[Buddhism as a Philosophy, not a Religion]
Theosophist, September, 1882
“A Lecture on the Peculiarities of Hindu Literature”—delivered at the Triplicane Hindu Literary Society of Madras, by C. T. Winfred, B.A—is a very thoughtful and scientific pamphlet, and shows a great erudition and research on the part of its author. We believe the lecturer labours under a misconception though, when he seeks to show on the authority of Professor Max Müller, that “Nirvana, as conceived by Buddha, corresponds to the state of Iswara.” Most of the ontological truths are common to the “Jewish Bible, the Hindu Veda, the Parsi Zend Avesta, and the Mohammedan Koran.” But neither the Buddhist Pitaka nor Buddhism in its full presentation can be called religion; for Buddhism in its esoteric sense is the grandest world philosophy, while in its popular aspects it is but little higher than any other so-called religion—generally a cobweb of foolish and unscientific fables. Therefore, Buddhism proper ought never to be classified with the groups of theistic religions, since it is a philosophy entirely apart from, and opposed to, other religious systems. It is an original idea in the able lecturer to refer to the Bible as the “Jewish Veda.” The pith of the lecture may be summarized in its last sentence:
“Methinks, we see a time when a race of intellectual giants, nourished with the solid pabulum of ontological experience, animated by the noble spirit of martyrdom for truth, deeply versed in and richly experienced in the classic lore of Hindu literature, will start out from the womb of modern Society and take a conspicuous part in the great struggle, raging from the birth of creation up to the present between this principle of Evil and Good, Oromasdes and Arimanes, Virtue and Vice, Light and Darkness, Grace and Ignorance, and tread in the footsteps of their great ancestors.”
Those are noble words if they mean what they say. We had barely time to glance at the lecture, and do not pretend to give it the full review it would evidently merit.