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was mere theory, the idle speculation of the closet-philosopher. It was to the last degree ridiculous to talk of experience of human nature, when it was so notorious that the Hindu's were perfectly unlike the rest of mankind. Yet these acute reasoners might have known, as well as their opponents, the history of the Skhs. Whether or not Colonel Malcolm has published the volume before us with a view to the termination of this important controversy, we will not pretend to determine: but it certainly comės at a very seasonable.moment; and we shall avail ourselves of the opportunity of reviewing it, to bring forward, in as strong a light as we can, those portions of the history in question which most bear upon the inquiry.
The following is the Colonel's description of the character and mode of Nanac's instruction :
• Born in a province on the extreme verge of India, at the very point where the religion of Muhammed and the idolatrous worship of the Hindus appeared to touch, and at a moment when both these tribes cherished the most violent rancour and animosity towards each other, his great aim was to blend those jarring elements in peaceful union, and he only endeavoured to effect this purpose through the means of mild persuasion. His wish was to recal both Muhammedans and Hindus to an exclusive attention to that sublimest of all principles, [quere rohat?] which inculcates devotion to God, and
towards He had to combat the furious bigotry of the one, and the deep-rooted superstition of the other; but he attempted to overcome all obstacles by the force of reason and humanity. And we cannot have a more convincing proof of the general character of that doctrine which he taught, and the inoffensive light in which it was viewed, than the knowledge that its success did not rouse the bigotry of the intolerant and tyrannical Muhammedan government under which he lived.
Of the progress of proselytism to this sect we have no satisfactory memorials. It is evident that in a short time it became so numerous, that the armies of the great Aurengzebe himself were required to give efficiency to that war of persecution which the zeal of that bigoted Mussulman prompted him to undertake against it. In the course of this persecution, the religion itself assumed new features.
• Though the Sikhs had already, under Har Govind, been initiated in arms, yet they appear to have used these only in self defence: and as every tribe of Hindus, from the Brahmen to the lowest of the Sudra, may, in cases of necessity, use them without any infringement of the original institutions of their tribe, no violation of these institutions were caused by the rules of Nanac; which, framed with a view to conciliation, carefully abstained from all interference with the civil institutes of the Hindus. But his more daring successor, Guru Govind, saw that such observances were at variance with the plans of his lofty ambition; and he wisely judged, that the only means by which he could hope to oppose the Muhammedan
government with success, were not only to admit converts from all tribes, but to break, at once, those rules by which the Hindus had been so long chained.—The extent to which Govind succeeded in this design, will be more fully noticed in another place. It is here only necessary to state the leading features of those changes by which he subverted, in so short a time, the hoary institutions of Brahma, and excited terror and astonishment in the minds of the Muhammedan conquerors of India, who saw the religious prejudices of the Hindus, which they had calculated upon as one of the pillars of their safety, because they limited the great majority of the popula. tion to peaceable occupations, fall before the touch of a bold and en. thusiastic innovator.'
Is it not marvellous, with these facts before their eyes, to find men who boast of their “ knowledge of India,” loading us with contumely, because we say that the Hindus may change their religion? Why every thing is unchangeable so long as nothing occurs which is calculated to produce a change. The Hindu religion, in the higher provinces, had, during a few centuries, been a little shaken by the intercourse with Mahomedans; and in that situation a bold and enthusiastic innovator' had only to appear, when lo! the hoary institutions of Brahma fell before his touch! Whạt has happened once may happen again. We may rest assured that an intercourse with Europeans is not likely to produce effects less considerable, than intercourse with a people so nearly on the same level of civilization with themselves, as the Mahomedans. Whenever changes, to the proper extent, are again matured, another 6 bold innovator,' notwithstanding all that can be said by these deep-read persons, who assure us of the contrary, has only to appear, and a new sect of warlike Hindus will most unquestionably spring forth. Now, are we very unreasonable in concluding from the circumstances of the case, illustrated by its striking results, that one of the greatest securities against future evil which we can devise, is to teach the people of India our own religion, to diffuse among them the inestimable blessings of Christianity. We are now speaking merely to the political expediency of the thing: for to argue with the persons we are alluding to, on the infinite importance of a cordial reception of the sublime truths of revelation, as affecting the eternal interests of men, or to insist on the sacred duty of conveying them to every nation, would be as hopeless a task as to talk with the blind of colours. What we mean to urge at present is simply this---that if we do not watch the moment, and take the change of religion, by anticipation, into our own hands, it will (humanly speaking) to our sorrow and everlasting infamy be seized by others.
