Lighted to Lighten: The Hope of India
Alice B. Van Doren
Part 2 out of 3
his own accord decided for the latter. Later we see him a Sanskrit
student in Benares, where he married his wife, a fifteen-year-old
The Christian couple moved soon to the Central Provinces, where Mr.
Vincent entered upon his twenty-five years of service as a Christian
pastor, using his Sanskrit learning to interpret the message of
Christianity to his Hindu friends. Yet it was in lowlier ways that his
life was most telling. Settling in a peasant colony of a thousand
so-called converts, only half-Christianized, the story of his labors and
triumphs reads like that of Columba, or Boniface in early Europe.
Through perils of robbers and perils of famine he labored on, building
villages, digging wells, distributing American corn in famine days,
reproving, teaching, guiding. All this I am telling, because it
explains much of the daughter's quiet strength. One of ten children,
she has spent many years in earning money to educate the younger
brothers and sisters, and she is finishing her college course as a
mature woman. Miss Vincent hopes that the American fellowship may one
day be hers; and already her plans are developing as to the ways she
will contrive to pass on her opportunities to her fellow countrywomen.
Her heart is with those illiterate village women among whom her
childhood was passed; her longing is to share with them the truth, the
beauty, and the goodness with which Lal Bagh has filled her days.
Has Lal Bagh been a paying investment? One wishes that every one whose
dollars have found expression in its walls might come to feel the
indefinable spirit that pervades them, filling cold brick and mortar
with life energy. For centuries philosophers searched for that
Philosopher's Stone that was to transmute base metals into gold. In the
world to-day there are those who have found a subtler magic that
transforms dead gold and silver into warm human purposes and the
Christ-spirit of service. That is the miracle one sees in daily process
at Lal Bagh.
IN THE SECRET OF HIS PRESENCE
ELLEN LAKSHMI GOREH (_Lucknow College_)
In the secret of His presence how my soul delights to hide!
Oh, how precious are the lessons which I learn at Jesus' side!
Earthly cares can never vex me, neither trials lay me low;
For when Satan comes to tempt me, to the secret place I go.
When my soul is faint and thirsty, 'neath the shadow of His
There is cool and pleasant shelter, and a fresh and crystal
And my Saviour rests beside me, as we hold communion
If I tried, I could not utter what He says when thus we meet.
Only this I know: I tell Him all my doubts, my griefs and
Oh, how patiently He listens! and my drooping soul He
Do you think He ne'er reproves me? What a false friend He
If He never, never told me of the sins which He must see.
Would you like to know the sweetness of the secret of the
Go and hide beneath His shadow: this shall then be your
And whene'er you leave the silence of that happy meeting
You must mind and bear the image of the Master in your face.
[Illustration: SHELOMITH VINCENT]
LAL BAGH ALUMNAE RECORDS SHOW THE FOLLOWING:
The first Kindergarten in India.
The first college in India with full staff of women and residence
The first Arya Samaj B.A. graduate.
The F.Sc. graduate who became the second woman with the B.Sc. degree in
The F.Sc. graduate who later graduated at the foremost Medical College
in North India as the first Muhammadan woman doctor in India and
probably in the world.
The first woman B.A. and the first Normal School graduate from
The first woman to receive her M.A. in North India.
The first Muhammadan woman to take her F.A. examination from the Central
Probably the first F.A. student to take her examination in purdah.
The first Teachers Conference (held annually) in India.
The first woman's college to offer the F.Sc. course.
The first college to have on its staff an Indian lady.
The first woman (Lilavati Singh) from the Orient to serve on a world's
The first woman dentist.
The first woman agriculturist.
The first woman in India to be in charge of a Boys' High School.
A Lal Bagh graduate organized the Home Missionary Society which has
developed into an agency of great service to the neglected Anglo-Indian
community scattered throughout India.
The Lal Bagh student who took an agricultural course in America and is
now helping convert wastes of the Himalaya regions into fruitful
Miss Phoebe Rowe, an Anglo-Indian who was associated with Lal Bagh in
Miss Thoburn's time, was a wonderful influence in the villages of North
India and carried the Christian message by her beautiful voice as well
as her consecrated personality. She traveled in America, endearing India
to many friends here. She is one--perhaps the most remarkable,
however--of many Lal Bagh daughters who are serving as evangelists in
FROM A STUDENT AT MADRAS WOMEN'S COLLEGE
"Your letter was handed to me as I returned from my evening hour of
prayer, prayer for our school, special prayer for the problem God has
called us to tackle together. I believe that the solution for many of
our problems at school is to put things on a Christian foundation. We
want workers who are real Christians and who love the Master as
sincerely as they do themselves and serve Him for their love of Him.
This may not be easy work for us to do, but if God is transforming the
whole globe and moulding it from the 'new spiritual center,'
namely,--Jesus Christ, it is certainly not hard for Him to accomplish it
in this place. How He is going to do it I am blind to see. Let us put
our feet on the one step that we see with the faith expressed in 'One
step enough for me,' and the next step will flash before our eyes. One
question that used to trouble me is, how we are to do the work. The poem
by Edward Sill in 'The Manhood of the Master' cheers me up now as then
with the thought that a broken sword flung away by a craven as useless
was used by a king's son to win victory in the same battle. God will use
it and perform His work. We have dedicated ourselves for His duty which
is gripping our souls. He will use them according to His purpose."
AN INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE
Education and World Peace.
While statesmen discuss disarmament and politicians and newspaper
editors foment race consciousness and mutual distrust, certain forces
that never figure in newspaper headlines, that come "not with
observation," are working with silent constructive power to bind nations
together in ties of peace and good will. Among these silent forces are
certain educational institutions. Columbia University has its
Cosmopolitan Club, at whose Sunday night suppers you may meet
representatives of forty to fifty nations, Occidental and Oriental. In
the Near East, amid the race hatred and strife that set every man's
hand against his fellow, the American Colleges at Constantinople and
Beirut have stood foremost among the forces that produce unification and
During the war-scarred days of 1915, while nation was rising up against
nation, there was founded in the city of Madras one of these
international ventures in co-operation. Known to the world of India as
the Women's Christian College of Madras, it might just as truthfully be
called a Triangular Alliance in Education, for in it Great Britain
including Canada, the United States, and India are joined together in
educational endeavor. America may well admire what Britain has been
doing during long years for India's educational advancement. Among
England's more recent contributions to education in India none has been
greater that the coming of Miss Eleanor McDougall from London University
to take the principalship of this international college for women. Under
her wise leadership British and American women have worked in one
harmonious unit, and international co-operation has been transformed
from theory to fact.
Where Missions Co-operate.
The Women's Christian College is not only international, it is also
intermissionary. Supported by fourteen different Mission Boards,
including almost every shade of Protestant belief and every form of
church government, it stands not only for international friendship, but
also as an outstanding evidence of Christian unity.
The staff and the student body are as varied as the supporting
constituency. In the former, along with British and American professors
are now two Indian women lecturers, Miss George, a Syrian Christian, who
teaches history, and Miss Janaki, a Hindu, who teaches botany. Both are
resident and a happy factor in the home life of the college. Among the
students nine Indian languages are represented, ranging all the way from
Burma to Ceylon, from Bengal to the Malabar Coast. From the last named
locality come Syrian Christians in great numbers. This interesting sect
loves to trace its history back to the days of the Apostle Thomas. Be
that historical fact or merely a pious tradition, this sect can
undoubtedly boast an indigenous form of Christianity that dates back to
the early centuries of the Christian era; and it stands to-day in a
place of honor in the Indian Christian community.
[Illustration: A road near the College]
[Illustration: The Potters' Shop
STREET SCENES IN MADRAS]
The Sunflower and the Lamp.
Perhaps much of the success which the College at Madras has achieved on
the side of unity is due to the fact that her members are too busy to
think or talk about it because their time is all filled up with actually
doing things together. Expressing this spirit of active co-operation is
the college motto, "Lighted to lighten"; the emblem in the shield is a
tiny lamp such as may burn in the poorest homes in India. Below the lamp
is a sunflower, whose meaning has been discussed in the college magazine
by a new student. She says, "To-day the sunflower stands for very much
in my mind. It is symbolic of this our College, for, as our amateur
botanists tell us, the sunflower is not a flower, but a congregation of
them. The tiny buds in the centre are our budding intellects. To-day
they are in the making; to-morrow they will bloom like their sisters who
surround them. Nourished from the same source, their fruit will be even
"Around these are the golden rays--each a tongue of fire to protect and
inspire. There is none high or low amongst them, being all alike, and
these are our tutors, and the sunflower itself turns to the sun, the
great giver of life, for its inspiration, ever turning to him, never
losing sight of his face. A force inexplicable draws the flower to the
King of Day, even as our hearts are turned to Him at morn and at eve, be
we East or West."
In a Garden.
It is fitting that the sunflower should bloom in a garden, and so it
does. This time it is not a walled garden like that of Lal Bagh; the
Women's College is situated out from the city in a green and spacious
suburb, where the little River Cooum wanders by its open spaces. The ten
acres have much the air of an American college campus,--the same sense
of academic quiet, of detachment from the work-a-day world. The whole
compound is dominated by the tall, white columns of the old main
building, which confer an air of distinction upon the whole place, as
well they may, for have they not guarded successively government
officials and Indian rajahs?
Nearby is the new residence hall, as modern as the other is historic.
Three stories in height, its verandahs are in the form of a hollow
square, and look out upon a courtyard gay with the bright-hued foliage
of crotons and other tropical plants. Beyond is the garden itself,
filled not with the roses and chrysanthemums of winter Lucknow, but with
the perpetual summer foliage of spreading rain trees, palms, and long
fronded ferns, with fluffy maidenhair between. In their season the
purple masses of Bougainvillea, and the crimson of the Flamboya tree set
the garden afire. In the evening when the girls are sitting under the
trees or walking down the long vistas with the level sunbeams bringing
out the bright colors of their draped _saris_, it brings to mind nothing
so much as a scene from "The Princess" where among fair English gardens
"One walked reciting by herself, and one
In this hand held a volume as to read."
Yet life in the Women's College is not a cloistered retreat such as "The
Princess" tried to establish, nor are its activities confined to the
study of classics in a garden. Student organizations flourish here with
a variety almost as great as in the West. There is, first of all, the
College Committee, which corresponds roughly to our Scheme of Student
Government. Its members are chosen from the classes and in their turn
elect a President known as "Senior Student." She is the official
representative of the whole student body. Communications from faculty to
students pass through her, and she represents the College on state
occasions, such as visits from the Viceroy or other Government
officials. Various student committees are also elected to plan meetings
for the Literary and Debating Societies, to organize excursions for
"Seeing Madras," and to plan for athletic teams and contests. How well
the last named have succeeded is proved by the silver cup carried off as
a trophy by the College badminton team, which distinguished itself as
the winner in last year's intercollegiate sports.
