Imágenes de páginas

the solace and delight which, for some months past, the preparation of this work has afforded me. If it be true that “much study is a weariness to the flesh, it is not less true that it may prove a singular help to the spirit.

My aim has been to stir up among thoughtful and intelligent Christians a deeper interest in India by making its religious history better known. Surely nothing within the whole range of history is more profoundly mysterious and more awfully solemn than the religious history of India. To the antiquarian, the philosopher, the metaphysician, this subject presents a rare field for research and study; to an earnest Christian it appeals with special force; in the mind of such an one it awakens sentiments of tender sympathy and thrilling interest; to such an one this history suggests far more than a curious study of ancient superstitions and psychological eccentricities; it reveals to him the struggles of the human mind for thirty centuries to settle momentous questions which the light of Revelation alone can solve; it shows a mighty nation, sprung from the same primeval stock with ourselves, for so many ages ‘feeling after God if haply it might find Him;’ it shows that same nation, after endless vicissitudes of fruitless search and speculation, providentially brought into the closest alliance with ourselves, and mutely craving the spiritual crumbs which fall from our table.

The enforced delay in the prosecution of my design has not been without its advantages; it has given me more time and increased facilities in preparing materials for the work; amongst these facilities has been the appearance of several valuable treatises of a cognate character. It will be seen with how much thankful boldness I have availed myself of these recent sources of information."

To one book in particular I owe an especial debt of gratitude. When, some eighteen months ago, the distinguished Professor of Sanscrit at Oxford gave me some account of a work which he had then in the press, I rejoiced with hope; but, when the book itself appeared, I found that “the half had not been told me.’ ‘Indian . Wisdom' is a contribution of singular value to the many works of learned interest put forth by our modern Sanscrit scholars. I felt that, in citations from the sacred writings of the Hindus, I could not do better than use the simple, terse, and almost literal renderings of Professor Monier Williams. I wish here to state that I have done this in all but some three or four cases which are other

wise accounted for.

* Very gratefully would I acknowledge the interest and profit which I have derived from the study of Robson's Hinduism and its Relations to Christianity; Talboys Wheeler's History of India, Mussulman Rule; and Sher- > ring's History of Protestant Missions in India. *

God knows it is with no overweening confidence that I send this production into the world; I began it with a trembling sense of my inability for the task, and yet with a hope that I might be helped to accomplish it. How often I have reproached myself with presumption for making the attempt and anticipated failure, I cannot say. The main thought which has given me strength and courage has been the consciousness of a desire to glorify God in this undertaking and to advance His holy cause. May He graciously forgive whatever of a baser kind may have mingled with that higher aspiration I I think I may say that in everything I have tried to be accurate and honest. I have spared no pains to make sure of those facts which lay beyond my personal knowledge, and in the statement of those facts which pertain to my individual experience, I have striven to tell an unvarnished story, to guard against unconscious exaggeration—no fanciful danger—and rather to say too little than too much." * In passing this work through the press two things have struck me as needing a word of qualification. In a note on page 12 the ordinary treatment and condition of a Hindu widow is described. It is but just and right to acknowledge that this is a rule which has many honourable exceptions in the present day; many are the instances in which natural affection either ignores the rule altogether or applies it with softened stringency. A similar remark will apply to the usual penalties inflicted on a respectable Hindu convert (see pp. 33, 37). Such penalties undoubtedly threaten him at A word of explanation as to the title of this work may not be altogether superfluous. Many a writer has found it almost a less difficulty to write a book than to find a fitting title; and no title, perhaps, can give other than an imperfect idea of the work itself. In this case, the reader may say, ‘I can see the import of the Crescent and the Cross, but what am I to understand by the Trident?’ The answer is, the Trident is a three-pronged fork which appears on every Siva temple in India. It doubtless indicates the later Hindu Triad. It has thus come to be regarded as a symbol of the Hindu religion. As Buddhism has no specific symbol to mark it, the Trident has to do duty both for Hinduism and for its heretical offshoot; and, as Indian Buddhism ultimately resolved itself into the system from which it had revolted, the one symbol may, perhaps, by a stretch of charity, be allowed to cover both systems.

the outset, and for a time attend him; but let him only possess his soul in

patience, and hold on his way in courage and consistency, and the chances are he will outlive contumely and regain respect.

Such as the work is, I commit it to the grace and mercy of God, and to the kindly and candid consideration of the Christian public. So sensible am I of the many defects of my performance that I shall be most thankful for the friendly criticisms of my readers.

Before this year has run its course I shall be on my way back to the glorious land of my adoption; if, in the midst of my toils and cares, tidings of good should reach me—if it should appear that, even in the smallest degree, this work has helped to deepen the interest of my countrymen in India and provoke them to greater liberality and zeal in the work of its evangelisation, I shall thank God and go on my way rejoicing.


« AnteriorContinuar »