of teaching in India is not quite suitable to the
modern stage of children. Now, children are very inquisitive and try to
learn by themselves. They cannot understand anything which is taught as
mere doctrines. The teacher has to draw her answers from the children
and thus build up her teaching on the base of their previous knowledge.
So the educated women have to train themselves in schools where they are
made fit to meet the present standard of children."

Miss Cornelia Sorabji has shown by her career what a woman lawyer can
do for other women. A college girl writes as follows of the
opportunities for service that other students might find in the law:

"I have seen many women in the villages, though not educated, showing
the capacities of a good lawyer. I think that women have a special
talent in performing this business, and hence would do much better than
men. Tenderness and mercy are qualities greatly required in a judge or
magistrate. Women are famous for these and so their judgments which will
be the products of justice tempered by mercy will be commendable. A man
cannot understand so fully a woman, the workings of her mind, her
thoughts and her views, as a woman can; so in order to plead the cause
of women there should be women lawyers who could understand and put
their cases in a very clear light."

Another feels the need of women in politics:

"According to the present system in India, the government is carried on
by men alone. Thus women are exclusively shut off from the
administration of the country. The good and bad results of the
government affect men and women alike. Therefore, it is only fair that
women also should have an active part in the government of the country.
Women should be given seats in the Legislative Council where they would
have an opportunity to listen to the problems of the country and try to
solve them.

"From ordinary life we see that women are more economical than men.
Therefore, it would be better for the country if women could take a part
in economic matters. When the rate of tax is fixed men are likely to
decide it merely from a consideration of their income without thinking
about small expenses. Women are acquainted with every expense in detail.
If women could take part in economic affairs, the expenditure of a
country would be directed in a better and more careful way.

"In national and international questions also women can take a part.
Women are more conservative, sympathetic, and kind than men. Great
changes and misery which are not foreseen at all are brought by wars
between different countries. Women, too, can consider about the affairs
of wars as well as men. Their sympathetic and conservative views will
help the people not to plunge into needless wars and political

"Women know as well as, and perhaps more than men, the evils which
result from the illiteracy of people and their unsanitary conditions.
Men spend much of their time outside home, while women in their quiet
homes can see their surroundings and watch the needs of people around
them. So women can give good ideas in matters concerning education and
sanitation. In this way, women can influence the public opinion of a
place and the government of a country depends much on the nature of
public opinion."

But with all these "new woman theories" the claims of home are not

"Among the many possibilities opening out to women, we cannot fail to
mention _home life_, though it is nothing new.

"According to the testimony of all history, the worth and blessing of
men and nations depend in large measure on the character and ordering of
family life. 'The family is the structural cell of the social organism.
In it lives the power of propagation and renewal of life. It is the
foundation of morality, the chief educational institution, and the
source of nearly all real contentment among men.' All other questions
sink into insignificance when the stability of the family is at stake.
In short, the family circle is a world in miniature, with its own
habits, its own interests, and its own ties, largely independent of the
great world that lies outside. When the family is of such great
importance, how much greater should be the responsibilities of women in
the ordering of that life? Is it not there in the home that we develop
most of our habits, our lines of thought and action?

"Even while keeping home, woman can do other kinds of work. She can
help her husband in his varied activities by showing interest and
sympathy in all that he does; she can influence him in every possible
way. Then also she may do social and religious work, and even teaching,
though she has to manage a home. But _the_ work that needs her keenest
attention is in the home itself, in training up the children. Happiness
and cheerfulness in the home circle depend more or less on the radiant
face of the mother, as she performs her simple tasks, upon her
tenderness, on her unwearied willingness to surpass all boundaries in
love. She is the 'centre' of the family. The physical and moral training
of her children falls to her lot.

"Now, the developing of character is no light task, nor is it the least
work that has to be done. The family exists to train individuals for
membership in a large group. In the little family circle attention can
be concentrated on a few who in turn can go out and influence others.
The family, therefore, is the nursery of all human virtues and powers.

"In conclusion, expressing the same idea in stronger words, it is to be
noted that whether India shall maintain her self-government, when she
receives it, depends on how far the women are ready to fulfill the
obligations laid upon them. This is a great question and has to be
decided by the educated women of India."

[Illustration: In the Laboratory, Madras]

[Illustration: Tennis Champions with Cup AT WORK AND PLAY]

One Reformer and What She Achieved.

Of the wealth of human interest that lies hidden in the life-stories of
the one hundred and ten students who make up the College, who has the
insight to speak? Coming from homes Hindu or Christian, conservative or
liberal, from the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the modern Indian city, or
the far side of the jungle villages, one might find in their home
histories, in their thoughts and ambitions and desires, a composite
picture of the South Indian young womanhood of to-day. Countries as well
as individuals pass through periods of adolescence, of stress and strain
and the pains of growth, when the old is merging in the new. The student
generation of India is passing through that phase to-day, and no one who
fails to grasp that fact can hope to understand the psychology of the
present day student.

