The colonial propaganda about Indian culture

Discussion in 'Indian History' started by Ignorant, May 9, 2015.

  1. Ignorant

    Ignorant New Member

    by mataji devi
    The British government was rather cautious in forcing any religious change upon the Indians. This policy seemed to be practical in ruling several hundred million Indians without sparking off a rebellion, or as the tea-dealer Mr.Twinning put it: “As long as we continue to govern India in the mild, tolerant spirit of Christianity, we may govern it with ease; but if ever the fatal day should arrive, when religious innovation shall set her foot in that country, indignation will spread from one end of the Hindustan to the other, and the arms of fifty millions of people will drive us from that portion of the globe, with as much ease as the sand of the desert is scattered by the wind”.
    Colonel Montgomery believed that Christianity had nothing to teach Hinduism, and no missionary ever made a really good Christian convert in India. He was more anxious to save the 30,000 of his country-men in India than to save the souls of the Hindus. Under the authority of Lord Cornwallis (1786-1805) a mood of laissez-faire dominated the British attitude towards the Indian and his religious practices. The Governor-general in 1793 had decreed to “preserve the laws of the Shaster and the Koran, and to protect the natives of India in the free exercise of their religion.”
    However, the missionaries opposed the government’s efforts to take a neutral stand towards Indian culture and worked with more zeal for the complete conversion of the natives. Missionary schools were opened and the Bible was translated into Indian languages, often with the patronage of Government officers who believed they were being “humanitarian”. On his arrival in 1810, the Governor general Marquis de Hastings wrote, “the Hindoo appears a being merely limited to mere animal functions, and even in them indifferent... with no higher intellect than a dog”.
    Charles Grant (1746-1823), Chairman of the East India Company, stated: “We cannot avoid recognizing in the people of Hindustan a race of men lamentably degenerate and base... governed by malevolent and licentious passions... and sunk in misery by their vices.”
    The prominent missionary, Alexander Duff (1806-1878) founded the Scottish Churches College, in Calcutta, which he envisioned as a “headquarters for a great campaign against Hinduism.” Duff wanted to convert the Indians by enrolling them in English-run schools and colleges, and placed emphasis on learning Christianity through the English language. Duff wrote, “While we rejoice that true literature and science are to be substituted in place of what is demonstrably false, we cannot but lament that no provision has been made for substituting the only true religion-Christianity - in place of the false religion which our literature and science will inevitably demolish… Of all the systems of false religion ever fabricated by the perverse ingenuity of fallen man, Hinduism is surely the most stupendous.”
    These missionaries were obliged to use the excuse of education in order to carry on their indoctrination campaigns and to train up Indian assistants to help them in their proselytizing. Duff remained unsatisfied with converting Indians belonging to low-castes, as his chosen target was the higher castes, specifically the Brahmins, in order to accelerate the demise of Hinduism. Many Englishmen patronized missionary schools such as Duff’s. Charles Trevelyan, an officer with the East India Company wrote, “The multitudes who flock to our schools ... cannot return under the dominion of the Brahmins. The spell has been forever broken. Hinduism is not a religion that will bear examination... It gives away at once before the light of European sciences.”
    William Carey (1761-1834), the founder of the Baptist Missionary Society, was the pioneer of the Christian missionary scholarship in oriental studies. The teaching of “Indology” in Europe was originally established with the precise purpose to preach Christianity “among the pagans”. In 1312 pope Honorius IV ordered the creation of chairs of Hebrew, Arabic and Chaldean at the Universities of Bologna, Oxford, Paris and Salamanca. In 1870 the Vatican Council condemned Hinduism in the “five anathemas against pantheism”.
    From 1801 onward, as Professor of Oriental Languages, Carey composed numerous grammars and dictionaries in the Marathi, Sanskrit, Punjabi, Telugu, Bengali and Bhatanta dialects. From the Serampore press he produced over 200,000 Bibles and portions in nearly 40 different languages and dialects, Carey himself undertaking most of the literary work. Carey and his colleagues experimented with what came to be known as Church Sanskrit. He wanted to train a group of “Christian Pandits”’ who would probe “these mysterious sacred nothings” and expose them as worthless. He was distressed that this “golden casket (of Sanskrit) exquisitely wrought” had remained “filled with nothing but pebbles and trash.” He was determined to fill it with “the riches beyond all price” that he saw in the doctrine of Christianity. Carey smuggled himself into India and caused so much trouble that the British government labeled him as a political danger. After confiscating a batch of Bengali pamphlets printed by Carey, the Governor general Lord Minto described them as “Scurrilous invective…Without arguments of any kind, they were filled with hell fire and still hotter fire, denounced against a whole race of men merely for believing the religion they were taught by their fathers.”
    Not all Indologists shared Carey’s views on Hindu Shastra.
    Sir William Jones (1746-1794) was the first Britisher to learn Sanskrit and study the Vedas. He was educated at Oxford University and it was here that he studied law and also began his studies in oriental languages, of which he is said to have mastered sixteen. After being appointed as judge of the Supreme Court, Jones went to Calcutta in 1783, founded the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal and translated a number of Sanskrit texts into English. He wrote: “I am in love with Gopia, charmed with Crishen (Krishna), an enthusiastic admirer of Raama and a devout adorer of Brihma (Brahma), Bishen (Vishnu), Mahisher (Maheshwara); not to mention that Judishteir, Arjen, Corno (Yudhishtira, Arjuna, Karna) and the other warriors of the M’hab’harat appear greater in my eyes than Agamemnon, Ajax and Achilles apperaed when I first read the Iliad.”
    The British historian James Mill (father of the philosopher John Stuart Mill) who had published his voluminous History of British India in 1818 heavily criticized Jones. Although Mill spoke no Indian languages, had never studied Sanskrit, and had never been to India, his damning indictment of Indian culture and religion had become a standard work for all Britishers who would serve in India.
    Mill vehemently believed that India had never had a glorious past and treated this as an historical fantasy. Mill’s History of British India was greatly influenced by the famous French missionary Abbe Dubois’s book Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies, where he writes, “Hindu imagination is such that it cannot be excited except by what is monstrous and extravagant.”
    Horace Hayman Wilson (1786-1860) received his education in London and traveled to India in the East India Companies medical service, becoming the secretary of the Asiatic Society of Bengal from 1811 to 1833 and publishing a Sanskrit to English dictionary. He became Boden professor of Sanskrit at Oxford in 1833 and the director of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1837. He translated the Visnu Purana, Rig Veda and wrote books such as Lectures on the Religious and Philosophical Systems of the Hindus. He edited a number of translations of eastern texts and helped Mill compile his History of India, although later Wilson criticized Mill’s historiography, stating, “Mill’s view of Hindu religion is full of very serious defects, arising from inveterate prejudices and imperfect knowledge. Every text, every circumstance, that makes against the Hindu character, is most assiduously cited, and everything in its favor as carefully kept out of sight, whilst a total neglect is displayed of the history of Hindu belief.”
  2. Ignorant

