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Rammohan to Ramakrishna
Rammohan to Ramakrishna
Description
Preface

The present volume is chiefly devoted to my Indian Friends and to certain events that first led my attention to India. Though I have had but visions of the rivers, .he mountains, the valleys, the forests, and the men and women of India, having never been allowed to visit that earthly paradise, I have known for many years the beauties of its literature, the bold flights of its native philosophy, the fervid devotion of its ancient religion, and these together seem me to give a much truer picture of what India really was, and is still meant to be, in the history of the world, then the Bazars of Bombay, or the Durbars of Râjas and Mahârâjas at Delhi. Of course, I shall be told that my picture of India is purely ideal, but an ideal portrait may wm times be truer than even a photograph, and though I trust that my facts on the whole are right, I shall always feel most grateful, if any facts are pointed out to me which either contradict or modify my own judgments.

India has never had full justice done to it, and when I say this I think not only of ancient, but of modern India also. And though it can easily be seen that my chief interest lies with ancient India, it should be remembered that in no other country is the past still so visibly present as in that southernmost home of the ancient family of Aryan speech. There may be more historical monuments, reminding us of the past in Greece and Italy. But life, with its religion, philosophy, and literature, has completely changed there, aid we look in vain for a Socrates or Plato on the steps of the Parthenon, or for a Cato or Caesar among the lonely columns of the forum. In India, on the contrary, the religion of the Veda is by no means entirely extinct. Not long ago even one of the old magnificent Vedic sacrifices, the Agnishtoma was performed at Benaras with all its pristine array. The old epic poems are still recited by the Pâthakas of country, and some of the old philosophies are flourishing in colleges, such as Nuddea, so that men of the present day, such as Gauri-sankara, and the Yogin Ramakrishna, bring back to us on full reality the Rishis and Yogins of a thousand or two thousand years ago.

What seems to me to prevent a full appreciation of the intellectual achievements of ancient and medieval India is that they are mostly looked upon, as we look on the prodigies in our exhibition, as simply curious. Now, we should never say that Plato and Aristotle were curious. We take them far more seriously. We look upon them as our equals, nay as our teachers. It cannot surely be the brown skin that keeps us from feeling the same sympathy and paying the same homage to the poets and philosophers of ancient India, and that prevents even at the present day any real friendship between the best sons of India and England! That brown skin may at first cause a feeling of strangeness, but I know how easily that feeling can be and has been overcome, and, judging from my own limited experience, I can truly say that there is behind that warm and almost Italian colour of the Aryas of India the same warm heart, the same trust, and the same love as under the white skin of Europeans.

If the account of my Indian Friends which I give in this volume, should serve here and there to overcome that feeling of strangeness and lead to real trust between the two most distant members of the noble family of Aryan speech, I should indeed feel amply rewarded.

I could not well pass over, as belonging by right to the circle to my friends and acquaintances, the ancient Rishis of the Veda, call them Dirghatamas, Vasishtha, or any other name and in order to show what these ancient poets were really like I have ventured to add metrical translations of a few of their hymns, celebrating the matutinal procession of their bright Devas or gods. For these I have to crave the indulgence of my Critics. These poets were the first to call me to India, and I have never regretted having followed their call, as far as other calls allowed me to do so. They have revealed to me a whole world of thought of which no trace existed anywhere else, and they have helped me to throw the first faint rays of light and reason on perhaps the darkest period in the history of religion, philosophy, and mythology of strangeness and lead to real trust between the two most distant members of the noble family of Aryan speech, I should indeed feel amply rewarded.

I could not well pass over, as belonging by right to the circle to my friends and acquaintances, the ancient Rishis of the Veda, call them Dirghatamas, Vasishtha, or any other name and in order to show what these ancient poets were really like I have ventured to add metrical translations of a few of their hymns, celebrating the matutinal procession of their bright Devas or gods. For these I have to crave the indulgence of my Critics. These poets were the first to call me to India, and I have never regretted having followed their call, as far as other calls allowed me to do so. They have revealed to me a whole world of thought of which no trace existed anywhere else, and they have helped me to throw the first faint rays of light and reason on perhaps the darkest period in the history of religion, philosophy, and mythology.

Back of the Book

‘I have known for many years the beauties of its literature, the bold flights of its native philosophy, the fervid devotion of its ancient religion and these together seem to me to give a much truer picture of what India really was, and is still meant to be, in the history of the world.”

