In the 18th and early 19th centuries India was widely regarded as the cradle of civilization.
In 1775 Voltaire wrote “everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges”.
“We have shown how much we surpass the Indians in courage and wickedness, and how inferior to them we are in wisdom. Our European nations have mutually destroyed themselves in this land where we only go in search of money, while the first Greeks travelled to the same land only to instruct themselves.”
Voltaire, Fragments historiques sur l’Inde (first published Geneva, 1773), Oeuvres Completes (Paris : Hachette, 1893), Vol.29, p.386
“I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges, astronomy, astrology, metempsychosis, etc.”
Voltaire, Lettres sur l’origine des sciences et sur celle des peuples de l’Asie (first published Paris, 1777), letter of 15 December 1775.
Voltaire — some quotes about India
The Hindu Universe – Dharma Universe – hindunet.org
François-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778), known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher famous for his wit, his attacks on the established Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state.
In 1786 Sir William Jones declared Sanskrit was “more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either”.
Sir William Jones (28 September 1746 – 27 April 1794) was an Anglo-Welsh philologist, a puisne judge on the Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William in Bengal, and a scholar of ancient India, particularly known for his proposition of the existence of a relationship among European and Indian languages, which would later be known as Indo-European languages.
Jones is also known today for making and propagating the observation about genetic relation between the Indo-European languages.
In his Third Anniversary Discourse to the Asiatic Society (1786) he suggested that Sanskrit, Greek and Latin languages had a common root, and that indeed they may all be further related, in turn, to Gothic and the Celtic languages, as well as to Persian.
The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists; there is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and the Celtic, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanscrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same family.
In 1808 Friedrich Schlegel argued people from India were the founders of European civilization.
Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel (10 March 1772 – 12 January 1829), usually cited as Friedrich Schlegel, was a German poet, literary critic, philosopher, philologist and Indologist.
Schlegel was a pioneer in Indo-European studies, comparative linguistics, in what became known as Grimm’s law, and morphological typology.
In 1808 he published an epoch-making book, Über die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier (On the Language and Wisdom of India).
He argued that a people originating from India have been the founders of the first European civilizations, but also promoted his ideas about religion.
Schlegel compared Sanskrit with Latin, Greek, Persian, and German, and found many similarities in vocabulary and grammar.
However, academics have since saved Western Civilization from a fate worse than death by establishing Voltaire suffered from incurable Indomania whilst Friedrich Schlegel was riddled with inoperable Indophilia.
Indomania or Indophilia refer to the special interest India, Indians and Indian culture have generated in the Western world, more specifically the culture and civilisation of the Indian subcontinent, especially in Germany.
The initial British interest in governing their newly conquered territories awoke the interest in India, especially its culture and ancient history.
Having perfected their derangement diagnosis at a distance skills modern academics are making merry with their Greece is the Cradle of Western Civilization narrative.
Classical Greek culture, especially philosophy, had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire, which carried a version of it to many parts of the Mediterranean Basin and Europe.
For this reason Classical Greece is generally considered to be the seminal culture which provided the foundation of modern Western culture and is considered as the cradle of Western civilization.
Academia slowly embraced this colonial consensus as the British establishment became increasingly Indophobic during the 19th century.
Anti-Indian sentiment or Indophobia refers to hostility towards India, Indians, and Indian culture.
Historians noted that during the British Empire, “evangelical influence drove British policy down a path that tended to minimize and denigrate the accomplishments of Indian civilization and to position itself as the negation of the earlier British Indomania that was nourished by belief in Indian wisdom.”
Charles Grant, for example, believed it was Britain’s duty was to rule, exploit, civilise and Christianise the Indian subcontinent because it was heathen, corrupt and uncivilised.
In Grant’s highly influential “Observations on the …Asiatic subjects of Great Britain” (1796), he criticized the Orientalists for being too respectful to Indian culture and religion.
His work tried to determine the Hindus’ “true place in the moral scale” and he alleged that the Hindus are “a people exceedingly depraved”.
