Claiming India, by Jyoti Mohan

"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.

Re: Claiming India, by Jyoti Mohan

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Part 2 of 2

Conclusion

By the middle of the century, the image of India in French academia had shifted, but subtly. While Parisian academics continued to drive the trends in Indology and the search for Sanskrit manuscripts representing an ancient civilization continued, the older romantic view of India was now replaced by an incisive, scientific tone, which was sometimes critical of contemporary Indian foibles. Rather than writing lyrically about the literature of India, scholars now stressed factual, scientific knowledge in terms of grammatical and philological data. The move from romance to science also threw attention on other periods of Indian history, such as the Buddhist period, leading to critical comparisons of brahminic religion with Buddhism. No longer were brahmins seen as representative of Indic greatness. Brahmins continued to dominate French impressions of India but these were for other reasons. As I will investigate in the next chapter, the brahmins of India were considered great, not because of their literary and cultural accomplishments, but because they were considered to be ‘Aryan‘. According to Burnouf, the brahmins represented a great era of creativity and accomplishment for Indian civilization. As a group the brahmins did not necessarily warrant the highest praise, since they built a religion which relied on the blind credulity of the people they governed. ―…Because the Brahmans requested too much from easily credulous peoples to which they gave laws…'444 The importance of India and of the brahmins of India lay in their philosophy, laws, and literature. These, in turn, were representative of a greater human spirit which demanded the attention of scholars world-wide. According to Burnouf, ―It is India, with its philosophy and its myths, its literature and its laws, which we will study in its language. It is more than India, Gentlemen, it is a page of the origins of the world, the primitive history of the human spirit, that we will try to decipher together.'445

As the romance of India waned, the results of comparing a civilization which was as different from Europe as night to day led to the colonialising of knowledge; a process whereby Western standards meant that different was often seen as inferior. Indologists no longer focused on what the brahmins of India claimed to have done or written. Rather, they analyzed the language, which was ostensibly more reliable, since it did not contain the human element of error. Through an analysis of syntax and grammar, Indologists could now study not only the evolution of language (Sanskrit), but also account for changes within the language in terms of the ‘degeneration‘ of India.

In addition institutional support for Indology declined and it was distanced from popular Orientalism in France. Indologists thus turned to comparative studies of India with Asia, particularly the Buddhist comparison between India and Indo-China, which greatly aided the French colonial understanding of the latter. In this manner the colonial agenda was tied closely to the careers of Indologists.

Another manner in which Indology changed was through its espousal of the scientific method. Since the sciences had become so popular by mid-century in France, Indology needed to reconfigure itself in terms of physical science. The next stage in the image of India in France was thus spearheaded by anthropologists. With anthropology new notions of race and the importance of physical markers of progress, rather than older notions of cultural or linguistic markers redrew the image of India. The next chapter examines these changes.

Table 3: Distribution of articles on India by topic: Journal des Savants, 1817-99

Year / Total Number of Articles on India / Hinduism / Buddhism / Literature / Colonialism/ Ethnology


1817-29 / 52 / 25 / 5 / 33 / 14
1830-39 / 47 / 13 / 6 / 32 / 5
1840-49 / 23 / 6 / 5 / 17 / 5
1850-59 / 54 / 19 / 23 / 46 / 8
1860-69 / 53 / 36 / 5 / 38 / 7
1870-79 / 36 / 12 / 9 / 28 / 7
1880-89 / 49 / 26 / 3 / 27 / 15
1890-99 / 48 / 17 / 17 / 31 / 4


Table 4: Graph of articles on India by topic: Journal des Savants, 1817-99
Image


Table 5: Table of articles on India by topic: Journal Asiatique, 1822- 1902

Year / Total Articles on India / Buddhism / Hinduism / Islam / Philology / Indo-European ethnology


1822-27 / 48/5/20/12/6 / 0
1828-1835 / 38/6/12/5/9/1
1836-1842 / 32/6/11/5/9/2
1843-1852 / 27/4/14/6/4/0
1853-1862 / 37/1/10/2/22/0
1863-1872 / 16/7/3/0/0/0
1873-1882 / 23/19/0/1/0/0
1883-1892 / 43/26/11 / 2/6/0
1893-1902 / 8/4/0/1/0/0


Table 6: Graph of articles on India by topic: Journal Asiatique, 1822- 1902

Image


Table 7: Table of articles on India by topic: Revue des Deux Mondes, 1829- 1900

Period / Total / Academic / Hinduism / Buddhism / Islam / Sanskrit


1829-39 / 25/6/3/1/2/3 (12% )
1840-49 / 29/8/4 / - / 4/2 (6%)
1850-59 / 37/12/12 / - / 1/9 (24%)
1860-69 / 18/2/1/1 / - / 1 (5%)
1870-79 / 10 / - / - / - / - / -
1880-89 / 15/4/3/1 / - / 3 (20%)
1890-1900 / 23/9 / 7/5 / - / 3 (13%)

Image


_______________

Notes:

368 ―Pour moi, messieurs, je pense, à l‘honneur de l‘érudition, que les travaux des hommes savants qui ont dévoué leur vie à l‘étude de l‘Inde ne seront pas stériles pour l‘histoire ancienne de ce pays. J‘ai l‘espérance que la réunion de tant d‘efforts finira quelque jour par reconstruire la plus brillante et peut-être la plus riche histoire littéraire qu‘un peuple puisse offrir à la curiosité et à l‘admiration de l‘Europe.’ E. Burnouf, ―Discours sur la langue et la littérature sanscrite, prononcé au Collège de France’, Journal Asiatique, Series 2, Vol 11, Jan- Jun 1833: 264.
 
369 Georges Cuvier, Discours sur les révolutions de la surface du globe; et sur les changemens [sic] qu'elles ont produits dans le règne animal (Paris, 1825): 3. Quoted in Douglas T. McGetchin, ―Wilting Florists: The Turbulent Early Decades of the Société Asiatique, 1822-1860‖, Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 64, No. 4 (2003): 574.
 
370 Raymond Schwab, The Oriental Renaissance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984 ): 82.
 
371 Jennifer Pitts, A Turn to Empire: The Rise of Imperial Liberalism in Britain and France (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005):165-66.

372 ―la parenté commune des dialectes de l‘Europe…et qui présentait les analogies les plus frappantes avec le grec, le latin et les dialectes germaniques et slaves…c‘est le Sanskrit des Brahmanes…’ E. Burnouf, ―Discours sur la langue et la littérature sanscrite, prononcé au Collège de France’, Journal Asiatique, Series 2, Vol 11, (Jan- Jun 1833): 253-54. Burnouf also describes the philological similarity between Sanskrit and Avestic which led to the hypothesis of the Aryans or Indo-Europeans possibly hailing from north-west India.

373―Les liens de parenté qui l‘unissent aux idiomes de l‘Europe savante sont incontestables, et ce résultat, le plus singulier de ceux qu‘ait obtenus de nos jours la philologie, est aussi le plus évidemment démontré.’ Ibid: 254. 
 
374 Quoted in Raymond Schwab, The Oriental Renaissance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984): 134.
375 ―E. Burnouf se proposa un objet plus viril et plus sérieux; il voulut rechercher les traces de la filiation des peuples, les liens de parenté entre l‘Orient et l‘Occident, et les titres héréditaires des races européennes, conservés dans les analogies des signes de la pensée; démêler et promulguer les lois de décomposition des idiomes originaires dans les langues anciennes et dans les langues modernes, retrouver enfin par la grammaire les grandes époques de l‘histoire de la famille humaine.' J. Naudet, ‘Notice historique sur MM. Burnouf, père et fils‘, Mémoires de l‟Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres, Vol 20, no. 1, (SD): 309-310.
 
376 Some examples of such articles include E. Burnouf, ―Analyse et Extrait du Devi-Mahatmyam, fragment du Markandeya- Pourana', Journal Asiatique, Series 1, Vol 4, (Jan-Jun 1824); Auguste Schlégel, ―Observations sur la critique du Bhagavad-Gita, insérée dans le Journal Asiatique', JA, Series 1, Vol 9, (Jul- Dec 1826); and Baron G de Humboldt, ―Mémoire sur la séparation des mots dans les textes sanscrits', JA, Series 1, Vol 11, (Jul- Dec 1827).

377―L‘homme n‘est cependant pas oublié dans les autres productions de l‘esprit religieux de l‘Inde, et les grandes épopées (sic. Possibly Epics) qui retracent l‘histoire héroïque des Brahmanes et de la caste guerrière nous le montrent au milieu d‘une société qui allie aux raffinements de la civilisation la plus avancée (et) la naïveté des moeurs primitives.' E. Burnouf, ―Discours sur la langue et la littérature sanscrite, prononcé au Collège de France', Journal Asiatique, Series 2, Vol 11, (Jan- Jun 1833): 258.
 
378 Ibid: 266-67 and passim.
 
379―E. Burnouf éclaira ces questions d‘un jour nouveau, et, en déterminant les époques relatives du brahmanisme et du bouddhisme, il introduisit un élément de chronologie dans l‘histoire de l‘Inde, qui semble ignorer les divisions réelles du temps.' J. Naudet, ―Notice historique sur MM. Burnouf, père et fils', Mémoires de l‟Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres, Vol 20, no. 1, (SD): 321. Also see J Barthélemy Saint-Hilaire, Eugene Burnouf. Ses Travaux et sa Correspondence. (Paris, 1891): 44.
 
380 As Buddhism spread in Asia, the followers found themselves in disagreement about the practice of the religion. The basic divisions were the Northern or Mahayana school of Buddhism which became popular in China, Japan, Korea, Tibet and Mongolia, and Southern or Theravada Buddhism which became the norm in Southeast Asia- Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Laos. Tibetan Buddhism which is also practiced today and incorporates a great deal of Tantra, developed much later and largely independent of these two schools due to its geographical isolation.
 
381 After the death of Buddha, the followers of Buddhism split into two schools based disagreements about the level of austerity to be practiced. The teachings of the Buddha were split into two main traditions, or ‘vehicles‘, which were the Little or Hinayana and the Great or Mahayana. The lay followers of the Buddha tended to follow the former, which largely consisted of precepts meant for everyday living, while the monks followed the more rigorous Mahayana tradition.
 
382 Unfortunately the exigencies of colonial rule dictated that the myth of the Oriental Despot be perpetuated and this period of Indian history, together with Kautilya‘s Arthashastra, remained the preserve of Indic scholars. In India‘s nationalist tradition too, the unfortunate reliance on the myth of the ‘Golden Age‘ of Vedic Aryanism (see, for example, the revisionist history proposed by Uma Chakravarti, in her essay on ―Whatever Happened to the Vedic Dasi?', in Recasting Women. Essays in colonial history, ed. Kumkum Sangari and Sudesh Vaid (Delhi: Kali for Women, 1989) which raises the issue of the forgotten dasas and dasyus while Hindu Nationalists like Dayanand Saraswati of the Arya Samaj were propagating the myth of the Golden Age of Vedic Aryanism. What is significant here is that Indian nationalists built upon this creation of French Indologists to argue that Indians belonged to the Aryan race and therefore should free themselves from British colonial rule. I discuss this creation of Aryan India by French Indologists and anthropologists in detail in chapter 5) meant that Indians too neglected this period of Indian history until the reform of the historical syllabus in post- Independence India. In schools and colleges of modern India, the study of the post-Vedic and Buddhist period, as it is called, now stimulates a discussion on the continued achievements of India, in stark contrast to the colonial histories which portrayed the history of post- Vedic India as a dark age which continued until the colonial period. Unfortunately, this discussion, introduced in Independent India, comes too late to rectify the damage done both by colonial historians as well as Indian nationalist historians determined to create a ‘Golden Age‘ for India. In a sense this represents the ‘colonization of knowledge‘ wherein India‘s past was first interpreted and then appropriated by her colonial masters, and then taught to Indians themselves. The result of such a process was that most erstwhile colonies internalized the same discourses of ‘western progress‘ and ‘eastern decadence‘ that they were trying to resist, primarily through the education of a new westernized middle class. This middle class was responsible for the recycling of colonial knowledge back into their own societies.
 