An unusual organization is the Star Club, which has been carried on for
several years, with programme meetings once a month and bi-weekly groups
for observation. No wonder that astrology and the beginnings of
astronomy came from the Orient, or that Wise Men from the East found a
Star as the sign to lead their journeying. Night after night the
constellations rise undimmed in the clear sky and fairly urge the
beholder to close acquaintance. A knowledge of them fills the sky with
friendly forms and gives the student a new and lasting "hobby" that may
be pursued anywhere, and kept through life. The Star Club has
popularized its celestial interests by presenting to the College a
pageant in three scenes, a "Dream of the Sun and Planets," in which the
Earth Dweller is transported to the regions of the sky and holds long
and intimate conversations with the various heavenly bodies. As the
final scene, the planets slant in their relative positions, and the
Signs of the Zodiac with shields take their places on each side of
The Natural history Club has interests ranging all the way from the
theory of evolution to the names and songs of the common birds of
The Art Club not only does out-door sketching, but has entered upon a
wide field in the study of Indian art and architecture. India is
reviving a partly forgotten interest in her ancient arts and crafts and
has much to offer the student, from the wonderful lines of the Taj Mahal
to the Ahmadabad stone windows with their lace-like traceries; from the
portraits of Moghal Emperors to the fine detail of South India temple
carvings. Study in the Art Club means a new appreciation of the beauty
found among one's own people.
The Dramatic and Musical Societies unite now and then in public
entertainments, such as "Comus" which was given in honor of the women
graduates of the whole Presidency at the time of the University
Convocation. The Society repertoire of plays given during the last five
years includes a considerable variety--dramatists so far apart as
Shakespeare and Tagore; the old English moralities of "Everyman" and
"Eager Heart"; the old Indian epic-dramas of "Sakuntala" and "Savitri";
together with Sheridan's "Rivals" and scenes from "Emma" and "Ivanhoe."
The Musical Club specializes on Christmas carols, with which the College
is wakened at four o'clock "on Christmas day in the morning."
The History Club sounds like an organization of research workers; on the
contrary, its interests are bound up with the march of current events in
India and the world. At the time when India was stirred by the visit of
the Duke of Connaught and the launching of the Reform Government, this
Club took to itself the rights of suffrage, elected its members to the
first Madras Legislative Council, and after the elections were duly
confirmed sat in solemn assembly to settle the affairs of the Province.
They have also carried out equally dramatic representations of the
English House of Lords and even the League of Nations.
"Lighted to Lighten."
The Young Women's Christian Association of the College among its many
activities includes Bible classes in the vernacular which bring together
students from the same language areas and after a week of purely English
study and English chapel service serve as a link with home life and home
conditions. Not only with home on the one side; on the other the
Association ties them up with wider interests, with conferences that
bring together students from all India, with activities that range all
the way from teaching servants' children to read and translating
Christian books into their own vernaculars to sending gifts of money to
a suffering student in Vienna.
Social service is carried on along lines not very different from those
pursued in Lucknow. Sunday schools, visits to outcaste villages, and
lectures on health and cleanliness have their place. A new feature is
the dispensing of simple medical help, which not only relieves the
recipients, but teaches the students what they can do later when in
their own homes. Another distinctive venture is the "Little School" in
the college grounds, where volunteer workers take turns morning and
evening in teaching the neighborhood children, and thus get their first
taste of the joys and difficulties of the teacher's profession.
An interested girl thus expresses her ideas on the subject of social
service. Her emphasis upon the positive side of life speaks well for her
"Though the condition of the people is deplorable we need not despair of
making matters better for them. Instead of giving the mere negative
instructions that they should not drink, or be extravagant with their
money, or get into the clutches of money lenders, we can do something
positive. Some interesting diversions could be invented that would
prevent men from frequenting drinking houses. With regard to their
extravagance on certain occasions, we might suggest to them ways in
which they could lessen items of expenditure. To prevent their being at
the mercy of money lenders, co-operative societies may be started in
order to lend money at a lower rate of interest; or to supply them with
capital or with tools in order to start their work.
"To remove the other evil of ignorance with regard to health, we may go
into the villages and give them practical lessons on cleanliness. We
could tell them of the value of fresh air and give them other needful
"In doing social work of this kind, there are many principles we ought
to have in mind. Instead of telling a poor man with no means of living
that he should not steal it would be better to see that he is somehow
placed beyond the reach of want. Another is that instead of merely
imparting morality in negative form, it would be better to point out to
them some positive way in which they could improve. More important than
any of these principles is that instead of thinking of 'bestowing good'
on the people, it would be more effective, if we co-operate with them
and enlist their initiative, thus enabling them by degrees to be fit to
manage their own affairs."
Certain parts of the curriculum also tie up closely with community life.
Economics and essay writing lead into fields of research. Essays and
contributions to the College magazine, "The Sunflower," bear such titles
as the "Social Needs of Kottayam District," which goes into the causes
of poverty and distress in the writer's own locality, or "The Religion
of the People of Kandy," written by a convert from Buddhism who knows
from her own childhood experience the beauties and defects of that great
An intercollegiate essay prize was won by a Christian college girl who
wrote on her own home town, "The Superstitions and Customs of the
Village of Namakal." She writes:
"A set of villages would also be seen where the people are very much
like the insects under a buried stone, which run underground, unable to
see the light or to adapt themselves to the light. The moment the stone
is turned up, so much accustomed are they to live in the darkness of
superstition and unbelief that they think they would be better off to go
on so, and refuse to accept the light rays of science, education, and
civilization, which are willingly given them."
The list of current omens and superstitions which she has unearthed may
prove of interest to Western readers who have little idea of the burden
of _taboo_ under which the average Hindu passes his days. The essayist
"An attempt to enumerate these superstitious beliefs would be useless,
but the following would illustrate the villagers' deep regard for them,
It is a good omen to hear a bell ring, an ass bray, or a Brahmini kite
cry, when starting out to see a married woman whose husband is alive.
They believe it to be an excellent omen to see a corpse, a bunch of
flowers, water, milk, a toddy pot, or a washerman with dirty clothes,
while setting out to give any present to her or her husband. No Hindu
man or woman would set out to visit a newly married couple if he or she
hears sneezing while starting, or proceed on the journey if he or she
hears the wailing of a beggar, or happens to see a Brahmin widow, a
snake, a full oil pot, or a cat."
[Illustration: IN THE CLOISTER'S STUDIOUS SHADE]
[Illustration: MISS JACKSON AND SOME SOCIAL SERVICE WORKERS]
The College Woman and India.
Many of the students are full of ideas as to the various places which
women may fill in the economy of the India of the future. Among the
professions open to women, teaching is of course the favorite. Its
opportunities are shown in the following:
"The University women who, more than any one else, have enjoyed the
fruits of education and the privileges of college life are naturally
very keen on imparting them to the million of their less graduate
sisters. Almost every student in a college is now filled with a greater
love and longing to help the uneducated women. Thus, most of them go out
as teachers. Some of them work in their own schools, or take up work
either in a mission school or a government school. Some of the graduates
are now in a position to establish schools of their own. The pay for
teachers is usually lower than that earned by women in other positions,
but the fact that so many women become teachers shows that they care
more for service than for salary, for surely this is the greatest
service that they as women can give to India."
Another student has some ideas as to new methods to be used:
"The present method of teaching in India is not quite suitable to the
modern stage of children. Now, children are very inquisitive and try to
learn by themselves. They cannot understand anything which is taught as
mere doctrines. The teacher has to draw her answers from the children
and thus build up her teaching on the base of their previous knowledge.
So the educated women have to train themselves in schools where they are
made fit to meet the present standard of children."
Miss Cornelia Sorabji has shown by her career what a woman lawyer can
do for other women. A college girl writes as follows of the
opportunities for service that other students might find in the law:
"I have seen many women in the villages, though not educated, showing
the capacities of a good lawyer. I think that women have a special
talent in performing this business, and hence would do much better than
men. Tenderness and mercy are qualities greatly required in a judge or
magistrate. Women are famous for these and so their judgments which will
be the products of justice tempered by mercy will be commendable. A man
cannot understand so fully a woman, the workings of her mind, her
thoughts and her views, as a woman can; so in order to plead the cause
of women there should be women lawyers who could understand and put
their cases in a very clear light."
Another feels the need of women in politics:
"According to the present system in India, the government is carried on
by men alone. Thus women are exclusively shut off from the
administration of the country. The good and bad results of the
government affect men and women alike. Therefore, it is only fair that
women also should have an active part in the government of the country.
Women should be given seats in the Legislative Council where they would
have an opportunity to listen to the problems of the country and try to
"From ordinary life we see that women are more economical than men.
Therefore, it would be better for the country if women could take a part
in economic matters. When the rate of tax is fixed men are likely to
decide it merely from a consideration of their income without thinking
about small expenses. Women are acquainted with every expense in detail.
If women could take part in economic affairs, the expenditure of a
country would be directed in a better and more careful way.
"In national and international questions also women can take a part.
Women are more conservative, sympathetic, and kind than men. Great
changes and misery which are not foreseen at all are brought by wars
between different countries. Women, too, can consider about the affairs
of wars as well as men. Their sympathetic and conservative views will
help the people not to plunge into needless wars and political
"Women know as well as, and perhaps more than men, the evils which
result from the illiteracy of people and their unsanitary conditions.
Men spend much of their time outside home, while women in their quiet
homes can see their surroundings and watch the needs of people around
them. So women can give good ideas in matters concerning education and
sanitation. In this way, women can influence the public opinion of a
place and the government of a country depends much on the nature of
But with all these "new woman theories" the claims of home are not
"Among the many possibilities opening out to women, we cannot fail to
mention _home life_, though it is nothing new.
"According to the testimony of all history, the worth and blessing of
men and nations depend in large measure on the character and ordering of
family life. 'The family is the structural cell of the social organism.
In it lives the power of propagation and renewal of life. It is the
foundation of morality, the chief educational institution, and the
source of nearly all real contentment among men.' All other questions
sink into insignificance when the stability of the family is at stake.
In short, the family circle is a world in miniature, with its own
habits, its own interests, and its own ties, largely independent of the
great world that lies outside. When the family is of such great
importance, how much greater should be the responsibilities of women in
the ordering of that life? Is it not there in the home that we develop
most of our habits, our lines of thought and action?
