Sitanath Tattvabhushan.

The philosophy of Brahmaism, expounded with reference to its history : lectures delivered before the Theological Society, Calcutta, in 1906-1907 online

. (page 22 of 23)
Online LibrarySitanath TattvabhushanThe philosophy of Brahmaism, expounded with reference to its history : lectures delivered before the Theological Society, Calcutta, in 1906-1907 → online text (page 22 of 23)
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School. It was not so much an amalgamation as an
addition the addition of a number of higher classes
and'a boarding establishment to a primary school.
Babu Kesavchandra Sen's party opposed the amal-

..LK I ID 365

oth and nail, bat could not prevent 4t.
: opposed it on the g/o:md of the alleged unsuit-
able character of the education % which was imparted
&t the "Banga ^lalil i and which the reformed Bethune
School now pledged itself to impart, and the so-called
un-Hinlu character of th boarding arrangements
nd were now* going to be perpetu-
ons, of course, Carried no Wright
with the supporters of the amalgamation scheme*.
The that there alre;: 'ed at the time,

and has sin; sed in extent and volume, a body

of opinions on social matters much in Advance of
o held :)-a and his immediate

nd it is the men that held those vi

'.iselves Hindus, F>rahmas or
the destinies of

1. The result has been that
:ul orthodox views still

con' iving their girls the sort of

1 in tin- lower classes

of t! me College, and while T> avchnn-

! hold themselves aloof from the
er courses of tho College, except in a very few
Kolit . MO high education imparted in

'ly availed of by people of the oth'
ially tl." . u

tutionof the r i'
of the d stud

terodox, andjn

th;r :n-Hind' 1-u K-<:i\



might be expected, made a few liberal concessions
to the managers of the Bvyiga Manila Vidyalaya in
taking over its charge and connecting it with the
Bethune. They were (I 1 ) that a daily devotional
service according to the principles of the Brahma
Samaj should be allowed to be held in the school

(t. \

premises for the benefit of the Brahma students, (2)
that the Brahma girls should be taken to a Brahma
place of worship every Sunday in the school omnibus,
and (3) that there should be at least three Brahma
members in the school committee, and that no teacher
or professor should be appointed without the consent
of these three members. As it was the Brahmas
who furnished the Bethune School with its higher
classes, and as these classes are still mostly recruited
from the Brahma community, these concessions
were nothing but just."

"In 1876, the first In Han girl appeared at the
Entrance Examination of the Calcutta University.
It was Miss Chandramukhi Bose, a Christian lady,
who afterwards became the Principal of the Bethune
College. She passed the examination and became
the immediate cause of the formation of the College
classes in connection with the Bethune School and
the opening of the doors of the Calcutta.University to
Indian ladies. The great impetus given to higher
female education by this measure is too well-known
to require particular mention. One of its indirect
results was the gradual opening of several High
Schools and even a few Colleges for girls by Christian


ionary and As I have already

'n Icii^ge numb -rs availed them-
selves of the opportunity whiclj was thus afforded to
i-eledby* dambini Bose, now

Dr. Ganguli, who graduated in or about 1880
I by abou^ t iliMhma lady

lorn belong to the Adi Brahma
I Bruhma Sam;ij.
; iCal

;ield of usefulness to Brdhina

'.. the Brahma Girls'

i hrough

the indit 8ivan . - It was

soon raised to the status of a High School and has since,

ad non-official support, got a spacious

buil .h the object

of combining ral education, which

done in schools managed by the Govern-

;iurji opened the

Hindu Wid'j/. s' Hume, the pioneer of
all other :tutions now established through-

virtually a Brahma Institu-
tion number of young ladies
and .ing down in. ^stresses
of B jr reformed Hindu homes. It

ill} and the infirmities of

old . its devoted founder

and manager to keep it up any longer. "

* *.

