New Ideas in India During the Nineteenth Century eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 171 pages of information about New Ideas in India During the Nineteenth Century.
the feet of two teachers representing the new and the old, the West and the East.  In the College classroom he received religious instruction from Dr. Hastie, the distinguished theologian who afterwards taught Scottish students of theology in the University of Glasgow.  At the same time he was in the habit of visiting the famous Bengali ascetic, Ramkrishna Paramhansa, already mentioned, and of communing with him.  Returning from Chicago crowned with the honour which his earnestness, his eloquence, his power of reasoning, his attractive manner, and his striking physique and dress called forth, Young India lionised him; Old India met in Calcutta and resolved that Mr. Dutt of kayasth caste must drop the brahman title Swami, which he had assumed, before they could recognise him.  In 1895, having gone to Dakhineswar, the old residence of his Hindu master, Ramkrishna, Swami Vivekananda was actually expelled from the temple where his master had been wont to worship.  The Chicago representative of Hinduism had been guilty of the sins of crossing the sea and of living like a European, and so he must be disowned and the temple purged of his presence.  After a few years, Swami Vivekananda bravely settled down to unobtrusive, philanthropic work, one had almost said Christian philanthropic work, in a suburb of Calcutta, denouncing caste and idolatry and the outcasting of those who had crossed the sea, and recommending the Hindus to take to flesh-eating.  There, and while so engaged, in 1902 he died.  How shall we ticket that strange personage?  Kayasth caste as he was born, or new brahman?  Swami or B.A. of a Mission College of the modern Calcutta University?  A conservative or a reformer?  Hindu ascetic or Christian philanthropist?  He stands for India in transition, old and new ideas commingling.  He is a typical product of the English and Christian education given to multitudes in India to-day.

CHAPTER V

WOMAN’S PLACE

  “To lift the woman’s fallen divinity
  Upon an equal pedestal with man’s.”

  “The woman’s cause is man’s; they rise or sink
  Together, dwarfed or godlike, bond or free.”

    TENNYSON, The Princess.

[Sidenote:  Social inferiority of women.]

Next to caste, the chief social feature of India is the position of women in the community.  Hindus and Mahomedans alike assign to the female sex an inferior position.  In Mahomedan mosques, for example, no woman is ever seen at prayer; she would not be permitted to take part.  Only by the neglect of female children in India, and the special disadvantages from which women suffer there, can it be explained why in India in 1901 there were only 963 females to every 1000 males.  In India, as in Europe and all the world over, more boys than girls are born, but in the course of life the balance is soon redressed, and in the whole population in every country in Europe, except Italy[22]

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