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Hindu Mendicity


"By open confession, by repentance, by devotion and by reading the Scripture, a sinner may be released from his guilt ; or by almsgiving in case of his inability to perform the other acts of religion." (Maim, xi. 228.)

"Both he who respectfully bestows a present, and he who respectfully accepts it shall go to a seat of bliss ; but, if they act otherwise, to a region of horror." (Manu, iv. 235.)

THE virtue of almsgiving is most fitly enjoined upon the adherents of most religious system ; but there are many and very radical differences in the motives that underlie the exercise of this grace. That the mere indiscriminate giving of our substance is not true charity is a fundamental truth, which finds expression in the old Jewish proverb quoted by St. Paul in one of his Epistles :—" If any would not work neither should he eat." The sturdy mendicant is still to be met with, even in European countries, but public opinion decidedly protests against such impositions. In the East, however, and especially in India, the principles regulating almsgiving are widely different from those of the West. If a man happens to belong to a certain section of the community, or if he chooses to abandon all honest toil, and set himself up as a mendicant, then, according to the Hindu theory, it is a duty to -part with one's substance in his behalf, quite irrespective of other and more righteous considerations. My lord ! My lord ! Charity is prosperity ! Charity is prosperity !—the everlasting cry of the roadside beggar—exactly expresses this idea. Mere giving is meritorious, quite apart from the worthiness of the recipient, and without any thought as to indiscriminate giving being demoralizing and rather productive of evil than good. The sleek, well-fed mendicant goes his wonted round, and he must not be denied under pain of possible evils, contingent or remote, temporal or spiritual.

No one will deny that this spirit of almsgiving has its good side. It provides, at least, an existence for the poor, the halt, the blind and the helpless, who might otherwise be left to perish where there is no public system of relief, as provided by Poor Law Boards and similar institutions in other lands. Many and great are the blessings resulting to the miserable and the destitute from this universal exercise of almsgiving ; but carried to excess, as it is in India, and unregulated by wholesome restrictions, it not only tends to rob the industrious for the sake of the indolent ; but, from the point of view of the political economist, it is a tax upon the resources of the country that creates and fosters an unproductive section to the detriment of the whole community. If any will not work, will not add his quota to the general weal, though perfectly capable of so doing, neither should he eat.

It was natural, when the various rules regulating the life of the community were drawn up by Brahmins, that they should have followed the universal law of human nature and have taken care of their own class. .Much is said about alms in the sacred books of the East ; but, to a very large extent, these books deal with the necessity of bestowing alms and gifts on Brahmins. In the Institutes of Manu it is stated that an oblation in the mouth or hand of a Brahmin is far better than offerings to holy fire, it never drops, it never dries, it is never consumed. A gift to one not a Brahmin produces fruit of a middle standard; to one who calls himself a Brahmin, double; to a well-read Brahmin, a hundred thousand fold; to one who has read all the Vedas, infinite.' Manu also says :—" Let every man, according to his ability, give wealth to Brahmins, detached from the world and learned in Scripture ; such a giver shall attain heaven after this life."2 Very early in the statutes, a universal law is proclaimed, the spirit of which pervades the whole code. This law calmly lays down that whatever exists in the universe is all, in effect, though not in form, the wealth of the Brahmins ; since the Brahmin is entitled to it all by his primogeniture and eminence of birth. The Brahmin eats but his own food, wears but his own apparel, and bestows but his own in alms ; through the benevolence of the Brahmin indeed other mortals enjoy life. This is a broad principle to enunciate, so it is easy to see how there is nothing derogatory in a Brahmin's receiving alms. He takes but what is his own, and leaves a blessing to the giver.

According to religious enactment, a Brahmin's life is divided into four great stages, the first of which is that of a student. After being invested with the sacred thread and initiated into the Brahminical order he is supposed to leave his father's house and reside for some years with a religious teacher, as an unmarried student. This is in order that he may acquire a knowledge of the Vedas. During this period the student should live by alms, begged for by himself ; and although this state of things is perhaps nowhere carried out in its entirety in these modern days, still even now, at the investiture, the neophyte must ask for alms from those present as a part of the ceremony. Thus Manu says :—

" Each day must a Brahmin student receive his food by begging, with due care, from the houses of persons renowned for discharging their duties, and not deficient in performing the sacrifices which the Veda ordains." Manu 183.)

