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Biographies of Spiritual Leaders

THE FACE OF SILENCE, by Dhan Gopal Mukerji; E. P. Dutton and Company. New York. 1926. $2.50.

By H. W. Bragdon .

TO the species Babbitii of Homo Americanus Mukerji's latest offering will seem incomprehensible tosh about an incomprehensible person, one Rama Krishna, whom his followers call an Incarnation of God, as was also Buddha, Mohammed, and Christ.

Now this Rama Krishna was a strangely unromantic sort of person. He did not, as did Buddha, suddenly change his course of life from that of a prince to that of a begging friar. He did not lead armies, as did Mohammed. He did not confute wise men, nor die an eternal death upon the Cross, as did Christ. Instead he spent nearly his whole life tending the ritual of the Goddess Kali at her temple on the Ganges. Strangest thing of all for a Messiah, he deliberately avoided founding a cult. Instead he urged all who came to him to follow that which they preferred or to which they were born. "God," said he, "is the one flame; eyes of men see it in different colors."

To the Western minds, Rama Krishna, then, is an eminently unsatisfactory religious leader. It is impossible to place him. He did not do anything great; he merely lived. He could barely read and write. Yet he numbered among his disciples the greatest social reformer in the India of the time, the greatest dramatist, and two or three of the greatest scholars.

We of the West who still are old-fashioned and superstitious enough to follow anything that smacks of religion are on the wrong road. We should turn rather from Christ to Abou Ben Adhem, who did not love God but rather his fellow men. For when our worship of Mammon has filled our purses to satiety we turn not to fighting the Devil, or Sin, or ourselves, but to social reform, to fighting tuberculosis or hookworm, or vice. The idea is presumably that if we try to patch up the botch Jehovah has made of keeping mankind in running order, Jehovah will repay our time and expense by deputing an angel to put us at the top of St. Peter's waiting list. We admire King Arthur, who gave Anglia a good administration and checked the Saxon crime wave more than Sir Galahad who went off by himself to catch a glimpse of the Holy Grail, although the latter achieved what we prize above all else, Success.

This book review was not intended to invade the field of the Phillips Brooks House and Professor Moore. The original intention was to explain that Mr. Mukerji had written a supremely beautiful book, in supremely distinguished English, on a supremely beautiful subject. But I am afraid it is a flower born either to bloom unseen or unappreciated, for it has not wit, sex appeal, or practical value.

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