"Even while keeping home, woman can do other kinds of work. She can
help her husband in his varied activities by showing interest and
sympathy in all that he does; she can influence him in every possible
way. Then also she may do social and religious work, and even teaching,
though she has to manage a home. But _the_ work that needs her keenest
attention is in the home itself, in training up the children. Happiness
and cheerfulness in the home circle depend more or less on the radiant
face of the mother, as she performs her simple tasks, upon her
tenderness, on her unwearied willingness to surpass all boundaries in
love. She is the 'centre' of the family. The physical and moral training
of her children falls to her lot.
"Now, the developing of character is no light task, nor is it the least
work that has to be done. The family exists to train individuals for
membership in a large group. In the little family circle attention can
be concentrated on a few who in turn can go out and influence others.
The family, therefore, is the nursery of all human virtues and powers.
"In conclusion, expressing the same idea in stronger words, it is to be
noted that whether India shall maintain her self-government, when she
receives it, depends on how far the women are ready to fulfill the
obligations laid upon them. This is a great question and has to be
decided by the educated women of India."
[Illustration: In the Laboratory, Madras]
[Illustration: Tennis Champions with Cup AT WORK AND PLAY]
One Reformer and What She Achieved.
Of the wealth of human interest that lies hidden in the life-stories of
the one hundred and ten students who make up the College, who has the
insight to speak? Coming from homes Hindu or Christian, conservative or
liberal, from the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the modern Indian city, or
the far side of the jungle villages, one might find in their home
histories, in their thoughts and ambitions and desires, a composite
picture of the South Indian young womanhood of to-day. Countries as well
as individuals pass through periods of adolescence, of stress and strain
and the pains of growth, when the old is merging in the new. The student
generation of India is passing through that phase to-day, and no one who
fails to grasp that fact can hope to understand the psychology of the
present day student.
In Pushpam's story it is possible to see something of that clash of old
and new, of that standing "between two worlds" that makes India's life
to-day adventurous--too adventurous at times for the comfort of the
Pushpam's home was in the jungle--by which is meant not the luxuriant
forests of your imagination, but the primitive country unbroken by the
long ribbon of the railway, where traffic proceeds at the rate of the
lumbering, bamboo-roofed bullock cart, and the unseemliness of Western
haste is yet unknown. Twice a week the postbag comes in on the shoulders
of the loping _tappal_ runner. Otherwise news travels only through the
wireless telegraphy of bazaar gossip. The village struggles out toward
the irrigation tank and the white road, banyan-shaded, whose dusty
length ties its life loosely to that of the town thirty miles off to the
eastward. On the other side are palmyra-covered uplands, and then the
The Good News sometimes runs faster than railway and telegraph. Here it
is so, for the village has been solidly Christian for fifty years. Its
people are not outcastes, but substantial landowners, conservative in
their indigenous ways, yet sending out their sons and daughters to
school and college and professional life.
Of that village Pushpam's father is the teacher-catechist, a gentle,
white-haired man, who long ago set up his rule of benevolent autocracy,
"for the good of the governed."
"To this child God has given sense; he shall go to the high school in
the town." The catechist speaks with the conviction of a Scotch Dominie
who has discovered a child "of parts," and resistance on the part of the
parent is vain. The Dominie's own twelve are all children "of parts" and
all have left the thatched schoolhouse for the education of the city.
Pushpam is the youngest. Term after term finds her leaving the village,
jogging the thirty miles of dust-white road to the town, spending the
night in the crowded discomfort of the third class compartment K marked
for "Indian females." Vacation after vacation finds her reversing the
order of journeying, plunging from the twentieth century life of
college into the village's mediaeval calm. There is no lack of
occupation--letters to write for the unlearned of the older generation
to their children far afield, clerks and writers and pastors in distant
parts; there are children to coach for coming examinations; there are
sore eyes to treat, and fevers to reduce.
One Christmas Pushpam returns as usual, yet not as usual, for her
capable presence has lost its customary calm. She is "anxious and
troubled about many things," or is it about one?
Social unrest has dominated college thinking this last term, focussing
its avenging eyes upon that Dowry System which works debt and eventual
ruin in many a South Indian home. Pushpam has seen the family struggles
that have accompanied the marriages of her older sisters; the "cares of
the world" that have pressed until all the joy of days that should have
been festal was lost in the counting out of rupees. In neighbor homes
she has seen rejoicing at the birth of a son, as the bringer of
prosperity, and grief, hardly concealed, at the adversity of a
daughter's advent. Unchristian? Yes; but not for the lack of the milk of
human kindness; rather from the incubus of an evil social system,
inherited from Hindu ancestors.
Pushpam's father is growing old; lands and jewels have shrunk. Married
sons and daughters are already gathering and saving for the future of
their own young daughters. Three thousand rupees are demanded of Pushpam
in the marriage market. The thought of it is marring the peace of her
father's face and breaking his sleep of nights. But Pushpam has news to
impart, "Father, I have something to say. It will hurt you, but I must
speak. It is the first time that I, your daughter, have even disobeyed
your wishes, but this time it must be.
"All this college term we girls have been thinking and talking of our
marriage system and its evils. Husbands are bought in the market, and in
these war years they, like everything else, are high. A man thinks not
of the girl who will make his home, but of the rupees she will bring to
his father's coffers. Marriage means not love, but money. My classmates
and I have talked and written and thought. Now three of us have made one
another a solemn promise. Our parents shall give no dowries for us. We
have no fear of remaining unmarried; we can earn our way as we go and
find our happiness in work. Or if there are men who care for us, and not
for the rupees we bring, let them ask for us; we will consider such
marriages, but no other. Do not protest, Father, for our minds are made
[Illustration: THE NEW DORMITORY AT MADRAS COLLEGE]
The old man, for years autocrat of the village, bows to the will of his
youngest child, fearing the jeers of relatives, yet unable to withstand.
No, Pushpam did not remain single. In men's colleges the same ferment is
going on, and when a suitor came he said, "I want you for yourself, not
for the gold that you might bring." He married Pushpam, and their joy of
Christian service is not shadowed by the financial distress brought upon
the father's house.
Mary Smith asked to be shown the justification of college education for
Indian girls. Is it good? The College of the Sunflower has its home in
dignified and seemly buildings set in a tropical garden. Does its beauty
draw students away from the world of active life, or send them with
fresh strength to share its struggles. Pushpam has given one answer.
Another one may find in the college report of 1921 with its register of
graduates. Name after name rolls out its story of busy lives--married
women, who are housemakers and also servants of the public weal;
government inspectresses of schools, who tour around "the district,"
bringing new ideas and encouragement to isolated schools; teachers and
teachers, and yet more teachers, in government and mission schools, and
schools under private management. Only six years of existence, and yet
the Sunflower has opened so wide, the Lamp has lighted so many candles
in dim corners. Will the Mary Smiths of America do their part that the
next six years may be bigger and better than the last?
The spirit of Madras Students is shown in the following extracts from
personal letters written to former teachers:
FROM A GRADUATE OF MADRAS CHRISTIAN COLLEGE
"Last week we had the special privilege of hearing Mr. and Mrs. Annett,
of India Sunday School Union. The last day Mr. Annett showed how we can
lead our children to Christ and make them accept Christ as their Master.
That is the aim of religious education. My heart thrilled within me when
I heard Mr. Annett in his last lecture confirm what I had thought out as
principles in teaching and training the young, and I found my eyes wet.
But the very faith which Jesus had in people and which triumphs over all
impossibilities I am trying to have. I have patiently turned to the
girls and am trying to help them in their lives. The Christ power in me
is revealing to me many things since I surrendered to Him my will. He is
showing me what mighty works one can do through intercessory prayer
which I try to do with many failings.
"Politics have lately been very interesting to me. Rather I have been
forced to enter in. You will have read or heard of the new movement in
India that sprang up early in September. Gandhi is the leader. I have
some clippings to send you. It is not about that I wish to write, but
about the remarkable way India is repressing the movement. The Panjab,
the province for which sympathy is called for and the one which affords
the cause for non-co-operation, has thrown up Gandhi's scheme and her
sons are standing for council elections. No Indian can help being
thrilled over the nominations and elections for legislative councils
and councils of state, which are to assemble in January according to the
Reform Act. Our girls are taking a keen interest in the affairs of the
country and earnestly praying for her.
"This is the week of prayer of the Y.W. and Y.M.C.A. I am sure you are
remembering us,--the young women of India and our girls who are to lay
out the future in India; also our young men and boys.
"The Student Federation has its conference in P---- during Christmas,
and four of our college students are going. If only the men would be
open hearted and less prejudiced and brave enough to stand alone and
reform society. I think the time is coming.
"Isn't it strange that you should also feel the thirst for Bible study
just as I am doing here. I never felt the lack of Scriptural knowledge
as now while I teach our girls."
EXTRACTS FROM A TEACHER'S JOURNAL IN MADRAS COLLEGE
November 12, 1921.
We had nine graduates to garland last night and should have had more if
Convocation had followed closely on their success in April. But now one
is at Somerville College, Oxford (we have five old students in England
now and one in America), one at her husband's home in Bengal, one
serving in Pundita Ramabai's Widows' Home at Mukti near Poona, and three
kept away by some duty in their families. Among our nine were two who
had been among our very earliest students; in fact, one bears the very
first name entered on our student roll in April, 1915, when we were
looking round in trembling hope to see whether any students at all
would entrust themselves to our inexperienced hands. These two, of
course, left some years ago, but have since taken the teachers' degree,
the Licentiate in Teaching, for which they have prepared themselves by
private study while serving in schools.
This L.T. is a University degree open to graduates in Arts only, and a
B.A., L.T., is regarded as a teacher fully equipped for the highest
posts in schools. The preparation for it has been carried on hitherto
chiefly at a Government Teachers' College, where the few women students,
though very courteously treated, have naturally been at a great
disadvantage among more than a hundred men. Such of our graduates as
have spent the required year there have been considerably disappointed,
feeling that their work has been too easy and too theoretical. In any
case it is impossible that much practical work could be found for so
large a number of students, and the belief is growing that the ideal
training college is a small one. That it must be a Christian one is from
our point of view still more important. The women B.A., L.T.'s will hold
positions of greater influence than any other class in South India. They
will be Government Inspectresses, Heads of Middle Schools and High
Schools, lecturers in Training Colleges, in fact, the sources of the
inspiration which will permeate every region of women's education.