A vestige of this old Vedic custom still remains, though it has changed somewhat in form to suit modern requirements, and is seen in a system by which the charitably disposed assist the poor Brahmin boys in their education, and in providing meals for them. One family will agree to give one or two meals a day to a certain student for a certain day in the week, and others will do the same until the whole week is provided for throughout the year. There is nothing lowering to the student in thus subsisting by charity. It is taken as a natural sort of thing and adds merit to the donors. It is not usual, I believe, to provide in this way for any other than Brahmin students. A poor student will sometimes say that he lives ' by weeks,' that is, each day of the week he gets his food at a different house.

The following extracts from the " Mahabharata," show the personal benefits to be derived from supporting students :—

" Imparting knowledge is conferring a great boon.

Giving of food is most meritorious."

" Those who to the humble scholar

Give food every day,

Regularly and ungrudgingly,

With desire for heaven, (will obtain it)."

The laws and customs of India are very kind to the poor traveller and many who have occasion to move about from one place to another, though utterly devoid of means, • are able to do so with comparative comfort. The traveller is always sure of a meal when he arrives at a village, if he waits until the midday or evening meal is served. The laws of hospitality in India are very real ; and it is imperatively binding upon those, who can do so, to give food to needy travellers, regardless of caste or condition. A Brahmin must go to Brahmins for caste reasons ; and a Sudra, or Panchama will go, in the first place, to his own. people by preference ; but if his own people cannot help him, he is sure of something, even from the Brahmin. To send a hungry suppliant empty away is not only unkind, it is a positive sin. There are many enactments on this point, and these are all held binding upon the hearts and consciences of the people. The following are specimens taken from the " Mahabharata."

"From whosesoever house

The stranger goes empty away,

His ancestors will perish

For fifteen generations."

" Were he a sinner or an outcast,

Or even a Brahminicide, or parricide,

Whoever is entertained at meal time,

That stranger will cause the host to attain heaven." (Svargam.)

I do not quarrel with such casual mendicity ; I commend such almsgiving, though it is easy to see how the thing may be abused by the lazy loafing tramp. I cannot, however, view with any such complacence the regular systematic mendicity that abounds on all hands, and that must be a great drain. upon the resources of the people. I allude to the professional religious beggars, a fraternity answering in some respects to the begging Friars of the Middle Ages, although they are under no vows and do not live in communities. This profession is not confined to any particular caste or section of the community, and there are many varieties of it. It is impossible to give here a full and complete catalogue of the brotherhood. I can only take a few specimens, from which a fairly accurate notion may be formed of the whole.

First, I will give a description of the mendicant Brahmin. In inculcating the merit of almsgiving, it is always enunciated that the highest form of charity is to give to the Brahmin. Manu, after mentioning various conditions in which one may be placed, goes on to say :-

" To these most excellent Brahmins must rice also be given with holy presents at oblations to fire and within the consecrated circle ; but the dressed rice, which others are to receive, must not be delivered on the outside of the sacred hearth : gold and the like may be given anywhere.

Let every man, according to his ability, give wealth to Brahmins detached from the world and learned in Scripture : such giver shall attain heaven after this life" (xi. 3,6).

