Published by The Blavatsky Archives Online. Online Edition copyright 2000.
Adoption of Buddhism by a Christian Minister.
by A. Perera
[Reprinted from The Madras Mail, December 24, 1884, p. 5.]
Sir, --- An interesting ceremony took place at Robinson Street, Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo, Ceylon, on the 17th instant, consisting in the public acceptance of Buddhism by a Christian Minister of the Established Church of England. The Reverend Charles Webster Leadbeater, a clergyman from Hampshire, England, and curate of a church in which he but recently expounded the doctrines of Christianity, thereby formally severed his connection with the sect to which he belonged, and promised to dedicate his services to the promulgation of the truths of that high philosophy which, although expressed in various allegorical shapes in all religious systems, are so plainly and unequivocally laid down in the teachings of Gautama Buddha. It was a sight heretofore seldom seen: a Christian minister sitting at the feet of the yellow-robed priests of the followers of Buddha, and solemnly repeating, after them: I take my refuge in Buddha! I take my refuge in the Law. I take my refuge in the order! The Pansil ceremony was administered by the High Priest, the Rev. H. Sumangala, Principal of the Vidyodaya College at Colombo, who was assisted by the Rev. T. Amaramoli, a Buddhist priest, and a learned and eloquent speaker, both of whom recited the pirit (blessings) used on such occasions. Among those present were Colonel Olcott, Madame Blavatsky, Mrs. Cooper-Oakley, Dr. F. Hartmann, and a number of passengers from the s.s. Navarine, by which Mr. Leadbeater had arrived. There were also present many of the prominent native citizens of Ceylon. On being requested by the High Priest to state his reasons why he desired to become a follower of Lord Buddha, Mr. Leadbeater stated that it was his desire to arrive at the truth, and that he had found the truth expressed in a purer form in Buddhism than in any other system with which he was acquainted. He further stated, that while the Christian doctrines were all based upon hearsay evidence, and upon doubtful authority, and required him to believe many unreasonable things, the teaching of Gautama Buddha, which stands forth most prominently, is that we should believe nothing which our reason cannot accept as true; because faith, to be lasting, must be based upon sound reason, and common sense.
Colombo, 18th Dec. A. Perera.