An Appeal for the Redemption of the Poor Pariahs [Outcastes]
Theosophist, October, 1883
Introductory Note by H.P.B.
A noble movement, one of a most redeeming and high character, is set on foot by several native gentlemen of Southern India, namely, a Society for the Regeneration of the Pariah classes. Hitherto, these hapless outcastes, or rather, creatures of no-caste, rejected by all their fellow-men, thought that their only way to social and political rather than religious salvation, was by lending a willing ear to the liberal promises made to them by the Missionaries; and thus—they fell an easy prey to these universal way-layers. Had the Padris while baptizing (which does not always mean converting) them, done anything in the way of moral regeneration for this unfortunate class, we would be the first to applaud their efforts. As it is, every European having the misfortune to deal with native converts (of any caste, not only the Pariahs) whether as servants or anything else, will bear out our testimony when saying that Missionary proselytism has done a thousand times more harm to those natives who have succumbed to it than any kind of idolatry or fetishism. Useless to go over a too well beaten ground and repeat that which has been said and better said even by a few honest Christian missionaries themselves. Therefore we applaud most sincerely to the noble undertaking. Once that the Pariahs, among whom there are as many intelligent young men as among any other class, are made to enjoy the benefits of an education that will enable them to think for themselves, the abuses of proselytism must cease. We feel happy to give such a specimen of the growth of philanthropy in the right direction in India as this “Appeal to the Native Princes, Zemindars, Merchants, Graduates of the University of Madras, and all other educated gentlemen of Southern India.”
[The following are selections from the aforementioned “Appeal”.]
At a meeting of some educated and benevolent Hindus of Bangalore . . . it was unanimously resolved after a long discussion that the formation of a Native Philanthropic Association for the Regeneration of outcastes, commonly called Pariahs, is one of the most urgent wants of Southern India, and that it should therefore be formed as early as practicable after ascertaining the views of the public. . . .
We have to recognize the sad fact that the low position of our country in the scale of civilization is partly owing to the ignorance in which the masses are at present steeped, and partly to the division of the Hindus into castes and sub-castes of exclusive nature with a tendency to limit our sympathies and sphere of usefulness . . . We can no longer afford to be unconcerned about the sad and distressed condition of the lower orders amongst us . . . Is it not time to do something for the amelioration of the lower classes of Southern India?
[Here followed three objects of the newly formed Association]