lose this hurried >ketch of the history of



bae mention of the organs which the Brahmas have
from time to time started fotf the promotion of female
education, and some <of which are still living. The
place of honour is due to the Bdmdboflhini, started'
in 1864, whose founder and editor, the venerable
Babu Umeschandra Dattf , has just left us riter a
life of pious and devoled activity, the like of which is

scarcely seen. The next to be named is the Abald


Bandhab, now defunct, which was started, about 1869,
by the late Babu Dwarakanath Ganguli, whose devo-
tion to the cause of female progress won him the
name of his paper, which means the ' Friend of
Women. ' A later addition to female journalism is the
Mahild, edited by Babu Girischandra Sen of the New
Dispensation Apostolic body. The Antalipur, now
defunct, was started by Babu Sasipada Banurji and
conducted for a number of years exclusively by
ladies, headed by his daughter, the late Banalata
Devi. The BJidrati, started originally by B-tbu
Dvijendranath Thakur, was long edited by his
accomplished sister, Srimati Svarnakumari Ghosal
and is still edited by her daughters. The latest
Brahma journals for and edited by ladies are the
Bhdrat Maliild, under the editorship of Srimati
Sarayubala Datta and the Suprabhdt, just started
by two lady graduates, Srimatis Kuniudini and
Basanti Mittra.

From the rapid sketch which I close here,
it will be seen w*hat a remarkable part the Brahma
Sarnaj has taken in the education of women. In fact it


has been the chief factor during the last half-a-centtiry
and more ui the progress 'of Indian women, aad it is
decidedly the foremost of all Indian communities in

il progreis, excepting perhaps the native Christian
community. I shall now say a few words, and
these shall be my last in tkis lecture and in this series
of lectures, on the other side "of female progress

calit-d female emancipation. J have no objection
to the word ' emancipation ' as applied to our women,
as some, who do not quite see the points at issue,
seem to have. I believe that Indian women are
under a thraldom at least as real and abject (if not
more) as our political subjection to the British, and
that the one as urgently calls for remedial measures

iie other. Our love for our mothers, sisters and
wives often effectively hides from us the reality of
their social slavery to us, just as the benevolent ten-
dency of British rule for several generations long hid

: our view, and still hides from many eyes, the
reality of our political slavery. It is sad to contem-
plate that the Brahma Sainaj has done so little to
break the fetters which bind women, though by
promoting their education it has, no doubt, laid the
foundation of future progress in this matter. The

:;iran HiMh: .} ha.-, also proved its faith-

fulness to one of the fundamental principles of
: ndri (iillidi;iin-r *,un<in nd/iikdr, '
men and women have equal rights by laying open all
its high offices, including that of ministers, to women.
But th- of social reaction which has been

passing over the country for the last quarte* of
' 21


a century, has, to some extent, affected the Brahma
Saniaj ^nd crippled its reforming activity. I know
of several families wlpich were, some years back, in
the forefront of social reform, but frqrn which no
reform, worthy of them, can any more be expected.
That this is the effect more of the benumbkig in-
fluence of the social atmosphere around and of the
loss of spiritual vitality, than of any reasoned scheme
of social conservatism, appears from the fact that
when reform and progress are advocated and proposed
by bolder spirits, they are not actively opposed, except
by the most thoughtless. I have no doubt, therefore,
that this wave of reaction will pass away if a few
earnest minds set forth the doctrine in the proper
way, that the freedom of women follows logically
from the essential principles of Brahmaism arid
show the way to practical reforms ; n theii own
families. I do not think that anyone who is earnest
about Brahmaism can be anything but earnest about
female liberty, if he sees the connection of the two.
If one nation has no right to enslave another, if one
man has no right to enslave another man, neither has
the male kind any natural right to keep the female
kind undtr perpetual bondage. It is indeed open to
some people to argue that so far as their imaginations
go, the tinif will neves: come when women, however
educated, will be fit for complete liberty ; just as
British Imperialists, even of the radical camp, argue
^hat, Indians, so far as their prophetic eyes go, must
always be under personal Government. But such
arguments are evidently vitiated by as palpable a bias



fn the one case as in the other. * It is the bia of
organised seffishness irt'both the cases and of an

additional moral cowardice in the former. To

earnest, unbiassed people, it must be evident that
women, equally with men, have the right of free,
that ft, liberal, a!l-ronnc> education, free movement
and free livelihood. But practically, we, Brahrnas,
have up to this time recognised oaly the first of these
n, and that also very imperfectly.
il proportion of our women get a really
liberal education ! Tn even the wealthiest of our
hoir. as can afford to give the highest educa-

tion young 1 , what a sad contrast is

i the boys and the girls? the
'.ighf t t lucation that the
: !nglMi univrr.-.ities can give, and the
hoy have scarcely gone
1. With regard to free
much to say that
:han one step ir advance of

orth iul u society. Nearly forty years igo, the

t of women sitting outside the pnrdd in the

Brahma Mandir of India was wrung from Babu

Sen by the then advanced party in his

: < !i. In the mandir and other meeting places of

; ma S;uii*j this rigjit has been

rec< .ithout a '[motion from the very beginning.

