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Indian Epigraphy and the Asiatic Society: The First Fifty Years [2]
by Ludo Rocher and Rosane Rocher
University of Pennsylvania
Bulletin of the Asia Institute
New Series, Vol. 23 (2009), pp. 159-170 (12 pages)
Published by: Bulletin of the Asia Institute, a Non-Profit Corporation



In his signature Indian Epigraphy (1998), the honoree of the present volume devoted a chapter to "The History of Indian Epigraphic Studies." The purpose of our essay is to follow up on the first period of this history, "The Pioneering Era: Early Readings of Indian Inscriptions (1781-1834)" (IE: 199-203), focusing on the dynamics and modalities of this epoch, which encompassed the early years of the Asiatic(k) Society and the publication of the twenty volumes of Asiatic(k) Researches, before "the study of Indian inscriptions erupted in a blaze of glory" (IE: 203).

After the slow but steady progress of the first three decades of the nineteenth century, the study of Indian inscriptions erupted in a blaze of glory in the middle of the 1830s.

-- Indian Epigraphy: A Guide to the Study of Inscriptions in Sanskrit, Prakrit, and the Other Indo-Aryan Languages, by Richard Salomon


More than any other, the first volume of AR dealt with epigraphy (1788: seven articles). Studies on inscriptions further appeared in volumes 2 (1790: two), 3 (1792: one), 5 (1798: two), 7 (1801: one), 9(1807: one), 12 (1816: one), 14 (1822: one), 15 (1825: two), 16 (1828: two), and 20 (1836-1839: two).

The Role of the Asiatic Society

As it did for many areas of research on India, the Asiatic Society provided a rallying point, an established institution where contributions to the study of epigraphy could be submitted, discussed, published, and widely distributed. The abundance of papers on inscriptions in the first volume of AR shows that there was a store of material susceptible of publication. Presenting an "Account of the Sculptures and Ruins at Mavalipuram" at the meeting of 17 June 1784, William Chambers regretted that, when he visited the site in 1772 and 1776, there did not exist in India "so powerful an incentive to diligent enquiry and accurate communication, as the establishment of this Society must now prove" (PAS 1: 33, publ. 1788, AR 1: 145-70 @145). Inscriptions had incidentally drawn Chambers' attention, as that of other visitors to ancient monuments. He was sufficiently impressed later to tell his fellow members that "on one of the Pagodas . . . there is an inscription of a single line, in a character at present unknown to the Hindoos," and that be hoped "that some method may be fallen upon of procuring an exact copy of this inscription," since it was one of the "circumstances attending these monuments, which cannot but excite great curiosity, and on which future inquiries may possibly throw some light" (AR 1: 152).

The fortuitous character of epigraphic discoveries did not cease with the founding of the Asiatic Society. John Herbert Harington, the Society's secretary from 1784 to 1792, reported:

A knowledge of the antiquities of Hinduism forming one of the several objects proposed by the institution of our Society, with the hope of communicating something acceptable on this head, I took the opportunity of a late excursion up the country (to visit a cave near Bodh-Gaya) ... On my describing it to the President, whom I had the pleasure to accompany, I was encouraged by him to think that a particular account of it would be curious and useful, and in consequence made a second visit to it from Gya, when I took the following measurements, and, by the means of my Moonshee, a copy of the inscription on it" (1788, AR 1: 276).


It thus appears that Sir William Jones had suggested that Harington explore and describe the cave, and that Harington's discovery of an inscription was accidental.1

Charles Wilkins was in the rare position of not having to wait for the founding of the Asiatic Society to get his work into print. In 1781, shortly after beginning to learn Sanskrit, "the Caxton of India" printed at his own press in Calcutta a translation Governor-General Warren Hastings had asked him to make of an inscription on copper found at Mungir. The first volume of AR reprinted this tract, omitting the dedication to Hastings and adding a facsimile of the inscription, and insured a wide distribution for what had been an obscure pamphlet (1788, AR 1: 123-30). For Wilkins, interest in epigraphy and in Sanskrit went hand in hand. He intimated in his dedication that Hastings' approval of his translation of the Mungir inscription would constitute "a farther inducement ... to pursue the study of the Sanscrit language, in the intricacies of which so much valuable learning lies hidden." He kept Hastings, who allowed him to reside in Banaras for the purpose of learning Sanskrit, apprised of his further epigraphic work, for a handwritten copy of his translation of an inscription at Bodh-Gaya was returned to the custodian of Hastings' papers from Daylesford, his last residence, in September 1836 (APAC: MSS Eur. F324/3, publ. 1788, AR 1: 284-87). Wilkins was already interested in epigraphy in 1780, when, he later wrote,

I discovered, in the vicinity of the town of Buddal, near which the Company have a Factory, and which at that time was under my charge, a decapitated monumental column ... At a few feet above the ground Ii an inscription engraved in the stone, from which I took two reversed impressions with printer's ink.


After initial frustrations, he was able to present his findings to the Society on 14 July 1785, by which time he had "lately been so fortunate as to decypher the character" (PAS 1: 58, publ. 1788, AR 1: 131-41@131).

The Asiatic Society clearly appreciated papers on inscriptions more than on some other objects. Inscriptions found and copied by John Eardley Wilmot, translated by Wilkins, were welcomed and published in AR (15 Dec. 1785, PAS 1: 68, publ. 1790, AR 2: 167-69; 29 Dec. 1785, PAS 1:69, publ. 1788, AR 1: 284-87). By contrast, Wilmot's concurrent communication of "a number of drawings of Hindu temples and images" only elicited the thanks of the Society "for the entertainment afforded by his performances" (29 Dec. 1785, PAS 1: 69). Twenty years after the Society's foundation, when botanist Nathaniel Wallich volunteered to curate a museum in the new structure the Society had built to house its activities, and the Society resolved to draw and make public a list of objects it solicited, the first item in a list of 17 desiderata was "Inscriptions on stone or brass" (2 Feb. 1814, PAS 2: 471, publ. 1816, AR 12: Appendix, v).

Crucial for publication was the availability of a translation. A communication of Charles W. Malet "containing some account of the caves of Salset; and enclosing an inscription taken from them, the character and language of which is unknown" was "returned with the thanks of the Society" (30 June 1785, PAS 1: 57). Years later, when Lieut. William Price sent "a copy of an imperfect inscription in Sanscrit found upon a stone in Bundelcund," he was asked "to add any further remarks or a translation to his communication" (3 Feb. 1813, PAS 2: 453). At a following meeting, was "[r]ead a letter from Lieut. W. Price forwarding to the Society a large stone with Sanscrit inscription found in Bundlelkhund accompanied with a manuscript copy and a translation." Only then was it resolved "that Lieut. Price receive thanks of the Society and that the translated inscriptions be referred to the Committee of Papers" (2 June 1813, PAS 2: 455-56). Price's "Translation of a Sanscrit Inscription on a Stone Found in Bundelc'hand" was published in the long delayed twelfth volume of AR together with a letter dated Calcutta, 1 September 1813, addressed to Society president Henry Thomas Colebrooke, in which Price related how he had "observed a stone, with a Sanscrit inscription, lying at the foot of a rocky hill in the vicinity of the town of Mow, about ten miles from Chatterpur," had the stone removed, deciphered the inscription, and begged leave "to present the monument to the Asiatick Society, and to lay before them a correct transcript of the original, in modern Devanagari character, with a literal translation" (1816, AR 12: 357-74 @357, 358).

Among submitted inscriptions that remained unpublished, apparently for lack of a translation or interpretive account, was a set of facsimiles presented by Major Colin Mackenzie, surveyor of Mysore, an avid collector of inscriptions in South India (7 Jan. 1807, PAS 2: 3411 cf. IE: 203). Similarly, no action other than a vote of thanks was taken on "a transcript of an inscription on stone in the fort of Hansi together with a specimen of the character," which Lieut. Edward Fell first submitted with the rider: "[ I] am sorry that at present my slight knowledge of the Sanscrit prevents an accompanying translation. I fear even some parts of this may be incorrect from the mutilated state of the letters" (5 Aug. 1812, PAS 2: 446, 821- 22). Fell did become an excellent Sanskritist and later submitted a translation of the Hansi inscription, repeatedly begging secretary Horace Hayman Wilson to present it to the Society (7 Mar. 1822, 30 Oct. 1822, 11 Jan. 1823, 21 May 1823, APAC: MSS Eur. E301/1, ff. 77, 95, 103, 116). There was no follow-up either on Fell's submission of a "translation of an inscription from Gurrah Mandal" (7 May 1823, PAS 3: 467). The hitch appears to have been Fell's inability to provide a historical context, for he wrote Wilson on 18 June 1823:

I have nothing in the way of history on the Gurrah & Hansi inscriptions. I don't even know where the first was found -- it was given to me by Col. OBrien -- the latter I transcribed when at Hansi -- it is built in the wall of a handsome Mosque created by Mahmud Ghori, who conquered Hansi ... in 1192. Your fertile genius will enable you to add a few explanations" (APAC: MSS Eur. E301/1, ff. 122-23).


Wilson eventually included both in "Sanscrit Inscriptions. By (the late) Captain E. Fell. With observations by H. H. Wilson" (1825, AR 15: 436-69 @437- 43, 443-46), after all of Fell's manuscript translations were "placed at [his] disposal, upon one condition, viz. that [he would] be so good as to prepare for publication any which in [his] judgment are deserving of it" (Charles Thoresby to Wilson, 1 June 1824, APAC: MSS Eur. E301/1, f. 139). The first of these two inscriptions had been the subject of a duplicate submission. Captain R. Lachlan had laid before the Society on 16 September 1820 "a copy of a Sanscrit inscription detailing the genealogy of the Kings of Gurhamandala with an English translation by Capt. Price" (PAS 3: 358), to which no further reference is found.

Few people who discovered inscriptions were capable of deciphering and translating or interpreting them. As we noted, Wilkins became able to do so several years after discovering the inscription at Badal, Fell some time after first examining that at Hansi. As we also noted, Price was already equal to complying with the Society's request for a translation of the inscription he had found in Bundelkhand when he settled in Calcutta and began teaching Sanskrit, Bengali, and other languages at the College of Fort William. Walter Ewer, an accomplished Persian scholar, acquired the skills to read the till then inaccessible Persian inscriptions on the Qutb Minar by using "a telescope of great magnifying power," translate them, and communicate text and translation to the Society (20 Dec. 1818, PAS 3:363, publ. 1822, AR 14: 480-89@481).

When unsure of what they had found and/or aware that the Society expected more than plain copies of inscriptions, others sought expert help from scholars who prepared translations and presented them to the Society. Publications appeared under the translator's name, with or without mention of the person who had first found the inscription. Thus, of two translations of inscriptions which the Society's proceedings record Wilmot forwarded and Wilkins submitted in December 1785, one, "Translation of a Sanscrit Inscription, copied from a stone at Booddha-Gaya, by Mr. Wilmot, 1785. Translated by Charles Wilkins, Esq.," recorded Wilmot's name (29 Dec. 1785, PAS 1: 69, publ. 1788, AR 1: 284-87). The other, "Two Inscriptions from the Vindhya Mountains, Translated from the Sanscrit by Charles Wilkins, Esq.," did not refer to Wilmot either in the title or in the body of the published text (15 Dec. 1785, PAS I: 68, publ. l790, AR 2: 167-69).

On several occasions, the Society asked experts to provide translations of inscriptions that had been submitted. Secretary Harington requested from Wilkins a "Translation of a Sanscrit Inscription" from the Nagarjuni Hill (17 Mar. 1785, PAS 1: 47, publ. 1788, AR 1: 279- 83). When Resident at Poona Sir Charles W. Malet sent "a facsimile of some ancient inscriptions found in the caves at Ellora," the Society asked Lieut. Francis Wilford in Banaras to decipher and translate them. They were published, notwithstanding Wilford's lukewarm assessment that they were "of little importance; but the publication of them, may assist the labours of others in decyphering more interesting manuscripts or inscriptions" (3 Dec. 1795, PAS 1: 256, publ. 1798, AR 5: 135-40 @135). When William Moorecroft sent copper plates he had procured on loan from temple priests near Badrinath, William Carey and William Price were asked to examine them and report. After submitting an account of the inscription, Price was further requested to provide a literal translation (30 Dec. 1820, 17 Feb. 1821, PAS 3:362, 378, 1083). There, however, matters rested, perhaps because Price judged that "[t]hese were simply royal edicts declaratory of a charitable donation of lands and had nothing to do with the history of the temple of Badri Nath" (PAS 3: 402, 1085-86). Unaware of this development, Moorcroft suggested a further long haul for the plates, writing secretary Wilson from Leh:

Were the inscriptions on the copper Plates of Punkhesur translated? I apprehend they were in the Tibetan character -- if sent here they may be translated into Persian. [Commissioner in Kumaon) Mr Traill would find no difficulty in willing them to the commanding Official at Sabathas who would forward them to this place with a letter to the Minister" [31 Dec. 1821, APAC: MSS Eur. E-101/1 f. 75).


The Society went to great lengths to insure a correct reading and interpretation of two inscriptions from the Rajivalocana temple in Rajim, Chattisgarh, copies of which had been forwarded by Resident at Nagpur Richard Jenkins, with a translation of the first (9 July 1823, PAS 3: 470-71). Concerned that conjectural readings and translations from local pandits were unreliable, they requested facsimiles of both inscriptions, which Jenkins had Col. Agnew submit on 10 March 1824. Only then was a translation of the first read, with observations in which secretary Wilson noted that "[ b]esides the historical notices furnished by this inscription, .... it has some value in the history of Hindoo literature" for dating the Puranas (PAS 3: 494, 512, PAS 3: 1176- 79, publ. 1825, AR 15: 511-15). By contrast, a series of inscriptions found at Mount Abu and submitted with translations by Capt. Alexander Spiers (5 May 1824, PAS 3: 498) were judged too voluminous and many of too little importance. In this case, Wilson undertook to publish "a concise description of the series, translating, in detail, those only which appear to afford materials to history" (1828, AR 16: 284-330 @284).

The Society was keen to publish not only first translations of inscriptions, but also corrected translations based on better documentation. On receiving "a Book of Drawings and Inscriptions prepared under the inspection of their late Member Captain James Hoare:," Harington, vice-president from 1797 to 1819, took advantage of a visit by Colebrooke to Calcutta to have him produce on the basis of this new material a "Translation of One of the Inscriptions on the Pillar at Dehlee, called the Lat of Feeroz Shah" (6 Dec. 1798, PAS I: 304-5, publ. 1801, AR 7: 175-82 @175; cf. Rocher and Rocher 2012: 54), which improved on the translation Jones had first published, based on a copy provided by Antoine Potler (27 Mar. 1788, PAS 1: 125, publ. 1788, AR 1: 379-82).

When interest in epigraphic material waned in the later 1820s, even a translation was not enough to incite publication. Among inscriptions submitted after 1825, only three appeared in AR. "Translation of an Inscription on the Great Bell of Rangoon" by the Rev. G. H. Hough had been read on 1 November 1826 (PAS 3:571, publ. 1828, AR 16: 270-83). The other two, read in the 1830s, appeared in the much delayed first part of the 20th volume, published in 1836: "Translation of Various Inscriptions Found among the Ruins of Vijayanagar" by E. C. Ravenshaw, with preliminary observations by secretary Wilson (7 Nov. 1832, JASB 1: 513, publ. AR 20.1: 1- 40), and a translation by Resident at Ava, Lieut . Col. H. Burney, of an inscription in Burmese discovered at Bodh-Gaya in 1833 by his brother Capt. George Burney (3 Sep. 1834, JASB 3: 411, publ. AR 20.1: 161- 89).

Occasionally, disinterest sank to utter neglect. Not until the meeting of 28 May 1834 were extracts read of

letters from B. H. Hodgson Esq., Resident in Nepal, on the subject of inscriptions in the character No. 1. of the Allahabad column, and forwarding a native drawing of the Matthia Lat'h . . . with an accurate transcript of its inscription. / Also an accurate facsimile of an inscription from the Sagar territory, which proves to be in old Sanscrit character.


To this report James Prinsep, who served as secretary from 1833 to 1838, added the telling remark:

These inscriptions, Mr. Hodgson says, were communicated to the Asiatic Society, eight or ten years ago, but no trace of them could be found among its records: fortunately he has preserved the originals, from which we shall take an early opportunity to make engravings for publication, together with the author's remarks upon this and three other Lat'hs in North Behar of a similar nature (JASB 3: 245- 46).


Hodgson's "Notice of Some Ancient Inscriptions in the Characters of the Allahabad Column" and a "Note on the Mathiah Lath Inscription" by Prinsep were published in the following October, not in Asiatic Researches, but in the new, monthly Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal (ibid: 481-87), which Prinsep had started in 1832 to print the Society's proceedings as well as shorter essays than those in the sluggish Asiatic Researches, which was soon discontinued. With this and other articles, the third volume of JASB again gave epigraphy pride of place, as Prinsep revitalized it.

Of interest are the varied and often circuitous ways in which original inscriptions and copies reached the Society. More often than by purposeful, personal exploration, European civil administrators and members of the military service obtained inscriptions from Indian laborers who found them while engaged in their daily work. Publishing an essay "On Ancient Monuments, Containing Sanscrit Inscriptions" which had been presented to the Society (1807, AR 9: 398- 444), Colebrooke narrated: "Towards the end of 1803, a plate of copper was discovered in digging earth for the repair of the highway through the Manamati hills in the district of Tipura. It was carried to Mr. Eliot, Magistrate of the district; and by him communicated to the Asiatick Society" (401-2). Another copper plate was "found in the district of Gorakhpur, near the river called the little Gand'hac. It was brought to Mr. John Ahmuti, Magistrate of the district, and by him communicated to Captain Wilford, who has presented it to the Asiatick Society" (406). 1n 1806,

a plate of copper was found at Amgach'hi in Sultanpur, by a peasant, digging earth for the repair of a road near his cottage. He delivered it to the nearest police officer, by whom it was conveyed to the Magistrate, Mr. J. Pattle: and by him forwarded for communication to the Asiatick Society (434).


In 1821, Major-General Hardwicke sent "an account of a Sanscrit and Persian inscription on a stone found at Sirsah by Captain W. S. Whish." The marble slab had been found in 1818 "when the force under Major-General Arnold encamped there . . . amongst the rubbish of decayed buildings" (PAS 3: 393, 408). This submission remained unpublished.

One set of inscriptions traveled from a peasant to the Society via the highest echelon of government: "In the beginning of 1823, seven plates of copper with Sanscrit Inscriptions were found by a peasant at work in a field ... ; they were delivered by him to the Magistrate and forwarded to the Government by whom they were presented to the Society" (1825, AR 15: 446). W. B. Bayley, Chief Secretary to Government, wrote Society secretary Wilson:

I am directed by the Honourable the Governor General in Council to transmit to you, for the purpose of their being presented to the Museum of the Asiatic Society, the accompanying 7 plates of copper recently discovered in a field near the junction of the Burna Nullah with the Ganges at Benaras. / 2. The accompanying copy of a letter and of its enclosures from Mr. Macleod, judge and Magistrate of the City of Benaras, are also forwarded to you, in order that they may be laid before the Asiatic Society.


The government added another, unusual step:

3. The Governor General in Council is desirous of forwarding to the Hon'ble the Court of Directors, accurate copies of the several inscriptions on these plates, and I am directed to request that you will be good enough to furnish me with copies of them for that purpose" (24 July 1823, PAS 3: 1603).


In this multiple transfer, one crucial element was omitted in Bayley's official letter, but was revealed in a letter Wilson had received from his protege Fell in Banaras:

The plates were taken to Macleod who sent them to me with a letter on the 'service' requesting me to decypher and to translate them. This has all been done and I do not like to appear to be playing double with him as he has most particularly requested me not to send down a translation, as he says he intends to send it to Mr Bayley. You will however ultimately have it" (30 Oct. 1822, APAC: MSS Eur. E301/ l, f. 95).


Fell was to complain that Macleod was dilatory in transmitting this material, and griped: "He is the worst (blank) we could have" (11 Jan. 1823, 18 June 1823, ibid.: ff. 103, 123). A translation of these "Inscriptions from Benares," with notes by Wilson, was published under the late Capt. Fell's name (1825, AR 15: 437-69 @446-69).

Most inscriptions that made their way to Calcutta were intended to find a permanent place in the Society and its museum, but not all of them did. Returning from a visit to Bombay, General John Carnac brought six copper plates, found during digging works in Thana, but noted in his cover letter: "I obtained permission (from the Governor of Bombay) to bring them round with me, being desirous to submit them to the investigation of the Asiatick Society, under the promise of restoring them to the Proprietor" (15 Feb. 1787, translation read on 29 Mar., PAS l: 101, publ. 1788, AR 1: 357-67, letter @356). A letter from Moorcroft,

communicating his having procured the loan of four large sheets of copper with inscriptions relative (so he thought) to the ancient theological history of the Hindoos from the temple of Punkesur near Budureenath and forwarded the same to the Commissioner at Kumaon, to be sent down to Calcutta, and requesting that the sheets may be returned to the temple within the period of eighteen months (8 Jan. 1820, PAS 3: 340),


reported that he had argued that the originals would best be deciphered in Calcutta "to avoid the risk of errors in copying them likely to occur from the inscriptions being in a language wholly unknown to the Brahmins in attendance at the Temple" (ibid.: 366). Expressing the hope that copper plates from Rajim might be "worthy of being submitted to the Asiatic Society," Jenkins also specified: "I do not say presented, as the Pujaris of the temple to which they belong are not willing to part with them altogether, and 1 have promised that they shall be restored" (read 9 July 1823, PAS 3:470, 1176-77, AR 15: 499).

Notwithstanding the wealth of epigraphic material that reached the Asiatic Society, there is little doubt that many more inscriptions on stone or copper did not find their way to the Society, but fell into the hands of Europeans who wished to own and carry some home as curiosities. Colebrooke deplored that a copper plate had been carried away "beyond reach of reference, having been conveyed to Europe to be there buried in some publick museum or private collection" (1807, AR 9: 401). Even though, in that case, he was able to work from a copy of the transcript preserved by pandit Sarvoru Trivedi (1807, AR 9: 400, 441 ), he viewed such copies as a pis-aller, and "urge(d) the communication of every inscription which may be hereafter discovered," insisting:

It is a subject for regret, that the originals, of which versions have before been made publick, are not deposited where they might be accessible to persons engaged in researches into Indian literature and antiquities: but much more so, that ancient monuments, which there is reason to consider as important, have been removed to Europe, before they had been sufficiently examined, or before they were accurately copied and translated (1807, AR 9: 400).


This was a situation which the Asiatic Society sought to remedy with the formal establishment of a museum.

The Role of Pandits

For inscriptions as for Sanskrit literary texts, Europeans in India often sought the help of pandits. More frequently than with texts, however, native knowledge was apt to fall short of their expectations, as ancient scripts proved a hurdle.2 We are repeatedly told that "even pandits" were unable to decipher a script and interpret inscriptions. Before turning to Wilkins, Harington had taken the impression of the Nagarjuni inscription, which "many Pundits . . . who had seen the original engraving, had attempted in vain to decipher," to Banaras, the reputed center of Hindu learning, but even "a Pundit at Benaris ... attempted in vain to get it read" (1788, AR 1: 276). Sending the box of Rajim copper plates, Jenkins wrote: "The plates and signet bear inscriptions in a character which none of the brahmins of the country are able to decypher" (read 9 July 1823, PAS 3: 470-71, publ. 1825, AR 15: 499-515 @499). Regarding the Thana copper plates, Carnac was less precise: "The Governor of Bombay informed me none of the Gujerat Bramins could explain the Inscriptions" (AR 1: 356), but the fact that he carried the plates, not a transcript, to Calcutta points to an issue of decipherment more than interpretation.

Some pandits nevertheless played an active role in the decipherment and/or elucidation of inscriptions. As Richard Salomon has noted, "These panditas were often, but by no means always, given due credit for their efforts in the publications of English authors, so that it is not always easy to fully evaluate the nominal authors' real contributions" (IE: p. 202, n. 14). We have sought to gather additional information on whether, and to what extent, the most prominent European authors of articles on inscriptions in AR relied on, and, if so, acknowledged, the contribution of pandits in their attempts to decipher and translate Indian inscriptions.

In a unique case, Wilkins seems to have been able early on to decipher the script of inscriptions on his own. He wrote Harington of the Nagarjuni inscription which had stumped pandits:

Having been so fortunate as to make out the whole of the curious inscription you were so obliging as to lend me, I herewith return it, accompanied by an exact copy, in a reduced size, interlined with each corresponding letter in the modern Dewnagar character; and also a copy of my translation, which is as literal as the idioms would admit it to be" (17 Mar. 1785, publ. 1788, AR 1: 279).


In addition to "pure perseverance and genius" (IE: 200-201), Wilkins likely could draw on the expertise and sensitivity to written forms he had developed in his youth as the nephew of an engraver, and later as a founder of types in India.
An even more remarkable achievement by Wilkins was his translation, published as a letter in AR 1, 279-83, of the record now known as the Nagarjuni hill cave inscription of the early Maukhari king Anantavarman.9 [Presented March 17, 1785 (Chaudhuri, Proceedings, 47).] While his comment that the script is "very materially different from that we find in inscriptions of eighteen hundred years ago" is due to his incorrect dating of the Mungir plate alluded to earlier, he was nonetheless correct that "the character is undoubtedly the most ancient of any that have hitherto come under my inspection." (Anantavarman is now known to have ruled sometime in the sixth century A.D.) It is truly remarkable that Wilkins was somehow able to read the late Brahmi of this period, which, unlike the scripts of three centuries later, is very different from modern scripts both in its general form and in many of its specific characters. It is thus not entirely clear how, beyond pure perseverance and genius, Wilkins managed to read this inscription, but presumably he did this by working back from the script of the Pala period which he had already mastered.10 [The precise order in which Wilkins translated his first three inss. is not certain, but it is clear that he worked on the Mungir ins. first, in 1781, and that the Nagarjuni and Badal inss. followed in the period between 1781 and his presentation of all three inss. to the society in 1785 (see Kejariwal, The Asiatic Society, 43-4).] In any case, his translation, while once again not always correct, proves beyond question that he could read the late Brahmi, or early Siddhamatrka, script of the sixth century.

-- Indian Epigraphy: A Guide to the Study of Inscriptions in Sanskrit, Prakrit, and the Other Indo-Aryan Languages, by Richard Salomon

Still, like many contemporaries, he did resort to panditic knowledge to interpret and translate inscriptions as well as literary texts. In his early translation of the Mungir inscription, he acknowledged "[t]he Pundit, by whose assistance this translation was made" (Wilkins 1781, Notes, 21 1788, AR 1: p. 129, n. 4), just as he did later in his translations of the Bhagavadgita (1785, [26]) and Hitopodesa (1787, 319), and in his Sanskrit grammar (1808, xi).

Jones was more inclined than most to acknowledge the assistance he received from pandits. Yet, this is not always immediately apparent in his publications on Indian Inscriptions. Both in the proceedings of the Society and in Asiatic Researches, some inscriptions were presented simply as "translated by the President." For instance, "A Royal Grant of Land in Carnata" communicated by Alexander Macleod was said to have been "translated from the Sanscrit by the President" (read 13 Jan. 1791, PAS 1: 167, publ. 1792, AR 3: 39-53). In the notes to the translation, however, Jones repeatedly referred to consultations with several pandits (AR 3: 43, 48). In the Society's proceedings, the Thana copper plates were presented as "translated by the President" (29 Mar. 1787, PAS 1:101). The published text, however, is said to have been "literally translated from the Sanscrit, as explained by Ramalochan Pandit," Jones's first teacher of Sanskrit (1788, AR 1: 357),3 and omits Jones's name entirely from the title and body of the text. Likewise, the proceedings for 27 March 1788 report: "Read Translation of Inscriptions on pillars of Firoze Shah's Kotela, received from Col. Polier by the President" (PAS 1: 125), but in the printed text the inscriptions are said to be "Translated from the Sanscrit, as explained by Radhacanta Sarman," who soon became Jones's primary panditic acolyte (1788, AR 1: 3791. Jones's authorship of these English translations was to be reclaimed with their inclusion in his collected Works (1807, vol. 4: 334-47, 348-52). Jones's "Remarks" on Wilkins' translations of the Mungir and Badal inscriptions stemmed from a close comparison with the Sanskrit texts together with Radhakanta, to whom he referred several times and paid a ringing tribute: "Radhacanta proposed a conjectural emendation, which would have done honour to Scaliger or Bentley" (1788, AR 1: 143).

Colebrooke, too, regularly resorted to panditic knowledge in the interpretation of inscriptions as well as literary texts. Whereas Jones had studied the inscription on Firuz Shah's column with the assistance of Radhakanta, Colebrooke's improved translation was produced in collaboration with Sarvoru Trivedi, to whom he referred in notes (read 6 Dec. 1798, PAS 1: 305, publ. 1801, AR 7: p. 180, n. 51 p. 181, n. 7), and whom he again identified in a subsequent article as the pandit "who assisted me in decypherlng the copy of an inscription on Firoz Shah's pillar at Delhi" (1807, AR 9: 400, n.).4 Although Colebrooke failed to publish a translation that improved on Wilkins' long, but incomplete, account of an inscription found in Portugal on the grounds of Don Joao de Castro's villa in Sintra, which James Murphy had published with a facsimile (1795: 274-87), he recorded in a letter to his father how crucial panditic help had been to him:


If you see Mr. Wilkins, will you mention to him that I have succeeded in deciphering (with the help of Pundits) the inscription which Mr. W. examined and partly decyphered from a copy made by Mr. Murphy. I mean an inscription carried to Portugal, and there copied by Mr. Murphy. I have thoughts of publishing a translation of it. I am not surprised that Mr. Wilkins could not decipher the whole of it. I should not have succeeded better without help (5 Oct. 1803, Life: 214).


In his major essay "On Ancient Monuments, Containing Sanscrit Inscriptions," Colebrooke relied on, and referred throughout to "Pandits," even "the aid of several Pandits" (1807, AR 9: 398-444). He had one of the inscriptions, which had been deciphered by a pandit in Wilford's service, reexamined "with the concurrence of several Pandits from Tirhut," since the characters "make a nearer approach to the Tirhutiya letters than to any other now in use" (406-7). The text of an inscription forwarded by Mackenzie was, Colebrooke said, "in some instances, read differently by the Pandits whom (he had) consulted," than the translation made by Mackenzie's principal assistant, Kaveli Boria (1807, AR 9: 413).
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Fell, whose submissions, even "with the help of a Pandit" (PAS 2: 822), remained unpublished in his lifetime, might have made considerable contributions to the study of inscriptions, had he lived longer. A beginner in 1810, he developed from a star student at Fort William College into a distinguished Sanskrit scholar during his posting in Banaras and engagement there with pandit teachers at Sanskrit College, for which he served as secretary of the directing committee. Fell failed to point to specific help, but he acknowledged discussing inscriptions with "[m]any of the Pandits at Benares" (1825, AR 15: 458). Fell's devotion to inscriptions and other antiquities may have hastened his death. He died of a fever on 15 February 1824 at Bilaspur, en route from Nagpur to Banaras:

he had offered his services in exploring, on his route, those monuments of antiquity which are found in the district of Chutteesghur, especially in the form of ancient and undecyphered inscriptions. These, it was his intention to copy and convey to Benares, where he would have examined and translated them at leisure.5


Price, to whom we referred as a trusted translator of inscriptions, did not mention the help of pandits. Yet, it must be noted that, as an assistant professor and later professor at the College of Fort William from 1823 to 1831, he could command the time of the College's pandits.

Thanks to the various locations and career paths of its members, the Society benefited from a wide and diverse board of pandits. Wilkins' primary assistant was the Bengali Kasinatha, 6 settled in Banaras, whom Wilkins did not name, but whom Jones also consulted through Wilkins and tried in vain to hire (Cannon 1970: 665, 660, 683, 781). Kasinatha went on to be appointed the first rector of Banaras Sanskrit College, founded in 1791, and presumably to help other British scholars until his dismissal for financial irregularities in 1801 (Nicholls 1907: 3, 6). Jones consulted a wide circle of pandits (Rocher 1995 and 2007), and programmatically employed the Bengali Radhakanta and the Bihari Sarvoru Trivedi (Rocher 1989). Colebrooke's circle consisted primarily of Maithila pandits whom he recruited during his early postings in Bihar and who stayed with him through his Indian career (Rocher and Rocher 2012: 124, 201). From the South, a translation of an inscription communicated by Mackenzie, who made up for a lack of language skills with a network of helpers, was made possible by the "united efforts and knowledge" of "the Slisuis and Pandits at Triplicane" and his brahman assistants (1807, AR 9: 42.2.-23). This link with the Society became immediate when, upon being appointed surveyor-general of India, Mackenzie brought to Calcutta a large staff of South Indian acolytes, who, after his death, were placed under Wilson's supervision. After neither local brahmans nor Calcutta pandits were able to read the Rajim copper plates,


it fortunately happened that the establishment of the late Col. Mackenzie possessed an individual, Sri Verma Suri, a Jain of great respectability and learning, who had been long engaged in decyphering the inscriptions of the Dekhin, and to whom the character of the Raju plates was familiar and he accordingly prepared a transcript of the plates and a copy in Devanagari.


It is worth noting, however, that Varma Suri was made to prove his mettle in a thorough examination by Wilson and Price, some of it "without previous notice or preparation," which he sustained "without any embarrassment or hesitation," before Wilson was satisfied that "little doubt could be entertained of his being really acquainted with the character." Varma Suri's intervention convinced Wilson that the main difference between this script and other forms of devanagari was that it was box-headed, with the prospect that "the facsimile of the plates with the Devanagari transcript, and the comparative alphabet will render these it is hoped decipherable generally in future" (1825, AR 15: 507).

Wilson's caution reflects the particular discomfort that British scholars felt with regard to epigraphic material in unfamiliar scripts. Three decades earlier, when asked to decipher Malet's inscriptions from Ellora, Wilford had reported an extraordinary discovery:

I despaired at first of ever being able to decypher them: for as there are no ancient inscriptions in this part of India, we never had, of course, any opportunity to try our skill and improve our talents in the art of decyphering; however after many fruitless attempts on our part, we were so fortunate as to find at last an ancient sage, who gave us the key, and produced a book in Sanscrit, containing a great many ancient alphabets formerly in use in different parts of India; this was really a fortunate discovery, which hereafter may be of great service to us (1798, AR 5: 135).


A far more promising approach to the problem, indeed a short cut, seemed to be heralded in a letter to Jones from Lieutenant Francis Wilford, a surveyor and an enthusiastic student of all things oriental, who was based at Benares. Jones had been sent copies of inscriptions found at Ellora and written in Ashoka Brahmi, the still undeciphered pin-men. He had probably sent them to Wilford because Benares, the holy city of the Hindus, was the most likely place to find a Brahmin who might be able to read them. In 1793 Wilford announced that he had found just such a man:
I have the honour to return to you the facsimile of several inscriptions with an explanation of them. I despaired at first of ever being able to decipher them... However, after many fruitless attempts on our part, we were so fortunate as to find at last an ancient sage, who gave us the key, and produced a book in Sanskrit, containing a great many ancient alphabets formerly in use in different parts of India. This was really a fortunate discovery, which hereafter may be of great service to us.

According to the ancient sage, most of Wilford's inscriptions related to the wanderings of the five heroic Pandava brothers from the Mahabharata. At the unspecified time in question they were under an obligation not to converse with the rest of mankind; so their friends devised a method of communicating with them by "writing short and obscure sentences on rocks and stones in the wilderness and in characters previously agreed upon betwixt them." The sage happened to have the key to these characters in his code book; obligingly he transcribed them into Devanagari Sanskrit and then translated them.

To be fair to Wilford, he was a bit suspicious about this ingenious explanation of how the inscriptions got there. But he had no doubts that the deciphering and translation were genuine. "Our having been able to decipher them is a great point in my opinion, as it may hereafter lead to further discoveries, that may ultimately crown our labours with success." Above all, he had now located the code book, "a most fortunate circumstance."

Poor Wilford was the laughing stock of the Benares Brahmins for a whole decade. They had already fobbed him off with Sanskrit texts, later proved spurious, on the source of the Nile and the origin of Mecca. After the code book there was a geographical treatise on The Sacred Isles of the West, which included early Hindu reference to the British Isles. The Brahmins, to whom Sanskrit had so long remained a sacred prerogative, were getting their own back. One wonders how much Wilford paid his "ancient sage."

