Gauhati is the present capital of Assam, as Mandalay was once the capital of Burma. Like Burma, Assam is overrun by Hindus, who seek employment in the tea-plantations and in every other species of labor. These Hindus have brought their religion with them, and in Assam the animistic religions of the natives very commonly give way to the more poetic and philosophic faith of the Hindus. In Gauhati the Hindus have established a temple which attracts thousands of pilgrim worshipers from all parts of Assam and indeed of India, as the pagoda of Mandalay attracts pilgrims from all parts of Burma. The Gauhati temple, like that at Mandalay, is set upon a beautiful hill not far from the town, approached only by a long and stony climb, though with many a rest-house on the way. This temple and its worship so illustrate Hinduism, that a slight account of its origin and beliefs seems to be necessary.
The god Siva had a goddess for a wife. Displeased with her unfaithfulness, he seized her, and with her as his captive he flew through the air, and as he flew, he cut her in pieces. The middle portion of her body fell to the earth on this hill, and consecrated forever this spot near Gauhati. In the temple and grove of this hill the goddess is worshiped by such rites as will please one of low and licentious tastes. In fact, the rites of this temple are said to be the most obscene of any in the British possessions. There are reputed to be a thousand "virgins," who subsist in and upon the temple. The extent to which they are virgins may be judged by the number of fatherless children clinging to their robes or carried about. These "virgins," as is well known, are "married to the god of the temple"—which may mean married either to the priests of the temple, or to the worshipers of the temple. I asked a missionary whether these "virgins," after their term of service, could contract an ordinary marriage. I was answered that the girls were "married to the temple for life." One of these unfortunate women led by the hand a beautiful little daughter. On being asked who the father was, the mother replied: "How should I know? I am a temple-woman." So the gratification of illicit passion becomes a religious act. The residents of Gauhati are free to visit the temple, and so, alas! are the eight hundred students of the English college only two miles away. Who can measure the corrupting influence of this temple upon the lives of the people over a wide area in Assam?
A student of the college, who was also a priest of the temple, met one of our party on his visit. This student-priest was a young man of more than ordinary intelligence. He endeavored to palliate the evil of the temple-worship, and to clothe its acts with spiritual significance. He pointed to the spot where goats and buffaloes were offered in sacrifice, and he claimed that this offering was made in expiation of sin. Such an explanation of Hindu sacrifices is altogether futile. The sense of guilt is so dull in Hinduism, that sin is little more than external and physical impurity, and may be simply failure to conform to a prescribed act of ceremonial worship. The true meaning of sacrifice for sin has, in India, been derived solely from Christian preaching. This particular student had many an opportunity to hear such preaching, and the knowledge of atonement which he tried to mix with his Hindu theology was probably gained from missionary sources. It was an illustration of the incidental and indirect ways in which Christian missions are permeating these Oriental lands, and are forcing these old religions to adopt some of the fundamental ideas of Christianity. These ideas are misunderstood and misstated, so that they become in large part forms of error. But notwithstanding, they may pave the way for a fuller knowledge of the truth, and for the entrance of Christ into the heart and into the life.
CALCUTTA, DARJEELING, AND BENARES
Calcutta is the largest city of India. It numbers more than a million inhabitants, of whom 600,000 are Hindus, 300,000 are Mohammedans, and less than 100,000 are Christians. The name of the city is derived from Kali, the goddess-wife of Siva, the Destroyer; and her temple is one of the most filthy and disgusting in all India. In this temple I saw one of its many priestesses cutting into bits the flesh and entrails of a goat, which had been offered in sacrifice, in order that the poorest worshiper might have for his farthing something bloody to present at the altar. It was the altar of a fierce, cruel, and lustful goddess, whose black and ugly image could be dimly seen within the shrine. A stalwart priest followed me with hand outstretched for a contribution. It was a novel sensation to hear him utter, in excellent English and with seeming reverence, the words, "the great goddess Kali," as if no one could doubt her power. It reminded me of "the great goddess Diana," whom all Asia and the whole world once worshiped, but whose temple is now an indistinguishable heap of ruins. The worship of a goddess so vengeful and sensual as Kali throughout India, a worship both of lust and of fear, shows how ineradicable is the religious instinct, but how perverted it may become when existing apart from divine revelation.
There is another temple in Calcutta of a somewhat better sort. I refer to the temple of the Jains, that mongrel sect which is partly a reformed Hinduism, and partly a worship of Buddha. Its temple is a model of cleanliness and of Oriental art. Its decoration consists largely of inlaid glass of all the colors of the rainbow. Walls, ceilings, and columns are fairly ablaze with tinted arabesques that reflect every ray of the sun. Fountains and lawns and statues mingle their attractions. The effect is one of splendor and beauty. Jainism is conservative Hinduism, recurring to the ancestral worship of the Vedas, exaggerating its doctrine of the sanctity of animal life, repudiating its later licentious developments, and taking in Buddha, not as the supreme and sole teacher of religion, but as only one of its great saints and heroes.
The real glory of Calcutta is its relation to modern missions. Here is the chapel in which William Carey preached, and in which Adoniram Judson was baptized. Its spacious construction evinces the faith and hope of its founders. But it is in Serampore, which, though fourteen miles away, is almost a suburb of Calcutta, that Carey's work was done. How wonderful that work was! "A consecrated cobbler," he mastered the languages of the Orient, and gave the Bible to India in several of its tongues. He received from the British Government large compensation for his services as interpreter and translator, but he gave back all the money he received, in order to support schools and missions. The noble college at Serampore, with its hundreds of students, is his best memorial. His tomb in the cemetery witnesses to his humility of spirit. It stands at one corner of a triangle, with the tombs of Marshman and of Ward at the two remaining corners, but the only inscription he permitted to be engraved upon it is the two lines of the hymn,
A wretched, lost, and helpless worm, On thy kind arms I fall.
So he left his testimony to the need, and the power, of Him who will ultimately demolish Hindu temples and enthrone Christ in India.
From Calcutta we traveled about three hundred and seventy miles northward to Darjeeling. We wished to see the Himalayas. A most tortuous narrow-gage railway lifted us gradually to a height of seven thousand feet. And there we had the unusual privilege of seeing the sunrise tipping with rosy light the snowy peak of Kinchinjinga, twenty-eight thousand feet high and forty-six miles away. Mt. Everest, a hundred miles distant, is twenty-nine thousand feet high, but from Darjeeling is invisible. Kinchinjinga is nearly twice as high as Mont Blanc, and its glittering mass is a spectacle never to be forgotten. Curiously enough, upon the summit of Observatory Hill, from which we gained our view, the immigrant Tibetans had erected their shrine, and long, inscribed paper and muslin streamers, enclosing a large quadrangle, gave to the winds their prayers. No idol was to be seen. The worship seems to be far more spiritual than that of the Hindus. Nature seems to have taught that secluded race of Tibetans a more primitive religion than modern Hinduism. It is a religion mixed with Buddhism, but preserving the earlier view of a divinity in natural objects, which Hinduism has almost wholly outgrown.
Our next point of investigation was Benares, "the holy city," the Mecca and Jerusalem of the Hindus. It is a hotbed of heathen enthusiasm and of blinded devotion. The sacred river Ganges flows by, with tier upon tier of temples rising from its steep banks—such a congestion of religious edifices that one might almost doubt whether they had left room for any but priests to live. Every day, hundreds of pilgrims troop through its streets and throng these temples, presenting their flowers and their offerings, making their sacrifices, and listening submissively to the instructions and threatenings of the priests. Every temple has its sacred animals, to be sacrificed or worshiped. The "Golden Temple," so-named, is covered with gold-leaf from its spire to its base. The noisy crowd in its corridors, the noisome odors of its sanctuaries, the adjurations of its priests and their evident aim to turn religion into financial gain, disgust the Christian traveler, while they show him how deeply rooted in the human heart is this towering system of idolatry and superstition.
