THE THEOSOPHIST AND ARYA-SAMAJIST
To the Editor of The Tribune.
A letter published in your issue of August 14th and signed “A Theosophist and Arya-Samajist” has unfortunately—for its writer—appeared in your columns and demands a prompt reply. Had it been signed by any other nom de plume I would never think of answering it, still less giving my reasons for publishing anything I choose in the journal conducted by me. As the matter stands, however, and the writer having publicly accused “the Editor of that journal’ (The Theosophist) of being “greatly misinformed,” and bringing “discredit upon herself by giving publicity to such trash” (sic)—viz., by inserting a few lines to express regret at the sudden death of Pandit Shraddha Ram (!)—I, the undersigned, the Editor of The Theosophist, and one of the Founders of the Society to which the writer himself belongs, will now, with your permission, answer his very flippant, untruthful, and, I regret to say—since he is a theosophist—transparently spiteful remarks.
(1) I could not be “greatly misinformed” since my information was derived (a) from a personal, though a very short acquaintance with the defunct, at Lahore; (b) from several trustworthy and impartial informants, such as a high English official, a Christian clergyman, and several respectable natives from that same city; and finally (c) from two members of our Society—one of whom is a greatly esteemed and very learned native of Lahore, a valued friend of ours and—a “theosophist of good standing.”
(2) No Editor can possibly “bring discredit” upon himself —unless our critic and Brother (?) has yet to learn the real value of English words—merely for his speaking in a spirit of kindness of a defunct person, were the latter the greatest reprobate, which, even the detractors of the late Pandit would never dare to say of him. De mortuis nil nisi bonum is the motto of every honest man. On the other hand, a
“Theosophist”—the more so if in addition to being a Fellow of a Society, based upon the wisest principles of mutual tolerance and universal philanthropy, one, in short, striving to deserve the name of a practical Brotherhood of Humanity, he is a member of the Arya Samaj, a body known as opposing and being opposed by every orthodox Hindu––does “bring discredit,” and not only upon himself, but upon the Society he belongs to, by showing such a spirit of personal spite, narrow-mindedness and uncharitableness, as exhibited in his criticism in the Tribune. “It is far less a sin to speak kindly of and forgive ten sinners deserving punishment, than to slander or punish one who is innocent” is an old saying, especially—we may add—when the victim is dead and cannot defend himself.
(3) It is not true that Pandit Shraddha Ram “was innocent of any discussion with an Arya-Samajist” as I happen to know to the contrary; nor, that his “Hari-Gyana Mandir” (or Hari-Gyan Sabha, as the writer calls it) is composed but of “a dozen of persons”; nor yet that in his polemics with Babu Nobin Chunder Roy “he suffered the game to be won” by that Brahmo gentleman, as the Pandit was away, we are told, when his Bengali opponent had his last say, and that since then he published the Dharma Rakhsha in which he contradicted every word pronounced by his opponent. All his insinuations are exaggerated and greatly misrepresented. The late Pandit may have been little “guilty of deep Sanskrit learning” for all I can vouch for, but that is no reason why he should not be honoured after his death as a good and generally respected man. The whole letter under notice, breathing with that spiteful and bigoted spirit of partisanship which precludes the possibility on the part of its writer to show himself fair and impartial—his object falls short of its mark and his vilifications harm but their author.
While one “Theosophist” writes a quasi-libellous letter, and throws mud upon the memory of one, whose only crime seems to have been to oppose the teachings of the Arya-Samajists which he honestly, if erroneously, believed heretical—another Theosophist whom we personally know, as a
most trustworthy and impartial witness, wrote to Colonel Olcott from Lahore, at the date of July 18, 1881, the following:
It is with deep regret that I inform you of the sudden death of Pandit Shraddha Ram of Phillour, in the District of Jullander in the Puñjab—who visited you at Lahore. He was the only preacher of orthodox Hinduism, who travelled far and wide on behalf of his religion at his own expenses, and spoke so eloquently and with such a force of argument that neither missionaries, Moulvies, nor Brahmos, ever dared to encounter him . . . (this informant, independently of informant number one, whose paragraph we published, gives the very same testimony as to what our critic contradicts). He was a great orator, and his argumentative powers were very remarkable indeed. In addition to his knowledge of Sanskrit he was well versed in Persian, knew medicine and knew the Nasht Patrika, a branch of astrology, to almost a miraculous perfection. He also knew music, was a good poet, and an admirable writer in Hindi. Religious hymns of his composition are much appreciated and sung in the Puñjab. His pleasing manners and marvellous abilities secured for him the friendship of many good-natured Christian missionaries and of several European officials of high position. . . . His loss is not only severely felt by all the orthodox Hindus, but is deeply regretted and sincerely lamented by all his Arya-Samaj and Brahmo-Samaj friends.
The italics are mine. Whom are we to believe? Evidently Theosophist No. 2 had not met “A Theosophist” No. 1, otherwise the—to put it very mildly—indiscreet remarks in his letter would have never appeared, perchance, in the Tribune. To conclude:
As the Editor of The Theosophist, I now publicly declare that being no sectarian, following no one’s lead, and feeling the profoundest contempt for narrow-minded bigotry under whatever form, the columns of our journal—so long as I edit it—will never be closed against any writer, only because he happens to differ with me on religious or philosophical opinions. Holding Gautama Buddha higher in my veneration than any other religious teacher the world over, I yet publicly, and notwithstanding Buddhist opposition to the Hindu Scriptures—profess a profound admiration for the Vedas and the Vedanta teaching, simply because I claim an undeniable right of thinking for myself, untrammelled by any divine or human teacher or teaching. And were I to receive,
at any day, a well-written article directed either against our Society, the Buddhist Saviour, or myself personally, I would surely publish it in the same spirit of tolerance and impartiality, and with the same readiness as I would give room to one against a declared enemy of ours. And, as the Corresponding Secretary of the Parent or Central Theosophical Society, I am compelled to warn “A Theosophist and Arya-Samajist.” Let him avoid in future giving vent to such feelings as expressed by him in The Tribune as they are as discreditable to himself, as they are loathsome to the Society which honoured him by admitting him to the number of its Fellows. Unless he heeds this friendly advice our General Council might some day interfere, and he would suddenly find himself compelled to sign his future denunciations but as “An Arya-Samajist.”
H. P. BLAVATSKY.
Simla, August 24, 1881.