383 Lee Irwin, ‘Western Esotericism, Eastern Spirituality, and the Global Future‘, Esoterica III (2001): 1-47
 
384 Raymond Schwab, The Oriental Renaissance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984): 111.
 
385 See Table 3. I examine the later popularity of Indian Buddhism in Chapter Six.
 
386 See Table 1.

387―Ainsi, s‘appuyant sur des documents nombreux et décisifs, l‘historien reconnaîtra l‘Inde antique du Mahâbharata et du Râmâyana dans l‘Inde telle qu‘elle nous apparaît au commencement du onzième siècle de notre ère, au temps de l‘invasion musulmane.' Ibid: 265.
 
388 ―La tolerance indienne est venue diminuer dans l‘Inde le fanatisme musulman. Là Sunnites et Chiites n‘ont point entre eux cette animosité qui divise les Turcs et les Persans; ils vivent ordinairement en bonne intelligence et prennent meme part, à peu d‘exceptions près, aux memes fêtes religieuses.' Garcin de Tassy, ―Mémoire sur quelques particularités de la religion musulmane dans l‘Inde, d‘après les ouvrages hindoustani', Nouveau Journal Asiatique, (Aug. 1831): 90.

389―Ce fut là le terme des guerres et des persécutions causées par l‘ambition et le zèle outrés des arabes pour leur religion: car l‘idolâtrie eut ses martyrs. Cette persecution ne cessa que peu à peu: la douceur du climat et le caractère des Indiens fit perdre, dans la suite, aux successeurs de ces Arabes et Moghols, l‘espèce de fanatisme que leurs prédécesseurs manifesté…' L. Langlès, ―Notice sur l‘Indoustan, tirée des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque nationale', Magasin Encyclopédique, Vol 16, (1795): 43- 44.
 
390 La religion des Hindous attire généralement l‘attention des savans qui s‘occupent de l‘Inde, et des voyageurs qui, après en avoir parcouru les belles provinces, communiquent au public les fruits de leurs recherches. Il n‘en est pas ainsi du culte musulman dans l‘Inde, qui fut néanmoins pendant plusieurs siècles la religion du Gouvernement d‘une grande partie de la presqu‘île en deçà du Gange soumise au sceptre du Mogol, et qui est encore aujourd‘hui professée par plusieurs souverains de cette vaste contrée, et par vingt millions d‘individus dont le nombre s‘accroît tous les jours. Les savans en ont peu parlé; aussi ignore-t-on généralement quel y est précisément l‘état de cette religion, quelles en sont les particularités. Ce manque de données positives se fait surtout sentir à ceux qui veulent lire les ouvrages hindoustani et persans écrits dans l‘Inde, et déchiffrer les inscriptions des monumens musulmans de cette belle partie du monde…Pour remplir en partie la lacune que je signale, j‘ai entrepris le travail que je soumets aujourd‘hui aux amis de l‘Inde…' Garcin de Tassy, ―Mémoire sur quelques particularités de la religion musulmane dans l‘Inde, d‘après les ouvrages hindoustani', Nouveau Journal Asiatique, (Aug. 1831): 81-82.
 
391 In fact the majority of Tassy‘s sources were works commissioned by British administrators. The major source material was complied using works by full-time employees of the Fort William College at Calcutta, which had been established as a training ground for young officers of the East India Company. Tassy‘s work came to be used primarily as a local guide by British administrators.

392―La littérature orientale a fait en France de progrès rapides depuis quelques années; les savants ne se bornent plus aux langues nécessaires pour la diplomatie et le commerce, tels que le persan, le turc ou l‘arabe; ils embrassent dans leurs études le sanskrit, le pali, le chinois, le géorgien…Les recherches auxquelles ils se livrent sur l‘histoire et la philologie de l‘Orient sont recueils dans le Journal Asiatique, le Journal des Savants et quelques autres écrits périodiques, qui peuvent donner une idée de l‘importance de leurs travaux.' ―Littérature orientale en France', Revue Brittanique, Vol 17, (Mar- Apr. 1828): 377.
 
393 Garcin de Tassy, ―Mémoire sur quelques particularités de la religion musulmane dans l‘Inde, d‘après les ouvrages hindoustani', 3 articles, Nouveau Journal Asiatique, (Aug. 1831).
 
394 In fact the efforts of French scholars who studied aspects of Indian life and culture which were relevant but not fashionable seem to have been met with a cold shoulder from their Parisian intelligentsia and a warm reception from the British who were only too glad to have help in their colonial enterprise in India. An example of this type is the copious use of the work of French academics‘ translations of works by Indian Islamic writers from Persian, Urdu, Dakkhani, and Arabic into French, by Elliot, The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period. Ed. John Dowson. (London: Trubner Company, 1867–1877). The series was greeted with great acclaim since it professed to present India‘s history as told by natives, untouched and uninterrupted by the British.
 
395 According to Lafont, a combination of the dominance of Arabic and Persian studies from 1699 onwards at the École des Jeunes de Langues as well as the ‘systematic nature‘ of the French was responsible for the lack of attention paid to Muslims in India, at least until Garcin de Tassy was appointed as the first to the hold the newly created Chair of Hindustani in 1828. However, this does not explain the lack of interest in Muslim India which continued throughout the nineteenth century. Jean-Marie Lafont, Indika. Essays in Indo- French Relations 1630- 1976 (New Delhi: Manohar, 2000): 43.

396 ―Je vais donc décrire, d‘après les ouvrages que je viens d‘indiquer, les fêtes propres à l‘Inde musulmane et aussi les solennités usitées en Perse ou même dans tout le monde musulman, mais que distinguent dans l‘Inde des cérémonies particulières. Je parlerai de quelques pratiques superstitieuses nées du contact des Musulmans avec les Hindous; je donnerai enfin la Biographie de plusieurs saints musulmans très-célèbres dans l‘Inde, mais inconnus hors de ses limites…Ce qui frappe surtout dans le culte extérieur des musulmans de l‘Inde, c‘est l‘altération qu‘il a subie pour prendre la physionomie indigène. Ce sont ces cérémonies accessoires et ces usages peu conformes ou contraires à l‘esprit du Coran, mais qui se sont établis insensiblement par le contact des Musulmans avec les Hindous…En effet le culte de Mahomet était trop simple pour un pays où domine une religion allégorique et idolâtre qui parle aux sens et à l‘imagination plutôt qu‘à l‘esprit et au coeur…' Garcin de Tassy, ―Mémoire sur quelques particularités de la religion musulmane dans l‘Inde, d‘après les ouvrages hindoustani', Nouveau Journal Asiatique, (Aug. 1831): 87-88.
 
397 Works like E. de Neveu, Les Khouans: Ordres religieux chez les musulmans de l'Algérie (Paris: A. Guyot, 1846) which was an early text, compared to the burst of French scholarship on Islam post- 1848 deal with the varieties of Islam. According to George Trumbull (NYU), there are only passim references to Indic Islam. Email communication.
 
398 From the Journal Asiatique, there were a number of articles which dealt with the links between India and Buddhism in the Far East, including several articles by British scholars. For example, M. B H Hodgson, ―Notice sur la langue, la littérature et la religion des Bouddhistes du Népal et du Bhot ou Tibet', 2 articles, Series 2, Vol 6, (Jul-Dec 1830); HH Wilson, ―Notice sur trois ouvrages bouddhiques reçus du Nepal', Series 2, Vol 7, (Jan-Jun 1831); M. Klaproth, ―Table chronologique des plus célèbres patriarches et des événemens remarquables de la religion bouddhique; rédigée en 1678 (traduite du Mongol), et commentée', Series 2, Vol 7, (Jan- Jun 1831); Théodore Pavie, ―Examen méthodique des faits qui concernent le Thien - tchu on l'Inde', 3 articles, Series 3, vol. 8, (Jul- Dec 1839).
 
399 Jean-Claude Bonnan, Jugemens du tribunal de la chaudrie de Pondichéry, 1766- 1817. 2 vols. (Pondicherry: Institut Français de Pondichéry, 1999). Bonnan has compiled the records of the Chaudrie or Choultry court of Pondichéry. Among the dozens of cases heard, the majority related to issues of privilege between different castes. In most cases, the court deferred to local custom, rather than a rigid adherence to French or even ‘Hindu‘ law. The Etat Civil, or Civil Registry of the French Comptoirs which recorded births in French India from 1824 (prior to this the Registry only contained records for the mixed race Topas, Hindu converts to Christianity and the French) also substantiates the fact that the majority of natives in French India were Hindus.
 
400 Douglas T. McGetchin, ―Wilting Florists: The Turbulent Early Decades of the Société Asiatique, 1822-1860', Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 64, No. 4 (2003):576.
 
400 Quoted in Raymond Schwab, The Oriental Renaissance (New York: Columbia University Press
 
401 Mohl, Vingt-sept Ans, 2 vols. (Paris: Reinwald, 1879-80), vol 1: 204. Cited in Douglas T. McGetchin, ―Wilting Florists: The Turbulent Early Decades of the Société Asiatique, 1822-1860', Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 64, No. 4 (2003): 577.
 
402 Ibid.
 
403 Edgar Quinet titled the chapter on India the ‘Oriental Renaissance‘ in his Genie des religions published in 1841. He compared the ancient Hindu texts to the Iliad and Odyssey and the role of early translators like Anquetil to the great poets and scholars of the West.
 
404 See Jules Michelet, Bible de l‟Humanité, (Paris, 1864). In this work Michelet incorporated a great deal of Indian thought and philosophy which he had spent the preceding decades in learning and understanding. His deep interest in Indic studies was a continuing vein which grew with his friendship with Burnouf as well as his explorations into natural history and law. In fact his fascination with Indian literature and thought as well as his increasing dependence on it to interpret his life can be seen in his later works, both historical and literary, which not only include his interpretation of Indian thought but also his indebtedness to it.
 
405 Raymond Schwab, The Oriental Renaissance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984). Also see Richard Anderson, India in romantic and Parnassian French poetry (New Haven, 1950), Jean Biès, Littérature française et pensée hindoue des origines à 1950. (Paris: C. Klincksieck), 1973. Reprint 1992 and Jean Lahor, L‟Influence de la pensée religieuse indienne dans le romanticisme et le Parnasse (Paris: AG Nizet), 1962.
 
406 Ibid: 104
 
407 Ibid: 107
 
408 Quoted in ibid: 461.
 
409 Felix Lacôte, "L'Indianisme," Le Livre du Centenaire (1822-1922), ed. Société Asiatique (Paris, 1922): 229-31. Quoted in Douglas T. McGetchin, ―Wilting Florists: The Turbulent Early Decades of the Société Asiatique, 1822-1860', Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 64, No. 4 (2003):579.
 
