Sunday, November 6, 2011

St. Francis Xavier Undertook To Break Down The Religion Of India And Its Systems

Herbert Ponting's 1907 photograph of "a fakir in Benares"
The Faquirs are another order of Hindoo monks, who, during the whole course of their lives, subject themselves to the severest privations or " mortifications." They seldom, if ever, sleep on the ground, or at full length; but mostly on a thick cord suspended in the air and passed betwixt the legs. Some keep their arms always elevated above the head: others pass nine or ten days every month without eating. The most striking fact yet to be recorded is, that, "extravagant as many of these modes and customs are, they never draw down from castes of the most opposite habits and fashions, the least appearance of contempt and ridicule. Upon this point there is, throughout the whole of India, the most perfect toleration, as long as the general and universally respected laws of good behavior are not infringed." " With this exception every tribe," says the Abbe Dubois, a missionary,—
"with this exception every tribe may freely and without molestation follow its own domestic, course, and practice all its peculiar rites." 
And yet, seeing how evidently all their passions, all their feelings, are invested in their particular systems, is it not wonderful that "persecution" is wanting to give them completeness? The castes of India do not intermarry. A wall of separation is between each. Misconduct is visited with expulsion, and then the culprit becomes a Pariah. Exempt from all the restrictions of honor and shame which so strongly influence the other castes, the Pariahs can freely and without reserve abandon themselves to their natural propensities. They are the most numerous "caste" in India—the professional bad-livers of Hindooism, accursed of Gods and men. "It follows, therefore, that this division of castes acts as a check on human depravity." "I am no less convinced," adds Dubois, 
"that the Hindus, if they were not restrained within the bounds of decorum and subordination by means of the castes, which assign to every man his employment, by regulations of police suited to each individual,—but were left without any curb to check them, or any motive for applying one, would soon become what the Pariahs are, or worse; and the whole nation, sinking of course into the most fearful anarchy, India, from the most polished of all countries," 
says the missionary, "would become the most barbarous of any upon earth."* We have now to see how Francis Xavier undertook to break down the religion of India and its systems, and to build up the religion of Rome on the ruins.
Link (here)

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