But only the water-view of Benares presents Hinduism in its most characteristic aspect. It is the sacred river that makes sacred the town. This river is regarded as itself divine, for it had its source in the mouth of Brahma. Hence it is endowed with life-giving and purifying powers. It is bordered for a full mile by a grand succession of palaces and temples, of bathing ghats and of burning ghats. Here the Hindu, often after long pilgrimage, washes away his defilement and prepares himself to die. When death actually comes, his relatives wash his body in the holy stream. But the bathing ghat only makes ready for the burning ghat. These burning ghats are castle-like edifices, from which the smoke of burning flesh ascends continually. Cremation, with the Hindu, takes the place of burial. The ashes are collected and are preserved in a tomb. To die in Benares, and to have a temple for a tomb, is the surest passport to happiness in a future state, since the transmigration of souls into higher or lower forms is an essential doctrine of modern Hinduism.
A wealthy resident of Benares courteously offered us the use of his observation-boat to view the scene upon the river in the early morning. This river-craft was a double-decker, propelled by oars from the lower deck. From the upper platform, one could overlook the ceremonial washings of hundreds of pilgrims. Stalwart men plunged themselves three times into the stream, looked toward the sun, joined their hands, spoke a prayer, rinsed their sacred cord, cleansed their raiment, and then, reclad, went to the priest on his platform, to be smeared with ashes on the forehead and marked with a little colored dot, as a certificate that they had correctly performed their vow. Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, had each his worshipers and his priests, to give the appropriate mark. The "holy man" was there, either upon his bed of spikes or in an attitude which suggested torture, and ready to receive the homage, and the money as well, of his benighted admirers. Mothers were present, immersing not only themselves but also their children. All the bathers must drink of the muddy and fetid water, for purification internal is as needful as purification external. And so, hundreds of worshipers every day, and on special feast-days thousands, drink this water of the "sacred Ganges," foul with the stains of disease and reeking with the sweat of the dead. It is no wonder that the burning ghats have no lack of business, and no wonder that medical experts have traced epidemics of cholera, smallpox, and plague, in Western lands, to this city of Benares, where "Satan's seat is." The throne of the great adversary, however, seems to be built on very insufficient foundations, for not a few of the temples which line the steep banks of the river have toppled over, or have sunk into the yielding sand. Their massive fragments, at the base of long stairways of stone, show how hideous is the ruin of any system of religion which is not founded upon Christ, the Rock.
LUCKNOW, AGRA, AND DELHI
At last we are on Mohammedan ground—at least on ground where Mohammedanism has a powerful, and perhaps a controlling, influence. This northwest part of India was the scene of Moslem conquest in the ninth century. Mohammedans have always proudly contemned idolatry, and they have often been iconoclasts, as many headless Hindu images can witness. Northwest India saw the rise and the strength of the great mutiny of half a century ago, but it was Moslem rajas and faithful Moslem troops who helped to put it down.
Mohammedan faith in the unity and personality of God might at first sight seem to render its adherents more accessible than are Hindus to the gospel of Christ. As a matter of fact, however, the very elements of truth in their belief make them too often stout opponents of Christianity. They are religious bigots, as the Hindus are not. The Hindu has a pantheon to which he can, with some show of consistency, invite Christ. The Mohammedan declares that there is but one God, and that Mohammed is his prophet. So he denies Christ's claim to be either God or Saviour.
Lucknow was deeply interesting, for here was exhibited one of the most heroic and thrilling defenses ever made in history. More than two hundred women and children spent three months of agony in the cellars of the British residency, while husbands and fathers and friends, to the number of seventeen hundred, were exposed to the besieging force and the murderous fire of fifty thousand mutineers. The headquarters of the defenders were riddled with shot and shell, and the residency is now a ruin. But only one shot penetrated the retreat of the women and children below, and of these only one woman lost her life. Crowded together in the heat of the summer, tormented by flies, half famished for lack of food, these brave women held out themselves and encouraged the protecting garrison, though of the seventeen hundred men only seven hundred at the end of the siege remained alive. Sir Henry Lawrence died of a cannon-shot, exhorting his soldiers to the last man to die, rather than to surrender. We were glad to pay reverence to his bravery, by a visit to his tomb. Although he died, the flag of England flew over the fortress, in spite of innumerable efforts of the enemy to bring it down. And to-day, in memory of that fact, it is the only flag in the British Empire that is not lowered at sunset. The joy of the defenders and of those whom they defended may be imagined, when General Havelock appeared in their relief, and the great mutiny was suppressed. That victory settled the prestige of the English in India. All classes now recognize the military strength as well as the judicial fairness of British rule. Without it, India would be a country of warring races, for Mohammedan and Hindu even to-day live in slumbering jealousy of each other.
This latent hostility, I am happy to say, shows some signs of wearing away. The desire for more of home-rule is bringing these two great races together in conventions, with a view to the discovery of some method of cooperation between them. Parliamentary government in China and Japan has had its effect in India, and Britain will soon be compelled to admit her Indian populations to a larger share in municipal and provincial administration. But democracy can be successful, only when conflicting classes find some basis for harmony. English missionary and educational institutions are doing much to reconcile Hindus and Mohammedans to one another, and this may prepare the way, not simply for free government, but also for the acceptance by both parties of a religion in which all their elements of truth are included, while their perversions of truth are sloughed off.
By English educational and missionary institutions I mean much more than Church of England schools and colleges. In Lucknow we visited the Isabella Thoburn College, under American Methodist control, and were greatly impressed by its noble equipment in the way of buildings and teachers. Both boys and girls have here the opportunity of securing an education as high in grade as the sophomore years of our American colleges, and of preparing themselves for the advanced work of a great Indian university. All this is under Christian influences, and has its fruit in many a conversion to Christ. Martiniere College is also nobly equipped and endowed, but it is solely for English boys, who are generally the sons of British officials in India. I cannot speak too highly of these means of education now furnished by all our great denominations, in all the cities of India. I could only wish that our Baptist people at home might see how far Christians of other names have often surpassed them in their gifts and preparations for the future of a country whose population is three times as large as our own.
At Lucknow we had the rare opportunity of seeing "the mango trick" performed by an expert juggler. He first showed us a jar, filled with innocent sand, so dry that it fell easily through his fingers as he lifted a handful. Then he presented a dry mango seed, which he planted in the sand and watered. The jar was placed on the stone pavement of the hotel, not ten feet away from our eyes. He covered the jar with a little tent not two feet in diameter. After a few passes of the hand, the tent was lifted. The seed had already sprouted, and had become a twig with leaves. Covering the plant once more, he called our attention to a cobra-charmer, who played harmlessly with a hooded and venomous snake. At last he threw the tent wholly aside, and there stood a fully developed little mango tree, perhaps two feet high. It seemed impossible that the folds of the tent, which had been shaken out at the beginning, could possibly have held it. The juggler's method was simplicity itself. If I had not previously seen in America a necromancer cut his wife's head off, and then put it on again so slick that she seemed to have received no injury, I might have begun to believe that this Indian juggler had supernatural powers.
To Lucknow succeeded Agra. The great wonder and prize of Agra is, of course, the Taj Mahal. So we made our way to it before sunrise, and saw its exquisite columns and its white minarets in the rosy light of the earliest morning; then again, as the sun was setting, we saw its last rays fall upon the snow-white dome. As one looks upon the Taj from the noble gateway through which one enters the enclosing park, he sees also its reflection in the long lines of water that lie between, and it seems a miracle of beauty. But when you reach the edifice itself, and perceive that its simplicity is combined with lavish richness of decoration, marble and precious stones being so woven together that they form one gorgeous and splendid whole, you can only admire the affection that planned this memorial to a beloved wife, and the art which has succeeded in constructing an edifice which, after six centuries, is still recognized as a wonder of the world. Yet the Moslem emperor who built it was deposed by his son, and then imprisoned not far away, the chief solace and recreation granted him being this, that from his prison-roof he could look out upon the Taj Mahal.
