The “Contradictions of the Bible”
The Rawal Pindi Mission School
Theosophist, September, November, 1882 & February, 1883
TO THE MANAGER, THEOSOPHIST OFFICE.
Sir.—the copy of Self-contradictions of the Bible arrived at my school on August 3. By chance the post peon gave it to the second master; and the head master, a most bigoted Christian, not only forbade me to see it, but threatened me with expulsion from the school, if I were to send for another copy. Thereupon I threatened the said masters with an appeal tot he principal Post Office. The other day, thinking that I would not let the book remain with them, they handed it over to the Rev. N.—— (our Superintendent), so that he may perhaps be able to retain it with him. I was then taken before him. He, also after threatening me, and trying to prove by every sophisty that the author of the book was a wicked and immoral man, made various excuses for not giving the book back to me. I shall be highly pleased to read a few lines of comment on such honest actions inspired by religious bigotry, published in your next issue of the THEOSOPHIST.
No comment is necessary in the face of such plain action by the parties concerned, except that in every civilized country the act of taking away forcibly from a person, that which rightfully belongs to him, and for which he had paid, is simply regarded as a brutal abuse of power, if not—robbery. It is to be hoped, hoever, that the “quiet” repressive measures, as suggested by the Pioneer, will soon be adopted to stop the repetition of such scandals, and to secure to every person his “liberty of conscience,” which must be as dear to a savage as to any highly civilized or cultured mind.
Though anything bearing on politics is strictly kept out of our magazine, yet, in view of the facts that such an action as the one the Rev. N—— is shown guilty of in the above letter—is just one of those that are the most “likely to impede the growth of that good understanding,” of which the Pioneer is writing—we find ourself justified in helping to make that action public. And, were the native school-master to lose his situation thereby, we will most certainly publish the name in full of the Rev. N——, as well as those of the Mission School and the town. It is such Reverend zealots that are the direct means of creating hatred in the hearts of the natives for a Government, whose promises of neutrality they are the first to break, and thereby to impeded the beneficent effects of its wise policy. [H.P.B.]
Having given room in our September number to a letter from a Hindu correspondent, belonging to a Mission School, who accused his Superintendent, the Rev. N—— of abuse of power, we sent a copy of that number to the party charged of the offence, in order to give him a chance of replying to the accusation. We have now his reply and we print it verbatim. At the same time, we have also received another letter from the plaintiff, which we publish alongside with that of the reverend gentleman. We regret our inability to comply with the request of the latter. “In case Lakshman sends you any more cock-and-bull stories, please favour me with a sight of them before putting them into print, as they may be improved by an explanation from me”—writes to us the Rev. C. B. Newton. We answer: We have no right to betray the confidence of a correspondent, even though he may be proved to have exaggerated the offence. We are glad for the reverend gentleman’s sake that it should be so, and sorry for the young man that he should have found it necessary to exaggerate.1 With all that, we cannot remain satisfied with the explanations given by the Rev. Mr. Newton. The main point is not whether he has confiscated the book—another person’s property—brutally or politely; but rather, whether he had any right to do so at all, since Lakshman Singh was not a Christian; and the Mission Schools, especially the American, have no right to break the promises of religious neutrality given to the Hindus and Mussulmans by the Government that gives them shelter and hospitality. And, if Lakshman Singh proves that he has been expelled from the school for no greater crime than appealing to public opinion to decide upon the legality of such forced proselytism, and for refusing to sign an untruthful statement to save his prospects of education from ruin, then we doubt whether the Rev. Mr. Newton will thereby strengthen much either his own case or that of the religion he would enforce upon his pupils by means that no one would venture to call altogether fair. And since our reverend correspondent does us the honour of acknowledging that we maintain certain principles, such as truthfulness and fair play, in common with himself, we would fain ask him in the name of that truthfulness, whether he would have ever cared to confiscate, as promptly as he has the “Self-contradictions of the Bible,” some of the missionary works that tear down, abuse, and revile the gods of the Hindus, and the other so-called “heathen” religions? And if not, is it not forcing the poor youths of India, who have no other means of being educated, to pay rather too dearly for that education, if they have to obtain it at the price of their ancestral faith, or be turned out for seeking to learn the truth about a religion which they are asked to prefer to their own and which yet is represented to them but from one of its aspects, namely, the missionary side? We call it neither fair nor generous; nor yet charitable. True charity neither asks nor does it expect its reward; and, viewed from this standpoint, the free mission schools must appear to every unprejudiced person no better than ill-disguised traps for the unsophisticated “heathens,” and the missionaries themselves as guilty all round of false pretences. Far more respectable appear to us even the ludicrous Salvationists who, if they masquerade in Oriental costumes, do not at least disguise their real aims and objects, and have, at any rate, the merit of sincerity, however brutally expressed. Therefore we maintain what we have said before: the act of which the Rev. Newton and the two schoolmasters stand accused of, is—ABUSE OF POWER. [H.P.B.]
[Here followed the letter from Superintendent Newton, which can be read in full here]
We give room to [the following] letter, under the distinct promise made in it that it will be the “last”. We sided and still side with the writer, were it but for the reason that in such quarels between master and subordinate, the latter, whether right or wrong, is sure to have always the worst in the affray. Moreover, we adhere to our first opinion that the whole thing was an abuse of power.—ED. [H.P.B.]