    Ignorant New Member

    However, he was still a prejudiced Christian with a Victorian idea of morality, convinced that that Christianity should replace Vedic culture, so he commented, “From the survey which has been submitted to you, you will perceive that the practical religion of the Hindus is by no means a concentrated and compact system, but a heterogeneous compound made up of various and not infrequently incompatible ingredients, and that to a few ancient fragments it has made large and unauthorized additions, most of which are of an exceedingly mischievous and disgraceful nature. It is, however, of little avail yet to attempt to undeceive the multitude; their superstition is based upon ignorance, and until the foundation is taken away, the superstructure, however crazy and rotten, will hold together. The whole tendency of brahminical education is to enforce dependence upon authority – in the first instance upon the guru, the next upon the books. A learned Brahmana trusts solely to his learning; he never ventures upon independent thought; he appeals to memory; he quotes texts without measure and in unquestioning trust. It will be difficult to persuade him that the Vedas are human and very ordinary writings, that the puranas are modern and unauthentic, or even that the tantras are not entitled to respect. As long as he opposes authority to reason, and stifles the workings of conviction by the dicta of a reputed sage, little impression can be made upon his understanding. Certain it is, therefore, that he will have recourse to his authorities, and it is therefore important to show that his authorities are worthless.”
    He also was ready to award a prize of two hundred pounds “…for the best refutation of the Hindu religious system.” Wilson also wrote a detailed method for exploiting the native Vedic psychology by use of a bogus guru-disciple relationship.
    Thomas Babbington Macaulay (1800-59) is best known for introducing English education in India. Though not a missionary himself, he believed that Christianity held the key to the problem of curing India’s ignorance. Although he confessed to have no knowledge of Sanskrit, he did not hesitate to belittle the Hindu scriptures. In his Education Minute, Macaulay wrote that he couldn’t find one Orientalist “who could deny that a single shelf of good European library is worth the whole native literature of India. The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is, indeed, fully admitted by those members of the Committee who support the Oriental plan of education…”
    He also wrote, “The superiority of the Europeans becomes absolutely immeasurable. All the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanskrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgements used in preparatory schools in England. The question now before us is simply whether, when it is in our power to teach the (English) language, we shall teach language in which there are no books on any subject which deserve to be compared to our own…whether, when we can patronize sound philosophy and true history, we shall countenance at the public expense medical doctrines which would disgrace an English farrier, astronomy which would move laughter in girls at an English boarding school. I would at once stop the printing of Arabic and Sanskrit books, I would abolish the Sanskrit college at Calcutta.”
    In a letter to his father in 1836, Macaulay wrote, “It is my belief that if our plans of education are followed up, there will not be a single idolator among the respectable classes in Bengal thirty years hence. And this will be effected without any efforts to proselytize, without the smallest interference with religious liberty, by natural operation of knowledge and reflection. I heartily rejoice in the project.”
    Macaulay planned to create a class of Christian-educated Indians and use them to uproot their own traditions: “Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinion, in morals, in intellect.” He firmly believed that, “No Hindu who has received an English education ever remains sincerely attached to his religion.”
    Macaulay found a strong ally in Fredrich Max Mueller (1823-1900), a German born in Dessau and educated in Leipzig, where he learned Sanskrit and translated the Hitopadesa of Pandita Vishnu Sharma before coming to England in 1846. Since he was penniless, he was cared for by Baron von Bunsen, the Prussian ambassador to England who basked in the idea of converting the whole world to Christianity.
