Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/433

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
140
University of Madras.

hope of bettering their condition, and even the horrors of those periodical famines^ from which they suffer more than any other class, will be found to be capable of mitigation. If you do good only to the members of your own class and order who can requite you again, "what reward have ye?" The truest beneficence consists in doing good to those who are beneath you, who cannot requite you in any way in kind, and who possibly may have sunk so low as to be unable to requite you even with gratitude. But though the lower classes may have sunk very low, morally as well as intellectually, it must not for a moment be supposed that they are unimproveable, as they are sometimes said to be by those who do not wish them to improve. How is it that their social life is much superior to that of the savages of the Andaman islands, who are probably in the same condition now that the Indian aborigines were originally ? Is it not because they have been able to appreciate and appropriate those elements of civilisation which have percolated down to them from the Aryan higher classes ? The degree in which they differ from the barbarous aboriginal races in other parts of the world exhibits the degree in which they are capable of improvement. And if they have reached the condition in which we find them without the help of education — a condition which probably they reached two thou- sand years ago — how much higher might they not be expected to rise if they were taken by the hand and helped forward by the educated classes? I may here add, that I do not admit that there is anything contrary to caste rules in the course I recommend. There are certain Sastras, it is true, in which the observance of the rules of one's own caste is represented as virtually the highest morality; but the teaching of such Sastras is neutralised by that of others, and there is no Sastra in which members of the higher castes are prohibited from promoting the education, the civilisation, the moral well-being of the lower. The only exception to this — the prohibition of Brahmans teaching the Vedas to Sudras, is an exception which relates only to a particular function of a particular class. In pleading that educated Natives should endevour to exemplify the benefits of the education they Lave received by philanthropic labours, especially by labours for the promotion of the education of fche long-neglected masses, I do not forget that the time of many of them will be largely occupied by their oflBcial duties. A certain proportion of them, however, will doubtless elect to be employed in education, and in their case official duties and philan- thropic labours will lie in the same direction. The promotion