isis unveiled: chapter xv (knowledge is power)

“”From time immemorial”, says Mrs. Lydia Maria Child, “an emblem has been worshipped in Hindustan as the type of creation, or the origin of life. It is the most common symbol of Siva, Bala or Maha-Deva, and is universally connected with his worship. Siva was not merely the reproducer of human forms; he represented the fructifying principle, the generative power that pervades the universe. Small images of this emblem carved in ivory, gold, or crystal, are worn as ornaments about the neck. The maternal emblem is likewise a religious type; and worshippers of Vishnu represent it on their forehead by a horizontal mark. Is it strange that they regarded with reverence the great mystery of human birth? Were they impure thus to regard it? Or are we impure that we do not so regard it? We have traveled far, and unclean have been the paths, since those old Anchorites first spoke of God and the soul in the solemn depths of their first sanctuaries. Let us not smile at their mode of tracing the infinite and incomprehensible Cause throughout all the mysteries of nature, lest by so doing we cast the shadow of our own grossness on their patriarchal simplicity.”

Many are the scholars who have tried, to the best of their ability, to do justice to old India. Colebrooke, Sir William Jones, Barthelemy St. Hilaire, Lassen, Weber, Strange, Burnouf, Hardy, and finally Jacolliot, have all brought forward their testimony to her achievements in legislation, ethics, philosophy, and religion. No people in the world have ever attained to such a grandeur of thought in ideal conceptions of the Deity and its offspring, MAN, as the Sanscrit metaphysicians and theologians.

“My complaint against many translators and Orientalists”, says Jacolliot, “while admiring their profound knowledge is, that not having lived in India, they fail in exactness of expression and in comprehension of the symbolical sense of poetic chants, prayers, and ceremonies, and thus too often fall into material errors, whether of translation or appreciation.”

Further, this author who, from a long residence in India, and the study of its literature, is better qualified to testify than those who have never been there, tells us that “the life of several generations would scarce suffice merely to read the works that ancient India has left us on history, ethics (morale), poetry, philosophy, religion, different sciences, and medicine.”

And yet, Louis Jacolliot is able to judge but by the few fragments, access to which had ever depended on the complaisance and friendship of a few Brahmans with whom he succeeded in becoming intimate. Did they show him all their treasures? Did they explain to him all he desired to learn? We doubt it, otherwise he would not himself have judged their religious ceremonies so hastily as he has upon several occasions, merely upon circumstantial evidence.”

H. P. Blavatsky

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