410 Felix Lacôte, "L'Indianisme," Le Livre du Centenaire (1822-1922), ed. Société Asiatique (Paris, 1922): 232. Quoted in McGetchin: 579.
 
411 Felix Lacôte, "L'Indianisme," Le Livre du Centenaire (1822-1922), ed. Société Asiatique (Paris, 1922): 231. Quoted in McGetchin: 580.
 
412 Raymond Schwab, La Renaissance orientale. (Paris: Payot, 1950): 100.
 
413 Ibid.
 
414 See Table 5.
 
415 Raymond Schwab, La Renaissance orientale. (Paris: Payot, 1950): 101.
 
416 Ibid.: 100-101.
 
417 See Romila Thapar, Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1960) and Akira Hirakawa and Paul Groner, A History of Indian Buddhism: From Sakyamuni to Early Mahayana (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1996).
 
418 Penny Edwards, ―Taj Angkor: Enshrining l‟Inde in le Cambodge” Paper presented at ‘Indochina‘, India and France: Cultural Representations, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle, England, September 5-7 2003): 11.
 
419 Tomoko Masuzawa, The Invention of World Religions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005): 125.
 
420 Ibid.
 
421 Cited in ibid: 125-26.
 
422 Ibid: 126.
 
423 Ibid.
 
424 Penny Edwards, ―Taj Angkor: Enshrining l‟Inde in le Cambodge” Paper presented at ‘Indochina‘, India and France: Cultural Representations, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle, England, September 5-7 2003): 12. Also, see Donald Lopez, Curators of the Buddha: the Study of Buddhism under Colonialism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995)

425― Descendue des hauts plateaux de l‘Asie, la race Aryenne a peuplé tout l‘Occident, conquis l‘Inde et la Perse, agi par celle-ci sur les Sémites, et enfin, par l‘Inde, imprimé son cachet, à tout l‘Extrême- Orient. Aujourd‘hui la civilisation Aryenne remonte vers son berceau; les slaves, les Anglais, les Français, inséré chaque jour plus étroitement dans la Haute-Asie et l‘empire Chinois; il est donc pour nous le plus haut intérêt de connaître le résultat actuel de l‘action et de l‘influence sur ces countrées des religions issues des Aryens de l‘Inde; et la clef de cette influence se trouve surtout dans la vie du Bouddha Çâkyamouni.' Ibid: 23.
 
426 Felix Lacôte, ―L‘Indianisme', Société Asiatique: Livre du centenaire, (Paris: La Société Asiatique, 1922) : 245- 46.
 
427 In fact the EFEO was initially proposed as a society to study Indian history, to be called the History Society of Chandernagore. The importance of Indo-China in French colonial history led to the reconfiguring of the Society as an institution which would study both India and Indo-China.
 
428― …il exerça une influence prépondérante sur les relations extérieures de l‘orientalisme français et sur nos enterprises scientifiques en Asia' L. Finot, ‘Necrologie. Émile Sénart', Bulletin de l‟École Française d‟Extrême Orient, 1928, Vol. 28 : 343.
 
429 ―Mais surtout en Indochine que s‘est fait sentir l‘heureuse influence de M. Sénart. Il s‘était jadis intéressé à la mission Aymonier et au déchiffrement des inscriptions sanskrites rapportées par ce voyageur. Lorsque M. Doumer résolu de créer l‘Ecole Français d‘Extrême-Orient, M. Sénart fut le premier à qui il s‘ouvrit de son dessin et qui eut, avec ses amis Auguste Barth et Michel Bréal, la charge de le réaliser.' L. Finot, ‘Necrologie. Émile Sénart', Bulletin de l‟École Française d‟Extrême Orient, 1928, Vol. 28: 344-45.
 
430 Penny Edwards, ―Taj Angkor: Enshrining l‟Inde in le Cambodge” Paper presented at ‘Indochina‘, India and France: Cultural Representations, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle, England, September 5-7 2003): 5. Cited from Paul Doumer, L‘Indochine française (Paris: Librairie Vuibert, 1930) : 270-74.
 
431 Ibid: 6.
 
432 Jyoti Mohan ―'I thought India was French': The images of India at the Exposition Universelle, Paris 1931', Francophone Postcolonial Studies, 3.1 (Spring/Summer 2005). Also see Edwards.
 
433 See Table 4.
 
434 Louis Delaporte, ‘Rapport fait au Ministre de la Marine et des colonies et au minister de l‘Instruction Publique, des cultes et des beaux arts, par M. Louis Delaporte, sur la mission scientifique aux ruines des monuments Khmers des l‘ancien Cambodge', Journel Officiel de la republique Française, vol 6, no. 90.
 
435 Penny Edwards, ―Taj Angkor: Enshrining l‟Inde in le Cambodge” Paper presented at ‘Indochina‘, India and France: Cultural Representations, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle, England, September 5-7 2003): 5. Cited from Louis Delaporte, Voyage au Cambodge: L‟Architecture Khmer (Paris: Librairie ch. Delagrave, 1880) : 159, 337-38.
 
436 Romila Thapar, The Past and Prejudice (New Delhi, 1975): 1.
 
437 Ranajit Guha, Dominance Without Hegemony. History and power in Colonial India (Cambridge, Mass, 1997): 3.
 
438 Ibid: 79.
 
439 Gyan Pandey, The Construction of Communalism in Colonial North India (Delhi, 1990).
 
440 Mill has traditionally been portrayed as a classic utilitarian by historians like Eric Stokes, The English utilitarians and India (Michigan: Clarendon Press, 1959), Gautam Chakravarty, The Indian Mutiny and the British Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005), and Uday Singh Mehta, Liberalism and empire: a study in nineteenth-century British liberal thought (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999). However scholars like Jennifer Pitts, A Turn to Empire: The Rise of Imperial Liberalism in Britain and France (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005) have expressed their doubt that Mill was guided strictly by Utilitarian ethics in his portrayal of India, positing instead that he was motivated more by imperial ambition for Britain.
 
441 Ranajit Guha, Dominance Without Hegemony. History and power in Colonial India (Cambridge, Mass, 1997): 160-161.
 
442 Ibid: 163.
 
443 Retrieving these histories has been a modern phenomenon. See Gyan Prakash, Bonded Histories: Genealogies of Labor Servitude in Colonial India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).
 
444―…Parce-que les Brahmanes avaient trop demandé à la crédulité facile des peoples auxquels ils ont donné des lois…' …' E. Burnouf, ―Discours sur la langue et la littérature sanscrite, prononcé au Collège de France', Journal Asiatique, Series 2, Vol 11, (Jan- Jun 1833): 263-64. 445―C‘est l‘Inde, avec sa philosophie et ses mythes, sa littérature et ses lois, que nous étudierons dans sa langue. C‘est plus que l‘Inde, messieurs, c‘est une page des origines du monde, de l‘histoire primitive de l‘esprit humain, que nous essaierons de déchiffrer ensemble.' Ibid: 272.
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Re: Claiming India, by Jyoti Mohan

Postby admin » Sat Oct 31, 2020 9:29 am

Part 1 of 2

Chapter 5: The Glory of Ancient India Stems from her Aryan Blood: The development of ‘scientific Anthropology‘ in relation to India

A Dr. Paterson of Calcutta, having examined the skulls of a number of Hindus concluded that the skull of an average Hindu man aged thirty years was comparable to the skull of a fifteen year old European boy. Therefore, if one believes that the volume of the skull is an indicator of the intelligence of the individual, it not impossible to understand why a mere 30, 000 Europeans have successfully conquered this huge nation of 40 million Hindus. 446

The problem was that colonialism was founded on a basic contradiction: on the one side was a rhetoric proclaiming that the colonized possessed the capacity to become civilized, while on the other was a political and economic agenda that depended on exclusiveness and the myth of racial purity.447


By the middle of the nineteenth century the rapidly growing enterprise of imperialism had established its position in the intellectual lives of European nations. European colonialists now justified their dominance and continued exploitation of colonies in terms of their natural superiority and their duty as advanced civilizations to civilize other, lesser cultures. The merging of this need to justify imperialism with the emerging discipline of anthropology inevitably led to the use of ‘scientific data‘ in the form of anthropometric measurements to prove conclusively that colonies were peopled by inferior races who needed the ‘benevolent‘ rule of their colonial masters. This chapter follows the development of India as a specific racial entity448 from the middle of the nineteenth century, as reflected in the work of Louis Rousselet, Arthur Gobineau, Paul Topinard, and Gustave le Bon. In fact, the decline in the number of articles on Indian history and philology in the mid-nineteenth century was matched by an increase in the number of anthropological articles on India.449

The first section of this chapter provides the context for nineteenth-century anthropological writings about India. The second section looks at the opinion of Paul Topinard regarding the position of India in a hierarchy of men, followed by sections on Gobineau, Rousselet and Le Bon. Thus the study of anthropology is contextualized in the example of India.

The Study of Man

The scientific study of other people in the early part of the nineteenth century was undertaken by men who called themselves ethnologists. The work consisted mostly of ‘natural histories‘ of man, which became the examination of non- European peoples.450 Various models of human development emerged out of these ethnological accounts, some privileging the notion of development through association with ‘superior‘ cultures and others arguing that levels of development were determined by heredity.451 The most common division between ethnologists was between the monogenists who believed that all humans had a common ancestry and therefore could achieve the same level of civilization452 and the polygenists who insisted that different human races developed independently, based on intrinsic genetic factors.453 According to the polygenists the level of development of a culture, defined in terms of literary, social, and cultural accomplishment, reflected the capacity of each race.

Accounts of India during this time were primarily ethnological. In fact, many of the members of the Société Ethnologique established in 1831 and devoted to the subjective study of races and peoples, were Indologists like Garcin de Tassy and Burnouf.454 Reflecting the general intellectual trend to become more scientific French ethnology gave way to ethnography by the middle of the century, where authors interspersed narratives of festivals and cultural observations with sweeping statements as to the level of ‘civilization‘. The works examined in this chapter- Gustave le Bon‘s Les Civilisations de l‟Inde, and Louis Rousselet‘s L‟Inde des Rajahs -- belong in this category. In the case of India these ethnographic accounts placed the various races on a hierarchical ladder which was based on parallel anthropological455 studies which focused on categorizing human races on a civilizational and developmental hierarchy based on race.456

By the mid-century, the polygenist theory was driving anthropological studies. The notion that race (defined in physiological rather than linguistic or cultural terms) was a determining factor in the capacity of people to progress was established.457 Studies on race provided validation to the colonial civilizing mission since the white race was now indubitably superior to other races. As Martin Staum points out, the collection and classification of species and objects in the nineteenth century was not an inherent impulse of the mind, but often directed toward a specific purpose.458 For example, the Société Géographique de Paris, founded in 1821, was primarily interested in seeking knowledge during its early years. In 1860, the society had three hundred members. By 1881 the number had swelled to 2000 and the proliferation of a number of provincial geographical societies by 1881 added 9500 new members. This period of interest in overseas territories also coincided with a growing nationalism in Europe, particularly in France. By 1871 the geographical society‘s aim had shifted to promote the civilizing mission, an agenda that was emphasized in reports by the secretaries of the various Geographical societies during the 1870‘s.459 Maxwell also points to the fact that between the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle and the next exhibition in 1889, the attention of the Parisian academy had shifted towards anthropology. Correspondingly, the focus on the exhibitions was on ‘live‘ displays of people and cultures, rather than displays of the Orient.460

India first caught the attention of anthropologists because she had a diverse racial composition. Nearly every pure and mixed race was represented in the larger sub-continent. Therefore comparisons between races and studies in relative intelligence, ability, and civilization of races were made easy in India since there were so many races existing side by side. Unlike other comparisons of races where climate, language and even history were variables and therefore could be cited as the cause of difference, racial hierarchy could clearly be proved by studying India, since Aryans, Mongoloids, Dravidians and Negrito races had developed their different cultures and civilizations within the same climatic and historical conditions. By studying India, anthropologists tried to prove that the crucial element in determining the physical and intellectual ability of people was not their history or climate but their racial make-up.