immunity, gone a step farther

i this in allowin ovcuu-nt to *mr \vomen

during the last three decades ? It is strange*that even

the orthodox Hindu women of Bombay and Madras


are 1 freer in this respect than the most enlightened
of Bengali Brahmikas. W3 ^ee daily tfrfe health of our
women breaking dow,n under the strain of domestic
duties and the harder strain of higher studies, and yet
we do not afford them the facilities of free exercise
in the open air. Then, how many opportunities
there are, at the present moment, open to our
young people, in the shape of public meetings, for
improving their minds and widening their sympa-
thies ! Our young men freely avail themselves of
these; but our young women are mostly shut out
from these, because they are not allowed the liberty
of walking to them, and are thus left decidedly
behind their brethren in practical experience and
usefulness. That one or two families here and there
avail themselves of the liberty of free movement
allowed them by the heads of their families, is only
an exception that proves the rule of female seclusion
that prevails amongst us, a seclusion almost as
perfect as that of orthodox Hindu women. As to
what is usually said about the country's unprepared-
ness for behaving in a civil way with women moving
about freely, I am aware that there are places where
such free movement, even under proper escort, is not
safe. But from long personal experience, I know that,
in cities like Calcutta, a gentlewoman runs no risk of
unsafety by walking on the public thoroughfares in
the company of a male friend or relative. And when
the larger .cities get accustomed to such free move-
ment onjthe part of our ladies, the small towns and
villages will no' doubt soon learn to respect it. In


fact, the villages are, in this matter, better off fhan
the cities.* ftowever, a* 'to the third form of female
t liberty mentioned by me, thart, of free livelihood, it
seems to me almost strange that \ve are doing
nothing to effect a re-form which is becoming a"

. one year after year. Numbers of unmar-
ried women and widows among us are continually
being thrown upon the shoulde/s of over-worked
and struggling tvl.itiv, - ; und iv doing nothing

;id out moans^ of independent livelihood for our
unemployed womankind. By our own efforts as well
as through other agencies, the old systems offorced
non-consentuous-mamages and joint families are
breaking down about us ; and yet we are doing
nothing to meet 'its which this social revolu-

tion is creating. That our women are slowly taking
[> and t!v; medical profession, is not a
proper solution of the difficulty. How many women
departments provide for, even if they were
more largely entered into by our ladies than they
actually an- ' ; It therefore behoves the more thought-
ful members of the Brahma Samaj to give up their
iv and inactivity in regard to this matter and
-e a cheme of free livelihood for our women, both
in the interest of their true spiritual progress and of
their temporal comfort and happiness. ,

I now come to the close of th< of lec-

>.-gan in April last year. I take this opppr-

tunity of repeating my thanks to the members of the

oty for having elected me lecturer


and 1 given me this opportunity of re-thinking the
grounds: and principles of B'rflhmaism and -presenting
to you the results of m^ reflections. I embrace also
this opportunity of expressing publiclymy grateful
feelings, and I trust, of everyone of you, to theMahar-
ajadhiraj of Burdwan, wh(5se pious and enlightened
interest in Theology made the foundation of this
lectureship possible and which has, moreover, brought
into existence what may not quite inaptly be de-
scribed as an extension, in a systematic and, it may be
hoped, a lasting form, of the work of the Theological
Society, I mean the Brahma Vidyalaya or Theological
College for all India. I would ask my young Brahma
friends to avail themselves, to the fullest, of the
opportunities thus afforded them by the Mahriraja-
dhiraj and his colleagues for acquiring a systematic
knowledge of Theology, the queen of all sciences.
It now remains for me, before I sit down, to indicate,
in as few words as I can, the ground I have travelled
in the course of the twelve lectures I have delivered
here on the Philosophy of Brahmaism. You will
see, from my recitation of the subjects dealt with in
these lectures, that the series might as well be call-
ed the History and Philosophy of Brahmaism. In my
first lecture I gave you a history of the development
of Brahm,ic doctrines from the time of Kaja
Rammohan Bay to quite recent times, touching
briefly on all the chief phases of thought that have
arisen during this important period of the history of
Brahmaism. In my second lecture I set forth the
claims of free scientific thought as the true basis of



