Interest Of Europeans In Bharatavarsha

By editor - 31.8 2017

Interest Of Europeans In Bharatavarsha And Its Ancient Literature

The battle of Plassey, fought in Samvat 1814, sealed the fate of India. Bengal came under the dominance of the British. In Samvat 1840, William Jones was appointed Chief Justice in the British settlement of Fort William. He translated into English the celebrated play "Shakuntala" of the renowned poet Kalidasa (Circa 4th cent. B. V.) in Samvat 1846, and the Code of Manu in Samvat 1851, the year in which he died. After him, his younger associate, Sir Henry Thomas Colebrooke, wrote an article 'On the Vedas' in Samvat 1862.

In the Vikram year 1875, August Wilhelm von Schlegel was appointed the first professor of Sanskrit in the Bonn University of Germany. Friedrich Schlegel was his brother. He wrote in 1865 V. a work entitled 'Upon the languages and Wisdom of the Hindus'.1 Both brothers evinced great love for Sanskrit. Another Sanskritist Herr Wilhelm von Humboldt became the collaborator of August Schlegel whose edition of the Bhagavad Gita directed his attention to its study. In Samvat 1884 he wrote to a friend saying: 'It is perhaps the deepest and loftiest thing the world has to show'. At that very time Arthur Schopenhauer (1845-1917 V.), a great German philosopher, happened to read the Latin translation of the Upanishads (1858-1859 V.), done by a French writer Anquetil du Perron (1788-1862 V.) from the Persian translation of prince Dara Shikoh (1722 V.), named as Sirre-Akbar - the great secret. He was so impressed by their philosophy that he called them 'the production of the highest human wisdom' and considered them to contain almost superhuman conceptions.3 The study of the Upanishads was a source of great inspiration and means of comfort to his soul, and writing about it he says, 'It is the most satisfying and elevating reading (with the exception of the original text) which is possible in the world;' it has been the solace of my life and will be the solace of my death."4 It is well-known that the book 'Oupnekhat' (Upanishad) always lay open on his table and he invariably studied it before retiring to rest. He called the opening up of Sanskrit literature 'the greatest gift of our century', and predicted that the philosophy and knowledge of the Upanishads would becomes the cherished faith of the West.

Result Of That Interest

Such writings attracted the German scholars more and more to the study of Sanskrit, and many of them began to hold Bharatiya culture in great esteem. Prof. Winternitz has described their reverence and enthusiasm in the following words:

"When Indian literature became first known in the West, people were inclined to ascribe a hoary age to every literature work hailing from India. They used to look upon India as something like the cradle of mankind, or at least of human civilisation."5

This impression was natural and spontaneous. It was based on truth and had no element of bias. The historical facts that were handed down by the sages of Bharatavarsha were based on true and unbroken traditions. Their philosophical doctrines delved deep into the source and mysteries of life and propounded principles of eternal value. When the people of the West came to know of them for the first time, many unbigoted scholars were highly impressed by their marvelous accuracy and profound wisdom and being uninfluenced by any considerations of colour or creed they were generous in their acclamations. This enthusiastic applause of the honest people of Christian lands created a flutter in the dovecotes of Jewry and Christian missionaries, who were as ignorant of the real import of their own Scriptures and traditions as those of Bharatavarsha and followed only the dictates of dogmatic Pauline Christianity which had made them intolerant of all other faiths.6

The correctness of our conclusion can be judged from the following observation of Heinrich Zimmer: "He (Schopenhauer) was the first among the Western people to speak of this in an incomparable manner - in that great cloudburst of European-Christian atmosphere."7

How revengeful are dogmatic Christians and Jews on those who do not hold opinions similar to their own, is amply illustrated by the fate of Robertson Smith (1846-94 A.D.), the author of 'The Religion of the Semites'. and a professor of Hebrew in the Free Church College, Aberdeen. The punishment he got for the frank and fearless expression of his scientific researches is well recorded by Lewis Spence in the following words:

"The heterodox character of an encyclopaedia article on the Bible led to his prosecution for heresy, of which charge, however, he was acquitted. But a further article upon 'Hebrew Language and Literature' in the Encyclopaedia Brittannica (1880) led to his removal from the professoriate of the College."8

Primary Reason: Jewish And Christian Bias

The ancient Jews were descendants of the Aryas. Their beliefs were the same of those of Aryas. The Primeval Man, whom they called Adam, was Brahma, the originator of mankind. The Hebrew name is derived from 'Atma-Bhu", one of the epithets of Brahma. In the beginning of Creation 'Brahma gave names to all objects and beings',9 and so did Adam according to Jewish tradition; 'and whatsoever Adam called every living creature that was the name thereof'.10 In later times the Jews forgot their ancient history and ancestry and became narrow in their outlook. They considered themselves to be the oldest of all races.11 But in 1654 A.D. Archbishop Usher of Ireland firmly announced that his study of Scripture had proved that creation took place in the year 4004 B.C. So from the end of the seventeenth century, this chronology was accepted by the Europeans and they came to believe that Adam was created 4004 years before Christ.12

Hence a majority of the modern Jews and the dogmatic Christians and especially many professors of Sanskrit found it hard to reconcile themselves to the view that any race or civilisation could be older than the date of Adam accepted by them. They resented the hoary antiquity ascribed by their broad-minded brother scholars to the literature and civilisation of Bharatavarsha and much more to the origin of man. Referring to this deep-rooted prejudice, A.S. Sayce writes: "But as far as man was concerned, his history was still limited by the dates in the margin of our Bibles. Even today the old idea of his recent appearance still prevails in quarters where we should least expect to find it and so-called critical historians still occupy themselves in endeavouring to reduce the dates of his earlier history... To a generation which had been brought up to believe that in 4004 B.C. or thereabout the world was being created, the idea man himself went back to 100,000 years ago was both incredible and inconceivable."13

Ample evidence can be adduced to prove the existence of this inveterate prejudice but the above quotation from a great anthropologist would suffice for our purpose.

The studies of Sanskrit continued and flourished in Europe and very rapidly the opinions and judgments of scholars also became warped by the influence of the inherent prejudice fanned by the clergy. From the Vikram year 1858 to 1897 Eugene Burnouf occupied the chair of Professor of Sanskrit in France. He had two German pupils Rudolph Roth and Max Muller, who later on made a name in European Sanskrit scholarship.

The Purpose Of Boden Chair Of Sanskrit In Oxford University

In Samvat 1890 Horace Hayman Wilson became the Boden Professor of Sanskrit in the Oxford University. His successor Prof. M. Monier-Williams has drawn the attention of scholars to the object of the establishment of that chair in the following words: "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."14

Prejudiced Sanskrit Professors

I. Prof. Wilson was a man of very noble disposition, but he had his obligations towards the motives of the founder of the Chair he occupied. He, therefore, wrote a book on 'The Religious and Philosophical System of the Hindus' and explaining the reason for writing it he says; "These lectures were written to help candidates for a prize of [Pounds]200-given by John Muir, a well-known old Haileybury man and great Sanskrit scholar, for the best refutation of the Hindu Religious System".15

From this quotation the learned readers can conclude to what extent the aim of European scholarship could be called scientific, how far the theories propounded by them could be free from partisanship and called reliable, and how true would be the picture of Bharatiya civilisation and culture drawn by them.

II. In the same spirit of prejudice the aforesaid scholar Rudolph Roth wrote his thesis 'Zur Literatur und Geschichte des Veda,'16 a dissertation on the Vedic literature and history. In 1909 V. was published his edition of the Nirukta of Yaska.17 He was too proud of his own learning and of the German genius. He asserted that by means of the German 'science' of philology Vedic mantras could be interpreted much better than with the help of Nirukta.18 Roth wrote many other things in this haughty vein.

III. The same pedantry is exhibited in the writings of W.D. Whitney who asserts; "The principles of the 'German School' are the only ones which can ever guide us to a true understanding of the Veda."19

IV. MAX MULLER: Max Muller was a fellow-student of Roth. Besides his teacher's stamp on him, Max Muller's interview with Lord Macaulay on the 28th December, 1855 A.D. also played a great part in his anti-Indian views. Max Muller had to sit silent for an hour while the historian poured out his diametrically opposite views and then dismissed his visitor who tried in vain to utter a simple word: "I went back to Oxford", writes Max Muller, "a sadder man and a wiser man."20

Max Muller's name became widely known to the people of Bharatavarsha for two reasons. Firstly, he was a voluminous writer and secondly his views were severely criticised by the great scholar and savant Swami Dayananda Saraswati (1881-1940 V.) in his public speeches and writings. The value of Max Muller's opinions, may be estimated from his following statements:

(1) "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."21

(2) "Large number of Vedic hymns are childish in the extreme; tedious, low, commonplace."22

(3) "Nay, they (the Vedas) contain, by the side of simple, natural, childish thoughts, many ideas which to us sound modern, or secondary and tertiary."23

Such blasphemous reviling of the most ancient and highly scientific scripture of the world can come only from word of the mouth of a bigoted (not an honest) Christian, a low pagan or an impious atheist. Barring Christianity, Max Muller was bitterly antagonistic to every other religion which he regarded as heathen. His religious intolerance is borrowed from his bitter criticism of the view of the German scholar, Dr. Spiegel, 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 Muller 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."24 (Strange to say that our History supports the truth of Dr. Spiegel's view to the extent that the Biblical statements were derived from Persian, Babylonian and Egypt ian scriptures, which according to the ancient history of the world, were in turn derived from Vedic sources.)

At another place the same devotee of the Western 'scientific' scholarship says: "If in spite of all this, many people, most expectant to judge, look forward with confidence to the conversion of the Parsis, it is because, in the most essential points, they have already, though unconsciously, approached as near as possible to the pure doctrine of Christianity. Let them but read Zend-Avesta, in which they profess to believe, and they will find that their faith is in longer the faith of the Yasna, the Vendidad and the Vispered. As historical relics, these works, if critically interpreted, will always retain a pre-eminent place in the great library of the ancient world. As oracles of religious faith, they are defunct and a mere anachronism in the age in which we live."25 Even a superficial reader can see the strain of Christian fanaticism running through these lines. If Bharatiya culture could exact occasional praise from the pen of a bigoted man like Max Muller, it was only due to its unrivaled greatness and superiority.

MAX MULLER AND JACOLLIOT: The French scholar Louis Jacolliot, Chief Judge in Chandranagar, wrote a book called 'La Bible dans l'Inde' in Samvat 1926. Next year an English translation of it was also published. In that book all the main currents of thought in the world have been derived from the ancient Aryan thought. He has called Bharatavarsha 'the Cradle of Humanity'.26

'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.'

This book cut Max Muller to the quick and he said while reviewing it that 'the author seems to have been taken in by the Brahmins of India'.

MAX MULLER'S LETTER: Personal letters give a true picture of the writer's inner mind. A person expresses his inmost feelings in the letters which he writes to his intimate relations and friends. Such letters are very helpful in estimating his real nature and character. Fortunately, a collection called the 'Life and Letters of Frederick Max Muller' has been published in two volumes. A few extracts from those letters would suffice to expose the mind of the man who is held in great esteem in the West for his Sanskrit leaning and impartial judgment.

(a) In a letter of 1866 A.D. (1923 V.) he writes to his wife: 'This edition of mine and the translation of the Veda will hereafter tell to a great extent on the fate of India, ...it is the root of their religion and to show them what the root is, I feel sure, is the only way of uprooting all that has spring from it during the last three thousand years.' (Vol. 1, Ch. XV, page 346).

(b) In another letter he writes 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,27 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 Laotze, the Kings of Confucius, the Veda and the Avesta.' (Vol. II, Ch. XXXII, page 339).

(c) On 16th December 1868 A.D. (Samvat 1925) he writes to Duke of Argyle, the Minister for India: 'The ancient religion of India is doomed and if Christianity does not step in, whose fault will it be?' (Vol. I, Ch. XVI, page 378.)

(d) On 29th January 1882 (Samvat 1939) he wrote to Sri Bairamji MALABARI: 'I wanted to tell... what the true historical value of this ancient religion is, as looked upon, not from a n exclusively European or Christian, but from a historical point of view. But discover in it 'steam engines and electricity and European philosophy and morality, and you deprive it of its true character.' (Vol. II, Ch XXV, pages 115-116.)

(e) Max Muller grew so insolent and audacious that he started to challenge Indians in a direct foolhardy manner. It is clear from a letter written by him to N.K. Majumdar: '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... From my point of view, India, at least the best part of it, is already converted to Christianity. You want no persuasion to become a follower of Christ. Then make up your mind to work on yourself. Unite your flock - to hold them together and prevent them from straying. The bridge has been built for you by those who came before you. STEP BOLDLY FORWARD, it will break under you, and you will find many friends to welcome you on the other shore and among them none more delighted that your old friend and fellow labourer F. Max Muller.' (Vol. II, Ch. XXXIV, pages 415-416.)

Herein Max Muller claims to know 'the true historical value' of Vedic religion, but our history is going to expose the hollowness of the learning and scholarship which he and his colleagues boast of possessing.

V. WEBER'S BIAS: At the time when Max Muller was busy besmirching the glory of Bharatiya literature and religion in England, Albert Weber was devoting himself to the same ignominious task in Germany. We have already referred to the unstinted praise of the Bhagavad Gita by Humboldt. Weber could not tolerate this. He had the temerity to postulate that the Mahabharata and Gita were influenced by Christian thought. Mark what he writes: 'The peculiar colouring of the Krsna Sect, which pervades the whole book, is noteworthy: Christian legendary matter and other Western influences are unmistakably present...28

The view of Weber was strongly supported by two other Western scholars, Lorinser29 and E. Washburn Hopkin.30 Yet the view was so blatantly absurd that most of the professors in European universities did not accept it in spite of their Christian leanings. But the propagation of this wrong view played its mischief and was mainly responsible for the hesitation of the Western scholars (including the antagonists) to assign to the Mahabharata a date, earlier that the Christian era.

WEBER AND BANKIM CHANDRA: I am not alone in holding this view.

This is what Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya, the well known Bengali scholar, has to say about Weber in his Krishnacharita, 4th chapter: 'The celebrated Weber was no doubt a scholar but I am inclined to think that it was an unfortunate moment for India when he began the study of Sanskrit. The descendants of the German savages of yesterday could not reconcile themselves to the ancient glory of India. It was therefore, their earnest effort to prove that the civilisation of India was comparatively of recent origin. They could not persuade themselves to believe that the Mahabharata was composed centuries before Christ was born'.31

WEBER AND GOLDSTUCKER: Weber and Boehtlingk prepared a dictionary of the Sanskrit language called the 'Sanskrit Worterbuch. Prof. Kuhn was also one of their assistants. Being mainly based on the wrong and imaginary principles of philology, the work is full of wrong meanings in many places and is, therefore, unreliable and misleading. It is a pity that so much labour was wasted on account of sheer prejudice. The dictionary was subject of severe criticism by Prof. Goldstucker which annoyed the two editors. Weber was so much upset that he stooped to use abusive language of the coarsest kind32 against Prof. Goldstucker. He said that the views of Prof. Goldstucker about the Worterbuch showed 'a perfect derangement of his mental faculties',33 since he did not reject the authority of the greatest Hindu scholars freely and easily. Replying to their undignified attacks Prof. Goldstucker exposed the conspiracy of Professors Roth, Boehtlingk, Weber and Kahn which they had formed to undermine the greatness of ancient Bharatavarsha. He wrote: 'It will, of course, be my duty to show, at the earliest opportunity, that Dr. Boehtlingk is incapable of understanding even easy rules of Panini, much less those of Katyayana and still less is he capable of making use of them in the understanding of Classical texts. The errors in his department of the Dictionary are so numerous... that it will fill every serious Sanskritist with dismay, when he calculates the mischievous influence which they must exercise on the study of Sanskrit philology'.34

He further remarks: '...that questions which ought to have been decided with the very utmost circumspection and which could not be decided without very laborious research have been trifled with in the Worterbuch in the most unwarranted manner.'35

Goldstucker was called upon by one of Boehtlingk's men not only to have respect for 'the editor of Panini...' (i.e. Boehtlingk) but even for the hidden reasons for foisting on the public his blunders of ever kind.36

We know that there were no other 'hidden reasons' than their Christian and Jewish bias which impelled them to suppress the correct information of the Hindu grammarians and underrate and vilify Aryan civilisation and culture, and at the same time to serve as tools of the British Government towards the same end.

Professor Kuhn, who 'gave his opinion on the Worterbuch' was 'an individual whose sole connection with Sanskrit studies consisted in handling Sanskrit books to those who could read them, a literary naught, wholly unknown, but assuming the airs of a quantity, because it had figures before it that prompted it on, a personage who, according to his own friends, was perfectly ignorant of Sanskrit'.37

Provoked by the unwarranted flouting of the authentic Hindu tradition, Professor Goldstucker was compelled to raise his 'feeble but solitary voice' against the coterie of mischievous propagandists masquerading under the garb of 'scientific' scholars. He concludes his laborious work with the following significant remarks: 'When I see that the most distinguished and most learned Hindu scholars and divines - the most valuable and sometimes the only source of all our knowledge of ancient India - are scorned in theory, mutilated in print, and, as consequence, set aside in the interpretation of Vaidik texts; ...when a clique of Sanskritists of this description vapours about giving us the sense of the Veda as it existed at the commencement of Hindu antiquity; ...when I consider that those whose words apparently derive weight and influence from the professional position they hold; ...then I hold that it would be a want of courage and a dereliction of duty, if I did not make a stand against these Saturnalia of Sanskrit Philology.38

VI. MONIER-WILLIAMS: who revealed the real object of the purpose of the establishment of the Boden chair, thus delivers himself: 'Brahmanism, therefore, must die out. In point of fact, false ideas on the most ordinary scientific subjects are so mixed up with its doctrines that the commonest education - the simplest lesson in geography - without the aid of Christianity must inevitably in the end sap its foundations.'39

'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.'40

Therefore we are justified in drawing the conclusion that his book, 'The Study of Sanskrit in Relation to Missionary work in India' (1861 A.D. London) was written with the sole object of promoting Christianity and ousting Hinduism. Inspite of this some of our Indian Sanskrit scholars call these Europeans scholars, unbiased students of Sanskrit literature, whose sole aim has been to acquire knowledge for its own sake.

