« AnteriorContinuar »
cates exemption from attachments and affection for children, wife, and home, and a dislike to the society of man." (Bh. Gfta, ch. xii. quoted by Mullen's Vedanta, p. 57.)
The only remaining doctrine we shall mention, as having a resemblance among Christian doctrines, is that of the incarnation of the Deity.
The word incarnation has been taken from Christian theology. The Sanskrit word used to denote this form of divinity is " Avatdra," meaning descent. But as the Supreme Deity, in his descents to earth, assumes some form, the word incarnation is not inappropriate.
The Hindu writings speak of ten principal descents of the supreme deity to earth, though in theory these descents are, in number, almost infinite. The object of these descents of the supreme deity are, in general, the preservation of good men, the punishment of wicked men, or destruction of monsters that are afflicting the human race. What was done was local and temporary in its influence, and generally unworthy of the direct interference of the Creator of the universe. And they have no resemblance to the incarnation of Christ except in the elementary idea, viz. the deity taking a created form in order to interfere with the affairs of man. This idea has, so far as I know, no place in any other theology except the Christian.
Of the ten principal avatdrs of the supreme, nine are past; the tenth, the Kalki, is to come. It will come at the close of the present age, or Kaliyuga. The object of that incarnation or avatar will be to destroy the enemies of religion and restore the piety and purity of preceding ages. The Kali yuga is the iron age, in which the world is growing worse and worse. Hear the Purana on this subject:
"Wealth and piety will decrease day by day, until the world will be wholly depraved. Then property alone will confer rank; wealth will be the only source of devotion; falsehood will be the only means of success in litigation, and women will be objects merely of sensual gratification; dishonesty will be the only means of subsistence; weakness will be the cause of dependence; menace and presumption will be substituted for learning; liberality will be devotion: simple ablution will be purification; fine clothes will be dignity; earth will be venerated but for its mineral treasures (i. e.
there will be no holy places); the Bralnnanical thread
will constitute a Brahman. No man's life will exceed three and twenty years. Amidst all castes he who is the strongest will reign over a principality thus vitiated by many faults. The people, unable to bear the many burdens imposed upon them by their avaricious sovereigns, will take refuge amidst the valleys of the mountains, and will be glad to feed upon wild honey, herbs, roots, fruits, flowers, and leaves; their only covering will be the bark of trees; and they will be exposed to cold, and wind, and sun, and rain. Thus in the Kali age shall decay constantly proceed, until the human race approaches annihilation.
"When the practices taught by the Vedas and the institutes of law shall nearly have ceased, and the close of the Kali age shall be nigh, a portion of that divine being who exists in his own spiritual nature as Brahma, and who is the beginning and the end, and who comprehends all things, shall descend upon earth; he shall be born an eminent Brahman, of Sambhala village, as Kalki. By his irresistible might he will destroy all the Mlechas (barbarians or foreigners) and thieves, and all whose minds are devoted to iniquity. He will then reestablish righteousness upon earth; and the minds of those who live at the end of the Kali age shall be awakened and shall be as pellucid as crystal. The men who are thus changed by virtue of that peculiar time, shall be as seeds of human beings, and shall give birth to a race who shall follow the laws of the Krita age, or age of purity. As it is said: 'When the sun and moon and the lunar asterism Tishya, and the planet Jupiter, are in one mansion, the Krita age shall return.'"1
Another author has epitomized the work of the tenth Avatara as follows: "Seated on a white horse, the deity will descend towards the close of the Kali yuga, and will destroy the universe." 2