Max Muller’s fascination for India is well-known. This book was intended to familiarize the western world with the vastness and depth of Indian philosophy. Metrical translations of ancient hymns, Vedanta philosophy, reformist religious movements, an in-dept study of the doctrines of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa – strands of thought blend seamlessly in this work of erudition. Dedicated to his Indian Friends’, it is also rich in personal memories…of Dwarkanath Tagore and Raja Radhakanta Deva among others.

Friedrich Max Muller (1823-1900) was a great linguist and scholar born in Germany. He began his study of Sanskrit under Prof. Brockhaus and soon chose it as his special pursuit. The East Indian Company commissioned him to edit the Rigveda, which resulted in the publication of six giant volumes on the subject. His publications include a Sanskrit translation of Kalidas’s Meghaduta, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, and Introduction to the Science of Religion. Before his death in 1900 at Oxford, he was crowned with most honours and awards a scholar could aspire for.

Contents

PrefaceVII
I My First Acquaintance with India
Spirituality of India
The Greatness of Rammohan Roy
1
4
8
II Dwarkanath Tagore 12
Debendranath Tagore19
III Raja Radhakanta Deva 28
IV Keshab Chandra Sen 49
Chaitanya 49
Nanak and the Sikhs 52
V Ramtanu Lahiri 71
Dayananda Saraswati 74
VI The Mahatmans 87
The Four Stages of Life 88
Sannyasins or Saints 92
Ascetic Exercises or Yoga 93
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa 95
A Reformer of Brahmanism 98
Pawari Baba 99
An Interview With an Old Saint 101
Rai Shaligram Saheb Bahadur 105
VII Gospel of Ramakrishna 109
The Dialogic Process 110
Ramakrishna’s Life 115
VIII Remarks on Ramakrishna’s Life 144
Mazumdar’s Judgment 145
Ramakrishna’s Language 146
Ramakrishna’s Wife 148
Ramakrishna’s Influence on Keshab Chandra Sen 150
Vedanta-Philosophy 153
Ekam Advitiyam: One Without A Second 157
Gnothi Seauton 164
Final Conclusion, Tat Tvamasi 174
The Sayings of Ramakrishna 178

Rammohan to Ramakrishna

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Edition:
2002
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Preface

The present volume is chiefly devoted to my Indian Friends and to certain events that first led my attention to India. Though I have had but visions of the rivers, .he mountains, the valleys, the forests, and the men and women of India, having never been allowed to visit that earthly paradise, I have known for many years the beauties of its literature, the bold flights of its native philosophy, the fervid devotion of its ancient religion, and these together seem me to give a much truer picture of what India really was, and is still meant to be, in the history of the world, then the Bazars of Bombay, or the Durbars of Râjas and Mahârâjas at Delhi. Of course, I shall be told that my picture of India is purely ideal, but an ideal portrait may wm times be truer than even a photograph, and though I trust that my facts on the whole are right, I shall always feel most grateful, if any facts are pointed out to me which either contradict or modify my own judgments.

India has never had full justice done to it, and when I say this I think not only of ancient, but of modern India also. And though it can easily be seen that my chief interest lies with ancient India, it should be remembered that in no other country is the past still so visibly present as in that southernmost home of the ancient family of Aryan speech. There may be more historical monuments, reminding us of the past in Greece and Italy. But life, with its religion, philosophy, and literature, has completely changed there, aid we look in vain for a Socrates or Plato on the steps of the Parthenon, or for a Cato or Caesar among the lonely columns of the forum. In India, on the contrary, the religion of the Veda is by no means entirely extinct. Not long ago even one of the old magnificent Vedic sacrifices, the Agnishtoma was performed at Benaras with all its pristine array. The old epic poems are still recited by the Pâthakas of country, and some of the old philosophies are flourishing in colleges, such as Nuddea, so that men of the present day, such as Gauri-sankara, and the Yogin Ramakrishna, bring back to us on full reality the Rishis and Yogins of a thousand or two thousand years ago.