Before long the missions will be unable to keep pace with the rapid
increase of available pupils for girls' schools. Their success in
originating and fostering the idea of educating girls has now produced a
situation with which we cannot personally cope, but which we can
indirectly control by concentrating effort at the most vital spot, that
is the training of the highest rank of women teachers. These will set
the tone and, to a great extent, determine the quality of the women
teachers who have lower qualifications, and these will have in their
hands the training of ever-increasing numbers of girl pupils and will
hand on the ideals which they have themselves received. It was an honor
which we felt very deeply when the Missionary Educational Council of
South India entrusted to the council of our College the task of
inaugurating an L.T. College for Women, and we have been very busy about
December 15, 1921.
More than a month has passed since I began the Journal and I am now
sitting in the junior B.A. class-room watching over nineteen students
(the twentieth happens to be absent) who are writing their terminal
examination papers. I was a false weather-prophet; rain did not come,
and still keeps away. Instead there is a high cool wind, and every one
of these students is firmly holding down her paper with the left hand
while her fountain pen (they all have fountain pens) skims all too
rapidly over the page. The great principle of answering an examination
paper is never to waste a moment on thought. If you do not know what to
say next, repeat what you said before until a new idea strikes you. As
it is not necessary to dip the pen in ink it should never leave the
page. This method enables them to produce small pamphlets which they
hand in with a happy sense of achievement, but the examiner's heart
sinks as she gathers up the volumes of hasty manuscript.
Sometimes, however, the answers err on the side of conciseness. "We
believe them because we cannot prove them," was the truthful reply of a
student in Physics to the question, "Why do we believe Newton's Laws of
Motion?" Or sometimes an essential transition is omitted; "At the period
of the Roman conquest the Greeks were politically hopeless, economically
bankrupt, and morally corrupt. They became teachers." But sometimes it
is the caprice of the English language which betrays them. "The events
of the 15th century which most affected philosophic thought were the
founding of America and the founding of the Universe." Occasionally they
administer an unconscious rebuke. I was just starting out to give an
address at a week-night evening service from the chancel steps of a
neighboring church, and having a minute or two to spare I took up one of
my 120 Scripture papers and read, "St. Paul's chief difficulty with the
Corinthians was that women insisted on speaking in church. It is wicked
for women to talk in church."
The nineteen students before me are very representative of our student
body, which now numbers one hundred and thirty. Eleven are writing on
Constitutional History, two on Philosophy, four on Zoology and two (a
young Hindu married girl and a Syrian Christian) on Malayalam
literature. Ten of them speak Tamil, eight Malayalam, and one Telugu.
They vary in rank from high official circles to very low origins, but
most belong to what we should call the professional classes. All are
barefooted and wear the Indian dress, which in the case of the Syrians
is always white.
Through the open door I look into the library where the fifty-three new
students of this year are writing an English paper. There are eight
Hindus and one European among them, also two students from Ceylon, two
from Hyderabad, and one, differing widely from the rest in dress and
facial type, from Burma. The lecturer in charge is Miss Chamberlain, the
daughter of our invaluable secretary in America. She arrived only three
weeks ago to take the place of Miss Sarber who has started on her
furlough and already the dignity of the philosopher and psychologist is
mingling with the gaiety which makes her table a favorite place for
The debate on the conscience clause[*] which took place in the new
Legislative Assembly in November shows that the party now in power, the
non-Brahmin middle-class, realizes the value to the country of Christian
education. Man after man rose to express his gratitude to the Christian
College and to point out that missionaries alone had brought education
to low-caste and out-caste people. The proposal was rejected by 61 votes
to 13, a most unexpected and happy event.
One proposal, perfectly well meant, was made at the Government Committee
on Education which aroused great indignation among our students. It was
that various concessions should be made to the supposed weakness of
women students and that the pass mark in examinations should be lowered
for them. As the Principals of both the Women's Colleges opposed the
suggestion, it was withdrawn, but this little incident shows two things,
the sympathetic feeling of men toward the studies of women, and the
distance that women have travelled since the time when they would
themselves have requested such concessions.
In the recent agitation in favor of Nationalism finding that the only
constructive advice given was to devote themselves to Indian music, to
the spinning wheel, which is Mr. Gandhi's great remedy for social and
political ills and to social service, I did all that I could to promote
these ends. I asked the Senior Student to collect the names of all who
wished to learn to play an Indian instrument, I presented the College
with a pound of raw cotton and spinning wheel of the type recommended by
Mr. Gandhi, and the social service begun some months before was
continued This last consists of our expedition led by Miss Jackson,
which twice a week visits an unpleasant little village not far from our
gates. The students wash the children, which is not at all a delightful
task, attend to sore eyes and matted hair and teach them games and
songs, and chat with the village women about household hygiene and how
to keep out of debt. One of our Sunday Schools is in this village, too,
so by this time the students are welcome visitors, and whether they do
much good or not, they learn a great deal of sobering truth. Of course,
only a few can go at a time, but others find some scope in the other
Sunday Schools and in the little Day School which Miss Brockway
instituted for the children of our servants. This last means real
self-denial, as the work must be done every day. Still, it remains one
of our greatest problems to find channels for the spirit of service
which we try to inspire, and without which the current of their
patriotism may become stagnant.
But I am being disappointed about the music and the spinning wheel. Not
one student was willing to undergo the toilsome practice of learning an
instrument, and though the spinning wheel was received with enthusiasm
the pound of cotton has hardly diminished at all. Nor will they take the
trouble to read the newspapers regularly. So that they might not feel
that too British a view of events was presented to them they are
supplied with some papers of a very critical tone, but I need not have
feared the risk, the papers remain unread. They much prefer the medium
of speech, and are keenly interested in almost any topic on which we
invite an attractive speaker to give an address, but they do not follow
it up by reading. They are decidedly fonder of books than they were, and
use the library more, but their taste is for the better kind of domestic
fiction more than for anything else. There is one important exception,
they all love Shakespeare and there is no one whom they so delight to
act. Whenever they invite us to an entertainment, which they do on many
and various occasions, we are fairly sure of seeing a few scenes of
Shakespeare acted much better than I have ever seen English girls of
their age act.
The students have been collecting a fund for our new Science building, a
great and beautiful enterprise, which, also, is still in its proper
stage. The drawing of plans so large and detailed has occupied many
months. We are looking to America for the generous gift which shall
bring these plans into actuality, but help from other sources is
welcome, too, and particularly help from the students. They have made
many efforts and reached a sum of more than Rs. 500. Their most
important undertaking was a performance of "Everyman" most solemnly and
beautifully carried out before an audience of our women friends, and
there was also a dramatic version written by one of the students of the
parable of the prodigal son and performed before the college only. This
last was remarkable in its adaptation of the story to Indian conditions
and for the characteristic introduction of a mother and a sister.
[Illustration: THE OLD INDIA
No Chance--No Hope]
"If she have sent her servants in our pain,
If she have fought with Death and dulled his sword,
If she have given back our sick again
And to the breast the weakling lips restored,
Is it a little thing that she has wrought?
Then Life and Death and Motherhood be nought."
_Kipling's "Song of the Women"_
The Medical School at Vellore is still without a permanent home and is
lodged in scattered buildings--without a permanent staff except for two
or three heroic figures who are performing each the work of
several--without a certainty of a regular income in any way equivalent
to its needs--but it has an enthusiastic band of students and it has Dr.
Ida Scudder, and so the balance is on the right side.
[Footnote *: Opposing the study of the Bible in our schools.]
SENT FORTH TO HEAL
"THE Long Trail A-Winding."
Who that has read "Kim" will ever forget Kipling's picture of the Grand
Trunk Road, with its endless panorama of beggars, Brahmans, Lamas, and
talkative old women on pilgrimage? Such roads cover India's plains with
a network of interlacing lines, for one of Britain's achievements on
India's behalf has been her system of metalled roads, defying alike the
dust of the dry season and the floods of the monsoon.
One such road I have in mind, a road leading from the old fortress town
of Vellore through twenty-three miles of fertile plain, to Gudiyattam,
at the foot of the Eastern Ghats. It is just a South Indian "up country"
road, skirting miles of irrigated rice fields, gold-green in their
beginnings, gold-brown in the days of ripening and reaping. It winds
past patches of sugar cane and cocoanut palm; then half arid uplands,
where goats and lean cattle search for grass blades that their
predecessors have overlooked; then the _bizarre_ shapes of the ghats,
wide spaces open to the play of sun and wind and rain, of passing shadow
and sunset glory. They are among the breathing spaces of earth, which no
man hath tamed or can tame.
An Indian "Flivver."
An ordinary road it is, and passing over it the ordinary
procession--heavy-wheeled carts drawn by humped, white bullocks; crowded
jutkas whose tough, little ponies disappear in a rattle of wheels and a
cloud of dust; weddings, funerals, and festivals with processions gay or
mournful as the case may be. One feature alone distinguishes this road
from others of its kind; once a week its dusty length is traversed by a
visitant from the West, a "Tin Lizzie," whose unoccupied spaces are
piled high with medicine chests and instrument cases. Once a week the
Doctor passes by, and the countryside turns out to meet her.
When the Doctor Passes by.
Where do they come from, the pathetic groups that continually bring the
little Ford to a halt? For long stretches the road passes through
apparently uninhabited country, yet here they are, the lame, the halt,
and the blind, as though an unseen city were pouring out the dregs of
its slums. Back a mile from the road, among the tamarind trees, stands
one village; at the edge of the rice fields huddles another. The roofs
of thatch or earth-brown tiles seem an indistinguishable part of the
landscape, but they are there, each with its quota of child-birth pain,
its fever-burnings, its germ-borne epidemics where sanitation is
unknown, its final pangs of dissolution. But once a week the Doctor
What do she and her attendants treat? Sore eyes and scabies and all the
dirt-carried minor ailments that infect the village; malaria from the
mosquitoes that swarm among the rice fields; aching teeth to be pulled;
dreaded epidemics of cholera or typhoid, small pox or plague. Now and
then the back seat is cleared of its _impedimenta_ and turned into the
fraction of an ambulance to convey a groaning patient to a clean bed in
the hospital ward. Once at least a makeshift operating table has been
set up under the shade of a roadside banyan tree, and the Scriptural
injunction, "If thy foot offend thee, cut it off," carried out then and
there to the saving of a life.
At dark the plucky little Ford plods gallantly back to the home base,
its occupants with faded garlands, whose make-up varies with the
seasons--yellow chrysanthemums with purple everlasting tassels at
Christmas time; in the dry, hot days of spring pink and white oleanders
from the water channels among the hills; during the rains the heavy
fragrance of jasmine. All the flowers do their brave best for the day
when the Doctor passes by.
Where no Doctor Passes by.
