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Idolatry which was embraced by his countrymen. A careful study of the Sacred Writings of the Hindoos had also convinced him, that the prevailing notions respecting the multiplicity of Deities, and the superstitious devotion to the licentious and inhuman customs connected with them, were grounded upon an utter ignorance, or gross perversion of their religion. These original records appeared to him to inculcate a system of pure Theism, which maintained the existence of one sole God, infinite in his perfections, and eternal in his duration ; and that it required from its professors a mental rather than a corporeal worship, accompanied by strict and exemplary virtue. Having embraced these views of the Hindoo theology and morals, he became anxious to reform the creed and practice of his countrymen, and determined to devote his talents and his fortune to this important and honourable undertaking. The body of Hindoo theology is comprised in the Weds, which are writings of very high antiquity. On account of their great bulk, and the obscurity of the style in which they are composed, Vyas, a person of great celebrity in Hindoo literature, was induced, about two thousand years ago, to draw up a compendious abstract of the whole, accompanied with explanations of the more difficult passages. This digest he entitled “The Vedent,” or “ The Resolution of the Weds,” and it is generally esteemed as of equal authority with the original writings. This work Rammohun Roy translated from the Sanscrit into the Bengalee and Hindoo languages, for the information of his countrymen. He also printed an abridgment of it in the same languages, which he distributed gratuitously as extensively as circumstances would admit. The abridgment he afterwards translated into English, in the expectation, as he states in the Preface, of proving to his European friends, “ that the superstitious practices which deform the Hindoo religion, have nothing to do with the pure spirit of its dictates." Towards the conclusion of the same preface, he explains the reasons of his proceedings, and intimates the personal inconveniences to which he had exposed himself by his benevolent zeal.
“My constant reflections," he writes, “on the inconvenient, or rather injurious rites, introduced by the peculiar practice of Hindoo idolatry, which, more than any other Pagan'worship, destroys the texture of society, together with compassion for my countrymen, have compelled me to use every possible effort to awaken them from their dream of error; and, by making them acquainted with the scriptures, enable them to contemplate, with true devotion, the unity and omnipresence of nature's God. By taking the path which conscience and sincerity direct, I, born a Brahmin, have exposed myself to the complainings and reproaches even of some of my relations, whose prejudices are strong, and whose temporal advantage depends upon the present system. But these, how
ever accumulated, I can tranquilly bear ; trusting that a day will arive when my humble endeavours will be viewed with justice-perhaps acknowledged with gratitude. At any rate, whatever men may say, I cannot be deprived of this consolation : my motives are acceptable to that Being, who beholds in secret, and compensates openly."*
After the publication of the Vedant, Rammohun Roy printed in Bengalee and in English some of the principal chapters of the Veds, “ for the purpose of illustrating and confirming the view he had taken of them.”+
In the preface to one of these tracts, the (Isho
* See “Translation of an A bridgment of the Vedant, or Resolution of all the Veds; the most celebrated and revered Work of Brahminical Theology, establishing the Unity of the Supreme Being, and that he alone is the Object of Propitiation and Worship. By Rammohun Roy." Calcutta, 4to. 1816; 8vo. 1818; London, 4to. 1817.
+ The titles of these pamphlets are as follows: 1. “Translation of the Cena Upanishad, one of the chapters of the Sama Veda, according to the Gloss of the celebrated Shancaracharya; establishing the Unity and Sole Omnipotence of the Supreme Being, and that he alone is the Object of Worship.” Calcutta, 1816. 2. “ Translation of the Ishopanishad, one of the Chapters of the Yajur Veda ; according to the Commentary of the celebrated Shankar-Acharya ; establishing the Unity and Incomprehensibility of the Supreme Being; and that his Worship alone can lead to eternal Beatitude.” Calcutta, 1816. 3. “Translation of the Moonduk-Opunishud of the Uthurvu-Ved, according to the Gloss of the celebrated Shunkura-Charyu.” Calcutta, 1819. 4. - Translation of the Kuth-Opunishud, of the Ujoor Ved, according to the Gloss of the celebrated Sunkuracharyu.” 1819.
His other publications on the subject of Hindoo Reformation, consist of, 1. “A Defence of Hindoo Theism, in Reply to the attack of an Advocate for Idolatry at Madras." Calcutta, 1817. 2. A Second Defence of the Monotheistical System of the Veds, in Reply to
panishad,) after observing upon the superiority of the moral to the physical powers of man, and intimating that sorrow and remorse can scarcely fail, sooner or later, to be the portion of him who is conscious of having neglected opportunities of rendering benefit to his fellow creatures," he again adverts to his own case in the following terms: “ From considerations like these it has been, that I, (although born a Brahmin, and instructed in my youth in all the principles of that sect,) being thoroughly convinced of the lamentable errors of my countrymen, have been stimulated to employ every means in my power to improve their minds, and lead them to the knowledge of a purer system of morality. Living constantly amongst Hindoos of different sects and professions, I have had ample opportunities of observing the superstitious puerilities into which they have been thrown by their self-interested guides; who, in defiance of the law as well as of common sense, have succeeded
an Apology for the present State of Hindoo Worship. Calcutta, 1817. 3. Translation of a Conference between an Advocate and an Opponent of the Practice of Burning Widows Alive, from the original Bungla." 1818 4. “ A Second Conference between an Advocate and an Opponent of the Practice of Burning Widows Alive, translated from the original Bengalee." Calcutta, 1820. Dedicated to the Marchioness of Hastings. 5 “An Apology for the Pursuit of Final Beatitude independently of Brahmunical Observances.” Calcutta, 1820. 6. - Brief Remarks regarding Modern Encroachments on the Ancient Rites of Females, according to the Hindoo Law of Inheri. tance. Calcutta, printed at the Unitarian Press, 1822.” The translation of the “Vedant,” and of the “ Cena Upanishad,” were reprinted in London, in 1817. A review of some of these pamphlets iš inserted in the Mouthly Repository, Vol. XIV. pp. 561, &c.
but too well in conducting them to the temple of idolatry; and while they hide from their view the true substance of morality, have infused into their simple hearts a weak attachment for its mere shadow.” After enumerating some of the evils arising from the existing theory and practice of Hindooism, and noticing the encouragement held out by it to every species of immorality and crime, he thus proceeds: “ My reflections upon these solemn truths have been most painful for many years. I have never ceased to contemplate, with the strongest feelings of regret, the obstinate adherence of my countrymen to their fatal system of idolatry, enduring, for the sake of propitiating their supposed deities, the violation of every humane and social feeling ; and this, in various instances, but more especially in the dreadful acts of self-destruction, and the immolation of the nearest relations, under the delusion of conforming to sacred religious rites. I have never ceased, I repeat, to contemplate these practices with the strongest feelings of regret, and to view in them the moral debasement of a race who, I cannot help thinking, are capable of better things; whose susceptibility, patience, and mildness of character, render them worthy of a better destiny. Under these impressions, therefore, I have been im pelled to lay before them genuine translations of parts of their scripture, which inculcates not only the enlightened worship of one God, but the purest principles of morality, accompanied with such notices as I deemed requisite to oppose the argu