Ceylon (the Taprobãnè of the Greeks and Romans, the Serendib of the "Arabian Nights;" Lanka´, in Singhalese; Selendive, in the Indian language, whence, probably, Ceilan or Ceylon, the European name), an island in the Indian Ocean, southeast of the coast of Coromandel (Hindostan), from which it is separated by the Gulf of Manaar. It lies between 5º 55' and 9º 51' N. lat. and 79º 42' and 81º 55' E. long. From north to south its length is about 270 miles; its narrowest width 40 miles, and its greatest 137½ miles. Its area is about 25,000 square miles. Ceylon can vie with any part of the world in natural beauty, richness of soil, and variety of fauna and flora.
The climate is much more equable than that of the main land of India. The average temperature is about 80º; 80 inches is the average annual fall of rain. The population, according to the Gotha Almanac for 1867, numbers 2,079,881. The European and other inhabitants, including the military, amount to about 25,000. Sir J. E. Tennent is of opinion that Ceylon, when in the height of its prosperity, must have been ten times as, densely populated as at the present day. The natives are divided into four classes: first, the Ceylonese or Singhalese, occupying the Kandian territories and the coasts; second, the Moormen, who are found in all parts of the island; third, the Veddahs, a wild race who live in the mountains in the eastern part of the island, and, fourth, the Hindoos, who occupy chiefly the N. and E. coasts, and speak the Tamil language. Besides these there are also in the island some Portuguese, Dutch, and English colonists; and an intermixture of these with each other, and with the 'native races, forms still another class called "burghers." The Singhalese believe themselves to have been the aborigines. The Portuguese discovered Ceylon in 1505. They subsequently became masters of the island, and from them it was conquered by the Dutch, in 1656, just a century and a half after the arrival of the Portuguese. In 1796 the English took possession of Colombo, and in 1815 of Kandy (Newcomb, Cyclopaedia of Missions, s. v).
Religion. — "The Singhalese are devoted to Buddhism, which is the prevailing religion of the island. It does not exist, however, in that state of purity in which it is still found in the Indo-Chinese peninsula. Its sacred books are identical with those of Burmah and Siam, and both record the doctrines of Gautana in the Pali language; the deviations are in matters of practice. The Malabar kings adulterated Buddhism to a considerable extent with Brahmanism, introducing the worship of Hindoo deities into the Buddhist temples, and this continues more or less to be the case. More than once have the Buddhists of Ceylon sought to restore the purity of their faith — at one time sending deputies to Siam, at another to Burmah, with this object in view. The Burman or Amarapura sect have long been the reformers of Singhalese Buddhism, and maintain no very friendly relations with the party who, supported by the priests of Siam, acknowledge the civil power in matters of religion, sanction the worship of Hindoo deities and the employment of the priesthood in secular occupations, uphold caste, and restrict the sacred books. Caste was acknowledged by the Singhalese prior to the introduction of Buddhism, which in principle is opposed to it; but so firmly was it rooted that it still endures, though more as a social than a sacred institution. Gautama Buddha is said to have visited Ceylon three different times to preach his doctrine, and his sri-pada, or sacred footstep, on the summit of Adam's Peak still commands the homage of the faithful. Buddhism was not, however, permanently introduced into Ceylon till 307 B.C., when Mahindo, obtaining the support of the king, established it as the national faith. The influence of the priests gradually increased, and, by the piety of the Singhalese kings, monasteries were richly endowed; for though the Buddhist monk is individually forbidden to possess goods, a community may own property to any extent; and it is a remarkable fact that, at the present day, no less than one third of the cultivated land of the island is computed to belong to the priesthood, and is exempt from taxation" (Chambers, s.v.). The Moormen, scattered through the island, are Mohammedans. The Hindoos (Malabar or Tamils), who form the chief population of the district of Jaffna, follow Brahminism. SEE BRAHM; SEE BUDDHISM; SEE HINDOOISM.
MIISSIONS IN CEYLON. —
1. Roman Catholic. — During the tenure of Ceylon by the Prrtuguese (1505-1656), they introduced the Roman Catholic religion. In 1544, Xavier (q.v.) preached to the Hindoos in Ceylon. The mission was very successful; a Jesuit college and several convents were erected, and the province of Jaffna became almost wholly Christian. The missionaries did not penetrate far into the interior. The Church of Rome has at present two vicariates apostolic, Colombo and Jaffna, and claim a membership of about 140,000, of whom 55,000 belong to the vicariate of Jaffna. Detailed statistical information on the vicariate of Jaffna is given in Battersby's Catholic Directory for 1864 (Dublin, 1864, p, 397-400).
