A DISTINGUISHED THEOSOPHIST.
MISS LILIAN EDGEPv INTERVIEWED.
Aueicland has received, ex Westralia an interesting visitor in the person of Miss Lilian Edger, M.A., a New Zealander of brilliant literary attainments and a Theosophist, Miss Edger is best known to New Zealanders as a University graduate from the Canterbury College, as a daughter of the late Rev. Samuel Edger (one of the Albertland pioneers), as a sister of Judge Edger, and as a sister of Miss Kate Edgar (the first lady to obtain a B.A. degree in a British country, and now, as the wife of the Rev. W. H. Evans, of Wellington, a prominent social worker). Thus, Miss Edgar is a member of no, mean family. But to the world beyond this colony Miss Edger is known us a leader among theosophists. In India, whence "die has now come for a brief holiday, Edger iss a diligent student, organiser and lecturer in the cause of the theosophy which she has so much at heart. It is not to be wondered at that she 13 devoted to the science, for right from her tenderest years she imbibed broad theosophical instincts from her father. Through her college career, splendid though it was in even the le_st romantic of her studies, this early training grew and strengthened its hold upon her. Her first years at school were spent at Auckland, but the greater portion of her education was oDtained at the Canterbury College, where she was noted for her successes as a linguist and litterateur, and, what was even more exceptional for a woman, for her abilities as a mathematician. She became B.A. in 1881 and M.A. in the year following, with first-class honours. .titer leaving school she spent some time as a teacher in the Christchurch High School, but her theosophical trend appeared to be never forgotten, and she thought and studied constantly on the matter. Her opportunity came when work in that realm of science offered itself in India, the headquarters of the Theosophical Society. She accepted the call, and it is from a spell of work in her new Indian field of labour that she has now returned to see her Auckland once more. Mis 3 Edger is staying in Arthurstreet, Ponsonby, with her sister, Mrs Hemus, where she accorded an interview to a "Star" reporter this morning. In the course of her remarks, Miss Edger explained that Benares was the centre from which the Indian work| was directed, just as Auckland is the j centre for New Zealand, and Sydney for Australia. "I have been there;" she said, "for just three years. 1 was there for a year before that, and then I came back and was working in Australia for about 18 months." "What is your work. Miss Edger?"_ "My work is principally lecturing. There are two things really that the society is working for in India. One —it is a little difficult to explain. It is a sort of reviving and vitalising of the religion of the country itself- You know, of course, that the tneosophieal society knows no creed, but really embraces all religions, and is therefore in sympathy with them all. We try to add more tolerance and breadth and vitality to their religions. In India, before the society went there, the religion had reached a> t-_4l_~- .l__r—aka. fl?h,„ jto,titi_c. - men, growing up in touch with European ideas, failed to appreciate their own religion which they heard so often made the subject of. contempt. But this ha.s been greatly remedied during the last 25 years through our own work and that of other agencies." "Your work is mostly among the Hindoos, then?" "Yes, and their religion has been shown to be fit to stand by the side of any religion in the world, both for its philosophy and for its power of arousing devotion. Our work is done by means of branches, of which We have about 100 • now, composed of from half a dozen members each to a 100 or more. In these branches the various 'theosophical books arc studied together with tb«. books of the members' own religion. And a great many of them would tell you that through theosophical study they have been able to see more meaning and spirit in their own b00k3." "Do you get much sympathy from the Europeans?"
"I cannot say they arc very sympathetic, although there is an improvement in that direction."
"Can you tell our readers anything about the phenomenal phases of Hindoo worship?". "No. I have seen next to.nothing of that. It is quite apart from our work, and the most religious people of India, those among whom our labours are carried on, do not care about the phenomenal side. Among the best Indian priests there are no phenomena performed at all."
"The second and most important work we are doing is educational, to try and combine religious teaching with education. Hindoo religion is, of course, taught, because hitherto in the mission colleges Christianity has been taught, and in the Government schools no religion is taught at all. We have, issued te„t-bc<oks, based on the Hindoo Scriptures, but put into a somewhat mare English form, and these text-book.? are ".raoually coming into use in the other colleges „par. _Rom our own workers." "Your society, then, does not mind what religion it leaches so long as it is a religion which uplifts?" "Exactly. Because we think all. religion comes from the same source, but this one is specially adapted for the Indian people among whom we work." ,c What is your ultimate, object—to produce one universal religion?" "No, not to make the religions one, but to bring the members of the different religions into closer sympathy with one another, and cause them to recognise that they are really following the same truths, only in different forms. That is part of our object, and another part is to strengthen all tendency towards spiritual life. Not 'spiritualistic,' mind. I am glad to notice a disposition to raise the standard of education among the women of India. This -is not a part of our work, but a great deal has been said by the missionaries about their beinf very uneducated. Many of them are,°but I have met a number who were exceedingly well educated. There is a growing desire among the Hindoos that their wives and daughters shall be well educated, but on Hindoo lines of course." To those who desire to know more of Miss Edger's views on Theosophy, we commend her book, "Elements on Theosophy," just issued.
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