New Ideas in India During the Nineteenth Century eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 205 pages of information about New Ideas in India During the Nineteenth Century.
whether we analyse those deep national movements of social and moral reform which are being carried on by native reformers and patriots.”  All Indian current opinion is unanimous with the Parsee and the Bengali that a great movement is in progress.  The drift from the old moorings is a constant theme of discourse.  Let Sir Alfred Lyall, once head of the United Provinces, speak for the most competent European observers.  “There may be grounds for anticipating,” he says, “that a solid universal peace and the impetus given by Europe must together cause such rapid intellectual expansion that India will now be carried swiftly through phases which have occupied long stages in the lifetime of other nations."[4] In another essay, in a more positive mood, he writes of British responsibility for “great non-Christian populations [in India] whose religious ideas and institutions are being rapidly transformed by English law and morality."[5] In a third passage he even prophesies rashly:  “The end of simple paganism is not far distant in India.”

Sir George Bird wood has also had a long Indian career, and no one suspects him of pro-British bias—­rather the reverse.  Yet we find him writing to the Times in 1895 about one of the Indian provinces, as follows:  “The new Bengali language and literature,” he says, “are the direct products of our Law Courts, particularly the High Court at Calcutta, of Mission schools and newspaper presses and Education Departments, the agents which are everywhere, not in Bengal only, giving if not absolute unity yet community in diversity to the peoples of British India.”  The modern literature of Bengal, he goes on to say, is Christian in its teaching; if not the Christianity of creed and dogma, yet of the mind of Christ.

It is that transition in ideas, that alteration in social, political, and religious standpoint which we are going to trace and illustrate.



  “By the well where the bullocks go,
  Silent and blind and slow.”


[Sidenote:  Indian conservatism.]

[Sidenote:  Is mere inertia.]

But while acknowledging the potent influences at work, and accepting these representative utterances, it may yet be asked by the incredulous—­What of the inherent conservatism, the proverbial tenacity of India?  Is there really any perceptible and significant change to record as the outcome of the influences of the nineteenth century?  Well, the expression “Indian conservatism” is misleading.  There is no Indian conservatism in the sense of a philosophy of politics, of society, or of religion.  Indian conservatism—­what is it?  To some extent an idealising of the past, the golden age of great law-givers and philosophers and saints.  But very much more—­mere inertia and torpidity in mind and body, a reluctance to take stock of things,

Project Gutenberg
New Ideas in India During the Nineteenth Century from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook