Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Dharampal - The self image of India

The strength of a people can only grow on its own confidence, and awareness of its own true strengths. The weaknessness will then be faced honestly and corrected. Self depreciation, once internalized, can only destroy.

Dharampal -
... This image of India was not its own traditional self-image; nor ad it any relation with historical facts. However, such an image was deliberately built up during the 19th century by the efforts and encouragement of the British; of theoreticians of the West; and through the policies and institutions initiated by the British Indian State. The newly emergent elite in Bengal, as also many others, were instrumental in taking this image forward. 
For instance, Ram Mohan Roy was opposed tooth and nail to the idea that modern learning and science be learnt through the medium of Sanskrit and other Indian languages. He somehow had been convinced that these Indian languages could be the vehicle only of ancient codes and speculations on the world beyond; and that Western knowledge could only be learnt through languages of the West. This was indeed a peculiar position. The Westerners themselves obtained knowledge of India and the East in their own languages; but India was to learn the knowledge of the West only through the language of the West.

Surely, behind such a view, was a feeling of deep contempt for the Indian languages, the Indian intellect and the Indian people. Of course this is not to imply that people like Ram Mohan Roy
had any hatred for the Indian people, or lacked patriotism. Quite possibly they had been lured by the power of the West, and felt that India’s salvation lay in becoming like the West. Only their understanding of the West lacked any depth.
Around 1880, Keshav Chandra Sen declared in England: If you look at India today you will no doubt find widespread idolatry, a system of caste such as cannot be witnessed elsewhere, social and domestic institutions of an injurious character, and prejudices, error, superstition and ignorance prevailing to a most appalling extent.
Around 1900, Rabindranath Tagore wrote:
Our country having lost its links with the inmost truths of its being, struggled under a crushing load of unreason, in abject slavery to circumstances. In social usage, in politics, in the realm of religion and art, we had entered the zone of uncreative habit, a decadent tradition, and ceased to exercise our humanity.
The promotion and extension of an intellectual climate with a peculiar combination of self-pity, self-condemnation and at the same time decrying the self-image of India in the fulfillment of European goals thus became, perhaps inadvertently, the job of men like Rabindranath Tagore. Such promotion ultimately led to the growth and duplication of Westernised personalities like that of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. "

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