2. Dutch. — When the Dutch drove out the Portuguese, they began at once to plant the Reformed religion. (In the remainder of this account we follow Newcomb, Cyclopaedia of Missions, p. 223 sq., and Brown, History of Missions, vol. 1.) They took possession of the Roman Catholic churches and convents, and banished the priests and nuns. In five years they reported 12,387 children baptized, 18,000 pupils in the schools, 65,000 converts to Christianity. When the Dutch surrendered the island to the English, the number of Christians was stated at 425,000. Many of these were nominal converts; all that was required before baptism was that the candidates should be able to repeat the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, a morning and evening prayer, and grace upon meat. By a very mistaken policy, the Dutch would give no public employment to an unbaptized native, and the Singhalese were baptized by hundreds with no religious aim whatever. It is not to be wondered at that when the Dutch gave up the island there was little fruit to be seen of their missions in it.
3. The London Missionary Society. — In 1804 this society entered upon a mission in Ceylon, and the Rev. Messrs.Vos, Ehrhardt, Palm, and Read were employed as missionaries for several years; but after several years of effort the mission was abandoned.
4. The English Baptist Missionary Society. — The English Baptists commenced a mission in Ceylon in 1812 in the person of Mr. Chater, whose efforts to Christianize the Singhalese, or Buddhists, and to systematize the study of their language, have made his name memorable. He died in 1829. The labors of his successors had reached, in 1888, to 131 villages of the Singhalese. in which they maintained 73 schools, with an average attendance of 2987 pupils. They had also 961 enrolled as Church members.
5. The American Board. — One of the first missionaries of the American Board to the East was the Rev. Samuel Newell. This missionary spent some time at Ceylon. In a letter dated at Colombo, Dec. 20,1813, Mr. Newell urged an American mission in Ceylon In the following grounds, among others, that the government (English) was friendly to missions; that the population of the island was from one to two millions; that there were but two languages to be learned in order to preach to three millions of people; that the natives could read and write; that the whole Bible had been translated into Tamil, and the New Testament into Singhalese; that there were 200,000 native Christians so called, and at least 100 schools were in operation, and that there but two missionaries in the whole island. The board decided to make Cevlon a mission field, and sent, in 1815, the Rev. Messrs. Meigs, Richards, Warren, Bardwell, and Poor, who landed at Colombo in March, 1816. In a year Mr. Poor was able to preach in Tamil, and schools were established at different points. By 1818, through deaths and changes, Messrs. Meigs and Poor only were left in Ceylon; but in 1819, Messrs. Winslow, Spalding, and Woodward, with John Scudder, M.D., arrived in Ceylon. A printing-press was established in 1820. In 1824 an extensive revival occurred in the island. By 1827 there was a high- school, 80 scholars, and 30 native assistants. The mission has passed through many vicissitudes, but, on the whole, its results have been very satisfactory. In 1849 a new version of the Bible in the Tamil was published. The statistics in 1889 were as follows: stations 7; out-stations 25; 13 American laborers, 8 of whom were women; 318 native laborers, 40 of whom were preachers; 15 churches, with 1442 communicants and 3116 adherents; 135 schools of all grades, with 8358 under instruction. The native contributions for the year amounted to $5466. The government schools are in charge of the missionaries, so that the mission has no expense from this part of the work. The addition by confession during the year 1865 was only 18, while 9 were removed by death and 3 by excommunication. The aggregate number reported as attending the Sabbath morning exercises at 9 of the 10 stations was 1323; 46 preaching- places were reported, and 62 services are conducted each week; 15 adults and 38 children were baptized. The contributions of the churches for 1865 amounted to £102 7s. 2½d. The income of the Native Evangelical Society was £51. There were 7 stations, 7 sub-stations, 6 missionaries, 1 physician, 8 female assistant missionaries, 3 native pastors, 2 licensed preachers, 20 catechists, 6 teachers in seminaries, 40 school-teachers, and 9 other helpers.
6. The Church Missionary Society. — The Church Missionary Society sent four missionaries in 1818 to Ceylon. Two of them — Mr. Mayor and Mr. Lambrick — stationed themselves in Kandy. The town itself has only about 3000 people, but in the neighboring mountains, to which the labors of these missionaries extended, there is a population of 200,000. The fruits of this mission among the Kandians have been very small. The secluded and solitary condition of the Kandian territory, within which Europeans seldom entered, had kept this region under the sway of Buddhism, and the Kandians preserved a rigid conformity to all its rules. After five years five schools had been established, numbering 127 pupils; and in 1839 the number of schools had increased to 13, and the number of scholars to 400. During the last twenty years Europeans have settled among the Kandian Hills, causing some irritation to the peasants, but affording protection to the mission, which is still continued. It is stated in a recent report that the labors of the missionaries are confined in a great measure to sojourners from the maritime provinces, who reside at Kandy and other places in the interior, and who are nominal Christians, and that the native Kandians have received comparatively little attention.