Whatever the original theory may have been, it is far from being the case that all Brahmins live in these modern days by gifts and alms. The learned professions and other walks of life are crowded with Brahmins, who labour for their subsistence as do others. Probably it is only the principle of the thing, as stated by Mann, that now survives ; though it is a principle that in various parts and in manifold ways is still acted upon. There is,' however, even now, a section of Brahmins who are professional mendicants, who depend for their daily sustenance upon the alms of the faithful. These are principally the Panchangam Brahmins. A panchangam is an almanack, the word being compounded of pancha, five and angam, a number or division. This alludes to the five specific things taken into consideration in computing by astrology, viz., the lunar day, the day of the week, the sign in which the moon happens to be, the conjunction of the planets and the combinations. The Panchangam Brahmin is one who, by studying the almanack, is able to state propitious or unpropitious times. He gets his livelihood by going certain rounds, day by day, from house to house, declaring the condition of things according to the almanack, and receiving in return a dole usually consisting of grain. He is not held in much respect by his own caste people, but he is looked up to by the other castes. He is consulted by his constituents, from time to time, when they wish to know the propitious period for any undertaking, such as starting on a journey, making an important purchase, putting on new clothes or new jewels, or when about to take up a new appointment, or when any other important event is contemplated. He is a Smartha by sect, a worshipper of Siva and. wears the marks of that god ; but at the same .time he respects and worships Vishnu. He dresses very plainly, or rather he dresses very little. He has on the loin cloth and an upper cloth is worn over his shoulder. His head is bare, but, as a Smartha should be, he is plentifully marked with the three horizontal white marks of Siva on the forehead, across the shoulders, on the breast and stomach, on the upper and lower parts of each arm, and across the back of the neck. He wears the sacred thread, hanging over his left shoulder, as a sign of being a twice-born. In his hands he carries a copy of the current almanack and a brass vessel in which he collects his doles. He does not confine his attention to Brahmins, but he goes also to the other castes, except the Panchamas and a few other sections of the community, considered to be too inferior for his attention. On going his daily round, when he comes to a house, he shouts out Hail Sita and Rama! (Sitaramabhyam namah) ; or Hail to the beneficent supreme god Rama! (Ramachendra, parabrahmane namah) ; or Hail to Siva and his wife Uma ! (Uma Maheshvarabhyam namah) ; or some other expressions of the same kind. The people of the house, upon hearing the call, present themselves, when he will go just inside and repeat the details of the almanack for the day, his particular point being to tell the unpropitious period of the day. After this he receives his dole of rice or, very occasionally, a coin or two. He then takes his departure to the next house on his list. The native almanack is headed with slams declaring the benefits to be derived from hearing the panchangam. The following is a specimen of these verses :—

"Hearing the almanack is meritorious; In all undertakings it ensures success. The prudent must never fail to hear it ; By this all sins will be destroyed."

The declaring of the almanack by the panchangam Brahmin is somewhat as follows : He begins by repeating, in a sing-song voice and at a very rapid rate, some such verses as the one quoted above, showing the benefits to be derived from hearing the almanack. He then goes on, in a more deliberate manner, to state the details - of the day. Those for the day I am now writing about would be as follows ; manmadha nama samvatsara; chaitrabahula; dashami; shanivaram 45, 56 ; shravanam nakshatram 40, 44 ; vishkambha yógam 20, 18 ; karanam kimstughnam 14, 15 ; varjam divi 23, 1; tyajyam 3, 30 ; dinapramanam 31, 20 ; ashvani 1; arkhabhukti 1, 15 ; chandu 20 ; April 20.

Bearing in mind that a Hindu hour is equal to twenty-four English minutes and that thus the hour forms the sixtieth part of a day, the meaning of the words recited would be, the year Manmatha ; the . month Chaitra ; the dark fortnight ; the tenth day of that fortnight ; the name of the day, Saturday ; the length of the day, forty-five hours and fifty-six minutes ; the star in the ascendant being Shravanam, lasting for forty hours and forty-four minutes ; the conflux of vishkamba, lasting for twenty hours and eighteen minutes ; the combination kimstughnam, lasting for fourteen hours and fifteen minutes; the unpropitious time commencing the first minute of the twenty-third hour of the day, lasting until the thirtieth minute of the third hour ; the length of the daytime thirty-one hours and twenty minutes ; the sun being in the first quarter of Ashvani ; the sun having passed one hour and fifteen minutes of its present sign (Aries) ; the twentieth day of the moon, English time, April 20th.

It is the custom in many houses to set apart a certain portion of grain each morning, to be distributed to the beggars who may come that day. The grain is put into a small basket and is given into the charge of an elderly woman, or of one of the children, or of some person who may not be engaged in household duties. When the mendicant comes before the door and cries out for alms, the one in charge of the basket will give a handful or two of grain, according to the quantity set aside for charity. Should the supply become exhausted through the multitude of callers, a further supply may be given out, if the household can afford it ; otherwise the late comers must depart without receiving anything. Sunday appears to be a specially good and most propitious day for beggars. More alms are distributed on Sunday than on other days. When the panchangam gentleman appears he is received by some of the elders who may happen to be at home, as his daily message is of importance.

