[Review: New Magazines]
Theosophist, April, 1882
The Arya, “a Monthly Journal devoted to Aryan Philosophy, Art, Literature, Science, and Religion, as well as to Western Modern Philosophy” conducted by R. C. Bary, at Lahore. It is published in the interests of the Arya Samaj, founded by our friend and ally, Swami Dayanand Saraswati. The March number, the first of the new publication just started, is before us. Conducted by a Brother of ours, his ability, we doubt not, will guide it safely through the dangerous passes of literature, the Thermopylae, where so many new journals find an untimely death. The first number contains some very interesting information; among other matter, a learned and comprehensive article, “The Theory of Evolution from an Aryan Point of View,” by one F. T. S.
If the initials mean “Fellow, Theosophical Society,” then the latter ought to feel doubly proud; first, of the member who wrote it; and then of the laudable feeling of modesty which made him conceal a name of which, as a writer, he need never be ashamed. The article is so good, that we hope it will be continued. “A Choba and his Jujman,” by Lalla Sobha Ram, is a satirical Dialogue between an old orthodox Brahman and an Arya Samajist, who is kind enough to mention in it and thus give some prominence to the humble labours of the Founders of the Theosophical Society. “Infant’s Home Education,” by X., contains some excellent advice to native parents. “A Guide to Greek Nomenclature,” a learned article by Daya Rama Varma, of Mooltan, an old contributor of ours, who shows in a very satisfactory way that the Kings of Magadha, or the Magadanians, who were “lords paramount and emperors of India for above 2000 years,” and whose country was “the seat of learning, civilization and trade,” were the forefathers of the Greek Macedonians. This is a very ingenuous theory and the author’s nomenclature of ancient names deserves to be more widely known. Hymn First, of the Rig Veda Samhita, and the “Principles of the Arya Samaj,” with an explanation of the objects of that body, are also given. Having on the first page “deplored the fact” that the Arya Samajists are “talked of as the blind followers of Swami Dayanand Saraswati,” denounced by “self-styled Pandits . . . as Atheists,” and regarded by some of their best friends “as a religious sect,” the true position is explained further on, in an article signed R. C. We confess, we have ourselves always laboured under the impression that the Arya Samaj was a sect. Notwithstanding all denial, we could hardly be blamed for it, since the Arya Samaj is a Society answering perfectly to the definition of the word “sect” as given by Dictionaries. A sect is a body of persons who have separated from others in virtue of some special doctrine or doctrines; a religious or philosophical school, which has deserted the established church, or “which holds tenets different from those of the prevailing denomination in a Kingdom or State.” The Arya Samaj then, since it is a body of men who follow the teachings of Swami Dayanand, whose school has separated itself from orthodox, or established Brahmanism and Hinduism, must be a sect as much as is the Brahmo Samaj, or any other body composed merely of coreligionists. Our Society is not a sect, for it is composed of men of all sects and religions, as of every school of thought. But we believe no Mohammedan or Buddhist would be received into the Samaj of our respected friend, the Swamijee, unless he gave up, one—his reverence for his prophet, the other—for Buddha. More over, he would have to renounce the tenets and dogmas of his religion, and accept those of the Vedas, as the only revealed books; and the interpretation of the latter by Swami Dayanand as the only infallible one, though, to interpret an infallible revelation, requires an infallible revealer. Let it not be understood that we take our friends, the Arya Samajists, to task for it; or, least of all, that we seek to undervalue, in any way whatsoever, the teachings of Pandit Dayanand. We only expect to call correct things by their correct names, as it would be beyond our power to quarrel with every well-established definition. But the objects as defined in the article signed “R. C.,” are excellent:—
“The Arya Samaj is a society established with the object of dispelling from among humanity ignorance with all the superstitions which it has bred, and which unfortunately still bind in iron chains the people of India and, to some extent, the people of the West, as well as to reform all religious rites and ceremonies by the light of the doctrines of the Vedas. . . . A pious and righteous person who has correctly read and understood the Vedas and who never deviates from their teachings in his practice is a Brahman, be he or she the native of America, Europe or Aryavart itself.
“The Arya Samaj holds the Vedas as a Revelation vouchsafed to man at his introduction into the world, and this Revelation as having a counterpart in nature, viz., the whole creation. A religion that conflicts with science does not deserve that name. The laws of nature are universal and irrevocable and no man or woman can infringe any one of them with impunity, and so is the case with the doctrines of the Vedas which teach us that our thoughts, words and deeds are the authors of our fate and of our future state. There is no stern deity punishing innocents or an overmerciful one forgiving sinners.”
This last doctrine is highly philosophical; and, having a true Buddhist ring about it, appears to us perfectly logical. Only in such a case what is the active part, if any, allotted to God in the Arya system? Will our esteemed colleague and brother kindly enlighten us on this subject? This is no idle criticism, but an earnest enquiry which we would fain settle seriously with the Aryas. In the “Principles of the A. S.,” we are told that, among many other things, God is “just and merciful.” Now, if his justice and mercy are simply nominal attributes since there is no deity to punish or to forgive, why such attributes, or even such a deity at all? Science, common-sense and experience teach us that by the disuse of any organ, when the functions are suspended in it, the limb becomes atrophied, the same law holding good in the case of mental qualities. If the “All-wise, the Support and the Lord of all,” the omniscient God, is no better than a constitutional sovereign, the supreme power being vested in him but nominally, while the real power remains in the hands of his Parliament (represented in our case by man’s “thoughts, words, and deeds,” or Karma), and that thus the “Lord of All” becomes simply ornamental, why have him at all? We hope the Arya will not refuse to enlighten us upon the subject. Meanwhile we wish it sincerely long life and success.