Jones was already a little suspicious of Wilford's sources, but on
the code book, which was as much a fabrication as the translations supposedly based on it, he reserved judgment until he might see it. He never did. In fact it was never heard of again. But in spite of these disappointments Jones continued to believe that in time this oldest script would be deciphered. He had been sent a copy of the writings on the Delhi pillar and told a correspondent that they "drive me to despair; you are right, I doubt not, in thinking them foreign; I believe them to be Ethiopian and to have been imported a thousand years before Christ." It was not one of his more inspired guesses and at the time of his death the mystery of the inscriptions and of the monoliths was as dark as ever.


-- India Discovered, by John Keay

[S]hortly after Maudave's visit, Voltaire wrote in a letter that he was going to establish contact with the Indian translator ("my brahmin") and joked that he hoped that this Brahmin would be more reasonable than the professors at the Sorbonne. Four months later, when he had thoroughly studied the text and expressed his confidence that he could "make good use of it," he described the translator as a "Brahmin of great esprit" who knows French very well and who produced "a faithful translation". In July 1761, at the time when he had decided to add a new chapter to the Essai about the Ezourvedam and then to present his copy of the manuscript to the Royal Library in Paris, he claimed that Maudave had received the Ezour-vedam from a Brahmin who was a correspondent of the French Compagnie des Indes and had translated it. After sending the manuscript to the Royal Library, Voltaire for the first time located this Brahmin translator in Benares, the center of Brahman orthodoxy. He repeated this last version until he encountered Holwell's work and learned that the Shastah was far older than the Vedam and its commentary, the Ezour-vedam.... In 1769, after having read this, Voltaire once more changed his translator Story.... Voltaire came up with a new narrative: the man who had translated the Ezour-vedam from the sacred Sanskrit language into French was now suddenly no more an orthodox successor to the oldest Brachman tradition from Benares but rather a mysterious "old man, 100 years of age" who was "arch-priest [grand pretre] on the island of Seringham of Arcate province" in South India -- a man "respected for his incorruptible virtue" who "knew French and rendered great services to the Compagnie des Indes". One would expect such a rare creature -- an eminent old Brahmin heading a huge clergy who wrote perfect French and rendered great services to the colonial administration -- to turn up somewhere in the French colonial records; but Rocher failed to find any trace of this man, even though, according to Voltaire, he had been a witness for the chevalier Jacques Francois Law in his conflict with Joseph Francois Dupleix....

Today we know... that Voltaire's Ezour-vedam was definitely authored by one or several French Jesuits in India, and Ludo Rocher has convincingly argued that the text was never translated from Sanskrit but written in French and then partially translated into Sanskrit. Consequently, there never was a translator from Sanskrit to French -- which also makes it extremely unlikely that any Brahmin, whether from Benares in the north or Cherignan (Seringham) in the south, ever gave this French manuscript to Maudave. Whether Maudave was "a close friend of one of the principal brahmins" and how old and wise that man was appear equally irrelevant. Voltaire's story of the Brahmin translator appears to be entirely fictional
and also squarely contradicts the only relevant independent evidence, Maudave's letter to Voltaire, which named a long-dead French Jesuit as translator and imputed Jesuit tampering with the text. Since it is unlikely that Maudave would arbitrarily change such central elements of his story when he met Voltaire, the inevitable conclusion is that Voltaire created a narrative to serve a particular agenda and changed that Story when the need arose.

-- The Birth of Orientalism, by Urs App

Two books are attributed to Chanakya: Arthashastra, and Chanakya Niti, also known as Chanakya Neeti-shastra. The Arthashastra was discovered in 1905 by librarian Rudrapatna Shamasastry in an uncatalogued group of ancient palm-leaf manuscripts donated by an unknown pandit to the Oriental Research Institute Mysore.
Formerly known as the Oriental Library, the Oriental Research Institute (ORI) at Mysore, India, is a research institute which collects, exhibits, edits, and publishes rare manuscripts written in various scripts like Devanagari (Sanskrit), Brahmic (Kannada), Nandinagari (Sanskrit), Grantha, Malayalam, Tigalari, etc.

The Oriental Library was started in 1891 under the patronage of Maharaja Chamarajendra Wadiyar X... It was a part of the Department of Education until 1916, in which year it became part of the newly established University of Mysore. The Oriental Library was renamed as the Oriental Research Institute in 1943.

From the year 1893 to date the ORI has published nearly two hundred titles. The library features rare collections such as the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics by James Hastings, A Vedic Concordance by Maurice Bloomfield, and critical editions of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. It was the first public library in Mysore city for research and editing of manuscripts. The prime focus was on Indology. The institute publishes an annual journal called Mysore Orientalist. Its most famous publications include Kautilya's Arthashastra, written in the 4th century BC, edited by Dr. R. Shamashastri, which brought international fame to the institute when published in 1909.

One day a man from Tanjore handed over a manuscript of Arthashastra written on dried palm leaves to Dr Rudrapatnam Shamashastry, the librarian of Mysore Government Oriental Library now ORI. Shamashastry's job was to look after the library's ancient manuscripts. He had never seen anything like these palm leaves before. Here was a book that would revolutionise the knowledge of India's great past. This palm leaf manuscript is preserved in the library, now named Oriental Research Institute. The pages of the book are filled with 1500-year-old Grantha script. It looks like as if they have been printed but the words have been inscribed by hand. Other copies of Arthashastra were later discovered later in other parts of India.[1]

In this context, my mind remembering a day which was the His Excellency Krishnaraja Wodeyar went to Germany at the time of Dr. R. Shamashastry were working as a curator of Oriental Library, Mysore, The King sat in a meeting held in Germany and introduced himself as the King of Mysore State. Immediately a man stood up and asked, "Are you from our Dr. R. Shamashastry's Mysore?" Because the Arthashastra edited by him took a fame worldwide. The King wondered and came back to Mysore immediately to see Dr. R. Shamashastry, and also Dr. R. Shamashastry appointed as Asthana Vidwan. Sritattvanidhi, is a compilation of slokas by Krishnaraja Wodeyar III. Three edited manuscripts Navaratnamani-mahatmyam (a work on gemology), Tantrasara-sangraha (a work on sculptures and architecture), and Vaidashastra-dipika (an ayurvedic text), Rasa-kaumudi (on mercurial medicine) all of them with English and Kannada translation, are already in advanced stages of printing.

Oriental Research Institute

The ORI houses over 45,000 Palm leaf manuscript bundles and the 75,000 works on those leaves. The manuscripts are palm leaves cut to a standard size of 150 by 35 mm (5.9 by 1.4 in). Brittle palm leaves are sometimes softened by scrubbing a paste made of ragi and then used by the ancients for writing, similar to the use of papyrus in ancient Egypt. Manuscripts are organic materials that run the risk of decay and are prone to be destroyed by silverfish. To preserve them the ORI applies lemon grass oil on the manuscripts which acts like a pesticide. The lemon grass oil also injects natural fluidity into the brittle palm leaves and the hydrophobic nature of the oil keeps the manuscripts dry so that the text is not lost to decay due to humidity.

The conventional method followed at the ORI was to preserve manuscripts by capturing them in microfilm, which then necessitated the use of a microfilm reader for viewing or studying. Once the ORI has digitized the manuscripts, the text can be viewed and manipulated by a computer. Software is then used to put together disjointed pieces of manuscripts and to correct or fill in any missing text. In this manner, the manuscripts are restored and enhanced. The original palm leaf manuscripts are also on reference at the ORI for those interested.

-- Oriental Research Institute Mysore, by Wikipedia

The Arthashastra, which discusses monetary and fiscal policies, welfare, international relations, and war strategies in detail. The text also outlines the duties of a ruler. Some scholars believe that Arthashastra is actually a compilation of a number of earlier texts written by various authors, and Chanakya might have been one of these authors (see above).[9]
• Chanakya Niti, which is a collection of aphorisms, said to be selected by Chanakya from the various shastras.

-- Chanakya, by Wikipedia

This was the same Wilford who, a year later, was to find out that pandit Vidyananda, of Banaras Sanskrit College, who assisted him, had forged Puranic passages destined to support Wilford's fanciful theories (Nicholls 1907: 6). For epigraphic material, the process was even more complicated, necessitating the several acts of deciphering, transcribing, and interpreting the contents. While pandits' superior grounding in Sanskrit language and literature was accepted, their familiarity with ancient and/or regional scripts was much in doubt. Colebrooke warned: "my experience of the necessity of collating the copies made by the best Pandits, from inscriptions in ancient or unusual characters, discourages me from placing implicit confidence in their transcripts" (1807, AR 9: 400- 401). He therefore advocated the necessity of facsimiles (cf. IE: 202), which Wilson was to heed with respect to the Rajim inscriptions.

Evidence is slim to determine how severely the withdrawal of pandit assistance affected the epigraphic work of members of the Asiatic Society after their return to England. Too few went home: Jones, Wilford, and Fell died in India. Prinsep returned too ill and too late to undertake further work. Price "lived to be oldest officer in Indian army; dying at age 99 (Boase 1965: 429), but is not known to have pursued oriental studies of any kind in retirement. Of the main authors of epigraphic studies in AR, only Wilkins and Colebrooke remained active in Britain, and only Colebrooke published further contributions on inscriptions.

Wilkins appeared to his European contemporaries to possess all requisite skills, having, in Jones's words, "performed more than any other European had learning enough to accomplish, or than any Asiatick had industry enough to undertake" (1788, AR 1: 1421. The translations of inscriptions he published often came as responses to requests from others -- Hastings, Wilmot, and the Asiatic Society. This pattern persisted after his return to England. His partial translation of the inscription in Portugal came in a letter of 20 July 1793 answering a request from Murphy (20 July 1793, Murphy 1795: 277-87). It is noteworthy that Colebrooke attributed his own ability to provide a fuller translation of this inscription to "the help of Pundits," which Wilkins no longer enjoyed in England (Life: 214). The Bonn Sanskritist August Wilhelm von Schlegel, who visited Wilkins in the fall of 1823, reported that the aging Wilkins "still entertain[ed] himself with deciphering old inscriptions and coins, occasionally discovering to his astonishment, after much puzzling, that he had already deciphered the same inscription some forty years ago" (29 Feb. 1824, Korner 1930: vol. 1, p. 409). Sir Graves Chamney Haughton recorded in his obituary of Wilkins that Wilkins helped William Marsden, his future son-in-law, "in decyphering the inscriptions on his Cufic coins," and that "[h]is last effort in the way of literature was a translation of a large antique seal, with a Sanskrit inscription, in an ancient and obscure form of Nagari, which he had decyphered many years ago" (1836, Asiatic Journal, n. s. 20:168-69). This inscription from Asirgadh (IE: 124-25) was published posthumously, with Wilkins' translation, comments by Wilson, and a letter of 1 July 1806 in which Capt. James Colebrooke explained how, after the Asiatic Society failed to respond to his submission of the seal he had discovered, he had turned to Wilkins as "the only probable chance he would ever have" of getting it interpreted (1836, JRAS 3: 377-80).

Of Colebrooke's many books and essays after his return to England, three articles, all written alter he founded the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (1823) and initiated the publication of its Transactions (from 1824), dealt with inscriptions. These inscriptions were part of the collections of Francis Buchanan Hamilton in the East India Library and of James Tod in the Royal Asiatic Society. Since Colebrooke had not worked on them in India, he made no reference to pandits, except when correcting a misinterpretation by Buchanan Hamilton's pandit (1926, TRAS 1.2: 202). Colebrooke kept current with work produced in India and gave it priority, writing Wilkins on 17 November 1824:

I have lately been examining the facsimiles of inscriptions collected by Dr. Buchanan Hamilton. . . There are several sufficiently interesting for publication; but I believe I must await the arrival of the fifteenth volume of the Asiatic Researches for particular information of the inscriptions translated by Capt. Fell and inserted in it, lest I should be publishing what has already been given there (Life: 352-53).


Reading Fell's posthumous translations of inscriptions printed by Wilson, Colebrooke was moved to publish a note acknowledging Fell's correction of his conflation of father and son Vijayacandra and Jayacandra in his work on a copper plate from Banaras (TRAS 1.3: 462).

Inscriptions and Indian History

The notion that inscriptions may serve as a source to study India's past (cf. IE: 3) did not fail to occur to early members of the Asiatic Society. After reporting how local brahmans "chuse to account" for past events at Mamallapuram, founding member William Chambers noted:

by comparing names and grand events, recorded by them, with those interspersed in the histories of other nations, and by calling in the assistance of ancient monuments, coins, and inscriptions as occasion shall offer, some probable conjectures, at least, if not important discoveries, may, it is hoped, be made on these interesting subjects.


He concluded: "The inscription of the Pagoda ... is an object, which, in this point of view, appears to merit great attention" (1788, AR 1: 157-58). Yet, the crucial importance of using inscriptions as a tool for retracing Indian history was not programmatically expressed until much later.

The fact that Wilkins published "[i]n the first volume (of AR) five papers ... , all except one being translations from ancient inscriptions," led one of his biographers to conclude that "Wilkins was therefore one of the first Europeans to realize the importance of ancient Indian inscriptions as sources for historical studies" (Lloyd 1978: 21). Yet, this inference is not supported by any known statement on Wilkins' part. Better in accord with evidence is E. H. Johnston's judgment: "That by this work he was laying the first stone for the edifice of ancient Indian history as erected by modern research does not appear to have dawned on him" (1940: 128).

The title of Jones's inaugural discourse, on 15 January 1784, announced that the Asiatic Society was founded "for inquiring into the history, civil and natural, the antiquities, arts, sciences, and literature, of Asia," and Jones expected that its members would "trace the annals, and even traditions, of those nations" (publ. 1788, AR 1: ix, xiii). But in none of his anniversary discourses did Jones refer to inscriptions. Nor did he mention inscriptions in the paper on Hindu chronology he read on 7 February 1788, based on the Puranarthaprakasa, a compendium of the Puranas prepared by Radhakanta for Warren Hastings (Rocher and Rocher 1994-1995). Rather than to inscriptions, Jones pointed to astronomy for light on history:

on a subject in itself so obscure, and so much clouded by the fictions of the Brahmans, ... we must be satisfied with probable conjecture and just reasoning from the best attainable data, nor can we hope for a system of Indian Chronology, to which no objection can be made, unless the Astronomical books in Sanscrit shall clearly ascertain the places of the colures in some precise years of the historical age" (publ. 1790, AR 2: 145).


Nor did Jones allude to inscriptions in the supplement to that essay, which was based on astronomical texts forwarded by Samuel Davis' pandit, Radhacarana (17 June 1790, publ. 1790, AR 2: 389-403; cf. Rocher 1995: 65). Even in his tenth anniversary discourse, "On Asiatick History," Jones conceived of Sanskrit texts as the only sources for the study of Indian history (28 Feb. 1793, publ. 1795, AR 4: 1-17). In his first discourse to the Society after Jones's death, president [url=http://survivorbb.rapeutation.com/viewtopic.php?f=60&t=4204&start=170]John Shore quoted a paper in Jones's handwriting, entitled "Desiderata," which had come into his possession. One of these desiderata read: "The History of India before the Mahommedan conquest, from the Sanscrit-Cashmir-Histories" (22 May 1794, publ. 1795, AR 4: 188). Even though Jones made pioneering contributions to the early study of Indian epigraphy, he did not establish a direct link between inscriptions and the reconstruction of ancient Indian history.

In a letter to his father of October 1803, in which he discussed the discovery of new inscriptions, Colebrooke explicitly voiced the expectation: "By degrees the History of India will be partly retrieved from such monuments" (Life: 214). This privately expressed opinion long remained unknown, but it was Colebrooke again who, with a published statement in 1807, earned the distinction of having been, in Richard Salomon's words, "the first to clearly recognize the special importance of inscriptions as a source for the political and cultural history of India" (IE: 203).7 Two decades later, Wilson made importance for history the criterion by which to determine which in a group of inscriptions found at Mount Abu deserved to be fully translated (1828, AR 16: 284). Wilson also opened his observations on the Vijayanagar inscriptions with the statement: "The history of Vijayanagar is a subject of considerable interest in the annals of India" (1836, AR 20.1: 1). By that time, in his first contribution to the Society's new Journal, Prinsep had emphatically stated that his work on an inscription on the Allahabad column had been motivated by his being "[a]ware indeed that the only accurate data we possessed for adjusting the chronology of Indian princes were those derived from ancient monuments of stone; inscriptions on rocks and caves; or grants of land engraven on copper-plates, discovered accidentally in various parts of the country" (1834, JASB 3: 114). Indian epigraphy had come of age.

Notes:

1. Jones traveled to Bodh-Gaya, though "much indisposed," on his way back from Banaras, but was not up to visiting caves (Cannon 1970: 659).

2. On the particular difficulty of consulting pandits for older forms of language (Vedic) or of script (in inscriptions), and objections raised by scholars in Europe, see Rocher and Rocher 2012: 25, 77, 105, 189.

3. Lady Anna Maria Jones drew a sketch of the Vaidya scholar Ramalocana (15 Oct. 1785, reproduced in Franklin 2011: 315).

4. Colebrooke was to amend one of Sarvoru's conjectural emendations: on the basis of a Sanskrit text, the Sarngadharapaddhati, he replaced the reading babujata with chahumana or chahavana, thus connecting the inscription with the Chauhan dynasty (1807, AR 9: 445).

5. "Obituary of Capt. Fell," Asiatic Journal 18, July-Dec. 1824:265.

6. Misidentified as Kashmiri in Rocher 1995: 54.

7. See IE: 202-3 for the text of Colebrooke's progammatic statement.

References

APAC: Asia, Pacific, and Africa Collections, British Library.

MSS Eur. E301: Letters to Horace Hayman Wilson

MSS Eur. F324: Papers of Sir Charles Wilkins.

AR: Asiatic(k) Researches.

Boase, 1965: F. Boase. Modern English Biography. Vol. 6. London.

Cannon, 1970: G. Cannon. The Letters of Sir William Jones. Oxford.

Franklin, 2011: M. J. Franklin. Orientalist Jones. Oxford.

IE: R. Salomon. Indian Epigraphy. New York, 1998.

Johnston, 1940: E. H. Johnston. "Charles Wilkins." Woolner Commemoration Volume, ed. M. Shafi, 124-32. Lahore.

Jones, 1807: A. M. Jones. The Works of Sir William Jones. 13 vols. London.

Korner, 1930: J. Korner. Briefe von und an August Wilhelm Schlegel. 2 vols. Zurich.

Life: T. E. Colebrooke. Life of the Author, prefatory volume to the second edition of H. T. Colebrooke, Miscellaneous Essays, ed. E. B. Cowell. London, 1873.

Lloyd, 1978: M. Lloyd. "Sir Charles Wilkins, 1749-1836." India Office Library and Records; Report for the Year 1978: 9-39.

Murphy, 1795: J. Murphy. Travels in Portugal. London.

Nicholls, 1970: G. Nicholls. Sketch of the Rise and Progress of the Benares Patshalla or Sanskrit College. Allahabad.

PAS: Proceedings of the Asiatic Society, ed. S. Chaudburi (vol. 1) and P. T. Nair (vols. 2-4). Calcutta, 1980-2000.

Rocher, 1989: R. Rocher. "The Career of Radhakanta Tarkavagisa, an Eighteenth-Century Pandit in British Employ." JAOS 109: 627-33.

Rocher, 1995: _____. "Weaving Knowledge: Sir William Jones and Indian Pandits." In Objects of Enquiry: The Life, Contributions, and Influences of Sir William Jones, ed. G. Cannon and K. R. Brine, 51-79. New York.

Rocher, 2007: _____. "A Glimpse into an Orientalist's Workshop: Sir William Jones's Engagement with the Vivadarnavasetu and Its Authors." In Expanding and Merging Horizons: Contributions to South Asian and Cross-Cultural Studies in Commemoration of Wilhelm Halbfass, ed. K. Preisendanz, 63-69. Vienna.

Rocher and Rocher, 1994-1995: L. Rocher and R. Rocher. "The Puranarthaprakasa, Jones's Primary Source on Hindu Chronology." Bulletin of the Deccan College 54-55: 47-71.

Rocher and Rocher, 2012: R. Rocher and L. Rocher. The Making of Western Indology: Henry Thomas Colebrooke and the East India Company. London.

TRAS: Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

Wilkins, 1781: C. Wilkins. A Translation of a Royal Grant of Land by One of the Ancient Raajaas of Hindostan, from the original in the Shanscrit Language and Character. Calcutta.

Wilkins, 1785: _____. The Bhagvat-Geeta, or Dialogues of Kreeshna and Arjoon. London.

Wilkins, 1787: _____. The Heetopades of Veeshnoo-Sarma. Bath.

Wilkins, 1808: _____. A Grammar of the Sanskrita Language. London.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Part 1 of 3

Letter From Father Pons, Missionary of the Company of Jesus, to Father Du Halde, of the same Company.
At Careical, on the coast of Tanjaour; in the East Indies, November 23, 1740.
From "Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres"
by Charles Le Gobien
Volume 14
1781



[O]n the basis of a slight similarity of epithet, de Guignes concluded that Shakyamuni Buddha was identical with the purported redactor of the Vedas, Vyasa.
This Che-kia or Schaka was the elder son of Tcing fan, King of the country called Kia-goei-goei; his mother was called Yeou-hie, and one recounts many fables about his birth. The name Che kia is, according to the Chinese, an Indian word that signifies very good, or very compassionate (Meng-gin); this is the same person whom Mr. Dow called Beass-mouni or Beas the inspired and whom the Indians, as he reports, regard as a prophet and philosopher who composed or rather collected the Vedas.

De Guignes's overall view of Indian sacred literature was mainly responsible for this mistake. It seduced him into identifying the "interior" doctrine and the Vedas with Mahayana doctrine and its texts. Starting with this idea, de Guignes soon detected evidence in support of his idea that the Vedas are scriptures of the Samaneens and thus of the followers of Buddha's "inner" or esoteric teaching. Once he had his stool standing on these seemingly solid feet, he piled more conjectures on it. In the absence of translations from the Vedas, he used the Ezour-vedam as proof that the teaching of the Vedas and of the Samaneens are identical: "The most perfect state taught by the Vedas, following the Ezour-vedam, is the same as that prescribed in the books of the Samaneens, which has me believe that these books are the same as the Vedas; it is a constant ... that the doctrine is identical". The Ezour-vedam's "total absence of passion in order to occupy oneself exclusively with the knowledge of God and the truth" is thus seen as matching the core teaching of the Forty-Two Sections Sutra. This suggested a link between the Vedas and the esoteric Buddhist scriptures that the polomen had brought to China and translated into Chinese. As mentioned above, de Guignes's main source about the Vedas was the famous letter by Father Pons of 1740 to which de Guignes refers time and again:
It is obvious, according to these missionaries, that the four Vedas did not form a single unified textual corpus because they are not generally adopted [in both the north and south]. Still, they could not contain the ceremonies of the people because it is prohibited to communicate them; besides, they belong to the secret doctrine that does not admit any such ceremonies. In India there are two doctrines, an exterior one which is the religion of the people and an interior one which is that of the philosophers. There is also a rather general consensus that the Adharvana-vedam -- to which Father Pons still gives the name of Brahma vedam -- is lost. It was followed in the North of India whence this religion passed to China.

The Atharva-veda -- which was usually listed as the fourth veda and sometimes considered lost -- was thus among the texts that the polomen had conceivably brought from India to China. De Guignes was impressed by the number of Indian books that, according to Ma Duanlin's Wenxian tongkao, had been imported in China and translated into Chinese. Ma Duanlin, of course, regarded these texts as Buddhist; but as we have seen, this religion had a rather different scope for de Guignes who identified the Buddha with Vyasa:
Among the great number of Indian books that were translated into Chinese, there is one that is regarded as the basis of this Indian religion, and it carries the title of Book of Brahma. In China it is the most important book of this religion, and several translations and innumerable commentaries of it have been made. This book seems to me to be the Brahmavedam that is lost in India; but I am tempted to believe, for reasons that I will develop below, that it must be different from the Adharvanavedam. Consequently one can suspect that all the Vedas can be found in China.

This stunning conjecture of de Guignes seemed confirmed by a story that he read in his second major source on Buddhism, a polyglot glossary of Buddhist terms that he cites as Ou yin yun-tong. The story is about Zhu Shixing, the first Chinese monk to leave his country in quest of Buddhist scriptures. In the year 260 C.E., Reverend Zhu and his group went to Khotan in Central Asia where they found the Sanskrit text of the Prajnaparamita scripture in 25,000 verses.
These Samaneens stayed in Khotan until 282. When they prepared for departure, the inhabitants of Khotan who followed the doctrine of the small Tching [vehicle] were opposed to their departure and said to the King: The Samaneeens of China want to have the books of the Brahmins.

De Guignes found this information noteworthy because it indicated that to communicate the Prajnaparamita scripture to the Chinese would signify "altering the true doctrine":
You are the king of this land, they said, if you do not prevent them from taking along these books, the great Law will be destroyed because the Chinese are a deaf and blind people, and it will be your fault.

This is a legend of interest for the history of Buddhism since it indicates tensions between adherents of traditional (Hinayana) and reformist (Mahayana) branches of Buddhism. But for de Guignes, fixated as he was on his conception of "Indian religion," this seemed to be a conflict between adherents of the Buddha's "inner" and "outer" doctrines. Making the connection to the Indian Brahmins and the Vedas, de Guignes grew convinced that the Vedas contain the Buddha's secret doctrine and that this doctrine was well known in China through the Mahayana texts that had been translated into Chinese. He explained:
The Indians have even today the same principles about their Vedas that they do not want to communicate to anybody. Not even all of them may read them since this privilege is reserved to the Brahmins, and those who do may not be involved in commerce. Also, they are not allowed to teach it to everybody without distinction. The people may not speak of it nor listen to others talk about it. So these books of the Indian religion must be guarded as a secret among a few elect ones. As to the text in question here, whose communication proved to be so difficult, could it be one of the Vedas? One would have [to have] the Vedas before one's eyes to decide this question; but the text is portrayed as the basis and foundation of the entire secret doctrine. It seems likely that those in China who followed the Indian religion had to know finally the most hidden books of this religion and to possess them in China where a great number of Indians resided.

In de Guignes's mind, an interesting story about tensions between Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhists in third-century Central Asia thus became a tale about the transmission of the scriptures of the esoteric branch of his "Indian religion," and the Prajnaparamita literature of early Mahayana Buddhism seemed to be the Vedas translated into Chinese. Scouring through Ma Duanlin's Wenxian tongkao, de Guignes found additional evidence to support this view. DHARMARAKSA (c. 230-308), an important translator of Indian Buddhist texts, was said to have translated the same text (p. 30). Moreover, Ma Duanlin's list of twenty-three texts translated by the great Kuchean monk KUMARAJIVVA (344-413) featured several texts containing "puon-jo" (Ch. banruo, Skt. prajna; wisdom) in their title. In second place of this list, there was a text whose title attracted de Guignes's particular attention: the Diamond Prajnaparamita Sutra. Prajna paramita (literally, perfection of wisdom) is one of the perfections of the Bodhisattva, and in East Asia the word parami or paramita was often interpreted as "[means of] reaching the other shore." But for de Guignes the word parami (from Skt. parama, the highest), which the Chinese read "boluomi" (in de Guignes's transcription "Polomi"), had a very different meaning, namely, "Brahma"! This mistranslation (p. 46) confirmed de Guignes's idea that certain Mahayana texts are Chinese translations of the Vedas:
Father Pons speaks of a Veda that he names Adharvana vedam or Brahma vedam whose doctrine was followed in the North of India. Since the Chinese book under discussion is called the book of Brahma, is one of the principal books of this religion, and was adopted in the north, it could be this Brahma vedam or the Vedam of Brahma that the missionary talks about.


***

Pons and Calmette, who came from the same little town of Rodez in southern France, had both been eager to find the Vedas, and both collaborated closely with Abbe Bignon in procuring precious Indian books for the Royal Library in Paris. In the 1730s, these two men were the only missionaries in the region capable of studying the Vedas and related texts, and it would be strange indeed if they had not worked together. After Calmette died in 1739 in Pondicherry, Pons was for a decade busy in Karikal (1740-50), but he returned to Pondicherry in 1750, more than a year before his death (1751). He was by then retired, and it is conceivable that he used his leisure to try his hand not only at reading Sanskrit, as he had done for a quarter-century, but also at practising his writing. What better texts to try his hand at translating than his friend Calmette's Pondicherry Vedas? I agree with Castets that Father Pons, the author of a treatise on Sanskrit prosody who had been both a superior in the Bengal mission from 1728 to 1733 and a longtime resident of the Malabar mission in the South, may have "distracted himself, reduced by his age and his tiring work, to forced leisure at the siege of the Pondicherry mission" (Castets 1935:46); but instead of just annotating the Pondicherry Vedas, I think he may have employed his great talents, instead of on the eighteenth-century equivalent of crossword puzzles, for some active mindsport that resulted in fragmentary, unrevised, unsystematic translations of Calmette's French texts into Sanskrit-translations that were full of mistakes, as is to be expected of someone who reads a language but never writes it. It is hard to imagine that such jottings were designed for mission use or for public consumption. Pons's interest in the real Vedas was limited, as a letter written in 1740 just after the death of Calmette shows:
The four Vedan or Bed are, according to them, of divine authority: one has them in Arabic at the Royal Library; accordingly the brahmins are divided in four sects of which each has its own law. Roukou Vedan or, according to the Hindustani pronunciation, Recbed, and the Yajourvedam are the most followed on the Indian subcontinent between the seas, and the Samavedan and Latharvana or Brahmavedam in the North. The Vedan contain the theology of the brahmins; and the ancient Pouranam or poems the popular theology. The Vedan, as far as I can judge by the little I have seen of it, are nothing but a collection of different superstitious and often diabolical practices of the ancient Richi, penitents, or Mouni, or anchorets. Everything, even the gods, is subjected to the intrinsic power of sacrifices and Mantram; these are sacred formulae they use to consecrate, offer, invoke, etc. I was surprised to find the following: om Santih, Santih, Santih, harih. You surely know that the letter or syllable om contains the Trinity in Unity; the rest is the literal translation of Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus. Harih is a name of God which signifies Abductor.

-- The Birth of Orientalism, by Urs App


Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres
by Charles Le Gobien
Volume 14
1781

Volume 14, P. 65-90

Lettre

Du Pere Pons, Missionaire de la Compagnie de Jesus, au Pere Du Halde, de la meme Compagnie.

A Careical, fur la cote de Tanjaour; aux Indes Orientales, ce 23 Novembre 1740.

Mon Reverend Pere,

La paix de Notre Seigneur.

Il n'est pas aussi aise qu'on pourroit se l'imaginer en Europe, d'acquerir une connoissance certaine de la science de ces peuples Gentils, au milieu desquels nous vivons, & qui sont l'objet de notre zele. Vous en jugerez par cet essai que j'ai l'honneur de vous envoyer. Il contient quelques particularites de litterature Indienne, que vous ne trouverez peut-etre pas ailleurs, & qui, a ce que je pense, seront mieux connoitre les Brahmanes anciens & modernes qu'on ne les a connus jusqu'ici.  

I.

Les Brahmanes ont ete dans tous les temps les seuls depositaires des sciences dans l'Inde, a l'exception peut-etre de quelques Provinces les plus meridionales, où, parmi les Parias, qui probablement ont été les premiers habitans de ces cantons, on trouve une Caste nommée des Vallouvers, qui prétendent avoir été autrefois ce que sont aujourd’hui les Bracmanes; en effet ils se mêlent encore d'astronomie et d’astrologie, et l’on tient d’eux quelques ouvrages très-estimés qui contiennent des préceptes de morale.

Par-tout ailleurs, les Bracmanes ont toujours été, et sont encore les seuls qui cultivent les sciences comme leur héritage. Ils descendent des sept illustres pénitens qui se sont multipliés à l’infini, et qui, des provinces septentrionales situées entre le mont Hima et la Jamoune (c’est la rivière de Dely), et bornées au midi par le Gange jusqu’à Patna, se sont répandus dans toute l’Inde. Les sciences sont leur partage, et un Bracmane qui veut vivre selon sa règle, ne doit s’occuper que de la religion et de l’étude; mais ils sont tombés peu à peu dans un grand relâchement.

Ceux qui sont de la véritable caste des Rajas ou peuvent être instruits dans les sciences par les Bracmanes; mais ces sciences sont inaccessibles à toutes les autres castes, auxquelles on peut seulement communiquer certains poèmes, la grammaire, la poétique, et des sentences morales. Les sciences et les beaux arts, qui ont été cultivés avec autant de gloire et de succès par les Grecs et par les Romains, ont fleuri pareillement dans l'Inde, et toute l’antiquité rend témoignage au mérite des Gymnosophistes. Ce sont évidemment les Bracmanes et surtout ceux qui, parmi eux, renoncent au monde, et se font Saniassi.

II.

La grammaire des Bracmanes peut être mise au rang des plus belles sciences. Jamais l’analyse et la synthèse ne furent plus heureusement employées, que dans leurs ouvrages grammaticaux de la langue Samskret ou Samskroutan. Il me paroit que cette langue si admirable par son harmonie, son abondance et son énergie, étoit autrefois la langue vivante dans les pays habités par les premiers Bracmanes. Après bien des siècles, elle s’est insensiblement corrompue dans l’usage commun, de sorte que le langage des anciens Richi ou pénitens, dans les Vedam ou livres sacrés, est assez souvent inintelligible aux plus habiles, qui ne scavent que le samskret fixé par les grammaires.

Plusieurs siècles après l’age des Richi, de grands philosophes s’étudièrent à en conserver la connoissance, telle qu’on l’avoit de leur temps, qui étoit, a ce qu'il me semble, l’âge de l’ancienne poésie. Anoubhout fut le premier qui forma un corps de grammaire; c’est le sarasvat, ouvrage digne de Sarasvadi, qui est, selon les Indiens, la déesse de la parole, et la parole même. Quoique ce soit la plus abrégée des grammaires, le mérite de son antiquité l’a mise en grande vogue dans les écoles de l’Indoustan. Pania, aidé du sarasvat, composa un ouvrage immense des règles du samskret. Le roi Jamour le fit abréger par Kramadisvar; et c’est cette grammaire, dont j’ai fait l’abrégé, que j’envoyai, il y a deux ans, et qui vous vous aura sans doute été communiquée. Kalap en composa une plus propre aux sciences. Il y en a encore trois autres de différens auteurs; mais la gloire de l’invention est principalement due à Anoubhout.

Il est étonnant que l’esprit humain ait pu atteindre à la perfection de l'art qui éclate dans ces grammaires. Les auteurs y ont réduit par l’analyse, laplus riche langue du monde, à un petit nombre d’élémens primitifs, qu’on peut regarder comme le caput mortuum de la langue. Ces élémens ne sont par euxmêmes d'aucun usage, ils ne signifient proprement rien; ils ont seulement rapport à une idée, par exemple Kru à l’idée d’action. Les élémens secondaires qui affectent le primitif, sont les terminaisons qui le fixent à être nom ou verbe; celles selon lesquelles il doit se décliner ou se conjuguer, un certain nombre de syllabes à placer entre l’élément primitif et les terminaisons, quelques propositions, etc. A l’approche des élémens secondaires, le primitif change souvent de figure; Kru, par exemple, devient, selon ce qui lui est ajouté, Kar, Kra, Kri, Kir, & etc. La synthèse réunit et combine tous ces élémens, et en forme une variété infinie de termes d’usage.

Ce sont les règles de cette union et de cette combinaison des élémens que la grammaire enseigne, de sorte qu’un simple écolier, qui ne scauroit rien que la grammaire, peut en opérant selon les règles, sur une racine ou élément primitif, en tirer plusieurs milliers de mots vraiment samskrets. C’est cet art qui a donné le nom à la langue, car samskret signifie synthétique ou composé.

Mais comme l’usage fait varier à l’infini la signification des termes, quoiqu’ils conservent toujours une certaine analogie à l’idée attachée à la racine, il a été nécessaire de déterminer le sens par des dictionnaires. Ils en ont dix-huit, faits sur différentes méthodes. Celui qui est le plus en usage, composé par Amarasimha, est rangé à peu près selon la méthode qu’a suivie l’auteur de l'Indiculus Universalis. Le dictionnaire intitulé Visv’âhhîdhànam, est rangé par ordre alphabétique, selon les lettres finales des mots.  