Another class of professional mendicants is the Jangam mendicant. The Jangamas are a sect of Saivas who wear the lingam on their person, either in a box suspended from the neck, or else tied in a cloth round the arm. They are a class of Sudras, who, theoretically, do not hold caste distinctions and in various other ways repudiate Brahminical rites. Many of this sect follow the profession of tailors and dress-makers, whilst many are native musicians and some are professional beggars. The Jangam beggar has the upper part of his face and eyes plentifully covered with the white horizontal marks of Siva. He is also clean shaven, and does not even wear the universal top-knot. He is more plentifully clothed than the ordinary mendicant, his chief garment being a long reddish-coloured coat. He also wears a cap. He carries in his hand a long staff with a steel trident at the end of it ; while slung from one shoulder is a bell and a conch shell, and from the other the alms bag. Round his neck is a rosary, composed of the rough spherical seeds of the rudraksha tree ; and alto• gether he is a person not easily to be mistaken. HE has his constituents in various quarters, whom he visits in turn, according to their number and his own particular need or fancy. On coming to a house he stands an4 rings his bell to call attention to his presence, at the same time shouting out the words Mahadeva shembo (names of Siva). Then standing with his trident staff planted upright by his side, he begins to sing a snatch of some song, according to the attention that may be paid to him. On receiving a dole, he blows a long blast on his conch shell and then takes his departure. The conch is held sacred to Siva, who is supposed to enjoy the peculiar sound made by blowing through it. I give some specimens of the songs thus sung. They are taken from the Telugu language. I have attempted to preserve the ideas, though I have somewhat altered their form. There is a pessimistic ring about them. The Jangams are pure pessimists. The words Siva, Siva, appear to be used as mere expletives.

Another class of religious mendicants is that of the Satanis, who, amongst the Vaishnavas, are what the Jangamas are among the Saivas. This sect was founded by Chaitanya in the 15th century, and originally its adherents were of all castes. Now, however, in the northern parts of the Madras Presidency, at least, Satinis are all Sudras. They worship Krishna, whom they hold to be the supreme God. A large number of this sect are minstrels, or mendicants. Like the Jangam the Satani should be clean shaven. On his face and on various portions of his person he is adorned with the trident-shaped mark of Vishnu. On his shoulder he carries a guitar-shaped instrument, having four wire strings. On this he strums as he goes along and with it also he accompanies his songs. He has a pumkin-shaped vessel to receive his doles, which he transfers to a cloth when the vessel is full. This vessel is adorned with the religious marks of Vishnu. He begs from all conditions of people and from all castes except the Panchamas. When he arrives in front of a house where he expects alms, he shouts out " adoration to the most excellent Ramanuja " (Shri mate Ramanujaya namah), and then begins to sing one of his songs of which I give a translation of a few specimens. In the first of these, Vishnu is called the saviour of the elephant in allusion to a story in the eighth book of the " Bhagavatam." An elephant was bathing in a tank, when it was attacked by a crocodile which would have killed it had not Vishnu or Hari come to its relief.

The various allusions in it may be briefly explained. They are stories to be found. in the " Ramayana." Maricha was a malevolent being (Rakshasa), son of Tataka. He and his brother Subahu impishly interfered with a Rishi named Vishvamitra and prevented his performance of a sacrifice. Being unable to endure this interference, and, at the same time, powerless to prevent it, the Rishi appealed to Rama for assistance. Rama came and destroyed the two brothers with two arrows. Subahu was slain with a fire arrow ; and. Maricha being struck with a wind arrow fell into the sea. In order to express his gratitude for this deliverance, Vishvamitra told Rama of a certain king named Janaka, who had promised to give his daughter Sita to wife to anyone strong enough to break a certain bow named hara or harathanassu. Rama accompanied by Vishvamitra went to the king and succeeded in performing the required test and thus won his wife Sita.

When Rama was banished from his father's home into the eternal forest, he was accompanied by his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana. One day whilst the three were thus living in the forest, near a mountain called, Chitrakitta (a mountain in Bundelkhand), Rama lay sleeping with his head in Sita's lap. A demon crow (rakshasa), named Kakasura, seeing the bare foot of Sita, and thinking from its red colour that it was meat, came near and bit the foot so that the blood began to flow. At the cries of Sita, Rama awoke and, on seeing the bleeding wound, he ascertained what had been done. The enraged husband then made an arrow of a blade of grass, and shot it from his bow at the demon crow which was sitting on a tree near by. This blade of grass became an arrow of fire and followed the crow wherever it flew, no matter in what direction it went. At length Kakasura, being unable to bear the persecution any longer, flew to Rama and craved pardon. This was granted on condition that the culprit should lose one eye by way of punishment To this Kakasura consented, whereupon his life was spared ; but he lost an eye.