But what of the roads on which the Doctor never passes? From Vellore's
fortress-crowned hills they stretch north and south, east and west, and
toward all the intermediate points of the compass. Every city of India
forms such a nucleus for the country around. Amid the wheat fields of
the Punjab, under the tamarinds of the Ganges plain, among the lotus
pools and bamboo clusters of the Bengal deltas, and on the black cotton
fields of the Deccan are the roads and the villages, the villages and
the roads. Some mathematically minded writer once computed that, if
Christ in the days of His flesh had started on a tour among the villages
of India, visiting one each day, to-day in the advancing years of the
twentieth century many would yet be waiting, unenlightened and
unvisited. Few have been visited by any modern follower of the Great
Physician. Who can compute their sum total of human misery, of
preventable disease, of undernourishment, of pain that might all too
easily he alleviated?
[Illustration: Kamala (Lotus Flower), Winner of The Gold Medal in
Anatomy in Vellore Medical School]
[Illustration: A Little Lost One--What Will Such Girls Do for India?
A Problem In Multiplication.
Was it, one wonders, the memory of the Gudiyattam road, and those like
it in nameless thousands, that burned deep into Dr. Ida Scudder's heart
and brain the desire to found a Medical School, where the American
Doctor might multiply herself and reproduce her life of skillful and
devoted service in the lives of hundreds of Indian women physicians? It
is the only way that the message of the Good Physician, His healing for
soul and body, may penetrate those village fastnesses of dirt, disease,
and ignorance. One hundred and sixty women doctors at present try to
minister to India's one hundred and sixty millions of women, shut out by
immemorial custom from men's hospitals and from physicians who are men.
"What are these among so many?" What can they ever be except as they may
multiply themselves in the persons of Indian messengers of healing?
And so, in July, 1918, the Vellore Medical School was opened, under the
fostering care of four contributing Mission Boards, and with the
approval and aid of the Government of Madras. "Go ahead if you can find
six students who have completed the High School Course," said the
interested Surgeon General. Instead of six, sixty-nine applied;
seventeen were accepted; and fourteen not only survived the inevitable
weeding out process, but brought to the school at the end of the first
year the unheard of distinction of one hundred per cent, of passes in
the Government examination. That famous first class is now in its Senior
Year, and by the time this book comes from the press will be scattering
itself among thirteen centres of help and health.
And so, in rented buildings, the Medical School started life. If ever an
institution passed its first year in a hand-to-mouth existence, this one
has. Short of funds save as mercifully provided by private means; short
of doctors for the staff; short of buildings in which to house its
increasing student body, for it has grown from fourteen to sixty-seven;
short, in fine, of everything needed except faith and enthusiasm and
hard work on the part of its founders, it has yet gone on; the girls
have been housed, classes have been taught, examinations passed, and the
first class is ready to go out into the world of work.
Just here perhaps one brief explanation should be made. These girls will
not be _doctors_ in the narrowly technical sense, for the Government of
India reserves the doctor's degree for such students as have first taken
a college diploma and then on top of it a still more demanding medical
course of five years. These students will receive the degree of Licensed
Medical Practitioner (L.M.P.) which authorizes them to practise medicine
and surgery and even to be in charge of a hospital. The full college
may come, we hope, not many years hence, when funds become available.
Meantime, this school will year by year be turning out its quota of
medical workers whose usefulness cannot be over-estimated.
[Illustration: FIRST BUILDING AT NEW MEDICAL SCHOOL, VELLORE, WHICH IS
HOUSING OUR STUDENTS]
A Visit to Vellore.
Let us pay a visit to the School and see it as it is in its present
state of makeshift. Since its beginning it has dwelt, like Paul the
prisoner, "in its own hired house," but Paul's epistles tell of no such
uncertainty in his tenure of his rented dwelling, as that which has
afflicted this institution. The housing shortage which has distressed
New York has reached even to Vellore. Two rented bungalows were lost,
and, as an emergency measure, the future Nurses' Home was erected in
great haste on the town site and at once utilized as a dormitory with
some rooms set aside for lectures as well.
Let us first pay a visit to "Pentland," the one remaining "hired house,"
in which the Freshmen have their home with Dr. Mary Samuel, the Indian
member of the staff, as their house mother. Just behind it is the
thatched shed, carefully walled in, which serves as the dissecting room.
To the uninitiated it is a place of gruesome smells and sights, for
cadavers, whole or in fragments, litter the tables. The casual visitor
sympathizes with the Hindu student who confides to you that during her
first days of work in the dissecting room she could only sleep when
firmly flanked by a friend on each side of her "to keep off the spirits
that walk by night." After a few weeks of experience, however, the
fascinating search for nerve and muscle, tendon, vein, and artery
becomes the dominating state of consciousness, and the scientific spirit
excludes all resentment at the disagreeable.
Pentland Compound possesses another feature in pleasing contrast to the
dissecting shed. As you come away from a session there and close the
door of the enclosing wall, from the opposite end of the compound comes
the sound of children's voices in play. There in a comfortable Indian
cottage lives the jolly family of the Children's Home. They are a merry,
well-nourished collection of waifs and strays, of all ancestries, Hindu,
Muhammadan, and Christian, mostly gathered in through the wards of the
Mission Hospitals. Only an experienced social worker could estimate what
such a home means in the prevention of future disease, beggary, and
crime. It is good for the medical students to live in close
neighborliness with this bit of actual service. One student in writing
of her future plans mentions that, as an "avocation" in the chinks of
her hospital work, she plans to raise private funds and found a little
orphanage all her own!
Not far from Pentland are the new buildings of Voorhees College
belonging to the Arcot Mission of the Dutch Reformed Church. For the
resent, the Medical School has the loan of its lecture rooms and
laboratories in the early morning hours before the boys' classes begin.
That means seven o'clock classes, and previous to that for most of the
students a mile walk from the town dormitory. Here is the Chemistry
Laboratory. Freshmen toil over the puzzling behavior of atoms and
electrons, while in lecture rooms the ear of the uninstructed visitor is
puzzled by the technical vocabularies of the classes in anatomy and
surgery, and one wonders how the Indian student ever achieves this vast
amount of information through the difficult medium of a foreign tongue.
[Illustration: DR. SCUDDER AND THE MEDICAL STUDENTS AT VELLORE.]
In Hospital Wards.
Next in our path of visitation comes Schell Hospital, where the theories
learned in dissecting room, laboratory, and lecture are connected up
with actual relief of sick women and children. Here the students are
divided into small groups and many kinds of clinical demonstrations are
going on at once. In the compounding room you will see a lesson in
pill-making. That smiling young person working away on the floor in
front of the table is a West Coast Brahman, sent on a stipend from the
Hindu state of Travancore. It is her first experience away from home and
the zest and adventure of the new life have already fired her spirit.
In this verandah another group are at work with bandaging. We watch them
while brown arms and legs, heads and bodies disappear under complicated
layers of white gauze.
In the large ward Seniors, equipped with head mirrors and stethoscopes,
with chart and pen, are taking down patients' histories and suggesting
diagnoses. Soon it will be their work to do this unaided, and every bit
of supervised practice is laying up stores of experience for the future.
On the next verandah Doctor Findlay is giving a lecture and
demonstration on the care and feeding of babies. Demonstration is not
difficult, for the hospital always provides an abundance of ailing
infants whose regulated diet and consequently improving health serve as
The Ford in a New Capacity.
Now we follow the shady verandah around three sides of the attractive
courtyard with its trees and flowering creepers. At the far end the
class in obstetrics is going on. And behold, the irrepressible Ford has
entered into a new province. This truly American product will probably
be found to-day in every continent and nearly every country in the
world, but one ventures to prophesy that Vellore is the only spot on the
habitable globe where its cast-off tires have been metamorphosed into
models of human organs! Every student not working over an actual mother
or baby is busy performing on these home-made rubber models the
operations she may some day be called to do upon a living patient.
In the midst of these Dr. Griscom is interrupted by next ward that
didn't cry for a week? You know that this morning you slapped it and it
cried for the first time, and its mother was very happy. Now she wants
to hear it cry again, and says--"may she please beat it herself?" The
Doctor leaves her Ford tires, and runs to the ward to explain to the
overzealous mother the difference between _massage_ administered by a
physician and the ordinary manner of "beating" a baby.
[Illustration: Interior of the Temple Where God is a Stone Image]
[Illustration: Interior of the Hospital Where God is Love]
Our next place of pilgrimage is the "town site" where the new Nurses'
Home affords temporary dormitory accommodation. Beside it is the
Doctor's bungalow, and in the open space next is to be built the big
dispensary. This is well called the "town site," for it is in the thick
of Vellore's population. Children, dogs, and donkeys swarm across its
precincts, and there is no fear of these students being separated from
the actualities of Indian life. The two-story buildings, however, give
abundant opportunity for the occupants to "lift up their eyes unto the
hills"; and the open air sleeping-rooms promise breezes in the hottest
"Mrs. Earth Thou-Art."
Here, too, the Seniors have their lectures in obstetrics, and with the
beginning of that course a new difficulty arose. Equipment here, as in
practically every Mission institution, is pitifully limited by lack of
funds. For the proper teaching of obstetrics there is need of a pelvic
manikin, lifesize. There were no funds to spare for so expensive a piece
of apparatus, and, if there had been, there would have been a delay of
months in getting it out from England or America. But meantime
obstetrics must be taught, and a manikin must be had. "Necessity is the
mother of invention." Necessity got to work, and "Mrs. Earth-Thou-Art"
is the result. Dr. Griscom sent for the potter, who left his wheel in
the bazaar and came to this market for new wares. After long and
detailed instructions, he returned to his wheel, and set it to the
making of a shape never seen in the potter's vision of Jeremiah or
Robert Browning. The first attempt was a failure; the second and third
were equally useless; at last something was produced that approximated
the human size and form. The tires of the Ford were again requisitioned
and, by the miraculous aid of the blacksmith, nailed to the pottery
figure without wrecking the latter. "Mrs. Earth-Thou-Art" at last
reposed complete, one example of the triumph of the missionary teacher
over the handicaps of the situation. We hope that her brittle clay will
survive until such time as some friend from across the sea is moved to
provide for her a "store-made" successor.
"That which shall be."
One more spot must be visited before our pilgrimage ends. No guest of
the Medical School is ever allowed to depart without a visit to "the
site," that pride of Dr. Ida Scudder and her staff.