In Pushpam's story it is possible to see something of that clash of old
and new, of that standing "between two worlds" that makes India's life
to-day adventurous - too adventurous at times for the comfort of the
young discoverer.

Pushpam's home was in the jungle - by which is meant not the luxuriant
forests of your imagination, but the primitive country unbroken by the
long ribbon of the railway, where traffic proceeds at the rate of the
lumbering, bamboo-roofed bullock cart, and the unseemliness of Western
haste is yet unknown. Twice a week the postbag comes in on the shoulders
of the loping _tappal_ runner. Otherwise news travels only through the
wireless telegraphy of bazaar gossip. The village struggles out toward
the irrigation tank and the white road, banyan-shaded, whose dusty
length ties its life loosely to that of the town thirty miles off to the
eastward. On the other side are palmyra-covered uplands, and then the

The Good News sometimes runs faster than railway and telegraph. Here it
is so, for the village has been solidly Christian for fifty years. Its
people are not outcastes, but substantial landowners, conservative in
their indigenous ways, yet sending out their sons and daughters to
school and college and professional life.

Of that village Pushpam's father is the teacher-catechist, a gentle,
white-haired man, who long ago set up his rule of benevolent autocracy,
"for the good of the governed."

"To this child God has given sense; he shall go to the high school in
the town." The catechist speaks with the conviction of a Scotch Dominie
who has discovered a child "of parts," and resistance on the part of the
parent is vain. The Dominie's own twelve are all children "of parts" and
all have left the thatched schoolhouse for the education of the city.

Pushpam is the youngest. Term after term finds her leaving the village,
jogging the thirty miles of dust-white road to the town, spending the
night in the crowded discomfort of the third class compartment K marked
for "Indian females." Vacation after vacation finds her reversing the
order of journeying, plunging from the twentieth century life of
college into the village's mediaeval calm. There is no lack of
occupation - letters to write for the unlearned of the older generation
to their children far afield, clerks and writers and pastors in distant
parts; there are children to coach for coming examinations; there are
sore eyes to treat, and fevers to reduce.

One Christmas Pushpam returns as usual, yet not as usual, for her
capable presence has lost its customary calm. She is "anxious and
troubled about many things," or is it about one?

Social unrest has dominated college thinking this last term, focussing
its avenging eyes upon that Dowry System which works debt and eventual
ruin in many a South Indian home. Pushpam has seen the family struggles
that have accompanied the marriages of her older sisters; the "cares of
the world" that have pressed until all the joy of days that should have
been festal was lost in the counting out of rupees. In neighbor homes
she has seen rejoicing at the birth of a son, as the bringer of
prosperity, and grief, hardly concealed, at the adversity of a
daughter's advent. Unchristian? Yes; but not for the lack of the milk of
human kindness; rather from the incubus of an evil social system,
inherited from Hindu ancestors.

Pushpam's father is growing old; lands and jewels have shrunk. Married
sons and daughters are already gathering and saving for the future of
their own young daughters. Three thousand rupees are demanded of Pushpam
in the marriage market. The thought of it is marring the peace of her
father's face and breaking his sleep of nights. But Pushpam has news to
impart, "Father, I have something to say. It will hurt you, but I must
speak. It is the first time that I, your daughter, have even disobeyed
your wishes, but this time it must be.

"All this college term we girls have been thinking and talking of our
marriage system and its evils. Husbands are bought in the market, and in
these war years they, like everything else, are high. A man thinks not
of the girl who will make his home, but of the rupees she will bring to
his father's coffers. Marriage means not love, but money. My classmates
and I have talked and written and thought. Now three of us have made one
another a solemn promise. Our parents shall give no dowries for us. We
have no fear of remaining unmarried; we can earn our way as we go and
find our happiness in work. Or if there are men who care for us, and not
for the rupees we bring, let them ask for us; we will consider such
marriages, but no other. Do not protest, Father, for our minds are made


The old man, for years autocrat of the village, bows to the will of his
youngest child, fearing the jeers of relatives, yet unable to withstand.

No, Pushpam did not remain single. In men's colleges the same ferment is
going on, and when a suitor came he said, "I want you for yourself, not
for the gold that you might bring." He married Pushpam, and their joy of
Christian service is not shadowed by the financial distress brought upon
the father's house.