Grant believed that Great Britain’s duty was to civilise and Christianize the natives.
Charles Grant (1746-1823), was a British politician influential in Indian and domestic affairs who, motivated by his evangelical Christianity, championed the causes of social reform and Christian mission, particularly in India.
He served as Chairman of the British East India Company, and as a member of parliament (MP), and was an energetic member of the Clapham Sect.
Grant saw Indian society as not only heathen, but also as corrupt and uncivilised.
He was appalled by such native customs as exposing the sick, burning lepers, and sati.
He believed that Britain’s duty was not simply to expand its rule in India and exploit the subcontinent for its commercial interests, but to civilise and Christianise.
Thomas Macaulay believed “a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.”
Lord Macaulay, serving on the Supreme Council of India between 1834 and 1838, was instrumental in creating the foundations of bilingual colonial India.
He convinced the Governor-General to adopt English as the medium of instruction in higher education from the sixth year of schooling onwards, rather than Sanskrit or Arabic.
He claimed: “I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.”
He wrote that Arabic and Sanskrit works on medicine contain “medical doctrines which would disgrace an English Farrier – Astronomy, which would move laughter in girls at an English boarding school – History, abounding with kings thirty feet high reigns thirty thousand years long – and Geography made up of seas of treacle and seas of butter”.
Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay, PC (1800 – 1859) was a British historian and Whig politician.
He wrote extensively as an essayist and reviewer; his books on British history have been hailed as literary masterpieces.
In his view, Macaulay divided the world into civilised nations and barbarism, with Britain representing the high point of civilisation.
In his Minute on Indian Education of February 1835, he asserted, “It is, I believe, no exaggeration to say that 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 abridgement used at preparatory schools in England”.
Academia fully embraced this colonial consensus in support of the British Raj after the suppression of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
Stereotypes of Indians intensified during and after the Indian Rebellion of 1857, known as India’s First War of Independence to the Indians and as the Sepoy Mutiny to the British, when Indian sepoys rebelled against the British East India Company’s rule in India.
Allegations of war rape were used as propaganda by British colonialists in order to justify the colonization of India.
Despite the questionable authenticity of colonial accounts regarding the rebellion, the stereotype of the Indian “dark-skinned rapist” occurred frequently in English literature of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The idea of protecting British “female chastity” from the “lustful Indian male” had a significant influence on the British Raj’s policies outlawing miscegenation between the British and the Indians.
The Indian Rebellion of 1857 refers to a rebellion in India against the rule of the British East India Company, that ran from May 1857 to July 1859.
The rebellion led to the dissolution of the East India Company in 1858.
It also led the British to reorganise the army, the financial system and the administration in India.
The country was thereafter directly governed by the crown as the new British Raj.
This colonial consensus has survived for over 150 years and the Academics in Aspic have adopted a Anything But India strategy.
The Indo-Aryan migration theory proposes that the Indo-Aryans migrated from the Central Asian steppes into South Asia during the early part of the 2nd millennium BCE, bringing with them the Indo-Aryan languages.
Aspic is a dish in which ingredients are set into a gelatin made from a meat stock or consommé
Pork jelly is an aspic made from low-grade cuts of pig meat, such as trotters, containing a significant proportion of connective tissue.
The meat in pork pies is preserved using pork jelly.
The Academics in Aspic are also busy marginalising pesky Out of India theories.
In the context of India and Indian politics, the idea of Indigenous Aryans holds that the Indo-Aryan languages are “indigenous” to the Indian subcontinent.
It is a politicised theory, which includes arguments against the Indo-Aryan migration theory, and arguments to re-date the Vedas and the presence of the Vedic people in accordance with traditional, Vedic-Puranic datings.
The idea of “Indigenous Aryans” also implies a migration “Out of India” to Europe and east Asia.
This is contrary to the mainstream scholarly view, saying that the Indo-Aryan languages originated outside India.
It appears colonialism still rules the waves for the Academics in Aspic.