Outrè ces dictionnaires generaux, chaque science a son introduction, où l'on apprend les termes propres qu’on chercheroit en vain partout ailleurs. Cela a été nécessaire pour conserver aux sciences un air de mystère, tellement affecté aux Bracmanes, que non contens d’avoir des termes inconnus au vulgaire, ils ont enveloppé sous des termes mystérieux les choses les plus communes.

III.

Les traités de la versification et de la poésie sont en grand nombre. Le petit abrégé des règles que j’en ai fait, et que j’envoyai l’année dernière pour vous être communiqué, me dispense d’en rien dire ici. A l’égard de la grande poésie, ou des poèmes de différentes espèces; la nature étant la même partout, les règles sont aussi à peu près les mêmes. L’unité d’action est moins observée dans leurs pourânam et autres poèmes, qu’elle ne l’est en particulier dans Homère et dans Virgile. J’ai pourtant vu quelques poèmes, et entr’autres le d'Harmapouranam, où l’on garde plus scrupuleusement l’unité d’action. Les fables indiennes, que les Arabes et les Persans ont si souvent traduites en leur langue, sont un recueil de cinq petits poèmes parfaitement réguliers et composés pour l’éducation des princes de Patna.

L’éloquence des orateurs n’a jamais été fort en usage dans l'Inde, et l’art de bien discourir y a été moins cultivé; mais pour ce qui est de la pureté, de la beauté, et des ornemens de l’élocution, les Bracmanes ont un grand nombre de livres, qui en contiennent les préceptes, et qui font une science à part, qu’on nomme alankarachâstram (science de l’ornement).

IV. De toutes les parties de la belle littérature, l'histoire est celle que les Indiens ont le moins cultivée. Ils ont un goût infini pour le merveilleux, et les Bracmanes s’y sont conformés pour leur intérêt particulier; cependant je ne doute pas que dans le palais des princes, il n’y ait des monumens suivis de l'histoire de leurs ancêtres, surtout dans l’Indoustan, où les princes sont plus puissans et Raje-Poutres de caste. Il y a même dans le nord plusieurs livres qu’on appelle natâk, qui, à ce que des Bracmanes m’ont assuré, contiennent beaucoup d’histoires anciennes sans aucun mélange de fables.

Pour ce qui est des Mogols, ils aiment l’histoire, et celle de leurs rois a été écrite par plusieurs savans de leur religion. La gazette de tout l’empire, composée dans le palais même du grand Mogol, paroît au moins une fois le mois à Dely. Dans les poèmes indiens, on trouve mille restes précieux de la vénérable antiquité, une notion bien marquée du paradis terrestre, de l’arbre de vie, de la source de quatre grands fleuves, dont le Gange en est un, qui, selon plusieurs savans, est le Phison; des traces du déluge, de l’empire des Assyriens, des victoires d’Alexandre sous le nom de Javana-Raja (roi des Javans ou Grecs).

On assure que parmi les livres dont l’Académie des Bracmanes de Cangivouram est dépositaire, il y en a d’histoire fort anciens, où il est parlé de saint Thomas, de son martyre, et du lieu de sa sépulture. Ce sont des Bracmanes qui l’ont dit, et qui se sont offerts, à les communiquer, moyennant des sommes, que les missionnaires n’ont jamais été en état de leur donner. Peut-être même que depuis le vénérable père de Nobilibus, il n’y a eu personne assez habile dans le samskret, pour examiner les choses par soi-même. J’ai vu dans un manuscrit du père de Bourzes, que dans certains pays de la cote de Malabar, les gentils célébroient la délivrance des Juifs sous Esther, et qu’ils donnoient à cette fête le nom de Yuda Tirounal (fête de Juda).

Le seul moyen de péuétrer dans l’antiquité indienne, surtout en ce qui concerne l’histoire, c’est d’avoir un grand goût pour cette science, d’acquérir une connoissance parfaite du samskret, et de faire des dépenses auxquelles il n’y a qu’un grand prince qui puisse fournir; jusqu a ce que ces trois choses se trouvent réunies dans un même sujet, avec la santé nécessaire pour soutenir l’étude dans l’Inde, on ne scaura rien, ou presque rien de l’histoire ancienne de ce vaste Royaume.

V.

Entrons dans le sanctuaire des Bracmanes, sanctuaire impénétrable aux yeux du vulgaire. Ce qui, après la noblesse de leur caste, les élève infinement au-dessus du vulgaire, c’est la science de la religion, des mathématiques, et de la philosophie. Les Bracmanes ont leur religion à part; ils sont cependant les ministres de celle du peuple. Les quatre vedan ou bed, sont, selon eux, d’une autorité divine: on les a en arabe à la bibliothèque du Roi; ainsi les Bracmanes sont partagés en quatre sectes dont chacune a sa loi propre. Roukou Vedan, ou, selon la prononciation indoustane, Recbed et le Yajourvedam, sont plus suivis dans la péninsule entre les deux mers. Le Sàmavedam et Latharvana ou Brahmavedam, dans le nord. Les vedam renferment la théologie des Bracmanes; et les anciens pouranam ou poèmes, la théologie populaire. Les vedam, autant que j’en puis juger par le peu que j’en ai vu, ne sont qu’un recueil de différentes pratiques superstitieuses, et souvent diaboliques, des anciens Richi (pénitents), ou Mouni (anachorètes). Tout est assujetti, et les dieux mêmes sont soumis à la force Intrinsèque des sacrifices, et des Mantram, ce font des formules sacrées dont ils se servent pour consacrer, offrir, invoquer, etc. Je fus surpris d’y trouver celle-ci; om, Sàntih, Sântih, Santih, harih. Vous scavez sans doute que la lettre ou syllabe, ôm contient la Trinité en Unité; le reste est la traduction littérale de Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus, Harih est un nom de Dieu qui signifie Ravisseur.

Les vedam, outre les pratiques des anciens Richî et Mouni, contiennent leurs sentimens sur la nature de Dieu, de l’âme, du monde sensible, etc. Des deux théologies, la bracmanique et la populaire, on a composé la science sainte ou de la vertu d'Harmachâstram, qui contient la pratique des différentes religions, des rits sacrés ou superstitieux, civils ou profanes, avec les lois pour l'administration de la justice. Les traités d'Harmachàstram, par différens auteurs, se sont multipliés à sinfini. Je ne m’étendrai pas plus au long sur une matière qui demanderoit un grand ouvrage à part, et dont apparemment la connoissance ne sera jamais que très-superficielle.

VI.

Les Bracmanes ont cultivé presque toutes les parties des mathématiques; l’algèbre ne leur a pas été inconnue: mais l’astronomie, dont la fin étoit l’astrologie, fut toujours le principal objet de leurs études mathématiques, parce que la superstition des grands et du peuple la leur rendent plus utile. Ils ont plusieurs méthodes d’astronomie. Un savant grec, qui, comme Pythagore, voyagea autrefois dans l'Iinde, ayant appris les sciences des Bracmanes, leur enseigna à son tour sa méthode d’astronomie; et afin que ses disciples en fissent un mystère aux autres, il leur laissa dans son ouvrage les noms grecs des planètes, des signes du zodiaque, et plusieurs termes comme hora (vingt-quatrième partie d’un jour), Kendra (centre), etc. J’eus cette connoissance à Dely, et elle me servit pour faire sentir aux astronomes du Raja Jaësing, quii sont en grand nombre dans le fameux observatoire qu’il a fait bâtir dans cette capitale, qu’anciennement il leur étoit venu des maîtres d’Europe.

Quand nous fumes arrivés à Jaëpour, le prince, pour se bien convaincre de la vérité de ce que j'avois avancé, voulut scavoir l’étymologie de ces mots grecs, que je lui donnai. J’appris aussi des Bracmanes de l'Indoustan, que le plus estimé de leurs auteurs avoit mis le soleil au centre des mouvemens de Mercure et de Vénus. Le Raja Jaësing sera regardé dans les siècles à venir, comme le restaurateur de l'Astronomie indienne. Les tables de M. de la Hire, sous le nom de ce Prince, auront cours partout dans peu d’années.

VII.

Ce qui a rendu plus célèbre dans l’antiquité le nom des gymnosophistes, c’est leur philosophie, dont il faut séparer d’abord la philosophie morale; non qu’ils n’en ayent une très-belle dans beaucoup d’ouvrages du Nitichàstram, science morale qui est renfermée ordinairement dans des vers sententieux, comme ceux de Caton; mais c’est que cette partie de la philosophie est communiquée à toutes les castes: plusieurs auteurs choutres et même parias s’y sont acquis un grand nom.

La philosophie qu'on nomme simplement et par excellence Chàstram (science), est bien plus mystérieuse. La logique, la métaphysique, et un peu de physique bien imparfaite, en sont les parties. Son unique fin, le but où tendent toutes les recherches philosophiques des Bracmanes, est la délivrance de l’âme de la captivité et des misères de cette vie, par une félicité parfaite, qui essentiellement est, ou la délivrance de l'âme, ou son effét immédiat.

Comme parmi les Grecs il y eut plusieurs écoles de philosophie, l'Ionique, l’academique, etc., il y a eu dans l’antiquité, parmi les Bracmanes, six principales écoles ou sectes philosophiques, dont chacune étoit distinguée des autres par quelque sentiment particulier sur la félicité et sur les moyens d’y parvenir, Nyày'am, Vedantam, Sankiam, Mimamsa, Pâtanjalam, Bhassyam sont ce qu’ils appellent simplement les six sciences, qui ne sont que six sectes ou écoles. Il y en a encore plusieurs autres comme l'Agamachâstram et Bauddamatham, etc. qui sont autant d’hérésies en matière de religion, très-opposées au d'Harmachâstram dont j'ai parlé, qui contient le polythéisme universellement approuvé.

Les sectateurs de l'Agamam ne veulent point de différence de conditions parmi les hommes, ni de cérémonies légales, et sont accusés de magie. Jugez par -là de l’horreur qu’en doivent avoir les autres Indiens. Les Bauddistes, dont l’opinion de la métempsycose a été universellement reçue, sont accusés d’athéisme, et n’admettent de principes de nos connoissances que nos sens. Boudda est le Photo révéré par le peuple à la Chine, et les Bauddistes sont de la secte des Bonzes et des Lamas, comme les Agamistes sont de la secte des peuples du Mahasin, ou grand sin, qui comprend tous les royaumes de l’occident, au-delà de la Perse.

Je reviens à nos philosophes qui, par leur conduite, ne donnent point d’atteinte à la religion commune, et qui, quand ils veulent réduire leur théorie à la pratique, renoncent entièrement au monde, et même à leur famille qu’ils abandonnent. Toutes les écoles enseignent que la sagesse ou la science certaine de la vérité tatvagnianam, est la seule voie où l’àme se purifie, et qui peut la conduire à sa délivrance, Moukti. Jusques-là, elle ne fait que rouier de misère en misère dans différentes transmigrations, que la seule sagesse peut faire finir. Aussi, toutes les écoles commencent par la recherche et la détermination des principes des connoissances vraies. Les unes en admettent quatre, les autres trois, et d’autres se contentent de deux.

Ces principes établis, elles enseignent à en tirer les conséquences par le raisonnement, dont les différentes espèces se réduisent en syllogisme. Ces règles du syllogisme sont exactes; elles ne diffèrent principalement des nôtres qu’en ce que le syllogisme parfait, selon les Bracmanes, doit avoir quatre membres, dont le quatrième est une application de la vérité conclue des prémices, à un objet qui la rend indubitablement sensible. Voici le syllogisme dont les écoles retentissent sans cesse : Là ou il y a de la fumée, il y a du feu; Il y a de la fumée à cette montagne, donc il y a du feu, comme à la cuisine. Remarquez qu’ils n’appellent point fumée, ni les brouillards, ni autres choses semblables.

VIII.

L’école de Nyàyam (raison, jugement), l’a emporté sur toutes les autres en fait de logique, surtout depuis quelques siècles, que l’académie de Noudia dans le Bengale, est devenue la plus célèbre de toute l'inde, par les fameux professeurs qu’elle a eus, et dont les ouvrages se sont répandus de tous côtés. Gottam fut autrefois le fondateur de cette école à Tirat dans l’Indoustan, au nord du Gange, vis-à-vis le pays de Patna. C’est là qu’elle a fleuri pendant bien des siècles.

Les anciens enseignoient à leurs disciples toute la suite de leur système philosophique: ils admettoient, comme les modernes, quatre principes de science: le témoignage des sens bien expliqués Pratyakcham; les signes naturels, comme la fumée l’est du feu, Anoumânam; l’application d’une définition connue au défini jusque-là inconnu, Oupamanam; enfin l'autorité d’une parole infaillible. Aptachabdam. Après la logique, ils menoient leurs écoliers, par l’examen de ce monde sensible, à la connoissance de son auteur, dont ils concluoient l’existence par l'Anoumanam. Ils concluoient de la même manière son intelligence; et de son intelligence, son immatérialité.

Quoique Dieu de sa nature soit esprit, il a pu se rendre, et s’est effectivement rendu sensible; de Nirakara, il est devenu Sâkàra pour former le monde, dont les atomes indivisibles, comme ceux des Epicuriens, et éternels, sont par eux-mêmes sans vie.

L’homme est un composé d’un corps et de deux âmes; l’une suprême, Paramâtma, qui n’est autre que Dieu; et l’autre animale, Sivâtmâ; c’est en l’homme le principe sensitif du plaisir et de la douleur, du désir, de la haine, etc. Les uns veulent qu’elle soit esprit, les autres qu’elle soit matière, et un onzième sens dans l’homme: car ils distinguent les organes actifs des organes sensitifs ou passifs, et ils en comptent dix de cette façon.

Enfin, en ce qu’ils appellent suprême sagesse, il me semble qu’ils tombent dans le stoïcisme le plus outré: il faut éteindre ce principe sensitif, et cette extinction ne peut se faire que par l’union au Paramâtmâ. Cette union, Yogam ou Jog, d’où vient le nom de Jogui, à laquelle aspire inutilement la sagesse des philosophes indiens de quelque secte qu’ils soient, cette union, dis-je, commence par la méditation et la contemplation de l’Etre suprême, et se termine à une espèce d’identité, où il n’y a plus de sentiment ni de volonté. Jusque-là les travaux des métempsicoses durent toujours. Il est bon de remarquer que par le mot d’âme, on n’entend que le soi-même, que le moi.

Aujourd’hui on n’enseigne presque plus dans les ecoles de Nyayam, que la logique remplie par les Bracmanes d’une infinité de questions beaucoup plus subtiles qu’elles ne sont utiles. C’est un cahos de vétilles, tel qu’étoit, il y a près de deux siècles, la logique en Europe. Les ètudians passent plusieurs années à apprendre mille vaines subtilités sur les membres du syllogisme, sur les causes, sur les négations, sur les genres, les espèces, etc. Ils disputent avec acharnement sur de semblables niaiseries, et se retirent sans avoir acquis d’autres connoissances. C'est ce qui a fait donner au Nyàyam le nom de Tarkachâstram.

De cette école sortirent autrefois les plus fameux adversaires des Bauddistes dont ils firent faire par les princes un horrible massacre dans plusieurs royaumes. Oudayanâchârya et Battâ se distinguèrent dans cette dispute; et le dernier, pour se purifier de tant de sang qu’il avoit fait répandre, se brûla avec grande solemnité à Jagannâth sur la côte d’Oricha.

IX.

L’école de Vedàntam (fin de la loi) dont Sankrâchârya fut autrefois le fondateur, a pris le dessus sur toutes les autres écoles pour la métaphysique; en sorte que les Bracmanes qui veulent passer pour savans, s’attachent aveuglément à ses principes. Je crois même qu’on ne trouveroit plus aujourd’hui de Saniassi hors de cette école. Ce qui la distingue des autres, c’est l’opinion de l’unité simple d un être existant, qui n’est autre que le moi ou l’âme. Rien n’existe que ce moi.

Les notions que donnent ses sectateurs de cet être sont admirables. Dans son unité simple, il est en quelque façon trin par son existence, par sa lumière infinie, et sa joie suprême; tout y est éternel, immatériel, infini. Mais parce que l'expérience intime du moi n’est pas conforme à cette idée si belle, ils admettent un autre principe, mais purement négatif, et qui par conséquent n’a aucune réalité détre, c’est le Mayâ du moi, c’est-à-dire, erreur: par exemple, je crois actuellement vous écrire sur le système du Vedântam, je me trompe. A la vérité je suis moi, mais vous n’existez pas; je ne vous écris point, personne n’a jamais pensé ni à Vedântam, ni à ce système, je me trompe: voilà tout, mais mon erreur n’est point un être. C’est ce qu’ils expliquent par la comparaison qu’ils ont continuellement à la bouche d’une corde à terre, qu’on prend pour un serpent.

J’ai vu dans un poème (car ils en ont de philosophiques inconnus au vulgaire; les sentences des premiers maîtres sont même en vers), j’ai vu, dis-je, que Vassichta racontoit à son disciple Rama, qu’un Saniassi dans un étang, abîmé dans la contemplation du Mâyâ, fut ravi en esprit: il crut naître dans une caste infâme, et éprouver toutes les avantures des enfans de cette condition; qu’étant parvenu à un âge plus mûr, il alia dans un pays éloigné, où sur sa bonne mine, il fut mis sur le trône; qu’après quelques années de règne, il fut découvert par un voyageur de son pays, qui le fit connoître à ses sujets, lesquels le mirent à mort, et pour se purifier de la souillure qu’ils avoient contractée, se jettèrent tous dans un bûcher, où ils furent consumés par les flammes. Le Saniassi, revenu de son extase, sortit de l’étang, l’esprit tout occupé de sa vision. A peine étoit-il de retour chez lui, qu’un Saniassi étranger arriva, lequel, après les premières civilités, lui raconta toute l'histoire de sa vision comme un fait certain, et la déplorable catastrophe qui venoit d’arriver dans un pays voisin, dont il avoit été témoin oculaire, Le Saniassi comprit alors que l’histoire et la vision, aussi peu vraies l’une que l’autre, n’étoient que le Mayâ qu’il vouloit connoître.

La sagesse consiste donc à se délivrer du Mâya par une application constante à soi-même, en se persuadant qu’on est l’Etre unique, éternel et infini y sans laisser interrompre son attention à cette prétendue vérité par les atteintes du Maya. La clef de la délivrance de l’âme est dans ces paroles, que ces faux sages doivent se répéter sans cesse avec un orgueil plus outré que celui de Lucifer: Je suis l’Etre suprème, Aham ava param Brachma.

La persuasion spéculative de cette proposition doit en produire la conviction expérimentale, qui ne peut être sans la félicité. Evanuerunt in cogitationibus suis (Rom. I, v. 21.). (Ils se sont perdus dans leurs vaines pensées.) Cet oracle ne fut jamais plus exactement vérifié que dans la personne de ces superbes philosophes, dont le système extravagant domine parmi les savans dans des pays immenses. Le commerce des Bracmanes a communiqué ces folles idées à presque tous ceux qui se piquent de bel esprit. C'est pourquoi les nouveaux missionnaires doivent être sur leurs gardes, lorsqu’ils entendent les Bracmanes parler si emphatiquement de l’unité simple de Dieu Adduitam, et de la fausseté des biens et des plaisirs de ce monde, Màyâ.

X.

L'école de Sankiam (numérique) fondée par Kapil, qui rejette l'Oupoumànam de la logique, paroît d’abord plus modeste; mais dans le fond il dit presque la même chose. Il admet une nature spirituelle et une nature matérielle, toutes deux réelles et éternelles. La nature spirituelle, par sa volonté de se communiquer hors d’elle-même, s’unit par plusieurs degrés à la nature matérielle. De la première union naît un certain nombre de formes et de qualités: les nombres sont déterminés. Parmi les formes est l'egoïté (qu’on me permette ce terme) par laquelle chacun dit moi, je suis tel, et non un autre. Une seconde union de l’esprit déjà einbarrassé dans les formes et les qualités avec la matière, produit les élémens; une troisième, le monde visible. Voilà la synthèse de l'univers.

La sagesse, qui produit la délivrance de l’esprit, en est l’analyse; heureux fruit de la contemplation, par laquelle l’esprit se dégage tantôt d’une forme ou qualité et tantôt d’une autre, par ces trois vérités. Je ne suis en aucune chose, aucune chose n’est à moi, le moi-mème n’est point, Nàsmin, name, Màham, Enfin, le temps vient où l’esprit est délivré de toutes ces formes; et voilà la fin du monde, où tout est revenu à son premier état.

Kapil enseigne que les religions qu’il connoissoit, ne font que serrer les liens dans lesquels l’esprit est embarrassé, au lieu de l’aider à s’en dégager; car, dit-il, le culte des divinités subalternes, qui ne sont que les productions de la dernière et la plus basse union de l’esprit avec la matière, nous unissant à son objet au lieu de nous en séparer, ajoute une nouvelle chaîne à celles dont l’esprit est déjà accablé. Le culte des divinités supérieures, Brama, Vichnou, Routren, qui sont à la vérité les effets des premières unions de l’esprit à la matière, ne peut qu’être toujours un obstacle à son parfait dégagement. Voilà pour la religion des vedan, dont les dieux ne sont que les principes desquels le monde est composé, ou les parties mêmes du monde composé de ces principes. Pour celle du peuple, qui est, comme la religion des Grecs et des Romains, chargée des histoires fabuleuses, infâmes et impies des poètes, elle forme une infinité de nouveaux liens à l’esprit par les passions qu elle favorise, et dont la victoire est un des premiers pas que doit faire l’esprit, s’il aspire à sa délivrance. Ainsi raisonne Kapil.

L’école de Mimàmsâ, dont l’opinion propre est Celle d’un destin invincible, paroît plus libre dans le jugement qu’elle porte des autres opinions; ses sectateurs examinent les sentimens des autres écoles, et parlent pour et contre, à peu près comme les académiciens d’Athènes.

Je ne suis pas assez au fait des systèmes des autres écoles; ce que je vous marque ici ne doit même être regardé que comme une ébauche à laquelle une main plus habile auroit bien des traits à ajouter, et peut- être plusieurs à retrancher. Il me suffit de vous faire connoître que l’Inde est un pays où il se peut faire encore beaucoup de nouvelles découvertes. Je suis, etc.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Mon May 09, 2022 9:45 am

Part 2 of 3

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English Translation from Google translate:

Letter

From Father Pons, Missionary of the Company of Jesus, to Father Du Halde, of the same Company.

At Careical, on the coast of Tanjaour; in the East Indies, November 23, 1740.

My Reverend Father,

The peace of our Lord.

It is not as easy as one might imagine in Europe to acquire a certain knowledge of the science of these Gentile peoples, among whom we live, and who are the object of our zeal. You will judge of it by this essay which I have the honor to send you. It contains some peculiarities of Indian literature, which you will perhaps not find elsewhere, and which, in my opinion, will give you a better knowledge of the ancient and modern Brahmans than we have hitherto known.

I.

The Brahmans have always been the only repositories of the sciences in India, with the possible exception of some of the most southern Provinces, where, among the Parias, who were probably the first inhabitants of these cantons, finds a Caste named the Vallouvers, who claim to have once been what the Bracmanes are now; in fact they still mingle with astronomy and astrology, and we have some highly esteemed works from them which contain moral precepts.

Everywhere else, the Bracmanes have always been, and still are, the only ones who cultivate the sciences as their heritage. They descend from the seven illustrious Penitents who have multiplied to infinity, and who, from the northern provinces situated between Mount Hima and the Jamoune (it is the river of Dely), and bounded in the south by the Ganges as far as Patna, have spread throughout India. The sciences are their share, and a Bracmane who wants to live according to his rule, must concern himself only with religion and study; but they gradually fell into a great relaxation.

The real origin of the Brahmins is wrapped in mystery, and one can only hazard conjectures on the subject, or put belief in myths. The story most generally accepted says that they were born from Brahma's head, which accounts for their name. One would suppose that as all castes were born from this same father they would be privileged to bear the same name. But as the Brahmins were the first-born, and issued from the noblest part of the common parent, they claimed special privileges from which all others were rigorously excluded. They have another theory to bear out the accepted belief that no one else is entitled to the illustrious name of Brahmin.

They say that no one knows anything about Brahma's attributes and virtues beyond what they themselves choose to teach mankind, and that this knowledge in itself gives them the right to bear his name. Anyhow, their name is undoubtedly derived from Brahma's. The old writers call them 'Brahmanahas,' or 'Brahmahas,' which some of the Latin authors turned into 'Brachmanes.' The great difference between their caste and all others is that a Brahmin only becomes a Brahmin after the ceremony of the triple cord. Until this essential ceremony has been performed he ranks only as a Sudra. By mere birth he is no different from the rest of his race and it is for this reason that he is called Dvija that means twice-born. His first birth only gives him his manhood, whereas the second raises him to the exalted rank of Brahmin, and this happens by means of the ceremony of the triple cord. Indeed, two out of the seven famous Penitents, who are supposed to have been the original founders of the various sects of Brahmins of the present day, did not originally belong to this caste at all. But by reason of the length and austerity of their term of penance, they were rewarded by having their state of penitent Kshatriyas changed to that of penitent Brahmins by the investiture of the triple cord.

These seven Penitents, or Rishis, or Munis, of Hindu history are the most celebrated personages recognized by the people of India. Their names are Kasyapa, Atri, Bharadwaja, Gautama, Viswamitra, Jamadagni, and Vasishta. The last-named and Viswamitra are those who were considered worthy of being admitted into the high caste of Brahmins.
These far-famed Rishis must be of great antiquity, for they existed even before the Vedas, which allude to them in several places. They were the favoured of the gods, and more especially of Vishnu, who at the time of the Deluge made them embark on a vessel which he piloted, and thereby saved them from destruction. Even the gods were called to account for having offended these holy men, who did not hesitate to curse the deities who committed infamies.

The seven Penitents, after setting a virtuous example on earth, were finally translated to heaven, where they occupy a place amongst the most brilliant constellations. They are to be recognized in the seven stars that form the Great Bear, which, according to Hindu tradition, are neither more nor less than the seven famous Rishis themselves. According to Hindu legend they are the ancestors of the Brahmins in reality and not by metamorphosis. It is believed that without ceasing to shine in the firmament they can, and occasionally do, revisit the earth to find out what is occurring there. Astronomy has played an important part in the history of almost all idolatrous nations and of all false creeds it certainly is the least unreasonable, and has survived the longest. The religious and political lawgivers of these races were clever enough to perceive that the worship of the stars had taken a great hold upon mankind. The simplest and most effectual way of perpetuating the memory of their heroes would be to transform them into outward objects that were always before the eyes of the people.

But whatever may have been the claims of Brahmins to a celestial origin, it is a well-authenticated fact that neither their caste nor any other existed in the countries to the north-east of Bengal four or five centuries ago. About that time the inhabitants of those parts, thinking that it might be to their advantage to adopt the customs of their neighbours, began to clamour for Brahmins. Accordingly, some were made to order out of the youths of the country, who, after conforming to the customs and rites of the Brahmins, wwre incorporated into their caste by the investiture or the triple cord. The descendants of these ready-made Brahmins have ever since been considered on equality with the rest.

Whatever may be the respective claims with regard to the antiquity of the religions and the differences of doctrine that divide the Buddhists, Jains and Brahmins it appears highly probable that they all sprang originally from the same source. The images they worship bear a great likeness to one another and most of these seem to be merely allegorical emblems invented to help them to remember their original divinities. All their religious establishments are alike composed of priests, monks, and hermits. All their sacrifices, and the ceremonies which accompany them, are nearly identical. And, lastly, there is the resemblance of the languages used by the priests in their religious services; that is to say, the Sanskrit of the Brahmins and Jains on this side of the Ganges, and the Pali, which is evidently derived from the Sanskrit, of the Buddhists beyond the Ganges. All these help to prove incontestably the affinity existing between the three religions.

-- Mythical Origin of the Brahmins, by indianetzone.com


Those who are of the true caste of the Rajas can be instructed in the sciences by the Bracmans; but these sciences are inaccessible to all the other castes, to which one can only communicate certain poems, grammar, poetics, and moral sentences. The sciences and the fine arts, which were cultivated with as much glory and success by the Greeks and the Romans, flourished alike in India, and all antiquity bears witness to the merit of the Gymnosophists. These are obviously the Bracmanes, and especially those among them who renounce the world and become Saniassi.

II.

The grammar of the Bracmanes can be placed among the finest sciences. Never were analysis and synthesis more happily employed than in their grammatical works of the language Samskret or Samskroutan. It seems to me that this language, so admirable for its harmony, its abundance, and its energy, was formerly the living language in the countries inhabited by the first Bracmanes. After many centuries, it has been imperceptibly corrupted in common usage, so that the language of the ancient Rishi or penitents, in the Vedam or sacred books, is quite often unintelligible to the most skilful, who only know the fixed samskret by grammars.

Though Panini wrote a grammar, he didn't use the word Sanskrit. It was the Vedic male singers' Yagna prayers, and in no way connected with a human speech, since females never spoke it anywhere in India. A language not spoken by mothers can never be a spoken language in the world.

Because of the Jain and Buddhists' domination in north India, Sanskrit lovers moved to the South. Learning the classical language Tamil they designed Sanskrit after 100 AD. As a result of the sole political support of the Pallava kings (600 AD), Chola kings, Telugu, Maratta kings, Sanskrit developed to the maximum, translating all the south Indian literary, medicine, mathematics, philosophical, astronomy, astrological and technical native language works -- tactfully destroying the originals.

-- Is Sanskrit a living language?, by Raman Madhivanan, Individual Research Professional, Quora.com, Nov 15, 2020


Several centuries after the age of the Richi, great philosophers studied to preserve the knowledge of it, such as we had it in their time, which was, as it seems to me, the age of the ancient poetry. Anoubhout [Anubhütisvarüpäcärya] was the first to form a body of grammar; it is the sarasvat, a work worthy of Sarasvati, who is, according to the Indians, the goddess of speech, and speech itself. Although it is the shortest of grammars, the merit of its antiquity has made it very popular in the schools of Hindustan. Pania [Panini], aided by the sarasvat, composed an immense work of the rules of samskret.

The question of whether any of the early Sanskritists knew Pânini (Pons had referred to him as Pania) has been raised particularly with reference to Jones, who is known to have studied the Siddhantakaumudï; Jones informs us in a letter of August 18, 1792 that he finished "the attentive reading of this grammar" (Emeneau 1955, 148). It has been doubted whether Jones knew Pánini (Master 1956, 186-187). But such discussions result from confusion. Both the Käsikä and the Siddhantakaumudï are commentaries on Pänini's Astadhyayï and quote, explain, and illustrate the sütras or rules of this grammar. One difference between the two commentaries is that the Käsikä adheres to the order of rules as given by Pänini, whereas the Siddhantakaumudï rearranges the rules in a different order. Whoever studies either of these commentaries is, therefore, faced with a study of Panins's rules, and even a less attentive student than Jones could not fail to observe that there is a sütrakära 'maker of rules,' whose teachings the commentary seeks to explain. Of course, Sir William might not have known that Pänini had lived some two millenia before Bhattojïdïksita. But to say that he knew the Siddhantakaumudï without knowing Pänini makes no sense. This conclusion is further corroborated by the fact that a statement of Colebrooke's implies that Jones knew Pänini. According to Colebrooke, Jones called the sütras of Pänini, when studied without a commentary, "dark as the darkest oracle."

-- A Reader on the Sanskrit Grammarians, edited by J.F. Staal, 1972


King Jamour had it abbreviated as Kramadisvar [Kramadisvara]; and it is this grammar, of which I have made the summary, which I sent two years ago, and which will no doubt have been communicated to you. Kalap composed one more specific to the sciences.

Anubhütisvarüpäcärya [Anoubhout] is the traditional founder of the Särasvata school of grammar, a non-Päninian school called after the goddess of speech, Sarasvatï. The Särasvata grammar is indeed greatly abridged, but is probably not older than the thirteenth century A.D. The passage about king Jamour refers to the Jaumara school of grammar, another non-Päninian school, founded in the thirteenth century by Kramadïsvara. The school derives its name from its most famous grammarian, Jumaranandin, who is referred to in the manuscripts as mahäräjädhiräja 'sovereign king of great kings', and who was accordingly ridiculed by opponents as a member of the low weaver caste (Belvalkar 1915, 91-96,108-109).

-- A Reader on the Sanskrit Grammarians, edited by J.F. Staal, 1972


There are still three others by different authors; but the glory of the invention is mainly due to Anoubhout [Anubhütisvarüpäcärya].

It is astonishing that the human mind has been able to attain the perfection of art which bursts forth in these grammars. The authors have reduced there by analysis, the richest language in the world, to a small number of primitive elements, which can be regarded as the caput mortuum of the language. These elements are by themselves of no use, they really signify nothing; they relate only to an idea, for example Kru to the idea of ​​action. The secondary elements which affect the primitive are the endings which fix it to be noun or verb; those according to which it must be declined or conjugated, a certain number of syllables to be placed between the primitive element and the endings, some propositions, etc. At the approach of the secondary elements, the primitive often changes shape; Kru, for example, becomes, according to what is added to it, Kar, Kra, Kri, Kir, & etc. Synthesis unites and combines all these elements, and forms an infinite variety of terms of use.

These are the rules of this union and this combination of elements that grammar teaches, so that a simple schoolboy, who knows nothing but grammar, can, by operating according to the rules, on a root or primitive element, draw from it several thousand really samskret words. It is this art that gave the name to the language, because samskret means synthetic or compound.

But as usage causes the meaning of the terms to vary ad infinitum, although they always retain a certain analogy to the idea attached to the root, it was necessary to determine the meaning by means of dictionaries. They have eighteen, made on different methods.
The one most in use, composed by Amarasimha, is arranged roughly according to the method followed by the author of the Indiculus Universalis. The dictionary entitled Visv'âhhîdhànam, is arranged in alphabetical order, according to the final letters of the words.

Besides these general dictionaries, each science has its introduction, where one learns the proper terms that one would look for in vain anywhere else. This was necessary to preserve in the sciences an air of mystery, so affected to the Bracmanes, that not content with having terms unknown to the vulgar, they enveloped the most common things in mysterious terms.

III.

Treatises on versification and poetry are numerous. The little compendium of the rules which I made of it, and which I sent last year to be communicated to you, exempts me from saying anything about it here. With regard to great poetry, or poems of different kinds; nature being the same everywhere, the rules are also nearly the same. Unity of action is less observed in their Purânam and other poems than it is particularly in Homer and in Virgil. I have, however, seen a few poems, and among others the d'Harmapouranam, where unity of action is more scrupulously maintained. The Indian fables, which the Arabs and Persians have so often translated into their language, are a collection of five perfectly regular little poems composed for the education of the princes of Patna.

The eloquence of orators has never been much in use in India, and the art of speaking well has been less cultivated there; but as regards purity, beauty, and the ornaments of elocution, the Bracmanas have a large number of books, which contain the precepts, and which constitute a separate science, which is called alankarachâstram (ornamental science).

IV.

Of all the parts of fine literature, history is that which the Indians have least cultivated. They have an infinite taste for the marvellous, and the Bracmanes have complied with it for their particular interest; however I do not doubt that in the palace of the princes, there are monuments followed by the history of their ancestors, especially in Hindustan, where the princes are more powerful and Raje-Beamers of caste. There are even in the north several books called natak, which, so Bracmanes have assured me, contain many ancient stories without any mixture of fables.

As for the Moguls, they love history, and that of their kings has been written by several scholars of their religion. The gazette of the whole empire, composed in the very palace of the great Mogul, appears at least once a month in Dely.
In Indian poems are found a thousand precious remains of venerable antiquity, a well-marked notion of the earthly paradise, of the tree of life, of the source of four great rivers, of which the Ganges is one, which, according to several scholars, is the Phison; traces of the flood, of the empire of the Assyrians, of the victories of Alexander under the name of Javana-Raja (king of the Javans or Greeks). It is assured that among the books of which the Academy of the Bracmans of Cangivoram is the depository, there are some very old history, where it is spoken of Saint Thomas, of his martyrdom, and of the place of his burial. It was the Bracmanes who said so, and who offered to communicate them, in return for sums which the missionaries were never in a condition to give them.

About three centuries after Eldad, in 1122, a story with many similar elements began to make the rounds in Europe, and its protagonist ended up as a prominent feature on numerous illustrated world maps. It was the tale of John, archbishop of India, who had reportedly traveled to Constantinople and Rome. Patriarch John was said to be the guardian of the shrine of St. Thomas, the favorite disciple of Jesus; and through his Indian capital, so the story went, flow the "pure waters of the Physon, one of the rivers of Paradise, which gives to the world outside most precious gold and jewels, whence the regions of India are extremely rich" (Hamilton 1996:173).