The Pearl Mosque and the Jasmine Tower, the Courts of Public and of Private Audience, in the palace which the Moslem emperor once occupied, are monuments of architecture so remarkable and so beautiful, that no description of mine can fairly represent the impression which they made upon me. They are surrounded and protected by the Fort, an enclosure half a mile square, whose massive wall is itself a wonder. In the days when these structures were built, labor was cheap, for the monarch had only to impress and to feed his laborers. But artistic genius is always rare. The Mohammedan conquest and sovereignty of the past produced and encouraged a flowering out of art, comparable to that of the days of cathedral-building in England, and of the time of Pericles when sculpture and architecture so flourished in Greece. In all the world there is nothing more elaborate or beautiful than the perforated marble of these Oriental screens, and the intricate carving of these Oriental pillars. The Alhambra in Spain has its superiors in India, both for splendor of color and for beauty of pattern. The arabesques of these Oriental mosques exhibit powers of invention of the highest order. It has been well said that their architects "designed like Titans, and finished like jewelers." Both the throne of the Mogul Emperor Akbar and his tomb in Agra are proofs that even the grain of truth in Mohammedanism can awaken intelligence and enthusiasm in those who receive it, and that, in the conflict with idol systems, it has power to conquer the world.
An account of our visit to Delhi may well complete my summary of Mohammedan influences in India. Delhi was the capital of India long before Akbar reigned and the lofty tower of the Kutab Minar was built. But Hindu influence has combined with Mohammedan in leading the British to restore Delhi to its former position as the center of governmental authority. Tradition has handed down a prediction that making Delhi its capital marked the end of each power that asserted itself. Hence there have been many Delhis, as there have been many ancient Romes, and this present Delhi must be succeeded by a new Delhi which British authority and resources will build. The new Delhi will be the ninth, as the present Delhi is the eighth, of the long series. Ruins of the earlier Delhis are about it on every side. Now, at last, a great tract of land has been appropriated for the new seat of government which will rise from the dust. Temporary buildings have been erected. The permanent ones will soon follow. We may be sure that they will be splendid and suited to modern tastes, while they still preserve the characteristic features of Indian architecture.
By making this new Delhi the British capital of India, it is sought to impress the Oriental mind with Britain's claims to be supreme, while at the same time the old traditional prediction is evaded. Let us hope that the device will accomplish its purpose. The prosperity of India is bound up with the recognition by all races and parties of England's right to rule. I would not justify all the steps by which Britain has gained her power, nor would I ignore certain defects of her later administration. But there is no question as to the general justice of British rule, nor as to the fact that, without it, India's warring races and religions would now be the ruin of all peace and progress. When we remember that in this land of former famines the population has increased since 1858 by one hundred millions; that forty-six thousand miles of canals have been dug for irrigation, and more than twenty-two million acres have thereby been reclaimed; that trade has increased in the last half-century from three hundred millions to fourteen hundred millions; that the value of land is now larger by fifteen hundred millions than it was fifty years ago; that there are now thirty-two thousand miles of railway in operation and seventy-six thousand miles of telegraph; that the Indian Post Office now handles nine hundred millions of letters, newspapers, and other matter every year; we may well doubt whether any conquest of history has brought about so great or so beneficent results as have followed what we must regard as England's commercial absorption of India.
There are doubtless seditious and anarchistic elements in the Indian populations which need to be kept under and subdued. Let us remember that only one-tenth part of the men, and only one-hundredth part of the women, know how to read. There is a vast proletarian mass, ignorant and inflammable, ready to follow leaders of better education, but less principle, than themselves. This mass the British Government has failed to educate, so that, while ninety per cent of the people in Japan can read, in India only one-tenth as many can read. One of the greatest mistakes of English administration has been its beginning of education at the top, instead of at the bottom. It has established universities, but not elementary schools. The excuse, of course, has been, that differences of caste and of religion have made it impossible to put Hindu children and Mohammedan children, Brahman children and Sudra children, together, in the same schools. And yet, in the universities, pupils of all these various classes sit side by side, and some plan, it would seem, might have been devised to apply the same rule, so as to secure universal and compulsory elementary education. The higher education, taken alone, has its dangers; it is sought only by people of means and intelligence; many seek it from no love of learning, but only in order to prepare themselves for government offices. But there are not enough offices to go round. The disappointed men will not work with their hands; they find their avocation in the plotting of sedition. It is the high-caste educated Brahmans who have edited the malcontent periodicals, and have organized the revolutionary conspiracies, which have of late bred so much trouble for the government in India. I rejoice therefore in the rise of factories, and in the new emphasis that is being laid on industrial education. These will do much to develop the resources of India. But what is most needed is the spirit of peace and justice; this is furnished by the gospel of Christ. I therefore believe that the gospel is the only real guaranty to India of its political as well as its religious welfare.
The Friday prayer-service in the great mosque of Delhi was a striking spectacle. The open court in front of the mosque is four hundred and fifty feet square, surrounded by a cloister, and paved with granite inlaid with marble. Three or four thousand worshipers, in parallel rows, stretched from side to side of the great enclosure. At the summons of the mollah, or officiating priest, all these worshipers, in perfect unison, prostrated themselves with folded hands, and repeated in a loud voice, "God is great." Each devotee had previously purified himself, by cleansing his mouth and hands and feet in the open tank in the center of the great esplanade. Inasmuch as the Delhi mosque is the largest and most splendid east of Cairo, the entire spectacle was most impressive.
If Turkey had not joined a Christian power by her alliance with Germany, Mohammedans throughout the world might have taken Germany's side against the Allies, and might have threatened the peace of India. That danger is now providentially averted. The Moslem rulers have held fast to their allegiance to the British Crown. This city of Delhi, with the schools of the Methodists, the Anglicans, and the English Baptists, is permeated with religious influences that attract its native populations, and these influences are continually lessening the prospect of any future rebellion such as the mutiny of fifty years ago.
JAIPUR, MT. ABU, AND AHMEDABAD
India, as is well known, is a part of the British Empire, and is under the sway of the British Government. Yet, for administrative purposes, it is divided into presidencies, provinces, and native states. The presidencies and provinces are wholly administered by British officials. The native states are administered by rajas and other Indian rulers, with the presence in each capital of a resident officer who represents the British Government and who is accessible for consultation in case of necessity. The relations between the rajas and the residents are friendly, and only the gravest matters are referred to the representative of the Crown. All other affairs are cared for by the native ruler, who is attended by a distinguished suite and who maintains quite a royal court. This species of self-government is the reward, granted by the British Government after the mutiny of 1857, to the rulers of the native states, who remained faithful to British interests and assisted in the suppression of the great rebellion. The government of these native rulers is in general worthy of praise. Many of them are progressive men; they have traveled abroad; they have been affected by Western thought; they have introduced modern reforms and systems of education, to the great benefit of their subjects. In this present hour of crisis, the majority of them have been loyal to the British Government, and have contributed men and means for the cause of the Allies. It was interesting in our journey across India to traverse several of these native states; and it was difficult to observe any difference between these sections and the portions of the empire officered solely by the British. We saw no British soldiers, but only native troops. There was less of English language and custom prevalent. The Hindu, Mohammedan, and Jain seemed to have things very much to themselves. They, after all, are the real India, the hereditary India, while at the same time they are feeling the influence of modern railways and modern commerce.
Jaipur, which is the capital of a native state, was especially interesting. It has been called "The Pink City," either because the maharaja owns all the property on the business streets and himself sees that every building is painted of a pink color, or because he compels every private owner to conform to his fixed rules of construction and decoration. At any rate, the wide streets of Jaipur are laid out like those of the homeland, and are lined with pink structures of only one type of architecture and only one type of ornamentation. Even Paris can present no better illustration of the value of supervision in building. There are no sky-scrapers. There are long rows of shops and residences, with arcades in front of them, and with many variations in plan and decoration, while at the same time one tone of pink, together with the sky-line and the arcade-line is preserved without important change; the Oriental type of building is preserved; and there is a uniform style of architecture from one end of the street to the other. No city in the world so well illustrates Mrs. Humphrey Ward's quotation of the poet's words,
A rose-red city, half as old as Time.
It is not the city of Jaipur, however, which merits our chief attention, though the maharaja's town-palace and his quaint astronomical observatory are both of them deeply interesting. This observatory has no tower and no telescope. It shows what can be done by sun-dials and structures almost level with the ground to mark the movements of the heavenly bodies, and thus demonstrates that primitive stargazers might even thus early acquire a very considerable knowledge of astronomy. The scientific and literary tastes of this Oriental monarch are also indicated by a noble public library of his own foundation, which contains a priceless collection of books and manuscripts in all the languages of the East.