    Max Mueller met Macaulay in London and was commissioned by the East India Company to translate the Rig Veda into English. The Company agreed to pay the young Mueller 4 shillings for each page that was ready to print. He later moved to Oxford where he translated a number of books on Eastern religion. His magnum opus was his series The Sacred Books of the East, a fifty volume work which he began editing in 1875 and of which he wrote, “...this edition of mine and the translation of the Vedas, will hereafter tell to a great extent on the fate of India and on the growth of millions of souls in that country... to show them what the root is, I am sure, the only way of uprooting all that has sprung from it during the last three thousand years. The rotten tree for some time had artificial supports, but if the English man comes to see that the tree must fall, he will mind no sacrifice either of blood or of land. I would like to lay down my life, or at least lend my hand to bring about this struggle. I do not claim for the ancient Indian literature any more that I should willingly concede to the fables and traditions and songs of savage nations.”
    His motivations are clearly expressed in his writings: “History seems to teach that the whole human race required a gradual education before, in the fullness of time, it could be admitted to the truths of Christianity. All the fallacies of human reason had to be exhausted, before the light of a high truth could meet with ready acceptance. The ancient religions of the world were but the milk of nature, which was in due time to be succeeded by the bread of life. The religion of Buddha has spread far beyond the limits of the Aryan world, and to our limited vision, it may seem to have retarded the advent of Christianity among a large portion of the human race. But in the sight of Him with whom a thousand years are but as one day that religion, like the ancient religions of the world, may have but served to prepare the way of Christ, by helping through its very errors to strengthen and to deepen the ineradicable yearning of the human heart after the truth of God. ...The worship of Shiva, Vishnu, and other popular deities was of the same and in many cases of a more degraded and savage character than the worship of Jupiter, Apollo or Minerva. I would like to live (in India) for ten years quite quietly and learn the language, try to make friends, and then see if I was fit to take part in this work, by means of which the old mischief of Indian priestcraft could be overthrown and the way opened for the entrance of simple Christian teaching… India is much riper for Christianity than Rome or Greece were at the time of Saint Paul.”
    When Duke of Argyll was appointed Secretary of State for India in December 1868, Max Mueller wrote to him: “India has been conquered once, but India must be conquered again and that second conquest should be a conquest by education…the ancient religion of India is doomed, and if Christianity does not step in, whose fault will it be?” In another letter, Mueller wrote to his son: “Would you say that any one sacred book is superior to all others in the world? ....
    I say the New Testament, after that, I should place the Koran, which in its moral teachings, is hardly more than a later edition of the New Testament. Then would follow according to my opinion the Old Testament, the Southern Buddhist Tripitaka, the Tao-te-king of Lao-tze, the Kings of Confucius, the Veda and the Avesta.”
    In a letter to N.K. Majumdar, Mueller wrote: “‘Tell me some of your chief difficulties that prevent you and your countrymen from openly following Christ, and when I write to you I shall do my best to explain how I and many who agree with me have met them and solved them.”
    Mueller harshly criticized the view of the German scholar, Dr. Spiegel, who claimed that the Biblical theory of the creation of the world is borrowed from the ancient religion of the Persians or Iranians Stung by this statement Max Mueller writes: “A writer like Dr. Spiegel should know that he can expect no money; nay, he should himself wish for no mercy, but invite the heaviest artillery against the floating battery which he has launched in the troubled waters of Biblical criticism.’
    Dr. Spiegel was not the only target of Mueller’s bigotry. In 1926 the French scholar Louis Jacolliot, Chief Judge in Chandranagar, wrote a book called La Bible dans l’Inde. Within that book, Jacolliot theorized that all the main philosophies of the western world originated from India, which he glorified thus: “Land of ancient India! Cradle of Humanity, hail! Hail revered Motherland whom centuries of brutal invasions have not yet buried under the dust of oblivion. Hail, Fatherland of faith, of love, of poetry and of science, may we hail a revival of thy past in our Western future.”
    Mueller’s comment, while reviewing Jacolliot’s book, was: “The author seems to have been taken in by the Brahmins of India.”
  3. Ignorant