Three miles out from the dust and noise of the bazaars lies this tract
of fertile land, the near hills rising even within its boundaries, the
heights of Kylasa forming a mountain wall against the sunset. Here in
the midst of natural beauty, open to every wind of heaven, the
dormitories, lecture room, chapel, and new hospital will rise. It will
mean a healthful home, with the freedom of country life and endless
opportunity for games and walks. The motor ambulances will form the
daily connecting link with the practical work of dispensary and
We have spoken much of buildings and courses of study, but little of the
girls themselves. Who are they? Where do they come from? Why are they
here? What are their future plans?
They are girls of many shades of belief, from many classes of society.
The great majority are, of course, Protestant Christians, representing
the work of almost every Mission Board to be found in South India. There
are a few Roman Catholics, and about an equal number of members of the
indigenous Syrian Christian community. Nine are Hindus, including one
Brahman. They come from the remotest corners of the Madras Presidency,
and some from even beyond its borders.
Why did they come? There are some who frankly admit that their entrance
into Medical School was due solely to the influence of parents and
relatives, and that their present vital interest in what they are doing
dates back not to any childhood desire for the doctor's profession, but
only to the stimulating experiences of the school itself. Others tell of
a life-long wish for what the school has made possible; still others of
"sudden conversion" to medicine, brought about by a realization of need,
or in one case to the chance advice of a school friend. Two speak of the
appalling need of their own home villages, where no medical help for
women has ever been known. Some of the students have expressed their
reasons in their own words:--
"Once I had a severe attack of influenza and was taken to the General
Hospital, Madras. I have heard people say that nurses and doctors are
not good to the patients. But, contrary to my idea, the English and
Eurasian nurses there were very good and kind to me, more than I
expected. I used to see the students of the Medical College of Madras
paying visits to all the patients, some of whom were waiting for
mornings when they should meet their medical friends. I saw all the
work that they did. The nurses were very busy helping patients and,
whatever trouble the patients gave, they never got cross with them. They
used to sing to some of them at night, give toys to little ones and thus
coax every one to make them take medicine. I admired the kindness and
goodness that all the medical workers with whom I came in contact
possessed. As medical work began to interest me, I used to read
magazines about medical work. Again, when I once went to Karimnagar, I
saw ever so many children and women, uncared for and not being loved by
high caste people. I wanted to help Indians very much. All these things
made me join the Medical School.
"My father's desire was that one of his daughters should study medicine
and work in the hospital where he worked for twenty years, and so in
order to fulfill his desire I made up my mind to learn medicine.
"Now my father is dead and the hospital in which he had worked is
closed, for there is no one to take his place. So all are very glad to
see that I am learning medicine. There are many men doctors in Ceylon,
but very few lady doctors and I think that God has given me a good
opportunity to work for Him.
"For a long time I did not know much about the sufferings of my country
women without proper aid of medical women. One day I happened to attend
a meeting held by some Indian ladies and one European. They spoke about
the great need of women doctors in India and all about the sufferings of
my sisters. One fact struck me more than anything else. It was about an
untrained mid-wife who treated a woman very cruelly, but ignorantly.
From that time I made up my mind to study medicine with the aim of
becoming a loving doctor. My wish is now that all the women doctors
should be real Christian doctors with real love and sympathizing hearts
for the patients.
"When I told my parents that I wanted to study medicine, they and my
relatives objected and scolded me, for they were afraid that I would not
marry if I would study medicine. In India they think meanly of a person,
especially a girl, who is not married at the proper age. I want now to
show my people that it is not mean to remain unmarried. This is my
second aim which came from the first."
[Illustration: A MEDICAL STUDENT IN VELLORE]
The following is written by a Hindu student:--
"Before entering into the subject, I should like to write a few words
about myself. I am the first member of our community to attain English
education. Almost all my relatives (I talk only about the female members
of our community) have learnt only to write and read our mother language
"When I entered the high school course I had a poor ambition to study
medicine. I do not know whether it was due to the influence of my
brother-in-law who is a doctor, or whether it was due to our
environments. Near our house was a small hospital. It was doing
excellent work for the last five years. Now unfortunately the hospital
has been closed for want of stock and good doctors. From that hospital I
learnt many things. I was very intimate with the doctors. I admired the
work they were doing.
"My father had a faithful friend. He was a Brahman. He realized from his
own experience the want of lady doctors. He had a daughter, his only
child, and she died for want of proper medical aid. Whenever my father's
friend used to see me he used to ask my father to send me to the Medical
College, for he was quite interested in me, like my own father. After
all, as soon as I passed the School Final Examination, it was decided
that I should take up medicine, but at that time my mother raised many
an objection, saying the caste rules forbid it. I left the idea with no
hope of renewing it and joined the Arts College. I studied one year in
the College. Then luckily for me my father and his friend tried for a
"Luckily again, it was granted by the Travancore Government.
"I am not going to close before I tell a few words of my short
experience in the College. As soon as I came here I thought I wouldn't
be able to learn all the things I saw here. I looked upon everything
with strange eyes and everything seemed strange to me, too. But, as the
days passed, I liked all that was going on in the College. The study--I
now long to hear more of it and study it. Now everything is going on
well with me and I hope to realize my ambition with the grace of the
Almighty, for the 'thoughts of wise men are Heaven-gleams.'"
[Illustration: BETTER BABIES Throughout India. Feeding and Weighing]
You ask, what of the future? What will these young doctors bring to
India's need? How much will they _do_? Might one dare to prophesy that
in years to come they will at least in their own localities make stories
like the following impossible?
A woman still young, though mother of seven living children, is carried
into the maternity ward of the Woman's Hospital. At the hands of the
ignorant mid-wife she has suffered maltreatment whose details cannot be
put into print, followed by a journey in a springless cart over miles of
rutted country road. She is laid upon the operating table with the
blessed aid of anaesthetics at hand; there is still time to save the
baby. But what of the mother? Only one more case of "too late."
Pulseless, yet perfectly conscious, she hears the permission given to
the relatives to take her home, and knows all too well what those words
mean. The Hospital has saved her baby; her it cannot save. Clinging to
the doctor's hand she cries:
"Oh, Amma, I am frightened. Why do you send me away? I must live. My
little children,--this is the eighth. I don't care for myself, but I
must live for them. Who will care for them if I am gone? Oh, let me
And the doctor could only answer, "Too late."
On that road where the doctor passes by, one day she saw a beautiful boy
of one year, "the only son of his mother." The eyelids were shut and
swollen. "His history?" the doctor asks. Ordinary country sore eyes that
someway refused to get well; a journey through dust and heat to a
distant shrine of healing; numberless circlings of the temple according
to orthodox Hindu rites; then a return home to order from the village
jeweller two solid silver eyeballs as offerings to the deity of the
shrine. Weeks are consumed by these doings, for in sickness as in
health the East moves slowly. Meantime the eyes are growing more
swollen, more painful. At last someone speaks of the weekly visit of
the doctor on the Gudiyattam Road.
The doctor picked up the baby, pushed back the swollen eyelids, and
washed away the masses of pus, only to find both eyeballs utterly
destroyed. One more to be added to the army of India's blind! One more
case of "too late"! One more atom in the mass of India's unnecessary,
preventable suffering,--that suffering which moved to compassion the
heart of the Christ. How many more weary generations must pass before
we, His followers, make such incidents impossible? How many before
Indian women with pitying eyes and tender hands shall have carried the
gift of healing, the better gift of the health that outstrips disease,
through the roads and villages of India?
[Illustration: Freshman Class at Vellore]
[Illustration: Latest Arrivals at Vellore]
The existence of the Medical School has been made possible by the gifts
of American women. Its continued existence and future growth depend upon
the same source. Gifts in this case mean not only money, but life. Where
are those American students who are to provide the future doctors and
nurses not only to "carry on" this school as it exists, but to build it
up into a great future? It is to the girls now in high school and
college that the challenge of the future comes. Among the conflicting
cries of the street and market place, comes the clear call of Him whom
we acknowledge as Master of life, re-iterating the simple words at the
Lake of Galilee, "What is that to thee? Follow thou me."
Rupert Brooke has sung of the summons of the World War that cleansed the
heart from many pettinesses. His words apply equally well to this
service of human need which has been called "war's moral equivalent."
"Now, God be thanked, Who has matched us with His
And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping,
With hand made sure, clear eye, and sharpened
To turn, as swimmers into cleanness leaping,
Glad from a world grown old and cold and weary."
AN EXAMPLE OF CHRISTIAN TREATMENT
Volumes might be written on the atrocities and absurdities of wizards,
quack doctors, and the hideous usages of native midwifery. The ministry
of Christian physicians comes as a revelation to the tortured victims.
The scene is a ward in a Christian Hospital for women in South India.
The patients in adjacent beds, convalescents, converse together.
"What's the matter with you?" says Bed No. 1 contentedly. "My husband
became angry with me, because the meal wasn't ready when he came home
and he cut my face. The Doctor Miss Sahib has mended me, she has done
what my own mother would not do." Said another in reply to the question,
"The cow horned my arm, but until I got pneumonia I couldn't stop
milking or making bread for the father of my children, even if it was
broken. The hospital is my Mabap (mother-father)."
"What care would you get at home?" chimed in another who had been
burning up with fever. "Oh! I would be out in the deserted part of the
woman's quarters. It would be a wonderful thing if any one would pass
me a cup of water," she replied. From another bed, a young wife of
sixteen spoke of having been ill with abscesses. "One broiling day," she
said, "I had fainted with thirst. The midwives had neglected me all
through the night, and, thinking I was dying, they threw me from the
cord-bed to the floor, and dragged me down the steep stone staircase to
the lowest cellar where I was lying, next to the evil-smelling dust-bin,
ready for removal by the carriers of the dead, when the Doctor Miss
Sahib found me and brought me here. She is my mother and I am her
An old woman in Bed No. 4 exhorts the patients around her to trust the
mission workers. "I was against them once," she tells them, "but now I
know what love means. Caste? What is caste? I believe in the goodness
they show. That is their caste."
Words profoundly wise!
On the slope of the desolate river among the tall grasses I asked her,
"Maiden, where do you go shading your lamp with your mantle? My house is
all dark and lonesome,--lend me your light!" She raised her dark eyes
for a moment and looked at my face through the dusk. "I have come to the
river," she said, "to float my lamp on the stream when the daylight
wanes in the west." I stood alone among tall grasses and watched the
timid flame of her lamp uselessly drifting in the tide.
In the silence of the gathering night I asked her, "Maiden, your lights
are all lit--then where do you go with your lamp? My house is all dark
and lonesome,--lend me your light." She raised her dark eyes on my face
and stood for a moment doubtful. "I have come," she said at last, "to
dedicate my lamp to the sky." I stood and watched her light uselessly
burning in the void.
