[Notes on “The New Dispensation Dissected”]
Theosophist, October, 1881
Article Selections by Babu Tripuracharan Banerjea | Notes by H.P.B.
Sooner a pard can lose its spots than a theologian his dogmatism. . . .
The New Dispensation—that babe of yesterday’s—notwithstanding the accumulated experience of other religions to profit by, and all the enlightenment of the nineteenth century, still repeats the old error of building its temple on dogmatism and blind faith alone, and of trying to obtain converts first by taking advantage of the unsettled faith of our present generations, and then—like the Papist church—by ostracizing their intellect. . . .
Great must then be the audacity or foolishness of him (call it whatever you will) who seriously contemplates to revive in these days of enlightenment, the exploded device of securing the hearing and sympathy of the people by claims to inspiration and the power of directly communing with God and the Prophets. . . . For, if we but analyze the published speeches and statements of the inventor of the New Dispensation, we will find these very claims brought forward as the main argument in support of his asseverations. . . .
. . . mystification has become so systematic with him, that the public have ended by looking upon Babu K. C. Sen with more than suspicion. And, if Avatarism or an Apotheosis of himself is not his aim, and the title of a relgious and social reformer is sufficient to satisfy his ambition, it is high time that he should begin addressing us in a more terrestrial language. If his words, while he is yet living and moving amongst us, and so familiar to us all, are producing so much perplexity and misapprehension, what will be the case, when he is absorbed into the Unknown, his contemporaries find themselves beyond the pale of mortal interrogation, and his own memory is mellowed by time?1 . . .
1. We believe, that however great the moral mischief produced by Babu K. C. Sen at present, it will be limited to the small nucleus of his followers. On the other hand, the world at large may yet be benefited by the practical instance he affords the modern historian of pointing out to our immediate successors the correct picture of the conception, germination, the growth and development of all the religions founded upon avatarism. We see in it the true retrospective representation of what were the beginnings and results of Vishnu, and Christ-worship. We discern in it the possible repetition of the Mosaic Law, whose cruel dogmatism, crystalized under the influence of dry, heartless bigotry and intolerance, led finally the most civilized nations of the world to accepting, the one—Mariolatry as a faithful copy of Isis and Venus worship, the others—Bible worship with its suicidal 39 articles as a result, its brain-murdering theological casuistry, landing into the worst kind of sophistry, its incomprehensible dogmas, and intellect-killing mysteries. We may yet see Babu K. C. Sen’s mother become a successor to Isis, Devaki and Mary. Read the New Dispensation and even the more cautious Sunday Mirror and behold there all the germs of the Inquisition, Calvinism and the Blue Laws of Massachusetts combined.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]
. . . The “Rules of Forgiveness” in “The New Dispensation” weekly (May 5) look most suspiciously like a first instalment of the contemplated Gospel. Great credit is due, however, to Babu Keshub for the masterly imitation of the tone and language of the Prophets. Some of the “Rules of Forgiveness” are here subjoined for the edification of the readers of The Theosophist.
“Enmity.—If one smites you on the right2 cheek—Forgiveness— turn to him the other also. . . .
“Enmity.—If the whole country is against you—Forgiveness—Go about continually signing the name of the Lord, so that all may eventually come to Him.”3 . . .
2. This rule, however, seems to be rather too flagrantly contradicted by the vindictive spirit exhibited in a recent article headed “Forgiveness and Chastisement” (New Disp. See [On “The New Dispensation”]). Have we to expect for it the same fate as the identical words pronounced by Christ found in their practical application with his votaries whenever burning with odium Theologicum?—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]
3. This is the Christian Sermon on the Mount—with a vengence. The Bible and its present Revisers re-revised, the Gospel corrected and amplified, Methodist revivals perfected, and the “Salvation armies” of Europe and America eclipsed! Babu Keshub, is not, perhaps, altogether wrong in treating the late Revisors as very small fish. But why not squeeze a little more out of his brain and give us something original!—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]
Indeed Keshub teaches the public, as one having authority as the scribes. Does he really imagine himself a second Jesus of Nazareth in flesh and blood incarnate, surrounded by his apostles . . .? Fortunately for us, the world has outgrown the stage of easy deification. Ah, poor dupe of an over-wrought brain! How sadly mistaken he is, if he believes that mystic twaddle and an affectation of the language of the prophets can raise one to the rank of an avatar!
II. Communion with Prophets and Saints.
The Keshubites are too thorough-going upholders of the theory of divine inspiration to commit the heresy of interpreting “communion” in any metaphorical sense? This, we understand, is a bona-fide “materialization” of saints and prophets and thus all the New Dispensationists are spiritualists.4 Why should the Sunday Mirror then sneer so at the Spiritualists?
4. The very name of the “New Dispensation” is an old one. It was first coined by the Quakers, the followers of old mother Ann Lee, and is now universally used by the Spiritualists, American Spiritualists especially never using another term to designate their belief. See Banner of Light and other spiritualistic papers.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]
III. Fatherhood and Motherhood of God; Brotherhood of Men and Sisterhood of Women!
The first sentence is directly leading to the anthropomorphization and the duality of God, however much the intellectual section of the Keshubites might protest against such a gross interpretation.5 . . .
5. This idea is again bodily taken from the Spiritualists. All the invocations to the Deity by their trance or “inspirational” mediums begin with, “O Thou Great Father and Mother God.” See the trance lectures delivered by Mrs. Cora Tappan-Richmond—the best, at least the most verbose of the American Spiritual trance-lecturers. See Banner of Light and other spiritualistic papers. Who knows but after all the Spiritualists of both hemispheres are right in maintaining that Babu Keshubis but a Medium!—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]
. . . A very remarkable resemblance between the policy of the Bidhan Prophet and that of Mohammed strikes us on comparing the two. Such a complete agreement might have remained for ever a standing mystery to us, had we not found a key to it in the positive assurance of the Sunday Mirror that the “Minister” had made a pilgrimage to the Prophet of Arabia.6 . . .
6. In one of his divine and supernatual visions?—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]
. . . Many of the Christian ceremonials, such as the Eucharist, Baptism and a few rules of morality . . . have been borrowed by him. Then as the Hindus “are the more immediate objects” to be dealt with, Keshub “takes more than ordinary pains to conciliate their affections”—at least since the secession of the Sadharan Samajists. The Vedas and Upanishads have come to be spoken of with veneration;7 the popular traditions and ceremonies of the Hindus and their paraphernalia of worship are being largely incorporated with the New Dispensation and made more attractive by the addition of rational interpretation and divine sanction. . . .
7. Three years ago, in an account of the Brahmo Church in their yearly journal, we found the Brahmos repudiating all connection with Swami Dayanand Saraswati for his veneration for the “idolatrous Vedas.” Most extraordinary volte face!—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]