Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/359

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EVOLUTION OF CIVILIZATION AND THE ARTS.

extent that they no longer have any visible relationship with the creeds of which they keep the name. Thus, the Buddhism of China is so different from the Buddhisms of other countries that it is hardly recognizable as the same religion; and the Buddhism of India is different from that of Nepaul, and that is far removed from the Buddhism of Ceylon.

Brahmanism, too, exhibits various aspects among the different races of India, of which it is the nominal religion. All these peoples doubtless regard Vishnu and Siva as their chief divinities, and the Vedas as their sacred books; but the chief divinities have impressed only their names, and the sacred books only their texts, on the religion. By their sides are innumerable forms of worship in which we find, among the several races, the most various beliefs—monotheism, polytheism, fetichism, pantheism, ancestor-worship, devil-worship, animal-worship, etc. The titles of the sacred books are venerated by all Brahmans, but of the religion they teach there is none.

Islam has not escaped this law, even though its monotheism be so simple. It is a long distance from the Mohammedanism of Persia to that of Arabia and that of India. Polytheistic India has found a way to make the most monotheistic of creeds polytheistic. To the fifty million Mussulmans of India, Mohammed and the saints of Islam are only new gods added to thousands of other gods. Islam has not succeeded in establishing in India that equality of all men that has made its success everywhere else. The Mussulmans of India have their castes, like the Hindus. In Algeria, the Arabs and the Berbers are both Mussulman; but the Arabs are polygamous, while the Berbers are monogamous, and their religion is simply a fusion of Islam with their ancient paganism. The religions of Europe are not exempt from this law. As in India, the dogmas established by Scripture remain inviolate, but they are merely vain formulas which each race interprets in its own way. Under the general denomination of Christians we find real pagans, like the Bas Breton, praying to idols; fetich-worshipers, like the Spaniard, adoring amulets; and polytheists, like the Italian, worshiping the Madonnas of each village as different divinities. Pursuing the subject further, it would be easy to show that the great religious schism of the Reformation was the necessary consequence of different interpretations of the same religious book by quite different races—the peoples of the north of Europe desiring to discuss their creed and regulate their lives for themselves, and those of the south being more backward than they in independence and philosophical spirit.

The same rule as with religions prevails with institutions and languages. They can not be transmitted without becoming modified. Consider how often in modern times the same institutions, im-