Before long, the practice of making qualitative statements about ‘superior‘ and ‘inferior‘ races had crept into anthropology. The rise of anthropology coincided with the mid-century imperialistic expansion which sought to legitimize colonization as the effort by superior people to civilize inferiors. Racial hierarchies now validated colonial beliefs that Europeans- particularly the Caucasian race which had descended from the Indo-European or Aryan race- was superior to the Asian, African, Aboriginal, and Native American races whom they had conquered. This was the era of ‘scientific racism‘. The fact is that these uses for race were a nineteenth century development and one that dovetailed neatly with the era of Imperialism. The studies on race and the subsequent creation of hierarchies were artificial constructs, meant to support specific agenda.461 The sheer extent of academic imagination in these hierarchies is easily demonstrated in the case of India. Although India was frequently cited in studies on race in the nineteenth century the categories and their characteristics continually shifted to correspond to prevailing colonial agenda.

Early Indologists and travelers had remarked that the sheer diversity of India made it nearly impossible to demarcate its inhabitants into clear and distinct categories, whether of race or other descriptors. They preferred to focus on linguistic and historical similarities which were clearer than physiological traits in a country which was marked by racial intermixing for centuries. For example, in an article published in the Nouveau Journal Asiatique in 1828 (before the craze with racial hierarchies took center stage) Burnouf examined the context of the usage of the words Drâvida and Tamil.462 ―On [of] thirty words taken among the principal geographical names of the country that the Hindus call Drâvida desha, seventeen were found to belong to the dialect tamoul [Tamil], and nine to Sanskrit; four only are of a doubtful origin.' 463 In a total of 30 references to the word ‘Drâvida‘ (from ancient texts like Ptolemy‘s Geography to modern texts like Buchanan‘s account of India464 and the accounts of missionaries in the Lettres Édifiantes, including both indigenous texts and European accounts) Burnouf concluded that 17 of the 30 references were to a linguistic region -- Drâvida, or the Tamil speaking people. Nine references defined Drâvida as Sanskrit speaking people, where the Drâvida people were Aryan brahmins who had migrated to the Southern peninsula and spoke Sanskrit as opposed to the locals who were lower castes and spoke Tamil.465 The brahmins were Aryan invaders from the North and therefore brought their own language, Sanskrit, with them.466 This usage of Drâvida did not refer to a race since the Southern brahmins were also presumably Aryans, but rather distinguished the Southern brahmins as a sub-branch of the Indo- Aryans, and called Drâvida due to their geographical location. The indigenous people, who were dark skinned and spoke a different language, Tamil, were conquered by the Aryans and incorporated into the Aryan social hierarchy as Sudras. They were called ‘Tamiler‟. ―It is that the caste of Shoûdras, or the last of all in the brahmanic hierarchy, constitutes the primitive population of the southernmost end of the peninsula; it is that it is them who, strictly speaking, are called Tamiler, in opposition to the Drâvida Brahmans.' 467 The last four of the references Burnouf examined were of doubtful origin.

In other references to the word Drâvida Burnouf noted the various geographical meanings the term had come to represent, including the peninsula of India south of the Vindhya Mountains and the Coromandel coast- references which became popular by the time of the Muslim invasion and early European penetration.468 Burnouf also noted the changing boundaries of the areas comprising the ‘Drâvida‟ region, including Canara, Karnataka, Malabar, and the Coromandel Coast; and the shifting definitions of these areas as topographic sub-divisions, linguistic and political boundaries over the course of several centuries.469 The important thing to note was that nowhere did ‘Drâvida‘ or even ‘Tamil‘ equate to a racial definition. Burnouf‘s lithographs of ‘Indian types‘ also similarly stressed the difference in clothing styles far more than physical differences (see Fig. 1). At least until the 1840‘s India was not a part of racial hierarchies. Statements about the achievements of India or the lack of thereof, were based on Western interpretations of language and literature rather than assumptions about the ‘racial capabilities and limitations‘ inherent in the races of India. By the middle of the nineteenth century this focus on literature and philology changed to a specific focus on the races of India and theories which explained the past and present in India as a direct result of racial tendencies and capabilities.

Topinard and the anthropometric method.

Despite the lack of evidence for constructing racial categories in India, by 1859 French anthropologists had shifted to studying races on comparative- anatomical lines and Burnouf‘s philological approach was left behind as relic of an older, less accurate method of studying races. Paul Broca, who founded the Société d'Anthropologie de Paris in 1859, was the proponent of a new method of studying man called ‘scientific anthropology‘. Broca was one of the pioneers of the new method of anthropometric measurement as a means to document the differences between races. Broca outlined his method and theory in several articles published in the Bulletin de la Société de l‟Anthropologie.470 While Broca was clear that the results of his method could not be used to argue for a racial hierarchy, his students- notably Paul Topinard and Gustave le Bon- were convinced that the results of the new anthropometry could explain why Europe was superior to the rest of the world.471 The result of this new method was that anthropologists now began looking for ‘specimens‘ which would measure up to their preconceived categories of race rather than taking a random sample of the population and allowing the data to dictate the result. Paul Topinard, for example, argued that the development of various parts of the brain was determined by race, and that an examination of cranial development and cultural 'progress' could define the intellectual and mental capabilities of each race. 472 He conducted a survey of cranial measurements of different races and concluded the African Negroes had a brain capacity of 1400 cc, the Negroes of Oceania a brain of 1450, the yellow races a brain of 1500 and the whites a brain of 1550,473 thus suggesting the existence of a racial hierarchy in intellect and development.474 He further elaborated on this racial hierarchy by defining civilizational development in terms of religious development (from fetishism to animism to polytheism and then to monotheism), social organization (savage hordes to tribes to clans and then classes), and achievements (such as architectural ruins or monuments). Within these parameters of development the blacks were at the lowest level. According to Topinard, ‘the characteristic of all the black races is the inaptitude to rise by their own efforts.‘475 Next in the racial hierarchy were the yellow races which were capable of achievement of varying levels. These races were capable of attaining average civilizational development like the Dravidians of India, or even relatively high development like the Aztecs and Peruvians of South America and the Chinese. According to Topinard, ‘The characteristic of the yellow races is a certain quickness in apprehending the means of satisfying the immediate needs of life and of rendering existence agreeable, but they have little initiative, do not know how to raise themselves to higher planes and seem prone to immobilization.‘476 The white races were the highest in terms of civilizational development and included the culture of the Vedic Aryans of India. He summed up the white races thus: ‘The characteristics of the white races are a remarkable aptitude for developing by their own independent efforts or for assimilating the empirical results of others, their ever-increasing need of comfort, their vigorous and comprehensive cerebral activity and their spirit of initiative…‘477 Topinard further observed that all races might progress if favored by circumstances of location (topographical and climactic serendipity, the presence of abundant food as well the freedom from invasion and the presence of peaceful and advanced neighbors to emulate), brilliant leaders who spurred progress and needs which provided the stimulus for material and intellectual development. Nevertheless all races did not possess the same aptitude or initiative to progress and Topinard noted that leaders were lacking among the blacks, scarce among the yellow races and common in the white races.478

Topinard‘s application of racial principles to define progress was clear in the Indian context in his work, L'Anthropologie. In this work, he defined the Hindu type as best represented by the Rajputs and most of all by the brahmins of Mathura, Thaneswar, and Banaras. According to him, ―The Hindu type is not any more represented in the Indies [than] by Radjpouts and especially by the most venerated Brahmans of Mattra, Bénarès and Tanessar in Hindoustan.'479 In his work on Science and Faith480 he described the Aryans in India as dividing society into four classes according to the Code of Manu. These were the brahmins or priests, the kshatriyas or warriors, the vaiçyas or husbandmen, merchants and artisans, and the shudras or servants. The aim in this classification was to prevent a mingling of the conquering Aryans with the Dravidians and consequently the absorption of the former into the lower ranks of Vedic society. The first caste was composed of pure Aryans, the second of the Aryans and Dravidians who had intermixed and the other two of Dravidians. The black aborigines were excluded from the four-fold classification, which were mentioned in the Vedic texts, and consequently bore the name of Pariahs, a term subsequently invented only later.481 Afterwards the castes continued to be modified and numerous intermediary castes were created within each caste.482 Topinard quoted the Census of 1881 as numbering the total number of castes in India as two thousand, five hundred.483

According to Topinard, castes in themselves were not an evil. But in the case of closed castes, as were found in India and Egypt, where the caste or corporation became the social unit/ entity and submerged the individual entity within the corporate identity, there could be no sense of liberty. Consequently such people became submissive and social development suffered. The antagonism between class and individual was central to the continued development of a society.484 It was this aspect of development or the lack of development which had played a role in the decline of Indian civilization.

The change between the race-neutral study of Burnouf and the racial context of Topinard is clearly demonstrated in the latter‘s use of Rousselet. Louis Rousselet had traveled in India from 1863 to 1868 and written extensively of his travels and experiences. His essays were published in Revue d'Anthropologie and in La Tour du Monde. Rousselet collected all his essays and published them as L;Inde des Rajahs. Voyage dans l'Inde centrale et dans les présidences de Bombay et du Bengale (Paris: Hachette, 1875). Rousselet was highly regarded in anthropological circles485 and many leading anthropologists, including Topinard, used his data on India in their works.

Among the essays that he contributed, Rousselet‘s anthropological writings on the races of India were published in the Revue d‟Anthropologie. His writing focused primarily on the racial composition of the various tribes and peoples of India much in the same style as other ethnographic writings of the time. Rousselet described the different tribes that he came across in terms of height, cranial measurements, and mental and cultural achievements. In his detailed descriptions of the different tribes and castes of India, Rousselet did categorize them racially as Aryan, Turanian and Dravidian, as well as combinations of these. His writings contained none of the critical descriptions of ‘inferior‘ and ‘superior‘, ‘inability‘ of certain races to progress beyond a racially determined level that Topinard and other anthropologists stated clearly. Although he used the accepted anthropological language of the time to describe his findings, he eschewed ranking the various peoples of India. Even though other anthropologists were experimenting with various methods of depicting the differences in racial characteristics, Rousselet‘s lithographs show a clear and consistent use of the same type of features for all the different people he encounters in the Indian subcontinent (see Figs. 2- 5). The images he provides in his articles and his book are more ample and attractive than the text, which often becomes a compilation of his travels. The title of his articles and his book which prominently feature the ‘races‘ of India, along with the images he provides thus form a powerful image of India. The difference between the work of Rousselet on races of India and that of other anthropologists like Topinard is in the latter‘s creation of racial hierarchies.