What seems to me to prevent a full appreciation of the intellectual achievements of ancient and medieval India is that they are mostly looked upon, as we look on the prodigies in our exhibition, as simply curious. Now, we should never say that Plato and Aristotle were curious. We take them far more seriously. We look upon them as our equals, nay as our teachers. It cannot surely be the brown skin that keeps us from feeling the same sympathy and paying the same homage to the poets and philosophers of ancient India, and that prevents even at the present day any real friendship between the best sons of India and England! That brown skin may at first cause a feeling of strangeness, but I know how easily that feeling can be and has been overcome, and, judging from my own limited experience, I can truly say that there is behind that warm and almost Italian colour of the Aryas of India the same warm heart, the same trust, and the same love as under the white skin of Europeans.

If the account of my Indian Friends which I give in this volume, should serve here and there to overcome that feeling of strangeness and lead to real trust between the two most distant members of the noble family of Aryan speech, I should indeed feel amply rewarded.

I could not well pass over, as belonging by right to the circle to my friends and acquaintances, the ancient Rishis of the Veda, call them Dirghatamas, Vasishtha, or any other name and in order to show what these ancient poets were really like I have ventured to add metrical translations of a few of their hymns, celebrating the matutinal procession of their bright Devas or gods. For these I have to crave the indulgence of my Critics. These poets were the first to call me to India, and I have never regretted having followed their call, as far as other calls allowed me to do so. They have revealed to me a whole world of thought of which no trace existed anywhere else, and they have helped me to throw the first faint rays of light and reason on perhaps the darkest period in the history of religion, philosophy, and mythology of strangeness and lead to real trust between the two most distant members of the noble family of Aryan speech, I should indeed feel amply rewarded.

I could not well pass over, as belonging by right to the circle to my friends and acquaintances, the ancient Rishis of the Veda, call them Dirghatamas, Vasishtha, or any other name and in order to show what these ancient poets were really like I have ventured to add metrical translations of a few of their hymns, celebrating the matutinal procession of their bright Devas or gods. For these I have to crave the indulgence of my Critics. These poets were the first to call me to India, and I have never regretted having followed their call, as far as other calls allowed me to do so. They have revealed to me a whole world of thought of which no trace existed anywhere else, and they have helped me to throw the first faint rays of light and reason on perhaps the darkest period in the history of religion, philosophy, and mythology.

Back of the Book

‘I have known for many years the beauties of its literature, the bold flights of its native philosophy, the fervid devotion of its ancient religion and these together seem to me to give a much truer picture of what India really was, and is still meant to be, in the history of the world.”

Max Muller’s fascination for India is well-known. This book was intended to familiarize the western world with the vastness and depth of Indian philosophy. Metrical translations of ancient hymns, Vedanta philosophy, reformist religious movements, an in-dept study of the doctrines of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa – strands of thought blend seamlessly in this work of erudition. Dedicated to his Indian Friends’, it is also rich in personal memories…of Dwarkanath Tagore and Raja Radhakanta Deva among others.

Friedrich Max Muller (1823-1900) was a great linguist and scholar born in Germany. He began his study of Sanskrit under Prof. Brockhaus and soon chose it as his special pursuit. The East Indian Company commissioned him to edit the Rigveda, which resulted in the publication of six giant volumes on the subject. His publications include a Sanskrit translation of Kalidas’s Meghaduta, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, and Introduction to the Science of Religion. Before his death in 1900 at Oxford, he was crowned with most honours and awards a scholar could aspire for.

Contents

PrefaceVII
I My First Acquaintance with India
Spirituality of India
The Greatness of Rammohan Roy
1
4
8
II Dwarkanath Tagore 12
Debendranath Tagore19
III Raja Radhakanta Deva 28
IV Keshab Chandra Sen 49
Chaitanya 49
Nanak and the Sikhs 52
V Ramtanu Lahiri 71
Dayananda Saraswati 74
VI The Mahatmans 87
The Four Stages of Life 88
Sannyasins or Saints 92
Ascetic Exercises or Yoga 93
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa 95
A Reformer of Brahmanism 98
Pawari Baba 99
An Interview With an Old Saint 101
Rai Shaligram Saheb Bahadur 105
VII Gospel of Ramakrishna 109
The Dialogic Process 110
Ramakrishna’s Life 115
VIII Remarks on Ramakrishna’s Life 144
Mazumdar’s Judgment 145
Ramakrishna’s Language 146
Ramakrishna’s Wife 148
Ramakrishna’s Influence on Keshab Chandra Sen 150
Vedanta-Philosophy 153
Ekam Advitiyam: One Without A Second 157
Gnothi Seauton 164
Final Conclusion, Tat Tvamasi 174
The Sayings of Ramakrishna 178
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