It is observable that the allurements of military enterprize and military glory constituted the grand instrument by wbieb the
founders of the Sikh religion so easily subverted the old habits and prejudices of the Hindus.
• They armed, in short,' says Colonel Malcolm, the whole population of the country; making worldly wealth and rank an object to which Hindus, of every class, might aspire ;---opening at once, to men of the lowest tribe, the dazzling prospect of earthly glory. All who subscribed to the tenets of Govind were upon a level, and the Brahmen who entered his sect had no higher claims to eminence than the lowest Sadra who swept his house. It was the object of Govind to make all Sikhs equal, and that their advancement should solely depend upon their exertions: and well aware how necessary it was to inspire men of a low race, and of grovelling minds, with pride in themselves, he changed the name of his followers from Sikh to Singh, or Lion; thus giving to all his followers that honourable title which had been before exclusively assumed by the Rajaputs, the first nili. tary class of Hindus ; and every Sikh felt himself at once elevated to rank with the highest by this proud appellation. The disciples of Govind were required to devote themselves to arms, always to have steel about them in some shape or other.' &c.
The example of the Sikhs, the example indeed of Mahomed himself, are remarkable instances, to shew how naturally, in a stage of society like that of the Hindus, a change of religion assumes a military character; and when religious and military enthusiasm are combined together, the world is full of proofs how dangerous and irresistible an impulse is produced. We should be glad to know whether those who proclaim so loudly. their excessive fears of Hindu resistance, from the preaching of Christianity, consider this a danger from which we are altogether exempt; and whether if such a danger exists, they know any better security against it, than, while the religious sentiments of the Hindus are just ready to quit their ancient channels, to do what in us lies, to transform idolatry into religion.
• In the character,' says our author, of this reformer of the Sikhs, it is impossible not to recognize many of those features which have di tinguished the most celebrated founders of political communities. The object which he attempted was great and laudable. It was the emancipation of his tribe from oppression and persecution; and the means which he adopted were such as a comprehensive mind could alone have suggested. The Muhammedan conquerors of India, as they added to their territories, added to their strength, by making proselytes, through the double means of persuasion and force'; and these, the moment they had adopted their faith, became the supporters of their power, against the efforts of the Hindus : who, bound in the chains of their civil and religious institutions, would neither add to their number by admitting converts, nor allow more than a small proportion of the population of the country to arm against the enemy. Govind saw, that he could only hope for success by a bold de. parture from usages which were calculated to keep those, by whom they were observed, in a degraded subjection to an insulting and VOL. X.
• You make Hindus Muhammedans, and are justified by your laws,' he is said to have written to Aurengzebe: Now 1, on a principle of self-preservation, which is superior to all laws, will make Muhammedans Hindus. You may rest, he added, in fancied security: but beware! for ! will teach the sparrow to strike the eagle to the ground. A fine allusion to his design of inspiring the lowest races among the Hindus with that valour and ambition which would lead them to perform the greatest actions.'