In 1145, Otto von Freising also heard of "a certain John, king and priest, who lived in the extreme east beyond Armenia and Persia." He reportedly was of the race of the very Magi who had come to worship the infant Christ at Bethlehem (p. 174). Otto first connected Prester John with the Magi and with Archbishop John, and soon after the completion of his History in 1157 three corpses exhumed in a church in Milan were identified as the bodies of the Three Magi (pp. 180-81). These relics were solemnly transported to the Cologne cathedral in 1164 and became objects of a religious cult (p. 183). It is around this time that a letter signed by a Prester John began to circulate in western Europe. In his letter Prester John portrays himself as the extremely rich and powerful ruler of the Three Indies, whose subjects include the Ten Lost Tribes beyond the river Sambaryon. Prester John claims to live very close to Paradise and emphasizes that he guards the grave of St. Thomas, the apostle of Jesus.

Though the country described in Prester John's letter is richer and far larger than Holwell's Bisnapore, it is also extremely hospitable and its inhabitants are perfectly moral: "There are no robbers among us; no sycophant finds a place here, and there is no miserliness" (Zarncke 1996:83). As in Holwell's Bisnapore, "nobody lies, nor can anybody lie" (p. 84). All inhabitants of Prester John's country "follow the truth and love one another;" there is "no adulterer in the land, and there is no vice" (p. 84).

The Prester John story became so widely known that the famous patriarch became a fixture on medieval world maps as well as a major motivation for the exploration of Asia (from the thirteenth century) and Africa (from the fifteenth century).5

Another layer in the archaeology of Holwell's Indian paradise can be found in the famous Travels of Sir John Mandeville of the fourteenth century, a book that fascinated countless readers and travelers as well as researchers.6 Mandeville's "isle of Bragman" -- like Prester John's Indies, Eldad's land beyond the Sambaryon, and Holwell's Bisnapore -- is a marvelous land. Its inhabitants, though not Christians, "by natural instinct or law ... live a commendable life, are folk of great virtue, flying away from all sins and vices and malice" (Moseley 1983:178). The still unidentified Mandeville, who habitually calls countries "isles," described a great many of them in his Travels. But the country of the "Bragmans" (Brachmans, Brahmins) is by far the most excellent:

This isle these people live in is called the Isle of Bragman; and some men call it the Land of Faith. Through it runs a great river, which is called Thebe. Generally all the men of that isle and of other isles nearby are more trustworthy and more righteous than men in other countries. In this land are no thieves, no murderers, no prostitutes, no liars, no beggars; they are men as pure in conversation and as clean in living as if they were men of religion. And since they are such true and good folk, in their country there is never thunder and lightning, hail nor snow, nor any other storms and bad weather; there is no hunger, no pestilence, no war, nor any other common tribulations among them, as there are among us because of our sins. And therefore it seems that God loves them well and is well pleased by their manner of life and their faith. (p. 178)

Of course, the antediluvian patriarchs of the Old Testament who lived many years before Abraham and Moses were not yet Jews blessed with the special covenant with God, something only conferred finally after the Exodus from Egypt at Mt. Sinai, much less Christians. But the virtues of these antediluvians were so great that they enjoyed extremely long life spans. Mandeville's Bragmans, too, though ignorant of God's commandments as conveyed to Moses, are said to "keep the Ten Commandments" (p. 178) and enjoy the benefits:
They believe in God who made all things, and worship Him with all their power; all earthly things they set at nought. They live so temperately and soberly in meat and drink that they are the longest-lived people in the world; and many of them die simply of age, when their vital force runs out. (p. 178)

Like Holwell's inhabitants of Bisnapore, they are a people without greed and want; all "goods, movable and immovable, are common to every man," and their wealth consists in peace, concord, and the love of their neighbor. Other countries in the vicinity of the land of the Bragmans for the most part also follow their customs while "living innocently in love and charity each with another." Almost like Adam and Eve in paradise before they sinned, these people "go always naked" and suffer no needs (p. 179).
And even if these people do not have the articles of our faith, nevertheless I believe that because of their good faith that they have by nature, and their good intent, God loves them well and is well pleased by their manner of life, as He was with Job, who was a pagan, yet nevertheless his deeds were as acceptable to God as those of His loyal servants. (p. 180)

Mandeville's naked people are extremely ancient and have "many prophets among them" since antiquity. Already "three thousand years and more before the time of His Incarnation," they predicted the birth of Christ; but they have not yet learned of "the manner of His Passion" (p. 180). These regions that evoke paradise and antediluvian times form part of the empire of Prester John. Mandeville explains:
"This Emperor Prester John is a Christian, and so is the greater part of his land, even if they do not have all the articles of the faith as clearly as we do. Nevertheless they believe in God as Father, Son and Holy Ghost; they are a very devout people, faithful to each other, and there is neither fraud nor guile among them" (p. 169).

In Prester John's land, there are many marvels and close by, behind a vast sea of gravel and sand, are "great mountains, from which flows a large river that comes from Paradise" (p. (69).

The lands described by Eldad, Prester John, Mandeville, and Holwell share some characteristics that invite exploration. The first concerns the fact that all are associated with "India" and the vicinity of earthly paradise. In the Genesis account (2.8 ff.) God, immediately after having formed Adam from the dust of the ground, "planted a garden eastward of Eden" and put Adam there. He equipped this garden with trees "pleasant to the sight, and good for food," as well as the tree of life at the center of the garden and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The story continues:
And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pishon: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. (Genesis 2.10-12)

The locations of this "land of Havilah" and the river Pishon (or Phison) are unclear, but the other rivers are better known. The second river, Gihon, "compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia," the third (Hiddekel) "goeth to the east of Assyria," and the fourth river is identified as the Euphrates (Genesis 2.13-14). In his Antiquities, written toward the end of the first century C.E., the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus for the first time identified the enigmatic first river of paradise as the Ganges river and the fourth river (Gihon or Geon) as the Nile:
Now the garden was watered by one river, which ran round about the whole earth, and was parted into four parts. And Phison, which denotes a Multitude, running into India, makes its exit into the sea, and is by the Greeks called Ganges.... Geon runs through Egypt, and denotes the river which arises from the opposite quarter to us, which the Greeks call Nile. (trans. Whiston 1906:2)

The location of the "garden in Eden" (gan b'Eden), from which Adam was eventually expelled, is specified in Genesis 2.8 as miqedem, which has both a spatial ("away to the East") and a temporal ("from before the beginning") connotation. Accordingly, the translators of the Septuagint, the Vedus Latina, and the English Authorized Version rendered it by words denoting "eastward" (Gr. kata anatolas, Lat. in oriente), while the Vulgate prefers "a principio" and thus the temporal connotation (Scafi 2006:35). But the association of the earthly paradise and enigmatic land of Havilah with the Orient, and in particular with India, was boosted by Flavius Josephus and a number of Church fathers who identified it with the Ganges valley (p. 35) where, nota bene, Holwell located his paradisiacal Bisnapore.
Greek scholars often mentioned that Sandrocottus was the king of the country called as Prasii (Prachi or Prachya). Pracha or Prachi means eastern country. During the Nanda and Mauryan era, Magadha kings were ruling almost entire India. Mauryan Empire was never referred in Indian sources as only Prachya desa or eastern country. Prachya desa was generally referred to Gupta Empire because Northern Saka Ksatrapas and Western Saka Ksatrapas were well established in North and West India. Megasthenes mentioned that Sandrocottus is the greatest king of the Indians and Poros is still greater than Sandrocottus which means a kingdom in the North-western region is still independent and enjoying at least equal status with the kingdom of Sandrocottus.

-- Who was Sandrocottus: Samudragupta or Chandragupta Maurya? The Chronology of Ancient India, Victim of Concoctions and Distortions, by Vedveer Arya

For the Christian theologian AUGUSTINE of Hippo (354-430), too, Pishon was the Ganges River and Gihon the Nile, and his verdict that these rivers "are true rivers, not just figurative expressions without a corresponding reality in the literal sense" hastened the demise of other theories as to the identity of the Pishon and Gihon (p. 46). In the seventh century, ISIDOR of Seville (d. 636) described in his Etymologiae the earthly paradise among the regions of Asia as a place that was neither hot nor cold but always temperate (Grimm 1977:77-78). Isidor also enriched the old tradition of allegorical interpretations of paradise. If paradise symbolized the Christian Church, he argued, the paradise river stood for Christ and its four arms for the four gospels (p. 78).

The allegorical view of paradise as the symbol of the Church, watered by four rivers or gospels and accessed by baptism, had first been advanced by Thascius Caelius CYPRlANUS (d. 258) and became quite successful in Carolingian Bible exegesis (pp. 45-46). The Commemoratio Geneseos, a very interesting Irish compilation of the late eighth century, identified the Pishon with the Indus river and interpreted Genesis's "compasseth the whole land of Havilah" as "runs through Havilah" while specifying that "this land is situated at the confines of India and Parthia" (p. 87). The Commemoratio also associates the Pishon with the evangelist "John who is full of the Holy Ghost," and the gold of Havilah with "the divine nature of God [diuinitas dei] which John wrote so much about" (p. 87).

Such Bible commentaries helped to establish an association of paradise with the name "John," with India, and with a mighty Indian river. Until the end of the fifteenth century, many medieval world maps depicted paradise somewhere in or near India (Knefelkamp 1986:87-92)
, and travelers like Giovanni MARIGNOLLI of the fourteenth or Columbus of the fifteenth century were absolutely convinced that they were close to the earthly paradise.

-- Holwell's Religion of Paradise, Excerpt from The Birth of Orientalism, by Urs App


Perhaps even since the venerable father of Nobilibus there has not been anyone skilled enough in samskret, to examine things for themselves. [!!!] I saw in a manuscript by Father de Bourzes, that in certain countries on the Malabar coast, the Gentiles celebrated the deliverance of the Jews under Esther, and that they gave this feast the name of Yuda Tirounal (feast of Judah). [!!!]

A Letter from Father Bourzes to Father Estienne Souciet, concerning the Luminous Appearance Observable in the Wake of Ships in the Indian Seas, &c.
by Father Louis-Noel de Bourzes
Taken from the Ninth Volume of Letters of the Missionary Jesuits
Source: Philosophical Transactions (1683-1775), Vol. 28 (1713), pp. 230-235
The Royal Society Publishing
January 1, 1713

Reverend Father,

As I was ready to embark for the Indies, I receiv'd your Letter, in which you desire me to allow some time for making Inquiries into Arts and Sciences, as far as the necessary Business of my Mission will permit me, and to communicate to you such Discoveries as I shall make.

I met with in this Voyage some Things which I believe would have been acceptable to you; but wanting instruments, which you know are absolutely necessary to make any Observation with exactness, I was forced to content my self with such Observations only as I could make with my naked Eye, without any other Assistance.

I shall begin with a Phaenomenon in Natural Philosophy, which has something new in it to those that never were at Sea; and perhaps those that have been there, never observed it with sufficient Attention.

You have read what Philosophers say concerning those Sparkles of Light which appear in the Night time on the Surface of the Sea; but you must observe at the same time, that they pass over this Phaenomenon very slightly, or at least endeavour more to give a reason for it, that may be agreeable to their own Principles, than to explain it as it really is. Before they undertake to account for the Wonders of Nature, in my Opinion they ought to enquire very well into all Particulars; which I thought necessary to do on this present Subject.

I. When the Ship ran apace, we often observed a great Light in the Wake of the Ship, or the Water that is broken and divided by the Ship in its Passage. Those that did not view it nearly, often attributed it to the Moon, the Stars, or the Lanthorn at the Stern; as I did my self, when I first perceived it. But having a Window that look'd directly down upon it, I was soon undeceived; especially when I saw it appear more bright, when the Moon was under the Horizon, the Stars covered with Clouds, and no Lights in the Lanthorn, or any other Light whatsoever cast upon the Surface of the Water.

II. This Light was not always equal; some Days it was very little, others not at all; sometimes brighter, others fainter; sometimes it was very vivid, and at other times nothing was to be seen.

III. As to its Brightness, perhaps you may be surprized when I tell you that I could easily read by it, tho' I was 9 or 10 Foot above it from the Surface of the Water; as I did particularly on the 12th of June and the 10th of July 1704. But I must inform you that I could read only the Title of my Book, which was in large Letters: Yet this seemed incredible to those I told it to; but you may believe it, and I assure you that it is a real Truth.

IV. As to the Extent of this Light, sometimes all the Wake appeared Luminous to 30 or 40 Foot distant from the Ship; but the Light was very faint at any considerable distance.

V. Some Days one might easily distinguish in the Wake such Particles as were Luminous from those that were not: At other times there was no difference. The Wake seemed then like a River of Milk, and was very pleasant to look on; as it appear'd particularly on the 10th of July 1704.

VI. At such times as we could distinguish the bright Parts from the others, we observed that they were not all of the same Figure: Some of 'em appear'd like Points of Light; others almost as large as Stars as they appear to the naked Eye. We saw some that looked like Globules, of a Line or two in Diameter; and others like Globes as big as ones Head. Oftentimes these Phosphori form'd themselves into squares, of 3 or 4 Inches long, and one or two broad. Sometimes we could see all these different Figures at the same time; and particularly on the 12th of June, the Wake of the Vessel was full of large Vortices of Light and these oblong Squares, which I have been speaking of. An other Day, when our Ship sailed slowly, the Vortices appeared and disappeared again immediately like flashes of Lightning.

VII. Not only the Wake of a Ship produces this Light, but Fishes also in swimming lead behind 'em a luminous Tract; which is so bright that one may distinguish the largeness of the Fish, and know of what Species it is. I have sometimes seen a great many Fishes playing in the Sea, which have made a kind of artificial Fire in the Water that was very pleasant to look on. And often only a Rope placed cross-wise will so break the Water, that it will become luminous.

VIII. If one takes some Water out of the Sea, and stirs it never so little with his Hand in the dark, he may see in it an infinite Number of bright Particles.

IX. Of if one dips a piece of linnen in Sea Water, and twists or wrings it in a dark Place, he shall see the same thing; and if he does so, tho' it be half dry, yet it will produce abundance of bright Sparks.

X. When one of the Sparkles is once formed, it remains a long time; and if it fix upon any thing that is solid, as for instance on the side or edge of a Vessel, it will continue shining for some Hours together.

XI. It is not always that this Light appears, tho' the Sea be in great Motion; nor does it always happen when the Ship sails fastest: Neither is it the simple beating of the Waves against one another that produces this Brightness, as far as I could perceive: But I have observed that the beating of the Waves against the Shore has sometimes produced it in great plenty; and on the Coast of Brazil the Shore was one Night so very bright, that it appeared as if it had been all on Fire.

XII. The Production of this Light depends very much on the Quality of the Water; and, if I am not deceiv'd, generally speaking, I may assert, other circumstances being equal, that the Light is largest when the Water is fastest and fullest of Foam; for in the main Sea the Water is not every where equally pure; and sometimes if one dips Linnen into the Sea, it is clammy when it is drawn up again. And I have often observed, that when the Wake of the Ship was brightest, the Water was more fat and glutinous; and Linnen moisten'd with it produced a great deal of Light, if it were stir'd or mov'd briskly.

XIII. Besides, in sailing over some Places of the Sea, we find a Matter or Substance of different Colours, sometimes red, sometimes yellow. In looking at it, one would think it was Saw-dust: Our Sailors say it is the Spawn or Seed of Whales. What it is, is not certain; but when we draw up Water in passing over these Places, it is always viscous and glutinous. Our Mariners also say, that there are a great many heaps or Banks of this Spawn in the North; and that sometimes in the Night they appear all over of a bright Light, without being put in Motion by any Vessel or Fish passing by them.

XIV. But to confirm farther what I say, viz. That the Water, the more glutinous it is, the more it is disposed to become luminous, I shall add one particular which I saw myself. One Day we took in our Ship a Fish which some thought was a Boneta. The inside of the Mouth of the Fish appeared in the Night like a burning Coal; so that without any other Light, I could read by it the same Characters that I read by the Light in the Wake of the Ship. It's Mouth being full of a viscous Humour, we rubbed a piece of Wood with it, which immediately became all over luminous; but as soon as the moisture was dried up, the Light was extinguish'd.

These are the Principal Observations that I made upon this Phanomenon: And I leave you to examine if all these Particulars can be explained by the System of such as assert, that the Principle of this Light consists in the Motion of a subtle Matter, or Globules, caused by a violent agitation of different kinds of Salts.

I shall add next a work or two concerning Marine Rain-bows, which I observed after a great Tempest off of the Cape of Good-Hope. The Sea was then very much tossed, and the Win carrying off the tops of the Waves, made a kind of Rain, in which the Rays of the Sun painted the colours of a Rain-bow. It is true the common Iris has this advantage over ours, that its Colours are more lively, distinct, and of longer Extent. In the Marine Iris we could distinguish only two Colours, viz. a dark Yellow on that side next the Sun, and a pale Green on the opposite side: The other colours were too faint to be distinguish'd. But in recompence for this, these Iris's are in a greater Number; one may see 20 or 30 of 'em together; they appear at Noon-day, and in a Position opposite to that of the common Rain-bow, that is to say, their Curve is turned as it were towards the bottom of the Sea. Tho' in these long Voyages one sees nothing but Water and Sky, yet each of 'em affords such Wonders in Nature, as may well employ the time of those that have Knowledge enough to discover them.

Lastly, to put an end to these Observations upon Light, I shall add only one more, concerning Exhalations in the Night, that form in the Air a long Tract of Light. These Exhalations make a Tract of Light much larger in the Indies than they do in Europe. I have seen two or three that I should have taken for real Rockets: They appear'd near the Earth, and cast a Light like that of the Moon some Days after her Change. They fall slowly, and in falling make a Curve Line; especially one which I saw on the main Ocean, at a great distance off at Sea, on the Coast of Malabar. I am, &c.

De BOURZES


The only means of penetrating into Indian antiquity, especially as far as history is concerned, is to have a great taste for this science, to acquire a perfect knowledge of samskret, and to incur expenses to which it is impossible. Only a great prince can provide; until these three things are found united in the same subject, with the health necessary to support the study in India, nothing, or almost nothing, will be known of the ancient history of this vast Kingdom.

V.

Let us enter the sanctuary of the Bracmanes, a sanctuary impenetrable to the eyes of the vulgar. What, after the nobility of their caste, raises them infinitely above the vulgar, is the science of religion, mathematics, and philosophy. The Bracmanes have their religion apart; they are, however, the ministers of that of the people. The four vedan or bed, are, according to them, of divine authority: they are in Arabic in the King's library; thus the Bracmanes are divided into four sects, each of which has its own law. Roukou Vedan, or, according to the Hindustani pronunciation, Recbed and the Yajourvedam, are more followed in the peninsula between the two seas. Samavedam and Latharvana or Brahmavedam in the north. The vedam contain the theology of the Bracmanes; and the ancient puranam or poems, popular theology. The Vedams, as far as I can judge from what little I have seen of them, are but a collection of various superstitious, and often diabolical, practices of the ancient Richi (penitents), or Muni (anchorites). Everything is subjugated, and the very gods are subjugated to the Intrinsic force of the sacrifices, and the Mantrams, these are sacred formulas which they use to consecrate, offer, invoke, etc. I was surprised to find this one there; om, Santih, Santih, Santih, harih. You no doubt know that the letter or syllable, ôm contains the Trinity in Unity; the rest is the literal translation of Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus, Harih is a name of God which means Captor.
The four Vedan or Bed are, according to them, of divine authority: one has them in Arabic at the Royal Library; accordingly the brahmins are divided in four sects of which each has its own law. Roukou Vedan or, according to the Hindustani pronunciation, Recbed, and the Yajourvedam are the most followed on the Indian subcontinent between the seas, and the Samavedan and Latharvana or Brahmavedam in the North. The Vedan contain the theology of the brahmins; and the ancient Pouranam or poems the popular theology. The Vedan, as far as I can judge by the little I have seen of it, are nothing but a collection of different superstitious and often diabolical practices of the ancient Richi, penitents, or Mouni, or anchorets. Everything, even the gods, is subjected to the intrinsic power of sacrifices and Mantram; these are sacred formulae they use to consecrate, offer, invoke, etc. I was surprised to find the following: om Santih, Santih, Santih, harih. You surely know that the letter or syllable om contains the Trinity in Unity; the rest is the literal translation of Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus. Harih is a name of God which signifies Abductor.

-- The Birth of Orientalism, by Urs App


In the early progress of researches into Indian literature, it was doubted whether the Vedas were extant; or, if portions of them were still preserved, whether any person, however learned in other respects, might be capable of understanding their obsolete dialect. It was believed too, that, if a Brahmana really possessed the Indian scriptures, his religious prejudices would nevertheless prevent his imparting the holy knowledge to any but a regenerate Hindu. These notions, supported by popular tales, were cherished long after the Vedas had been communicated to Dara Shucoh [Shikoh], and parts of them translated into the Persian language by him, or for his use. [Extracts have also been translated into the Hindi language; but it does not appear upon what occasion this version into the vulgar dialect was made.]

-- Essays on the Religion and Philosophy of the Hindus, by Henry Thomas Colebrooke, Esq.

The Vedams, in addition to the practices of the ancient Risî and Muni, contain their sentiments on the nature of God, of the soul, of the sensible world, etc. From the two theologies, the bracmanic and the popular, we have composed the holy science or of the virtue of Harmachâstram [Dharmacastras???], which contains the practice of the different religions, of the sacred or superstitious, civil or profane rites, with the laws for the administration of Justice.[???] The treatises of Harmachàstram, by different authors, have multiplied ad infinitum. I will not dwell any longer on a matter which would require a large separate work, and the knowledge of which will apparently never be more than superficial.

Usage 'is highest dharma,' which again consists in true knowledge, and 'the prudent twice-born man will ever be intent on this.' Where, then, is 'usage to be found? An answer is afforded by Manu I. 108, quoted above. Other constituents of dharma are mentioned in II. 12: 'The Veda, tradition, good custom, and what is pleasing to one's self, that (the wise) have plainly declared to be the fourfold definition of dharma.'' Evidently, usage is to be discovered by searching the Veda and dharmacastras (see II. 10), and one's own conscience.

But it is only a twice-born man who can so discover his usage and dharma: Cudras, and women, and all others must look elsewhere for information.

-- Indian Usage and Judge-Made Law in Madras, by James Henry Nelson, M.A.


Dharmaśāstra is a genre of Sanskrit theological texts, and refers to the treatises (śāstras) of Hinduism on dharma. There are many Dharmashastras, variously estimated to be 18 to about 100, with different and conflicting points of view. Each of these texts exist in many different versions, and each is rooted in Dharmasutra texts dated to 1st millennium BCE that emerged from Kalpa (Vedanga) studies in the Vedic era.

The textual corpus of Dharmaśāstra were composed in poetic verses, are part of the Hindu Smritis, constituting divergent commentaries and treatises on duties, responsibilities and ethics to oneself, to family and as a member of society.The texts include discussion of ashrama (stages of life), varna (social classes), purushartha (proper goals of life), personal virtues and duties such as ahimsa (non-violence) against all living beings, rules of just war, and other topics.

Dharmaśāstra became influential in modern colonial India history, when they were formulated by early British colonial administrators to be the law of the land for all non-Muslims (Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs) in South Asia, after Sharia i.e. Mughal Empire's Fatawa-e-Alamgiri set by Emperor Muhammad Aurangzeb, was already accepted as the law for Muslims in colonial India.

-- Dharmaśāstra, by Wikipedia
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Part 3 of 3

VI.

The Bracmanes cultivated almost every part of mathematics; algebra was not unknown to them: but astronomy, the end of which was astrology, was always the principal object of their mathematical studies, because the superstition of the great and the people made it more useful to them. They have several methods of astronomy. A Greek scholar, who, like Pythagoras, once traveled in India, having learned the sciences of the Bracmanas, taught them in his turn his method of astronomy; and in order that his disciples might make it a mystery to others, he left them in his work the Greek names of the planets, the signs of the zodiac, and several terms[???] like hora (twenty-fourth part of a day), Kendra (center), etc. I had this acquaintance at Dely, and it served me to make the astronomers of Raja Jaesing, who are in large numbers in the famous observatory which he had built in this capital, feel that formerly masters had come to them [from] Europe.[!!!]

When we arrived at Jaëpur, the prince, to convince himself of the truth of what I had advanced[???], wanted to know the etymology of these Greek words, which I gave him. I also learned from the Bracmanas of Hindustan, that the most esteemed of their authors had placed the sun at the center of the movements of Mercury and Venus. Raja Jaësing will be regarded in the centuries to come as the restorer of Indian astronomy. The tables of M. de la Hire, under the name of this Prince,[!!!] will be current everywhere in a few years.[!!!]

EXPEDITION OF PERES PONS AND BOUDIER TO JAIPUR

Pere Pons arrived in India in 1726 and after spending a few years in Thanjavur was appointed superior of the French Mission in Bengal. Other than compiling a Sanskrit grammar, and a treatise on Sanskrit poetics that was sent to Europe, he visited Delhi and Jaipur with Pere Boudier, mentioned earlier, to make some astronomical observations [Bamboat 1933: 95]. We find an account of this in a note entitled 'Observations: Geographic Expedition Undertaken in 1734 by Jesuit Fathers During Their Voyage from Chandernagor to Delhi to Jaipur' in the Lettres Edifiantes [Lettres, 1810, 15:269-91]. [Lettres, 1781, 15:337-349] In fact, this is a report on the very observations mentioned earlier in our discussion on Gaubil. The report begins by pointing out that the raja of Amber, Sawai Jai Singh, a savant [learned person] in astronomy, for whom the Jesuits had undertaken this expedition, had a number of astronomers working for him [Lettres 1810. 15: 269]. Jai Singh had requested the superior general of the church at Chandernagore, Boudier, to send Jesuit fathers stationed at Chandernagore to make some observations; and so Peres Pons and Boudier set out for Delhi and Jaipur.

The motivations behind this expedition have been recorded by Eric Forbes [Forbes 1982].10 Jai Singh's first contact with European astronomy appeared to reinforce his conviction that his large masonry observatories yielded more accurate results than iron astrolabes and sextants. He failed initially to appreciate the point that the source of his error was a faulty theoretical basis for computing lunar and planetary motions adopted by La Hire. In his letter to Pere Boudier, Jai Singh informed the former that he recognised this failing on mastering La Hire's book, and then wished to investigate whether other tables existed, and if so its underlying theoretical principles [Forbes 1982: 238]. And while Boudier was a "skilled telescopic observer", he was not equipped to answer Jai Singh's queries [Forbes 1982: 238]. Peres Boudier and Pons agreed to undertake the 1,000 mile journey to Jaipur on January 6, 1734 in the hope that they could establish a Christian mission at Jaipur. They reached Jaipur nine months later, but were forced to return shortly on account of ill health. When they were not making their observations, Forbes writes, they spent their time trying to convince the local brahmins of "Indian astronomy's indebtedness to ancient Greek culture" [Forbes 1982: 240].

The document in the Lettres reports their observations of latitudes and longitudes of about 60 Indian towns and cities, the course of rivers they encountered during the course of their journey, the occultation of the Jovian satellites, and finally their observation regarding two eclipses that occurred in 1734. Appendix I provides a list of the latitudes and longitudes of some of the cities and towns obtained by them. However, there is an error of 35" in his latitude measurements of the observatory sites at Jaipur and Delhi [Sharma 1982: 347].

Throughout the 18th century one of the crucial obstacles for reconstructing the geography of India was the paucity of data on geographical latitudes and longitudes. The condition was further exacerbated by the non-standardisation of the Indian mile vis-a-vis the European mile, given the fact that the Indian mile varied from region to region of the country [Sen 1982: 1]. The Jesuits set about mapping this terrain. The method employed for determining these parameters required that the latitude and longitude of Chandernagor be known through a large number of astronomical observations. The route followed was carefully mapped as they travelled from one station to a neighbouring one. All along, the time was scrupulously noted with a time piece on hand, that was calibrated for the Paris meridian. The time spent was then compared with the speed of the vehicle. In addition, the detours along the route were carefully marked, and the speed of the air noted, a compass provided the directional readings [Lettres 1810, 15: 273]. This procedure was repeated all the way from Chandernagor to Kassimbazar to Patna to Agra to Delhi till they reached Jaipur. From Patna to Agra they could not use the compass since they were travelling by cart. Their observations had thus to be supplemented by surveying the course of the sun. Furthermore, throughout the voyage, as is done on sea, they had to correct their estimates by obtaining the latitudes of several locations [Lettres 1810. 15: 274]. No observations were made between Chandernagor and Kassimbazar since they covered this distance by the waterway, and the meandering path of the Ganges would have required that they spend a great deal of time to obtain a just estimate. In addition, they spent some time covering the distance at night [Lettres 1810, 15: 274.] On examining a number of naval maps, they found that Calcutta was marked more towards the east than Chandernagor, while in fact it was more to the west. Boudier and Pons found it surprising that the pilots sailing on the Ganges from one town to the next had not corrected this error. In addition, the report contains observations of the meridional heights of stars in 1734 taken from several towns [Lettres 1810, 15: 280-83].

At Kassimbazar, the French Jesuits carried out observations to calculate longitudes in 1734. These observations related to the immersion of the first satellite of Jupiter on January 30 at 15 hours, 41. On the same day, the passage of Beta Polaris was noted at 14 hours, 2 minutes and a fraction of a second [Lettres 1810, 15: 284-85]. At that moment a second star passed the vertical of the North Star at 16 hours 21 minutes and 30 seconds. From the passage of these two stars across the vertical of the North Star the time of the immersion of the satellite was obtained. During this period the time elapsed was 2 minutes and 50 seconds, and the hour of immersion was corrected to 15 hours 38 minutes and 30 seconds. At Fatehpour, the immersion of the first satellite on April 2 commenced at 13 hours 45 minutes and a fraction of a second. On the same day, the height of the tail of Leo towards the west was 46 degrees 9 minutes at 13 hours 50 minutes and a fraction of a second, and the height of the brightest star in Aquila towards the east, was 19 degrees 1 minute 30 seconds at 13 hours 57 minutes and about 10 seconds [Lettres 1810. 15: 285]. From the height of the two stars it was concluded that the time elapsed was 1 minute 26 seconds, the corrected hour of immersion was 13 hours 43 minutes and 34 seconds. Based on Pere Gaubil's observation of the time of immersion in Beijing on the April 11, 1734 [Lettres 1810. 15: 285], the difference between the meridian at Paris and Fatehpur was calculated at 5 hours and 13 minutes. This could be calculated differently. At a known time, the interval between the immersion on April 2 and 11, was 8 degrees 20 hours and 25 minutes, that could be subtracted from the time of observation at Beijing. On April 2, 16 hours 6 minutes and 57 seconds was the time of immersion at Beijing. But at Fatehpur it was observed at 13 hours 43 minutes 34 seconds. This gives a difference of 2 hours 23 minutes and 23 seconds, that must be subtracted from the longitude of Beijing, which was 7 hours 36 minutes: The difference between the meridians at Paris and Fatehpur was 5 hours 12 minutes 37 seconds or 5 hours 13 minutes [Lettres 1810, 15: 286]. A similar exercise was carried out in the case of Agra [Lettres 1810 15: 287]. Gaubil responded to the longitude measurements based on the observations of the occultation of the Jovian satellites, pointing out the errors in Boudier's calculations and that Boudier was unaware of stellar aberration [Gaubil, cited in Sharma. 1982: 347]. However, in the case of Delhi a solar eclipse that occurred on May 3, 1734 was used to obtain the longitude. The eclipse commenced at 3 hours 57 minutes and 11 seconds, but it was difficult to decide the end of the eclipse since the sky was cloudy. The corrected time for the eclipse was 3 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds and finished at 5 hours 58 minutes and 3 seconds [Lettres 1810. 15: 268]. In a letter Pere Gaubil had mentioned that the Swedish astronomer Celsius had observed the end of this eclipse at Rome at 11 hours 52 minutes and 1 second. Using the method developed by La Hire, the eclipse commenced at Delhi, when the time in Rome was 11 hours 40 minutes and 5 seconds in the morning, and finished at 1 hour 39 minutes 40 seconds in the afternoon. This gives the difference between the meridians at Rome and Delhi as 4 hours 19 minutes and 4 seconds for the commencement of the eclipse and 4 hours 18 minutes and 18 seconds for the end of the eclipse. These differ by 46 seconds, half of which is 23 seconds. Adding this to the smaller of the two figures, we get the mean difference of 4 hours 18 minutes and 41 seconds, to which we add the difference between the meridians of Rome and Paris, which is 41 minutes and 20 seconds. Thus the difference between the meridians of Paris and Delhi is 5 hours and 1 second [Lettres 181-0, 15: 288].

On December 1, 1732 there was a total immersion of the moon at 22 'gharis' (the Indian unit ghari = 24 minutes, and each ghari = 60 'palas' ) 7 'pols' after sun set was observed at Jaipur. The emersion commenced at 26 gharis 13 pols and a half after sun set. Thus the middle of the eclipse was at 9 hours 41 minutes 24 seconds after the sun set. In their calculation the brahmins had not taken account of the effects of refraction, and the fact that the sun set at 5 hours 12 minutes 48 seconds, consequently the middle of the eclipse was at 14 hours 54 minutes 12 seconds [Lettres 1810. 15: 289]. According to Cassini's observation at the Paris Observatory, the middle of the eclipse was 9 hours 58 minutes 38 seconds. Hence, the difference between the meridians of Paris and Jaipur was 4 hours 55 minutes 34 seconds [Lettres 1810. 15: 290]. While Gaubil had made his observations of the satellite of Jupiter using a 20-foot focal length telescope, the Jesuits during their expedition used one that was a refracting telescope of focal length 17-feet [Lettres 1810. 15: 290].

Perusing these records, we recognise firstly the importance and authority of Gaubil among the Jesuit astronomers in India, for he appeared to be providing them the numbers that they considered standard, and thus aided their calibration. It was Gaubil who forwarded their results to Cassini, and thus the latter was the final authority certifying the results of the expedition. Secondly, the study of the motion of the stars and the planets, enabled the savants, through the Jesuits to map the co-ordinates of the globe, symbolically weaving Paris, Rome, Delhi, Jaipur and Beijing into the new fabric of modern science of which the Jesuits were the prominent cultural vectors, and subsequently the agents of cultural imperialism.

-- French Jesuit Scientists in India: Historical Astronomy in the Discourse on India, 1670-1770, by Dhruv Raina


VII.

What made the name of the gymnosophists more famous in antiquity was their philosophy, from which we must first separate moral philosophy; not that they do not have a very beautiful one in many works of the Nitichàstram, a moral science which is ordinarily included in sentimental verses, like those of Cato; but it is because this part of the philosophy is communicated to all castes: several choutre authors and even pariahs have acquired a great name there.

The philosophy which is simply and par excellence called Chastram (science), is much more mysterious. Logic, metaphysics, and a bit of imperfect physics are its parts. Its sole end, the goal towards which all the philosophical researches of the Bracmanes tend, is the deliverance of the soul from the captivity and miseries of this life, by a perfect felicity, which essentially is either the deliverance of the soul, or its immediate effect.

As among the Greeks there were several schools of philosophy, the Ionic, the academic, etc., there were in antiquity among the Bracmana six principal philosophical schools or sects, each of which was distinguished from the others by some particular feeling about bliss and about the means of achieving it, Nyày'am, Vedantam, Sankiam, Mimamsa, Patanjalam, Bhassyam are what they simply call the six sciences, which are only six sects or schools. There are still several others like the Agamachastram and Bauddamatham, etc. which are so many heresies in matters of religion, very opposed to the d'Harmachâstram of which I have spoken, which contains polytheism universally approved.

The followers of the Agamam want no difference of conditions among men, nor legal ceremonies, and are accused of magic. Judge by that how horrified the other Indians must be. The Bauddists, whose opinion of metempsychosis has been universally accepted, are accused of atheism, and admit of the principles of our knowledge only our senses. Boudda is the Photo revered by the people of China, and the Bauddists are of the sect of the Bonzes and Lamas, as the Agamists are of the sect of the peoples of Mahasin, or Great Sin, which includes all the kingdoms of the West, beyond Persia.