Bivihinaisui and exposed the errors of supernatiiral-
ism in bot ifcs gross an^ subtle forms. In my third
lecture I gave a critical exposition of the doctrine of
* Intuition taught by Maharshi Devendranath Thakur
and Brahmananda Kesavchandra Sen, and pointed
out bi^th the permanent essence and the passing forms
of that doctrine. In my fourfch lecture, which ; you
must huve seen, was the corner stone of the whole
system laid down in these lectures, 1 showed, by* an
analysis of knowledge and thought, how the reality of
an infinite and eternal Consciousness as the very life
and support of tinite intelligence and of Nature, lies
at the root of all forms of conscious life. In the nf th
lecture I showed that the fundamental principles
oi ail sciences, physical, biological and mental, are
UK .d, whether scientists themselves know

or not, and imply the existence of an intelligent
Lung at the root of Nature. In the sixth lecture I
showed the place of both Monism and Dualism in
philosophical Druhmaism. In my seventh lecture
.pounded the idea of self-realisation, which I regard
as the true basis ot ethics, and laid down the mam
hues of moral duties. In my eighth lecture 1 sought
to establish the truth oi the Divine love and perfection
on the babib of the doctrine oi conscience expounded
in my previous lecture. In lyy ninth lecture I set
fortli the arguments for the immortality of the soul,
dwelling at some length on the latest forms of
.enalibiu, as ably dealt with by the eminent
Amencuii i'a)ciiologiat, i'ruiesoor \\ . James. In
my Untu lecture i UcutcU, botii Histoiicaiiy anu



critically, of the various systems of spiritual culture
that have been taught byi ,J3rahma ministers and
writers on practical religion from the time of liaja
Runimohan Kay to the present day. In my eleventh
lecture I stated at some length the chief Brahma
arguments against idolatry^, and caste and tried to
meet t the objections that are usually raised by Theists
still in orthodox Hindu society against the existence
of the Brahma Sarnaj as a distinct social organisation.
In this my last lecture, I have given, as you have
seen, a brief history of marriage reform in the
Brahma Samaj. with a statement of the advantages
offered by Brahma marriages over orthodox forms of
marriage, and have also told you what the Brahma
Samaj has done up to this time and ought to do in
future for promoting the education and emancipation
of women. I close with the hope that my humble
labours in the cause of Brahma Theology will be
rewarded by your seriously reflecting on the subjects
I have set forth before you. May God be ever with
us all in our search after truth !

Qm, Sdntih Sdntih Sdntih, Harih,, Oml


I am afraid that the statement and exposition of

physical principles in the. fourth lecture will be

felt by some readers to be too brief. It will perhaps
seem specially so to those who hve been led by^.their
v of works on Philosophy to conclusions different
from those stated iji it. Those whose acquaintance with
Philosophy is confined to the current manuals of Psy-
chology, will perhaps find my statements particularly
confusing. For readers of these classes I shall, in this
note, ^'O into a somewhat closer analysis of perception than
I have done in the text, and shall also name and consi-
der some anti-theistic theories a course which I !
carefully avoided in the lecture. It will he found that
this note, of these th< < Jven

ni the text. But a detailed criticism iii .

sc theories, may perhaps he
more helpful to soim; readers.

f the doctriiu 1 that we
unless it touches our body and

afier ' uses. T to do

i to he so.

:ngj> not in co:

with our , even th: .g at a ^i -nee

i to

j\ of i^s truth
is lit- ling <!' a in :


dealt with in the lecture, I shall offer here a bi.lef
explanation of it. The reader will see that the colaaess,
smoothness and hardness of th l e r table before my, and let
us suppose before him, tare nothing to us bffore we fee 1
them by actually touching it. And as we feel them, ti ey
are what we call tactual sensations, affections of our
sensibility. It will also be clef r that the smell of a eose is
nothing to us before we actually smell it, before particles
of the rose-pollen are in direct contact with our olfactory
nerves, and that smell as felt is nothing but a sensation,
a sensuous feeling. In the same manner, the sweetnass
of sugar is perceived only when the object comes into actual
contact with our tongue, and as felt in this manner,
it is but a sensation, a modification of our sensibility.
All this is easy toninderstand ; but that the colour of the
table is also a sensation and felt only when the object
seen is in direct contact with the nerves of the eyes, will
present difficulties to the ordinary reader. It seems as if
we directly perceive colour as in an object more or less
distant from the body. But really it is not so. Be-
fore we perceive colour in an object, tbe rays of light
failing upon it must be reflected on our eyes and form
an image on the retina. What we feel as colour is the
sensation that follows upon the formation of this image.
It is as much due to the contact of light with the visual
nerves as the tactual sensations are to the other .varieties
of sensuous impact. But what of the distance the
distance of the table, for instance, from my eyes?
Is not this distance distance in the line of sight
directly perceived ? The reader will see, on somewhat
close observation, that a knowledge of this distance
is acquired, not by direct perception, but by inference,


