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.

And there is a higher influence at work dissolving and reconstituting the whole framework of ideas.  Upon the Indian mind, long lain fallow, modern civilisation and modern thought and the fellowship with the world are acting as the quickening rain and sunshine upon the fertile Indian soil.  That these and similar obtruding influences have had a transforming effect has already been alleged.  But far beyond, in promise at least, is the revived activity of the Indian mind itself.  If the age of Elizabeth be the outcome of the stirring of the minds of Englishmen through the discovery of a new world, the multiplication of books, the revival of learning, and the reformation of religion, how shall we measure the effect upon the acute Indian mind of the far more stimulating influences of this Indian Renaissance!  What comparison, for example, can be made between the stimulus of the new learning of the sixteenth century and the stimulus of the first introduction to a modern library?  It would be an exaggeration to say that the Indian mind is now showing all its power in response to the stimulus.  But it is everywhere active, and in some spheres, as in Religion and Philanthropy, in History, in Archaeology, in Law, in certain Natural Sciences, individuals have already done service to India and contributed to knowledge.  Glimpses of great regions, unexplored, in these domains are rousing students to secure for themselves a province.  “More copies of books of poetry, philosophy, law, and religion now issue every year from the press of British India than during any century of native rule."[8] Of course it would be misleading to ignore the fact that reaction as well as progress has its apostles among the awakened minds of India.  Much of the awakened mental activity, also, is spent—­much wasted—­on political writing and discussion, which is often uninformed by knowledge of present facts and of Indian history.  The general poverty also, and the so-called Western desire to “get on,” prevent many from becoming in any real sense students or thinkers or men of public spirit.

Indian conservatism, therefore, we contend, is not the insurmountable obstacle to new ideas that many superficially deem it to be.



  [Purusha, the One Spirit, embodied,]

  “Whom gods and holy men made their oblation. 
  With Purusha as victim, they performed
  A sacrifice.  When they divided him,
  How did they cut him up?  What was his mouth? 
  What were his arms?  And what, his thighs and feet? 
  The Brahman was his mouth; the kingly soldier
  Was made his arms; the husbandman, his thighs;
  The servile Sudra issued from his feet.”

    From the Rigveda, Mandala x. 90,
    translated by Sir M. MONIER WILLIAMS.

[Sidenote:  Caste represses individuality.]

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New Ideas in India During the Nineteenth Century from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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