I return to our philosophers who, by their conduct, do no harm to the common religion, and who, when they want to reduce their theory to practice, renounce entirely the world, and even their family, which they abandon. All the schools teach that wisdom or the certain science of the tatvagnianam truth is the only way in which the soul purifies itself, and which can lead it to its deliverance, Mukti. Until then, she only roams from misery to misery in various transmigrations, which wisdom alone can bring to an end. Also, all schools begin with the research and determination of the principles of true knowledge. Some admit four, others three, and others are satisfied with two.

These principles established, they teach us to draw the consequences from them by reasoning, the different kinds of which are reduced to syllogisms. These rules of the syllogism are exact; they differ principally from ours only in that the perfect syllogism, according to the Bracmanas, must have four members, the fourth of which is an application of the truth concluded from the premises, to an object which renders it undoubtedly sensible. Here is the syllogism with which the schools resound unceasingly: Where there is smoke, there is fire; There is smoke in this mountain, so there is fire, like in the kitchen. Notice they don't call smoke, or mists, or the like.

VIII.

The school of Nyàyam (reason, judgment), prevailed over all the others in terms of logic, especially since a few centuries, that the academy of Noudia in Bengal, became the most famous of all India, by the famous professors she had, and whose works have spread everywhere. Gottam was formerly the founder of this school at Tirat in Hindustan, north of the Ganges, opposite the country of Patna. This is where it has flourished for many centuries.

The ancients taught their disciples the whole sequence of their philosophical system: they admitted, like the moderns, four principles of science: the testimony of the senses, well explained Pratyakcham; natural signs, like smoke is fire, Anumânam; the application of a known definition to the hitherto unknown defined, Upamanam; finally the authority of an infallible word. Aptachabdam. After logic, they led their schoolchildren, through the examination of this sensible world, to the knowledge of its author, whose existence they concluded through the Anoumanam. They concluded in the same way his intelligence; and of its intelligence, its immateriality.

Although God by nature is spirit, he was able to render himself, and indeed did render himself sensible; from Nirakara, it became Sâkàra to form the world, whose indivisible atoms, like those of the Epicureans, and eternal, are by themselves lifeless.

Man is a composite of one body and two souls; one supreme, Paramatma, which is none other than God; and the other animal, Sivatma; it is in man the sensory principle of pleasure and pain, of desire, of hatred, etc. Some want it to be spirit, others that it is matter, and an eleventh sense in man: for they distinguish the active organs from the sensitive or passive organs, and they count ten in this way.

Finally, in what they call supreme wisdom, it seems to me that they fall into the most outrageous stoicism: this sensory principle must be extinguished, and this extinction can only be done by union with Paramâtmâ. This union, Yogam or Jog, from which comes the name of Jogui, to which the wisdom of the Indian philosophers of whatever sect aspires in vain, this union, I say, begins with the meditation and the contemplation of the Being supreme, and ends at a kind of identity, where there is no more feeling or will. Until then, the work of the métempsicoses continues forever. It is good to note that by the word soul, we mean only the oneself, only the me.

Today, the only teaching in the schools of Nyayam is the logic filled by the Bracmanes with an infinity of questions much more subtle than they are useful. It is a chaos of trifles, such as was, nearly two centuries ago, the logic in Europe. Students spend several years learning a thousand vain subtleties about the members of the syllogism, about causes, about negations, about genera, species, etc. They argue fiercely over such nonsense, and retire without having acquired any further knowledge. This is what gave the Nyàyam the name of Tarkachâtram.

From this school formerly emerged the most famous adversaries of the Bauddists, whose princes they caused a horrible massacre to be carried out in several kingdoms. Oudayanâchârya and Battâ distinguished themselves in this dispute; and the last, to purify himself of so much blood that he had caused to be shed, burned himself with great solemnity at Jagannâth on the coast of Oricha.

IX.

The school of Vedàntam (end of the law) of which Sankrâchârya was once the founder, prevailed over all other schools for metaphysics; so that the Bracmanes who want to pass for scholars, stick blindly to its principles. I even believe that one would no longer find any Saniassi today outside this school. What distinguishes it from the others is the opinion of the simple unity of an existing being, which is none other than the self or the soul. Nothing exists except this me.

The notions that its followers give of this being are admirable. In its simple unity it is somehow triune by its existence, by its infinite light, and its supreme joy; everything there is eternal, immaterial, infinite. But because the intimate experience of the self is not in conformity with this beautiful idea, they admit another principle, but purely negative, and which consequently has no reality of being, it is the Maya of the self, that is to say, error: for example, I currently believe I am writing to you on the system of Vedantam, I am mistaken. In truth I am me, but you do not exist; I am not writing to you, no one has ever thought of either Vedantam or this system, I am wrong: that is all, but my error is not a being. This is what they explain by the comparison they continually have at their mouth with a rope on the ground, which one takes for a serpent.

I saw in a poem (for they have philosophical ones unknown to the vulgar; the sentences of the first masters are even in verse), I saw, I say, that Vassichta told his disciple Rama, that a Saniassi in a pond, sunk in the contemplation of Mâyâ, was ravished in spirit: he thought he was born into an infamous caste, and experienced all the adventures of the children of this condition; that having reached a more mature age, he went to a distant country, where, on his good looks, he was placed on the throne; that after a few years of reign, he was discovered by a traveler from his country, who introduced him to his subjects, who put him to death, and to purify themselves of the defilement they had contracted, all threw themselves into a pyre, where they were consumed by the flames. The Saniassi, recovered from his ecstasy, came out of the pond, his mind fully occupied with his vision. No sooner had he returned home than a foreign Saniassi arrived, who, after the first civilities, related to him the whole story of his vision as a certain fact, and the deplorable catastrophe which had just happened in a country neighbour, of which he had been an eyewitness, Le Saniassi then understood that the story and the vision, each as untrue as the other, were only the Mayâ he wanted to know.

Wisdom therefore consists in freeing oneself from Maya by a constant application to oneself, by persuading oneself that one is the unique, eternal and infinite Being, without letting one's attention to this alleged truth be interrupted by the attacks of Maya. The key to the deliverance of the soul is in these words, which these false sages must repeat to themselves incessantly with a pride more exaggerated than that of Lucifer: I am the Supreme Being, Aham ava param Brachma.

The speculative persuasion of this proposition must produce its experimental conviction, which cannot be without felicity. Evanuerunt in cogitationibus suis (Rom. I, v. 21.). (They lost themselves in their vain thoughts.) This oracle was never more exactly verified than in the person of those superb philosophers, whose extravagant system rules among the scholars in immense countries. The trade of the Bracmanes has communicated these mad ideas to almost all who pride themselves on wit. This is why new missionaries must be on their guard, when they hear the Bracmanes speak so emphatically of the simple unity of God Adduitam, and of the falsity of the goods and pleasures of this world, Màyâ.

X.

The school of Sankiam (digital) founded by Kapil, which rejects the Oupoumànam of logic, seems at first more modest; but basically it says almost the same thing. It admits a spiritual nature and a material nature, both real and eternal. Spiritual nature, by its will to communicate outside of itself, unites itself by several degrees to material nature. From the first union are born a certain number of forms and qualities: the numbers are determined. Among the forms is egoity (permit me this term) by which each says me, I am one, and not another. A second union of the spirit, already emancipated in forms and qualities, with matter, produces the elements; a third, the visible world. This is the synthesis of the universe.

Wisdom, which produces the deliverance of the spirit, is its analysis; happy fruit of contemplation, by which the mind emerges sometimes from one form or quality and sometimes from another, by these three truths. I am in no thing, no thing is mine, the myself is not, Nasmin, name, Màham, Finally, the time comes when the spirit is freed from all these forms; and here is the end of the world, where everything has returned to its first state.

Kapil teaches that the religions he knew only tighten the bonds in which the mind is embarrassed, instead of helping it to free itself from them; for, he says, the worship of subordinate deities, who are only the productions of the last and lowest union of spirit with matter, uniting us to its object instead of separating us from it, adds a new chain to those whose spirit is already overwhelmed. The cult of the superior divinities, Brama, Vishnu, Routren, which are in truth the effects of the first unions of spirit with matter, can only always be an obstacle to its perfect release. So much for the religion of the Vedan, whose gods are only the principles of which the world is composed, or the very parts of the world composed of these principles. For that of the people, which is, like the religion of the Greeks and Romans, charged with the fabulous, infamous and impious stories of the poets, it forms an infinity of new bonds to the spirit by the passions which it favors, and whose victory is one of the first steps the spirit must take if it aspires to deliverance. So Kapil reasons.

The school of Mimàmsâ, whose own opinion is that of an invincible destiny, seems freer in the judgment it passes on other opinions; its followers examine the sentiments of other schools, and speak for and against, much like the academicians of Athens.

I'm not familiar enough with other schools' systems; what I mark for you here must even be regarded only as a sketch to which a more skilful hand would have many features to add, and perhaps several to subtract. It is enough for me to let you know that India is a country where many new discoveries can still be made. I am, etc.

*************************


Chapter 6: Jean Francois Pons (1698-1754), Excerpt from "A Reader on the Sanskrit Grammarians"
Edited by J.F. Staal
© 1972 by The Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Among the first Western scholars to hear about linguistics in India was Filippo Sassetti (1540-1588). Sassetti was greatly impressed by the Indian discovery that different sounds are produced by the various movements of the mouth and the tongue. He himself extended this idea even further by attributing the large number of sounds in Indian languages to the widespread native custom of chewing betel leaves and areca nuts (Thieme 1957a, 267 note).

Several missionaries who worked in India came in closer contact with Sanskrit and wrote grammars of Sanskrit in Latin, for which they most probably made use of the Indian tradition. Around 1660, Henrich Roth, S.J., composed a grammar of Sanskrit, the manuscript of which was recently discovered in the National Central Library in Rome by A. Camps, O.F.M. In 1790 a grammar was brought out in Rome by Paulinus of St. Bartholomew, O.C.D. Little is known about these grammars, and they do not seem to have had any direct bearing on the origins of Indology.

Some specific information about the Indian grammarians was provided by another Jesuit who worked in India, Father Jean François Pons, S.J. (1698-1752). Pons, who was born in Rodez, France, left for India in 1726. He wrote a letter from Karikal, in Southeast India, on November 23,1740 to Father du Halde, another Jesuit priest. This letter was soon published in [url=x]Lettres édifiantes et curieuses, écrites des Missions Étrangères, par quelques Missionaires de la Compagnie de JESUS[/url], XXVI. Recueil (Paris 1743). Pons refers to an abridgment of a grammar which he had earlier made and sent to Rome, but about which nothing was known until Filliozat discovered the manuscript in Paris in the Bibliothèque du Roi, where it had been studied by A. L. de Chézy, who occupied the first chair of Sanskrit (founded for him in 1814) at the Collège de France (Filliozat 1937; for Chézy see below page 50). Pons's manuscript was also studied by Anquetil-Duperron, the first translator of the Upanisads (from a seventeenth-century Persian version), which were in turn made famous by Schopenhauer.

The second part of Pons's letter (printed on pages 222-227 of the Lettres édifiantes) is reproduced here. Of particular interest is the stress laid on the "small number of primitive elements," themselves not used (i.e., themselves abstract) from which the Sanskrit grammarians are said to derive "the infinite variety of actual forms in use"; and also the implication that the rules of grammar are described explicitly, so that someone who "knows nothing but grammar" can apply them. The title here chosen from the table of contents of the Lettres édifiantes (page 453), i.e., "Richesse et énergie . . . " contains a préfiguration of Humboldt's energeia or Thätigkeit.

Anubhütisvarüpäcärya is the traditional founder of the Särasvata school of grammar, a non-Päninian school called after the goddess of speech, Sarasvatï. The Särasvata grammar is indeed greatly abridged, but is probably not older than the thirteenth century A.D. The passage about king Jamour refers to the Jaumara school of grammar, another non-Päninian school, founded in the thirteenth century by Kramadïsvara. The school derives its name from its most famous grammarian, Jumaranandin, who is referred to in the manuscripts as mahäräjädhiräja 'sovereign king of great kings', and who was accordingly ridiculed by opponents as a member of the low weaver caste (Belvalkar 1915, 91-96,108-109).

Richesse et énergie de la langue Samskret, et comment et par qui elle a été réduite en Grammaire (1740)


La Grammaire des Brahmanes peut être mise au rang des plus belles sciences; jamais l'Analyse & la Synthèse ne furent plus heureusement employées, que dans leurs ouvrages grammaticaux de la langue Samskret ou Samskroutan. Il me paroît que cette langue si admirable par son harmonie, son abondance, & son énergie, étoit autrefois la langue vivante dans les pays habités par les premiers Brahmanes. Après bien des siècles elle s'est insensiblement corrompue dans l'usage commun, de sorte que le langage des Anciens Richi ou Pénitens dans les Vedam ou livres sacrés, est assez souvent inintelligible aux plus habiles, qui ne sçavent que le Samskret fixé par les grammaires.

Plusieurs siècles après l'âge de Richi, de grands Philosophes s'étudièrent à en conserver la connoissance, telle qu'on l'avoit de leur tems, qui étoit, à ce qu'il me semble, l'âge de l'ancienne poésie. Anoubhout fut le premier qui forma un corps de grammaire, c'est le Sarasvat, ouvrage digne de Sarasvadi, qui est, selon les Indiens, la Déesse de la parole, & la parole même. Quoique ce soit la plus abrégée des grammaires, le mérite de son antiquité l'a mise en grande vogue dans les écoles de l'Indoustan. Pania aidé du Sarasvat composa un ouvrage immense des régies du Samskret. Le Roi Jamour le fit abréger par Kramadisvar; & c'est cette Grammaire, dont j'ai fait l'abrégé, que j'envoyai, il y a deux ans, & qui vous aura sans doute été communiquée; Kalap en composa une plus propre aux sciences. Il y en a encore trois autres de différens Auteurs, la gloire de l'invention est principalement due a Anoubhout.

Il est étonnant que l'esprit humain ait pu atteindre à la perfection de l'art, qui éclatte dans ces Grammaires: les Auteurs y ont réduit par l'Analyse la plus riche langue du monde, à un petit nombre d'élémens primitifs, qu'on peut regarder comme le caput mortuum de la langue. Ces élémens ne sont par eux-mêmes d'aucun usage, ils ne signifient proprement rien, ils ont seulement rapport à une idée, par exemple Kru à l'idée d'action. Les élémens secondaires qui affectent le primitif, sont les terminaisons qui le fixent à être nom ou verbe, celles selon lesquelles il doit se décliner ou conjuguer un certain nombre de syllabes à placer entre l'élément primitif & les terminaisons, quelques propositions, &c. A l'approche des élémens secondaires le primitif change souvent de figure; Kru, par exemple, devient, selon ce qui lui est ajouté, Kar, Kör, Kri, Kir, Kïr &c. La Synthèse réunit & combine tous ces élémens & en forme une variété infinie de termes d'usage.

Ce sont les régies de cette union & de cette combinaison des élémens que lagrammaire enseigne, de sorte qu'un simple écolier, qui ne sçauroit rien que lagrammaire, peut en opérant, selon les régies, sur une racine ou élément primitif, en tirer plusieurs milliers de mots vraiment Samskrets. C'est cet art qui a donné le nom à la langue, car Samskret signifie synthétique ou composé.

Mais comme l'usage fait varier à l'infini la signification des termes, quoiqu'ils conservent toujours une certaine analogie à l'idée attachée à la racine, il a été nécessaire de déterminer le sens par des Dictionnaires. Ils en ont dix-huit, faits sur différentes méthodes. Celui qui est le plus en usage, composé par Amarasimha, est rangé à peu près selon la méthode qu'a suivi l'Auteur de l'Indiculus Universalis. Le Dictionnaire intitulé Visväbhidhänam, est rangé par ordre alphabétique, selon les lettres finales des mots.

Outre ces Dictionnaires généraux, chaque science a son introduction, où l'on apprend les termes propres qu'on chercheroit en vain par tout ailleurs. Cela a été nécessaire pour conserver aux Sciences un air de mystère, telement affecté aux Brahmanes, que non contens d'avoir des termes inconnus au vulgaire, ils ont enveloppé sous des termes mystérieux les choses les plus communes.


Google translate:

The Grammar of the Brahmans can be put in the rank of the finest sciences; never were Analysis & Synthesis more happily employed than in their grammatical works of the Samskret or Samskroutan language. It seems to me that this language, so admirable for its harmony, its abundance, and its energy, was formerly the living language in the countries inhabited by the first Brahmans. After many centuries it has been imperceptibly corrupted in common usage, so that the language of the Ancient Rishis or Penitents in the Vedams or sacred books is quite often unintelligible to the most skilful, who know only the Samskret fixed by the grammars.

Several centuries after the age of Richi, great philosophers studied to preserve the knowledge of it, such as we had it in their time, which was, as it seems to me, the age of the ancient poetry. Anoubhout was the first to form a body of grammar, it is the Sarasvat, a work worthy of Sarasvadi, who is, according to the Indians, the Goddess of speech, and speech itself. Although it is the shortest of grammars, the merit of its antiquity has made it very fashionable in the schools of Hindustan. Pania with the help of the Sarasvat composed an immense work from the management of the Samskret. King Jamour had it abbreviated by Kramadisvar; & it is this Grammar, of which I made the summary, that I sent, two years ago, & which will undoubtedly have been communicated to you; Kalap composed one more specific to the sciences. There are still three others from different authors, the glory of the invention is mainly due to Anoubhout.

It is astonishing that the human mind was able to reach the perfection of the art which shines in these Grammars: the Authors have reduced there by Analysis the richest language in the world, to a small number of primitive elements, which can be regarded as the caput mortuum of language. These elements are by themselves of no use, they mean nothing properly, they only relate to an idea, for example Kru to the idea of ​​action. The secondary elements which affect the primitive, are the endings which fix it to be noun or verb, those according to which it must be declined or conjugated a certain number of syllables to be placed between the primitive element & the endings, some propositions, &c. At the approach of the secondary elements, the primitive often changes shape; Kru, for example, becomes, according to what is added to it, Kar, Kör, Kri, Kir, Kïr &c. The Synthesis brings together & combines all these elements & forms an infinite variety of terms of use.

They are the rules of this union and this combination of the elements that grammar teaches, so that a simple schoolboy, who knows nothing but grammar, can by operating, according to the rules, on a root or primitive element, draw several thousands of words truly Samskrets. It is this art that gave the name to the language, because Samskret means synthetic or compound.

But as usage causes the meaning of the terms to vary ad infinitum, although they always retain a certain analogy to the idea attached to the root, it was necessary to determine the meaning by Dictionaries. They have eighteen, made on different methods. The one most in use, composed by Amarasimha, is arranged more or less according to the method followed by the Author of the Indiculus Universalis. The Dictionary, entitled Visväbhidhänam, is arranged alphabetically, according to the final letters of the words.

Besides these general Dictionaries, each science has its introduction, where one learns the proper terms that one would seek in vain anywhere else. This was necessary to preserve in the sciences an air of mystery, so affected to the Brahmans, that not content with having terms unknown to the vulgar, they enveloped the most common things in mysterious terms.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Tue May 10, 2022 4:00 am

Lettres édifiantes et curieuses (Edifying and curious letters)
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/9/22



Edifying and Curious Letters is a 34-volume collection of letters sent to Europe by Jesuit missionaries in China, the Levant, India, America, and elsewhere. Published between 1702 and 1776, this collection did much to open Europe, and especially France, to non-European cultures.

Summary

Origin


So that the government of the Society of Jesus was based on good information, Ignatius of Loyola established a system of correspondence where all Jesuits with authority were asked to write to him regularly ( Constitutions, no. 674, 790). There are thus the Annual Relations of the various missions, and the other letters, addressed more personally to Ignatius, in a warmer tone. During the saint's lifetime, some letters sent from India by Francis Xavier (January 1544,april 1552, etc.) are at the origin of many missionary vocations.

Development

The uplifting aspect


As all apostolic work, in Europe as well as in mission, depends on the generosity of benefactors, it is important to inform them regularly about what is being done with their donations. There are two types of letters, the Business Letters, which deal with the people and the problems to be solved, and the others, which speak of the apostolic work, its development and its successes. The first are for internal use and intended strictly for the internal government of the Company, the others (the “edifying ones”) are copied and distributed among friends, prelates, and various benefactors. They are having great success.

The curious look

During the 16th century and the 17th century, as overseas travel (for commercial purposes) multiplied between Europe and other continents, especially America and Asia, a great curiosity developed that merchants, who did not have only episodic contacts with these "new countries", are not able to satisfy. The missionaries, who live there and have learned the language, are good observers (due to their intellectual training) and can meet this demand. To the "edifying" aspect of their letters they add the "curious". In addition to recounting the sufferings of the missionaries, the joys of numerous baptisms, the martyrdoms as well, they offer in the same correspondence real reports on China ., its mode of government, the peculiarities of its language, its manners and customs. All of this gave rise to the first European sinology and aroused a real enthusiasm for "chinoiseries" and everything that came from the Middle Kingdom. Other letters circulate, coming from America, the Levant or India, but it is the letters from China that have the greatest impact. This enthusiasm even pushed Father Jean-Baptiste Du Halde — who never left Paris in his life — to write a Description of China entirely based on the correspondence received. She was authoritative.

Publication of the collection

Partial publications of letters take place during the 16th century ( the very first printed letter was that of François Xavier to the students of Paris, in 1545). Then Father Charles Le Gobien, procurator in Paris of the Jesuit missions in China, undertook to collect the correspondence and publish them together. As the first volume, released in 1702, was very well received, he published others at the rate of one per year (vols. I-VIII). It gives as title to the collection Letters edifying and curious, written from the Foreign Missions by some Missionaries of the Society of Jesus. Father Jean-Baptiste Du Halde takes over and publishes (from 1709 to 1743) volumes IX to XXVI. Then, volumes XXVII, XXVIII, XXXI, XXXIII, XXXIV are published by Father Louis Patouillet (from 1749 to 1776) and the missing volumes (vol. XXIX-XXX-XXXII) by Father Ambrose Maréchal (en).

Influences of “Letters”

These publications played an essential role in the opening and the evolution of the ideas of the Age of Enlightenment. The great minds of the time such as Voltaire and Montesquieu were full of praise for what the letters brought them. Leibniz spoke of the Jesuit mission in China as “the greatest affair of our time”. By their precise objectivity, the diversity and breadth of the subjects treated, and the depth of the reflection, they deserve to be placed among the great encyclopedic works of the Age of Enlightenment. They allowed a first relativization of many European mores and customs.

Successive publications

The work is translated in whole or in part into Spanish (16 vol., 1753-1757), Italian (18 vol., 1825-1829), German (7 vol., 1726-1761). For the English edition (2v., 1743), John Lockman thought it best to remove the accounts of conversions and miracles, as "rather insipid and ridiculous in the eyes of English readers, and indeed to any intelligent and good taste ". New editions appeared during the 19th century, the letters then being arranged by region of origin. The last major complete edition is that of Louis Aimé-Martin, released in 1838 and 1843.

The journal Nouvelles des missions, founded in 1822, and which took the name of Annals of the propagation of the faith in 1826, appears on the title page as a Collection following all the editions of the 'Edifying Letters'. The latter suspended its publication in 1974.

Bibliography

• Jean-Baptiste Du Halde, Edifying and Curious Letters… (34 vol.), Paris, 1703-1776.
• Antoine Caillot, Beauty of Old and New Edifying Letters, Paris, 1838.
• L. Aimé-Martin, Edifying and curious letters concerning Asia, Africa and America, 4 volumes, ed. Literary Pantheon Society, Paris, 1848. Online: Volume IV: China. — Indo-China. — Oceania. [ archive ] on Gallica
• (Letters from China): Isabelle and Jean-Louis Vissière, Edifying and Curious Letters from China by Jesuit Missionaries (1702-1776), ed. Garnier-Flammarion, Paris, 1979; reissue under the title Edifying and Curious Letters of the Jesuits of China (1702-1776), ed. Desjonqueres, Paris, 2002.
• (Letters from New France): François Roustang, Jesuits of New France, ed. Desclee de Brouwer, Paris, 1960.

See as well

Related articles


• Jesuit mission in China
• Jesuit relations

external links

• Examples of three letters [archive]
• University of Michigan collection [archive], first editions, at Internet Archive

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Table of Contents:

Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 1, 1780
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 1, 1819
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 2, 1780
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 2, 1819
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 3, 1819
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 4, 1780
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 4, 1819
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 5, 1780
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 6, 1818
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 7, 1819
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 8, 1819
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 9, 1781
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 9, 1819
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 10, 1781
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 10, 1819
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 11, 1781
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 11, 1819
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 12, 1781
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 12, 1819
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 13, 1781
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 13, 1819
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 14, 1781
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 14, 1819
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 15, 1781
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 16, 1781
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 17, 1781
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 18, 1781
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 19, 1703
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 19, 1729
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 20, 1811
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 21, 1781
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 22, 1781
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 23, 1781
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 24, 1781
Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres, by Charles Le Gobien, Volume 25, 1783
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Tue May 10, 2022 5:42 am

The Tolstoy-Dolan Mission and the Establishment of US-Tibetan Relations: An Investigation Into the Events That Unfolded After the First Visit of American Representatives to Lhasa in 1943
by Maximilian Ernst
Seoul National University Journal of International Affairs, 2 (1). pp. 3-13.
2017



This article investigates the events that unfolded during and after the visit of two Office of Strategic Service (OSS) agents to Lhasa in spring 1943. To date, not much is known about this first visit of American representatives to the state of Tibet, which happened at a time when the US and its allies’ strategic priority was the containment of Japanese influence in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater. Through an analysis of cables between the US government agencies in Washington and with embassies of allies in both Washington and Chongqing, this article reconstructs these events. More specifically, the complications that unfolded throughout the year 1943 can be traced back to the visit of Captain Ilia Tolstoy and Lieutenant Brooke Dolan to Lhasa in February.

The major findings of this analysis are: 1) Lhasa was actively endeavoring independence from China and sought to do so by establishing friendly relations with the US, prior to the end of WWII; 2) the involvement of the OSS in the Tibetan independence struggle, at the time against the advice of the State Department, foreshadows the CIA’s actions in Tibet in the 1950s; 3) the suboptimal communication between US government agencies, as well as the secretiveness among the Allied forces, most prominently the Chongqing Government.

Maximilian Ernst is the Managing Editor at the Global Politics Review, Journal of International Studies. He is a graduate of Yonsei University Graduate School of International Studies, where he majored in International Security and Foreign Policy, and the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, where he majored in Chinese Studies. Max’s research focus is on Chinese foreign policy and East Asian security.


Introduction

Early in 1943, two American envoys, who were also OSS agents – Captain Ilia Tolstoy (the émigré grandson of the famous Russian novelist) and Lieutenant Brooke Dolan – made their journey to Tibet to present a letter by President Roosevelt to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.1

During their visit, the two agents learned that the Tibetans had great use for a set of long-range broadcasting devices. The Tibetans asked whether the Americans could supply one of these devices, as they had none. The request was proceeded to the OSS headquarters in Washington in due practice, but when “preparations were made for the dispatch of the equipment, flustered State Department officials learned of the request. They objected the gift because it would be ‘politically embarrassing and cause irritation and offense to the Chinese,’ who had territorial claims on Tibet.”2 The American mission to Tibet was not only a diplomatic endeavor, but also a strategic operation. The OSS, backed by India, sought to establish an alternative supply corridor to Burma in order to support the Allied war effort in China against Japan. Conversely, the State Department was concerned about the Chinese reaction to American assistance to Tibet, on which the KMT government in Chongqing had territorial claims. In addition, the British, another ally, had their own view on, and interests in the situation of Tibet, which they did not hold back with when the British Embassy in Washington sent a letter to the Department of State informing the recipient on their interpretation of Tibetan sovereignty.3 On May 18, 1943, the Chinese concentrated a force of 10,000 troops along the Tibetan border, reportedly to gain foothold of the region and to eventually bring Tibet under effective Chinese control.4

This article investigates the events that unfolded after the visit of the two OSS agents in Lhasa in more detail. For this purpose, the author undertakes a thorough analysis of diplomatic cables that were sent or received by the State Department. Through this effort, the article provides a detailed reconstruction of the diplomatic, strategic, and military considerations by the parties involved, most notably the Tibetans, the Chinese, the British, and various US government agencies. The findings in this article are expected to inform the discourse of the Tibetan independence struggle, which is still going on today, as well as the role that American intelligence agencies played therein as early as 1943.

The CBI in the early 1940s and the OSS’ mission in China

The broader context of this article is the Allied anti-Japanese war effort. Before the focus returns to the year 1943 and the Southeast-Chinese region, a brief exposition of the state of war in the CBI will be provided: World War II, from a Chinese Perspective, was essentially the 2nd Sino-Japanese War (中国抗日战争), which broke out on July 7, 1937. Prior to 1937, Imperial Japan had already occupied parts of the Chinese mainland through its aggressive, expansionist policy in Asia.5 Burma is of central priority for this paper’s analysis because the Japanese occupation of Burma from 1942 to 1945 interrupted Allied supply of ROC territory with headquarters in Chongqing from India, under British/ Commonwealth Control, to China by land route. Since Japan effectively controlled both China’s West, i.e. coastal regions and Burma, the Chinese Nationalist government—as well as Allied troops and officials under the lend-lease program of the Sino-American Cooperative Organization (SACO) —were isolated. Therefore, the only supply route from India was by air; the so-called Hump,6 an airlift by an American military transport aircraft from Assam, India to Kunming in Yunnan, over the Eastern Himalayas.7

General Stillwell,8 Rana Mitter,9 and Barbara Tuchman give accurate accounts of the dire situation of the Sino-American anti-Japanese war efforts in Burma.10 The general strategic quagmire that the Allies faced was accentuated by underlying discord in their own ranks. The British leadership, for instance, oftentimes showed little commitment to assist the Chinese fight against Japan unless it served their strategic interests. The Chongqing Government, as far as the British were concerned, was better left to “fall than to disrupt the major effort against Japan.”11 In general, London hoped for a victorious but weak post- WWII China, in order to continue to maintain a British sphere of influence in Southeast Asia. After the war, the British hoped to regain control of Burma. General Joseph Stilwell was a strong supporter of a campaign to retake Burma and secure the land supply route from India to continue the anti-Japanese struggle, which in his opinion should rely mostly on ground troops.12

The role of the OSS in the war at that time was still young; only the year before had Roosevelt created the OCI (Office of the Coordinator of Information) and made William Joseph Donovan its director. The organization was created prior to the United States’ official entry into the war to direct “un-American” subversive practices such as “espionage, sabotage, ‘black’ propaganda, [and] guerrilla warfare.”13 On June 13, 1942, a few months after Pearl Harbor, the OSS was created with a more general mission of intelligence collection and analysis, assisting other military and government agencies and special operations, thus gradually assuming the role of the US’ first centralized intelligence agency. The leadership, however, remained largely the same and so did the close tie to Roosevelt. The connection between Roosevelt and the OSS as his personal foreign policy arm is further exemplified by the fact that President Truman terminated the OSS briefly after the end of WWII.

The OSS mission in the CBI included not only operations to assist the Kuomintang Forces and their intelligence apparatus around Dai Li,14 but also to lead them into Burma, Tibet, and the so called ‘Red China’, i.e. the Chinese Communist base in Yan’an where OSS agents also helped train and equip Mao’s and Zhu’s famous 8th Route Army.15 Among the agents sent to Yan’an was Lieutenant Dolan, who was part of the earlier Tibet mission (The Tibet Mission will be introduced in more detail in this article. For more detailed information on OSS missions in Europe and Asia, Smith gives an accurate account and Yu provides a detailed history of OSS activities in China).

The Japanese Imperial Army that the Allied CBI forces under Stilwell’s command were up against was one that had proven itself capable to conquer and hold control over vast territories in Asia, not just in China’s east but also in Southeast Asia. After the Japanese success in Pearl Harbor, Japanese strategists were inspired to quickly capture Hong Kong and the Philippines. It suddenly seemed that the mighty British Army was not such a formidable foe, which made Burma look more like an attractive target. The main strategic value of the Japanese Burma campaign was to put a wedge between China and India, inhibiting supplies to the Chinese eastern-front, “and making the eastern flank of British India vulnerable. On February 9, the Japanese 15th Army moved to take the capital, Rangoon, and then drove north toward Toungoo and Mandalay.”16

If not already evident earlier, the Sino-British rift became evident in the aftermath of the Japanese advance towards Burma. Chiang Kai-shek was ready to suspend the Fifth and Sixth Armies to help the British defend Rangoon, “but his gesture was rejected by Archibald Wavell, British commander in chief for India and supreme commander, Far East.”17 This rejection, felt in both Chongqing and Washington, was rooted in British imperial pride and their unwillingness to have their colony defended by the “dirty Chinese.”18 The British hubris was further punished by military disaster on February 15, when they lost their naval base in Singapore to Japan. It was during this time that Stilwell arrived in Chongqing to assume his position under the supreme commander of the Allied Forces, while General Chiang Kai-shek was set as the chief of staff of the Allied Forces in the CBI. Initially, Chiang was accommodating of Stilwell, which is mostly of what he represented; a gesture of closeness between the US and China, but clearly “he had no intention of actually ceding command to a Westerner.”19

Stilwell’s campaign to reclaim Burma at the end of March with two of Chiang’s best armies went without success. If we can believe Stilwell’s diary, the sole reason for the campaign’s failure was incapacity of and miscommunication with Chongqing and the Generalissimo’s premature decision to retreat.20 In the weeks to follow, Stilwell attempted to reinstate control in Burma, a mission that went terribly wrong; Stilwell and his remaining troops were trapped in the Burmese Jungle in late April. Of these forces, Stilwell managed to save a group of eighty people, “including American, Chinese, and British soldiers, Indian engineers, and Burmese nurses. Stilwell led this unlikely group on a terrifying journey through a jungle where disease and snakebite were as much a threat as the enemy.”21 On May 20th, the group reached India, and from there Stilwell went back to China. From then on relations between Stilwell and Chiang remained sour because both blamed the failed Burma campaign on each other.22 The Japanese army pushed back all Chinese troops and secured Burma, but did not advance further into China or India because their objective, i.e. denying supply of the Chinese through India, had succeeded.

Tibet in 1943 and the Tolstoy-Donovan Mission to Lhasa

The so-called rooftop kingdom of Asia had enjoyed factual autonomy and independence from China since the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. While the Kuomintang government officially continued to claim suzerainty over Tibet, they were not able to project actual control over the vast mountainous territory in China’s far west. The events of 1942, in particular the loss of Burma to the British, did not create the tensions between Tibet and China. It rather elevated these onto the stage of WWII-Asia and into the consciousness of the Allied Powers, more specifically, that of the British and the Americans; the KMT Government had already earlier demanded from Lhasa to allow the transit of military equipment and other goods through Tibetan territory. The Tibetans, however, did not want to create “any excuse for a Chinese presence in Tibetan territory [and refused]. They feared that should arrangements go awry, the Chinese army and their ‘new’ equipment and men might acquire a permanent home on Tibetan roads.”23

The need for the Americans to move cargo through Tibet was apparent due to the loss of Burma in 1942. Therefore, the OSS made the plan to send two agents to Lhasa to talk to the Tibetans directly; their alleged mission: “to survey a possible supply route from India to China via Tibet to replace the Burma Road that had two months earlier fallen to the Japanese.”24 Initially, Lhasa refused the admission of the two Americans, presumably because rejecting foreigners from countries that had not established relations to their territory was due practice for Tibetan officials at that time, or alternatively, because this request was presented to the Tibetans through middlemen of the Chinese government. Only through the help of British officials in India could Frank Ludlow, head of the British Mission to Lhasa, be persuaded to talk to the Tibetan Foreign Minister Surkhand Szasa regarding this matter. Ludlow presented the reasonable argument that the visit of the two Americans should be advantageous to Tibet’s political future.25

While the two Americans were officially sent to Tibet to present regards from President Roosevelt and examine the prospects to find an alternative supply line for China, it later became clear that their actual orders had come from General Stilwell and Donovan with a mission to observe the “attitudes of [sic] people of Tibet; to secure allies and discover enemies; locate strategic targets and survey the territory as a possible field for future activities.”26 What made this journey of Tolstoy and Dolan into Tibet so remarkable is that it represented the first official visit of representatives of the US government to Tibet. It appears that especially Tolstoy made a great impression on the Dalai Lama, to whom he was granted an audience, where Tolstoy presented the gifts Roosevelt had given them on their way: a gold watch and a silver framed picture of President Roosevelt together with a letter written by the President in person. The Tolstoy-Dolan mission was a success in many ways. The Tibetans not only welcomed the two Americans with all honors and even an audience with the Dalai Lama, but also responded with gifts and a note that read: “this is the first time that friendly relations were established between Tibet and the USA,”27 which illustrates that the Tibetans were aware of the historic precedent of the event as well as its meaning for Tibet’s future struggle as an independent country.