Another well-known religious mendicant is the Dasari, or Pariah priest. This functionary is the one who performs all religious ceremonies for the Pariahs. He officiates at their marriages and funerals, at their celebrations for the dead, and all other such ceremonies. He is also physician, astrologer, and soothsayer ; and is a very important man. He receives fees for his services, but he also lives by begging. From the fact that he begs from all castes, and so from those who do not need his official services, he must be classed as a mendicant. He is a Vaishnava by religion, and he wears the trident-shaped mark of Vishnu on his forehead, and also on his shoulders, neck and stomach. His face and upper lip are clean shaven. He carries on his shoulder a guitar-shaped native instrument, having three wire strings, and on this he strums as he goes along, and with this he accompanies his songs. He carries either on his head or on his shoulder, or fastened round his waist, a large fluted brass or copper vessel which is used for collecting alms. This vessel, as well as the musical instrument, is ornamented with the trident-shaped marks. He carries in his hand a pair of wooden castanets, or a pair of small bell-metal cymbals with which he beats time as he sings. He is generally a jovial, merry fellow, of goodly condition as to his body. He is quite the reverse, in this respect, of the pessimistic Jangam. He looks on the bright side of things and he is a very popular visitor, for people enjoy listening to the merry fellow's songs. As he comes into a village, or near a house where he expects a dole, he will break into a song. The refrain is sung at the commencement of the song, and also at the end of each verse.

On receiving his dole, the Dasari will pronounce a blessing upon the giver in some such words as the following :—

" Wealth, gold, and other riches in abundance ; abundance of children and grandchildren ; long life, health, and prosperity be to thee. My blessing is Brahma's blessing, by the mercy of the all-bountiful may you have prosperity in abundance."

The Dasari, and the Panchangam Brahmin are much sought after, on account of their skill in settling which are good or bad times for any particular event, such as a marriage or a journey, to take place.

The calculation seems to be made in the following manner. There are twenty-seven stars which are supposed to guide the affairs of mankind. There is a rule by which certain letters of the alphabet and combinations thereof are attached to certain stars, and this is the starting point in these predictions. Suppose a man is about to start on an important journey and wishes to know when he should set out. On going to a Dasari, he will be asked his name. Suppose the name to be Venkayya, the first combination of this name being ye, and, that being attached to the star Mrugashira, calculations are made with the help of the almanack, as to the position of that star with reference to the planetary system generally, and in this way a conclusion is arrived at as to a certain particular period of time—an hour, or a day, or a week, or a year, as the case may be—being favourable or otherwise. The amount of the fee to be paid depends, to a certain extent, upon the nature and importance of the event contemplated.

The fourth stage of a Brahmin's life is that of the Saniyasi, during which he is supposed to leave his home and family and live entirely by alms. He should shave off his sikha or topknot, and discard his sacred thread ; and, going forth as an empty-handed mendicant, live a life of hardship and self-denial for the remainder of his days.

" Only once a day let him demand food, let him not habituate himself to eat much at a time ; for an anchorite habituated to eat much becomes inclined to sensual gratifications.

At the time when the smoke of the kitchen fires has ceased, when the pestle lies motionless, when the burning charcoal is extinguished, when people have eaten, and when dishes are removed, that is, late in the day, let the Saniyasi always beg food." (Mann, vi. 55-6.)

Very few now adopt this mode of life ; and those who do are mostly to be found at Benares and other Hindu holy places. The chief Gurus (Superiors) of the three great sects, who follow respectively the Dvaita, Advaita and Visishtadvaita schools of philosophy, must be Saniyasis ; only instead of leading a wandering life, they reside at the chief seats of theological power.

" Though they subsist by the alms of the faithful, their revenues are in reality very large indeed. From time to time they go on tour in great state, with elephants and horses, to confirm the faithful, to decide upon religious matters and to receive alms. Personally, these great Gurus are said to live as Saniyasis should do, in great simplicity of life and habits.

Besides the great Orders of religious mendicants, of which those I have named may be taken as samples, there are large numbers of professional beggars who travel about the country, adopting various devices to attract the attention of the people and to extract alms for themselves. A small group of men, usually of the cowherd caste, having with them several trained bulls may often be seen. The bulls are dressed up in a fantastic manner and have been taught to dance, and to bow their heads, as if in assent to anything said to them, and to place their feet upon their masters, and to perform various other tricks. The men have musical instruments and drums, and are themselves clothed in a grotesque manner. These are very sturdy beggars and, when they receive anything, the givers may be licked by the bull as a blessing for the gift. There are also the snake-charmers, the trained bear-leaders, and the trained monkey-men, who travel up and down the country begging. They are also professional story-tellers. The story-tellers in the parts of India I know about, amongst other stories, tell that of Bussy and his wars with the English. Some people go about with a sort of portable puppet-show and flog themselves with a kind of scourge, until the blood flows ; all to excite pity or admiration and. to get alms. Some go about with a small double drum, shaped like a large hour-glass, which is sounded very rapidly by a quick turn of the wrist, which brings a hard knotted cord to bear upon the parchment at both ends. They also add to their accomplishments by barking like a dog,

