case such a 'descent' of Vishnu is for the accomplishment of a definite purpose. For instance, in the Fish or Matsya Avatara, he assumed this form to save men from the Deluge. In the Bhagavad Gita 1 Vishnu declares that he reveals himself from age to age in some visible form to preserve the good and destroy the bad. This doctrine shows that the Hindus, like all other thoughtful men, feel the necessity of an incarnation, a manifestation (مظهر) of God, so that they may know Him and no longer worship the unknown. But, not knowing the truth, they have fallen into such gross error that they are led by their misuse of their doctrine of 'descents' to worship Rama and Krishna and other deities as incarnations of Vishnu. The same idea enabled them long ago to introduce into their religion the worship of many of the gods of the barbarians who inhabited India in very ancient times. Hence it is that it would be hard to find among all the gods and goddesses whom they now worship a single one who is not regarded as evil. It is clear, therefore, that, if their gods exist at all, they are evil spirits, whose worship must lead to every kind of sin and wickedness. These we do find in the present religion of the Hindus.

If we now inquire what means the Hindu religion provides for obtaining remission of sins, it may be said in reply that the answers which various

1 Book IV, verses 7-8.

religious books give may be divided into two classes: (1) the philosophical and (2) the popular. Hindu philosophy is Pantheistic, as we have already said, while the religion of the people is largely polytheistic in form, even though Pantheism underlies it.

The philosophical view abolishes belief in a personal God distinct from the worshipper, 1 possessed of such attributes as justice and holiness, and having revealed His will. It claims that good and evil are both alike inherent in the divine nature, and that nought but the deity really exists. This view endeavours to get rid of the reproach of conscience by declaring it to be mistaken, since there cannot exist such a thing as sin. If there be no sin, there can be no need of an atonement. It is clear therefore that philosophical Hinduism has failed to find an answer to this great question. For to say that God is not possessed of attributes, that He is not personal, not conscious, is to deny that there is any true God at all. Such a statement cannot really do away with sin, nay rather, it is itself blasphemy. Those who in this way endeavour to obtain release from the burden of sin entirely fail in their effort, and, losing all true knowledge of God, are more firmly entangled in Satan's snare than ever.

The popular religion, in addition to the danger, which its followers incur, of being immersed in

1 Cf. Chhandogya Upanisad, part iii, chapter xiv, verses 1-4.