chapter
Trivializing texts
Pages 14

As with the Baptist missionaries, Farquhar takes a literal view of Hindu texts, overlooking the fact that Hindus relate to their textual traditions in a less formal manner. He attributes the moral inadequacy of Hindus to religious laws and rules formulated in their texts, which are seen as degenerate and dehumanizing. If Hindus, as people, are steeped in superstition, it is because their sacred texts are defective. In his view, a religion should be judged by its principles and not by those who fail to abide by them (1913: 119). He attributes the inhumanity of certain customs and practices, such as sat± and child marriage, to Hindu texts. It is not Hindus but their laws which need transformation. For example, Farquhar sees the Hindu family through the textual lens of Manu, the Hindu law-giver, and adheres to a literal interpretation of Hindu laws. That Hindu women are accorded a subservient role and are subject to men, is, in Farquhar’s view, “no mere popular prejudice, but a doctrine of Hinduism” (ibid.: 91). Hindus need to be liberated from their own textual traditions if they are to make any progress: “It is not that Hindus are hard-hearted: it is the beliefs and laws that are at fault” (ibid.: 101). Farquhar wrote:

Thus the present weakness and unhealthiness of the Hindu family find their one remedy in the principles of Christ. The divine truths concerning man and woman which He revealed are needed to raise its best customs to their height, to universalize its highest laws, and to correct its glaring abuses. Christ will transfigure the Hindu family to glory.