Again, expressing his deep rooted veneration for the Bible, Monier-Williams writes: '...the Bible, though a true revelation.'41

VII. RUDOLF HOERNLE: Rudolf Hoernle was the Principal of Queen's College, Banaras, in Samvat 1926. At that time Swami Dayananda Saraswati, who later on founded the Arya Samaja happened to reach Banaras for the first time for the propagation of his mission. Dr. Hoernle met Swami Dayananda on several occasions. He wrote an article42 on Swamiji from which the following extract is noteworthy, because it reveals the real intention of many European scholars who take to study of Sanskrit and ancient scriptures of Bharatavarsha. Hoernle says: '...he (Dayananda) may possibly convince the Hindus that their modern Hinduism is altogether in the opposition to the Vedas... If once they became thoroughly convinced of this radical error, they will no doubt abandon Hinduism at once... They cannot go back to the Vedic state; that is dead and gone, and will never revive; something more or less new must follow. We hope it may be Christianity,...'43

VIII RICHARD GARBE: was a German Sanskritist, who edited many Sanskrit works. Besides these, in 1914 he wrote a book for the missionaries, entitled 'Indien und das Christentum'. His religious bias is quite evident in the book.

IX WINTERNITZ: The pride of the superiority of their own philosophy and religion and of the infallibility of their own conclusions has become so ingrained in the above-mentioned type of Western Sanskrit scholars that they feel no hesitation in giving expression to it brazen-facedly before the public. Reverent admiration of the philosophy of the Upanishads by Schopenhauer, often quoted by Bharatiya writers, ranked in the heart of the Europeans, and as late as A.D. 1925 Prof. Winternitz thought it incumbent on him to denounce the sincere and heartfelt views of Schopenhauer in the following words: 'Yet I believe, it is a wild exaggeration when Schopenhauer says that the teaching of the Upanishads represents 'the fruit of the highest human knowledge and wisdom' and contains 'almost superhuman conceptions the originators of which can hardly be regarded as mere mortals...'44

Not content with his invective against the Upanishads he had the audacity to deprecate even the greatness of the Vedas by saying: 'It is true, the authors of these hymns rise but extremely seldom to the exalted flights and deep fervour of, say, religious poetry of the Hebrews.'45

This vilification did not remain confined to Sanskrit scholars alone, but through them it percolated into the field of Science. Not knowing a word of the exact and multifarious scientific knowledge of the ancient Hindus, Sir William Cecil Dampier writes: 'Perhaps the paucity of Indian contribution to other sciences (the Philosophy and Medicine) may in part be due to the Hindu religion.46

The climax of hatred against Hinduism is seen in the highly mischievous and provoking remarks like the following even in popular literature:

(a) 'The curse of India is the Hindoo religion. More than two hundred million people believe a monkey mixture of mythology that is strangling the nation.' 'He who yearns for God in India soon loses his head as well as his heart.'47

(b) Prof. McKenzie, of Bombay finds the ethics of India defective, illogical and anti-social, lacking any philosophical foundation, nullified by abhorrent ideas of asceticism and ritual and altogether inferior to the 'higher spirituality' of Europe. He devotes most of his book 'Hindu Ethics' to upholding this thesis and comes to the triumphant conclusions that Hindu philosophical ideas, 'when logically applied leave no room for ethics'; and that they prevent the development of a strenuous moral life.'48

It is a matter of serious mistake on the part of a Government which is anxious to win the friendship and sympathy of Bharat to allow such heinous type of literature as Ripley's to be published. And again, it is a matter of regret that such books, whether published in India or abroad, are not taken notice of by our politicians and have not been banned by our National Government. Not only is our Government indifferent to the interdiction of such slanderous literature, but even our Universities not only prescribe but recommend for higher study books on Bharatiya history and culture written by foreign scholars who lose no opportunity of maligning our civilisation openly or in a very subtle way.

Remarks like those of McKenzie on the ethics of a country from whose Brahmanas the whole world learnt its morality and rules of conduct,49 are nothing short of blasphemy and national insult. The irony of the situation is that, instead of being condemned such persons receive recognition and honour from our educationists and political leaders.