Mary Smith asked to be shown the justification of college education for
Indian girls. Is it good? The College of the Sunflower has its home in
dignified and seemly buildings set in a tropical garden. Does its beauty
draw students away from the world of active life, or send them with
fresh strength to share its struggles. Pushpam has given one answer.
Another one may find in the college report of 1921 with its register of
graduates. Name after name rolls out its story of busy lives - married
women, who are housemakers and also servants of the public weal;
government inspectresses of schools, who tour around "the district,"
bringing new ideas and encouragement to isolated schools; teachers and
teachers, and yet more teachers, in government and mission schools, and
schools under private management. Only six years of existence, and yet
the Sunflower has opened so wide, the Lamp has lighted so many candles
in dim corners. Will the Mary Smiths of America do their part that the
next six years may be bigger and better than the last?

The spirit of Madras Students is shown in the following extracts from
personal letters written to former teachers:


"Last week we had the special privilege of hearing Mr. and Mrs. Annett,
of India Sunday School Union. The last day Mr. Annett showed how we can
lead our children to Christ and make them accept Christ as their Master.
That is the aim of religious education. My heart thrilled within me when
I heard Mr. Annett in his last lecture confirm what I had thought out as
principles in teaching and training the young, and I found my eyes wet.
But the very faith which Jesus had in people and which triumphs over all
impossibilities I am trying to have. I have patiently turned to the
girls and am trying to help them in their lives. The Christ power in me
is revealing to me many things since I surrendered to Him my will. He is
showing me what mighty works one can do through intercessory prayer
which I try to do with many failings.

"Politics have lately been very interesting to me. Rather I have been
forced to enter in. You will have read or heard of the new movement in
India that sprang up early in September. Gandhi is the leader. I have
some clippings to send you. It is not about that I wish to write, but
about the remarkable way India is repressing the movement. The Panjab,
the province for which sympathy is called for and the one which affords
the cause for non-co-operation, has thrown up Gandhi's scheme and her
sons are standing for council elections. No Indian can help being
thrilled over the nominations and elections for legislative councils
and councils of state, which are to assemble in January according to the
Reform Act. Our girls are taking a keen interest in the affairs of the
country and earnestly praying for her.

"This is the week of prayer of the Y.W. and Y.M.C.A. I am sure you are
remembering us, - the young women of India and our girls who are to lay
out the future in India; also our young men and boys.

"The Student Federation has its conference in P - - during Christmas,
and four of our college students are going. If only the men would be
open hearted and less prejudiced and brave enough to stand alone and
reform society. I think the time is coming.

"Isn't it strange that you should also feel the thirst for Bible study
just as I am doing here. I never felt the lack of Scriptural knowledge
as now while I teach our girls."


November 12, 1921.

We had nine graduates to garland last night and should have had more if
Convocation had followed closely on their success in April. But now one
is at Somerville College, Oxford (we have five old students in England
now and one in America), one at her husband's home in Bengal, one
serving in Pundita Ramabai's Widows' Home at Mukti near Poona, and three
kept away by some duty in their families. Among our nine were two who
had been among our very earliest students; in fact, one bears the very
first name entered on our student roll in April, 1915, when we were
looking round in trembling hope to see whether any students at all
would entrust themselves to our inexperienced hands. These two, of
course, left some years ago, but have since taken the teachers' degree,
the Licentiate in Teaching, for which they have prepared themselves by
private study while serving in schools.

This L.T. is a University degree open to graduates in Arts only, and a
B.A., L.T., is regarded as a teacher fully equipped for the highest
posts in schools. The preparation for it has been carried on hitherto
chiefly at a Government Teachers' College, where the few women students,
though very courteously treated, have naturally been at a great
disadvantage among more than a hundred men. Such of our graduates as
have spent the required year there have been considerably disappointed,
feeling that their work has been too easy and too theoretical. In any
case it is impossible that much practical work could be found for so
large a number of students, and the belief is growing that the ideal
training college is a small one. That it must be a Christian one is from
our point of view still more important. The women B.A., L.T.'s will hold
positions of greater influence than any other class in South India. They
will be Government Inspectresses, Heads of Middle Schools and High
Schools, lecturers in Training Colleges, in fact, the sources of the
inspiration which will permeate every region of women's education.
Before long the missions will be unable to keep pace with the rapid
increase of available pupils for girls' schools. Their success in
originating and fostering the idea of educating girls has now produced a
situation with which we cannot personally cope, but which we can
indirectly control by concentrating effort at the most vital spot, that
is the training of the highest rank of women teachers. These will set
the tone and, to a great extent, determine the quality of the women
teachers who have lower qualifications, and these will have in their
hands the training of ever-increasing numbers of girl pupils and will
hand on the ideals which they have themselves received. It was an honor
which we felt very deeply when the Missionary Educational Council of
South India entrusted to the council of our College the task of
inaugurating an L.T. College for Women, and we have been very busy about

December 15, 1921.

More than a month has passed since I began the Journal and I am now
sitting in the junior B.A. class-room watching over nineteen students

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Online LibraryAlice B. Van DorenLighted to Lighten: the Hope of India → online text (page 6 of 10)