Rousselet‘s work was used by many subsequent authorities on anthropology, including Topinard, although the former‘s neutral statements about race were used to define a racial hierarchy by the latter. Topinard cited Rousselet as an important source for his information about India and the racial composition of India in his work on L‟Anthropologie (Paris, 1876). Yet while Rousselet‘s articles on the Central Indian tribes were full of ethnographic descriptions, Topinard appropriated these descriptions to a racial hierarchy of India, citing the tribes of Rousselet‘s descriptions as examples of lower races in India. Based on his understanding of Rousselet, Topinard divided the population of South India into black, Mongol, and Aryan.486 According to Topinard, the blacks in India were the tribal groups such as the ―Bhils, Mahars, Gonds, and Khonds who possessed a primitive character, black color, and short stature.'487 Contrasted to this was Rousselet original description: ―[The] Bhils are in general of a medium height; though missing the elegant shapes of the Aryan Hindu, they are much more robust; their force and their agility are sometimes surprising.'488 The Mongol race, which belonged primarily to Central Asia was also found in the North East [Assam for example] and North West of India, as well as intermixed with the indigenous Dravidian population of the Tamils and Jats.489 The third and most recent race in India was also the most important in India, because of their numbers as well as their quality, was the Aryan race.490 He described the Aryans as ―The Brahmans of the banks of Ganga, says Mr. Rousselet, have the high, developed front [forehead], the oval face, the perfectly horizontal eyes, the nose projecting, hooked and slightly thick at the end, but framed by delicate nostrils. They are white, but are more or less bronzed by the sun of these climates. Their black hair appears abundant.' 491 Elsewhere in the work, Topinard notes the presence of blue-eyed, ‘white‘ types in India, as described by Rousselet, Prichard, Davy and Frasier. ―One finds [them] in India, notably among the Kattees, who sometimes have ―clear hair [blonde?] and blue eyes' [Prichard and L. Rousselet]…The Bisahuris of Rampoor, not far from the sources of the Ganges, often have ―very fair skin, though burned by the sun, blue eyes, curly hair and beards of clear or red color' [Frasier].' 492

In addition Topinard divided the Negroids in India into the ―true Negroid which could be traced back to mentions in the Mahabharata as inhabiting the South and were represented by the Andaman tribes'493, and the Australian type represented by the Bhils, Gonds, Khonds, Mahars, Varalis, Mundas, Yanadis and the Maravars of the Coromandel coast, Todas of Nilgiri, Kurumbas, Irulas and other tribes of the Ghats and Deccan.494 Topinard even noted the existence of the bust of a black of the Tasmanian type born in Pondicherry, examined in 1875 at the Anthropological laboratory and present in the collection of Paul Broca.495 The hierarchical racial development which was absent in Rousselet was clear in Topinard‘s work. While Rousselet preferred to describe the customs of many tribes as ‘primitive‘ and used ‘inferior‘ very sparingly, Topinard‘s description of various human races was almost exclusively in terms of ‘superior‘ and ‘inferior‘. Broca and Topinard were only beginning to apply theories of race to the relative development of people. Most of their work was suggestive at best, especially in the context of India. Moreover they were unclear about how to define race in India. A select group of intellectuals transformed race into a pernicious weapon in the aid of colonialism. The most famous of these was Arthur de Gobineau.

Gobineau and Race

Among the most visible works on racial theory in the nineteenth century was the Comte de Gobineau's Essai sur l'inégalité des races humaines. Gobineau's ideas influenced the German school of anthropology more than it did the French,496 but his ideas were certainly a window into the literary and scholastic treatment of France's various colonies, being cited by many major scholars of the day, like Ernest Renan as well as the outspoken anti-semite, Edouard Drumont. Gobineau argued that political systems, governments, and regimes did not determine the quality of a civilization. Nor did conquest, since this was a superficial imposition, and did not change any racial characteristics or the accident of geography. Defining ‘civilization‘ as ‘a state of relative stability, where the mass of men try to satisfy their wants by peaceful means, and are refined in their conduct and intelligence‘,497 all civilizations were not equal, and this was the central quest of his work- to discover why, given the existence of these conditions in different civilizations, there was still a wide variance in the quality of civilizations.

He concluded that the only variable being race, there was a fundamental intellectual and moral capacity for each race that determined civilizational development and which only miscegenation could alter. This capacity was different and therefore measurable on a scale of superior to inferior for all human races. This scale, based on cranial measurement and moral and material achievement of races in their purest form, proceeded with the whites declining to the yellow race and finally the blacks at the bottom. Translated to the Indian case, Gobineau described the Hindus as having reached great heights of intellectual and metaphysical achievement but fundamentally lacking in material desire and therefore material accomplishment.498 Moreover, this achievement had been accomplished in the early stage of the development of Hindu civilization, when the Aryan race was at its purest. Gobineau argued that a civilization was strongest when the blood or race of its founders was purest, and that degeneration occurred with inter-racial unions and the weakening of inherent racial qualities.

According to him,

The world of art and great literature that comes from the mixture of blood, the improvement and ennoblement of inferior races- all these are wonders…Unfortunately, the great have been lowered by the same process; and this is an evil which nothing can balance or repair… the Brahmans of primitive India…give us a higher and more brilliant idea of humanity, and were more active, intelligent and trusty…than the peoples, hybrid a hundred times over, of the present day. 499


To Gobineau race mixing was the cause for the downfall of Indian civilization. When the conquering Aryans decided to mix with the indigenous blacks, they allowed the many characteristics of the blacks, including their lack of judgment and reason to cloud the naturally intelligent Aryan mentality. 500 In the present day and despite its noble origins Brahminism was in complete decline and decadence, riddled with absurd superstitions, theological complications and a lack of great men to guide it. This was, Gobineau argued, solely a result of the influx of black and yellow blood into the original Aryan blood, to such an extent that it was impossible to tell a high caste brahmin from a lower caste anymore. In all cases of culture and life this perversion and degeneration of the white race in India meant that India was incapable of withstanding the superior white races of Europe.501 In fact, he continued, the races which continued to withstand English power in India and all other foreign invasions were the races which were still more or less Aryan, like the Rajputs, Sindhis, Rohillas, and other people of the North West borders of India.502 The Aryan family was the most noble, intelligent, and energetic of all races. In India, the Aryans had a high sense of morality, philosophy, grand institutions of family and politics, and a total superiority of personality over the black tribes which inhabited the area. The caste system was a reflection of Aryan superiority. He pointed out that the Indian notion of beauty was described in terms of the typical Aryan physiognomy- fair skin, oval face, and muscular and graceful appearance. The descriptions of great heroes and Gods in Indian literature always conformed to this ideal of beauty, which in turn was the appearance of the higher castes, which were more Aryan than the lower castes.503 The Indian term for caste, ‘varna‘ also meant color. Although he noted that ethnographically speaking the system of dividing society according to race was a fiction since all castes had been penetrated by the local black races, he maintained that the importance of caste for the Indians lay in the importance of maintaining race purity.504 All over the world, however, the dilution of Aryan blood caused the degeneration of the race. Due to this complete ethnic disorder which had occurred with particular violence in India, Gobineau predicted that the civilization of India could never regain its former majesty and glorious culture. 505

Gobineau was the most vociferous of race thinkers. His theory of scientific racism had various agendas and India‘s place in these was incidental at best. For instance, according to Halbfass, Gobineau used India to argue against the liberal democratic ideals of the French Revolution, the kind of progress which Marx was promoting in his argument that racial ability was fixed and that the white race was preeminent.506 But his theories were echoed in the growing anthropological interest in India and were reflected in the consistent number of articles and items of interest about India which were published in the prominent anthropological journals available in Paris by the late nineteenth century, including the Revue d'Anthropologie, which was published by Paul Broca, and the Revue d‟Ethnographie.507 The more prominent works included some articles by travelers, articles by Broca and other anthropologists on topics directly pertinent to India, or on topics related to race where India was a crucial part of the popular theory of Aryan migration from the Caucasus. According to Leon Poliakov, ‘…however they were transmitted, Gobineau merely systematized in a very personal way ideas which were already deeply rooted in his time.‘ 508

Le Bon and India

The piecemeal anthropological statements on India and the tentative ethnographic work of Rousselet were surpassed in the late-century by a magnum opus on India. In 1886, Firmin Didot published an all-encompassing ethnographic work on India by Gustave Le Bon, comprising over 700 pages of text and hundreds of photographs, lithographs and etches and titled Les Civilisations de l'Inde. A student of Paul Broca, Le Bon was a controversial anthropologist who continued to have an acrimonious relationship with his fellow anthropologists and even with his one-time teacher throughout his lifetime. Many of his differences with other anthropologists, notably Broca, sprang from the fact the Broca believed in strict scientific anthropology, as verifiable by data and anthropometric measurements, while Le Bon believed that ethnological study in terms of culture, language and religion, was as useful to anthropology as anthropometry.

In the context of India, however, Le Bon‘s conclusions were not markedly different from the views of other anthropologists. Often quoted in contemporary works of the period, Le Bon seems to have been forgotten by modern scholars of India who find it difficult to trace references to him. That said one must closely analyze his work on India because it mirrored the traditional French view of India as a land of spirituality, which had been produced over the course of the nineteenth century in many ways. Le Bon provided, in some ways, a grand summary of the French image of India at the end of the nineteenth century. His work drew on most of the known and available literature on India at the end of the nineteenth century, including translations of Indian texts as well as works by other ethnologists, geographers, historians, and Indologists. His work demonstrated the enduring image of India, which was painstakingly created by the primarily Parisian academic elite during the course of the nineteenth century and the recovery of ‘India‘ as a great example of civilization.

On the other hand, Le Bon was also influenced by prevailing theories of colonial administration and in fact, was a notable participant in many debates on the nature of colonial assimilation.509 His work on India reflected the debate in France on colonial policy between the proponents and opponents of assimilation and the emerging idea of association in colonial rule. A firm believer in anthropology and the capabilities of people based on their racial heritage, Le Bon was an influential and outspoken opponent of the idea that inferior races could uplift themselves through association with superior races.510 For Le Bon, the capability of each race was already decided and available for academic examination through the civilization it had produced. Race determined intelligence and this intelligence gave rise to the cornerstones of civilization.

While in the previous century India had always been thought of as a land with a homogenous culture, inhabited by a single race that possessed a single culture, art, and religion, studies in the nineteenth century had proven that this was really not the case. India was really a diverse milieu of peoples, languages, religions, and cultures -- in fact a whole world in miniature.511 However, the theme of a single homogenous race representing ‘India‘ was inextricably woven into Le Bon‘s work.

Le Bon divided the main Indian racial types into four -- Negroid, the Yellow races, Turanian and Aryan. The caste system, which to Le Bon was a reflection of this four-fold racial mix consisted of the more or less pure Aryan type, the brahmin, the Rajput type or the Aryan- Turanian mix which was the kshatriya, the Turanian or the Vaiçya and the Shudra who represented the amalgamation of the Turanian and local aboriginal races.512

Narrating an anthropological history of Indian race, Le Bon began with the assumption that the earliest inhabitants of India were blacks of the Negrito type who inhabited the center and the blacks of the Australian type who lived in the south and west. These people lived as savages in the mountains of Central India in the first example, in the region known as Gondwana, and the Australian blacks lived in the South, in the mountains of the Nilgiris.

The mountains bounding India on the north, northwest and northeast and the seas, which protected India from invasion from the south, southwest and southeast meant that India remained fairly undisturbed in terms of racial intermixture for a long time. However, there were two sets of peoples who managed to penetrate the Indian sub continent. The first were the Turanians who originated in Turkestan and represented the yellow race. They entered from the Brahmaputra valley and fanned out into two branches. The first settled in the Ganga valley and the second continued south to Bengal. The result of the intermixture of the Turanians and Negritos of India resulted in the Proto- Dravidian race that in turn evolved into the Dravidians or Tamils of south India. The dominant Turanian influence in terms of physical features was clear in the inhabitants of Assam, Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan. The natives of Bengal and Orissa also displayed marked racial features of the yellow races.

