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النشر الإلكتروني

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475.2 R18

1906 сорів

475.2 Non

R18

INTRODUCTION.

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1906
copil

All earnest attempts at reform, whether religious, social, political, or of any other description, are based on faith in, the ultimate triumph of truth and justice and humanity, which is synonymous with a belief in the moral government of the Universe. This is an essential element in religious belief. One would, therefore, expect to find Raja Rammohun Roy, the first all-round reformer in modern India, "above all and beneath all a religious personality. The many and far-reaching ramifications of his prolific energy were forth-puttings of one purpose. The root of his life was religion. He would never have been able to goo far or to move his countrymen so mightily as he did but for the driving power of an intense theistic passion." As in his life so in his writings, religion occupies the foremost place. His writings on religious subjects are the most important and most voluminous. But their very extent and variety are apt to puzzle those who may strive to find out the exact nature of his religious faith. The late Babu Rajnarain Bose had it from his father, a disciple of the Raja, that the latter before his departure to England had foretold that after his death various sects would claim him as belonging to their own particular ranks, but he declared that he did not belong to any particular sect. What the Raja foresaw has actually taken place. "It has been said that Rammohun Roy delighted to pass for a believer in the Vedanta with the Hindus, for a Christian among the adherents of that creed, and for a disciple of the Koran with the champions of Islamism.* The truth is that his eclecticism equalled his sincerity." † It would be out of place here to enter into a discussion of the question of his religious belief. Suffice it to say that he believed in pure theism, as his Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhiddin on the one hand and the Trust-Deed of the Brahmo Samaj on the other, in addition to

• His habit, in his religious controversies with various sects, of taking his stand not merely upon pure reason but mainly upon their scriptures led some people to think that he was all things to all men. This, of course, is a mistake. His controversial method was meant to convince the followers of different faiths that even their scriptures, which they professed implicitly to follow, enjoined the worship of the one true God.

†The Contemporary Evolution of Religious Thought, by Count Goblet d'Alviella, p 233. For an exhaustive discussion of the subject see the Raja's biography in Bengali, by Babu Nagendranath Chatterji, which ought to be translated into English.

'many of his other works, prove conclusively. He did not reject any truth to be found in any scriptures or in the teachings of any prophet or saint; he revered and accepted truth from all quarters: hut at the same time he did not accept any book or teacher as nfallible. It should not, however, be forgotten that though he was thus cosmopolitan in his acceptance of truth, there are reasons to think that he believed in what may be called national or racial manifestations or developments of universal theism. His partiality (in no narrow sense) for the ethical portion of Christ's teachings is evident. But it would be wrong to suppose for that reason that he was exclusively or even principally a follower of Jesus. In making this statement we do not solely or chiefly rely on his prose writings in Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, English or Bengali. His bs in Bengali, too, in our opinion, afford a correct idea of the faith that lay enshrined in the deepest recesses of his heart. For, poetry springs from a deeper source in the soul than anything that is merely didactic, controversial, doctrinal or philosophical. And from the Raja's Bengali devotional poetry, one cannot but take him to have been a Hindu Theist or a theistic Vedantist.

It is sometimes asked whether Rammohun Roy intended that the Society for the worship of one God that he founded should have a social counterpart in a religious community separate from all existing ones, such as the Brahmo Samaj has now become. The question is difficult to answer. But from the little study and thought that we have been able to devote to the subject, it seems to us that at the time when he established the Brahmo Samaj, he meant it to be simply a a meeting-ground for people of all sects who wished to unite for divine worship, “a place of public meeting of all sorts and descrip tions of people without distinction as shall behave and conduct themselves in an orderly, sober, religious and devout manner for the worship and adoration of the Eternal, Unsearchable and Immutablo Being who is the author and preserver of the Universe but not under or by any other name, designation or title peculiarly used for and applied to any particular Being or Beings by any man or set of men whatsoever." Art and philosophy, though each is essentially one all the world over, have yet found various though fitting garb among different peoples according to racial, climatic and other causes. It secans to us, that similarly, the Raja may have thought that Theism, though at bottom one all over the world, has yet found various expresjon among different races; and though abstract truth is thinkable, yet as it finds actual manifestation in some concrete shape, it is the part of wisdom to allow the abstract universal theism in all countries and among all races to keep its native shape and colour, in which it is embodied, freed, of course, from all that is base and impure, with

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