THE OXONIANS AND THEOSOPHY A GAIN
[Journal of The Theosophical Society, Madras, Vol. 1, No. 2,
February, 1884, pp. 29-30]
Barring an occasional drop of gall in the cup of Hippocrates, our esteemed antagonists of the Oxford Mission are very kind towards us. In fact, being both gentlemen and scholars, they go far to make us forget the priest and see only the friendly critic. If all Asiatic missionaries had been such Christ-like Christians, the page of our history would have been unsoiled by one savage retort. They seem to treat all in the same kindly, self-respectful tone. We scarcely recall a more tender, genial narrative than the Epiphany’s account of the cremation of our gifted foe, the late Babu Keshub Chunder Sen, whom they nevertheless were obliged to regard as a serious opponent to their evangelising work. The issue of their journal for January 12th contains the following significant article upon Theosophy:—
[This article, entitled “Theosophy Again,” recognizes the appeal that Theosophy has for the Hindû and the able manner in which it is being presented through the pages of The Theosophist. It deplores, however, the polemics that had recently been published on the subject of the Bishop of Madras. H. P. B. continues:]
Let us call our respected adversary’s attention to the following points, suggested by the above:—
1. If Theosophy is “the most formidable foe of Christianity in India amongst educated natives,” it must be because exoteric Christianity does not win their approbation, while the vital essence of Esoteric Christianity, or its Theosophy, has never been preached to them. Certainly, we Founders have never handled the former with clutch and claw, after the methods of Western Freethinkers and Secularists though we have uniformly affirmed that the “Secret Doctrine” underlies external Christianity equally with every other form of theology.
2. We confess with pain that we have at various times been goaded into reprisals, when we have seen the majority of so-called Christian clergy and laity as if conspiring to traduce our characters and malign our motives. The loathing felt by the Oxonian Brothers for such a tone as that adopted by the Rev. Mr. Hastie towards the whole Hindu nation, was no more righteous than that which we feel for others bearing the ear-mark of Christianity in view of their treatment of Theosophy.
3. In saying that the Rt. Rev. the Bishop of Madras is justified in doing what he can, while a paid official of a professedly neutral Government, to promote religious apostasy, and adopt any “special measures” to check the Theosophical movement because he is a Bishop and “there is an 'imperium in imperio’,” is simply the setting up of the old Papist claim of theocratic supremacy. "The commission of God over-rides the commission of the State.” Does it? By all means let that be officially promulgated as an Appendix to the Queen’s Proclamation of religious neutrality to her non-Christian subjects. Or if this be not so, then it would surprise nobody to see the law-making authorities taking the Epiphany party at its word, and, to avoid the “clash of commissions,” seeing the State’s “commission is disowned . . . withdraw it.” There is nothing like honesty. If the guaranteed religious neutrality were a bait and a sham, as it most assuredly would be, under
such a partisan view of a Bishop’s duties, the gravest consequences would inevitably ensue. The peace of Asia is maintained because the good faith of the above Proclamation is thoroughly believed in. As Dr. Gell, the private gentleman and sectarian, his Lordship of Madras might do his best to break down Idolatry and stamp out “Heathenism.” But in his episcopal capacity he has—as our eminent correspondent H. R. M. pointed out—no more right to sink his public prerogative in his private personality and break the religious peace, than the civilian has the right to embark in trade. The world’s mind is large enough to house all sects and schools—provided they do as they would be done by.