Sivut kuvina

Bever be drawn aside by the words of deceivers, who worship the gods, and excite to religious ceremonies by the hopes of future rewards ; who promise heaven to the sacrificers of animals ; who talk of objects invisible.'

Hearing these words of the atheist, all the assembly rise up, saying, “Oh! thou wicked one!--Who art thou ? Whence comest thou ?

The unbeliever replies :- I am the sinner; ye are the holy; ye who fruitlessly destroy the lives of sentient beings!'

The Meemangsuku replies :-- The animals which I destroy in sacrifice obtain heaven ; the gods are pleased with sacrifices ; the sacrificer likewise obtains bis desire : that destruction of life therefore which is cominanded by the shastrus, is not criminal.'

Unbeliever. Shocking! What words are these! Where is heaven ? Where are the gods ? Where are your pleasures and sorrows after death?

M. Dost thou vilify the doctrines of the vedus and pooranus ?

Unbeliever. Shall we believe the words of the deceitful vedus and pooranus, which tell us of things which no eye has ever seen ?

M. If there be neither works of merit por demerit, how is the existence of happiness and misery to be accounted for?

Unbeliever. Where are thy works ? Who has seen them, or imitated them ? And if thou sayest, · My sorrow or joy is the fruit of actions done in former birth,' i affirm, that such births never existed ; and that as it respects joy and sorrow, they depart and return like the streams of a river. It is true, however, that the world is deceitful.

Vedantiku. Oh ! thou atheist, in affirming that the world is deceitful, thou hast pronounced justly ; but then thou oughtest te acknowledge that there is one everlasting and true God : for if there be no truth, there can be no falsehood wearing the appearance of truth.

Unbeliever. Well, thy opinions resemble mine ; but who is that Brumhu of whom thou speakest ?

V. He remains in a state of inactivity ; is invisible ; destitute of qualities ; omnipresent ; glorious ; the ever-bles. sed ; indescribable, and unsearchable.

. Unbeliever. If, as thou confessest, the world is false, what necessity for Brumbu, a God invisible and inactive? Where is the utility of such a being ?

The vedantee, hearing this, remained silent. Perceiving the vedantee's silence, the whole assembly directed its altention to the Noiyayiku pundit, who filled with pride, thus began :- What sayest thou? Why wilt thou attack others, when thou hast no system of ihy own ? People laugh at the man who without perceiving his own error, charges with error the opinions of others : he is like the blind man who reproves another on acccount of the speck in bis eyes.'

Unbeliever. This man appears to be ingenious at objections : however, bear me. The Madyumiku philosopher gays, that at the dissolution of the universe only vacuum remains ; the Yogacharu contends, that two ideas cannot exist at once in the mind, the first being destroyed by the second; the Soutrantiku says, that ideas are the images of things; the Voivashiku, that all material things are frail ; the Digumvurus affirm, that the soul is commensurate with the body ; the Charvvakus, that man is composed only of body. I have deecribed the opinions of these six sects, which are all thus summed up :—there is no heaven, no transmigration, no hell, no works of merit or demerit, no governor of the world, do creator, no preserver, no destroyer; no legitimate evidence of the truth of things but that of the senses ; after death, there is neither joy nor sorrow. All these errors (of the popular belief) arise out of the ignorance of men. Forbearing to destroy animal life is the most excellent of virtues. Sin and pain are synonymous ; mooktee, or deliverance, is nothing more than being independent of others ; heaven consists in bodily comforts in this life ; a religious teacher is therefore unnecessary.

The Noiyayiku (laughing) replies, if no evidence but that of the senses is to be regarded, why, when you are from home, does not your wife deem herself a widow ?

Unbeliever. We know that we shall never see the dead again ; for we see the lifeless body : but we have hope of seeing a person return from a foreign country.

M. Be it so, but the fact is placed in a state of uncertain. ty, and why do you not pronounce upon his death ?

Unbeliever. I can be assured of his existence by a written communication from him.

N. Well, then the evidence arising from inference and from sound is admitted : and indeed if the evidence of words be not regarded, all human intercourse is at an end, and men must preserve perpetual silence. But though thou rejectest the evidence of speech, thou art pleased with excellent words, and displeased with evil speech.

The unbeliever was put to silence for a short time by these observations ; at length he said, Well, I admit, for ar.

gament's sake, that we must receive the evidence arising from interence and from sound :-but why must we admit the existence of a God ?

N. From the works of creation we are constrained to inser that God exists. If you say there is no God, from whence arose creation ?

Unbeliever. Why art thou concerned about finding a creator for the world? Does not a father beget a son, and an artificer, according to his ability, produce every kind of utensil ?

N. True, we see every thing produced by human inge. nuity ; but how do the trees grow in a forest, where no human footsteps can be traced ?

Unbeliever. The trees of the forest spring from them. selves, as insects from a hot-bed.

N. Then the child may be born without a father.

Unbeliever. Some animals are born by the union of the sexes, as men, beasts, birds, &c. Other things are produced by the union of seeds with water, or with the earth, as trees, &c. Seeds fall from the trees, and mixing with the earth, receive rain from the clouds, and vegetate. Thus nature, in various ways gives existence to her different productions.

