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IS.—Printing The Scriptures. We feel much pleasure in stating:, as we know the information will be interesting to not a few of our friends, that in consequence of a very liberal offer made by a gentleman, whose name we are not at liberty to mention, it has been resolved to print an edition of the Persian Testament, (Henry Martyn's Translation) in the Persian character. The work is already in the press, and will be carried through with as little delay as possible, compatible with correctness of execution. The edition will consist of 1000 copies, for the kind friend already alluded to:—the same number of the entire Testament, 1000 of the Gospels and Acts together, with extra copies of the same books in a detached form, for our own Mission. The former will be simply a reprint, but in the latter a few verbal alterations will be made when thought necessary.—Ibid.
16.—Tavoy—American Baptist Mission.
The following is an extract of a letter from the Rev. F. Mason ; it was addressed to our late friend and brother, the Rev. W. H. Pearce, but did not arrive until after he had entered into rest.
"We are pursuing the even tenor of our course in our work among the Karens. Every year witnesses a goodly number added to the churches. Since the dry season commenced the Mergui brethren have baptized fifteen or more: brother Wade has baptized twenty-three east and north of Tavoy, and I have baptized twenty-nine between Tavoy and Mergui. In relation to Maulmain and Rangoon your correspondents at those places probably keep you informed. With the contributions of some of the Epistles from my brethren, I have completed the translation of the New Testament ; and all the historical books have been printed.
"I wish I could take the wings of the morning and sit down with you to one of your Missionary breakfasts. My experience among the heathen would help me to enter with more interest into your discussions than I did ten years ago. I never think of the little phalanx of Missionaries in Calcutta, and the worse than Egyptian darkness that surrounds them, without feelings of the deepest sympathy, and thankfulness to God that 'these are my brethren, and these are my sisters.' "—Ibid.
17.—Christian School Book Society's Poetical Instructor.
We have much pleasure in announcing that the Calcutta Christian School Book Society have just issued a new Poetical Instructor, which consists of selections from the best Christian poets. It contains 298 pages, l2mo. printed at the Baptist Mission Press, in its best style, and on good paper ; the price is somewhat, we believe, below the cost to the Society; it is one rupee. We hope it will have an extensive circulation.
—Cut. Chr. Adv.
18.—Tract Society's Publications.
The Calcutta Christian Tract and Book Society have just received a large investment of the publications of the London Tract Society. The Calcutta Committee have reduced the prices of nearly all the publications of the London Society to the London retail prices; so that books may now be actually purchased iu Calcutta at the same reduced rate as they can be at the Parent Society's depot in Parternoster Row. We would call the attention of Reading Societies, Libraries and Schools to two of the Monthly publications of the Society—The Vitilor and the Tract Magazine; the former containing 40 pages of closely and elegantly printed matter on history, science, and religion, accompanied generally by three or four wood engravings; may be obtained in Calcutta if regularly ordered for the incredibly small sum of one rupee eight anas per annum. The Tract Magazine contains 20 pages, and is usually occupied by accounts of the progress of the tract cause, and may be had for 8 anas per annum. It is a very instructive and interesting little periodical for young people.—Ibid.
No. 7.—JULY, 1840.
I.—Sacred Literature of the Hittdui*.
(For the Calcutta Christian Observer.) My Dear Friend,
As you wish me occasionally to give you some account of the Hindu sacred books, I have selected the following, principally from the Bhagabat, the best known, and held the most sacred of any of the shastras in the Oriya language. I shall notice some of the popular sentiments of the Hindus which are contradicted by this highly esteemed book, from which you will see that codes, to be received as Divine, and sentiments which are to be practised, are two different things even amongst the heathen.
1. It is a saying in the mouths of all, that the Hindus, especially the caste of brahmans, never suffered under their own princes that which they do under the British administration. As an instance the brahmans refer to the resumption of their charity lands, which they say is without an example in the four ages.
Now of the many passages that may be selected from their own beloved Bhagabat, contradictory of this false dogma, we may select the following; (Book 6, Chap. 16, verses 23—34,) "Hear, all ye subjects, even all ye brahmans of the four castes; you shall perform no sacrifices in my country. You shall not worship the gods of the fathers. No gifts shall be put into your hands. No one shall perforin pilgrimages to the brahman's feet. As many as are the religious services in the world, you are to give all up to me. No one is greater than myself.
* These letters addressed to a friend in America are kindly allowed us in their transit by the author.—En. VOL. I. 3 B
I who am evidently the Lord, command you to jap my name, and worship me with the fiery furnace, (that is, with the sacred fire.) He who will not regard my word shall not remain in my country a dunda, (24 minutes.) Whose life remains I will take all his property away. Thus in villages, towns and countries, he proclaimed this order with the sound of the trumpet. Hearing which, all were terrified, and regarding the words of Bana raja, renounced all religion. Brahmans japed his name daily, and fearing served at his feet." We would ask, where was the dignity of the brahmans under such princes, of whom Bana is but a fair specimen? Is there nothing derogatory in the idea of renouncing all religion for fear of persecution?
