A People’s Monthly
Theosophist, June, 1880
The tone of our private correspondence encourages us to think that our magazine is satisfying the wants of the Indian public, and that it may lay some claim at least to be called the Asiatic People’s Magazine. Our contributions have been as varied in literary merit as the writers have differed in race and creed. Some have reflected the hopes and aspirations of undergraduates, while others, by ripe Eastern scholars, have won the admiring praise of the greatest authorities of European science. The subjects have been infinitely various, it having been the aim of the Editors to fulfil the promises of the Prospectus and make a free platform, from which the advocates of all the old religions might bespeak the attention of a patient public. It appears that our plan was a good one. Despite the ominous warnings of timid friends, the failure of many previous literary ventures, the prejudice arrayed against us, the malicious obstructiveness of the enemies of Theosophy, the unprofitably cheap rate of subscription, and every other obstacle, our magazine is a financial success; owing no man a pice and paying its way. The table of subscribers’ post-offices, copied last month from our mailing-registers, shows that it is a regular visitor at some hundreds of towns and cities situated in the four quarters of the globe. This means that our advocacy of the study of ancient lore has a world-wide evidence, and that in the remotest countries people are being taught to revere the wisdom of India.
The most gratifying fact in connection with our journalistic enterprise is that our subscribers are of every sect and caste, and not preponderatingly of any particular one. Most of those who write to us say that the magazine has been recommended by friends, and many, of every rank and every degree of education, express their gratification with what has appeared in these pages.
What precedes will prepare the reader to understand that if, now and then, place has been given to articles of somewhat inferior calibre, the fact must be attributed to design rather than to accident. Not that it would not have been more agreeable to print none but essays of a higher quality; that goes without saying. But we are publishing our magazine for the general public, not alone for the literary critics or antiquarians, and so we always welcome the representatives of popular thought to say their say in the best way they can. To whom shall we look for the revival of Aryan wisdom, the resuscitation of Aryan nationality, the beginning of a reformation of modern abuses? Not to the middle-aged or the old, for their tendency is towards conservatism and reaction. Much as such persons may intellectually revere the sages of old, it is worse than useless to look to them to set an example of putting away prejudices, customs and notions which those very sages would have abhorred and many of which they actually denounced. The hope of the century is in the young, the ardent, the susceptible, the energetic, who are just stepping upon the stage. It is worth more to fire the heart of one such lad than to rekindle among the ashes of their elders’ hopes the flickering semblance of a flame. So let us give the young men a chance to explore old records, question and counsel with their parents and teachers, and then publish the results to the great public. They may not always say very profound things, nor use the most elegant phrases, but at least they are sincere and, if encouraged, will be stimulated to study more, take further counsel, and try to write better next time. And their example will be followed by others.
Most Western men who have attempted to teach the Eastern reading public seem to have the idea that what pleases and satisfies their own countrymen, will equally please and satisfy the Orientals. There could be no greater mistake. The Eastern and Western minds are as unlike as day and night. What pleases the one is not at all likely to meet the requirements of the other, for their respective developments are the result of totally dissimilar environments. The true teachers for the East are Asiatic men, and one of these fledgling Native undergraduates will have a keener sense of Indian intellectual wants than most of our learned professors. The now-confessed total failure of the Cambridge mission to convert the high-class Natives is an example in point. We have more men of the kind they were fishing after in our Bombay Branch alone than were ever converted to Christianity since missions were first established in India. The object of our Society will be completely realized when the hundreds of young men who are reading our magazine and becoming imbued with the theosophical spirit, shall be labouring, with patriotic, religious zeal, in the several localities, for the revival of ancient wisdom and their general study of the records of that far-gone era when their ancestors boasted with sparkling eyes that they were Aryas.