The Indian “Public” and Theosophy
The Indian Spectator (Bombay), March 2, 1879
To the Editor of The Indian Spectator.
Before entering upon the main question that compels me to ask you kindly to accord me space in your esteemed paper, will you inform me as to the nature of that newly-born infant prodigy which calls itself The Bombay Review? Is it a bigoted, sectarian organ of the Christians, or an impartial journal, fair to all, and unprejudiced as every respectable paper styling itself “Review” ought to be, especially in a place like Bombay, where such a diversity of religious opinions is to be found? The two paragraphs in the number of February 22nd, which so honour the Theosophical Society by a double notice of its American members, would force me to incline towards the former opinion. Both the editorial which attacks my esteemed friend, Miss Bates, and the apocalyptic vision of the modern Ezekiel, alias “Anthroposophist,” who shoots his rather blunt arrows at Colonel Olcott, require an answer, if it were but to show the advisability of using sharper darts against Theosophists. Leaving the seer to his prophetic dream of langooty and cowdung, I will simply review the editorial of this Review which tries to be at the same time satirical and severe and succeeds only in being nonsensical. Quoting from another paper a sentence relating to Miss Bates, which describes her as “not a Christian,” it remarks in that bitter and selfish spirit of arrogance and would-be superiority, which so characterizes Christian sectarianism:
“The public might have been spared the sight of the italicized personal explanations.”
What “public” may I ask? The majority of the intelligent and reading public—especially of native papers—in Bombay as throughout India is, we believe, composed of non-Christians—of Pârsîs, Hindus, etc. And this public instead of resenting such “wanton aggressiveness,” as the writer pleases to call it, can but rejoice to find at least one European lady, who, at the same time that she is not a Christian, is quite ready, as a Theosophist, to call any respectable “heathen” her brother, and regard him with at least as much sympathy as she does a Christian. But this unfortunate thrust at Theosophy is explained by what follows:
“In the young lady’s own interest the insult ought not to have been flung into the teeth of the Christian public.”
Without taking into consideration the old wise axiom, that honesty is the best policy, we can only regret for our Christian opponents that they should so soon “unveil” their cunning policy. While in the eyes of every honest “heathen” Theosophist, there can be no higher recommendation for a person than to have the reputation of being truthful even at the expense of his or her “interest,” our Christian Review unwittingly exposes the concealed rope of the mission machinery, by admitting that it is in the interest of every person here, at least—to appear a Christian or a possible convert, if he is not one de facto. We feel really very, very grateful to the Review for such a timely and generous confession. The writer’s defense of the “public” for which it speaks as one having authority is no less vague and unsatisfactory, as we all know that among the 240,000,000 of native population in India, Christians count but as a drop in an ocean. Or is it possible that no other public but the Christian is held worthy of the name or even of consideration? Had converted Brâhmins arrived here instead of Theosophists, and one of these announced his profession of faith by italicizing the words, not a heathen, we doubt whether the fear of hurting the feelings of many millions of Hindus would have ever entered the mind of our caustic paragraphist!
Nor do we find the sentence, “India owes too much to Christianity,” anything but arrogant and presumptuous talk. India owes much and everything to the British Government which protects its heathen subjects equally with those of English birth, and would no more allow the one class to insult the other than it would revive the Inquisition. India owes to Great Britain its educational system, its slow but sure progress, and its security from the aggression of other nations; to Christianity it owes nothing. And yet perhaps I am mistaken, and ought to have made one exception. India owes to Christianity its mutiny of 1857, which threw it back for a century. This we assert on the authority of general opinion and of Sir John Kaye, who declares, in his History of the Sepoy War, that the mutiny resulted from the intolerance of the crusading missions and the silly talk of the Friend of India.
I have done; adding but one more word of advice to the Review. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when the latest international revision of the Bible—that infallible and revealed Word of God!—reveals 64,000 mistranslations and other mistakes, it is not the Theosophists—a large number of whose members are English patriots and men of learning—but rather the Christians who ought to beware of “wanton aggressiveness” against people of other creeds. Their boomerangs may fly back from some unexpected parabola and hit the throwers.
H. P. Blavatsky.
Bombay, February 25th, 1879.