The second racial invasion was of the Aryans who entered India through the northwest and settled primarily in the north of India. Their mixing with the Turanian element in the north accounted for the emergence of the kshatriya caste while the pure Turanian element became the vaiçya caste according to Le Bon. The southern part of India remained more or less proto-Dravidian or Kolarian, after the Kolar region.

In his description of the people inhabiting various geographical regions of India, he painstakingly listed the various tribes (Chibalis, Paharis, Gaddis, Kulus, Gujars) and populations of the Western Himalayas (Ladakh, Balti, Dardistan, Kashmir); Nepal (Gurkhas and Newars), Bhutan and Sikkim. Then he moved to Assam, inhabited by the Abors, Michmis, Singpos, Nagas, Garos, and Khasias. Most of these people were described as being predominantly part of the yellow race. Southward to the Ganga Valley he listed the result of the racial mix of Aryans, Turanians and proto-Dravidians as the populations of Awadh, Bengal, and Bihar, including the tribes of the Malers and Santals. The Punjab was described as the land of the Pathans who approached the closest ‘pure Aryan‘ racial type, then the Jats, Dogras, Sikhs and the Rajputs who came from the mix of Aryan and Turanian blood. Sindh and Rajputana included the tribes of the Bhils and Minas who represented the Negrito element. The populations of Gujarat and Kathiawar were too mixed to allow for a racial categorization. The races of central India included the Marathas of Maharashtra, who represented the Turanian element, the Kolarian people of the Konkan, the Nairs on the Malabar coast, and the negrito tribes of the Todas, Irulkas, Kotas, Kurumbas and Vadagas of the Nilgiri hills, the Gondwana tribes of the Gonds, Bhils and the Chota- Nagpur/ Orissa area of the Kols and Khonds. The primitive tribes of the South included the Kaders in the Annamalai hills, Shanars of Travancore and Cape Cormorin, Kanikhars, Nayadis of Calicut and Pulicat and the Kolars of Madurai and Coimbatore.

Each of these peoples was described in terms of their racial mix, and their customs, culture and religion. Thus while Le Bon stated at the outset that there were no pure races left in India in anthropological terms, he described the ‘races of India‘ ethnologically as possessing all the characteristics of anthropological races, because his discussion of the culture of each ‘race‘ was intended to describe their mental and intellectual capacity, as well as their physical attributes. The descriptions were further cemented by numerous illustrations of each ‘racial type‘. Le Bon concluded that India was composed of four main racial groups- Kolarian, Dravidian, Turano- Aryan, and Tibetan. These were secondary races but possessed distinct physical and mental characteristics.513 Le Bon blurred the line between ‘race‘ and ‘peoples‘ by attributing both with hereditary physical and mental characteristics. This confusion was more pronounced in his work on Lois Psychologiques where le Bon used the terms ‘race‘ and ‘people‘ interchangeably. As Nye points out the use of race now could be used to provide

a total explanation of the history of man and of the modern world itself. By providing a ‘scientific‘ explanation of race which was based on psychological and character traits, but which had the concrete durability and hereditary transmissibility of physical characteristics, Le Bon could avoid the worst pitfalls of the ‘caliper‘ race thinker whose data was so often conflicting. His more flexible definition, though it clearly took its initial inspiration from the body-mind analogy, could be used to explain psychological differences arising between social classes, linguistic groups and broad culture types and still retain the word ‘race‘ which the nineteenth century understood so well and which clearly favored the power of ‘blood‘ over education. The integrity and uniqueness of race, class, language and culture, which were themselves so much the psychological extension of a people‘s hereditary apparatus, were dominant themes in a Europe experiencing the pangs of a growing nationalism and class consciousness: the invention of a flexible definition of ‘race psychology‘ was Gustave Le Bon‘s own small contribution to these movements.514


After having discussed the physical characteristics of the Hindu, Le Bon moved to the mental features of these diverse peoples. The mentality of the Hindus was no less diverse than their physical traits. So while the Rajputs were fair, tall and well built, tribal populations were represented as semi-savages, dark, short, half-naked, and unkempt (see Figs. 6, 7 and 8). Similarly there were extremes of bravery like that of the Rajputs existing with the cowardice of the Bengali, as well as the honesty of the mountain people of Rajmahal and the lying treachery of others.515 Yet, despite these various mentalities there was a certain ‘Hindu‘ mentality which had formed over the centuries and that generally speaking, allowed for a characterization of the mentality of the Hindu as a determinate racial entity.516 The three major factors which accounted for the mentality of the Hindu were the caste system, the political regime of caste and village being the primary political entities and the paramount importance and all-encompassing nature of Hindu religion. These in sum accounted for the nature and mentality of the Hindu. The caste system prevented the Hindu from developing any other identity outside of his caste and meant that loyalties of region and nation were ignored in the all-encompassing identity of one‘s caste. Moreover the nature of the caste system as a corporate entity with its age-old privileges and unchanging nature took away all sense of initiative and energy from the individual who knew that his innovations in work or talents outside of his hereditary occupation would go unnoticed.517

The lack of ambition on the part of the Hindu arose both from the knowledge that his growth was dictated more as a result of his position within his caste rather than his achievements, as well as the fact that the self- sufficient nature of the village which limited economic growth. The overarching nature of Hindu religion which dictated obedience to higher castes without the possibility of individual growth as well as the prohibitive injunctions regarding economic or social radicalism meant that the Hindu gradually became submissive and timid. As a result Le Bon summed up the mentality of the Hindu as

As a general rule, the Hindu is weak, timid, crafty, insinuating, and dissimulating to the highest degree. His manners are flattering and importunate; he is entirely deprived of ideas of patriotism. Centuries of tyranny [have] habituated him to the idea that he must have a Master, and provided that this Master respects the laws of his caste and his religious beliefs, the Hindu is resigned in advance to undergo all his will, and finds happiness if one leaves him about the handful of rice which he needs to live. The Hindus form a soft, patient population, absolutely resigned to their fate. Their defects [all the] more striking, for a European… are indolence, the absence of precaution and the still larger absence of energy.518


As a result of these characteristics, Le Bon concluded that while the average Hindu was not inferior intellectually to the average European, he was still condemned to be servant and never master.

Gustave Le Bon‘s magnum opus about India contained many inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and stereotypes. Yet no one seems to have analyzed his work far enough to point out these problems. Instead Le Bon was used as a reliable reference about Indian life, customs and peoples not only by European travelers to India, but also respected and noted scholars writing about India. A clear indication of the direction in which race studies in France had progressed from the time of Rousselet to Le Bon can be seen by comparing the lithographs of Rousselet with the photographs of ‘racial types‘ which Le Bon brought back with him from his voyage in India (see images at the end of the chapter). Rousselet‘s images used standard features for a gamut of occupations (which would have meant different castes as well) -- a dancing girl would have belonged to a lower caste,519 a jeweler to the trading caste520 and a ruler to the warrior caste.521 Even the lithograph of the English Resident with the Maharana of Udaipur shows both in terms of similar build, features, and physiology.522 In fact the seated position of the Maharana indicated his superior social standing. The only variation in Rousselet‘s lithographs is in the skin color. While Le Bon used this feature as an indicator of caste Rousselet does not, representing both the bayadère (lower caste) and Maharana as darker skinned.523

Based on a desire to capture his ‘subject‘ at his most exotic, Le Bon‘s images built a racial hierarchy for India which was far more succinct than and just as forceful as his hundreds of pages of description. He used physiology, color, and material apparatus to distinguish the inferior races of India. In his depiction of the savages and semi-savages of central India for instance, he presents a classic European conception of a savage as semi-clothed with long unkempt hair, and possessing primitive weapons like the bow and arrow.524 In addition a closer look at the image of the Minas reveals the presence of a bottle (presumable alcohol) as well as a pipe (presumably an opium pipe) emphasizing relationship of the inferior race with inferior morals.525 Le Bon had definitely ‘staged‘ his subjects to support his writing.526 In the photos that he collected, Le Bon emphasized the difference between the dark-skinned tribes who belonged to inferior races from the fair- skinned Rajputs and brahmins of North India527 by contrasting the latter‘s fair skin color, facial structure and clothing with that of the tribes. Le Bon also highlighted the difference between the brahmins of southern India with their exaggerated ritual marks, semi-nakedness and dark skin, and the fair, well built Aryan brahmins of the North.528 As Anne Maxwell points out anthropologists could use photographs to make anatomical comparisons needed to racially classify and rank human subjects on an evolutionary scale by the 1880s. While ostensibly scientific, the photographs that anthropologists developed around this time also served a political purpose by confirming that some peoples were less evolved than others and would therefore benefit from imperial control.529

Le Bon‘s images merely reinforced his writings. Based on his study of India he made assertions about the nature of caste and religion which echoed the statements of British administrators in India. Since Le Bon greatly admired the British and their empire this is not surprising. Yet his pronouncements about race in India were unparalleled in British scholarship. His position about India was widely read in France and therefore influenced the image of India in late nineteenth-century France to a considerable extent. While fallacies about the caste system, like its immutability, its presence as the sole identity of Indians and its tyrannical position had already been repeated in endless French operas of the day,530 Le Bon‘s text now added a racial dimension to the French lens on India.

In particular, Le Bon added to the Aryanism of the mid-century by looking closely at the elements of ‘Aryan‘ culture in India. Despite his considerable criticism of contemporary Indian culture and society, he held that the only worthwhile institutions which still existed in modern India were part of her Aryan heritage. For instance, he noted that the one institution in India which came close to assuring the average person rights in the midst of the tyranny of religion and despots was the Panchayat or the assembly of elected peers in each village; an institution which Le Bon traced to Aryan origins.531 The Panchayat system was an elected assembly of peers who tried all disputes and cases involving petty theft and crime in the village. This was the first court of appeal and most disputes and cases were usually resolved at this level. The Panchayat system was mostly prevalent in the North of India.