I write this letter only to make myself free of the charged laid by the Rev. Missionary in the Theosophist for November. It will be my last letter.
I had resolved to write no more of the injustive I have lately incurred at the hands of the Rawal Pindee Mission authorities; but the misrepresentation of facts by the Rev. Newton compel me to publish the following. The Missionary charges me with having exaggerated his proceedings in my first letter to the Theosophist. I leave it to your readers to decide, whether the sentence, “And he also after threatening me and proving by every sophistry that the author of the book was a wicked and immoral man, made various excuses for not giving the book back to me,” is an exaggeration or a true fact; I have to add only the following:
When the second master had handed the book to the Rev. Missionary, the latter called me into his presence and angrily asked me, “Why did you send for such a book? Dare you see the Bible falsified?” etc. etc.2 He then tried to convince me that its author was an immoral man as he had had ignoble reports about his conduct from a gentleman in America. I only replied that I had nothing to do with either the wickedness of the goodness of the author. The book would tell its own tale, and if it proved immoral I would touch it no more. I then asked for the book, but he said the book was poison, and he would let me have it together with an antidote whenever I would come again.3 Nine or ten days after I visited him. There and then he made me confess the truth of the following in writing:
A: Nature does not admit of “How and Why.”4
B: There are always exceptions to general rules.5
C: Works of God are always taught in parables.6
As the (by him termed immoral) book treated of contradictions in the Bible, he read to me a few of them, asking me to observe that they were no contradictions at all, as every one of them could be explained away by the three principles as above enunciated.7 Any objection to them being considered by him as foolish on my part. Then and several times after I asked for my confiscated pamphlet, but he would let me have only the price of it and never the book itself. The book is with him up to this time. Consider then the value of his assertion to the purpose that he kept the book only with my consent!
The Rev. Missionary accuses me in his letter that I had always been buying anti-christian works from a scholarship which I was getting from the school.8 I am sorry that these words should proceed from the mouth of a Rev. Missionary.
The Manager of this Journal is well aware that I sent for the book on the 19th of May last; on the other hand, the Reverend knows as well that it is only last July that Rupees 2, the remnant of a municipal-scholarship, were given to me—against my will. Whether it behoves a missionary to term that paltry sum a “scholarship,” and to say that I had been buying anti-christian works from these 2 rupees, I have the public to judge. Out of delicacy and a feeling of honor, I had refused to accept those 2 rupees since the 1st of September. To explain how the signatures of the witnesses were obtained, I may say that first of all the signature of Baboo Harra Dhan Ghosh and that of Baij Nath Bando prove nothing, since they themselves were at the bottom of all this mischief. When all the teachers of the school and the 5th class students were assembled, the 2nd master ordered them to sign the letter. A Hindu teacher objected to going so unless he was made acquainted with its contents. He read it and having signed it, remarked that it explained but what had happened the other day. The rest of the teachers signed it without knowing the contents of the letter. Poor fellows! What else could they do?
Almost all of the 5th class students were scholarship-holders and they dared not oppose the measure at the risk of their stipend.
It is not so much the abusive language used by the Rev. Missionary personally against myself that I object to, as the yoke under which all of my fellow-brethren—be they Hindus of Muhammadans—are made to suffer—under the Missionary School system. Lastly I would request our liberal English Government, had I a voice in the matter, not to give grants-in-aid to these mission schools.
48, Court Street, Lahore.
1. Well, if he has, better let him go and defend himself. [H.P.B.]
2. And why should not a non-Christian hesitate to read or send for such a Bible—for which he cares as little as a Christian Missionary for the Shastras—even if falsified? Would the Rev. Mr. Newton feel any scruples to reading the Koran or the Bhagavad Gita in a caricature? Moreover, the “Self-contradictions of the Bible” does not contain one single words of comment or disrespect. It is quotations verbatim and literatim from the Bible. Is it any one’s fault if the various prophets (the alleged authors of the books) although inspired, have so unfortunately contradicted themselves in their statements? [H.P.B.]
3. In other words the Reverend gentleman called names the Bible itself, which is neither pious nor seemly, considering his profession. We say again, except on the title page and the headings of pages, there is not one word of comment in the pamphlet by the compiler—for its true authors are the apostles and Bible prophets. Why then “the antidote?” Can the Rev. Mr. Newton deny that which is printed black on white in every Bible? [H.P.B.]
4. Science, we are afraid, would demur to this Dictum. [H.P.B.]
5. Profound verity! [H.P.B.]
6. Agreed. But if one “parable” says white and the other—“black,” infallibility being claimed for both at the same time, then we have aright to regard and proclaim that as a contradiction. [H.P.B.]
7. We would like to enquire whether the Rev. Mr. Newton was not a Roman Catholic at some earlier period? [H.P.B.]
8. And where’s the offence were even the charge true? If, as every Missionary, the Rev. Mr. Newton had an eye to converting his heathen pupils to Christianity, he was himself, in honour bound, to furnish Lakshman Singh with means of ascertaining the real superiority and worth of the religion offered him as a substitute for that of his ancestors. How can a thing be proved good, unless both its outward and inward value are found out? Truth need fear no light. If Christianity be true, it ought to welcome the strictest and closest of investigations. Otherwise “conversion” becomes very much like selling damaged goods—in some dark back room of a shop. [H.P.B.]