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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/54

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

parody a well-known saying, that Hindoo nascitur non fit, still there can be no doubt that it manages to make more converts by mere assimilation than can any other religion in India by direct missionary effort. This absorption into Brahmanism is becoming, under the pax Britannica, day by day, a more important feature in Indian social economy. As surely as the English bring fresh uncultured tribes under their civilizing influence, so surely do they add to the number of the Hindoos; as surely as the iron hand of Anglo-Indian law, by refusing to recognize any difference between man and man, causes the upward rise in the social scale of those that labor to good purpose, so surely is the cause of Brahmanic orthodoxy advanced and its influence widened. I have watched the first process myself in the case of the recruits to our little army of Gurkhas; the wild mountain boy, on joining his regiment, is taught not only his drill, but also the Hindustani language as understood in military circles, and with it his religion, i.e., a smattering of current Hindooism. The second can be seen in progress any day all over India, by any one who will take the trouble to observe the career of a successful handicraftsman or small trader. At first an "outcaste," dealing only in matters of religion with his tribal soothsayer; as he gathers money, he sets up a Brahman priest, and minds the orthodox gods, and at last, when respectable and wealthy, he develops into a full-blown Hindoo; and then, since in all Hindooism ceremonial orthodoxy is synonymous with social respectability, he adopts Hindoo manners to the full; isolates his women, prohibits the remarriage of widows, marries off his infant children in the proper quarters, and practices the thousand-and-one customs peculiar to his adopted religion. Of course, in order to be able to thus attract to itself so many antagonistic principles of custom and belief, the modern Brahmanism can have no hard and fast creed. It has, in fact, no creed at all, properly so called. Nothing in the shape of "I believe in God the Father Almighty"; nothing like the strict Mohammedan formula— iláha ill' illáhu, Muhammadi-'r-Rasúlu'-lláhu (there is no God but God, Mohammed is the prophet of God). It consists rather of a leading principle, viz., to gather together whatever items of belief may come to hand, in order to develop them in a certain definite direction, under the control of its own priests, and for their benefit; and while the process of development is going on, it naturally ingrafts its own customs on to those it already finds in existence. Herein lies its wonderful vitality and strength, its capacity for digesting anything that it gets into its maw, and its power of resisting internal disruption. The apparently elastic network of caste and family customs that it invariably twines round its victims is marvelously cruel, and so unendurable that revolt after

revolt has been made against it; but the result, so far, has been