The Church mission station at Baddagame, in the low country, ten miles north of Point de Galle, commenced at the same time as that at Kandy, has been even loss successful. Schools have been established, printed books have been circulated and read, and many have been made acquainted with the principles of Christianity. Still there have been but few conversions. In the annual report for 1852, the Rev. Mr. Parsons, one of the missionaries, says: "At this place the church is built (it was dedicated by bishop Heber), and here are the mission residences, seminary, and girls' school; but here, alas! is the greatest indifference to the good news of salvation." By far the most important of the stations of the Church of England mission in Ceylon is that at Cotta, a populous district within a few miles of Colombo. Here the mission commenced its labors in 1823, and a collegiate institute was founded in 1827 for the training of native teachers and assistants. It commenced with ten pupils, and has continued to the present time with success, being resorted to by the Tamils of Jaffna, the Kandians from the hills, and the Singhalese from the low country. In this "Oriental college" there were in 1852 22 students in Greek and Latin, Euclid, Scripture History, etc. A printing-press has been for some years in operation, which has issued a translation of the Scriptures known as the "Cotta version."
7. Wesleyan Methodist Missions. — The British Conference, stimulated by the earnest appeals of Dr. Coke (q.v.), and by the wishes of Sir A. Johnstone, chief justice of Ceylon, determined in 1813 to organize a mission in Ceylon. Dr. Coke, accompanied by six missionaries, Messrs. William Ault, James Lynch, George Erskine, William Martin Harvard, Thomas Hall Squance, and Benjamin Clough, set sail from Portsmouth on the 30th of December, 1813. Two of the party, Harvard and Squance, were acquainted with the management of the printing-press, which subsequently became the chief instrument in the mission. On the 3d of May Dr. Coke died on the passage. The missionaries landed in June, and were most cardially received by the British functionaries on the island. It was decided to occupy at first only four stations, viz., Jaffna and Batticaloa, for the Tamil division of the island; Galle and Matura for the Singhalese; Messrs. Lynch and Squance to be stationed at Jaffna, Mr. Ault at Batticaloa, Mr. Erskine at Matura, and Mr. Clough at Galle.
It is impossible for us to enter into details concerning this most interesting and successful mission. By 1818 there were 70 members of the Wesleyan Church; in 1863 there were over 50 churches and about 2200 members. The literary labors of the Wesleyan missionaries have been more extended than those of any others, and their contributions to our knowledge of Buddhism are of priceless value. "The Methodists," says Sir E. Tennent, "have been the closest investigators of Buddhism, the most profound students of its sacred books in the original, and the most accomplished scholars both in the classical and vernacular languages of Ceylon." Their publications in Singhalese, against Buddhism and in favor of the evidences of Christianity, have been of great service. One of the missionaries, John Calloway, published a Dictionary of Singhalese, with several sermons and tracts; W. B. Fox, a Singhalese and Portuguese Vocabulary; Robert Newstead translated the N.T. and the Hymnbook into Portuguese; Alexander Hume translated the first part of Pilgrim's Progress into Singhalese. The most eminent names in literature among the Ceylon missionaries, however, are those of R. Spence Hardy (author of Eastern Monachism; Manual of Buddhism; and other works), and of the Rev. D. J. Gogerly († 1862), late general superintendent of the Wesleyan Missions in South Ceylon, who stood at the head of Pali scholarship at the time of his death (SEE GOGERLY). So great has been the effect of the preaching and of the literary labors of the Wesleyan missionaries, that the Buddhists have formed a society (since 1860) to propagate the doctrines of Gautama by itinerant preaching, the press, and colportage.
In 1889, the statistics of Wesleyan Missions were as follows:
Newcomb gave the following statistics of all the missions in Ceylon in 1853:
The following statistics for 1889-1890 are compiled from the Missionary Year-Book New York, 1890:
Literature. — Besides the works already cited, see Turnour, Epitome of the History of Ceylon (Colombo, 1836); Knighton, History of Ceylon (London, 1845); Tennent, Christianity in Ceylon (1850, 8vo); Tennent, Ceylon: Physical, Historical, etc. (London, 1859, 8vo); Heber, Journey in India, with Notes in Ceylon (Phila. 1829, 8vo); London Quarterly Review, April, 1863, art. 5 (The Ceylon Wesleyan Mission); Annual Reports, A. B. C. F. M. and of Wesleyan Missionary Society; Marshall (Roman Catholic), Christian Missions (Lond. and New York, 1864, 2 vols.), vol. 1, p. 357- 409; Stevens, History of Methodism, vol. 3, ch. 12.