I asked a lady who had been a missionary in Calcutta for many years, how far a belief in transmigration was apparent among the women of the middle class. She could recall only two instances in which it had come to her notice in her talks with the wives and daughters of educated India. Once a reason was given for being kind to a cat, that the speaker’s grandmother might then be in it as her abode, although the observation was accompanied with a laugh. On the second occasion, when the lady was having trouble with a slow pupil, one of the women present, sympathising with the teacher, said, “Do not trouble with her; perhaps next time when she comes back she will be cleverer.” The general conclusion, therefore, I repeat: Transmigration is no longer a living part of the belief of educated India; the Christian conception of the Hereafter is as yet only partially taking its place.
THE IDEAS OF SIN AND SALVATION
“Conscience does make cowards of us all.”
[Sidenote: The new Theism.]
In the new India, as fish out of the water die, many things cannot survive. We have seen the educated Hindu dropping polytheism, forgetting pantheism, and adopting or readopting monotheism as the basis of his religious thinking and feeling. For modern enlightenment and Indian polytheism are incongruous; there is a like incongruity between Indian pantheism and the modern demand for practical reality. Likewise, both polytheism and pantheism are inconsistent with Christian thought, which is no minor factor in the education of modern India. Further, the theism that the educated Hindu is adopting as the basis of his religion approaches to Christian Theism. The doctrines of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man have become commonplaces in his mouth.
[Sidenote: Homage to Christ Himself]
Likewise, the educated Hindu is strongly attracted to the person of Jesus Christ, in spite of His alien birth and His association with Great Britain. There is a sweet savour in His presence, and the man of any spirituality finds it grateful to sit at His feet. That familiar oriental expression, hyperbolical to our ears, but ever upon the lips in India to express the relationship of student to trusted professor, or of disciple to religious teacher, expresses exactly the relationship to Jesus Christ of the educated man who is possessed of any religious instinct. To such a man the miracles, the superhuman claims, the highest titles of Jesus Christ, present no difficulty until they are formulated for his subscription in some hard dogmatic mould. Then he must question and discuss.
[Sidenote: Transmigration forgotten.]