But it is Amber that constitutes the chief attraction of a visit to Jaipur. Amber is the original metropolis and the ancient seat of government, five miles distant from the present Jaipur, and even now the summer residence of the maharaja, though the old city which once lay around the rocky fortress has become a waste of ruin. The palace at Amber is situated on a hilltop several hundred feet above the level of the plain, and commanding magnificent views of the surrounding country. Next to the sight of river or sea from a mountain summit, the view of broad and level plains stretching far away is most beautiful, and such a view the Indian ruler secured when he built his summer residence upon this eminence.
We came expecting to find India hot, but we have found the northern part of India very cool. So it was reviving and refreshing to take the drive from Jaipur to Amber in an automobile, over a noble roadway with slightly ascending grade and skirting an originally splendid palace, once in the center of an island, but now in the bed of a dried-up lake. When we left the motor-car at the final lofty hill, the deserted city of Amber towered above us. How should we reach that threatening height? Three gorgeously caparisoned elephants solicited our patronage for the ascent. But before making that ascent, there was another ascent to make. We had to ascend the elephants. Ladders were brought to our assistance, and up the ladders we climbed to the howdah, or square seat on the top of the bulky beasts. Each elephant had to carry two passengers. I, on one side of the animal that bore me, had my weight balanced by that of my courier, who rode on the other side. Each of us was compelled to let his legs dangle over the edge of the howdah. All went well until the elephant came to the narrow part of the road. There he evinced a vicious propensity to plant his feet close to the edge of the precipice. There was indeed a railing beneath me, but, clinging as I was somewhat convulsively to my slippery seat, the railing was invisible. So I seemed to myself at times to be hanging over the abyss. If I slipped from my seat, I might fall four hundred feet. It was not a pleasing situation. But the elephant knew his business. He trod the path in perfect confidence. And so, in royal state, though in mind tremendously afloat, we made the long and steep climb, until we reached the palace of the king. The maharaja, however, was not at home that day to receive us. He is a Hindu devotee, and at the time of our visit he was making a pilgrimage to Benares, the sacred city. The first thing we saw, when we entered the court of his excellency, was the spot where every morning a bullock or a goat is sacrificed as an offering to his heathen god.
Still, "every prospect pleases." The views of mountain and plain from this elevation among the hills are so beautiful that one can only admire the taste of the prince who made this his chosen dwelling-place. And the palace itself is a fascinating study in art and architecture. Long corridors are turned into cloisters arched and shaded from the sun. Tanks of water, with fountains playing in the center, provide refreshing baths. Halls of public and of private audience are gorgeous with crimson and gold. Temples for worship are added, both for daily devotion and for great state occasions. In short, here are all the appurtenances of an Oriental court, combined with private luxury and seclusion. While the multitudes must toil and suffer in the plains below, the maharaja may rest and enjoy himself in his hilltop palace. I would not, however, imply that this particular monarch is not in many respects a large-minded and liberal man. The many evidences of his taste and public spirit in Jaipur rectify any wrong impressions one might gain from a visit to Amber.
The next day we reached a station called Abu Road, four hundred miles to the south of Delhi, and about half-way to Bombay. True to its name, Abu Road furnished us the road to Abu Mountain. Again we proceeded by motor-car, that great annihilator of distance in a foreign land. This road, in its gradual ascent, is a noble piece of engineering. It is exceedingly tortuous, for it follows the contour of the mountain in marvelously skilful curves. All the way for two hours, and covering an ascent of four thousand five hundred feet, there are enchanting views. Tropical birds and trees were on every hand, together with cactus of many varieties; green and red parrots screamed through the air; peacocks spread themselves in the sun; and monkeys scampered across our path.
One of the spurs of Mt. Abu is called Dilwarra. It is the seat of the chief temple in India of the Jains, that Hindu sect which claims to have preserved the ancient religion of the Vedas, and to have kept it true to the ancestral faith. As I have before remarked, the Jains aim to escape the possible miseries of transmigration, and to attain the bliss of Nirvana, even in the present life. Jainism, like every other heathen system, is an effort to earn salvation by labors and sacrifices of one's own. Its works of righteousness, however, are often uncalled-for exaggerations of natural virtues, such as counting sacred all forms of animal and vegetable life. The most devoted of the sect wear a cloth over their mouths, lest they should destroy an insect by swallowing it. To found hospitals for the care of parrots and monkeys is one of the most approved works of merit. So also it is a work of merit to build a temple or to endow it. Jain temples are full of images, and the chief object of worship is honored by their multiplication. Buddha is recognized as one of the divine incarnations, and in some sense Buddha is worshiped. But it must be remembered that even in Jainism Buddha is only a memory. He has entered into Nirvana, and has passed out of conscious existence. Now that he has attained that state of passivity, he has no eye to pity and no arm to save. And yet in this Jain temple images of Buddha are worshiped, and these images are numbered by the hundreds.
All this aberration from the truth does not prevent the temple from being almost a miracle of art. There is a scrupulous cleanliness about it which differences it from other heathen temples, like that of Kali. In the Jain temples there are no animal sacrifices, for all animal life is sacred. But there are little houses for feeding the birds; larger houses for feeding the beasts; and tombs for departed saints and teachers. And let it be specially borne in mind that in all the world there are no more splendid examples of arches, domes, and shrines, decorated with elaborate and intricate carvings, than are found here in Dilwarra. Its arabesques of perforated white marble an inch and a half thick are like lace-work in their delicacy and beauty. Invention could go no farther in devising an infinite variety of geometric traceries. We in the West have much to learn from the artistic genius and labor of the East.
Another day's ride, or rather, another night's ride, brought us to a city of a very different sort from Jaipur, and to a very different environment from that of Mt. Abu. It brought us to the busy metropolis of Ahmedabad. Here is also a city in a state under a native ruler, but a city so prosperous that native rule is seen to be by no means slovenly or indolent. On the way from the station I counted eighteen lofty chimneys belonging to manufacturing establishments. There are eighty factories in this busy center, chiefly connected with the cotton industry. In this industrial expansion is revealed the solution of many of India's financial problems. The population is now too exclusively employed in agriculture, and its manufactured articles are imported. But the rains are so uncertain that the farmer's subsistence is precarious, and famines claim thousands of victims. Hence, next to Christianity, India needs industrial development. This has been the view of recent British governors. Better methods of irrigation and of cultivation have been supplemented by the introduction of new instruments of manufacture. Both English and American machines now do much of the work that was formerly done by hand, and in the cities there is growing up a new manufacturing population.
Industrial missions are a great blessing to India, and our religious denominations have shown their practical sense by entering upon this sort of work. When a native becomes a convert to Christianity, he is often thrown out of caste by his family, and out of labor by his employers. He must support himself; he must find something to do. But he is friendless and helpless, unless he can find friendship and help in the mission where he has been converted. It is necessary to secure employment for him, if he is not to become an encumbrance to the mission and to himself. Hence I welcome all gifts for industrial missions that will teach men new methods of obtaining a livelihood. India, as I have said, has a vast agricultural population, now scantily subsisting and subject to occasional famines. Multitudes who are now idle might be usefully employed. The change now going on in our Southern States might well go on in Southern India, and I welcome the sight of the factory chimneys of Ahmedabad.
Ahmedabad is not yet converted to Christianity. It is a celebrated stronghold of Jainism, and here is another most splendid temple. It was instructive to see the little houses on poles for the care of birds, and for the feeding of lazy monkeys, while the poor and sick of human kind in the neighborhood begged in vain for help. The Jain temples are noted in all India for their beauty. Carving and gilding can go no farther than they have gone in the decoration of this shrine in Ahmedabad. But the troop of monkeys that came to us in the park to be fed, seemed to us quite as sensitive to human needs as were the holy men who sat about that temple of the Jains, for these latter devotees use God's gifts not rationally, but for inferior ends, and especially for their own interest and comfort. Ahmedabad is an example, not of the worst, but still of a misplaced, religious zeal that has lost its bearings because it has lost its God.
