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Japan with the Southern point of Kamtschatka, and the other connecting Kamtschatka, by a circular arc extending over twenty degrees of longitude, with the Russian Possessions in America. It is thought that these may afford facilities for uniting the Continents with telegraphic wires, rising, as they do, like oceanic piers for the frequent support of the cable. These chains of islands are, for the most part, subject to Russia; and the policy that has ordained telegraphic communication from Moscow to the Pacific, will favor a union with other nations for this cosmopolitan enterprise.
By the wise efforts of the Minnesota senators in Congress, the reported bill for the Pacific railroad provides for a Northern route, by no means the least important of the three, while it will be the most easily constructed: and this, should it ever be reduced to fact, would secure the telegraph as well; and then would be fulfilled the poetic conceit of putting a girdle round about the earth in forty minutes.
When Hon. Humphrey Marshall was the American Commissioner to China, he predicted two things which have since come to pass: the advance of Russia to the line of the Amoor, and the forcible opening of the cotton fields of China by the English. The former of these events has opened a new epoch in the world's commerce, and bids fair to change the balance of power among the world's nations. Events now transpiring are giving a deep significance to the latter, which may also prove to be controlling in the affairs of more nations than one.
ARTICLE IV.-MISSIONS IN INDIA.*
Life and Religion of the Hindus, with a Sketch of my Life
and Erperience. By JOGUTH CHUNDER GANGOOLY, (Baptized Philip). Boston: Crosby, Nichols, Lee & Co. 1860. 12mo.
Many important and interesting works have been published in this country, on the history, state, and prospects of India, and on the character, the customs, and the religion of its inhabitants. Some of these works were written by European residents in the country, some were by European and American travelers, and no inconsiderable part of them, especially those relating to the religion of India, were written by missionaries of different denominations. Mr. Gangooly is, we believe, the first native of India who has written a work on the religion of his country, or given us any account of his own experience. The book, as might be expected, from the nature of the subject, and from some circumstances connected with its publication, has excited uncommon attention, especially in the Unitarian denomination. The work consists of two parts; the first gives an account of “the Life and Religion of the Hindus," and the second contains “the Life and Experience” of the writer.
The author professes to have enjoyed uncommon advantages for becoming acquainted with the condition of the Hindus. He was born a Brahman, and he was carefully educated in the principles, the practices, and the prejudices of his caste. At the age of thirteen he was initiated into the mysteries of Brahmanism, and began to practice the peculiar rites and ceremonies of the order. He continued in this course for several
sincere in his faith, and zealous in his religious duties. He lived in Calcutta and its vicinity, where he had good advantages for
* This review, which we are able here to present to our readers, is from the pen of the Rev. D. 0. Allen, D. D., lately a Missionary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in India. VOL. XIX.
education in the science and literature of his country, and for acquiring a knowledge of the English language. From English books, and from intercourse with friends who had learned, or were acquiring this language, he obtained some knowledge of Christianity, and his faith in idolatry was shaken. He became acquainted with Rev. C. H. Dall, a Unitarian missionary from the United States, and attended his preaching. He received from Mr. Dall, Unitarian tracts and books, which confirmed his faith in Christianity. These works, and his acquaintance with Mr. Dall, turned his thoughts towards America, and an arrangement was made for him to come to this country, for further education.
Mr. Gangooly left India in January, 1858, and arrived in Boston in May. In accordance with previous arrangements, he was at once taken under the patronage of the American Unitarian Association, and commenced a course of education. with a view to returning as a missionary to his countrymen. He lived in different places, pursuing his studies under different Unitarian clergymen. His personal appearance, his former life and religion, his conversion to Christianity, and his purpose to return to India and devote his life there to the propagation of the Christian religion among his countrymen,-these circumstances excited much attention and interest wherever he became acquainted with the people. Having lived in this country somewhat more than two years, he was ordained, and soon afterwards embarked for India, there to engage in the missionary work.
The book which Mr. Gangooly has given us on the “Religion of the Hindus," has been received with some eclat, in certain quarters, but it is far from being such a work as we expected. It has, it is true, a certain kind of interest and value from the fact that we shall probably hear from him again in his new office of a Christian teacher in India. But it is evident that his means of observation and information respecting the subjects about which he writes have been, after all, quite limited.
People in America are apt to think of India as if it were one country, and as if there were but one nation inhabiting that vast peninsula, and professing the same system of religion; whereas it is rather an assemblage of nations, with nearly as great a diversity of personal appearance, of languages, customs, manners, and religion, as exists in the different countries of Europe. The inhabitants of Bengal, of Travancore, and of Rajputana, differ as much from each other, as the Italians, the Portuguese, and the Germans. One of the difficulties with Mr. Gangooly's book is that while he must know this, he either forgets it, or does not appreciate the importance of keeping this fact constantly in mind when writing for Americans about the religion of the Hindus. The people of India, for example, generally, profess the religion called Hinduism, but the system called by this name (if system it can be called) is as different in its doctrines, rites, and practices, in different parts of India, as Christianity differs in the different countries of Europe. The deities which are worshiped and have costly temples in some places, are not known even by name, in other parts of the country. The Brahmans, who were originally all of one caste, who profess to have kept all the essential rules of their caste, and are not accused of having violated any of them, are now so much divided among themselves, that they will not intermarry with each other, nor even eat together. To perform all the rites and ceremonies prescribed for the Brahmans, in their sacred books, would require all their time, and none ever attempt to perform them all. So they make a selection of those which they like, or which they think to be most important, and hence there is great diversity of practice among them. The same is true of other castes, though not to so great an extent, as their rules of caste are not so strict, and their rites and ceremonies are not so numerous and burdensome.
So, also, in respect to many of their social customs. In Calcutta and its vicinity, the women live secluded from observation, and a respectable or decent woman is seldom seen in the streets, or even at the doors or windows of their own houses. But in Bombay and the cities in the western parts of India, the women of all classes are under little or no restraint, and are seen in the streets and at the doors and windows of their houses, as much as their sex are in the cities of this country. This great difference and variety in India, extending to the deities worshiped, the doctrines believed, the rites performed, and the customs and manners practiced, have occasioned much misapprehension and perplexity in other countries, where it was supposed that such accounts, instead of being local and provincial, must be applicable to all India. We doubt not that Mr. Gangooly's description of "the Life and Religion of the Hindus,” is true of Calcutta and its vicinity generally, while it differs much from Hinduism as believed and practiced in many places in the southern, western, and northern parts of India. These circumstances should be kept in mind when reading Mr. Gangooly's book and comparing his statements and remarks with the works of missionaries and others, who describe what they have seen in other parts of the country.
Many things that we find stated in the book are undoubtedly correct. Mr. Gangooly tells us, for example, that the number of Hindu deities amounts to many millions, that their festivals and holidays are very numerous, and he has given a particular description of the principal festival in each month of the year, as these are kept in Bengal. (pp. 92–189). He tells us that these festivals are generally celebrated in honor and commemoration of certain actions of their gods and goddesses, as these are described in the Purans and in local legends and traditions. The people, accordingly, on these occasions, describe the conduct, and exhibit the character of their deities. The songs sung, the actions described, the scenes represented, and the language used at such times by all castes and classes, are often so indecent and obscene that they cannot be translated or described in English ; for our language has not corresponding words or phrases for such things. In some parts of these festivals, the women keep out of sight as much as they can, and their places in the processions and revels are supplied by men and boys in the clothes of women. When hearing such songs, witnessing such scenes, and seeing such rites and ceremonies, (and the writer of this Article has often heard and witnessed and seen them), we have wondered that the Hindus are not worse--are not more debased and