Another institution of Aryan origin, which according to Le Bon began as an admirable system of division of labor as well as a means by which the racial components of Vedic society could be identified was the caste system. If one was to compare the Aryan with any other race of antiquity the former would come out the superior, in terms of mentality, intellect and physicality.532 A few years after he had published his work on India, Le Bon‘s theories of race crystallized into a hierarchy of intelligence in anthropological races, proceeding downwards from the white races to the yellow and the black. The main feature of the white race was its superior intelligence and thereby its capacity to grow through education, invention and culture. While all races may choose to raise themselves through external achievement their psychological capacity limited their level of attainment. Thus a black or yellow race may never be as great as a white race. ―They are capable of the rudiments of civilization, but solely the rudiments.'533 Moreover while the inferior races were possessed of a uniformity of intelligence, the variation of intelligence between individuals of the white race was the norm. It was this variation of intelligence which gave rise to different civilizations.534

An interesting feature of French race theory as it applied to India was the inability of scholars to come to any sort of consensus about which Indian races were ‘Aryan‘. Variously defined as the Rajputs or the North Western tribes, Pathans or even the Banaras brahmins, French scholars described these races as possessing nobler mental and physical traits than their Dravidian or Turanian brethren. While the British concluded that the great Aryan potential of India had long been diluted by inferior racial blood, the French thought otherwise.535 As the studies examined in this essay demonstrate, the French anthropologists while lamenting the dilution of Aryan blood among the peoples of India, yet defined certain tribes and races in terms such as ‘more or less pure Aryan‘ (Gobineau),and ‘pure brahminical Aryans along the Ganges‘ (Topinard). Yet there was no agreement as to what constituted the ‘pure Aryan‘. While Topinard described the brahmins in Banaras as Aryan, Gobineau lamented that the dilution of Aryan blood made it impossible to distinguish physically between a brahmin and a lower caste. Rousselet described the Rajputs as Aryan, while Le Bon described them as having a large element of the Turanian in them. Anthropologically there was a huge gap between French scholars as to what degree of racial elements could pass for a ‘pure race‘. Yet the description of Aryan India was an inevitable part of all their works. Even with the variance as to which races and tribes were Aryan, there was still an agreement that certain races of India continued to be Aryan. Le Bon accepted that modern races were the product of racial intermixing and therefore called them ‘historical races‘ rather than ‘anthropological races‘.536 Yet, he too described certain races of India as Aryan, thus blurring the line between his categories of ‘historical‘ and ‘anthropological‘ races.537 The important thing was that the races which were described as being ‘Aryan‘ were usually credited with the ability to withstand British rule. The British on the other hand described ‘martial races of India‘ as those who had remained loyal to them during the Mutiny of 1857.538

For French scholars, the common ground between India and France lay in their shared Aryan ancestry, which Norman Britain could not share. The diffusion theory of civilization, which was extremely popular at the time, held that civilization was spread through the world by the migrating Aryans, and described the migration of various streams of Aryans from the Caucasus region to different parts of the world. The branch of Aryans who arrived in India was obviously linked to other branches that had migrated to Europe and elsewhere. This explained the high cultural achievements of the Vedic civilization of India and the linguistic affinities between Sanskrit and other Indo- Germanic languages.539 Since the Aryans were the forefathers of modern Indians, they came from the same racial stock as the Europeans. The superior civilization of the Aryans in India was already proven in terms of the institutions they had created such as the caste system, as well as the advanced religion and philosophy that they had produced in the form of Brahminism. In its core therefore India was Aryan. She had degenerated over centuries due to the invasions of foreigners particularly of the Muslims. But her Aryan ancestry meant that she had the capability to throw off the decline of centuries and assume her place among the advanced countries of the world once more.

By the mid-nineteenth century, race was an important characteristic of India. Specifically, India was home to the Aryan race which explained the heights of civilization attained by the ancients who had been glorified in the work of Voltaire. The presence of the inferior Dravidian race and centuries of inter-mixing provided a cautionary tale of the dangers of race mixing. The history of India, from her glory days of Aryan civilization, to her position as an inferior society colonized by Britain, was a perfect example of the theory of racial hierarchy and the resulting downfall of a superior race as a result of diluting their pure blood. Anthropologically speaking, India could provide an all-encompassing example of racial theory. Leon Poliakov‘s seminal work on Aryanism in Europe also points to the importance of India in the creation of the myth of Aryan supremacy. According to Poliakov the importance of India as the home of the Aryans only declined with the emergence of Germanic Aryanism.540
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Re: Claiming India, by Jyoti Mohan

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Part 2 of 2

British and Aryan India

The father of the theory that Sanskrit was the original language of the Indo-Aryans was William Jones. That said, the British did not set much store by the Aryan blood of contemporary India. To them, Aryans had indeed accomplished great intellectual and philosophical levels in the ancient period, but the dilution of their race over centuries of inter-marrying with inferior races had left them corrupt and incapable of ruling themselves. Unlike the French and German school of Indologists who posited a possible return to greatness if India embraced her Aryan past once again, the British theory justified in large part by the need to rule India, held that the once great capability of the Indo-Aryan was non-existent in the present time, simply because there were no extant, pure Aryans left in India.

As Joan Leopold points out, British explanations of India's inferiority were based on Lamarckian notions of the environment, which in India were considered physically enervating and morally sapping; the admixture of Dravidian blood and institutions, history and the influx of Mongoloids, Muslims, and Dravidians into pure Aryan blood and the notion that in India, the Aryans exhibited an arrested growth.541 The combination of these factors was applied in theories of rule to justify British rule which would provide Indians with the necessary institutions and civilization needed to develop. On the other hand, the essentially Aryan roots of India also meant that a combined Orientalist and Anglicist method be used in Indian government and reform.

Thus the modification of the theory that Indo-Aryans were the originators of the Indo-Europeans argued that the historical inferiority of India validated British colonial rule. In fact, Le Bon certainly held this view. For some, the racial equality and thereby a greater respect for, and fairer treatment of Indians was the key to preventing any repeats of the 1857 Mutiny.542 Similarly, Henry Maine's studies of the Aryan institutions and its remnants in India were meant to combat British prejudice against India by pointing to common roots.543 Yet the official position was to ignore this ostensible claim by Indians to equality. As Thomas Trautmann has demonstrated in his work on Aryans and British India, the Aryan race theory was mostly propagated by romantic Indologists like Williams Jones, in the eighteenth century.544 In the nineteenth century these voices in Britain were rare. Instead, officials focused on retrieving evidence of the dominance of inferior races like the Dravidians, in present day India.545 The use of the Aryan race theory was limited to civilians, especially missionaries who hoped to show that Christianity was the natural Aryan corollary to the degraded religion of idolatry in India.

The need for an overview of Indians was certainly felt in order to strengthen rule, and particularly to avoid a repeat of the 1857 Rebellion. So the government instituted a Census, which collected information relating to race. The Census Commissioner, Herbert Risley was profoundly influenced by Topinard‘s anthropometric method and instructed his juniors to collect data about the nasal and cranial indices of different groups in India. The result of this process was the institutionalization of the caste system, which is discussed in the next chapter.

Conclusion

Through the efforts of Topinard, Gobineau and Le Bon India became an intrinsic part of nineteenth-century anthropology. As Poliakov points out, even the father of French anthropology, Paul Broca, who followed the tradition of physical anthropology laid by the work of Cabanis, ‘thought of the Aryan theory as very probable, even regarding the use of the term ‘Aryan races‘ as perfectly scientific…‘546 By the time Le Bon‘s most popular works on crowd psychology had been published547 the theory of scientific racism was perfectly accepted even among academics. Poliakov notes that ‘the popular works of Gustave le Bon on collective psychology and the racial soul show how rapidly these theories of racialism could spread and be used in the practice of racism.‘548

The primary lesson to be learned from India was the danger of racial mixing. As these scholars pointed out, the regions in India which had adhered closely to their ‘Aryan‘ roots and institutions had maintained a higher level of culture and achievement despite the overall degeneration of Indian civilization. No one seems to have pointed out the inconsistencies in their definition of ‘Aryan‘ and the extent of the achievements of the Aryan race. By the mid-century colonialism had allied itself with race to argue that Europeans were eminently qualified to civilize Asia and Africa by virtue of their ‘Aryan heritage‘. While Germany was the leader in Aryan studies French scholars were not far behind in using polemic to disguise the gaps and inconsistencies in their studies. In fact Poliakov‘s work on the Aryan Myth is notable for the number of French scholars who contributed to the growth of the theory of a preeminent Aryan race.549 In the process the systematic studies of Burnouf who warned against loosely comparing Western culture with Eastern religion or philosophy were ignored.

The academic and popular journals of the day reflected the hold that anthropology, and by extension race theory had over both the institutional and the popular culture. Traditional Indological publications like the Journal Asiatique and the Journal des Savants presented a decline in the number of articles on India (compensated for by the increase in articles on Indo-China and Africa).550 The same decade witnessed the popularity of articles on Indian race and anthropology with the Bulletins de la Société d'anthropologie de Paris registering a total of 50 such articles from 1860-70.551

For Indologists, race theory was too persuasive and pernicious to ignore. If they were to survive they would have to adapt to the changing focus on India. So while they continued focusing on textual translations, they took the lessons learned from anthropology and applied it to Indology. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century the image of India was recast yet again, this time to reflect the urgency of race. The next chapter discusses the changes which occurred in Indology as a result of anthropological influence.

Table 8: Comparison of article content among articles on India Journal Asiatique, 1822- 1902

Year / Total Articles on India / Buddhism / Hinduism / Islam / Philology / Indo-European ethnology


1822- 27 / 48 / 5 / 20 / 12 / 6 / 0
1828- 35 / 38 / 6 / 12 / 5 / 9 /1
1836- 42 / 32 / 6 / 11 / 5 / 9 / 2
1843- 52 / 27 / 4 / 14 / 6 / 4 / 0
1853- 62 / 37 / 1 / 10 / 2 / 22 / 0
1863- 72 / 16 / 7 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0
1873- 82 / 23 / 19 / 0 / 1 / 0 /0
1883- 92 / 43 / 26 / 11 / 2 / 6 / 0
1893- 1902 / 8 / 4 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 0

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Table 9: Comparative graph of article content among articles on India Journal Asiatique,
1822- 1902.


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Table 10: Comparison of article content among articles on India in the Bulletins de la Société d'anthropologie de Paris, 1822- 1902.

Year / Ethnography / Anthropometry / Aryan/ Dravidian / Total


1860- 70 / 18 / 7 / 26 / 50
1871- 80 / 15 / 14 / 5 / 32
1881-90 / 56 / 14 / 5 / 72
1891- 1900 / 4 / 6 / 1 / 10

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Missing: Vol 9, series 2(1874), Vol 1, series 4 (1890), Vol 6, series 4 (1895), Vol 9, series 5 (1898).

Table 11: Comparative graph of article content among articles on India in the Bulletins de la Société d'anthropologie de Paris, 1822- 1902.

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Table 12: Comparison of article content among articles on India in the Journal Asiatique, Revue d‟Ethnographie, Revue d‟Anthropologie and Bulletins de la Société d'anthropologie de Paris, 1860- 1900

Year / Philology / Religion / Anthropology / Aryan/race


1860- 70 / 0 / 9 / 49 / 26
1871- 80 / 8 / 11 / 31 / 6
1881- 90 / 27 / 20 / 71 / 8
1891- 1900 / 5 / 4 / 10 / 3

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Table 13: Comparative graph of article content among articles on India in the Journal Asiatique, Revue d‟Ethnographie, Revue d‟Anthropologie and Bulletins de la Société d'anthropologie de Paris, 1860- 1900

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Figure 3: Types of inhabitant of Pondichéry in 1832. Source: Narayani Gupta, ‘The Citizens of French India: the issue of cultural identity in Pondicherry in the XIX century‘, in Les relations historiques et culturelles entre la France et l'Inde XVII- XX siècles. 2 volumes. Sainte-Clotilde, 1987. [Types d'habitants de Pondichery, par Geringuer et Chabrelie, extraits de "l'Inde Francaise," d'Eugene Burnouf (1832).

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Figure 4: Bayadère. Source: Louis Rousselet, L‘Inde des Rajahs. Paris: Hachette, 1875.

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Figure 5: Jeweler. Source: Louis Rousselet, L‘Inde des Rajahs. Paris: Hachette, 1875.

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Figure 6: The Maharana of Udaipur with the English Resident. Note the remarkable similarity in their features as well as the weaponry. The fact that the former is seated indicates his centrality and dominance in the image. Source: Louis Rousselet, L‘Inde des Rajahs. Paris: Hachette, 1875.

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Figure 7: Samboe-Sing (sic) the Maharana of Mewar. Source: Louis Rousselet, L‘Inde des Rajahs. Paris: Hachette, 1875.