BOMBAY, KEDGAON, AND MADRAS
Bombay is a great city, the second, in population, of the British Empire in India. While Calcutta has over a million people, Bombay comes only a few short of that number. Its commerce is immense; its public buildings are fashioned after European models; its streets are broad and finely paved; there is every evidence of wealth and cultivation. But Hindus greatly outnumber Mohammedans; Parsees are strong; Christians are active, but still comparatively few. In thought and customs, Bombay is still essentially Oriental, while yet profoundly influenced by modern newspapers and modern inventions. It was a memorable change for us travelers to emerge from its Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, and then to find ourselves, first in its Caves of Elephanta, and secondly, in its Towers of Silence.
A word of explanation is necessary for each of these notable objects of interest. Elephanta is a little island eight miles from Bombay, and so named because of its general resemblance in shape to an elephant. Elephanta Island forms a beautiful object as seen from the deck of the little steamer that serves for a ferry, and the views from the summit of Elephanta Hill, over the Bombay Bay, with the gleaming towers of the green city in the distance, are very charming. The island is a great resort, however, not so much for the views therefrom, as because it is the seat of a rock-hewn temple excavated centuries ago in honor of Siva, the Hindu god, whose province it is to destroy. Brahma is the Creator; Vishnu, the Preserver; and Siva, the Destroyer. Siva was the god of reproduction, however, as well as the god who destroys, and his worship has been often connected with obscene and lascivious rites.
The approach to Siva's temple is through a lovely garden, in which are many splendid specimens of tropical vegetation. At last there appears to the visitor, in the side of the precipitous hill, a massive portico, with four immense pillars, all hewn out of the solid rock. Then come long rows of similar columns leading darkly like a cathedral nave into the stony hill, and terminating at the altar, above which towers the statue of Siva, colossal in size, with Parvati, his goddess wife, by his side, and all the emblems of his authority, as scepter and sword, around him. The statue seems to express the joy of sovereignty, and, though somewhat mutilated, it is noticeably free from the immoral suggestions which have been intimated in many descriptions of it. Entrance to the statue is flanked by great guardian statues, and the whole chancel, so to speak, is enclosed by a broad and lofty corridor, in the manner of cathedral architecture. From this corridor on either side, many nooks in the rock have been excavated, like chantry chapels, each with its separate statue at least twenty feet in height. The whole Hindu pantheon, seems to be represented by carved figures, but all cluster about the god Siva. The really characteristic and indispensable feature of these caves is, however, still to be mentioned. It is the image of the lingam, or phallus, gigantic in size, and carven out of solid stone, in the innermost shrine, where it is the object of hysterical or lustful worship. Every year, on an appointed feast-day, three or four thousand people throng to this shrine, some to pray for offspring, others to seek license for illicit pleasure. Elephanta has become in this way the symbol and propagator of a debasing superstition. Such worship is only a deification of the lower instincts of human nature.
Returning to Bombay, it was natural to think of the Towers of Silence, for these too are located on a lovely eminence, called the Malabar Hill, and overlooking the city and the bay. These towers are enclosures in which the Parsees, a most intelligent, wealthy, and influential sect, dispose of the bodies of their dead, by laying the forms in the open air where they can be devoured by vultures. The towers themselves are at least half a dozen in number, and they vary in size. But the style of their construction is uniform. Inside of a lofty circular wall are concentric beds of stone, each with its groove in which a corpse can be laid. There are three concentric circles, the outermost for men, the next inner for women, the innermost for children. The structure has no roof, but is open to the air. Great flocks of vultures perch upon the top of the outermost enclosing wall, waiting in silence and expectation for the time when they can descend upon their prey. Only a half-hour elapses after a body is laid on its stony bed, before these ravenous birds have torn every morsel of flesh from its bones. The skeleton is then left to disintegrate by the action of the elements, until the rains wash the remaining dust into a great pit at the center of the circles, from which receptacle the refuse is conducted away by drains during the rainy season, to mingle with the surrounding earth.
This is the Parsees' "ashes to ashes, dust to dust." They glory in this method of disposing of their dead, and they think it far more natural and impressive than the common Hindu method of cremation. We must grant that all methods of disposing of the dead are painful. But faith in a resurrection of the body is surely most in consonance with our time-honored custom of laying our dead away in their kindred earth, "until the day dawns, and the shadows flee away."
From Bombay to the town of Kedgaon may seem to some a descent from great to small. Not so; it is rather an ascent from the false to the true, from the impure to the pure, from the illusory to the real. For Kedgaon is the home, and center of the work, of Pundita Ramabai, perhaps the most learned, and certainly the most influential Christian woman in India. The very name pundita is given only to those of high intellectual attainments. A Hindu of the highest, that is the Brahman, caste, she was many years ago converted to Christianity, and she has devoted all her powers to the education and uplifting of her countrywomen. Her father was a great Sanskrit scholar. He was one of the first in India to determine that his daughter should be a learned woman. Accordingly she was thoroughly instructed. She knew by heart the sacred scriptures of her people long before she became a Christian. She could repeat from memory an amount of them equal to that of our whole English Bible. It is especially the improvement of the condition of women, and particularly of child-widows, to which she has devoted her attention. The condition of the child-widow in India is most pitiable. She is held responsible for the death of her husband, no matter how young she may be. She is subjected to indignities. Her hair is entirely shaven from her head. Her jewels are taken from her. Her bright clothing is taken away, and she is clad in the coarsest garments. She becomes the slave of the family; virtually an outcast; frequently a prostitute. She can never remarry, no matter how young she may be at the beginning of her widowhood.
It was to ameliorate this condition of affairs that Pundita Ramabai set herself many years ago. She gathered child-widows under her protection, surrounded them with Christian influences, and gave them a Christian education. A time of famine threw upon her care in one year twenty-four hundred girls, who depended upon her alone for food to keep them from starving. That time of great distress is now past, but when we remember that in India there are estimated to be as many as two millions of child-widows, it will be clear that the need of a refuge for such is still immensely great. Girls of the highest caste are in the greatest need, for among the lower classes the reproach of child-widowhood is not so strongly felt. It was the sorrows of girls belonging to her own Brahman caste, married perhaps at the age of eight or ten to husbands five times their own age, and then made practically outcasts by those husbands' death, that most touched the heart of Ramabai. It is wonderful what she has already accomplished. We found on her extensive premises a great assembly-room which has sheltered at one time twenty-six hundred auditors; schools of every grade for Hindu girls, including a school for the blind; a large and commodious hospital; a printing office with presses capable of turning out a high order of typography; an asylum for lepers; a rescue-home for unfortunate girls; normal classes for teachers and for nurses; training in sewing, embroidery, and weaving; and many another sort of Christian service, including the work of the factory and the farm. Every species of cooking on the premises, and all the care of the rooms and houses, is done by the girls themselves, so that all of them are taught how to support themselves when they leave the institution. Three hours a day for industrial work, and three hours a day for schooling, is the uniform rule. One can imagine the far-reaching influence of this institution, if he remembers that out of the twenty-four hundred scholars who were received and taught in that dreadful time of famine, more than fifteen hundred were child-widows and many of them of the highest caste.
Ramabai is a great scholar. She has translated and printed the whole New Testament, in the colloquial Mahrati dialect, for the benefit of the poor women in her district. She is now engaged upon the Psalms and the book of Genesis, with the hope of finishing the whole Old Testament. Numberless tracts of her composition have gone out into all parts of India. Her graduates become not only teachers, but also evangelists. No one can measure the extent of her present influence, as showing what a native woman in India can do, in the way of breaking down caste, overthrowing pernicious customs, and demonstrating to a benighted heathen world the superior claims of Christian truth. We left Ramabai, invoking a blessing upon her head and upon Manorama, her daughter, who bids fair to prove her worthy successor. Ramabai, by her intellectual gifts, her executive ability, and above all by her Christian devotion, deserves honor from all lovers of Christ and his gospel.
