[The Theosophist, Vol. III, No. 1, October, 1881, p. 26]
Nothing promises to prove more dangerous to the Bible and to the Bible Christians—not even the new Revision of the sacred volume by the combined ecclesiastical talent of England, than that eminently Hindu funeral rite—cremation. The more this mode of disposing of the bodies of the dead comes into general practice the more it is calculated to strike terror into the hearts of the pious and God-fearing folk who look forward to death, because of the resurrection at the last joyful summons from the Angel’s trumpet. But with cremation resurrection has become impossible. But since matters cannot be mended, and science has entered into a league with the heathens, even such a bigoted country as Italy, priest-ridden and Jesuit-ridden as it is, has taken the lead in cremation. Germany, according to a correspondent of the Pall Mall Gazette, has also its own Cremation Hall at Gotha, a handsome and spacious building, and artistically inferior to only that of Milan. It has been in existence about two years and a half, and was built by an association or Verein of some of the most thoughtful and learned men in Germany. The correspondent adds: “Fifty-two persons, five of whom were women, have in this space of time chosen such a form of burial [does not this sound like a bull?],* one body being sent from New York. The cost of the mere process of cremation is about five pounds sterling, and the religious ceremony can be first read over
* [Square brackets, are H.P.B.’s— Compiler.]
the body. It is unnecessary to say that the Catholic priest refuses church burial to anyone electing to be cremated. Protestant pastors, on the contrary, willingly accord it. The cinerary urns bear the name of one or two Jews.” It would be worth while determining as to who are the most consistent—the Catholic priests, the Protestant pastors, or the Jews? The correspondent thus concludes: “I think few visitors will visit this cremation hall without being duly impressed in favour of a system so advantageous to the living, and, it must be admitted—at least, of France and Germany —also advantageous to the dead. Here, as in France, the law compels such prompt interment that in many cases it has been known to take place before the breath has left the body. In Algeria I have known personally a victim of this misapprehension; and my German friends all speak to me in warm terms of the new system as, irrespective of other advantages, preventing premature burial.”
[Ibid., Supplement, October, 1881, p. 2]
[The following Note has reference to an article in defence of Col. Olcott which appeared in the Ceylon Times of September 22, 1881, intended to be a reply to attacks against him published in the Ceylon Observer of September 20th.]
The article of the Ceylon Observer to which the Times correspondent alludes was a most cowardly attempt to traduce a spotless, private character by innuendo. The testimonials to Col. Olcott’s highly honourable record in America provoked the bigoted editor’s spleen, and led him to such palpably mean and futile extremes as to win for his coveted victim the sympathy of this writer. The fact is that the Christian party are thoroughly alarmed at the effect already produced by our President upon the hitherto sluggish Buddhists of the Island. He is awakening in them so marked an interest in their religion as to forbode disastrous times for the Protestant missionaries. Garbled reports of discussions in
which he always gets worsted; absurd proposals to petition the Governor to order him away; silly stories of his certainty to be assassinated; foolish questions put to him in the papers by featherbrained fellows; prohibitions by bishops, priests and padris to their laity to hear his lectures; newspaper articles against him put into tract form and widely circulated—all these prove at once the greatness of his success and the anxiety of our enemies.