During his visit, Tolstoy not only offered a radio transmitter, but suggested that a Tibetan delegation “attend a World Peace Conference to be held in 1944; he had, in a moment of excess, overstepped the bounds of his position.”28 Both offers raised the question of Tibet’s diplomatic status, a question worth to be addressed by an official American perspective at another time. While Tolstoy and Dolan accomplished their mission of establishing friendly relations with the Tibetan government, the visit did a disservice to American interests in the CBI, because in the year 1943, stable relations with China were more important than friendly relations and diplomatic commitments to a Buddhist kingdom on the top of the Himalaya.

The supply road from India through Tibet to China, the reason for the mission in the first place, was not built in the end, because “it would take too long and have little impact on the war effort.”29

Analysis of State Department Communications regarding the Tibet issue

This chapter undertakes the analysis of cables between the State Department and several offices in Washington and Asia (OSS headquarters, American Delegations in New Delhi and Chongqing, British Delegations in Washington, New Delhi and Chongqing). The purpose of this analysis is to determine what diplomatic consequences unfolded after the two OSS agents had promised the Tibetans a radio transmitter set. On a side-note, one may point out that the first written exchanges between Lhasa and Washington all emphasize the mutual goodwill, sympathy, and gratitude regarding the historic precedent which constituted from this first encounter between representatives of the American and Tibetan people. On the 19th Day of the 1st Tibetan Month in the Water Sheep Year, which is calculated by the State Department as February 24, 1943, the Dalai Lama wrote to President Roosevelt, expressing great gratification for his letter and the tokens of goodwill (an autographed photo and an exquisite gold watch) through his envoys, Capt. I. Tolstoy and Lieut. Brooke Dolan. The Dalai Lama further expressed his appreciation for the interest that the people of the United States of America showed towards his country and pointed out the significance of the war that the people of the US, along with 27 other countries, were fighting against “nations bent on conquest who are intent upon destroying freedom of thought, of religion, and of action everywhere.” He goes on to emphasize that, “Tibet also values her freedom and independence enjoyed from time immemorial.”30 The underlying message that the Dalai Lama sends to Washington is: embedded into his appreciation of the good fight for freedom by the US; that Tibet is and always was an independent country; and needs her political and religious freedoms protected which implies that these freedoms were being threatened, although the origin of the threat is not clearly stated.

The first time the radio set gets mentioned is in the memorandum of a telephone conversation on March 20th by Alger Hiss (Assistant to the Adviser on Political Relations) and Colonel M. Preston Goodfellow of OSS, who reported that the Cabinet of Tibet had requested “a complete radio transmitting set for use for broadcasting within Tibet.” Furthermore, Colonel Goodfellow points out that the OSS “has such a set which could be made available for this purpose.” The Colonel finally reports that Donovan and the OSS in general believe that the two men in Tibet (Tolstoy and Dolan) “had done a good job of establishing friendly relations with the Tibetan authorities and that it would be helpful to our war effort in ‘the general area’ if the set should be sent.”31

Ten days later, on March 30, George Atcheson Jr. (Assistant Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs) voices the first concerns over the possible implications that this radio transmitter might have. His assessment reads as follows: “After careful consideration of this matter in so far as it may affect our relations with China, we are of the opinion that to supply a radio transmitting set to the Tibetans would be politically embarrassing and cause irritation and offense to the Chinese.”32 The reasons Atcheson gives for this assessment are: (1) the Chinese had requested such a radio transmitter set under lend-lease two years earlier, which was declined, (2) the Chinese would thus be offended, (3) the Chinese claim suzerainty over Tibet, which would not welcome the installation of a radio transmitter in Tibet, (4) that the Chinese would not object American visitors to Tibet in general, but not favor the supply of equipment that may be used against them.33

Atcheson thus recommends that, “from the view of our relations with China, that these considerations be brought to the attention of the Office of Strategic Services; that that agency be urged to drop the proposal to ship a radio transmitter to the Tibetans and that some other gift be substituted therefore.”34

When there was growing opposition against sending the radio set in the following weeks, Atcheson did not change his position on the matter in order to not upset the Chinese. On April 3rd, Mr. Hiss had another telephone conversation with Goodfellow inquiring whether it would be necessary for the State Department to reiterate its strong opposition against the provision of the radio set to Tibet in a more formal matter, as “unless OSS should decide to drop the matter of sending transmitting station to Tibet, [he] believed that the Department would wish to press its objections more strenuously.”35 However, Goodfellow made one remark that further complicated the situation. He pointed out that the radio set may not be seen as courtesy of the American Government, but rather be regarded as strategic asset for American use. Mr. Hiss, in due respect to his capacities as adviser on political relations, did not comment on this strategic matter and Goodfellow asserted that it indeed did not warrant “any reconsideration on [the State Department’s] part.”36

Instead of a more formal expression of opposition by the State Department, Donovan personally wrote to Hornbeck (Department of State Adviser on Political Relations) on April 12th, explaining the importance of continuing with the ‘matter’ regarding the newly established US-Tibet relations from a diplomatic perspective and adding the strategic element to be considered: If the Tibetan request for radio transmitters be complied with, it “will open the Tibet region 1200 miles east and west for Allied influence and further modernization of territory which will be strategically valuable in the future.”37 He also mentions that the US authorities in New Delhi and the Government of India were in agreement with this interpretation, i.e. the diplomatic and strategic value of providing the radio set.

One week later, on April 19, the State Department received a seemingly unrelated letter by the British Embassy. The document does not mention the Tolstoy-Dolan mission or radio transmitters in any regard, yet it shows that for some reason the diplomats at the British Embassy in Washington must have felt the urge to enlighten the State Department on the status of Tibet. The reason why the British mention Tibet in the first place appears to be a conversation between Mr. Eden (British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs) and T.V. Soong (Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs) on March 15, in which the “question of Tibet” was raised. For the remainder of the document, the British side explains at length what in their understanding the status of Tibet is, which is conform with the Chinese interpretation, i.e. in short that Tibet is a part of the Chinese Republic.38 While the British document itself represents a well-researched analysis, or at least one possible interpretation of the status of Tibet in international legal terms (suzerainty under Qing Dynasty, the 1913 Tripartite conference in Simla which was not ratified by the Chinese, the 1934 Huang Mu Sung mission to Lhasa etc.), it lacks any reference to the events that had unfolded over the prior two months. Based on the document, the British side simply thought it might be of value to inform the American side on the conversation between the British and Chinese Secretaries and Ministers, respectively, of Foreign Affairs on the contents of their conversation, which happened to have revolved around the status of Tibet.

On May 14, Mr. Merrell, the Chargé in India to the Secretary of State, sent a telegram to Washington which drew the attention away from the infamous radio transmitters and back to the question of the availability of Tibet as alternative supply route for lend lease equipment from India to China. The Tibetans finally agreed to the transportation of supplies to China after the Government of India had subsequently “pressed Tibet to act favorably on this long-standing question on grounds that continued refusal would lead to serious deterioration in relations between Tibet and China.”39 However, the Tibetan side only tolerated non-military shipments without foreign supervision through their territory.

The next day a telegram reached the State Department that first confirmed that the Tibetans agreed to a supply route through their territory as a strategic measure to give no possible justification to Chongqing for “any aggression against Tibet by saying that all possibility of transport from India across Tibet was denied China.”40 It appears that there was sufficient reason to believe that the Chinese had already taken considerable preparations to invade Tibet: there reportedly were leaked orders by the Generalissimo to his governors in Sikang, Yunnan and Qinghai to send troops to the Tibetan border and the Tibetans were urged by the British Government, who had known of this, to agree to the supply route.

This intelligence differs from the telegram one day earlier, which states that it was the Indian Government that had taken influence on the Tibetan decision. Yet, since the British controlled India, the terms British and Indian Government were interchangeable. The telegram from May 15th contains information on the whereabouts of Tolstoy and Dolan for the first time since the Dalai Lama had written at the end of February that the two representatives of the American people had left Lhasa headed for China. Merrell had just received a letter from Tolstoy sent from within Tibetan territory, dated April 17, reporting that Chinese and Tibetan troops were “advancing toward each other and that Chinese troops had received their orders from Central Government.”41 An American officer (Lt. S. H. Hitch, Assistant Naval Attaché in China) confirmed the presence of Chinese troops at the Tibetan border on May 18. The force of Chinese troops along the Tibetan border in Qinghai was estimated at 10,000. Interestingly this information surfaced through a cable by Secretary of State Hull to Atcheson, who got the intel of the American officer via the British Embassy in Washington, which had learned about the Chinese troops from the British Embassy in Chongqing.42 It certainly is interesting that the State Department received intelligence collected by an American officer in China through the information network of British Embassies. Clearly, Mr. Hitch informed the Department of War. However, inter-agency communication in Washington in 1943 seems to have been, deliberately or not, sub-optimal.

Throughout the following cables between State Department and American Legation in Chongqing, reports accumulate that confirm the movement of Chinese troops towards the Tibetan border in Qinghai; assess the Chinese strategy to be aimed at securing transports through Tibet in short-term; and to bring Tibet under effective Chinese control in the long term.43 While evidence of Chinese troops at the border was piling up, Mr. T.V. Soong had reportedly told Churchill at a Pacific Council meeting in Washington on May 20, “that there was not and would not be a concentration of Chinese troops against Tibet […].”44

Over the next three months there seemed to be no new developments in the issue as far as the State Department was concerned, until, on August 17, Atcheson received a report sent to Chongqing back in July, from the Embassy Officer at Lanzhou (John S. Service). It was around July 10, that the two OSS officers Tolstoy and Dolan had arrived in Lanzhou. Mr. Service described “the attitude of Captain Tolstoy and Lieutenant Dolan as being strongly pro-Tibetan and critical of China and of what appear to be Chinese intentions in regard to Tibet.”45 It furthermore becomes clear in this cable by Atcheson, that this pro-Tibetan sentiment by the two OSS agents had become broadly known not only among American officials in China, but also to the Chinese Government. Dr. Victor Hoo, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs had voiced his concerns in this regard to Atcheson stating confidentially “that he had received reports to the effect that Captain Tolstoy has assured the Tibetans that the United States would support them in their desire to remain independent of China.”46 Dr. Hoo further expresses his surprise about these reports as “the United States had always shown a ‘very correct attitude’ in regard to Tibet.”47

On August 28, the British confirm the presence of Chinese troops at the Tibet-Chinese border, based on Indian intelligence reports. They furthermore report an actual arms race along the border, as the “Tibetan Government are said to have found it necessary to increase their own forces and there is considerable nervous tension.”48 Over the following cables that reached the State Department, there is mounting evidence that the number of Chinese troops along the border increased. Chinese officials, however, most notably the Foreign Ministers Soong and Hoo, consequently reaffirm British and American officials that there (1) are no Chinese troops at the Tibetan border, (2) that even if there were troops at the border, China would never invade Tibet and (3) that Tibet is considered Chinese territory in the first place, and that other nations should not take interest in the matter and the actions of the Chinese Government in that area.49

On October 4, the whole diplomatic, and possibly military, Tibetan-Chinese-American dilemma seems to get resolved. Gauss reports to the Secretary of State (Berle), that Chinese officials have informed the American Embassy and that there is no recent additional troop concentration on the Tibet-Qinghai border, “but that he understands that ‘some’ airfields are being constructed there by the Chinese.”50 The Chinese report seems to be correct, since three weeks later another cable from Chongqing reaches the State Department that the Indian Government complained to the Chinese Government about the increased number of Chinese planes flying over Tibetan territory. The American assessment of this Indian complaint is “a further small indication of British interest in Tibet as opposed to China’s claim to suzerainty over that special area.”51

The whole issue of the almost open conflict between Tibet and China resolved as quickly as it appeared. Since the year 1943 marked the height of WWII in both Europe and Asia, it comes as no surprise that this otherwise remarkable incident received no further notice and prominence. On the one hand, nothing happened in the end, while it was naturally in the interest of all allied parties to quickly forget about this diplomatically embarrassing quagmire. All this has contributed to the fact that the Tolstoy-Dolan mission and especially the events thereafter is relatively unknown in the historic discourse about the WWII CBI theater, US-Tibetan relations, as well Sino-US relations.

This article was able to reconstruct the events, which largely are unaccounted for in the existing literature, through cables sent and received by American government agencies. Future research on additional sources, most notably British and Kuomintang diplomatic cables and intelligence reports, could help to confirm the findings of this study and to further investigate the topic.

Conclusion

This analysis has investigated the diplomatic cables that reached the State Department in the year 1943 regarding the situation of Tibet and, in particular, the events that unfolded after the visit of the two OSS agents to Lhasa in February. The source’s general importance lies in that it documents the first time that diplomatic relations between Tibet and the United States of America have been established. While the official purpose of the mission was to explore the possibility of a supply route from India to China after the Japanese had occupied Burma in 1942, the actual secret mission of the two agents was to determine Tibet’s value for the US greater strategy in the Asian theater.

Furthermore, this analysis investigated whether the source informed the discourse on Tibetan independence struggles vis-à-vis Chinese claims of Tibetan territory and US involvement therein at a very early stage. Shortly after the two OSS agents had visited Tibet, assured the Dalai Lama of American support of Tibetan independence, and relayed the Tibetan request for a radio transmitter set to OSS headquarters, which was approved by OSS headquarters but discouraged by the State Department, the Chongqing Government started to assemble as many as 10,000 troops along the Qinghai-Tibetan border. This hard fact of Chinese troops along the border was confirmed by several independent intelligence reports from Indian, British, and American sources. The Chinese side, most prominently Foreign Minister T.V. Soong, repeatedly denied the existence of any Chinese troops in the area.

The reason for the concentration of troops apparently gets resolved toward the end of the year, when the Chinese inform the American Embassy in Chongqing that they were building airfields in the area. While the airfields seem to have actually been built, it remains unresolved why the Chinese side was so unrelenting in not telling the truth about their actions along the border. The American Embassy and the State Department left it at that. Regardless of whether the Chinese concentrated troops only to build airfields, or whether there was further strategic consideration with regard to Tibet involved, the Chinese actions in that area led to a considerable degree of insecurity in Tibet and prompted the enforcement of Tibetan defenses along their border to China.

Another finding of this analysis is the suboptimal communication between US government agencies, especially between the Department of War and the State Department. Often did American diplomats learn about developments in the CBI only through their British colleagues, including developments that involved their own men in uniform, for example, the two OSS agents or the case of Navy Lieutenant Hitch. While the British embassies in Chongqing, Lhasa, New Delhi, and Washington all were assisting their American allies through intelligence cooperation, it also has to be pointed out that London clearly pursued its own strategic goals in WWII Asia, an instant that also greatly affected the events in Burma the prior year. With regards to Tibet, the British repeatedly took the official Chinese position regarding the status of Tibet under international law, while at the same time maintaining their diplomatic relations with Tibet. The reason for the British approach in doing so may be found in their motivations to not upset China, similar to the State Department’s position, and assume suzerainty of the Tibetan territory once the war was over.

This article ties together the events that unfolded in 1943 after the visit of the two OSS agents - Tolstoy and Dolan. In particular, the diplomatic dilemma the State Department was confronted with vis-à-vis their Chinese allies, and the rising tensions between Tibet and Kuomintang troops along the Sino-Tibetan border later that year. The findings in above analysis inform the discourse on later US-Tibetan relations, the Tibetan struggle for independence, and US intelligence agencies’ involvement therein, especially with regard to CIA operations in Tibet in the 1950s under the Eisenhower administration.52 Since the CIA is the direct successor of the OSS, it can be concluded that the Tibetan Government around the Dalai Lama, and the US Intelligence Community had a history.

Bibliography

Primary sources


Noble, G. Bernard and Perkins, E. Ralph. Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1943, China. Department of State, Office of the Historian. https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1 943China

Document 525. The Tibetan Regent (Tak-dak Pundit) to President Roosevelt.

Document 527. The Dalai Lama of Tibet to President Roosevelt.

Document 528. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by Mr. Alger Hiss, Assistant to the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck).

Document 529. Memorandum by the Assistance Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Atcheson).

Document 530. Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Alger Hiss, Assistant to the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck).

Document 531. The Director of the Office of Strategic Services (Donovan) to the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck).

Document 532, The British Embassy to the Department of State.

Document 534. The Chargé in India (Merrell) to the Secretary of State.

Document 537. The Secretary of State to the Chargé in China (Atcheson).

Document 538, The Chargé in China (Atcheson) to the Secretary of State.

Document 539. Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Joseph W. Ballantine of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs.

Document 542. The Chargé in China (Atcheson) to the Secretary of State.

Document 543. The British Embassy to the Department of State.

Document 549. The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador of China (Gauss).

Document 550. The Ambassador in China (Gauss) to the Secretary of State.

Document 551. The Ambassador in China (Gauss) to the Secretary of State.

Stilwell, Joseph Warren. The Stilwell Papers. Edited by Theodore Harold White. Sloane, 1948.

Secondary sources

Halper, Lezlee Brown, and Stefan Halper. Tibet: An Unfinished Story. Oxford University Press, 2014.

Mitter, Rana. Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

Smith, Richard. OSS: The Secret History of America's first Central Intelligence Agency. Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.

Spence, Jonathan D. The search for modern China. WW Norton & Company, 1991.

Tuchman, Barbara Wertheim. Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-1945. Macmillan, 1971.

Wakeman, Frederic E. Spymaster: Dai Li and the Chinese Secret Service. Univ of California Press, 2003.

Yu, Maochun. OSS in China: Prelude to Cold War. Naval Institute Press, 2013.

_______________

Notes:

1 Document 525. The Tibetan Regent (Tak-dak Pundit)  to President Roosevelt, in Noble, G. Bernard and Perkins, E. Ralph. Foreign Relations of the United  States: Diplomatic Papers, 1943, China. Department of State, Office of the Historian.
 
2 Richard Smith, OSS: The Secret History of America's  first Central Intelligence Agency. Rowman & Littlefield, 2005. 255.
 
3 Document 532, The British Embassy to the  Department of State, in Noble and Perkins, Foreign  Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers,  1943, China.
 
4 Document 538, The Chargé in China (Atcheson) to the  Secretary of State, in Noble and Perkins, Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers,  1943, China.
 
5 Spence, Jonathan D. The search for modern China.  WW Norton & Company, 1991. 443 ff.
 
6 The Burma Road had been supplying some 20,000  tons a month of supplies, to which the only alternative was to fly much smaller amounts across the Hump from  India into China. See also Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally:  China's World War II, 1937-1945, Houghton Mifflin  Harcourt, 2013. 511.
 
7 See for example Maochun Yu, OSS in China: Prelude  to Cold War, Naval Institute Press, 2013.
 
8 Joseph Warren Stilwell, The Stilwell Papers, Da Capo  Press, 1991.
 
9 Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-  1945.
 
10 Barbara Wertheim Tuchman, Stilwell and the  American Experience in China, 1911-1945., Macmillan, 1971.
 
11 Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-  1945. 299.
 
12 Tuchman, Stilwell and the American Experience in  China, Chapter 8.
 
13 Smith, OSS: the secret history of America’s First  Central Intelligence Agency. 1.
 
14 See for example Frederic E. Wakeman, Spymaster:  Dai Li and the Chinese Secret Service. Univ of California Press, 2003.
 
15 Smith, OSS: the secret history of America's First  Central Intelligence Agency. 255 ff.
 
16 Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-  1945. 533.
 
17 Ibid. 533.
 
18 Ibid. 533.
 
19 Ibid. 535
 
20 See also Stilwell and White, The Stilwell Papers.
 
21 Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-  1945. 545.
 
22 In addition to the fact that Stilwell, in Chiang’s  opinion, had jeopardized the Burma mission through his miscalculations which cost the deaths of 25,000  Chinese and 4,500 British and Indian troops, the loss of Burma lead to another instant that would further  exacerbate Stilwell-Chiang relations: Some 45,000 tons of Lend-Lease supplies intended for China were now  instead assigned to the Nationalist armies that had made it to India. Throughout the war, Stilwell would retain  control over the Lend-lease he favored, and exacerbating tensions that would corrode the alliance  with the Nationalists. (Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-1945. 533).
 
23 Lezlee Brown Halper, and Stefan Halper, Tibet: An  Unfinished Story, Oxford University Press, 2014. 29.
 
24 Ibid. 30.
 
25 Ibid. 31.
 
26 Declassified OSS ‘Project FE 2’ File cited in Halper  and Halper. Tibet: An Unfinished Story. 32.
 
27 Ibid. 32.
 
28 Ibid. 33.
 
29 Ibid. 33.
 
30 Document 527. The Dalai Lama of Tibet to President  Roosevelt, in Noble and Perkins, Foreign Relations of  the United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1943, China.
 
31 Document 528. Memorandum of Telephone  Conversation, by Mr. Alger Hiss, Assistant to the  Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck).
 
32 Document 529. Memorandum by the Assistance  Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Atcheson),  in Noble and Perkins, Foreign Relations of the United  States: Diplomatic Papers, 1943, China.
 
33 Ibid.
 
34 Ibid.
 
35 Document 530. Memorandum of Conversation, by  Mr. Alger Hiss, Assistant to the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck), in Noble and Perkins, Foreign  Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1943, China.
 
36 Ibid.
 
37 Document 531. The Director of the Office of  Strategic Services (Donovan) to the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck), in Noble and Perkins, Foreign  Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1943, China.
 
38 Document 532. The British Embassy to the  Department of State, in Noble and Perkins, Foreign  Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers,  1943, China.
 
39 Document 534. The Chargé in India (Merrell) to the  Secretary of State, in Noble and Perkins, Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers,  1943, China.
 
40 Document 536. The Chargé in India (Merrell) to the  Secretary of State, in Noble and Perkins, Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers,  1943, China.
 
41 Ibid.
 
42 Document 537. The Secretary of State to the Chargé  in China (Atcheson), in Noble and Perkins, Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers,  1943, China.
 
43 Document 538. The Chargé in China (Atcheson) to  the Secretary of State, in Noble and Perkins, Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers,  1943, China.
 
44 Document 539. Memorandum of Conversation, by  Mr. Joseph W. Ballantine of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, in Noble and Perkins, Foreign Relations of the  United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1943, China.
 
45 Document 542. The Chargé in China (Atcheson) to  the Secretary of State, in Noble and Perkins, Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers,  1943, China.
 
46 Ibid.
 
47 Ibid.
 
48 Document 543. The British Embassy to the  Department of State, in Noble and Perkins, Foreign  Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers,  1943, China.
 
49 See for example Document 549. The Acting  Secretary of State to the Ambassador of China (Gauss),  in Noble and Perkins, Foreign Relations of the United  States: Diplomatic Papers, 1943, China.
 
50 Document 550. The Ambassador in China (Gauss) to  the Secretary of State, in in Noble and Perkins, Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers,  1943, China.
 
51 Document 551. The Ambassador in China (Gauss) to  the Secretary of State, in Noble and Perkins, Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers,  1943, China.
 
52 See also NSC Directive 5412 and Halper and Halper.  Tibet: An Unfinished Story. 167 ff.
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Part 1 of 2

Enlarging the bounds of moral philosophy: Why did Isaac Newton conclude the Opticks the way he did?
by John Henry
The Royal Society
© 2016 The Author(s)
Published:05 October 2016https://doi.org/10.1098/rsnr.2016.0011

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Chapter 5: Ramsay's Ur-Tradition

When D. P. Walker wrote about "ancient theology" or prisca theologia, he firmly linked it to Christianity and Platonism. On the first page of his book, Walker defined the term as follows:
By the term "Ancient Theology" I mean a certain tradition of Christian apologetic theology which rests on misdated texts. Many of the early Fathers, in particular Lactantius, Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius, in their apologetic works directed against pagan philosophers, made use of supposedly very ancient texts: Hermetica, Orphica, Sibylline Prophecies, Pythagorean Carmina Aurea, etc., most of which in fact date from the first four centuries of our era. These texts, written by the Ancient Theologians Hermes Trismegistus, Orpheus, Pythagoras, were shown to contain vestiges of the true religion: monotheism, the Trinity, the creation of the world out of nothing through the Word, and so forth. It was from these that Plato took the religious truths to be found in his writings.

Walker described a revival of such "ancient theology" in the Renaissance and in "platonizing theologians from Ficino to Cudworth" who wanted to "integrate Platonism and Neoplatonism into Christianity, so that their own religious and philosophical beliefs might coincide". After the debunking of the genuineness and antiquity of the texts favored by these ancient theologians, the movement ought to have died; but Walker detected "a few isolated survivals" such as Athanasius Kircher, Pierre-Daniel Huet, and the Jesuit figurists of the French China mission. For Walker the last Mohican of this movement, so to say, is Chevalier Andrew Michael RAMSAY (1686-1743), whose views are described in the final chapter of The Ancient Theology. But seen through the lens of our concerns here, one could easily extend this line to various figures in this book, for example, Jean Calmette, John Zephaniah Holwell, Abbe Vincent Mignot, Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron, Guillaume Sainte-Croix, and also to William Jones (App 2009).

Ur-Traditions

To better understand such phenomena we have to go beyond the narrow confines of the Christian God and Platonism. There are many movements that link themselves to some kind of "original," "pure," "genuine" teaching, claim its authority, use it to criticize "degenerate" accretions, and attempt to legitimize their "reform" on its basis. Such links can take a variety of forms. In Chapter 4 we saw how in the eighth and ninth centuries the Buddhist reform movement known as Zen cooked up a lineage of "mind to mind" transmission with the aim of connecting the teaching of the religion's Indian founder figure, Buddha, with their own views. The tuned-up and misdated Forty-Two Sections Sutra that ended up impressing so many people, including its first European translator de Guignes, was one (of course unanticipated) outcome of this strategy. Such "Ur-tradition" movements, as I propose to call them, invariably create a "transmission" scenario of their "original" teaching or revelation; in the case of Zen this consisted in an elaborate invented genealogy with colorful transmission figures like Bodhidharma and "patriarchs" consisting mostly of pious legends. Such invented genealogies and transmissions are embodied in symbols and legends emphasizing the link between the "original" teaching and the movement's doctrine. "Genuine," "oldest" texts are naturally of central importance for such movements, since they tend to regard the purity of teaching as directly proportional to its closeness to origins.

A common characteristic of such "Ur-tradition" movements is a tripartite scheme of "golden age," "degeneration," and "regeneration." The raison d'etre of such movements is the revival of a purportedly most ancient, genuine, "original" teaching after a long period of degeneration. Hence their need to define an "original" teaching, establish a line of its transmission, identify stages and kinds of degeneration, and present themselves as the agent of "regeneration" of the original "ancient" teaching. Such need often arises in a milieu of doctrinal rivalry or in a crisis, for example, when "new" religions or reform movements want to establish and legitimize themselves or when an established religion is threatened by powerful alternatives.

When young Christianity evolved from a Jewish reform movement and was accused of being a "new religion" and an invention, ancient connections were needed to provide legitimacy and add historical weight to the religion. The adoption of the Hebrew Bible as "Old Testament," grimly opposed by some early Christians, linked the young religion and its "New Testament" effectively to the very creation of the world, to paradise, and to the Ur-religion of the first humans in the golden age. Legends, texts, and symbols were created to illustrate this "Old-to-New" link. For example, the savior's cross on Golgotha had to get a pedigree connecting it to the Hebrew Bible's paradise tree; and the original sinner Adam's skull had to be brought via Noah's ark to Palestine in order to get buried on the very hill near Jerusalem where Adam's original sin eventually got expunged by the New Testament's "second Adam" on the cross (Figure 11). Theologians use the word "typology" for such attempts to discover Christian teachings or forebodings thereof in the Old Testament.

Similar links to an "oldest," "purest," and "original" teaching are abundant not only in the history of religions but also, for example, in freemasonry and various "esoteric" movements. They also tend to invent links to an original "founder," "ancient" teachings and texts, lineages, symbols of the original doctrine and its transmission, eminent transmitter figures ("patriarchs"), and so on; and they usually criticize the degeneration of exactly those original and pure teachings that they claim to resuscitate. In such schemes the most ancient texts, symbols, and objects naturally play important roles, particularly if they seem mysterious: pyramids, hieroglyphs, runic letters, ancient texts buried in caves, and divine revelations stored on golden tablets in heaven or in some American prophet's backyard ...

In premodern Europe such "original" teachings were usually associated with Old Testament heroes who had the function of transmitters. A typical example that shows how various ancient religions were integrated in a genealogy linking them to primeval religion as well as its fulfillment in Christianity is Jacques Boulduc's De Ecclesia ante legem ("On the Church before the [Mosaic] Law") of 1626. Boulduc shows in a table how the extremely long lifespans of the patriarchs facilitated transmission: for example, Adam lived for 930 years and could instruct his descendants in person until his sixth-generation Ur-nephew Lamech, Noah's father, was fifty-six years old. Adam's son Seth was 120 years old when the first priestly functions were instituted; 266 years old when his son Enos first offered prayers in a dedicated house; and 800 years old when he took over the supreme pontificate of the "church before the law" at Adam's untimely death. In the second book, Boulduc shows that "all philosophers, both of Greece and of other regions, have their origin in the descendants of the prophet Noah" and includes in this transmission lineage even the "wise rather than malefic Persian magi [Magos Persas non maleficos, sed sapientes]," Egyptian prophets, Gallic druids, the "naked sages of India [Indis Gymnosophistae]," etc. Boulduc took special care to document through numerous quotations from ancient sources that the wise men who were variously called Semai, Semni, Semanai, Semnothei, and Samanaeil "all have their name from Noah's son Shem" and are therefore direct descendants of Noachic pure Ur-religion. The same is true for the Brachmanes of India who were so closely associated with these Samanaei by St. Jerome. Even "our Druids" worshipped "the only true God," believed "in the immortality of the soul" as well as "the resurrection of our bodies," and adored almost all the very God who "at some point in the future will become man through incarnation from a virgin". The correct doctrinal linage of such descendants of Shem is guaranteed by the fact that "after the deluge, Shem brought the original religion of Enos's descendants to renewed blossom [reflorescere fecit]". Boulduc also paid special attention to Enoch, the sixth-generation descendant of Adam who could boast of having lived no less than 308 years in Adam's presence. This excellent patriarch, who at age 365 was prematurely removed from the eyes of the living and has been watching events ever since from his perch in the terrestrial or celestial paradise, had left behind "writings, that is, the book of Enoch, which contains nothing false or absurd". Noah had taken special care to "diligently preserve these writings of Enoch, placing them at the time of the deluge on the ark with no less solicitousness than the bones of Father Adam and some other patriarchs". Boulduc did not know where this famous Book of Enoch ended up, but some well-known passages in scripture specified that it conveyed important information about the activities of angels.

In the second half of the seventeenth century, textual criticism began to undermine the very foundation of such tales, namely, the text of the Old Testament and particularly of its first five books (the Pentateuch). These books had always been attributed to Moses and regarded as the world's oldest extant scripture. But in 1651 Thomas HOBBES (1588-1679) wrote in the third part of his Leviathan that the identity of "the original writers of the several Books of Holy Scripture" was not "made evident by any sufficient testimony of other history, which is the only proof of matter of fact". However, Hobbes did not deny that Moses had contributed some writings: "But though Moses did not compile those books entirely, and in the form we have them; yet he wrote all that which he is there said to have written". By contrast, Isaac LAPEYRERE (1596-1676) -- who wrote earlier than Hobbes and influenced him though his book on the pre-Adamites appeared later -- was far more radical in questioning whether Moses had in fact written any of the first five books of the Old Testament:
I know not by what author it is found out, that the Pentateuch is Moses his own copy. It is so reported, but not believed by all. These Reasons make one believe, that those Five Books are not the Originals, but copied out by another. Because Moses is there read to have died. For how could Moses write after his death?

La Peyrere's conclusion was shocking:
I need not trouble the reader much further, to prove a thing in itself sufficiently evident, that the five first Books of the Bible were not written by Moses, as is thought. Nor need anyone wonder after this, when he reads many things confus'd and out of order, obscure, deficient, many things omitted and misplaced, when they shall consider with themselves that they are a heap of Copie confusedly taken.

Such textual criticism initiated "a chain of analyses that would end up transforming the evaluation of Scripture from a holy to a profane work". Until La Peyrere, the Bible had always been regarded as a repository of divine revelation communicated by God (the "founder" figure) to a "transmitter" figure (in this case Moses). Unable to reconcile biblical chronology and events with newly discovered facts such as American "Indians" and Chinese historical records, La Peyrere came to the conclusion that the Bible contained not the history of all humankind but only that of a tiny group (namely, the Jews). His rejection of Moses' authorship, of course, also entailed doubts about the Bible's revelation status: if it was indeed revealed by God, then to whom? To a whole group of people whose notes were cut and pasted together to form a rather incoherent creation Story with "many things confus'd and out of order"? At the end of the chain of events described by Popkin, the Bible was no longer "looked upon as Revelation from God, but as tales and beliefs of the primitive Hebrews, to be compared with the tales and beliefs of other Near Eastern groups", leading Thomas Paine to declare: "Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange belief that it is the word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis, but an anonymous book of stories, fables and traditionary or invented absurdities or downright lies" .

But such loss of biblical authority was a gradual and painful process that frequently elicited the kind of apologetic intervention evoked by Walker in The Ancient Theology. I doubt that Walker would have gone as far as including the Bible among his pseudepigraphic and misdated texts. Yet if one views phenomena like the Reformation from the perspective of Ur-traditions, the biblical text appears as a (misdated) record of "original teaching" used by reformers like Calvin and Luther in their effort to discard "Romish" degenerations and to restore what they took to be the "genuine," "original" religion revealed by the "founder" God to "transmitters" from Adam and the antediluvian "patriarchs" to Noah, Abraham, Moses, and ultimately the authors of the New Testament. But this kind of Reformation was soon denounced as degenerate in its own right, for example, by the radical English deists who regarded "genuine" Christianity not as revealed to any particular Middle Eastern tribe but as engraved in every human heart. From this perspective, Christianity was -- as Matthew TINDAL (1657-1733) in 1730 succinctly put it in the title of his famous bible of the Deists -- exactly "as Old as Creation," and the holy Gospel was no more than "a Republication of the Religion of Nature" (Tindal 1995). While biblical answers became suspect and alternative creation narratives began to be culled from apparently far more ancient sacred texts, the search for humankind's origins, its "original" religion, and its oldest sacred scriptures had to begin again. In this "crisis of European consciousness," a number of men sought to anchor Europe's drifting worldview anew in the bedrock of remotest antiquity via a solid Ur-tradition chain. Among them was an Englishman who defended the Middle Eastern and biblical framework while dreaming of restoring Noah's pure religion (Isaac Newton)...

Newton's Noachide Religion

Isaac NEWTON (1642-1727) is, of course, known as one of the greatest scientists of all time, but his theological and chronological writings have become the focus of increasing attention. They amount to more than half a million words and are in great part still unpublished; but their study4 points to a central "Ur-tradition" pattern in Newton's worldview. For example, modern specialists point out that "it can be shown how Newton regarded his natural philosophy as an integral part of a radical and comprehensive recovery of the true ancient religion, which had been revealed directly to man by God"; that Newton tried to prove "that his scientific work in the Principia was a rediscovery of the mystical philosophy which had passed to the Egyptians and the Greeks from the Jews"; and that the great scientist "believed that alchemical writings preserved a secret knowledge which had been revealed by God". Newton apparently saw himself as a regenerator of an Ur-wisdom that had been encoded in symbols and transmitted through dark and degenerate ages by a line of eminent men (patriarchs). The italicized words in this sentence are all elements of what I call Ur-traditions.

Newton developed such views over many decades but dared to discuss them only with a few close friends. But the last sentences of his famous Opticks let the reader catch a glimpse:
If natural Philosophy in all its Parts, by pursuing this Method, shall at length be perfected, the Bounds of Moral Philosophy will be also enlarged. For so far as we can know by natural Philosophy what is the first Cause, what Power he has over us, and what Benefits we receive from him, so far our Duty towards him, as well as that towards one another, will appear to us by the Light of Nature. And no doubt, if the Worship of false Gods had not blinded the Heathen, their moral Philosophy would have gone farther than to the four Cardinal Virtues; and instead of teaching the Transmigration of Souls, and to worship the Sun and Moon, and dead Heroes, they would have taught us to worship our true Author and Benefactor, as their Ancestors did under the Government of Noah and his Sons before they corrupted themselves.