In the moonless gloom of midnight I asked her, "Maiden, what is your
quest holding the lamp near your heart? My house is all dark and
lonesome,--lend me your light." She stopped for a minute and thought and
gazed at my face in the dark. "I have brought my light," she said, "to
join the carnival of lamps." I stood and watched her little lamp
uselessly lost among lights.
WOMEN WHO DO THINGS
India has boasted certain eminent women whom America knows well. Ramabai
with her work for widows is a household word in American homes and
colleges; President Harrison's sentences of appreciation emphasized the
distinction that already belonged to Lilavati Singh; Chandra Lela's
search for God has passed into literature. The Sorabji sisters are known
in the worlds of law, education, and medicine.
But these names are not the only ones that India has to offer. In the
streets of her great cities where two civilizations clash; in sleepy,
old-world towns where men and women, born under the shade of temple
towers and decaying palaces, are awakening to think new thoughts; in
isolated villages where life still harks back to pre-historic
days--against all these backgrounds you may find the Christian educated
woman of New India measuring her untried strength against the powers of
In this chapter I would tell you of a few such women whom I have met.
They are not the only ones; they may not be even pre-eminent. Many who
knew India well would match them with lists from other localities and
in other lines of service.
These five are all college women. One had but two years in a Mission
College whose course of study went no further; one carries an American
degree; three are graduates of a Government College for men. All go back
to the pioneer days before Madras Women's Christian College and Vellore
Medical School saw the light, and when Isabella Thoburn's college
department was small; all five bear proudly the name of Christian;
through five different professions they are giving to the world of India
their own expression of what Christianity has meant to them.
[Illustration: MRS. PAUL APPASAMY]
Home Making and Church Work.
Throughout India there exists a group of women workers, widely
scattered, largely unknown to one another, in the public eye unhonored
and unsung, yet performing tasks of great significance. Wherever an
Indian Church raises its tower to the sky, there working beside the
pastor you will find the pastor's wife.
Sometimes she lives in the heart of the Hindu town; sometimes in a
village, in the primitive surroundings of a mass-movement community.
Eminent among such is Mrs. Azariah, wife of the first Indian bishop, and
with him at the head of the Tinnevelly Missionary Society at Dornakal.
There, in the heart of the Deccan, among primitive Telugu outcastes, is
this remarkable group of Indian missionaries, supported by Indian
funds, winning these lowly people through the gospel of future salvation
and of present betterment.
It was on a Sunday morning that I slipped into the communion service at
Dornakal. The little church, built from Indian gifts with no aid from
the West, is simplicity itself. The roof thatched with millet stalks,
the low-hanging palmyra rafters hung with purple everlastings, the
earth-floor covered with bamboo matting, all proclaimed that here was a
church built and adorned by the hands of its worshippers. The Bishop in
his vestments dispensed the sacrament from the simple altar. Even the
Episcopal service had been so adapted to Indian conditions that instead
of the sound of the expected chants one heard the Te Deum and the Venite
set to the strains of Telugu lyrics. The audience, largely of teachers,
theological students, and schoolboys and girls, sat on the clean floor
space. One saw and listened with appreciation and reverence, finding
here a beginning and prophecy of what the Christianized fraction of
India will do for its motherland.
It was against this background that I came to know Mrs. Azariah. In the
bungalow, as the Bishop's wife, she presides with dignity over a
household where rules of plain living and high thinking prevail. She
dispenses hospitality to the many European guests who come to see the
activities of this experimental mission station, and packs the Bishop
off well provided with food and traveling comforts for his long and
numerous journeys. The one little son left at home is his mother's
constant companion and shows that his training has not been neglected
for the multitude of outside duties. One longs to see the house when the
five older children turn homeward from school and college, and fill the
bungalow with the fun of their shared experiences. Mercy, the eldest
daughter, is one of the first Indian women students to venture on the
new commercial course offered by the Young Women's Christian Association
with the purpose of fitting herself to be her father's secretary. In a
few months she will be bringing the traditions of the Women's Christian
College of Madras, where she spent two previous years, to share with the
But, though wife and mother and home maker, Mrs. Azariah's interests
extend far beyond the confines of her family. She is president of the
Madras Mothers' Union, and editor of the little magazine that travels to
the homes of Tamil and Telugu Christian women, their only substitute
for the "Ladies' Home Journal" and "Modern Priscilla." She is also the
teacher of the women's class, made up of the wives of the theological
students. A Tamil woman in a Telugu country, she, too, must have known a
little of the linguistic woes of the foreign missionary. Those days,
however, are long past, and she now teaches her daily classes in fluent
and easy Telugu. There are also weekly trips to nearby hamlets, where
the women-students are guided by her into the ways of adapting the
Christian's good news to the comprehension of the plain village woman,
whose interests are bounded by her house, her children, her goats, and
her patch of millet.
Such a village we visited that same Sunday, when toward evening the
Bishop, Mrs. Azariah, and I set out to walk around the Dornakal domain.
We saw the gardens and farm from which the boys supply the whole school
family with grain and fresh vegetables; we looked up to the grazing
grounds and saw the herd of draught bullocks coming into the home sheds
from their Sunday rest in pasture. I was told about the other activities
which I should see on the working day to follow--spinning and weaving
and sewing, cooking and carpentry and writing and reading--a simple
Christian communism in which the boys farm and weave for the girls, and
the girls cook and sew for the boys, and all live together a life that
is leading up to homes of the future.
It was after all that that we saw the village. On the edge of the
Mission property we came to the small group of huts, wattled from tree
branches and clay, inhabited by Indian gypsy folk, just settling from
nomadism into agricultural life. So primitive are they still, that lamp
light is _taboo_ among them, and the introduction of a kerosene lantern
would force them to tear down those attempts at house architecture and
move on to a fresh site, safe from the perils of civilization. It is
among such primitive folk that Mrs. Azariah and her students carry their
message. Herself a college woman, what experiment in sociology could be
more thrilling than her contact with such a remnant of the primitive
folk of the early world?
Mother, home-maker, editor, teacher, evangelist, with quiet
unconsciousness and utter simplicity she is building her corner of
"To-morrow is the day of the Annual Fair and I am so busy with
arrangements that I had no time even to answer the note you sent me
yesterday." No, this was not said in New York or Boston, but in Madras;
and the speaker was not an American woman, but Mrs. Paul Appasamy, the
All-India Women's Secretary of the National Missionary Society.
[Illustration: MRS. PAUL APPASAMY]
It was at luncheon time that I found Mrs. Appasamy at home, and
persuaded her by shortening her meal a bit to find time to sit down with
me a few minutes and tell me of some of the opportunities that Madras
offers to an Indian Christian woman with a desire for service.
For such service Mrs. Appasamy has unusual qualifications. The fifth
woman to enter the Presidency College of Madras, she was one of those
early pioneers of woman's education, of whom we have spoken with
admiring appreciation. Two years of association with Pandita Ramabai in
her great work at Poona added practical experience and a familiarity
with organization. Some years after her marriage to Mr. Appasamy, a
barrister-at-law in Madras, came the opportunity for a year of foreign
travel, divided between England and America. Such experiences could not
fail to give a widened outlook, and, when Mrs. Appasamy returned to make
her home in Madras, she soon found that not even with four children to
look after, could her interests be confined to the walls of her own
American girls might be interested to know how wide a range of
activities Indian life affords--how far the Western genius for
organization and committee-life has invaded the East. Here is a partial
list of Mrs. Appasamy's affiliations:
Member of Council and Executive for the Women's Christian College.
Vice President of the Madras Y.W.C.A.
Member of the Hostel Committee of the Y.W.C.A.
Member of the Vernacular Council of the Y.W.C.A.
Women's Secretary for All India of the National Missionary Society.
Supervisor of a Social Service Committee for Madras.
President of the Christian Service Union.
Of all her activities, Mrs. Appasamy's connection with the National
Missionary Society is perhaps the most interesting. The "N.M.S.," as it
is familiarly called, is a cause very near to the hearts of most Indian
Christians. The work in Dornakal represents the effort of Tinnevelly
Tamil Christians for the evangelization of one section of the Telugu
country. The N.M.S. is a co-ordinated enterprise, taking in the
contributions of all parts of Christian India and applying them to seven
fields in seven different sections of India's great expanse. The first
is denominational and intensive; the second interdenominational and
extensive. India has room for both and for many more of each. Both are
built upon the principle of Indian initiative and employ Indian workers
paid by Indian money.
In the early days of the N.M.S., its missionaries were all men, assisted
perhaps by their wives, who with household cares could give only limited
service. Later came the idea that here was a field for Indian women. At
the last convention, the question of women's contribution and women's
work was definitely raised, and Mrs. Appasamy took upon herself the
burden of travel and appeal. Already she has organized contributing
branches among the women of India's principal cities and is now
anticipating a trip to distant Burmah for the same purpose. Rupees
8,000--about $2,300.00--lie in the treasury as the first year's
response, much of it given in contributions of a few cents each from
women in deep poverty, to whom such gifts are literally the "widow's
The spending of the money is already planned. In the far north in a
Punjabi village a house is now a building and its occupant is chosen.
Miss Sirkar, a graduate now teaching in Kinnaird College, Lahore, has
determined to leave her life within college walls, to move into the
little house in the isolated village, and there on one third of her
present salary to devote her trained abilities to the solution of rural
problems. It is a new venture for an unmarried woman. It requires not
only the gift of a dedicated life, but also the courage of an
adventurous spirit. Elementary school teaching, social service,
elementary medical help--these are some of the "jobs" that face this new
missionary to her own people.
But, to return to Mrs. Appasamy, she not only organizes other people for
work, but in the depressed communities of Madras herself carries on the
tasks of social uplift. As supervisor of a Social Service organization,
she has the charge of the work carried on in fifteen outcaste villages.
With the aid of several co-workers frequent visits are made. Night
schools are held for adults who must work during the hours of daylight,
but who gather at night around the light of a smoky kerosene lantern to
struggle with the intricacies of the Tamil alphabet. Ignorant women,
naturally fearful of ulterior motives, are befriended, until trust
takes the place of suspicion. The sick are induced to go to hospitals;
learners are prepared for baptism; during epidemics the dead are buried.
During the great strike in the cotton mills, financial aid was given.
Hull House, Chicago, or a Madras Pariah Cheri--the stage setting shifts,
but the fundamental problems of ignorance and poverty and disease are
the same the world around. The same also is the spirit for service,
whether it shines through the life of Jane Addams or of Mrs. Appasamy.
With the "Blue Triangle."
The autumn of 1906 saw the advent of the first Indian student at Mt.