1 Vishnu Purina, pp. 482—484.
2 J. C. Thomson's translation of the Bhagavad-Giti, p. 148.
These resemblances between the Hindu and Christian religious doctrines cannot be supposed to be the result of accident. Nor can they be attributed to the independent workings of unrestrained imagination. The points of resemblance are too numerous, and the resemblances themselves too striking, to admit of such a supposition. Some of those thoughts respecting the mode of divine existence, the moral government of the world, the future destiny of this earth, and of the race of man, evidently had a higher origin than man's imagination; they are the offspring, more or less direct, of divine revelation. And yet these thoughts, and the systems with which they are connected, are so interwoven with absurd human speculations, that they only help to form systems of error. The indications of truth which they furnish, do not constitute a redeeming quality in those systems. To be satisfied that this is so, the candid mind has only to examine those systems in all their parts, and see their practical influence on the condition of man. It is common for infidel writers to speak of the Hindu Shastras, as having equal claims on man's consideration and obedience with the Bible. They will perhaps take some maxim of a heathen philosopher, and place it beside one of the proverbs of Solomon, an aspiration of David, or a saying of Jesus, and exclaim: "see the equality of the systems!" They will liken Vyasa, Confucius, Socrates, and Mohammed to Moses, Isaiah, and Jesus, and speak of the former as religious teachers, on an equality with the latter. We will only say in regard to this class of men, that he who will soberly compare the Hindu Shastras with the Bible, making the former equal to the latter, exhibits such a peculiarity in his moral and intellectual powers, that to attempt to change his opinions by the common modes of reasoning, would be useless.
It is admitted, that the Hindu Shastras contain some noble maxims, and inculcate, in the abstract, some correct moral principles. But these maxims and principles never exceed in purity the teachings of the Bible, and can never be adduced to weaken the claims of the Book. Nay, more, they
Vol. XV. No. 60. 74
are found in such connections that often their origin is clearly traceable to the divine revelation recorded in the Bible. Ajid by no mode of estimation can there be drawn a conclusion more unfavorable to the Bible than this, viz.: Some things found in the Hindu scriptures and Hindu religion had an origin in the revelation of the Bible. Others have come down from the earliest ages, in traditionary channels, parallel to the Bible; and where the facts related in the Hindu sacred writings conflict with the facts of the Christian scriptures, the former are easily shown to be unfounded.
When the literature of the Sanskrit language began to be made known in Europe, some three fourths of a century ago, the infidelity of that day raised a shout of triumph over the weapons it supposed it had derived from the East against Christianity. There were books written thousands, even millions, of years before the creation of man, according to the Mosaic account. There were astronomical tables which proved astronomical observations in India three thousand years before the Christian era. Infidelity was jubilant; The Bible was proved to be false, and Christianity must fall. But the shout of triumph was raised too soon. When a few years of patient investigation had brought out the actual facts, the case has a different aspect. The oldest Hindu writings, or the earliest astronomical observation or record, cannot be proved to have had an earlier date than the fourteenth or fifteenth century before Christ. And the oldest astronomical treatise which had been made so important a witness against the Bible, was proved, incontrovertibly, to have been composed some four or five centuries after Christ. And as the work of bringing to the light the ancient literature of the Brahmans proceeds, the tendency among European scholars, is to assign more and more modern limits to its ancient works. This tendency to modernize, is sometimes, doubtless, suffered to proceed too far. But however this may be, this fact may be regarded as established, viz., that the ancient literature of India affords no materials for disproving the truthfulness of the Bible; on the contrary, it contains much that corroborates the claims of the Sacred Volume to a divine authenticity.
The results of antiquarian researches in India, as affecting the truthfulness of the Bible, have been similar to those in Egypt; especially those connected with astronomical records. The case of the Egyptian zodiac of Denderah will ever be memorable in the annals of infidel assaults on the Bible. When the French savans, some sixty years ago, discovered that tablet of astronomical sculpture in an Egyptian temple, they thought it must have been made seventeen thousand years ago. Their opinions were put forth with the greatest confidence. A certain professor of a European university (Breslau) put forth a pamphlet, entitled "Invincible proof that the earth is at least ten times older than taught in the Bible." Says a writer respecting that event and those times in France: "This was a time of woe for a small band of Christians, and of great rejoicings for the infidels of all countries." They regarded it as proved, that there was never a creation or deluge, at least not at the time the Bible specifies. "The Old and New Testaments contain only a series of lies." 1 But this triumph was not long. The next generation of learned men deciphered those hieroglyphics, and found that the origin of the temple was not to be placed earlier than the second century before the commencement of the Christian era. Some have placed it in the first century after. Thus vanished this invincible argument against the Bible chronology. Thus the strongholds of infidel argument have been taken, one after another; not only this, but the guns of all those fortresses have been turned against those who erected them.
What is to be the next point of attack? The antiquities of India have, to a good extent, been explored. And the result is, the very fables of mythology corroborate the history of the Bible; the elements of the earliest systems of philosophy harmonize with the doctrines of that holy book, and nothing authentic in that ancient literature has even the semblance of disproving the divine authenticity of the sacred Oracles. For those immense astronomical periods,
1 A writer in tho New York Observer, June 1855.