Johann A Schürmann ~ Correspondence

Hindoo Devotee

July 1847.

This article provides some background to the Hindoo devotee and Christian evangelist, Isaidas, at the LMS Benares mission station in the mid-1840s.

THE GOSAIN, OR HINDOO DEVOTER
Our engraving this month represents one of the Religious Devotees so numerous in India, and popularly known by the name of Fakeers. They are divided into many different Orders, more or less distinguishable by their costumes and the modes of penance or austerity which they practise. The principal Orders in Northern India are the Gosains, one of whom is represented in the engraving; the Bairagees; Jogees; and Sunyasies.

Hindoo Devotee
Hindoo Devotee in Northern India
in the mid-1840s1 ]
But there are many other Orders, the Disciples of which abandon secular life, and devote themselves to that of Religious Ascetics. Some of them remain almost always seated at one place, generally under the shade of the wide-spreading peepul-tree, which is regarded as sacred by all the Hindoos; but a still greater number travel about the country, and especially frequent holy places, such as Benares, Gaza, Allahabad, Juggemath, and Burdwan.

At some of these places many thousands of these Devotees are often to be seen at once, during the great Hindoo Festivals. They subsist by the alms of the people, and these are often liberally bestowed Ml them upon such occasions. They include in their number men of all Castes of Hindoos, not a few of them being Brahmins.

The sentiments of the different Sects but their principal doctrine is, That sin has its seat in the bodily organs, and is to be destroyed by mortifications of the body, and by abstracting the mind from material objects. When the soul entirely escapes from the influence of Matter, it obtains absorption in the Divine Essence, which is, according to the Hindoo System, the highest form of Salvation. Whatever may be the variations of doctrine among these sects, they gener­ally agree in this tenet, — That salvation is only to be secured by the subjugation of the bodily organs, and the passions in general and hence the various austeri­ties practised by them.

Some of the best Converts to Christianity in India have been from among these Sects, and several of the most excellent of our Native Preachers were once Devotees. Among these is Isaidas, the devoted Native Evangelist of Benares, supported by Christian friends connected with the church undor the pastoral care of the Rev. Dr. Vaughan, of Kensington. According to the custom of his fraternity, Isaidas spent a nmaber of years in visiting tho most sacred places of the Hindoos, and was passing through Benares on his way to a celebrated idol-temple in the North of India, when ho was arrested by the voice of a Native Missionary, the late Narpat Singh, who was preaching in a Baser by the way-side. The fervid and power­ful eloquence of the preacher, in beseeching his countrymen to seek salvation through the Son of God, ... his attention, and made a deep impression on his mind, issuing eventually in his decided conversion to Christ, and the acknow­ledgment of His name in baptism.

Isaidas is a most diligent reader of the Scriptures, and an able, zealous, indefatiga­ble preacher of the Gospel. He often accompanied Mr. Buyers to the native festi­vals to spread the knowledge of the Saviour; and, on one occasion, when to avoid the extreme heat of the day the people travelled at night under the light of the moon, he spent whole nights in preaching the Gospel to the passing pilgrims. "Often," says Mr. Buyers, “ I heard his voice at two or three o’clock in the morning, tell­ing his perishing countrymen of the love of Christ."

Source:

Published in:
The Evangelical Magazine and Missionary Chronicle for July 1847 Page(s): 53-54.

Online: Macova. Viewed: 8.2.2015 .

  1. Image Source: Pictorial Scenes and Incidents illustrative of Christian Missions. 1852. Philadelphia: Presbyerian Board of Publications. Page 9. [Archive.org].  The accompanying chapter brings a similar description of the devotees. [ ▲ ]

For reference:

Administrator. Johann A Schürmann ~ Correspondence :: July 1847 - Hindoo Devotees, in: Pirltawardli Research Website. Adelaide 2019.
(Created: 09.02.2015. Last updated: 09.02.2015.)
Direct URL: <www.grweb.org/cpo-pirltawardli/en/detail.php?rubric=other_ShurmannJA_correspondence&nr=1167>. Viewed 17.10.2019.