Holyoke College. Those were the days when Oriental students were still
rare and the entrance of Dora Maya Das among seven hundred American
college girls was a sensation to them as well as an event to her.
It is a far cry from the wide-spreading plains of the Punjab with their
burning heats of summer to the cosy greenness of the Connecticut
valley--a far cry in more senses than geographical distance. Dora had
grown up in a truly Indian home, as one of thirteen children, her father
a new convert to Christianity, her mother a second generation Christian.
The Maya Das family were in close contact with a little circle of
American missionaries. An American child was Dora's playmate and
"intimate friend." In the absence of any nearby school, an American
woman was her teacher, who opened for her the door of English reading,
that door that has led so many Oriental students into a large country.
Later came the desire for college education. To an application to enter
among the men students of Forman Christian College at Lahore came the
principal's reply that she might do so if she could persuade two other
girls to join her. The two were sought for and found, and these three
pioneers of women's education in the Punjab entered classes which no
woman had invaded before.
[Illustration: BABY ON SCALES]
Then came the suggestion of an American college, and Dora started off on
a voyage of discovery that must have been epoch-making in her life. It
is, as I have said, a far cry from Lahore to South Hadley. It means not
only physical acclimatization, but far more delicate adjustments of the
mind and spirit. Many a missionary, going back and forth at intervals of
five or seven years, could tell you of the periods of strain and stress
that those migrations bring. How much more for a girl still in her
teens! New conventions, new liberties, new reserves--it was young David
going forth in Saul's untried armor. Of spiritual loneliness too, she
could tell much, for to the Eastern girl, always untrammelled in her
expression of religious emotion, our Western restraint is an
incomprehensible thing. "I was lonely," says Miss Maya Das, "and then
after a time I reacted to my environment and put on a reserve that was
even greater than theirs."
So six years passed--one at Northfield, four at Mt. Holyoke, and one at
the Y.W.C.A. Training School in New York. Girls of that generation at
Mt. Holyoke will not forget their Indian fellow student who "starred" in
Shakespearian roles and brought a new Oriental atmosphere to the pages
of the college magazine. Six years, and then the return to India, and
another period of adjustment scarcely less difficult than the first.
That was in 1910, and the years since have seen Miss Maya Das in various
capacities. First as lecturer, and then as acting principal of Kinnaird
College at Lahore, she passed on to girls of her own Province something
of Mt. Holyoke's gifts to her. Now in Calcutta, she is Associate
National Secretary of the Y.W.C.A.
It was in Calcutta that I met Miss Maya Das, and that she left me with
two outstanding impressions. The first is that of force and initiative
unusual in an Indian woman. How much of this is due to her American
education, how much to her far-northern home and ancestry, is difficult
to say. Whatever the cause, one feels in her resource and executive
ability. In that city of purdah women, she moves about with the freedom
and dignity of a European and is received with respect and affection.
The second characteristic which strikes one is the fact that Miss Maya
Das has remained Indian. One can name various Indian men and some women
who have become so denationalized by foreign education that "home" is to
them the land beyond the water, and understanding of their own people
has lessened to the vanishing point. That Miss Maya Das is still
essentially Indian is shown by such outward token as that of dropping
her first name, which is English, and choosing to be known by her Indian
name of Mohini, and also by adherence to distinctively Indian dress,
even to the embroidered Panjabi slippers. What matters more is the
inward habit of mind of which these are mere external expressions.
In a recent interview with Mr. Gandhi, Miss Maya Das told him that as a
Christian she could not subscribe to the Non-Co-operation Movement,
because of the racial hate and bitterness that it engenders; yet just
because she was a Christian she could stand for all constructive
movements for India in economic and social betterment. One of Mr.
Gandhi's slogans is "a spinning wheel in every home," that India may
revive its ancient arts and crafts and no longer be clothed by the
machine looms of a distant country. Miss Maya Das told him that she had
even anticipated him in this movement, for she and other Christian women
of advanced education are following a regular course in spinning and
weaving, with the purpose of passing on this skill through the Rural
Department of the Y.W.C.A.
Another pet scheme of Miss Maya Das is the newly formed Social Service
League of Calcutta. Into its membership has lately come the niece of a
Chairman of the All-India Congress, deciding that the constructive
forces of social reform are better to follow than the destructive
programme of Non-Co-operation. Miss Maya Das longs to turn her abounding
energy into efforts toward purdah parties and lectures for the shut-in
women of the higher classes, believing that in this way the Association
can both bring new interests into narrow lives, and can also gain the
help and financial support of these bored women of wealth toward work
among the poor.
One of Miss Maya Das's interests is a month's summer school for rural
workers, a prolonged Indian Silver Bay, held at a temperature of 112 in
the shade, during the month of May when all schools and colleges are
closed for the hot weather vacation. Last year women came to it from
distant places, women who had never been from home before, who had never
seen a "movie," who had never entered a rowboat or an automobile. Miss
Maya Das's stereopticon lectures carried these women in imagination to
war scenes where women helped, to Hampton Institute, to Japan, and
suggested practical ways of assisting in tuberculosis campaigns and
child welfare. After four weeks of social enjoyment and Christian
teaching they returned again to their scattered branches with the
curtain total of their results from 88 in Newark to 355 in Madras.
[Illustration: PUTTING SPICES IN BABY'S MILK
Notice Feeding Vessels, Shell and Tin Cup]
What is Dr. Vera Singhe doing about it? With her two medical assistants,
her corps of nurses, and the increasing number of health visitors whom
she herself has trained, she has been able to reduce the death rate
among the babies in her care during 1920 from the city rate of 280 for
that year to 231.
But enough of statistics. More enlightening than printed reports is a
visit to the Triplicane Health Centre, where in the midst of a congested
district work is actually going on. We shall find no up-to-date building
with modern equipment, but a middle-class Hindu house, adapted as well
as may be to its new purpose. Among its obvious drawbacks, there is the
one advantage, that patients feel themselves at home and realize that
what the doctor does in those familiar surroundings they can carry over
to their own home life.
Our visit happens to be on a Thursday afternoon, which is Mothers' Day.
Thirty or more have gathered for an hour of sewing. It is interesting
to see mothers of families taking their first lessons in hemming and
overcasting, and creating for the first time with their own hands the
garments for which they have always been dependent on the bazaar
tailor. For these women have never been to school--their faces bear that
shut-in look of the illiterate, a look impossible to define, but just as
impossible to mistake when once it has been recognized. With the mothers
are a group of girls of ten or twelve, who are learning sewing at an
earlier age, when fingers are more pliant and less like to thumbs. Then
there are the babies, too--most of them health-centre babies, who come
for milk, for medicine, for weighing, over a familiar and oft-traveled
road. Fond mothers exhibit them with pride to the doctor, and there is
much comparison of offspring, much chatter, and much general
Back of the dispensary is the milk room, where in an adapted and
Indianized apparatus, due to the doctor's ingenuity, the milk supply is
pasteurized each day, and given out only to babies whose mothers are
positively unable to nurse them, and are too poor to buy.
Of some of the difficulties encountered Dr. Vera Singhe will tell in her
"The work of the midwife is carried out in the filthiest parts of the
city among the lowest of the city's population, both day and night, in
sun and rain ... A patient whose 'address' was registered at the
Triplicane Centre was searched for by a nurse on duty in the locality of
the 'address' given, and could not be found. Much disappointed, the
nurse was returning to the centre, when to her bewilderment she found
that her patient had been delivered in a broken cart."
Of some of the actual cases where mothers have been attended by
untrained barber women, the details are too revolting to publish.
Imagine the worst you can, and then be sure that your imagination has
altogether missed the mark.
Of the reaction upon ignorance and superstition Dr. Vera Singhe says,
"In Triplicane dispensary as many as sixty cords around waists and arms
and variously shaped and sized pieces of leather which had been tied in
much trust and confidence to an innocent sufferer with the hope of
obtaining recovery have been in a single day removed by the mothers
themselves on seeing that our treatment was more effective than the
Weighing, feeding, bathing, prevention of disease, simple
remedies--knowledge of all these goes out from the health centres to the
unsanitary homes of crowded city streets. So far one woman's influence
In a Hospital.
It was on a train journey up-country from Madras, some twelve years ago,
that I first met Dr. Paru. She and I shared the long seat of the small
second-class compartment, and in that close neighborliness I soon fell
to wondering. From her dress I knew her to be a Hindu, yet her jewels
were few and inconspicuous. She was most evidently of good family, yet
she was traveling unattended.
Presently we fell into some casual talk, the inconsequent remarks
common to chance acquaintance the world over. More intimate conversation
followed, and before the end of the short journey together, I knew who
Miss Paru was. The oldest daughter of a liberal Hindu lawyer on the
Malabar Coast, she was performing the astounding feat of taking a
medical course at the Men's Government College in Madras, while
systematically breaking her caste by living at the Y.W.C.A. I almost
gasped with astonishment. "But what do your relatives say?" I asked.
"Oh," she replied, "my father is the head of his family and an
influential man in our town. He does as he pleases and no one dares to
That was twelve years ago. Yesterday for the second time I met my
traveling companion of long ago. She is now Dr. Paru, assistant to Dr.
Kugler in the big Guntur Women's Hospital, with its hundred beds,
managing alone its daily dispensary list of one hundred and fifty
patients, and performing unaided such difficult major operations as a
Caesarean section for a Brahman woman, of whom Dr. Kugler says, "The
patient had made many visits to Hindu shrines, but the desire of her
life, her child, was the result of an operation in a Mission Hospital.
In our Hospital her living child was placed in her arms as a result of
an operation performed by a Christian doctor."
How did Dr. Paru, the Hindu medical student, develop into Dr. Paru, the
Christian physician? I asked her and she told me, and her answers were a
series of pictures as vivid as her own personality.
First, there was Paru in her West Coast Home, among the cocoanut palms
and pepper vines of Malabar where the mountains come down to meet the
sea and the sea greets the mountains in abundant rains. Over that
Western sea once came the strange craft of Vasco di Gama, herald of a
new race of invaders from the unknown West. Over the same sea to-day
come men of many tongues and races, and Arab and African Negroes jostle
by still in the bazaars of West Coast towns. Such was the setting of
Paru's home. During her childhood days certain visitors came to its
door, Bible women with parts of the New Testament for sale, little
paper-bound Gospels with covers of bright blue and red. The contents
meant nothing to Paru then, but the colors were attractive, and for
their sake she and her sister, childlike, bought, and after buying,
because they were schoolgirls and the art of reading was new to them,
The best girls' school in that Malabar town was a Roman Catholic
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