As we neared Madras, the third largest city of India, the heat began to oppress us. Up to this time India had been unexpectedly and refreshingly cool, at night even cold. But now it was unpleasantly warm. The heat reminded us of the conundrum: "Why is India, although so hot, the coldest country on the globe?" Answer: "Because the hottest thing in it is chilly" ("chili" is the peppery sauce which the natives mix with other spices to form "curry"). We have learned to like curry. I cannot understand it; but if seems as if the hottest countries needed the hottest kinds of food. At any rate we had a warm welcome in Madras, thirteen degrees in latitude above the equator. We were fortunate in reaching this fine city during the session of all our Baptist missionaries in the South India, or Telugu, field—that field which a few years ago witnessed the baptism of 2,222 converts in one day. It was a remarkable illustration of the family and tribal spirit in India. We Baptists believe in individual conversions, and we seek evidence, in every case, of regeneration by the Holy Spirit. But the coherence of the family and the village is so strong in a heathen community, that the lot of the individual Christian is often exceedingly hard. Occasionally there is apostasy. The resistance of an important man to the gospel makes the persistence of his dependents in the gospel-way almost impossible.
In some quarters, however, whole families and whole clans have been blessedly converted, and idolatry has been completely eradicated. In other cases where mass movements have taken place, certain missionaries have found it physically impossible to sift out each doubtful individual, and for safety have demanded that the whole family or clan or village shall give up idolatry before any single individual convert has been received for church-membership. To combine strict faith and practice, according to the New Testament standard, with a proper respect for local customs and traditions, demands great wisdom in our missionaries, and makes their conferences very practical and very necessary. Certain it is that in our Baptist missions abroad greater care is exercised in receiving members than that to which we are accustomed in the homeland. The missionary cannot afford to have false disciples in the flock, if he knows it, for "one sinner destroyeth much good."
New Year's Day at Madras was full of interest. Lady Pentland, wife of the governor of the Madras Presidency, invited us to a New Year's garden-party. An open-air gathering of any sort on the first day of January would have been a novelty to us, but this one found the atmosphere so balmy and the vegetation so green, that such a party was a positive delight. The avenues of approach to the governor's residence were lined with the body-guard of his excellency, stationed in twos along the way, and clad in scarlet The reception took place under a wide-spreading tree, on a spacious lawn. There were as many as a thousand guests. It was a gay and beautiful scene. Hindu and Moslem, Parsee and Christian, all met together. It was an exhibition of loyalty to the British Crown, as well as a proof that just government may yet weld all India's classes and castes together. Lord Pentland spoke to us most pleasantly of certain members of his family whom we had met in America, and Lady Pentland showed herself to be a charming hostess.
But a reception still more charming to us was the reception which the Rochester men gave us that same New Year's night, at the bungalow of Doctor Ferguson, close to the Day Memorial Chapel, where the sessions of the conference were held. At least ten of our graduates sat down to supper, together with their wives. Subsequently, from adjoining rooms, other members of the conference came in to the New Year's reception, which is an annual affair. The United States consul dropped in, with a few other guests, until the total number could not have been far from eighty. It was like a family gathering. When I remembered that the Telugu Mission was once called "The Lone-Star Mission," and was in danger of being given up, and when I noted that it now numbers one hundred and sixty-eight churches and a church-membership of more than seventy thousand, I could but say, "What hath God wrought!"
THE TELUGU MISSION
Madras is the greatest city of South India, and ranks next to Calcutta and Bombay in thrift and importance. Tamil and Telugu are the two languages of the extensive Madras Presidency, the former prevailing most to the south, the latter to the north. They are cognate tongues, and both are derived from the Sanskrit. Our American Congregationalists have done most for the Tamils; we Baptists have done most for the Telugus. The Telugus number twenty-six millions. Though Madras is near their southern border, it is the best starting-point for our description.
Next to our mission in Burma, the Telugu mission has been most blessed by God. The famine of 1876 was followed by a wonderful revival, in which a nation seemed to be born in a day. The people accepted Christ by the thousands, and twenty-two hundred were at one time baptized. Evangelization has been followed by education. While our organized Telugu churches number 168, and our church-members 70,000, we have 819 schools of all grades, and 28,781 pupils under instruction. The needs of the body have been cared for, as well as the needs of the soul, for there are fourteen hospitals and dispensaries, ministering to 8,067 patients.
In such a mass movement as that among the Telugus, it was inevitable that the organization of the converts into distinct, self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating churches should be a gradual process and should require time. The poverty of the people was an obstacle to self-support. But Christian teaching has made them models of liberality, and it was touching to see the church-members come forward at the close of the Sunday morning service with their thank-offerings. In fact, these Telugu churches, in the support of their native ministry, are in large measure independent of foreign financial aid. It is certain that, so long as religion is an exotic, its existence will be precarious. The plant in the pot needs, for permanence, to become a tree rooted in the soil. Self-government is as necessary as self-support, and self-propagation is equally important, if the Christianity of the native is ever to become indigenous. These aims have been dominant in recent years, and we have been permitted to witness scenes which demonstrate the power of God to make multitudes of people, of the lowest class, intelligent, liberal, and aggressive Christians.
I must take four separate stations as illustrations of my thesis. Fortunately, all of these stations are now under the administration of Rochester men, whom I am proud to recognize as my former pupils. But before I proceed to describe our experiences with them, I must to some extent repeat what I have said in my last letter about Madras and the conference there at the house of Doctor Ferguson. Because Madras is the greatest city of South India, it is the natural source of supplies and the easiest place of gathering for our Telugu missionaries, even though most of them live and work much farther to the north. The principle of home rule requires such gathering, and the missionary at Madras, without seeking it, naturally becomes a sort of secretary and treasurer and entertainer of the whole body of Telugu workers. No one could be better adapted to this position of responsibility than is Doctor Ferguson. His abounding hospitality and his command of the whole situation make him sought as a counselor and as a leader. As the older men, like Clough and Downie, pass away, Doctor Ferguson, by common consent, forges to the front. The present prosperity and harmony of the Telugu mission are largely due to his unassuming and welcome influence. He too is a man whose scholarship and character reflect honor upon the Rochester Theological Seminary, where he sat under my instruction twenty-two years ago.
Coming now to our stations north of Madras, I begin with the Theological Seminary at Ramapatnam, in charge of the Rev. Dr. Jacob Heinrichs. Its students met us at the entrance of the mission compound, and we passed under an arch over which were inscribed the words, "Welcome to Dr. and Mrs. Strong." We had garlands of flowers thrown about our necks, and we were sprinkled with eau de Cologne. In the large assembly-room of the seminary, we listened to addresses in excellent English from pupils of the higher grades, and we made responses in the same language, which were interpreted to the scholars of the lower classes by the pastor of the village church. A beautiful casket of carved ivory and pearl was presented to us, containing engrossed copies of the addresses delivered by the students. There was singing of hymns, both in English and in Telugu, by choir and congregation. The beauty of it all was its spontaneity and naturalness, for the pupils themselves had planned and executed the whole program.
Instruction in this seminary is largely biblical. Preachers are prepared for their work by being grounded in the life of Christ and the life of Paul. The text-books have been written by Doctor Heinrichs himself, and they are so well adapted to their purpose that they have been extensively used by seminaries of other denominations than the Baptist. A native Christian literature has been created for the Telugus, beginning with the Bible, but now embracing church history, theology, ethics, and something of modern science. It must not be thought that the teaching is exclusively religious. Our seminary, and all our schools of lower grade, are affiliated with the government system of education, and in all their lower grades are subject to government inspection. So far as they conform to government standards of thoroughness, they receive government grants of financial aid. British India is impartial—aid is also given to Hindu and to Mohammedan schools. But Christian schools can well stand competition with these other systems, for the methods of our Christian schools are more modern and more rational. We left Ramapatnam, convinced that India is receiving from the work of Doctor Heinrichs an inestimable blessing. Through a long series of years he has been training preachers and teachers for this whole Telugu land, and much fruit is appearing in a new type of New Testament pastors and evangelists.
Ongole, one hundred and eighty-one miles north of Madras, was the scene of the great revival. Here too we were received most royally. A crowd of church-members waited for us at the railway station and flocked round our carriage as we passed to the mission compound. On the way, a company of Telugu athletes entertained us at intervals by their feats of ground and lofty tumbling. It was their native way of welcoming distinguished guests. Dr. James M. Baker has ably succeeded Dr. J. E. Clough in the work of administering and organizing this important field. The Ongole church of twelve thousand members, with its connected schools, is enough to tax the resources of the ablest man. The new Clough Memorial Hospital had its beginning while we were in Ongole, in the laying of the corner-stone of a gateway in honor of Dr. S. F. Smith, who wrote, "Shine on, Lone Star," as well as "My Country, 'Tis of Thee." Mrs. Strong, with a silver trowel, made its foundation sure, while the English deputy collector for the district represented the government, and I had the privilege of making an address to a great mixed audience of Hindus and Mohammedans as well as Christians.
