Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/360

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baffled by that ne plus ultra of systematic insanity, the creed of the orthodox Brahmans. Buddhism, the worship of death and sorrow, has, indeed, almost vanished from the land of its birth. Its infatuations prevailed against the primitive religions of the Mongols, Siamese, Cingalese, Tartars, and Thibetans, but in Hindostan the cow and monkey worshipers carried the day; the champions of Sakya-Muni had found their match, and, after an hierarchical rough-and-tumble fight of fourteen hundred years, their doom was sealed by a crushing defeat. In vain the Dalai Lamas convoked council after council; in vain the bonzes howled on the highways and prayed day and night on the public streets—the monkey Hanuman triumphed, and at this moment a hundred and twenty million Hindoos are ready to risk their lives in defense of a creed which, in the words of Baron Orlich, "combines the extremes of priestly arrogance with endless ceremonies and the most extravagant dogmatic absurdities." The clerical tyranny of Brahmanism may have been surpassed in papal Rome, and the complexity of its rites in Thibet; but its dogmatic absurdity is sui generis, and can really defy competition. "Credo, quia absurdum videtur," said the chief theologist of the Patristic era, but the quintessence of the Athanasian confession would seem insipid to devotees who have been fuddled with the opium of Brahma; and Father Hue expressed merely the recognition of a practical impossibility when he advised his countrymen not to send any more missionaries to Hindostan. The clergy, missions, and convents of the Spanish church cost the country a yearly aggregate of forty-two million dollars—after all, less than twenty per cent of the total national revenue—and the emissaries of that church may well shrink from the competition with a priesthood that persuades its constituents to sacrifice two fifths of their field-crops to a greedy swarm of four-footed divinities. The hunchback ox (Bos Bramanus) enjoys the freedom of every East Indian town. Even Calcutta has its "cow-dung suburbs" (the British soldiers use a stronger term). He defiles the sidewalks, monopolizes the tree-shade, and mingles with the crowd of the market-place. If he collects his perquisites by force, the natives remark that giving is more blessed than receiving; if he knocks them down, they feel with Cardinal Newman that the devotion of the truly faithful shows itself in the endurance of oppressive measures. In every larger city there are walled tanks where sacred crocodiles await the contributions of the pious. In Benares they subsist upon the rent of a real-estate legacy and occasional donations of the wealthy produce-merchants. But even the poorest of the poor contribute to the support of the sacred baboons. The bhunder-baboon and the Hanuman (Cercopithecus entellus) have every reason to regard themselves as the primates of the animal kingdom, and man as a humble relative, gifted with certain horticultural talents for the purpose of ministering to the wants of his four-handed superiors. Northern India is dotted with mahakhunds, or monkey-