This closing passage suggests that for Newton the religion of the "golden age" or Ur-religion was preserved by Noah and his sons who were thoroughly monotheistic. Far from being only the religion of the Hebrews, this Ur-religion reigned for a long time everywhere, even in Egypt. But these "blinded heathen" who had initially shared Noah's Ur-religion could barely remember the cardinal virtues because their religion at some point degenerated into the worship of false gods, objects of nature, and dead heroes and into the teaching of the transmigration of souls.

Newton had closely studied Thomas Burnet's Archaeologiae philosophicae of 1692, and though the outlines of his historico-theological system were already developed in 1692, Burnet's influence is unmistakable:
Like Burnet, Newton regarded Noah, rather than Abraham or Moses, as the original source of the true religion and learning; consequently, he, too, argued that vestiges of truth could be found among the ancient Gentile peoples as well as that of the Jews since all were descendants of Noah and his sons. Both also shared the belief that modern philosophy was contributing to the recovery of ancient truths which had been distorted after Noah's death.

Newton clearly thought that an initial divine revelation was the ultimate source of all religion, that this Ur-religion was once shared by all ancient peoples. Nevertheless, he sought to root his views firmly in the Old Testament narrative. Monogenesis and the universality of the great flood, for example, were nonnegotiable. Thus, all postdiluvial humans, gentiles and Hebrews alike, originally shared the religion transmitted by Noah and his sons, and vestiges of this religion could be found in all ancient cultures. Newton explained:
From all of which it is manifest that a certain general tradition was conserved for a very long time among the Peoples about those things which were passed down most distinctly from Noah and the first men to Abraham and from Abraham to Moses. And hence we can also hope that a history of the times which followed immediately after the flood can be deduced with some degree of truth from the traditions of Peoples.

But Newton did not go as far as taking Chinese chronology into account. He owned and studied Philippe Coupler's 1687 work that was discussed in the previous chapter yet grew convinced that the famous burning of books by Emperor Shih Huangdi in the third century B.C.E. had reduced all ancient Chinese history to legend. In the New College Manuscript Newton wrote,
And there are now no histories in China but what were written above 72 years of this conflagration. And therefore the Story that Huan ti founded the monarchy of China 2697 years before Christ is a fable invented to make that Monarchy look ancient. The way of writing used by the Chinese was not fully invented before the days of Confucius the Chinese philosopher & he was born but 551 years before Christ & flourished only in one of the six old kingdoms into which China was then divided.

Newton instead studied Middle Eastern chronologies and used them to defend the Bible as the most reliable source for remote antiquity. Moses had in his opinion originally written a history of creation, a book of the generations of Adam, and the book of the law. Though these oldest books "have long since been lost except what has been transcribed out of them in the Pentateuch now extant" and though the existing text of the Pentateuch was in his opinion redacted by Samuel rather than Moses, Newton remained firmly convinced that the first books of the Old Testament "are by far the oldest records now extant," that the Bible is the most authentic history of the world, and that the Kingdom of Israel was the first large-scale political society with all the attributes of civilization. Manetho of Heliopolis, Berosus the Chaldaean, and others had, like the Persian and Chinese historians, created extravagant chronologies that were infinitely less reliable and old. In a chapter of his Chronology dedicated to the Persian Empire, Newton wrote,
We need not then wonder, that the Egyptians have made the kings in the first dynasty of their monarchy, that which was seated at Thebes in the days of David, Solomon, and Rehoboam, so very ancient and so long-lived; since the Persians have done the like to their kings Adar and Hazael, who reigned an hundred years after the death of Solomon, "worshipping them as gods, and boasting of their antiquity, and not knowing," saith Josephus, "that they were but modern."

Newton employed such chronologies that "magnified their antiquities so exceedingly" in a manner that much resembled that of William Jones a century later, namely, to confirm the biblical account and vindicate biblical authority; but Jones was to use the even more hyperbolical Indian chronologies. Newton's final system appeared, as Frank Manuel put it, "as a eulogy of Israel" and is evidence "for his central proposition that the Hebrews were the most ancient civilized people". Though the Bible bestows greater antiquity on the Egyptian and Assyrian royal institutions than on the tribes of Israel, Newton "was able to cling to his idee fixe throughout the revision of the history of antiquity, both in the fragments and in the final Chronology".

Newton's "ancient theology" was thus ... still exclusively rooted in the Middle East and the Bible. Since events before the biblical deluge remained hazy due to the fragmentary character of the Pentateuch and the lack of reliable ancient pagan sources, Newton's history of religions really starts with Noah and his sons. His true religion "most closely resembled that which prevailed at the time of Noah, immediately after the Deluge, before the idolatry -- which to Newton was the root of all evil not only in religion but also in politics and even philosophy -- began to corrupt it". The symbol of this pure original religion is the Temple of Solomon, which not only features the eternal flame on a sacrificial altar at the center but also a geometrically precise representation of the heliocentric solar system.

Newton's "prytanea," sacred cultic places around a perpetual fire, symbolize God's original revelation and are at the source of the transmission line. Cults with prytanea were for Newton the most ancient of all cults.
According to him this religion with the sacred fire "seems to have been as well the most universal as ye most ancient of all religions & to have spread into all nations before other religions took place. There are many instances of nations receiving other religions after this but none (that I know) of any nation's receiving this after any other. Nor did ever any other religion which sprang up later become so general as this".

This religion around the prytanea was professed by Noah and his sons.

They spread "the true religion till ye nations corrupted it". This first corruption consisted in forgetting that the symbols in the prytanea (for example, lamps symbolizing heavenly bodies around the central "solar" flame) are symbols, leading men to engage in sidereal worship.
It is of interest to note that Newton's history of religion -- and, I might add, Ur-traditions in general -- are intimately linked to the encoding and decoding of symbols. Here the degeneration process begins with a misunderstanding of symbols; and this misunderstanding eventually leads to the worship of dead men and statues, the belief in the transmigration of souls, polytheism, the worship of animals, and other "Egyptian" inventions. In parallel with such religious degeneration, the false geocentric system took hold thanks to a late Egyptian, Ptolemy.

The first major postdiluvial regeneration was due to Moses who, according to Newton, "restored for a time the original true religion that was the common heritage of all mankind". But soon enough the degeneration process began anew, punctuated by calls of prophets for renewal, until Jesus came not to bring a new religion but rather to "restore the original true one" not solely for the Jews but for all mankind. Soon enough, another round of degeneration set in with the Egyptian Athanasius, the doctrine of the Trinity, and Roman Catholic idolatry, which got worse and worse until the Reformation cleaned up some of the mess. But Protestantism and Anglicanism were not immune from corruption either, which is why Newton (who was adamantly opposed to the Trinity) felt the need to call -- in a very muted voice and in heaps of unpublished notes and manuscripts -- for one more restoration of true, pure, Noachic religion and wisdom.

-- The Birth of Orientalism, by Urs App


Abstract

This paper draws attention to the remarkable closing words of Isaac Newton's Optice (1706) and subsequent editions of the Opticks (1718, 1721), and tries to suggest why Newton chose to conclude his book with a puzzling allusion to his own unpublished conclusions about the history of religion. Newton suggests in this concluding passage that the bounds of moral philosophy will be enlarged as natural philosophy is ‘perfected’. Asking what Newton might have had in mind, the paper first considers the idea that he was foreshadowing the ‘moral Newtonianism’ developed later in the eighteenth century; then it considers the idea that he was perhaps pointing to developments in natural theology. Finally, the paper suggests that Newton wanted to at least signal the importance of attempting to recover the true original religion, and perhaps was hinting at his intention to publish his own extensive research on the history of the Church.

Introduction: famous last words?

The closing words of Newton's second astonishingly influential book, Opticks, are truly remarkable even by the standards of the early eighteenth century. The second English edition of 1718 ends like this:

In this third Book I have only begun the Analysis of what remains to be discover'd about Light and its Effects upon the Frame of Nature, hinting several things about it, and leaving the Hints to be examin'd and improv'd by the farther Experiments and Observations of such as are inquisitive. And if natural Philosophy in all its Parts, by pursuing this Method, shall at length be perfected, the Bounds of Moral Philosophy will be also enlarged. For so far as we can know by natural Philosophy what is the first Cause, what Power he has over us, and what Benefits we receive from him, so far our Duty towards him, as well as that towards one another, will appear to us by the Light of Nature. And no doubt, if the Worship of false Gods had not blinded the Heathen, their moral Philosophy would have gone farther than to the four Cardinal Virtues; and instead of teaching the Transmigration of Souls, and to worship the Sun, and Moon, and dead Heroes, they would have taught us to worship our true Author and Benefactor.1


These are the final words of Query 31, and therefore of the Opticks itself, as they appear in the second English edition. Accordingly, this is not to be found at the end of the first edition of 1704, which ends with Query 16.2 The remarkable concern with morality and religion is first introduced in the Latin edition of 1706, in the last of seven new queries added to that edition.3 The Latin version, provided by the translator of the Optice, Samuel Clarke, was presumably based on an English original provided by Newton. The version quoted here, from the 1718 edition, is very close to the Latin, but was probably written in English by Newton.4 Newton made a small, but crucial, addition to the end of this paragraph in the third English edition of 1721. We shall come back later to this addition.

From our perspective, this is a very strange way to wrap up a book of experimental science devoted to optics. Reminding ourselves that this was written long before the secularization of British society, we might suppose that what strikes us as odd would not have seemed so strange to contemporary readers.5 But this kind of explicitly religious ending was by no means required, or expected, for works on optics, or for works on natural philosophy more generally.6 Even to contemporary readers this would have been seen as excessively pious, and a clear sign that the author was driven by his own highly developed religiosity to introduce religious sentiments into a book which, on the face of it, has no special religious implications and no other obvious connection to theological matters. Given what we now know about Newton and his indefatigable scriptural studies over many decades, we might simply draw the same conclusion ourselves, and see this as nothing more than another sign of Newton's profound preoccupation with religious matters.7

But these closing remarks do not look like all-purpose piety; they are not merely sweeping and non-specific comments about the need to maintain the faith, much less to uphold the teachings of the Church. The claim that a true ‘Moral Philosophy’ can be established by following the method set forth throughout this book—a method which we would call ‘scientific’—is surprising to the reader, not just because it introduces religion into a work of experimental natural philosophy, but also because it claims that the establishment of this true moral philosophy will surely follow the application of this same scientific method. This is the kind of claim that needs some setting up in advance in order to make it sound plausible; and yet Newton just throws it out, without any build-up, in his closing words.8

It is worth asking, therefore, why Newton chose to finish his Opticks in just this way. Clearly it was not just a religiously inspired whim, and yet he evidently chose not to introduce the claim with any explanatory background.9 The result is that these closing words remain surprising and strange, and yet, as far as I know, their strangeness has never been commented upon before. There is no mention of the closing words, for example, in A. Rupert Hall's otherwise comprehensive commentary on the Opticks, All Was Light, nor in Westfall's meticulously detailed biography of Newton, Never at Rest.10 Scott Mandelbrote has pointed out that: ‘Traces of his conclusions about the pure, primitive religion of Noah can also be found in the published and unpublished queries to the Opticks.’ Similarly, Stephen Snobelen's discussion of this aspect of Newton's religious thinking notes their appearance in the Opticks. But neither Mandelbrote nor Snobelen point out that these ideas appear as a parting shot, a culminating point, in a book otherwise concerned with experimental optics, and (in the Queries) with a speculative matter theory. Likewise, Frank Manuel discusses a hand-written addition to these closing words, which he refers to as a ‘scholium on the Optics’, and even provides a photographic plate of the relevant page, but his interest is in the underlying moral philosophy: he is completely unconcerned about the fact that these words form an unexpected conclusion to the Opticks.11 Recent scholarship on Newton's religious interests has revealed the idiosyncratic beliefs underlying Newton's changing comments at the end of successive editions of the Opticks,12 but this paper is the first to seek to explain why Newton chose to end his second great contribution to natural philosophy with a religious claim that was not set up in advance in the foregoing text and which remained, for all but a very few contemporary readers, entirely cryptic.

What follows is essentially speculative, because we cannot know for certain why Newton chose to conclude the Opticks in just the way he did. But the exercise remains valuable because it clearly reveals that Newton himself had difficulty in separating what we think of as his ‘scientific’ writings from his religious and historical research. Even when writing what proved to be one of the most influential scientific books of the Enlightenment, Newton evidently felt the need to forge links between his natural philosophy and his developing religious beliefs.

Enlarging the bounds of moral philosophy through rational morality or natural theology?

The question as to why Newton chose to end the Opticks the way he did is worth asking because this final paragraph actually proved to be astonishingly influential. The Queries as a whole were hugely influential upon subsequent Western culture, but even against that background, the impact of this final paragraph stands out. The main impact of the Queries was on subsequent physical and chemical, and even medical, thought,13 but this cryptic paragraph seems to have been sufficient in itself to stimulate what modern scholars have referred to as ‘moral Newtonianism’.14

George Turnbull (1698–1748), author of the influential Principles of Moral Philosophy (1740), included Newton's statement that the bounds of moral philosophy might be enlarged by pursuing his method as an epigraph on the title page. Furthermore, the reader did not have to progress far into the Preface before coming across an effusive acknowledgement of Newton's importance in moral philosophy:

The great Master, to whose truly marvellous (I had almost said more than human) sagacity and accuracy, we are indebted for all the greater improvements that have been made in Natural Philosophy … plainly declares, that he looked upon the enlargement Moral Philosophy must needs receive, so soon as Natural Philosophy, in its full extent, being pursued in that only proper method of advancing it, should be brought to any considerable degree of perfection, to be the principal advantage mankind and human society would then reap from such science.


Turnbull went on:

It was by this important, comprehensive hint, I was led long ago to apply myself to the study of the human mind in the same way as to that of the human body, or any other part of Natural Philosophy: that is, to try whether due enquiry into moral nature would not soon enable us to account for moral, as the best of Philosophers teaches us to explain natural phenomena.15


Similarly, David Hume declared on the title page that his Treatise of Human Nature of 1739 was An Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects. The model of the ‘experimental method of reasoning’ that Hume had in mind was undoubtedly Newton's.16 We can see the inspiration of Newton also in Hume's account of the psychological phenomenon of the ‘association of ideas’, as it was dubbed by John Locke. For Hume this depended upon ‘a kind of attraction, which in the mental world will be found to have as extraordinary effects as in the natural, and to show itself in as many and as various forms’.17 Newton's Principia was largely concerned with the attractive force of gravity, and attractions between atoms were a prominent aspect of the Queries.

Similar ideas appeared subsequently in the Observations on Man, of 1749, by the English moral philosopher, David Hartley (1705–1757). The opening chapter, for example, begins like this:

My chief design in the following chapter, is, briefly, to explain, establish, and apply the doctrines of vibrations and association. The first of these doctrines is taken from the hints concerning the performance of sensation and motion, which Sir Isaac Newton has given at the end of his Principia, and in the questions annexed to his Optics; the last from, what Mr. Locke and other ingenious persons since his time have delivered concerning the influence of association over our opinions and affections, and its use in explaining those things in an accurate and precise way, which are commonly referred to the power of habit and custom, in a general and indeterminate one.18


In case anyone finds the focus on Newton puzzling in this context, Hartley insists on the importance of following the Newtonian method:

The proper method of philosophizing seems to be, to discover and establish the general laws of action, affecting the subject under consideration, from certain select, well-defined, and well-attested phenomena, and then to explain and predict the other phaenomena by these laws. This is the method of analysis and synthesis recommended and followed by Sir Isaac Newton.


Hartley has guaranteed the accuracy of this summing-up of Newton's method by paraphrasing what Newton himself had written in the Preface to the Principia.19

Another important figure here, of course, was Adam Smith (1723–1790), who has been called the Newton of economics, while his Wealth of Nations (1776) has been called the Principia of political economy.20 Smith himself admitted that after reading Newton's Principia he was drawn into abandoning his view that philosophical systems were ‘mere inventions of the imagination, to connect together the otherwise disjointed and discordant phaenomena of nature’, almost believing that Newton had succeeded in revealing the ‘real chains which Nature makes use of to bind together her several operations’.21 It was undoubtedly Newton's inspiration that marked the shift in the Enlightenment from politics to political science, and the belief that just as there were laws of nature, so there must be laws of society.22

There can be no denying, then, that the closing words of the Opticks had a profound influence on subsequent thinkers, and through them had a major impact on Enlightenment thought. But, was all this what Newton had in mind when he wrote those closing words? With historical hindsight, we can see that the Enlightenment attempt to introduce the Newtonian method into moral subjects turned out to be a secularizing movement, one which dovetailed closely with contemporary French efforts to take authority on moral questions away from the Church, and to place that authority firmly on what the French called ‘reason’.23 But there is no evidence which would allow us to infer that this is the kind of thing Newton had in mind when he wrote the final flourish at the end of the Opticks. There is no indication in any of his writings that Newton wanted to develop a moral philosophy in the manner of a George Turnbull or a David Hartley. It would seem, then, that proponents of this Enlightenment enterprise might have seen themselves as Newtonians, but, as was so often the case in the eighteenth century, they were re-making Newton in their own image rather than maintaining and promoting his own concerns.

But, if Newton did not have an Enlightenment ‘science of man’ in mind when he wrote of the bounds of moral philosophy being extended by his method, what did he mean? If we go back to Newton's closing paragraph, it seems pretty clear that for Newton the extending of the bounds of moral philosophy would lead not to a secularizing movement but to a better understanding of the being and attributes of God. Recall that immediately after mentioning the enlarging of moral philosophy he wrote:

For so far as we can know by natural Philosophy what is the first Cause, what Power he has over us, and what Benefits we receive from him, so far our Duty towards him, as well as that towards one another, will appear to us by the Light of Nature.


Perhaps, then, we should consider that Newton's intention was closer to what we think of as natural theology—perhaps he was merely suggesting that natural philosophy should be used to establish the existence of the ‘first Cause’, and then increased acknowledgement of Christian morality would follow?

Again, there can be no denying that Newton's work in general led to the burgeoning of natural theology among British natural philosophers throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and it is perfectly possible, therefore, that this passage played its part in stimulating devout followers to pursue those ends.24 But, again, there seems to be something rather different occupying Newton's mind here. It is easy to see the very significant difference between the end of the Opticks and the famous opening statement in his correspondence with Richard Bentley:

When I wrote my Treatise about our System, I had an Eye upon such Principles as might work with considering Men, for the Belief of a Deity…25


The concern here is to combat atheism, and accordingly, the following discussions throughout the correspondence are aimed to that end. The four letters to Bentley are exclusively concerned with the natural theological enterprise of using the clear evidence of order and design in the universe to prove the existence of God.

In the final paragraph of the Opticks, by contrast, the existence of God is simply taken for granted—the issue is not one of establishing the reality of a God whose existence might be in doubt, rather, the aim is to learn more about God and to get to know him better. Newton does not write here of belief in God, but knowledge of God:

For so far as we can know by natural Philosophy what is the first Cause, what Power he has over us, and what Benefits we receive from him …


Natural philosophy is not invoked to tell us whether there is a first cause, but to tell us what that presupposed first cause is. The concern is not with the existence of God, but with the nature of God.

Now, this is not particularly unusual at this stage of Newton's career. It seems to me that in his natural philosophical writings Newton's discussions of God can be divided roughly into two categories. On the one hand we have fairly standard natural theology—usually based on the argument from design. We see this in the letters to Bentley, and in the first part of the discussion of God in the General Scholium, and in various other places in his works. But there are also places where the discussions are rather different, and these are perhaps best designated simply as philosophical accounts of the nature of God.

We can see both kinds of discussion in the General Scholium, which Newton added to the end of the second edition of the Principia in 1713. Paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 of the General Scholium are straightforwardly natural theological.26 Paragraph 2 brings natural theology into consideration after discussing the motion of the planets through void space. As Newton writes:

They will indeed persevere in their orbits by the laws of gravity, but they certainly could not originally have acquired the regular position of the orbits by these laws.27


What is required, as we are told in paragraph 4, is an intelligent Creator:

This most elegant system of the sun, planets, and comets could not have arisen without the design and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being … And so that the system of the fixed stars will not fall upon one another as a result of their gravity, he has placed them at immense distances from one another.28


Immediately after this, however, in paragraph 5, Newton switches to a discussion of the nature of God himself. In so far as evidence is brought in to support Newton's theology here, it is not drawn from the natural world, but from familiar Christian doctrine, from scripture and other ancient writings, or from metaphysical assumptions.

This part of the General Scholium begins by discussing God as Pantokrator, and the nature of his dominion and authority—which is presented as transcendent authority over inferior, secondary beings, not as power by virtue of immanence. It then discusses his superlative nature, including his eternity and infinity. This leads to a discussion of his relations to space and time, but it does so not in physical terms but metaphysical. Then comes a sortie into negative theology, where we are told that we have no idea of how God ‘senses and understands all things’, and we have no idea of the substance of God (‘much less do we have an idea of the substance of God’). We are said to know him only by his properties and attributes, and to think of him through ‘a certain similitude from things human’, but immediately this is said to be only an imperfect way of thinking of him.29 During the course of this discussion, Newton refers in footnotes to various passages of scripture, and to a number of ancient writers—again this is in contrast with the natural theological part of the discussion, where there is no reference to tradition.30

I believe this distinction between natural theology on the one hand, and a more general religious concern with the nature of God himself is a valid one to make with regard to Newton's theological pronouncements, but it should be acknowledged that Newton does not always see these as distinct approaches—indeed, perhaps he never sees them as distinct. Certainly, it was after three long paragraphs on the nature of God in the General Scholium, which take the reader a long way from the earlier use of the argument from design, that Newton famously wrote ‘to treat of God from phenomena is certainly a part of experimental philosophy’.31 Similarly, he moves fairly freely in his early unpublished work, known as De gravitatione, from natural theology to a more metaphysical discussion of God and his actions in the world.32 It may be, therefore, that we are artificially separating what Newton saw as all one, but I believe the use of this distinction will help us to discern significant nuances in Newton's own approach to theology.

So, if we return now to the final paragraph of the Opticks, it should be clear that there is no sign here of the argument from design and standard natural theology. Although he writes that ‘our Duty towards him [God], as well as that towards one another, will appear to us by the Light of Nature’, this is not typical of natural theology, which focuses on proving the existence and attributes of God himself, and does not pretend to be able to establish specific moral precepts, such as duties to one another.33 The focus, as we have already seen, is on the nature of God and the nature of his relationship with humankind, while God's existence is simply accepted without question. Another important aspect of the final paragraph is with correct teaching and correct focus of worship. The final sentence of the Latin edition, for example, can be translated as ‘they [the heathens] would really have been more likely to have taught the best means by which our true and most beneficent Creator was to be worshipped’ [id sane multo potius docuissent, qua ratione optime colendus esset verus noster & beneficentissimus].

It seems clear, then, that when Newton spoke of extending the bounds of moral philosophy by pursuing the same method which enabled him to perfect natural philosophy, he was not intending to promote the development of a natural, or rational, morality of the kind developed subsequently by Enlightenment thinkers. And nor was he intending to promote the kind of natural theology that was developed subsequently by self-professed Newtonians from Richard Bentley to the authors of the Bridgewater Treatises, and even beyond to Charles Darwin and James Clerk Maxwell.34 But he was intending to suggest that correct natural philosophy and its methodology could lead, or should lead, to the true religion, its doctrines and its correct practices. For Newton, the true morality was evidently bound up with the true religion, correct religious belief and the correct form of worship.
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Part 2 of 2

The true religion and the end of the Opticks

One of the strongest indications of this belief in an intimate connection between morality and correct religion was provided by Newton in the small addition he made to the final paragraph in the third English edition of the Opticks in 1721. He now introduced new final words to the book, adding after ‘they would have taught us to worship our true Author and Benefactor’, ‘as their Ancestors did under the Government of Noah and his Sons before they corrupted themselves’. Here, again, the addition is remarkable in its oddity. Newton does not take the opportunity to expatiate upon ‘our true Author and Benefactor’; he does not, for example, choose to add a comment about the ubiquity and omnipotence of God. Instead, he chooses to add another historical comment, about the ancestors of the heathens, including a suggestion that these ancestors ‘corrupted themselves’.

Newton scholars now know that this final, newly added, clause alludes to the reconstructed history of religion which Newton had been developing, largely in secret,35 since the 1680s in his ‘Theologiae gentilis origines philosophicae’ (Philosophical Origins of Gentile Theology; hereafter referred to as ‘Origines’), and subsequently in his ‘Original of Religions’, ‘History of the Church’ and various other associated manuscript papers.36 Essentially, Newton presented an account of the history of religion in which the true religion was repeatedly corrupted into idolatry. Noah and his sons were entrusted, after the Flood, to restore the true religion originally taught to Adam and Eve. But the Noachian (Newton uses the word ‘Noachide’) version of the true religion was in turn corrupted into idolatry and had to be restored subsequently by Moses. But, as Newton despairingly (or perhaps contemptuously?) pointed out, ‘the world loves to be deceived’,37 and the true religion was corrupted once again. Whereupon, Jesus Christ was sent to restore once more the true original religion. In a projected Chapter 11 of the ‘Origines’, Newton intended to show:

What the true religion of the Noachides was like before it began to be corrupted by the worship of false Gods. And that the Christian religion turned out to be no more true nor less corrupt.38


Effectively, Newton was saying that Christianity, as it had been taught since the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, was not the true religion, but was yet another corrupt idolatrous religion, which was now long overdue for reform.39

As a result of the comparatively new scholarly interest in Newton's religious papers, and their inclusion in the online Newton Project, Newton scholars can now immediately recognize that Newton was alluding at the end of the Opticks to his own ideas on the history of religion. This was definitely not the case, however, for Newton's contemporaries. Although there are clear signs that Newton at least considered preparing some of these researches for the press, in the end he never went public, and the only aspect of these efforts which did see publication was the associated reform of Biblical chronology, which appeared posthumously in his Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (1728).40 Newton's reference to the ancestors of Noah worshipping their true author and benefactor before they corrupted themselves could not have had any clear and certain meaning for Newton's contemporaries. All Newton's readers would have known straight away what he meant by the four cardinal virtues, say, but nobody could have known to what he was referring with this mention of Noah.

Having said that, it is also worth noting, of course, that this comment about the ancestors of Noah eventually becoming corrupt was not so unusual a reading of sacred history that it would leap off the page to the unengaged reader as an unorthodox peculiarity. It would have been perfectly possible to see this as a fairly anodyne comment about the fortunes of the Judaic religion before the advent of Jesus Christ and Christianity. Indeed, that is presumably how readers have taken it until very recently. It is only with the discovery of Newton's ‘Origines’ and related papers that we now know that Newton had something much more specific in mind in 1721 when he added this comment about the ancestors of Noah corrupting themselves.

So, what was Newton suggesting (albeit in a highly obscure and even opaque way) in his final paragraph of the Opticks? It seems pretty clear from a reading of the ‘Origines’, ‘History of the Church’ and other writings, that Newton believed that the true religion was intimately bound up with correct natural philosophy. Moreover, this intimate association was revealed even in the form of worship, and the places of worship, of the true religion. We can see this, for example, in the heading of Chapter I of the ‘Origines’:

That Pagan Theology was Philosophical, and primarily sought an astronomical and physical understanding of the world system; and that the twelve Gods of the major Nations are the seven Planets together with the four elements and the quintessence Earth.41


As Kenneth Knoespel wrote in 1999:

For Newton … the question was not accommodation between ancient wisdom and Christian revelation but the extent to which natural philosophy provided the fundamental structure for natural religion to such a degree that in the end all religious practice could be shown to be an expression of natural philosophy.42


Knoespel suggests that the ‘Origines’ may have given way to ‘The Original of Religions’ as the focus of Newton's scholarly efforts when he came to believe he could reconstruct the temples of the original religion, the prytanea, and see the altar fires and associated rituals as representations of the cosmos:

And lastly [Newton wrote] as the Tabernacle was contrived by Moses to be a symbol of ye Heavens (as St Paul and Josephus teach), so were ye Prytanea amongst the nations. And as the Tabernacle was a symbol of the heavens, so were the Prytanea amongs ye nations. The whole heavens they reconed to be ye true & real temple of God & therefore that a Prytaneum might deserve ye name of his Temple they framed it so in the fullest manner to represent the whole systeme of the heavens. A point of religion then wch nothing can be more rational.43


So, the architecture of the Temple at Jerusalem, for example, reflected the structure of the universe.44 And when adherents of the original religion worshipped, they did so in a prytaneum which was modelled on the structure of the cosmos.45

This in turn, of course, was related to Newton's scholarly endeavours of the early 1690s, in the so-called ‘Classical Scholia’, to show that the ancients knew the Copernican theory, and even the universal principle of gravitation. It was obviously crucial for Newton's claims that the prytanea should be modelled on the heliocentric cosmos, not on the corrupt and incorrect Aristotelian/Ptolemaic system.46

It would seem, therefore, that what Newton had in mind when he added this final paragraph to the Opticks, first of all in 1706, was to announce his belief that the perfection of natural philosophy would help us to discover and possibly restore the true religion that had been given to mankind in the earliest ages, but had been repeatedly corrupted and restored, and was at that time, in the early eighteenth century, once again corrupt. For Newton, then, moral philosophy depended upon true religion, and the true religion was intimately intertwined with true natural philosophy. It seems, therefore, that he saw himself as contributing to the revival of the true religion by virtue of his success in natural philosophy.

Why did Newton intrude this into the Opticks?

The question remains, why did he choose to make an announcement about this (albeit a highly obscure one) in the Opticks? This question is all the more pertinent given that, on earlier occasions when he intended to allude in print to his religious conclusions, the intention was never carried through to publication.

We have already mentioned the Classical Scholia of the early 1690s: which were intended for a second edition of the Principia which never appeared at that time. But even earlier than that, Newton evidently intended to include a brief discussion of his on-going religious research in the first edition of the Principia (1687). Newton had already begun to write the ‘Theologiae gentilis origines philosophicae’ when Edmund Halley diverted him into writing the Principia. For a while, Newton planned to include as the Third Book of the Principia a more discursive account of its cosmological conclusions, intended to be more accessible to readers who were incapable of following the mathematics in the other books. This third book was to open with a discussion of the preliminary results of Newton's historical research. It appeared in English translation in 1728 as A Treatise of the System of the World.47 Right at the outset, in the second paragraph of the Treatise, Newton linked ancient knowledge of the solar system to ancient places of worship. After describing the heliocentric system, Newton wrote:

This was the philosophy taught of old by Philolaus, Aristarchus of Samos, Plato in his riper years, and the whole sect of the Pythagoreans. And this was the judgement of Anaximander, more ancient than any of them, and of that wise king of the Romans Numa Pompilius; who as a symbol of the figure of the World with the Sun in the center, erected a temple in honour of Vesta, of a round form, and ordained perpetual fire to be kept in the middle of it.48


This research was still in progress (though suspended while Newton worked on the Principia), but temples to Vesta were to figure prominently in subsequent writings. The beginning of ‘The Original of Religions’, written in the early 1690s, reads: ‘The religion most ancient and most generally received by the nations in the first ages was that of the Prytanea or Vestal Temples.’49

It looks as though Newton recognized straight away the links between his new natural philosophy and what he took to be the original religion, and yet he made no public announcement of this until the Optice of 1706, maintaining it in 1718 and finally reinforcing it slightly for the 1721 edition.50 So, what made him break his silence?

All we can do here is speculate. It seems to me that there are four possibilities—two of which I think we can dismiss fairly quickly. First, he may simply have included it as a clear signal to anyone who had pursued the same research and had come to the same conclusions. Newton is renowned for voyaging on strange seas of thought alone, but he would perhaps have been glad of company if a like-minded thinker responded to his signal. So, although he knew the final sentence would pass by the general reader as nothing more than an odd comment about religious history, he perhaps included it in the hope that somebody out there might have followed the same path and reached the same destination. Such a reader, if he or she existed, would perhaps recognize the reference to Noah and his sons as a hint that Newton had developed a reconstruction of the true religion, and would make contact with this fellow traveller.

Alternatively, he might simply have hoped that one of his readers, or better, a number of them, might have written to him to ask what he meant by saying the bounds of moral philosophy would be enlarged by pursuing the same method that Newton had used in natural philosophy. This would provide him with the opportunity to present his ideas in private correspondence and to sound out reactions.

These may have been considerations in Newton's mind, but they seem too casual to have been the real reason to make him add this seemingly incongruous paragraph to the end of his second major work of natural philosophy. Given what seems to modern readers to be such a strange unexpectedness about this ending, surely we need a much more serious reason for Newton to have chosen to end the Opticks this way?

There is one possibility, which although it may seem unpersuasive to modern readers, does seem to fit with what we know of Newton's idiosyncrasies. The clue to this can be seen in Cornelis Schilt's recent paper on Newton's working methods.51 Schilt shows how Newton fully embraced the approach, common among alchemists, that the discoveries of the art of alchemy should only be communicated to adepts. This approach went hand-in-hand with the view that the adept was capable of picking up clues which the non-expert could not possibly fathom.52 We can see this clearly in Newton's description of his ‘New Theory of Light and Colours’, which he had sent to the Royal Society in February 1671/72:

As to ye printng of that letter [the ‘New Theory’] I am satisfied in their [the Fellows'] judgment, or else I should have thought it too straight and narrow for publicke view. I designed it only to those that know how to improve upon hints of things.53


Bearing this in mind, we can turn for help also to Scott Mandelbrote's earlier paper, which like Schilt's, uses a revealing quotation from Newton in its title: ‘a duty of the greatest moment’.54 Mandelbrote points out that Newton's motivation for writing his religious papers may simply have been for his own benefit: ‘His was a voyage of personal discovery.’ And for Newton, whose relationship to God was characterized by a sense of duty, trying to recover the true religion was a matter of duty: ‘Thou seest therefore that this is no idle speculation, no matters of indifferency but a duty of the greatest moment.’55 It is possible, therefore, that Newton felt he at least owed a duty to God to point the way to others to recover the true religion. At one point in the same unpublished work, for example, he urges putative readers: ‘But search the scriptures thy self & that by frequent reading & constant meditation upon what thou readest, & earnest prayer to God to enlighten thine understanding if thou desirest to find the truth.’56

On this reading, Newton decided it was his duty to God to urge others to embark on their own search for the true religion, and correct moral philosophy, by pursuing the methods demonstrated in the Opticks. In doing so, however, he chose to aim his remarks only at ‘those that know how to improve upon hints of things’, and restricted himself to the strange and completely obscure comment at the end of the Opticks. Anything is possible, where Newton's peccadillos are concerned, but there is another reading which seems to me to be more persuasive. The declamation to ‘search the scriptures thyself’ might well have been written with a real readership in mind. After all, the manuscript in which this appears actually begins, just a couple of paragraphs before, with the words:

Having searched after knowledge in the prophetique scriptures, I have thought my self bound to communicate it for the benefit of others, remembring the judgment of him who hid his talent in a napkin.57


The ending of the Opticks might well be seen, therefore, to count as evidence that Newton fully intended, at least at the time that the Optice and the subsequent English editions of 1718 and 1721 appeared, to publish the fruits of his research on the original religion. This seems to follow from the cryptic nature of the passage. Newton might have been expected to say a bit more, to make his meaning more clear, but if he believed he would be in a position to publish his work on religious history fairly soon, he might well have preferred to leave readers of the Opticks wanting more. In fact, there is clear evidence that Newton intended to go into more detail at the end of the 1721 edition of the Opticks.

In a copy of the 1718 edition (which is now in the Huntington Library in San Marino, California) Newton added in manuscript after the closing printed words, ‘our true Author and Benefactor’:

as their ancestors did before they corrupted themselves. For the seven Precepts of the Noachides were originally the moral law of all nations; & the first of them was to have but one supreme Lord God & not to alienate his worship; the second was not to profane his name; & the rest were to abstain from blood or homicide & from fornication, (that is from incest adultery & all unlawful lusts,) & from theft & all injuries, & to be merciful even to bruit beasts, & to set up magistrates for putting these laws in execution. Whence came the moral Philosophy of the ancient Greeks.58


In the end, as we have seen, Newton simply added, ‘as their Ancestors did under the Government of Noah and his Sons before they corrupted themselves’. After all, the long addition he wrote into his copy of the 1718 edition did nothing to show the links between moral philosophy and natural philosophy. Given what had gone just before, the reader might expect an illustration of how correct natural philosophy, or the correct method of natural philosophy, could lead to correct moral philosophy, but Newton's proposed addition did not fulfil this reasonable expectation. Instead of continuing to show how natural philosophy might reveal moral precepts, ‘by the Light of Nature’, Newton simply slipped into a historical account of the original principles of morality. It seems plausible that Newton realized that what he had written did nothing to advance his claim in the earlier part of the paragraph and therefore did not include it in the 1721 edition.

