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to the philosophical student of history in two respects i viz. the fact that they belong to about one-fifth of the human race, and because they possess some of the most ancient records, and most ancient religious ideas and philosophical systems that have come down to us from antiquity. This last consideration, especially, clothes the systems of Hindu philosophy and religion with an interest they would not otherwise possess. And this interest is increased by the fact, that we find some decided indications of a direct connection between those records and systems and the primitive ideas and religion of man, as shown by the Christian Scriptures. This suggests the particular subject of this Article, Sacred traditions in the East, or,
A presentation of facts, ideas and customs, from the religious literature and habits of the Hindus, which indicate for those habits and that religion, a connection more or less direct with Hie true religion as taught in the Christian Scriptures.
The evidence of a connection with, or derivation from, the religion of the Christian and Jewish Scriptures, will be more or less distinct; it sometimes consists in marked resemblances to Jewish or Christian doctrines, and sometimes even the contrast is of such a nature that it suggests for doctrines a common origin.
We begin with the ideas of a Supreme Deity, as the cause of the existence of the universe.
The philosophy and religion of the Brahmans, unquestionably, do recognize the existence of one supreme, selfexistent, spiritual cause of all things. "This," says Prof. Wilson of Oxford, "is, with the exception of one school of Philosophy — the Sankya — the received doctrine of the Hindus." Though when they come to particulars, there is a great variety of opinion in regard to the attributes of their tDeity; so much so, that it would be easy to prove from almost any of their systems, Pantheism, Dualism, Materialism or any other religious or philosophical absurdity, that ever entered the depraved heart of man to conceive. It is not our design to speak at all of these various isms, our object being simply to notice the fact of their recognition of the true doctrine with its proof.
Says Prof. Wilson: "The Vedas are authority for the existence of one Divine Being, supreme over the universe, and existing before all worlds;" and he gives the following passage: " In the beginning, this all" (the universe) "was in darkness. He (the supreme) was alone, without a second. He reflected, I am one, I will become many. Will was conceived in the divine mind, and creation ensued. (Oxford Lectures, p. 43.) In the Mosaic cosmogony the language is: "And God said let us make man in our image after our likeness."
In the Vishnu Purana, it is said: "That which is imperceptible, undecaying, inconceivable, unborn, unexhaustible, indescribable; which has neither form, nor hands nor feet; which is almighty, omnipresent, eternal; the cause of all things and without cause; permeating all, itself unpenetrated, and from which all things proceed; that is Brahma." (Vishnu Purdna, Prof. Wilson's translation, p. 642.)
The word Brahma,1 is a neuter noun, denoting the abstract Supreme Spirit. The masculine form, Brahma, denotes the active Creator; of which we shall soon speak. Again (p. 642—3) it is said: "That essence of the Supreme is defined by the term Bhagavat. The word Bhagavat is the denomination of that primeval Eternal God. The word Bhagavat is a convenient form to be used in the adoration of that Supreme Being, to whom no term is applicable, and therefore, Bhagavat expresses that Supreme which is individual, almighty, and the cause of causes of all things."
"He dwelleth internally in all beings, and all beings dwell in Him. He, though one with all beings, is beyond and separate from material nature. He is beyond all investing substance; he is the universal soul; glory, might, dominion, wisdom, energy, power, and other attributes, are collected in Him, Supreme of the Supreme, in whom no imperfections
1 This neuter form is pronounced Brmnha, the final a being short, like the final a in America. The masculine is Brmiihd, the final vowel being long, has the long Italian sound. And hereafter, in proper names, the a (or a with the accent) 1ms the long Italian sound, and a (or a without nu accent) has the short sound as above. In some instances the accent may have been omitted.
abide, Lord over finite and infinite, visible and invisible, omnipotent, omnipresent, almighty. The wisdom, perfect, pure, supreme, undefiled, and one only, by which he is conceived, contemplated and known, that is wisdom." (Id. p. 644.)
Many passages of similar import, describing the attributes to the Deity, might be cited from the Vishnu Purina, and many likewise of a different import, honesty in regard to the subject requires us to say, are contained in the same work, which teach pantheism. We cite a single example (p. 216).
"This Vishnu is the Supreme Spirit (Brahma), from whence all this world proceeds, who is the world. He is primary nature, He in a perceptible form, "is the world. He is the performer of the rites of devotion; he is the rite. He is the fruit which it bestows, he is the implements by which it is performed. There is nothing besides the illimitable Hari." (Vishnu.)
Such passages, too, are not unfrequent, and the pantheistic theology which they teach, is very prominent in the popular mind.
