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SECT OF MAHÁRÁJAS,
“HAVE NO FELLOWSHIP WITH THE UNFRUITFUL WORKS OF DARKNESS, BUT RATHER
REPROVE (OR EXPOSE) THEM.”-EPHESIANS v. 2.
It is still a general complaint that comparatively little is known of the religious, moral, and social state of the Hindus. This ignorance of their actual con. dition results not so much from a want of research and observation, as from the limits imposed on inquiries respecting the people of India, conducted by distinguished scholars on the one hand, and by popular writers on the other. Their creed and customs are supposed by many to be not only of an immeasurable antiquity, but of a well-nigh unchangeable fixedness. The Orientalist, attracted by the singular philological and mythological curiosities which are discovered in the Vedas, the oldest of Sanskrit works, breathes so much their ancient spirit, and sympathizes so much with the pretensions ages ago urged in their behalf, that he believes they must, to the present day, have no small share of their ancient authority and respect. The popular observer looks merely to
the surface of Hindu society, forgetful that the jealousy and secresy of caste conceal to a great extent the mainspring and action of Hindu life. Even intel. ligent natives themselves look little beyond their own immediate sphere, having no care or interest in the affairs of their neighbours. Hinduism is consequently imagined to be very much an abiding and universal system of faith and manners, without reference to the great changes which it has undergone in the course of time, and the great diversity of the forms which it has assumed over the wide extent of this great and diversified country. The fact is that, within a certain range, Hinduism has been ever on the move. The Vedik songs recognized, if not very clearly, the existence of the great Creator and Governor of the Universe. They contained many fresh and beautiful allusions to the phenomena of nature, and many striking personifications of the forces and agencies intermediately regulating these phenomena. The lively spirit of these primitive songs had well-nigh entirely disappeared at the time of the composition of the Bráhmaņas (or Brahmanical Directories), when reverential worship was to a great extent laid aside for the art of the magician and conjurer, dealing with the gods through mantras, charms, and complicated cere