    Ignorant New Member

    Mueller may also be credited with the popularization of the Aryan racial theory. Writing for the Anthropological Review in 1870, Mueller classified the human race into seven categories on an ascending scale - with the Aborigines on the lowest rung and the “Aryan” type supreme. Although Mueller cannot be placed in the same category as inexperienced Indologists such as Christian Lassen and Albrecht Weber whose Aryan race conceptions were chiefly fueled by their ardent German nationalism, Mueller’s motivations were just as diabolical. Mueller had been paid to misinterpret the Vedic literatures in order to make the Indians look, at best silly, and at worst, bestial.
    However, Mueller mad made such a name for himself that at the time of his death he was venerated by none other than Lokamanya Tilak as ‘Veda-maharishi Moksha-mula Bhatta of Go-tirtha’ (Oxford).
    Sir Monier Monier-Williams (1819-1899), probably the most famous Sanskritist and author of a Sanskrit-English dictionary that is still extremely popular, was born in Bombay, attending the East India Company’s college and later teaching there. He is known mostly for spending twenty-five years to founding an institution in Oxford disseminating information on Indian religion, philosophy and culture.
    After the death of H.H. Wilson, Monier-Williams became Boden Professor of Sanskrit in Oxford University where he delivered an address wherein he stated: “I must draw attention to the fact that I am only the second occupant of the Boden Chair, and that its Founder, Colonel Boden, stated most explicitly in his will (dated August 15, 1811 A.D.) that the special object of his munificent bequest was to promote the translation of Scriptures into Sanskrit; so as to enable his countrymen to proceed in the conversion of the natives of India to the Christian religion. Brahmanism must die out. When the walls of the mighty fortress of Brahmanism are encircled, undermined, and finally stormed by the soldiers of the cross, the victory of Christianity must be signal and complete.”
    In 1870 Monier-Williams wrote a book based on a lecture called The Study of Sanskrit in Relation to Missionary work in India, written in order to promote Christianity and discredit the Vedic scriptures. He also wrote another work in 1894 entitled Hinduism, which was published and distributed by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
    In is interesting to note that Monier-Williams disagreed with the ‘evolution to Christianity’ theory of Max Mueller. Referring to this he wrote: “There can be no doubt of a greater mistake than to force these non-Christian bibles into conformity with some scientific theory of development and then point to Christian’s Holy Bible as the crowning product of religious evolution. So far from this, these non-Christian bibles are all developments in the wrong direction. They all begin with some flashes of true light and end in utter darkness. It seems to me that our missionaries are already sufficiently convinced of the necessity of studying these works, and of making themselves conversant with the false creeds they have to fight against.
    How could an army of invaders have any chance of success in an enemy’s country without knowledge of the position and strength of its fortresses, and without knowing how to turn the batteries they may capture against the fort?”
    As the Christian missionaries had not achieved great success in converting the intellectuals and religionists of Hinduism as they tried to, and their physical elimination was not bringing a wave of conversions among the respectable society in India, the strategy needed a change. Richard Temple, a high officer, said in an 1883 speech to a London missionary society: “India presents the greatest of all fields of missionary exertion... India is a country which of all others we are bound to enlighten with external truth... But what is most important to you friends of missions, is this - that there is a large population of aborigines, a people who are outside caste... If they are attached, as they rapidly may be, to Christianity, they will form a nucleus round which British power and influence may gather.”
    He addressed a mission in New York in bolder terms: “Thus India is like a mighty bastion which is being battered by heavy artillery. We have given blow after blow, and thud after thud, and the effect is not at first very remarkable; but at last with a crash the mighty structure will come toppling down, and it is our hope that someday the heathen religions of India will in like manner succumb

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