Our most thrilling experience in connection with Ongole I am yet to relate. We wished to see the heart of India, as we had seen the heart of China and the heart of Burma. We could do this only by taking part in one of Doctor Baker's country tours. Every year he takes advantage of the favorable weather centering about mid-winter, to spend two solid months in visiting the villages which throng these fertile plains. With tent and equipment for cooking, he penetrates these swarming heathen communities and carries to them the gospel of Christ. It was over some fearful roads that our two-pony, two-seated buggy enabled us to accompany him. Government roads are one thing; native roads are quite another. Sudden descents to fordable streams and sudden ascents to the opposite banks are succeeded by long stretches of passage through cultivated fields, where there appears no sign of road at all. At last we reached the village of Naletur. Under the shadow of a great tree we found at least a thousand people assembled, sitting on the ground bordered by a broad fringe of men and women standing on the outside, and supplemented by a score of half-naked Zaccheus-like hearers perched in the branches of the trees. Mrs. Baker, awaiting the coming of her husband and his guests, had been holding this motley audience for two hours with selections from the gramophone, with illustrated Scripture lessons and pictures from the Life of Christ, and by calling on her "band" for "music" with a big drum, castanets, cymbals, and various other instruments of Indian manipulation. Salvation Army methods have great influence over a childlike people, and Mrs. Baker would make, in case of necessity, a first-class Salvation Army lassie. In fact, no act of missionary humility has struck our eyes as more pathetic and true, than that of Mrs. Baker, beating a big drum to the time of native music, in order to hold an audience for the hearing of the gospel. The amphitheater of dusky faces, massed together and intently listening, with Christians on one side and heathen on the other, seemed like a reproduction of the days "when Jesus was here among men," and a prophecy of the great final Day when our Lord, the Judge, will separate the sheep from the goats.
That evening we left the grove and entered the village with fife and drum, attracting auditors, and held a torchlight meeting in the market-place. There was preaching, and the chanting, in rhythm but not rhyme, of a versified story of the life of Christ. The missionaries make much of this sort of Telugu singing. There was the same crowd of auditors that had met us in the afternoon, but now the intermittent light of the torches made the scene seem to be flashing rays of conviction into many a troubled breast, and I wished that some great painter could immortalize the picture upon canvas, for no one can understand missions to the heathen without picturing to himself such preaching.
The next morning, on our way back to Ongole, we visited the famous spot on the river bank at Vellumpilly where, in 1878, 2,222 believers were baptized. On Sunday we attended a service of the mission church, where a native pastor officiated and at least fifteen hundred persons in addition to the missionaries were present, though several hundreds of scholars were absent on account of the holiday vacation. And finally, at the sunset hour on that memorable Sabbath Day, we ascended Prayer-meeting Hill, where Doctor Jewett, Mrs. Jewett, and two others met on New Year's Day fifty years ago, looked out over the great surrounding plain, and prayed the Lord to give them the Telugus, as John Knox of old prayed, "Give me Scotland, or I die!" In both cases prayer was answered, and we hope the more recent prayers offered on that historic spot in January, 1917, will also be answered. The Telugus are gradually being won, and we ourselves were witnesses to that fact when, at the village of Naletur, we beheld the baptism of eleven new converts, nine stalwart young men and two married women.
Kavali is next to be mentioned. Here is a work for the gradual reformation of criminals and the industrial regeneration of India. In this land of poverty and famine, our converts, when turned out of house and home, need new means of earning a livelihood. There is in India a hereditary criminal class which, like the thugs of a former generation, make it a sort of religion to prey upon their fellow countrymen. The British Government has been almost powerless either to subdue or to reform such offenders. Something more than mere justice is required in their treatment. The Government is recognizing the value of Christian education and supervision, and has recently put large tracts of territory into the hands of the Salvation Army, the Methodists, and the Baptists, with a view to combining compulsory work and paternal influence in the reform of the criminal classes. The Rev. Samuel D. Bawden, at Kavali, has charge of over eight hundred such people, and is teaching them agriculture and all manner of trades. Mr. Bawden is one of the graduates of our theological seminary. He was for several years chaplain of our House of Refuge at Rochester. Physically and mentally he is a remarkable man, an athlete and almost a giant, a man of science and a man of faith. It needs all these gifts to dominate and lead toward Christ eight hundred born thieves. I know of no more self-sacrificing and Christlike work than that which brother Bawden is doing.
The success of it proves its value. There are no prison walls, though leaving the community is followed by pursuit and recommittal. There are no punishments except deprivation of food-wages. Each member of the community is paid in food, and in proportion to the extent of his labor. If he will not work, neither can he eat. Opportunities for education are given to all. There is even a church, made up of converted convicts. The faithful among these Erukalas, as they are called, are made monitors and helpers to their weaker fellows. Squads are sent out from five to twenty miles, to build and repair the roads, with only an unarmed comrade for overseer. Nothing is given but education and Christian influence. Everything for the physical man is earned. In this way hundreds of reformed criminals learn to gain their own living and to lead an honest life. It was pathetic to receive the welcome of these humble men, and to see their reverence and affection for their "big father," Mr. Bawden. We heard them greet him as "our savior." To show their respect for Mr. Bawden's former theological instructor, these poor men subscribed of their scanty means and hired a large gasoline street lamp to illuminate the evening service.
I have reserved to the last my account of our visit to Nellore. Nellore is last, but not least, for this was our first permanent mission station in South India. Work was indeed begun at Vizagapatam in 1836, but in 1837 it was moved to Madras, and in 1840 to Nellore, Madras being reopened in 1878. Nellore is one hundred and seven miles north of Madras, on the main line of railway, and sixteen miles from the seacoast. In the Nellore field we have six churches, and a total of nine hundred and twenty-six members. It is our Baptist schools that most attract our attention. The Coles-Ackerman High School, in charge of the Rev. L. C. Smith, has more than eight hundred pupils, and is a great credit to our denomination. Bible classes and special preaching services for students are conducted with enthusiasm by our young missionaries, Smith and Manley, and they bring good results. There are also in Nellore a high school for girls, a hospital for women, and a nurses' training-school, all under the direction of our Woman's Society. In these schools, Miss Tencate and Miss Carman are representatives of Rochester.
The general work of the mission is presided over by the Rev. Charles Rutherford, one of my former pupils and graduates. Mr. Rutherford is the young and able successor of Dr. David Downie, a much older Rochester man, and one of the pioneers and leaders of the Telugu Mission. He graduated from Rochester in 1872, the year in which I began my work as president of the seminary. I cannot easily express my gratification at finding him in South India to welcome me, and to accompany me during a large part of my stay on this field. Few men have so noble a record. Though he retired from active service ten years ago, and is now devoting himself to writing the history of the mission, he is still vigorous in mind and heart, and to meet him is to come in contact with "an incarnation"—an incarnation of the missionary spirit. He has seen "the little one" become not only "a thousand," but well nigh a hundred thousand. His faith is great, that this whole Telugu Land will bow to Christ's scepter. Long may he live, to bless India and the world!
THE DRAVIDIAN TEMPLES
The Dravidians are supposed by most ethnologists to have been the aborigines of India. When they were subdued by the Aryans from the north, they were crowded southward and were compelled to serve their conquerors. This subjugation was the origin of caste; the weaker became hewers of wood and drawers of water for the stronger. The Brahman would have no social intercourse with the Sudra, and thought even his touch a profanation. For the Brahman represented Brahma, was in fact Brahma incarnate, while the Sudra was a manifestation of deity in inferior clay. Yet the Brahman needed the Sudra, and had to propitiate him in order to use him. So the Aryan absorbed into his own system some of the Dravidian gods, and usually did so by marrying to Dravidian female divinities male deities of his own. Siva, the Aryan god, for example, took for his wife the Dravidian goddess Kali. In many ways like this, the Aryan and the Dravidian united to form the Hindu. The Hindu religion is a composite—a corruption of the nature-worship of the earlier Vedas by its union with the more cruel and debasing features of the Dravidian idolatry. The renowned temples of Southern India best represent this mongrel form of Hinduism, and show Hinduism in its most corrupt development under Dravidian influences.