that this inferential knowledge has become so
habitual to us that it seems like direct perception. p If
he holds a pencil horizon Jrflly before his eyes, hep will note
he can see only one end df it, the one immediately
close to his eyes, and not the other end. If distance in
the line of sight were directly perceptible, the whole*
k of the pencil, includjpg the other end, would be seen.
As it is not seen, it is proved that distance in the w line of
sight is not perceptible. It is a straight line of which
you see only one end, namely, the end in immediate
ct with your eyes. What, then, you seem to see as
colour in a distant'object, is really in an object in direct
contact with your body in your eyes rather, as much as
smell is in your nose and taste in your tongue. Tnatwhat
we directly see is only an image in our eyes, or rather
two images coalescing into one, will be clear from th e
fact that when we, by pressing a finger on one of our
eyelids, move our eyeballs and disturb the parallelism of
the eyes, the two images on our eyes become distinct,
and the image seen by the moving eye moves with
If both the eyeballs are moved, both
the images move and thus show that they are with-

vithout the eyes. That there is a

object, that the colour in your eyes is caused by

a reflecting object lying at a distance, is, as I have

alre: . an inference an : various cir-

.-s. This inferential knowledge is only slowly

' | psychologists will tell you. It has been found

iie eyes of people born with 'defective eyes,

eyes long unus.-il, have been opened, all things seem to

is touching their eyes ; and it i> from the fact

that in order to touch the things they see 'they ^we to


move to greater or less distances, and from other circum-
stances of a similar nature, that they come to learn the dis-
tances of 'these objects. The falmtness of colour presented
by distant objects, their diminished size, and such other c
facts have now become to us signs telling us with more
or less immediacy that such objects are at a distance
from us. These remarks hol good of sound also, frhich
as we feel it, is a sensation due to the contact of tb_
vibrations of air with the nerves of the ear, but which has
gradually become a sign of objects more or less distant
from us.

Now, does it follow from what I have said above
that in perception we know only sensations, the passing
modifications of our sensibility ? Far from it. It will be
clear, on close observation, that with every sensation
we perceive our organism as an extended object. In
experiencing tastes, smells, sounds, colours and the
various tactual sensations, rLe various organs affected
the tongue, the nose, the ears, the eyes and the skin are
perceived as ex 4 - ..ids-* objects. The body or organism is
the object of direct perception ; but through it we know
the whole world in space. The body is known as occu-
pying a part of space, and space is known as unlimited.
Objects lying outside the body are known through their
contact with the various senses. For instance, "the table
before me is known through the visual, tactual and other
sensations it produces in me. From the sensation of colour
that it produces in me, I know it as a coloured object,
that is, an object having the power or quality of reflect-
ing lig^ht. Throughthe sensations that it produces in me
when I touch it and press my hand upon it, I know it as


a hard resisting substance, and so on. The steps and
processes ^hrough which^ we acquire the knowledge of

: \ve call external objects a/e matters of Psychology
and cannot ^ be dealt with here in detail; but as the
reader must have seen in reading the fifth lecture*
metauhysical theories are sometimes mixed up with the
subject matter of Psychology theories which Theology
cannot overlook. Let us here come face to fac with
some of these theories. The question that concerns
us most is the nature of the objects that are known
through perception their relation to the knowing mind.
The ordinary unphilosophical view is that the objects
pert" ist outside the perceiving mind

and \viih i:, '.lilies which are called

itions i: . People living

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Online LibrarySitanath TattvabhushanThe philosophy of Brahmaism, expounded with reference to its history : lectures delivered before the Theological Society, Calcutta, in 1906-1907 → online text (page 22 of 23)