Read the following passages and answer the questions based on each.
For many Europeans, India evoked a picture of Maharajas, snake charmers, and the rope-trick. This has lent both allure and romanticism to things which are Indian. But in the last couple of decades, with the increasing reference to India as an economically under-developed country, the image of India as a vital, pulsating land has begun to emerge from the fog of Maharajas, snake-charmers, and the rope-trick. The Maharajas are now fast disappearing and the rope-trick was at best a hallucination. Only the snake-charmer remains: generally an ill-fed man who risks his life to catch a. snake, remove its poisonous fangs, and make it sway to the movement of the gourd pipe and all this in the hope of the occasional coin to feed him, his family, and the snake.
In the imagination of Europe, India had always been the fabulous land of untold wealth and mystical happenings, with more than just a normal share of wise men. From the gold digging ants to the philosophers who lived naked in the forests, these were all part of the picture which the ancient Greeks had of the Indians and this image persisted throughout many centuries. It might be more charitable not to destroy it, but to preserve it would mean to perpetuation of a myth.
Wealth in India, as in every other ancient culture, was limited to the few. Mystical activities were also the preoccupation of but a handful of people. It is true, however, that acceptance of such activities was characteristic of the majority. Whereas in some other cultures the rope-trick would have been ascribed to the prompting of the devil and all reference to it suppressed, in India it was regarded with amused benevolence. The fundamental sanity of Indian civilisation has been due to an absence of Satan.
The association of India with wealth, magic, and wisdom remained current for many centuries. But this attitude began to change in the nineteenth century when Europe entered the modern age, and the lack of enthusiasm for Indian culture in certain circles became almost proportionate to the earlier over- enthusiasm. It was now discovered that India had none of the qualities which the new Europe admired. There was apparently no stress on the values of rational thought and individualism. India’s culture was a stagnant culture and was regarded with supreme disdain, an attitude perhaps best typified in Macaulay’s contempt for things Indian. The political institutions of India, visualised largely as the rule of the Maharajas and Sultans, were dismissed as despotic and totally unrepresentative of public opinion. And this, in an age of democratic revolutions, was about the worst of sins.
Yet, a contrary opinion emerged from amongst a small section of European scholars who had discovered India largely through its ancient philosophy and its literature in Sanskrit. This attitude deliberately stressed the non-modern, non- utilitarian aspects of Indian culture, where the existence of a continuity of religion of over three thousand years was acclaimed; and where it was believed that the Indian pattern of life was so concerned with metaphysics and the subtleties of religious belief that there was no time for the mundane things of life. German romanticism was the most vehement in its support of this image of India: a vehemence which was to do as much damage to India as Macaulay’s refection of Indian culture. India became the mystic land of many Europeans, where even the most ordinary actions were imbued with symbolism. India was the genesis of the spiritual East, and also, incidentally, the refuge of European intellectuals seeking escape from their own pattern of life. A dichotomy in values was maintained, Indian values being described as ‘spiritual’ and European values as ‘materialistic’, with little attempt at placing these supposedly spiritual values in the context of Indian society (which might have led to some rather disturbing results). This theme was taken up by a section of Indian thinkers during the last hundred years and became a consolation to the Indian intelligentsia for its inability to compete with the technical superiority of Britain.
The discovery of the Indian past, and its revelation to Europe in the eighteenth century, was largely the work of Jesuits in India and of Europeans employed by the East India Company, such as Sir William Jones and Charles Wilkins. Soon the numbers of those interested in studying the classical languages and literatures of India grew, and the early nineteenth century saw considerable achievements in linguistics, ethnography, and other fields of Indology. Scholars in Europe expressed a keen interest in this new field, as is evident from the number of persons who took to Indology and of none of whom at least mention must be made
----F Max Mueller
What vas the theme which the Indian intelligentsia stuck to as an act of self preservation against the western onslaught?
- Its ancient discoveries, in science corresponded with modern scientific discoveries.
- It was ethically and morally superior to western ethics and morals.
- The emphasis on spirituality by Indians as against emphasis on materialism by Westerns.
- Its superiority in art and architecture.