Theosophy in Cardiff

 

Theosophical Society, Cardiff Lodge,

206 Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 1DL.

 

 

Theosophy and the Great War

 

India and the Future

By

Annie Besant

 

First Published March 1915

 

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It may be remembered that in 1889 H. P. Blavatsky wrote that the early years of the next century would see many of the accounts of the nations made up, and verily she was a true prophet in this matter. For one very clear result of the present gigantic war is to bring Asia into new relations with Europe, and to establish her in her old place of power in the shaping of the world's destinies. We sometimes forget that all the old empires of the past were Asian; that India, Persia, Assyria struck the keynote of civilisation for thousands of years; and that China, though she did not make so flaming a trace on the world's pages, wrote a self-contained story of rare internal progress and lofty ethics which have maintained her in her sure place among the great civilisations of the world.

 

Asia has been for centuries a continent to be exploited by the young and virile nations of the West. These started on fresh lines on the younger continent of Europe, the fourth and fifth sub-races spreading westwards, and occupying the lands some of which had but lately emerged from the seas. The great swamps of eastern Europe, as they dried up into habitable soil, furnished a centre for the young fifth sub-race, from which their families emigrated westwards and northwards, to found future nationalities. They naturally forgot their Asian Motherland, as generation succeeded generation; and as they developed their new type of civilisation, difficulties of communication kept the two continents isolated from each other, unknowing their relative lines of development. Only, later on, incursions into Europe of hordes of warlike and ferocious warriors from the central parts of Asia made the names of the Huns and others names of terror in Europe.

 

Then came a new impulse from Asia, which embodied itself in the Saracens, the impulse of chivalry and mysticism, spreading westwards and southwards from Persia. Masonry was enriched from the same source, and these all softened and refined the rougher manners of the West, while Arabia took up the tradition of Greece, enriched and developed it, and brought science to Europe, laying the foundations of the modern world. Not only in religion did Asia teach Europe, though it is true that Asia had the genius of spirituality, and that Europe merely copied and spread, but originated no great religion. In literature, philosophy, science, and art, Asia was the mother of all progress; while as regards tolerance, that true mark of greatness, Akbar was discussing religions among wise men of different faiths while Mary was burning Protestants and Elizabeth executing Roman Catholics. Scarcely for two centuries has Europe been taking the lead, while Asia, sated with great achievements, slept for a while to rest, and let the reins of empire slip from fingers tired of power.

 

But now Asia is awakening, and Japan first raised her head, and fought her way to high position among the nations of the world, concluding alliance with the mighty Western people whose genius for colonisation and rule was laying deep and firm the foundations of a world-wide empire. Persia stirred uneasily, feeling the breath of liberty, and, though hardly entreated by Russia and Britain, she has her eyes fixed on a fuller national life. And China, that vast, unknown land, that land of far-reaching possibilities, took her fate into her own hands, flung off her empire, established a republic, and is feeling her feet, intent on working out her own salvation.

 

How could this great wave of new life sweep over Asia and leave untouched the blood in India's veins? She, mightiest, fairest, wisest of all Asian peoples, how should she lie supine, continues to sleep, when lesser nations were stirring? And so has come unrest, and movements of new life, a sense of growing strength and consciousness of national unity. Slowly [60] she has been awaking to self-realisation and measuring her resources, and, quietly learning from the younger nations methods of self-government, has been pursuing the new ways of modern peoples. As a nation, she sprang to her feet at the cry for help that rang across the seas from the little northern island that had taught her the great lesson of liberty, and that found herself confronted by a mighty foe, and she flung her sons into the carnage of war, poured out the blood of her people and the hoarded treasures of her princes, and proved her worth and her strength on the stricken fields of modern war in Europe. Never again can India, who has fought and died for the common empire side by side with Britain, sink back into the old position of Ma-Bap, and stand with folded hands submissive to the Shaba's nod. When Britain called on India for help, she treated her as an equal, and never again can she, in fairness and in honour, treat the Indian nation as a subject race. By her sword, drawn for England not against her, India has won her freedom, and the chaplet of liberty has been wrought for her on the fields of Europe, sodden with the outpoured blood of Indians and of Britons. Well, verily, is it for both nations that full national self-consciousness has flowered while the two nations are fighting side by side. There was a time when there was a danger that it might be realised in opposition instead of in union, when South Africa strained India's patience and strength almost to the breaking point. South African oppression did much to awaken the sense of unity in India, but, thanks to all good Powers, Lord Hardinge's sympathy and Mr. V. Gandhi's patience tided India over the danger, and turned anger into gratitude.

 

All this change and the near approach of self-government in India is making the thoughtful feel the need for preparation, and for pressing on more rapidly the religious, educational, social, and political reforms which are too interlinked and interwoven for separation. - The Theosophist, March 1915.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Theosophical Society, Cardiff Lodge,

206 Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 1DL.