2. That it is sinful to take animal life is another popular Hindu sentiment, though all castes from highest to lowest are occasionally in the habit of feasting upon flesh. Now it is well known that there were many sages who made deer-shooting a favourite amusement; but as I do not wish to deal in general assertions without proof, I will refer to the case of Rain, the 7th incarnation. (Ananza Panda, Chap. 1, from the 'djth verse.) He is represented as hunting deer, at the very time Habana stole his wife Sita, and when he returned, he brought many that he had slain. And as for Durga, whose praise is frequently and highly celebrated in the Bhagabat, there is no telling what she did not eat. Men and demons with corrupted corpses could not suffice to satisfy her rapacious appetite. To refer to an instance it is said, (Bk. 5, Chap. 9, 85,) "Hear, great monarch, she (Durga) took the sword from his hand, and having a mind to drink blood, cut off his head. For the purpose of giving them supreme pleasure, she called together her attendants, and they all drinking the flowing blood, became much pleased. And soon all the attendants of the goddess began to sing for joy." Should it be objected by the Hindu, that these persons were gods and goddesses, and hence had a right to do such things; it may be replied, that at that time they were in human bodies, and hence, on the Hindu principle that' God is the soul of all men/ they were no more gods and goddesses than what all are. To the quibble, that persons of character are always allowed to do acts for which inferior persons would be blamed, it may be answered, that we claim a character for ourselves superior to that of Ram or Durga, and they may have the same exaltation when they renounce their foolish superstitions.
3. Another idea is that females ought not to be educated. It is usually affirmed that if females learn to read they will become prostitutes, and hence it is sinful to instruct a woman in any branch of knowledge. Though this objection is perfectly reasonable as fur as reading the Hindu shastras is concerned—as the obscenity they contain must have a most baneful effect upon the female mind—yet the idea is opposed by the shastras in which are given the histories of many women eminent for wisdom and piety. It is said, (Bk. 6, Chap. 23, 102,) "That Orchee goddess was a mere woman, hence, she composed her mind upon the death of her husband." (Bk. 6, Chap. 27, 127,) "The daughter of Malaya Dhaga had a mind established in wisdom."
It is also said, (Bk. 6, Chap. 15, 23 and 24,) "Sute Dheta, which was the name of his lady, was deep in the learning of astronomy, and she gave birth to four sons, who were all celebrated for learning."
Here is an account of a married woman, and a mother, who was leiirned, and as we may generally expect, her children resembled herself. These are a few of the passages which certainly prove that Hindus are by no means justified in hooting at female education, even by those books which they receive as divine.
4- It is asserted that men cannot remember what took place in a former birth, any more than a person in sleep can remember what took place when awake. This answer is thought to be quite enough to silence all our doubts, in regard to the pre-existence of human souls ; but we shall feel that it is quite unsatisfactory when we see how often Kangsa is represented as recounting and bewailing the misfortunes of a former birth. This we find was also the case with the most eminent characters that figure in the Bhagubat. It is said of Bharat raja, (Bk. 5, Chap. 8, 79,) "In that time he departed from life and obtained the body of a deer. And the monarch, remembering the history of his former birth, knew for what reason he had found the birth of a deer." If a beast can know the transactions of a former birth, may not a man know? This same Bharat raja was, according to the history, afterwards born in the body of a brahman, and then it is said, (Bk. 5, Chap. 9, 67,) "He remembering the history of his past birth, feared to associate with wicked people." Thus we have quoted these two great extremes, a beast and a brahman, who alike knew the transactions of a former birth; and as such instances in the shastras are not rare, it will not do for the Hindu to explain why we have not all the same knowledge, upon such untenable principles.
5. It is another popular sentiment that we must perform various outward ceremonies, in order to obtain salvation. Now it is said, (Bk. 5, Chap. 1, 73,) " Sabala raja, who was a holy man threw away all outward religion.” It is also said, (Bk. 5, Chap. 11, 5–8,) “Hear again, O monarch, they who remain in society, walking according to correct knowledge and preserve the truth in their minds, are righteous in the midst of this evil world. I call them wise. Their names are excellent in the earth if merciful to their fellows.” Against this idea we may also bring a passage from Book 10, Chap. 3, from verse 49, the substance of which is, that in the Satya-juga, religion went on four legs; in the Tretá-juga, one was cut off; in the Dwópara, another; and in this present Kali-juga, the third was cut off; leaving religion with only one leg, which leg is called mercy. Now we may ask if mercy is the whole of religion in this dispensation, then of what use are bathings, pilgrimages, incantations, and idolatries. They certainly contain no mercy. These texts give a very different impression from the teaching of the bráhmans, at the present day, which makes all merit to consist in self-mortification. There are not only numerous passages of this kind in the Bhágabat, but in other books of which the text was taken from the Bhāgabat. In a book called Tula Bhena, which is looked upon with great veneration by all the Oriyas, such sentiments as these are to be found (page 67) : “The necklace is nothing.” “The tilaka (a mark) is nothing.” “Clean and unclean are nothing.” “Touching or not touching is nothing.” “Bathing is nothing.” “Outward pilgrimages are nothing.” “The worship of the Almighty is true, but all other worship is nothing.” “ Caste is nothing.” “ All are one caste.” “Religious austerities are nothing.” “Repeating the names of the gods is nothing.” Thus it appears that even those books received by the Hindus as divine condemn all their ceremonies as useless. 6. The Hindus also maintain that it matters not what a man’s character may be, if he only adores the gods. One may be impenitent, hypocritical, covetous and envious, and if he is only a warm devotee of Rám or Krishna, all will be well. However clearly this doctrine is taught in the native shāstras, it is also as clearly contradicted. It is said, (Bk. 6, Chap. 9, 59,60,) “He, who will not remember his former sins shall find no help, but will spend his days in pleasure and pain, and at last fall into hell.” No less expressive is the passage against covetousness, (Bk. 6, Chap. 6, 123-4,) “They who are subject to covetousness live like beasts. They shall not obtain thee (Shiba), but shall wander through the world.” Covetousness is also condemned in these words, (Bk. 6, Chap. 24, 106-7,) “They who are covetous and lustful are bound in wickedness and are like demons.” As it regards