The massiveness and vastness of these temples demonstrate the power of the religious instinct in man, even when that instinct is most perverted. With all their grossness and crudity, these shrines reveal a wealth of imagination and an artistic inventiveness, which furnish object-lessons to the most cultivated Occidental mind. We wonder what the East could really have accomplished, if its native gifts had been under the control of Christian truth. Unfortunately, those gifts were commonly under the control of the baser instincts. Paul's philosophy of heathenism is far more correct than that of many a modern writer on comparative religion. Only an ancestral sin can explain man's universal ignorance and depravity. Because he would not retain God in his knowledge, he was given up to the dominion of vile affections, to show him his need of a divine redemption.
Tanjore and Madura are the seats of the Dravidian temples which we visited. Tanjore is two hundred miles south of Madras, and fifty miles from the Bay of Bengal. It is in the Presidency of Madras, but European influences have not greatly changed its prevailingly native aspect. The half-naked coolies, and the children clothed only in sunshine, show how inveterate are custom and poverty. The great Tanjore temple is the center of worship for a hundred miles round. It is built on a stupendous scale. It consists of a series of courts, in the midst of which are two tremendous towers or gopuras, as the technical term should be. Its principal tower, is pyramidal in form, is two hundred feet in height, is covered with row after row of colossal carvings of gods and goddesses, and is surmounted by an immense dome-shaped and gilded top of solid stone, said to have been brought to its place upon an inclined plane from the quarry four miles away. The gateway leading to the temple is itself an enormous structure. It opens upon a court eight hundred feet long by four hundred feet wide, the walls of which enclose an endless succession of little chapels, each one of which has at its back a rude picture of some incarnation of Vishnu or Krishna, and in front of each picture there stands erect an image in stone of the lingam or phallus.
A great platform, in the center of the court, houses, beneath a gorgeous canopy, an immense black granite image of a bull, the favorite animal of Siva, carved out of a single block sixteen feet long and twelve feet high, and kept perpetually shining by anointings of holy oil. The imagination of the worshiper is thus excited by successive statues and pictures, until at last he reaches the tremendous pyramidal tower, or gopura, which portrays and symbolizes the power of the heathen god to destroy and to recreate. That massive tower, superimposed above the idol and forming its magnificent abiding-place, has no superior in all India for grandeur. Mr. Fergusson, the distinguished writer on architecture, calls it the most beautiful and effective of all the towers found in Dravidian temples. The sculptures in the long and dimly lighted corridors at the base of the temple, and in the first tiers of the tower, are wonderfully realistic representations of a sensual and ferocious deity. But, as you stand in the court, and look up the sides of the tower to the gilded pinnacle on its dome, you discover that all the upper rows of gods and demons are of stucco. Money evidently gave out, as the structure rose, and plaster took the place of stone.
The appurtenances of the temple are tawdry and childish. Huge cars, in which images of the gods are carried about at times of festival, stand in the courtyard. Each car has its bejeweled beast for the god or goddess to ride—a wooden elephant, a wooden bull, a wooden rat—each with trappings of many-colored glass, to imitate rubies and diamonds, and each with its escort of dusky priests, not forgetting to follow the foreign visitor and hold out their hands for alms. Yet in these corridors there were prostrated many absorbed and eager worshipers, seeking protection or aid from a deity more demonlike than divine. One's heart grew sick as he realized that, still in these latter days,
The heathen in his blindness Bows down to wood and stone,
and worships in a temple which exhibits in its halls a hundred immense images of the male organ of generation.
It was a relief to be conducted by a clergyman of the Anglican faith to the church where lie buried the remains of Schwartz, the first English missionary to India. It must have required great gifts of mind and heart and will to brave Hindu opposition, to win the affection and support of a raja, and to lay the foundations of a Christian community in this heathen land. Schwartz was a Prussian by birth, though he went out as a missionary of a Danish society. He gave his life and his fortune to the cause of missions, and the English work in Tanjore is even now largely supported by the endowments which he left behind him when he died. Our good friend Doctor Blake, the English clergyman, took us to the palace of the princess of Tanjore, also to the raja's library of Oriental manuscripts within the palace—a priceless collection of eighteen thousand Sanskrit manuscripts, of which eight thousand are written on palm-leaves. This library is unique in all India; and it shows that a raja in Tanjore, in his love for literature, could equal the raja of Jaipur, in his love for astronomy. The desire for learning was a passion that survived the fall, an evidence of the presence in humanity of the preincarnate Christ, "the Light that lighteth every man."
Madura is a hundred miles farther south than Tanjore. It is really the center of Dravidian worship. While some features of the Tanjore temple are more beautiful, the temple at Madura is more vast. Five great pyramidal towers, four of them on the points of the compass, meet the eye as one looks upon the temple from a distance. The temple is built about two great shrines or cells, one for the god Siva and the other for his goddess wife Minakshi, each cell surmounted by a noble dome of plated gold. On the four sides of the temple are stone porches, arcades, and pillared halls of great variety, filled with elaborate and grotesque carvings and sculptures. The extent of the structure may be judged from the simple statement that the outer walls, twenty-five feet high, surround a space eight hundred and thirty by seven hundred and thirty feet, and are surmounted by four lofty gate-pyramids, each of them ten stories in height. The portico roof of Minakshi's Hall is supported upon six rows of carved pillars, each made from a single stone. There is an extensive "Golden Lily Tank," bordered by a granite corridor hung with cages of parrots, and the putrid waters of the tank furnish purification preparatory to worship at Minakshi's shrine. The very porch or entrance pavilion of this shrine is called "The Hall of a Thousand Pillars," though the actual number is nine hundred and eighty-five. Here and there among the pillars are seated learned men or pundits, who place offerings of flowers and perfumed water before their sacred books and chant the meaning of Sanskrit scriptures to groups of devout listeners.
The great temple, with its dimly lighted corridors, is open to the public day and night, and there is special illumination by hundreds of little lamps in an arch at the entrance when night comes on. Long avenues are filled with buyers and sellers of wares, and the rent of their stalls furnishes a large revenue for the support of the many priests. A big elephant and a baby elephant, each with the mark of the god upon its forehead, are paraded up and down, and are taught to pick up with their trunks the coins thrown down by visitors. Innumerable dark alcoves invite the crowd to rest, and many a sleeping form is seen at the foot of the altars. Imagine a festival night with these dimly lighted courts crowded with worshipers, the fierce and lustful images, the glorification of the lingam, the secret places of assignation! And this is the acme of Hindu religion!
There are better things than this to be seen in Madura. The palace of Tirumala, a raja of the seventh century, is a magnificent specimen of Moorish architecture with unexpected Gothic tendencies. Its entrance hall, one hundred and thirty-five feet long, half as wide, and seventy feet high, has a lofty roof supported by heavy stone pillars with pointed arches of Saracenic type. It shows that the Moslem, in the long ago, had at least a temporary hold upon South India. This palace, which has the structural character of a Gothic building, has now been partially restored and taken for the law-courts of the British Government.
The same Tirumala who built the palace, built the Teppa Kulam, an artificial reservoir outside the town, about one thousand feet on a side, very symmetrical and the largest of its kind in South India. The whole "tank" is surrounded with granite walls and parapets, and next the water there is a granite walk five feet wide running round the whole structure. Flights of steps lead down to the water, at intervals. In the center of this small lake is an island, also walled around with granite slabs, and on it there are five towers, a large one in the center and one at each of the four corners. The whole effect is very graceful and it makes a sight long to be remembered, when the "feast of lights" takes place and the island and the parapets and the granite curbings are illuminated with hundreds of little oil-lamps. Not far away from the "tank" is a famous banyan-tree which covers with its shade an area sixty yards in diameter, has a main stem seventy feet in circumference, and has besides two hundred branches that have struck root.