COMMENTS ON “THE UTTERANCES OF RAMALINGAM PILLAY”
[The Theosophist, Vol. IV, No. 3, December, 1882, p. 61]
[Under the above title, H. P. B. comments upon certain criticisms by Chidambaram Iyer of the work of The Theosophical Society, and publishes a lengthy correspondence between him and Velayudam Mudaliar, of Presidency College, including questions as to the beliefs and teachings of one Ramalingam Pillay, She introduces the subject by saying:]
The communication from an esteemed brother, Mr. Velayudam Mudaliar, F.T.S., Tamil Pandit in the Madras Presidency College, which appeared in The Theosophist for July last, has been taken exception to by Mr. N. Chidambaram Iyer, of Trivadi, Madras Presidency, who sends his criticisms thereupon, together with a joint reply to certain questions of his addressed to a well-known chela, or pupil, of the late Ramalingam Swami. The gentleman says in a private note to us, that he has “the greatest respect for the Adept-Brothers, for the Founders of the Theosophical Society, and for Ramalingam himself, who was no doubt a great man in his own way.” He fully believes in the existence of the Brothers, and appreciates the work done by our Society “in so far as it tends to awaken in the minds of the Hindus a respect for the wisdom and learnings of their eminent ancestors.” So far, well; but having thus wreathed his rapier with flowers he then makes a lunge with it at the Founders’ ribs. “But I do not at all approve,” says he, “either their indirect attempts to spread Buddhism in the land of the Hindus, or the apathy with which the élite of the Hindu community view the evil that threatens to seriously injure the religion of their forefathers.” This—if we may be pardoned the liberty of saying so—is rhetorical nonsense. The public discourses and private conversations of Colonel Olcott in India will be scrutinized in vain for the slightest evidence upon which the charge of Buddhistic propagandism could be based. That work is confined to Ceylon. His addresses to Hindus have so faithfully mirrored the religious and moral sentiments and aspirations of the people, that they have been voluntarily translated by Hindus into various Indian vernaculars, published by them at their own cost, and circulated all over the Peninsula. They have— as abundant published native testimony proves—stimulated a fervid love for India and her glorious Aryan past, and begun to revive the taste for Sanskrit literature. As for the tone of this magazine, it speaks for itself. Take the thirty-nine numbers thus far issued, and count the articles upon Buddhism in comparison with those upon Hinduism, and it will be found that while confessedly an esoteric Buddhist,
the Editor has taken great pains to avoid anything which might look like an Indian propagandism of that philosophy. For two years our Colombo Branch has been publishing a weekly paper—the Sarasavi Sandaresa—in advocacy of Buddhism, yet we have carefully abstained from quoting its articles lest we might depart from our rule of strict impartiality. No, this charge must be ascribed to that orthodox prejudice which, under every phase of religion, begets intolerance and runs into persecution. It may amuse our critic to learn that some narrow-minded Buddhist bigots in Ceylon regard Colonel Olcott as scheming to break down orthodox Buddhism by gradually introducing Hindu ideas about the Soul, and he was publicly called to account because we use the mystic syllable OM on our Society documents and call ourselves Theo-sophists! So, too, an eminent Mussulman gentleman among our Fellows was soundly rated by his still more distinguished brother, because he had joined a body of persons banded together to Aryanise Islam!