The next topic which we shall consider, is their account of creation. The cosmogony of the Hindus is given, with some variation, in the laws of Manu, in the Mahdbharata, and in most, if not all, of the eighteen Pur&nas, and in other books. The differences are not essential. We take the account given in Manu, which is not only the most concise, but the most ancient, being written, probably in #he seventh or eighth century before Christ.
Manu, it may be well to remark, is the personification of Brahmil, the creator, the progenitor of mankind, and from this root through the Gothic, is derived the word man. The work, from which we quote, is regarded by the Hindus, as a revelation from Brahma,
"(5) This universe existed only in darkness, imperceptible, undefinable, undiscoverable by reason, undiscovered, as if it were wholly immersed in sleep. (6) Then the self-existing power, himself undiscerned, but making this world discernable with five elements, and other principles, appeared with undiminished glory, dispelling the gloom. (7) He, whom the mind alone can perceive, whose essence eludes the external organs, who has no visible parts, who exists from eternity, even He, the Soul of all beings, whom no being can comprehend, shone forth in person. (8) He having willed to produce various beings from his own substance, first with a thought created the waters, and placed in them a productive seed. (9) The seed became an egg, bright as gold, blazing like the luminary with a thousand beams; and in that egg, He was born himself, in the form of Brahma, the great forefather of all spirits. (10) The waters are called Nara, because they were the offspring of Nara, the Supreme Spirit; and as in them his first ayana (progress) in the character of Brahma took place, he is thence Narayana (he whose place of moving was the waters). (11) From that which is, the cause, not the object of sense, existing everywhere in substance, not existing to our perception without beginning or end, was produced the divine male, famed in all worlds as Brahma. (12) In that egg the great power sat inactive a whole year of the Creator, at the close of which, by his thought alone, he caused the egg to divide itself; (13) and from its two divisions, he framed the heaven above, and tin; earth beneath; in the midst he placed the subtile ether, the eight regions, and the permanent receptacle of the waters."
Then, passing over some twenty uninteresting, if not unmeaning, stanzas, respecting the creation, in the abstract of mind, consciousness, the vital forms endowed with the three qualities of goodness, passion, and darkness, and the five perceptions of sense, making six principles, immensely active, viz.: consciousness and the five perceptions, which witli the great soul, make the seven active principles of the universe, the account proceeds:
"(24) He gave being to time and the divisions of time, to the stars also, and the planets, to rivers, oceans, and mountains, "to level plains and uneven valleys. (25) To devotion, speech, complacency, desire, and wrath, and to creation; (26) for the sake of distinguishing action, He made a total difference between right and wrong.
(31) That the human race might be multiplied, he caused
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the Brahman, kshatriya, the vaishya, and the shudra, to proceed from his mouth, his arm, his thigh and his foot (32) Having divided his own substance, the mighty power became half male and half female, (or nature, active and passive, says the commentator) and from that female he produced Virdj. (33) Know me, O, most excellent Brabmans, to be that person, whom the male power Virdj, produced by himself, Me, the secondary framer of all this visible world.
(34) It was I, who, desirous of giving birth to a race of men, performed very difficult religious duties, and first produced ten lords of created beings, eminent in holiness. (36) They, abundant in glory, produced seven other (Mantis) together with deities, and the mansions of deities and Maharshis, or great sages, unlimited in power; (37) benevolent genii, and fierce giants, blood-thirsty savages, heavenly chorister^ nymphs and demons, huge serpents and snakes of smaller size, birds of mighty wing, and separate companies of Pitris or progenitors of mankind; (38) lightnings and thunderbolts, clouds and colored bows of Itidra, falling meteors, earth-rending vapors, comets and luminaries of various degrees; (39) horse-faced sylvans, apes, fish and a variety of birds, tame cattle, deer, men, and ravenous beasts with two rows of teeth; (40) small and large reptiles, moths, lice, fleas, and common flies, with every biting gnat, and immovable substances of distinct sorts. (41) Thus was this whole assemblage of stationary and movable bodies framed by those high-minded beings, through the force of their own devotions, and at my command, with separate actions allotted to each. (42) Whatever act is ordained for each of those creatures here below, I will now declare to you, together with their order in respect to birth." ( " Institutes of Manu, Sir William Jones's Translation, chap. I.).
Respecting the cosmogony, it may be remarked (passing by absurdities and incongruities, to speak of which being no part of our design), in comparing it with that of Moses:
1. We are reminded of the second verse of the first of Genesis : " And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."