Before thinking better about this, however, Newton had evidently sent a similar new ending to Pierre Coste to include in his French translation of the Opticks, which appeared in 1720:

… ils nous auroient appris à adorer notre suprême Bienfaiteur, le veritable Auteur de notre Etre, comme firent nos premiers Peres avant que d'avoir corrompu leur Esprit & leurs Mœurs: car la Loi Morale qui étoit observée par toutes les Nations, tandis qu'elles vivoient en Chaldée sous la direction de Noé & de ses Enfans, renfermoit le Culte d'un seul Dieu suprême; & la transgression de cet Article fut punissable, longtemps après, devant le Magistrat des Gentils, Job. xxxi. Moyse en ordonna aussi l'observation à tout Estranger qui habitoit parmi les Israëlites. Selon les Juifs, c'est une Loi qui est encore imposée à toutes les Nations de la Terre par les sept Préceptes des Enfants de Noé; & selon les Chrétiens, par les deux grands Commandemens, qui nous enjoignent d'aimer Dieu & notre Prochain: & sans cet Article, la Vertu n'est en effet qu'un vain nom.59

Google translate: … they would have taught us to adore our supreme Benefactor, the true Author of our Being, as our first Fathers did before having corrupted their Spirit and their Morals: for the Moral Law which was observed by all Nations, while they lived in Chaldea under the direction of Noah & his Children, contained the Worship of a single supreme God; & the transgression of this Article was punishable, long after, before the Magistrate of the Gentiles, Job. xxxi. Moses also ordered the observance of it to any foreigner who lived among the Israelites. According to the Jews, it is a Law which is still imposed on all the Nations of the Earth by the seven Precepts of the Children of Noah; & according to the Christians, by the two great Commandments, which enjoin us to love God & our Neighbour: & without this Article, Virtue is indeed only an empty name.


The same failure to show how the light of nature might lead to a better moral philosophy is also true, of course, of the brief comment that he actually did add to the 1721 English edition—it does not illustrate how correct natural philosophy leads to correct religion. It does, however, hint at Newton's beliefs as to where religion went wrong in the past, and thereby succinctly prepares the reader for a following work. The brief comment at the end of the Opticks can perhaps be seen, then, as a bridge linking the Opticks to ‘Of the Church’, which by about 1710, if Matt Goldish is correct, Newton may well have been preparing for publication.60 Rather than detain his readers at the end of the Opticks by giving a fuller account of his historical research, he chose to finish with a provocative and intriguing gesture—fully intending to expand on this in a following work—a work which in the end, as we know, he never did manage to see through the press.

If this is correct, it would seem that by 1706 Newton felt he was approaching the point where he would be ready to publish the results of research in which he had invested so much labour since the 1680s and that this conviction persisted until 1721, when he evidently still believed a publication on the ‘History of the Church’ might be possible. After a number of false starts, in the aborted accessible Book III of the first edition of the Principia, and in the Classical Scholia of the aborted second edition of the same work, Newton finally chose to allude, albeit cryptically, in the Optice and later editions of the Opticks to his unpublished attempts to reconstruct the true original religion and its subsequent fortunes in the history of religion.

Conclusion

It seems clear that by 1706 Newton had come to believe very firmly in what he discerned as the inextricable link between the true natural philosophy and the true religion. His work for the ‘Origines’ and its successors had reached a position by 1706 which convinced Newton of the intimate connection between the true natural philosophy and the true theology. Newton began to write the Opticks in the early 1690s and at that time he could proceed without having to think about anything other than his experimental results and how they should be interpreted. As he delved deeper into the early history of religion, however, he became increasingly convinced that original places of worship were modelled on the universe as God had created it, and that this was just one aspect of an original religion which was ‘Philosophical, and primarily sought an astronomical and physical understanding of the world system’.61 Having discovered (as he no doubt thought of it—discovery, not invention) the crucial importance of natural philosophy in the constitution of the original religion he could not forbear from mentioning this connection when the 1706 Optice went into print. Perhaps Newton, like Kepler, Robert Boyle and other devout natural philosophers, saw himself as a priest of the Book of Nature, and saw it as his duty to emulate the natural philosopher priests of the original religion.62 As he wrote in ‘The Original of Religions’: ‘And thence it was yt ye Priests anciently were above other men well skilled in ye knowledge of ye true frame of Nature & accounted it a great part of their Theology.’63 Be that as it may, I think the final paragraph of the Opticks is a clear and undeniable indicator of the unity of Newton's thought, and his belief in the intimate and inextricable connection between sound natural philosophy and the true religion.64

It is impossible to reach a clear and certain conclusion as to why Newton concluded the Opticks the way he did, but it seems fair to say that if he did not insert it as a pointer to the theme of his next published book, he must have seen it as a duty to God, and to other believers (of the right sort), to hint at what might be discovered about morality and religion by following the same method which was already beginning to perfect ‘natural Philosophy in all its Parts’. Speculative as this may be, one thing is abundantly clear: Newton really did believe that the true religion was intimately related to the true natural philosophy. Although this belief was sincerely believed (we must assume), there was clearly some element of self deception in it. It is hard to see how Newton could have believed that ‘the seven Precepts of the Noachides’, which he held to be ‘originally the moral law of all nations’, and which he obviously became aware of through scriptural and historical research, could have been derived from ‘the Light of Nature’, especially if the light of nature was exemplified by the methods Newton used in the main body of the Opticks, or those used in the Queries. It is one thing to suppose that the form of worship of a ‘philosophical religion’ would have taken place in temples modelled on the heliocentric world system, but it is quite another to claim to be able to infer, from natural principles, what might have been the moral teachings expounded in those temples. The disconnect between these two stages of thinking would have been made more apparent to English readers if Newton had included the extended passage that he wrote by hand at the end of his copy of the 1718 edition, and that was included in the French translation of 1720.

Newton thought better about mentioning the seven precepts of the Noachides and including specific moral teachings in his final paragraph, and so readers were not able to notice the flaw in Newton's thinking. But if he had included the more extended closing paragraph, at least his readers would have had a better idea of the way Newton was actually thinking about these matters (ultimately, in spite of what he tried to imply, a way which was based on a reading of the scriptures rather than on the experimental method). As it was, it is hardly surprising that the immediately succeeding generation should completely miss the significance of the reference to Noah and his sons and should assume instead that what Newton had in mind must have been a moral philosophy that could be established on grounds analogous to those developed in the new ‘experimental philosophy’. The Enlightenment development of moral Newtonianism, however, was a far cry from what Newton himself envisaged when he wrote that ‘the Bounds of Moral Philosophy will be also enlarged’.

Acknowledgements

An earlier version of this paper was read at a conference on Newton at the Huntington Library, San Marino, in October 2014: ‘All in Pieces? New Insights into the Structure of Newton's Thought’. I am very grateful to the conference organizer, Rob Iliffe, for inviting me to take part. I also wish to thank Mordechai Feingold, Andrew Janiak, Alan Shapiro and especially Scott Mandelbrote and Stephen Snobelen for their helpful comments on my paper. I would like to thank the anonymous referees of the paper, and the Editor, for helping me to improve it.

Footnotes

Notes


1 Isaac Newton, Opticks, or a Treatise of the reflections, refractions, inflections and colours of light. The second edition, with additions (W. and J. Innys, London, 1718), p. 382.

2 Newton, Opticks, or a Treatise of the reflections, refractions, inflections and colours of light (Sam Smith and Benjamin Watford, London, 1704), p. 137. Query 16 in this edition is the last of the queries and is shorter than in subsequent editions.

3 Newton, Optice: sive de reflexionibus, refractionibus, inflexionibus & coloribus lucis. Libri tres (Sam Smith and Benjamin Watford, London, 1706), Query 23, p. 348. This is now easily accessible online, thanks to Rob Iliffe and his team's wonderful Newton Project: http://www.newtonproject.sussex.ac.uk/.

4 The various drafts of the Queries are now available online at the Newton Project.

5 On the comparatively recent advent of secularization, see Steve Bruce and Tony Glendinning, ‘When was secularization? Dating the decline of the British churches and locating its cause’, Brit. J. Sociol.61, 107–126 (2010); and Callum G. Brown, The death of Christian Britain: understanding secularisation, 1800–2000 (Routledge, London and New York, 2009).

6 Theology and natural philosophy were regarded as distinct and separate disciplines, and their separation was institutionalized in the universities, notwithstanding what Andrew Cunningham argues in his ‘How the Principia got its name; or, taking natural philosophy seriously’, Hist. Sci.29, 377–392 (1991). For correctives to Cunningham's view, see Edward Grant, ‘God and natural philosophy: the late Middle Ages and Sir Isaac Newton’, Early Sci. Med.6, 279–298 (2000); and Peter Dear, ‘Religion, science and natural philosophy: thoughts on Cunningham's thesis’, Stud. Hist. Philos. Sci.32, 377–386 (2001).

7 On Newton's religious studies see, for example, Frank E. Manuel, Isaac Newton, historian (Cambridge University Press, 1963); Manuel, The religion of Isaac Newton (Oxford University Press, 1974); R. S. Westfall, Never at rest: a biography of Isaac Newton (Cambridge University Press, 1980); James E. Force and Richard H. Popkin (eds), The books of nature and Scripture (Kluwer, Dordrecht, 1994); Force and Popkin, Newton and religion: context, nature and influence (Kluwer, Dordrecht, 1999); Rob Iliffe, Priest of nature: the religious worlds of Isaac Newton (Oxford University Press, 2017). There are also a number of judicious and highly informative papers by Stephen Snobelen, including, for example, ‘To discourse of God: Isaac Newton's heterodox theology and his natural theology’, in Science and dissent in England, 1688–1945 (ed. Paul Wood), pp. 39–65 (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2004), and ‘“The true frame of Nature”: Isaac Newton, heresy and the reformation of natural philosophy’, in Heterodoxy in early modern science and religion (ed. J. H. Brooke and I. Maclean), pp. 223–262 (Oxford University Press, 2005).

8 Religious sentiments are expressed earlier on in Query 31, and in Query 28, but these are concerned with natural theology, or God's relationship to the Creation. These are more typical of the kind of religious comment routinely appearing in contemporary natural philosophical works. The closing words of the Opticks are not concerned with natural theology, and are significantly different in intention—as we shall see shortly.

9 This kind of lack of explanation has recently been exposed as a common practice in Newton's writings, and what is said here can be seen as further support for this analysis. See Cornelis J. (Kees-Jan) Schilt, ‘“To improve upon hints of things”: illustrating Isaac Newton’, Nuncius31, 50–77 (2016).

10 A. Rupert Hall, All was light: an introduction to Newton's Opticks (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1993). Hall does discuss the earlier, natural theological material (pp. 135–138, 150–152) but remains silent about Newton's suggestion that the bounds of moral philosophy may be enlarged. The same is true of R. S. Westfall, op. cit. (note 7).

11 Scott Mandelbrote, ‘Newton and eighteenth-century Christianity’, The Cambridge companion to Newton (ed. I. B. Cohen and G. E. Smith), pp. 409–430 (Cambridge University Press, 2002), at p. 421. The significance of Mandelbrote's comment about the religion of Noah will emerge later in this paper. Stephen Snobelen, ‘The true frame of Nature’, op. cit. (note 7). Stephen Snobelen has written a comprehensive account and analysis of all the theological aspects of the different editions of the Opticks, including a detailed analysis of its closing words. But Snobelen discusses the closing words simply for the sake of completeness in his survey of theology in the Opticks. My concern here—why Newton chose to finish the book on just this religious note—is not discussed by Snobelen. Unfortunately, Snobelen's most extensive study remains unpublished: ‘“The Light of Nature”: God and Natural Philosophy in Isaac Newton's Opticks.’ I am very grateful to Dr Snobelen for sending me a copy of this paper, which has proved invaluable. Meanwhile, there are two earlier, shorter versions of the paper in print: Stephen Snobelen, ‘La Lumière de la Nature: Dieu et la philosophie naturelle dans l’Optique de Newton', Lumières4, 65–104 (2004); and ‘“La luz de la Naturaleza”: Dios y filosofia natural en la Óptica de Isaac Newton’, Estudios de Filsofia35, 15–53 (2007). Frank E. Manuel, Isaac Newton, historian, op. cit. (note 7), p. 284, note 23, and plate 10 facing page 117. We return to this manuscript addition to the closing words of the Opticks below.

12 We shall see as the paper proceeds that Newton continually changed the closing words, or thought about changing them, in successive editions. It is perhaps worth adding that A. Rupert Hall mentions that Newton, ‘starting with Optice in 1706’, begins ‘to inject into his scientific writings his system of natural theology’, but he makes no mention of the closing words (which, as we will see, are not concerned with natural theology). A. Rupert Hall, Isaac Newton, adventurer in thought (Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 375.

13 Arnold Thackray, Atoms and powers: an essay on Newtonian matter-theory and the development of chemistry (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1970); Robert E. Schofield, Mechanism and materialism: British natural philosophy in an age of reason (Princeton University Press, 1970).

14 Basil Willey, The eighteenth-century background: studies on the idea of nature in the thought of the period (Chatto & Windus, London, 1962), pp. 135–137; Peter Gay, The Enlightenment: an interpretation. Volume II: the science of freedom (Knopf, New York, 1969); Roger L. Emerson, ‘Science and the origins and concerns of the Scottish Enlightenment’, Hist. Sci. 26, 333–366 (1988).

15 George Turnbull, Principles of moral philosophy: an enquiry into the wise and good government of the moral world, 2 vols, vol. I, p. iii (John Noon, London, 1740).

16 David Hume, Treatise of human nature: being an attempt to introduce the experimental method of reasoning into moral subjects (John Noon, London, 1739). On Hume's Newtonianism see Eric Schliesser, ‘Hume's Newtonianism and anti-Newtonianism’, The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Winter 2008 edn, ed. Edward N. Zalta), http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2 ... me-newton/ (accessed 14 May 2016).

17 Hume, Treatise, op. cit. (note 16), Book I, Part I, Section IV.

18 David Hartley, Observations on man, his frame, his duty, and his expectations (James Leake and William Frederick, London, 1749), p. 5.

19 Hartley, op. cit. (note 18), p. 6; and Isaac Newton, The Principia: mathematical principles of natural philosophy (ed. and trans. I. B. Cohen and A. Whitman) (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1999), p. 382.

20 Adam Smith, The wealth of nations, 2 vols (W. Strahan, and T. Cadell, London, 1776). Todd G. Buchholz, From here to economy: a shortcut to economic literacy (Plume, New York, 1996), p. 227; Jerry Evensky, Adam Smith's moral philosophy: a historical and contemporary perspective on markets, law, ethics, and culture (Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 5; Anonymous, ‘Political economy’, Irish Monthly Mag.2, 353 (1846).

21 Adam Smith, ‘The principles which lead and direct philosophical enquiries: illustrated by the history of astronomy’, in Essays on philosophical subjects (ed. W. P. D. Wightman and J. C. Bryce), The Glasgow edition of the works and correspondence of Adam Smith, vol. 3, pp. 33–105 (Oxford University Press, 1980), p. 105.

22 Deborah A. Redman, The rise of political economy as a science: methodology and the classical economists (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1997), pp. 207–258. See also, Norriss S. Hetherington, ‘Isaac Newton's influence on Adam Smith's natural laws in economics’, J. Hist. Ideas44, 497–505 (1983); Leonidas Montes, ‘Newton's real influence on Adam Smith and its context’, Camb. J. Econ.32, 555–576 (2008); Eric Schliesser, ‘Some principles of Adam Smith's “Newtonian” methods in the Wealth of Nations’, Research in history of economic thought and methodology23, 35–77 (2005).

23 Paul Hazard, European thought in the eighteenth century (Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1965); Jonathan Israel, Radical Enlightenment: philosophy and the making of modernity 1650–1750 (Oxford University Press, 2002). I say ‘with historical hindsight’—I do not reject claims that the Enlightenment in England was much less irreligious, or anti-religious, than in France, say; but this kind of rationally based morality did in the long run contribute to secularization.

24 John Gascoigne, ‘From Bentley to the Victorians: the rise and fall of British Newtonian natural theology’, Sci. context2, 219–256 (1988); Neal C. Gillespie, ‘Natural history, natural theology and social order: John Ray and the “Newtonian Ideology”’, J. Hist. Biol.20, 1–49 (1987); and Scott Mandelbrote, ‘Early modern natural theologies’, in The Oxford handbook of natural theology (ed. Russell Re Manning), pp. 75–99 (Oxford University Press, 2013).

25 Isaac Newton, Four letters from Sir Isaac Newton to Doctor Bentley containing some arguments in proof of a Deity (R. and J. Dodsley, London, 1756), p. 1. Also available in Isaac Newton, Papers and letters in natural philosophy (ed. I. Bernard Cohen), 2nd edn (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1978), p. 280; and, of course, in Newton, Correspondence (ed. H. W. Turnbull, A. Rupert Hall and Laura Tilling), 7 vols, vol. III (Cambridge University Press, 1959–1977), p. 233.

26 I am referring to the paragraphs in the latest English translation of the Principia, which has now established itself as the standard edition, Isaac Newton, The Principia, op. cit. (note 19), pp. 939–944.

27 Newton, Principia, op. cit. (note 19), p. 940.

28 Newton, Principia, op. cit. (note 19), p. 940.

29 Newton, Principia, op. cit. (note 19), pp. 942–943.

30 Newton, Principia, op. cit. (note 19), pp. 941, 942. The first of these notes, where Newton refers his readers to Edward Pococke (1604–1691) as well as Exodus, Psalms and John, was not added until the 1726 edition; the other note, present in 1713, refers to Cicero, On the nature of the gods; Vergil's Georgics and Aeneid; Philo, Allegorical interpretation; Aratus, Phenomena; and numerous Scriptural citations.

31 Newton, Principia, op. cit. (note 19), p. 943; ‘experimental’ was changed to ‘natural’ for the third (1726) and subsequent editions.

32 Isaac Newton, ‘De gravitatione et aequipondio fluidorum’, in A. Rupert and M. Boas Hall (eds), Unpublished scientific papers of Isaac Newton, pp. 89–156 (Cambridge University Press, 1962). J. A. Ruffner, ‘Newton's De gravitatione: a review and reassessment’, Arch. Hist. Exact Sci.66, 241–264 (2012).

33 Newton, Opticks, op. cit. (note 1), p. 382, emphasis added. In fact, I argue below that there is a flaw in Newton's reasoning here, since we cannot arrive at an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’, as Hume put it. More specifically, no matter what he thinks, Newton cannot legitimately expect moral precepts to emerge from even a complete and certain understanding of the natural world.

34 John Gascoigne, ‘From Bentley to the Victorians: the rise and fall of British Newtonian natural theology’, Sci. context2, 219–256 (1988); Matthew D. Eddy, ‘Nineteenth-century natural theology’, The Oxford handbook of natural theology (ed. Russell Re Manning), pp. 100–118 (Oxford University Press, 2013).

35 Largely, but not entirely; he is known to have discussed some of his ideas on religion with Richard Bentley, David Gregory, Nicholas Fatio de Duillier, John Locke and Samuel Clarke—a handful of people over several decades. A good sense of the uncertainty surrounding Newton's religious beliefs can be gleaned from Scott Mandelbrote, ‘Newton and eighteenth-century Christianity’, op. cit. (note 11).

36 Transcriptions of this and other associated manuscripts are now freely available online via the Newton Project (http://www.newtonproject.sussex.ac.uk/). This extraordinary work was first brought to scholarly attention by R. S. Westfall in ‘Newton's theological manuscripts’, in Contemporary Newtonian research (ed. Zev Bechler), pp. 129–144 (D. Reidel, Dordrecht, 1982); ‘Newton's Theologiae gentilis origines philosophicae’, in The secular mind: transformations of faith in modern Europe (ed. W. Warren Wagar), pp. 15–34 (Holmes & Meier, New York, 1982); and Never at rest, op. cit. (note 7), pp. 351–356. On the ‘History of the Church’, see Matt Goldish, ‘Newton's Of the Church: its contents and implications’, in Newton and religion (ed. Force and Popkin), op. cit. (note 7), pp. 145–164.

37 Newton, ‘Untitled treatise on Revelation’, Section 1.1; Yahuda Ms. 1.1, f. 4r: the Newton Project (note 36).

38 Newton, ‘Theologiae gentilis origines philosophicae’, Yahuda Ms. 16, f. 43Av. This seems to be the heading for an unwritten Chapter 11: ‘Qualis fuit vera Noachidarum religio antequam per cultum falsorum Deorum corrumpi cæpit. Et quod religio Christiana non magis vera nec minus corrupta evasit.’

39 For Newton, worship of Jesus as an aspect of the Godhead was itself idolatrous. He insisted the true religion was strictly monotheistic, and Trinitarianism was a gross and indefensible corruption. On Newton's anti-Trinitarianism, see Westfall, Never at rest, op. cit. (note 7), especially pp. 312–356; and Stephen Snobelen, ‘Isaac Newton, Socinianism and “The one supreme God”’, Socinianism and cultural exchange: the European dimension of Antitrinitarian and Arminian networks, 1650–1720 (ed. Martin Mulsow and Jan Rohls), pp. 241–298 (Brill, Leiden, 2005). On Newton's belief that a reform of religion was urgently required, see Snobelen, ‘The true frame of Nature’, op. cit. (note 7).

40 Isaac Newton, Chronology of ancient kingdoms amended (J. Tonson, London, 1728). For the background to these studies, see Frank E. Manuel, Isaac Newton, historian, op. cit. (note 7); Jed Z. Buchwald and Mordechai Feingold, Newton and the origin of civilization (Princeton University Press, 2011).

41 Newton, ‘Theologiae gentilis origines philosophicae’, Yahuda Ms. 16. 2, f. 1r. The original reads: ‘Quod Theologia Gentilis Philosophica erat, et ad scientiam Astronomicam & Physicam systematis mundani apprime spectabat: quodque Dij duodecim majorum Gentium sunt Planetæ septem cum quatuor elementis et quintessentia Terra.’

42 Kenneth Knoespel, ‘Interpretive strategies in Newton's Theologiae gentilis origines philosophiae’, in Newton and religion (ed. Force and Popkin), op. cit. (note 7), pp. 179–202, p. 190.

43 Newton, ‘The original of religions’, Yahuda Ms. 41, ff. 5r–6r.

44 On Newton's research on Solomon's Temple, see David Castillejo, The expanding force in Newton's cosmos as shown in his unpublished papers (Ediciones de Arte y Bibliofilia, Madrid, 1981); Matt Goldish, Judaism in the theology of Sir Isaac Newton (Kluwer, Dordrecht, 1998); and Tessa Morrison, Isaac Newton's Temple of Solomon and his reconstruction of sacred architecture (Birkhaüser, Basel, 2011).

45 On prytanea and other aspects of Newton's research into the original religion, see Westfall, ‘Newton's Theologiae gentilis origines philosophicae’, op. cit. (note 36); and Snobelen, ‘The true frame of Nature’, op. cit. (note 7).

46 First brought to attention in J. E. McGuire and P. M. Rattansi, ‘Newton and the “Pipes of Pan”’, Notes Rec. R. Soc.21, 108–143 (1966). But see also Volkmar Schüller, ‘Newton's Scholia from David Gregory's Estate on the Propositions IV through IX Book III of his Principia’, Between Leibniz, Newton, and Kant: philosophy and science in the eighteenth century (ed. Wolfgang Lefèvre), pp. 213–265 (Springer, Dordrecht, 2001).

47 Isaac Newton, A treatise of the system of the world (F. Fayram, London, 1728), pp. 1–4. For a discussion of the writing and publication of this work, see the Introduction in Isaac Newton, A treatise of the system of the world, 1731 edition, ‘Introduction’ by I. B. Cohen (Dawson's, London, 1969).

48 Newton, 1728, op. cit. (note 47), pp. 1–2.

49 Newton, ‘The original of religions’, Yahuda Ms. 41, f. 1r.

50 I am agreeing here with the claims made by Stephen Snobelen in his ‘The true frame of Nature’, op. cit. (note 7). He argues that Newton saw the need for a dual reformation of natural philosophy and religion, and that the correct reformation of both had to reveal the links and synergies between them. Moreover, he argues that this is a feature of Newton's outlook from very early in his career.

51 Schilt, ‘To improve upon hints of things’, op. cit. (note 9).

52 Schilt, ‘To Improve upon hints of things’, op. cit. (note 9), p. 76.

53 Newton to Oldenburg, 10 February 1671/2; Isaac Newton, Correspondence, op. cit. (note 25), vol. II, p. 109. Quoted from Schilt, ‘To improve upon hints of things’, op. cit. (note 9), p. 77. Isaac Newton, ‘A letter of Mr Isaac Newton … containing his new theory of light and colours’, Phil. Trans. R. Soc.80, 3075–3087 (19 February 1671/72); also available in Newton, Papers and letters on natural philosophy, op. cit. (note 25), pp. 47–59; and of course through the Newton Project.

54 Scott Mandelbrote, ‘“A duty of the greatest moment”: Isaac Newton and the writing of Biblical criticism’, Brit. J. Hist. Sci.26, 281–302 (1993).

55 Mandelbrote, ‘A duty of the greatest moment’, op. cit. (note 54), pp. 20, 13, 21. Newton, Yahuda Ms. 1.1, f. 3r.

56 Newton, Yahuda Ms. 1.1, f. 2r.

57 Newton, Yahuda Ms. 1.1, f. 1r.

58 Newton, Opticks, op. cit. (note 1), Huntington Library, Rare Books, Babson Newton 700873. See also Manuel, Isaac Newton, historian, op. cit. (note 7), pp. 112, 284. Manuel even includes a photograph of the annotated page: Plate 10, facing p. 117. I am very grateful to Dr Stephen Snobelen for bringing this annotation, and Manuel's discussion, to my attention.

59 Isaac Newton, Traité d'Optique, translated by Pierre Coste, pp. 582–583 (Pierre Humbert, Amsterdam, 1720). Unfortunately, we have no details about how this final passage came into Coste's hands, but it must have been sent to him by Newton. I am grateful to my colleague, Sergio Orozco-Echeverri, for bringing the French edition to my attention.

60 Matt Goldish sees ‘Of the Church’ as ‘the culmination’ of Newton's researches on religious history, and ‘possibly earmarked by the author for eventual publication’. See his ‘Newton's Of the Church’, op. cit. (note 36), p. 146.

61 Newton, ‘Theologiae gentilis origines philosophicae’, Yahuda Ms. 16.2, f. 1r.

62 Consider, for example, the title of Rob Iliffe's forthcoming book on Newton's religion, Priest of nature, op. cit. (note 7). See also Harold Fisch, ‘The scientist as priest: A note on Robert Boyle's natural theology’, Isis44, 252–265 (1953).

63 Newton, ‘The Original of religions’, Yahuda Ms. 41, f. 7r.

64 On the unity of Newton's thought, see Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs, The Janus faces of genius: the role of alchemy in Newton's thought (Cambridge University Press, 1991); James E. Force, ‘Newton's God of dominion: the unity of Newton's theological, scientific and political thought’, in Essays on the context, nature and influence of Isaac Newton's theology (ed. J. E. Force and R. H. Popkin), pp. 75–102 (Kluwer, Dordrecht, 1990); and Stephen Snobelen, ‘To discourse of God’, op. cit. (note 7). For an opposing view, see Rob Iliffe, ‘Abstract considerations: disciplines, audiences and the incoherence of Newton's natural philosophy’, Stud. Hist. Phil. Sci.35, 427–454 (2004).
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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A Letter from Father Bourzes to Father Estienne Souciet, concerning the Luminous Appearance Observable in the Wake of Ships in the Indian Seas, &c.
by Father Louis-Noel de Bourzes
Taken from the Ninth Volume of Letters of the Missionary Jesuits
Source: Philosophical Transactions (1683-1775), Vol. 28 (1713), pp. 230-235
The Royal Society Publishing
January 1, 1713
I saw in a manuscript by Father de Bourzes, that in certain countries on the Malabar coast, the Gentiles celebrated the deliverance of the Jews under Esther, and that they gave this feast the name of Yuda Tirounal (feast of Judah).

-- Letter From Father Pons, Missionary of the Company of Jesus, to Father Du Halde, of the same Company. At Careical, on the coast of Tanjaour; in the East Indies, November 23, 1740. From "Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, Ecrites Des Missions Etrangeres", by Charles Le Gobien

Reverend Father,

As I was ready to embark for the Indies, I receiv'd your Letter, in which you desire me to allow some time for making Inquiries into Arts and Sciences, as far as the necessary Business of my Mission will permit me, and to communicate to you such Discoveries as I shall make.

I met with in this Voyage some Things which I believe would have been acceptable to you; but wanting instruments, which you know are absolutely necessary to make any Observation with exactness, I was forced to content my self with such Observations only as I could make with my naked Eye, without any other Assistance.

I shall begin with a Phaenomenon in Natural Philosophy, which has something new in it to those that never were at Sea; and perhaps those that have been there, never observed it with sufficient Attention.

You have read what Philosophers say concerning those Sparkles of Light which appear in the Night time on the Surface of the Sea; but you must observe at the same time, that they pass over this Phaenomenon very slightly, or at least endeavour more to give a reason for it, that may be agreeable to their own Principles, than to explain it as it really is. Before they undertake to account for the Wonders of Nature, in my Opinion they ought to enquire very well into all Particulars; which I thought necessary to do on this present Subject.

I. When the Ship ran apace, we often observed a great Light in the Wake of the Ship, or the Water that is broken and divided by the Ship in its Passage. Those that did not view it nearly, often attributed it to the Moon, the Stars, or the Lanthorn at the Stern; as I did my self, when I first perceived it. But having a Window that look'd directly down upon it, I was soon undeceived; especially when I saw it appear more bright, when the Moon was under the Horizon, the Stars covered with Clouds, and no Lights in the Lanthorn, or any other Light whatsoever cast upon the Surface of the Water.

II. This Light was not always equal; some Days it was very little, others not at all; sometimes brighter, others fainter; sometimes it was very vivid, and at other times nothing was to be seen.

III. As to its Brightness, perhaps you may be surprized when I tell you that I could easily read by it, tho' I was 9 or 10 Foot above it from the Surface of the Water; as I did particularly on the 12th of June and the 10th of July 1704. But I must inform you that I could read only the Title of my Book, which was in large Letters: Yet this seemed incredible to those I told it to; but you may believe it, and I assure you that it is a real Truth.

IV. As to the Extent of this Light, sometimes all the Wake appeared Luminous to 30 or 40 Foot distant from the Ship; but the Light was very faint at any considerable distance.

V. Some Days one might easily distinguish in the Wake such Particles as were Luminous from those that were not: At other times there was no difference. The Wake seemed then like a River of Milk, and was very pleasant to look on; as it appear'd particularly on the 10th of July 1704.

VI. At such times as we could distinguish the bright Parts from the others, we observed that they were not all of the same Figure: Some of 'em appear'd like Points of Light; others almost as large as Stars as they appear to the naked Eye. We saw some that looked like Globules, of a Line or two in Diameter; and others like Globes as big as ones Head. Oftentimes these Phosphori form'd themselves into squares, of 3 or 4 Inches long, and one or two broad. Sometimes we could see all these different Figures at the same time; and particularly on the 12th of June, the Wake of the Vessel was full of large Vortices of Light and these oblong Squares, which I have been speaking of. An other Day, when our Ship sailed slowly, the Vortices appeared and disappeared again immediately like flashes of Lightning.

VII. Not only the Wake of a Ship produces this Light, but Fishes also in swimming lead behind 'em a luminous Tract; which is so bright that one may distinguish the largeness of the Fish, and know of what Species it is. I have sometimes seen a great many Fishes playing in the Sea, which have made a kind of artificial Fire in the Water that was very pleasant to look on. And often only a Rope placed cross-wise will so break the Water, that it will become luminous.

VIII. If one takes some Water out of the Sea, and stirs it never so little with his Hand in the dark, he may see in it an infinite Number of bright Particles.

IX. Of if one dips a piece of linnen in Sea Water, and twists or wrings it in a dark Place, he shall see the same thing; and if he does so, tho' it be half dry, yet it will produce abundance of bright Sparks.

X. When one of the Sparkles is once formed, it remains a long time; and if it fix upon any thing that is solid, as for instance on the side or edge of a Vessel, it will continue shining for some Hours together.

XI. It is not always that this Light appears, tho' the Sea be in great Motion; nor does it always happen when the Ship sails fastest: Neither is it the simple beating of the Waves against one another that produces this Brightness, as far as I could perceive: But I have observed that the beating of the Waves against the Shore has sometimes produced it in great plenty; and on the Coast of Brazil the Shore was one Night so very bright, that it appeared as if it had been all on Fire.

XII. The Production of this Light depends very much on the Quality of the Water; and, if I am not deceiv'd, generally speaking, I may assert, other circumstances being equal, that the Light is largest when the Water is fastest and fullest of Foam; for in the main Sea the Water is not every where equally pure; and sometimes if one dips Linnen into the Sea, it is clammy when it is drawn up again. And I have often observed, that when the Wake of the Ship was brightest, the Water was more fat and glutinous; and Linnen moisten'd with it produced a great deal of Light, if it were stir'd or mov'd briskly.

XIII. Besides, in sailing over some Places of the Sea, we find a Matter or Substance of different Colours, sometimes red, sometimes yellow. In looking at it, one would think it was Saw-dust: Our Sailors say it is the Spawn or Seed of Whales. What it is, is not certain; but when we draw up Water in passing over these Places, it is always viscous and glutinous. Our Mariners also say, that there are a great many heaps or Banks of this Spawn in the North; and that sometimes in the Night they appear all over of a bright Light, without being put in Motion by any Vessel or Fish passing by them.

XIV. But to confirm farther what I say, viz. That the Water, the more glutinous it is, the more it is disposed to become luminous, I shall add one particular which I saw myself. One Day we took in our Ship a Fish which some thought was a Boneta. The inside of the Mouth of the Fish appeared in the Night like a burning Coal; so that without any other Light, I could read by it the same Characters that I read by the Light in the Wake of the Ship. It's Mouth being full of a viscous Humour, we rubbed a piece of Wood with it, which immediately became all over luminous; but as soon as the moisture was dried up, the Light was extinguish'd.

These are the Principal Observations that I made upon this Phanomenon: And I leave you to examine if all these Particulars can be explained by the System of such as assert, that the Principle of this Light consists in the Motion of a subtle Matter, or Globules, caused by a violent agitation of different kinds of Salts.

I shall add next a work or two concerning Marine Rain-bows, which I observed after a great Tempest off of the Cape of Good-Hope. The Sea was then very much tossed, and the Win carrying off the tops of the Waves, made a kind of Rain, in which the Rays of the Sun painted the colours of a Rain-bow. It is true the common Iris has this advantage over ours, that its Colours are more lively, distinct, and of longer Extent. In the Marine Iris we could distinguish only two Colours, viz. a dark Yellow on that side next the Sun, and a pale Green on the opposite side: The other colours were too faint to be distinguish'd. But in recompence for this, these Iris's are in a greater Number; one may see 20 or 30 of 'em together; they appear at Noon-day, and in a Position opposite to that of the common Rain-bow, that is to say, their Curve is turned as it were towards the bottom of the Sea. Tho' in these long Voyages one sees nothing but Water and Sky, yet each of 'em affords such Wonders in Nature, as may well employ the time of those that have Knowledge enough to discover them.

Lastly, to put an end to these Observations upon Light, I shall add only one more, concerning Exhalations in the Night, that form in the Air a long Tract of Light. These Exhalations make a Tract of Light much larger in the Indies than they do in Europe. I have seen two or three that I should have taken for real Rockets: They appear'd near the Earth, and cast a Light like that of the Moon some Days after her Change. They fall slowly, and in falling make a Curve Line; especially one which I saw on the main Ocean, at a great distance off at Sea, on the Coast of Malabar. I am, &c.

De BOURZES
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