Numberless, indeed, are the devices of the lazy rogues to get a comfortable livelihood without hard labour. The indiscriminate giving of alms is an outgrowth of the religious system which enjoins giving for the mere asking, and that to one and all whether orthodox or heterodox. This is carried to such an extreme that it is meritorious to feed animals of various kinds and even to cast a handful of broken grain to the ants.

" Gifts must be made by each housekeeper, as far as he has ability, to religious mendicants, though heterodox; and a just portion must be reserved, without inconvenience to his family, for all sentient beings, animal and vegetable." (Manu, iv. 82.)

Connected with the subject of mendicity is that of satrams or choultries and of sheds erected in the hot season for the giving of water or butter-milk to the poor and thirsty wayfarer. There is no town and scarcely any large village, which has not some kind of satram, erected by charity. This is sometimes done by an individual, and sometimes by a group of persons, or perhaps by a whole village, in order to accommodate travellers. In a country where there are no inns or hotels, these form excellent substitutes; and, considering the habits of the natives, they are more suitable than anything European could be. So useful indeed are these places, that Government and public bodies like Municipalities sometimes either build them themselves, or assist by grants in the building of them. These satrams are of two kinds, those which are merely for lodging, leaving the visitors to provide for themselves ; and those which, in addition to lodging, provide food gratis to the needy traveller. It is this which brings the satrams within the subject of mendicity.

Many of these institutions have endowments of lands attached to them, which often yield a large income, A large choultry may have different divisions for different castes, whilst others may be only for one particular caste. It is only poor travellers who receive their food gratis ; the well-to-do provide for themselves, though they gladly make use of the accommodation provided. It is considered very meritorious to build or endow a choultry.

On the occasion of marriages, funerals, ceremonies for the dead and various other occasions, food is distributed to Brahmins and to the poor, according to the ability of the giver. It is these things which cause such occasions as marriages and funerals to be so great a source of debt, with all its kindred troubles ; but custom and the rules of religion are so strong that few, if any, dare to disregard them.

It would be impossible to legislate against mendicity in India, in the present condition of the country ; nor would it be wise, or beneficial to attempt to do so, until something could be devised to better meet the wants of the truly indigent and helpless, of whom there are large numbers. It is the abuse of charity that I deprecate and not charity itself.

If a proper computation could be made, it would, I believe, show that a very large section of the people live directly or indirectly upon so-called charity ; and considering that the Hindus are, as a people comparatively poor, this must be a heavy tax upon the industrious portion of the community. This is not the only evil caused by such widespread mendicity, for its effects upon the morals of the mendicants themselves, as well as public manners generally, cannot but be most deplorable.' Charity in itself is a grace that, in its true and righteous exercise, not only confers benefits but brings a reflex good. This cannot, however, be said of mere giving, as such, apart from the worthiness either of the object or the motives impelling the giver. If it is done merely with a desire to obtain merit for oneself, or to receive a quid pro quo in the shape of pardon for sin, or a better position in a future birth, it lacks the very essence of true charity. However, many Hindus are truly charitable,' in the best sense of the word ; for true benevolence is not confined within any bounds, national or religious ; but so far as my reading and observation enable me to form an opinion on the matter, the general teaching and practice of Hinduism, as regards charity, do not seem to be in accordance with the spirit of true beneficence. How different it is from the teaching of Christianity, the following quotations show :—

" As we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." (Gal. vi. 10.)

" For we hear there are some which walk amongst you disorderly, working not at all, but are busy bodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ that with quietness they work and eat their own bread." (2 Thess. iii. 11-12.)

" Let him labour working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth." (Eph. vi. 28.)

"No peasantry in the world with equally scanty resources are more charitable than the Hindus, and even at the meanest hut the beggar's demand for a little cake or a handful of grain is never disregarded." Crooke, " Natives of Northern India," p. 123.

( Originally Published 1908 )

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