N. True, I see you ascribe to nature the origin of things ; bat as there is a necessity for the trees of a garden to receive water by the hands of a gardener, so the trees of a forest, I see, are dependant on the agency of the clouds. But I wish to know what you mean by nature ; is it something inherent ir living substances, or distinct from them? If you say it is inherent, then it will appear that substances can form themselves ; if you affirun that it is distinct, you contradict your own principles, for you maintain that nothing exists distinct from matter : or if you say, that there is something besides matter, which is capable of all things, then know that this is what we call God. Therefore you cannot maintain that there is any thing distinct from the body.

Unbeliever. You affirm, then, that there is one God, who is from and to everlasting, separate from matter, almighty, the creator of all. I affirm that nature is almighty, infinite, and separate from matter.

The Voiyayiku. Excellent! excellent! You make an endless number of works, and the creators numberless. I affirm that numberless works have one creator. I leave you (unbeliever) to judge which is the most excellent of these opinions. To express your opinion requires as many letters as to express mine ; you call the creator nature, and I call him God: what do you gain then in rejecting a God ?

Unbeliever. (A little abashed.) Well, for the sake of the argument, I acknowledge that there is a God; but why is he to be eternal ?

The Noiyayiku. If he be not eternal, then he must have a creator and a destroyer. If you deny his eternity, then 1 ask, who is his creator and destroyer ?--and thus, without end, some being, who is from everlasting, must be sought : or you must fix on some one having this property, and then he shall become God. (Hearing this, the unbeliever remained silent, and the Noiyayiku continued :)~God, laying hold of religion and irreligion, created the world : seeing happiness and misery in the world, we form this opinion. If there be peither heaven nor hell, why do you go to the temples to worship : and why sweep the road, lest you should injure living creatures? If there is nothing to be desired or feared, There can be neither desire nor fear; yet we see that desire and fear have a great power over men : therefore we con. elude, that in the future state there is a heaven and a hell. You must also admit, that the soul at death assumes another body, in order to partake of the joys or sorrows of this future state, since the animal soul without a body is incapable of suffering ; for the same reason, it must also be admitted, that the soul migrates through various bodies. Further, what is thus made evident by inference, is agreeable to the divine writings, and to all that has been written by those wbose opinions agree with the vedus ; the truth of the shastrus is confirmed by the correctness of their astronomical calcula. tions. [The Boudhu, involved in incorrect judgment, and ignorance of God, was overcome, and] The Noiyayiku thus triumphed, “The existence of God is proved! He is lord of all ; he presides over the work of creation, preservation, and destruction ; he is everlasting ;-he is all-wise ; he is the author of salvation. Through his compassion, these proofs of his existence and authority have been establisbed.'

To this interesting and authentic account of the Hindoos, by the Rev. Dr. Ward, we subjoin, from an intelligent writer, the following account of their most sacred books.

Of the Vedas.-Mrs. Graham, in her interesting work on India, has given the following account of the Vedas, the books of the Hindoos :

Of all the writings left by the sages, the Vedas are the most interesting. Their existence was long doubted by the learned in Europe, perhaps owing in some degree to the unwil. lingness of the Brahmins to impart them to strangers. But early in the seventeenth century, they had been partly trans

lated for the use of the accomplished prince Cara Shekeh, into the Persian language, and considerable portions had been rendered into the Hindoo tongue. At length several English gentlemen, among whom the most distinguished was Sir William Jones, procured copies of valuable portions of the originals ; but it is to Mr. Colebrooke, that we are in debted for the most complete accounts of these ancient writings.

Some persons have hastily pronounced the Vedas to be modern forgeries ; but Mr. Colebrook has brought forward the most convincing arguments, corroborated by various proofs that, notwithstanding the possible inaccuracy of a few passages, the great body of the Vedas as now received, consists of the same compositions, which under the title of Vedas, have been revered by the Hindoos for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

These Vedas are four in number; the Rigveda, the Vajurreda, the Samaveda, and Atharva Veda ; and some writers reckon the books It’hasa and the Puranas as a fifth or supplemental Veda. By the age of the Vedas is not meant the period at which they were actually composed, but that in which they were collected and arranged by the sage Dwa: payana, sorpamed Vyasu, or the Compiler, or about fourteen centuries before the Christian era, and nine hundred years before Pisistratus performed the same office for the works of Homer, in danger of being lost, owing to the practice of the public rebearsers, who only declaimed detached passages and episodes.

The At'herban, or more properly At'herva Veda, is supposed to be more modern than the other three books, and indeed to be a compilation from them. The antiquity also of many of the puranas is questioned, but their real author and precise date is of little consequence ; since the fact of their being really the sacred books of India is acknowledged.

The Vedas consist of a compilation of prayers of muntras and hymns, the complete collection of which is called Sanhita, and of precepts and maxims called Crahmana. The theology of Indian scripture, including the argumentative part or Yedanta, is contained in tracts called Upinishads; and to each Veda a treatise called Jyotish, is annexed, explaining the adjustment of the calendar for religious purposes.

The Rigveda contains chiefly encomiastic muntras, and its name is derived from the verb Rich, to land ; these prayers are mostly in verse, and, together with similar passages in any other veda, are called Rich, the authors of these hymns are

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