“It is the allotted term of existence, including the manner of living, whether in bliss or misery. The person must be born again, and then become a god, or the vilest creature that crawls the earth, according as he has behaved himself. The Buddhists do not appear to have any idea of a personal God; and they are practically atheists, though there are many good things in their system. They recognize no omniscient, omnipresent, all-powerful Supreme Being, who presides over the universe and all that is in it. They are pessimists, and believe that life, on the whole, is misery, a curse rather than a blessing. I have given you only a faint outline of what Buddhism is. It has points in which it resembles Christianity. Buddha is dead and gone; but his followers put up petitions to him, though there is no one to hear and answer their prayers. But I must stop for the want of time rather than because there is nothing more to be said; and I have done no more than touch the subject.”
“But it is not very different from Brahminism,” suggested Professor Giroud.
“You are quite right, Professor,” replied Sir Modava. “Brahma means the universal spirit; but it is not a personal divinity to be worshipped. I believe there is not an idol or sculpture in all India that represents Brahma. Something that passes for this mystic spirit is represented with four heads.”
“But is there not a new church or philosophy of recent date—I mean Brahmo Somaj?” inquired Dr. Hawkes.
“Rammohun Roy, or Rajah Ram Mohan Rai, was a Hindu ruler in the Presidency of Bengal, born in 1772. His ancestors were Brahmins of high birth. He studied Sanskrit, Arabian, and Persian, and was a profound scholar and philosopher. When he began to have some doubt about the faith of his fathers, he went to Thibet to study Buddhism, where he was so outspoken that he offended the priests and others, and his religious belief brought upon him the enmity of his own family. In 1803 he lived in Benares, and held a public office at one time. He published works in the languages with which he was familiar, directed against idolatry, which he labored to uproot.
“He succeeded to abundant wealth at the death of his brother in 1811. His influence assisted in the abolition of the suttee, and in bringing about other reforms. He published ‘The Precepts of Jesus,’ accepting his morality, but denying his divinity and the truth of the miracles. More than fifty years ago he started an association which became the Brahmo Somaj, which is a living and working society still. He went to England in 1831, and was received with great respect and friendliness. I have great reverence for the man, though I do not accept all his religious views.”
“Lord Tremlyn informed this company in regard to the divisions of caste, so that I think we have a tolerable idea of the matter,” said Captain Ringgold, reading from a paper in his hand. “But all these sects and castes are divided again into tribes and trade societies. Then there is a considerable portion of the people who, though they are fully recognized as Hindus, are outside of the pale of this multiform organization.”