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.
fain see the myriad of castes reduced to the original four named in Manu.  To quote again the summing up regarding the caste system in the chief Hindu text-book referred to—­“Unless the abuses which are interwoven with caste can be eliminated, its doom is certain.”  That is much from the leaders of the Hindu reaction.  In Hinduism they may often see only what they wish to see, but they are not wholly blinded.

The Theosophists, it should be noted, do not figure as such in the Census.  Indian Christians, Brahmas, and [=A]ryas have all taken up a definite new position in respect of religion, and ticket themselves as such; the Theosophists are now at least mainly the apologists of things as they are, and require no name to differentiate themselves.



[Sidenote:  The national anti-British feeling not manifested among Mahomedans.]

[Sidenote:  Mahomedan religious movements.]

The Mahomedans, the other great religious community of India,[59] have been far less stirred by the new era than the Hindus, whom hitherto we have been chiefly considering.  Only a small number of Mahomedans belong to the professional class, so that modern education and the awakening have not reached Mahomedans in the same degree as Hindus.  Quite outnumbered also by Hindus, they identify themselves politically with the British rather than with the Hindus, so that as a body they do not support the Congress, the great Indian Political Association, and have no anti-British consciousness.  Mahomedan solidarity is strong enough, but it is religious not national, and so it is only in the religious sphere that we find the new era telling upon Mahomedans.  Two small religious movements may be noted curiously parallel to the [=A]rya and Br[=a]hma movements among Hindus, and suggesting the operation of like influences.

[Sidenote:  The Wahabbi movement analogous to [=A]ryaism.]

As the [=A]ryas preach a return to the pure original Hinduism of the Vedas, the first Mahomedan movement inculcates a return to the pure original Mahomedanism of the Koran.  In particular, it urges a casting off of the Hindu customs and superstitions that the Indian converts to Mahomedanism have frequently retained,—­the offerings to the dead, for example.  In the first instance, the movement came from a seventeenth century Arabian sect, the Wahabbis, but the movement reached India only about the year 1820, and therefore is a feature of the period we are surveying.  The movement belongs specially to Bengal and the United Provinces north-west of Bengal, and is known by a variety of local names, Wahabbi and other.  Significant, as supporting what has been said regarding the absence of anti-British feeling among present-day Mahomedans, is the fact that in the first stages of the Wahabbi movement, both in Eastern and Western Bengal, the duty of war upon infidels—­on the British and

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