In this passage there are some things worthy of particular attention. * In the first place, Sir John Malcolm represents an attempt to rescue a man's tribe, or the community to which he belongs, from oppression under a bad government, as 'great and laudable. This, from a person who has formed his opinions in the East Indies, and amidst the base and servile doctrines which are too frequently embraced, favoured, and protected by the rich and powerful in Great Britain itself, is a declaration of some importance. We hope it' did not on this occasion slip from Sir John unawares. Yet, if we may trust to a passage in the minutes of the evidence which has been recently taken in the House of Commons, and in which he is maple pretty plainly to declare that no increase of knowledge, even in the useful arts, should be tendered to the Hindus, we should greatly fear that universal benevolence is not a very strong ingredient in his composition. We shall transcribe the passage.
• Do not you think that it would be good policy in the British government to increase the means of information to the natives of • India; information such as you have described, (viz. in the useful
arts)?-I consider that in a state of so extraordinary a nature as • British India, the first consideration of the government must always * be its own safety; and that the political question of governing that country must always be paramount to all other considerations.
Might not an increase in the knowledge of useful arts in the na. tives, conveyed by British subjects resident in India, tend to
strengthen the British government in India ?-I conceive that such • knowledge might tend in a considerable degree to increase their
own comforts and their enjoyments of life; but I cannot see how it * would tend in any shape to strengthen the political security of the • English government, which appears to me to rest peculiarly upon • their present condition.'
By resting peculiarly upon their present condition, that is, (as knowledge was the point in question) their ignorance, Sir Jolin appears to say that this security would be endangered by knowledge; and by asserting that to this security every other consideration should be sacrificed, he seems to imply, that for this object, such as it is, we ought to do what we can to prevent the benefits of knowledge from penetrating among the Hindus. This doctrine is, unhappily, no singularity among us, who call ourselves xá? etoxn the enlightened and philanthropio nation ; but
a doctrine more cruel and pernicious was never propagated by the worst foes of mankind. It is Machiavelism, in its most pestilential shape.*
* Since the above was written, a succeeding part of the evidence has been published, in which Sir John Malcolm has thought proper to explain and retract a part of the opinion which he seemed to have delivered as above. We are much gratified to find that he has done so: and has thus distinguished himself from too many, whom we are forced to call countrymen, and to whom such a sentiment would present nothing of a nature to shock them. After repeating his opinion that the communication of a knowledge, even of the useful arts, would have a tendency to weaken, rather than strengthen the security of our dominion in India, he adds, I am far, however, from stating ! an opinion, that the contemplation of its even lessening that
strength, which is to be viewed as a distant, and many may conceive • a speculative danger, should operate as a motive with the English
government to check the progress of improvement in such useful arts among its native subjects; but it appears to me one among
many other causes, that should keep the English government very 6 awake to the growing difficulty of governing the Indian empire.' This passage seems to imply (and if it does not imply this it signifies nothing) that to favour the progress of improvement among its subjects is the moral duty and obligation of every government, whether that improvement be calculated to strengthen or weaken its own security ;-in short that to favour the good (and that in all its shapes) of the governed is the duty of the governors. In the preceding part of his evidence Sir John declared, that the paramount concern rulers was their own good, to which they ought to sacrifice every species of good, even the greatest, even the
progress of knowledge itself, when it only regarded their subjects. Before Sir John Malcolm had retracted this doctrine, we hesitated to expose its whole atrocity, for fear of consequences. But now, that is distinctly disavowed we may, with safety, call upon our countrymen to observe, that there is not an enormity of the most wicked government upon earth, if it is only
purpose of that government, which is not completely justified by it. The bow-string, with all the massacres of the Turkish despotism, provided that despotism could not be so well supported without them, are perfectly laudable. The burnings in Smithfield by Mary, and the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal, if well calculated for upholding the religion which the rulers preferred, are not liable to condemnation.
Even the butcheries of Robespierre himself must meet, in this school, with moral approbation, because they were calculated to deliver him from those enemies who had sworn his downfall. In all those cases, and in all possible cases, of the same description, all the error which can be committed by rulers is an error of judgement. They may mistake in judging which of the atrocious actions are for their advantage, which not: but that all are equally lawful, upon the doctrine apparently caught by Colonel Mala