A Letter to the Brahmans

by WQ Judge @ Theosophy Trust


In April, 1893 (1), an open letter to the Brahmans was sent by William Q. Judge. It called the "Brahmans of India," because its writer holds that there are Brahmans of the past now living in Western bodies, and because the term "Brahman" more properly refers in reality to character than to birth. Copies of the letter were sent all over the T.S. in India. Many criticism were offered, but none were received pointing to the addition for the words "of India." The letter was translated into Sanscrit, Bengali, and Hindi, and in that form was sent all over India.

Although some F.T.S., without corresponding with the Brahmans to whom the letter was directed, said that it was needless and that no idea existed among the orthodox Brahmans that the T.S. favored Buddhism as against other religions, and although the sender of the letter was chided for it, yet the many letters from the Brahmans who are not in the T.S. all state how glad they were to hear definitely that the T.S. was not to be confounded with a Buddhist propaganda. These letters are in Sanscrit, Hindi, Bengali, and English, and may easily be seen at New York.

In the second place the letter aroused discussion of an important point, for in the West the idea is prevalent that the T.S. is a Buddhist propaganda, and T.S. lecturers have to constantly combat this false notion. It is essential that the public shall not misconstrue us and say that because some doctrines given by Theosophists are Buddhistic therefore the Society is also.

So, carrying out the idea of the Letter to the Brahmans, Bro. Rai B. K. Laheri of Ludhiana, India, himself a Brahman and an F.T.S., went to the great Bharat Dharma Mandala held at Delhi in November, 1893, by the orthodox Brahman pundits, and laid before them the letter referred to. They discussed it and the T.S., and he reports that they passed resolutions to help the T.S., and show they were satisfied that the Society is not a Buddhist propaganda. They then separated for their homes, to carry the letter and their own ideas thereon to the remotest corner of orthodox India. This result will of itself justify the letter. Western readers will the better understand when they know that this Mandala is a great orthodox Brahmanical gathering. They will see that the T.S. cannot afford to shut its eyes to the fact that some millions of Hindus do not use English, in which so much of our literature is written, and that it might be well if we could in some way spread our work among them.

The vernacular work of Bellary members is in line with this. It was brought up at last Indian Convention, but so far as the T.S. is concerned it is now in the hands of a committee. Bros. Jagannathiah and Swaminathiah hope to be successful in the Bellary work. Bro. Laheri also will work to the same end, and many American are willing to help with needed money. It would be perfectly competent for the American Section to raise funds for a work that might result in awakening a great current in India, leading to a revival of interest among Hindus themselves, to a looking up of MSS, both paper and palm lear, to that change in India herself which must come so as to supplement fully the Western activity and devotion.

Brahmans are poor. They are disheartened. No one helps them. Old MSS lie rotting away. Despair is around many a Brahman who formerly had pupils whom he fed, for now he cannot feed himself. Western glitter of invention and materialistic thought has drawn off the young, and some hand must be stretched out to help until the willing ones there are able to help themselves. Such help will be given, and even the letter to the Brahmans has aroused a hope in the breast of many a man in India. Any one wishing to aid in the matter can address the General Secretary, American Section, or Bro. R. B. K. Haheri, Ludhiana, Punjab, India.

Path, March 1894

(1) See PATH of May, 1893.