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FOR OCTOBER, 1817.
An Account of the Life, and Conversion from Heathenism to
Christianity, of GEORGE NADORIS DE Silva, SAMARA MAHA NAYEKA, late a Budhist Priest in the Island of Ceylon.
To the Editor of the Methodist Magazine. Very dear Sir, Some few weeks since, Itransmitted to my invaluable and reo : spected friend, the Rev. Mr. Bradnack, information of the recent conversion, from heathenism, of another Budhist Priest, of great rank, in this place; and of his subsequent baptism, which took place in the Fort Church, in the presence of his Excellency the Governor, the Honourable the Chief Justice, and a numerous and interested audience. I had on that occasion the gratification of attending him to the font, as joint sponsor 10 him, with the Rev. Mr. Bisset, garrison chaplain, &c. &c.
Before your reception of this, I expect Mr. Bradnack will have communicated to you the particulars with which I then furnished him:* but I have no doubt the friends of our mission, and your readers in general, will be greatly desirous of having a more detailed account of this convert.
I am sorry a slight indisposition under which I have lately laboured, should have so long delayed it; but embrace the present opportunity of sending you the following hasty sketch of him: And trust this fresh trophy from heathenism will encourage our generous friends in England to continue their support to the glorious cause of missions among the heathen; and inspire many a warm-hearted lover of immortal souls with a firm determination to make the noble sacrifice, of an unreserved surrender of himself, to “ Come over and help us." Earnestly praying that the new convert may be instrumental
* See Number for January, p. 74, and for June, p. 470. VOL. XL. OCTOBER, 1817.
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of the most extensive benefit to his benighted and atheistical countrymen, in which I am sure I am united by yourself, as well as by every real member of “ The Church Universal,"
I remain, with great respect,
W. M. HARVARD Wesleyan Mission-House, Colombo, Oct. 25, 1816.
George Nadoris, known in his priestly days by the name of Rajegooroo, or “ The King's Priest, or Preceptor," was born of rather obscure parents; his father being what is called a Cangahn, or Corporal of the division of Lascorenes, or trained. bands of the Chalia cast, resident in the village Capugame, in the province of Matura.
The inhabitants of India are divided and subdivided into a number of casts or tribes. This classification seems to be rather of a political than of a religious origin, and was most likely contrived by some abettor of arbitrary power, for the purpose of disuniting the interests of society, and so preventing the operation of the emulative principle in man. The fetters of tyranny being thus once riveted on the community, they continue to be worn and submitted to, from generation to generation, without the least discontent, or most distant idea of any alteration.
Scarcely any thing could have been contrived so friendly to the designs of an arbitrary and despotic government, as the distinction of cast
. In the first place, it generally extinguishes, with very few exceptions, every thing like public spirit. A man can have no interest in noticing the oppressions of the ruling power, any more thaa success in resisting them, when he knows he is doomed by his birth to a certain sphere of life; and let who will governor by whatsoever rules of policy, he must of necessity remain in the profession of his father, and occupy the same rank in the scale of being, which was sustained by his progenitors a thousand years before.
But, even were it possible that the human mind could surmount such a bar to ambition as this, the distinction of cast effectually secures the tranquil exercise of despotic tyranny, by rendering it impossible that there should be any centre of union around which the whole community might rally in order to oppose aggressions.
A perpetual dislike and suspicion of each other is mutual among the oriental casts. They will not even associate together in the most common duties of nature; and they are in general so jezlous of each other's ascendancy, that nothing would more surely secure the opposition of one cast to any particular mcasure, than the idea, that it would meet the wishes of another party.
Here then is the balance of power. Being once, in some very remote age, vested in one particular tribe, and at the same time the other parts of the community disjointed by a distinction, producing inferiority, animosity, and mutual suspicion, the supreme authority, however improperly and unjustly it may be exercised, continues to be undisturbedly held, from generation to generation; the suffering parts of the society mutually contributing to the support thereof, by the mutual fear of its devolving on a rival cast.
This distincti n, however, did it end in preventing political discontents and revolutionary enterprises, would be hailed as a blessing by every lover of benevolence and humanity; for those people are the inost happy part of every community who are the least acquainted with the clashings of political parties, and the intrigues of restless ambition.
I have my eye this moment on thousands of humble happy Christians in England, who never knew the difference between Whig and Tory, and who never exercised their minds on the useless question of Who is in?—and Who is out ? But who, under the shelter of the most excellent of monarchs, and the most incomparable of constitutions, quietly pursue the kindred paths of honest industry and fervent piety, enjoying the real blessings of this world, as well as of that which is to come.
But the distinction of cast, while it represses ambitious exertion, nips in the bud a spirit of improvement in every respect whatever. I suppose the arts of life in the present day, among the natives of India, are the same, without any addition, as they were five hundred years ago. Their system of medicine unim. proved, their domestic conveniences unincreased. The clothing and furniture of each cast is fixed by law, as well as the formation and materials of their habitations, at least it is so in the interior of this island; and a deviation from the established rule, with respect to those things, how evident soever the improvement might be visible, would have cost an inferior man, under the old system, his life. We need not wonder, then, at the idleness, and carelessness, and listlessness, and neglecting ignorance, of a people so depressed and counteracted as have long been the people of this country.
In Ceylon, the distinction of cast is purely political, as it is likewise on the coast; and only prevents a religious union among the native Christians, because, from its radical principles, it is averse to union and co-operation of every kind. It is this which makes them sit in different parts of our churches, and maintain a studied distance from each other.
The little animosities and quarrels among some of our Cingalese Christians on this subject, are often a most exemplary reproach to the Christian character. Some time ago, there was a
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