Malankara World

Lighted to Lighten: The Hope of India

By Alice B. Van Doren


The Central Committee sends out this book on Indian girlhood to meet the young women of America with their high privilege of education, that often unrealized and unacknowledged gift of Christ.

Miss Van Doren has given emphasis in the book to the privileged young woman of India; she shows the possibilities, and yet you will see in it something of the black shadow cast by that religion which holds no place for the redemption of woman. If you could see it in its hideousness which the author can only hint at, you would say as two American college girls said after a tour through India, "We cannot endure it. Don't take us to another temple. We never dreamed that anything under the guise of religion could be so vile." And somehow there has seemed to them since a note of insincerity in poetic phrasings of Hindu writers who pass over entirely gross forms of idolatrous faith to indulge in noble sentiments which suggest plagiarism. A distinguished author said recently, "I can never read Tagore again after seeing the women of India." From sacred temple slums of South India to shambles of Kalighat it is revolting, sickening, shameful. It is pleasanter to dwell on the beauties of Hinduism and ignore the unprintable actualities, but if we are to help we must feel how terrible and immediate the need is. No one can really meet that need but the educated Indian Christian women whom God is preparing in this day for service. They are the ones who are Lighted to Lighten. They are the Hope of the future. Fifty years ago, after the Civil war, the light began in the organization of Woman's Missionary Societies. Through all the years women have gone, never very many, sometimes not very strong, limited in various ways, but with one stern determination, at any cost "to save some."

Now at the close of your war, young women of America, a new era is beginning in which you are called to take your part. You will not be the pioneers. The trail is blazed. It has been proven that Indian girls can be educated, their minds are keen and eager, they are Christian, many of them, in a sense which girls of America cannot comprehend. Their task is infinitely greater than yours. If they fail, the redemption of Indian womanhood will not be realized, and so we see them taking as the college emblem, not the beautiful, decorated brass lamp of the palace, but the common, little clay lamp of the poorest home and going out with the flickering flame to lighten the deep darkness of their land. College girls in America sometimes wear their degree as a decoration. To these girls it is equipment, armor, weapons, for the tearing down of strongholds. These girls must be leaders. They cannot escape the challenge.

Until now the undertaking has seemed hopeless. What could a few foreign women do among those millions? But the great, silent revolution has begun Eastern women are seeking self-determination as nations seek it. They are asserting rights to soul and mind and body. They refuse to be chattels, and going out to release these millions come these little groups of Christian college girls who are to furnish leadership. Have we no part? Yes, as allies we are needed as never before. Unless from the faculties of our colleges, as well as from our student volunteers adequate aid is sent at once these little groups may fail. This is your "moral equivalent of war." To go and help them in this Day which is their Day of Decision requires vision, devotion, a glorious giving of life which will count just in proportion as the need is immediate, the battle in doubt, failure possible. Mission Boards must go haltingly for lack of women and of funds until groups of women from colleges in America hear the call of Christ and follow Him, for God Himself will not do this work alone. He has chosen that it shall be done through you. From our colleges and medical schools recruits and funds must be sent until those who are in the new colleges over there are trained and ready to win India for their Master. To bring them over here for training is not altogether good. There are dangers in this our age of jazz. It is not good to send out very young girls to a far country during the formative years lest a strange language and customs and a new civilization should unfit them to go back to their "Main Street" and adjust themselves. The Indian Colleges are best for the undergraduate Indian girl and are the only ones for the great majority. We must make these the best possible, truly Christian in their teaching and standards, in impressions on the lives of students as well as in their mission to the people of India.

This book is for study in our church societies of older girls and of women, and very especially for girls in the colleges, who should consider this as one of the greatest fields for service in the world to-day. We preach internationalism. Let our churches and colleges practice it.


NOTE: The Central Committee recommends Dr. Fleming's book, "Building with India", for advanced study classes and groups who wish really to study. For Women's societies wishing programs for meetings we think Miss Van Doren's book better as it is less difficult and more concrete.

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