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Figure 8: The caption reads: ‘Minas: a half-savage tribe in Rajputana‘. Source: Gustave le Bon, Les Civilisations de L'Inde. Paris: Firmin Didot, 1887.

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Figure 9: The Caption reads: ‘savages of Chota Nagpur‘. Source: Gustave le Bon, Les Civilisations de L'Inde. Paris: Firmin Didot, 1887.

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Figure 10: Rajput warriors. Note the more sophisticated weapons (swords) that they carry as opposed to the primitive weapons of the dark-skinned and Negroid featured Minas and Chota Nagpur tribes, in addition to their half-clothed, semi-civilized aspect opposed to the fairer Rajputs with their more chiseled features. Source: Gustave le Bon, Les Civilisations de L'Inde. Paris: Firmin Didot, 1887.

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Figure 11: Caption reads ‘Brahman of Mysore‘ Note the dark skin of the Southern, ‘Dravidian‘ Brahmin as opposed to the fair Northern, ‘Aryan‘ brahmin. Also note the excessive exoticism in the first image with the numerous ritualistic marks and the semi- nakedness of the Mysore brahmin, as opposed to the more civilized looking, fully clothed Udaipur brahmin. Source: Gustave le Bon, Les Civilisations de L'Inde. Paris: Firmin Didot, 1887.

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Figure 12: Caption reads ‘Hindu Pandit of Udaipur‘. Source: Gustave le Bon, Les Civilisations de L'Inde. Paris: Firmin Didot, 1887.

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Figure 13: The racial map of India. This map constitutes a visual reading of the ‘races of India‘ as described by Gobineau, Topinard and le Bon.

_______________

Notes:

446 Revue Britannique, vol. 4, (Jan- Feb. 1826): 402.
 
447 Anne Maxwell, Colonial Photography and Exhibitions. Representations of the „Native‟ and the Making of European Identities (London and New York: Leicester University Press, 1999): 3. Maxwell is referring to all Western colonial projects—British, French, German, Dutch and American.
 
448 I use ‘race‘ in this project, to define a category which was socially constructed to include a group of people who supposedly represented specific physiological and mental characteristics. On the other hand, the modern category of ethnicity, used to specify a group of people with specific common backgrounds such as history, culture, language etc is a more accurate way of categorizing people, even though many ‘ethnicities‘ can, and invariably do overlap.

449 See Tables and graphs 1, 2 and 3.
 
450 Eighteenth-century ethnologists who contributed a good deal to later conceptualizations of race include the naturalists Georges- Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon and Carolus Linnaeus. They were followed in the nineteenth century by Georges Cuvier and Saint Simon.
 
451 A comprehensive study of early ethnological and anthropological figures and institutions is Martin Staum, Labeling People. French Scholars on Society, Race and Empire, 1815- 1848. (Montreal and Kingston: Mc-Gill‘s- Queen‘s University Press, 2003).
 
452 The most famous of the monogenists were Linnaeus, Buffon, Cuvier, and Quatrefuges. These men held that all men originated in a single region based on the Biblical or Adamic story of Adam and Eve. The differences between men in the current time were solely a result of environmental factors. Although the monogenists accepted that different species or races of men were not equal in ability, the fact that there was one single point of origin meant that, at least theoretically speaking, given the right conditions, lower races could evolve to the level of superior races. See John Haller, ‘The Species Problem: Nineteenth-century Concepts of Racial Inferiority in the Origin of Man Controversy‘, American Anthropologist, 72 (1970): 1319- 1329. Another interesting aspect of the monogenist group was that many of them were naturalists. John Greene, ‘Some Early Speculations on the Origin of the Human Species‘, American Anthropologist, 56. 1954: 31- 41.
 
453 Influential polygenists were Paul Broca and Saint Simon, who pointed out that even in the Bible there was reference to many groups of men, clearly distinguished from other groups by their physiology as much as their intellect. The Polygenist notion that different species of men evolved separately meant that race theorists now had a scientific theory to back up their claims that different races were immovable in their capability. Therefore by association, the racial hierarchy of man could not be voided by education or association of inferior races with superior races.
 
454 Among the founder members of the Société Ethnologique was Garcin de Tassy who was also the Vice- President of the society in 1843. Historians like Jules Michelet and other Indologists like Eugène Burnouf, Baron Eckstein, Jules Mohl, and several members of the Société Asiatique were active members too.
 
455 According to Staum, the French physician Cabanis was among the first to use the word ‘anthropology‘ in French. See Martin Staum, Labeling People. French Scholars on Society, Race and Empire 1815- 1848. (Montreal and Kingston: McGill- Queen‘s University Press, 2003): 14. The Société des Observateurs de l'Homme, established in 1799, was the world's first anthropological society. The members included physicians, chemists, explorers and linguists, several French ideologues, and influential race theorists like the polygenist Georges Cuvier and the monogenist Lamarck. At this point, ‘anthropology‘ signified primarily the use of biological or physical criteria to study man, as opposed to the cultural and linguistic criteria used by ethnologists. Among the early anthropologists in France were Paul Broca and his followers. See Francis Schiller, Paul Broca: Founder of French Anthropology, Explorer of the Brain. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979).
 
456 As Staum points out, the physical criteria for classifying men triumphed over cultural criteria by 1850. Martin Staum, Labeling People. French Scholars on Society, Race and Empire 1815- 1848. (Montreal and Kingston: McGill- Queen‘s University Press, 2003): 8. These physical criteria looked at anthropometric measurements, cranial and nasal indices and other physiological criteria like height, and limb length to compare different races with the ‘norm‘ or dominant group of Europeans: 7.
 
457 Anne Maxwell, Colonial Photography and Exhibitions. Representations of the "Native‟ and the Making of European Identities (London and New York: Leicester University Press, 1999): 39-40.
 
458 Martin Staum, Labeling People. French Scholars on Society, Race and Empire 1815- 1848. (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen‘s University Press, 2003): 7.
 
459 See Henri Brunschwig, French Colonialism 1871-1914: Myths and Realities. (New York, Washington, London, 1964): 24.
 
460 Anne Maxwell, Colonial Photography and Exhibitions. Representations of the "Native‟ and the Making of European Identities. (London and New York: Leicester University Press, 1999): 16.
 
461 Many recent monographs have examined the construction of race in the colonial enterprise. In the French case, some important works include Patricia Lorcin, Imperial Identities: Stereotyping, Prejudice and Race in Colonial Algeria (St. Martin‘s Press: New York, 1999).
 
462 Eugene Burnouf, ‘Seconde lettre à M. le Rédacteur du Journal Asiatique, sur quelques dénominations géographiques du Drâvida ou pays des Tamouls‘, Nouveau Journal Asiatique, Vol 2, (oct. 1828).

463―Sur trente mots pris parmi les principaux noms géographiques du pays que les Hindous appelant Drâvida desha, dix-sept se sont trouvés appartenir au dialect tamoul, et neuf au sanscrit; quatre seulement sont d‘une origine douteuse.' Ibid: 275-76.
 
464 Francis Buchanan, Journal of Francis Buchanan (Asian Educational Service: New Delhi, 1989 reprint).
 
465 Eugene Burnouf, ‘Seconde lettre à M. le Rédacteur du Journal Asiatique, sur quelques dénominations géographiques du Drâvida ou pays des Tamouls‘, Nouveau Journal Asiatique, Vol 2, (oct. 1828): 256-59. This is the traditional explanation for the mythology of the Sage Agastya and his voyage south of the Vindhyas. Agastya‘s journey indicated the southward movement of Aryan brahmins into the peninsula. Many South India brahmin families even today trace their antecedents to Agastya thus claiming to hail from the Aryans.
 
466 Once again, the heavy influence of Sanskrit in the dialects of Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam, and Kannada which are spoken by the brahmins of these regions is pointed to as proof of the sanskritization and Aryanization of the South. See M N Srinivas, The cohesive role of sanskritization and other essays. (Delhi: OUP, 1989).

467“C‘est que la caste des Shoûdras, ou la dernière de toutes dans la hiérarchie brahmanique, constitue la population primitive de l‘extrémité méridionale de la presqu‘île; c‘est que ce sont eux qui, à proprement parler, sont appelés Tamiler, par opposition aux Brahmanes Drâvida.' Eugene Burnouf, ‘Seconde lettre à M. le Rédacteur du Journal Asiatique, sur quelques dénominations géographiques du Drâvida ou pays des Tamouls‘, Nouveau Journal Asiatique, Vol 2, (oct. 1828): 258-59.

468 Ibid: 246.
 
469 Ibid.
 
470 See, for example, Bulletin de la Société de l‟Anthropologie. Paul Broca, ‘Sur le volume et la forme du cerveau suivant les individus et suivant les races‘, Vol 2: 139, and ‘Sur les proportions relatives du bras, de l‘avant-bras et de la clavicule chez les nègres et les Européens‘, Vol 3: 162.
 
471 Most scholars agree that Broca himself was not a proponent of racial hierarchies. However, many of his statements indicate that he believed very strongly in the intellectual limitations of race. For instance, in 1866, Broca wrote in a dictionary article on ‘Anthropology‘: Never has a people with dark skin, woolly hair, and a prognathous face (jutting jaw, receding forehead) been able to spontaneously elevate itself to civilization...' Paul Broca, ―Anthropologie', from Mémoires d‟Anthropologie 1. (Paris: Reinhalt, 1871): 33. Cited in Martin Staum, Labeling People. French Scholars on Society, Race and Empire 1815- 1848. (Montreal and Kingston: McGill- Queen‘s University Press, 2003): 179. Paul Topinard represented the official position of French anthropology in his textbook, L‟Anthropologie. (Paris: Reinwald and Cie, 1876).
 
472 Paul Topinard, L‟Anthropologie. (Paris: Reinwald and Cie, 1876). Chapters 15- 17 and passim.
 
473 Paul Topinard, Science and Faith. Translated by Thomas McCormack. (Chicago: Free Press, 1899): 304-305. S J Gould has argued that such measures of ‘intelligence‘ are flawed by their tendency to categorize knowledge into measurable entities. See S J Gould, The Mismeasure of Man (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1981).
 
474 The natural corollary to these ideas was the birth of Aryanism which held that the Aryan race was the most developed; and the theory of eugenics or the selective breeding of ‘developed races‘. In the French case, the Aryan theory also contributed to the rise of Gallicism which was an aggressive form of French national pride based on a common racial heritage in the late nineteenth century.
 
475 Paul Topinard, Science and Faith. Translated by Thomas McCormack. (Chicago: Free Press, 1899): 206.
 
476 Ibid: 207.
 
477 Ibid: 208.
 
478 Ibid: 208.
 
479 ―Le type hindou n‘est plus que faiblement représentée aux Indes par les Radjpouts et surtout par les Brahmanes les plus vénérés de Mattra, de Bénarès et de Tanessar dans l‘Hindoustan.' Paul Topinard, L‟Anthropologie. (Paris: Reinwald and Cie, 1876): 481.
 
480 Paul Topinard, Science and Faith Translated by Thomas McCormack. (Chicago, 1899).
 
481 While the whole notion of the ‘Aryan invasion‘ itself has been challenged in recent times, the caste system was sometimes explained as a process by which the Aryan conquerors of North India assimilated the indigenous peoples whom they vanquished. Since the Aryans remained in the North for a substantial period of time, and the Rig Veda, which contains the earliest reference to the caste system, was composed in the North, it is probable that the Aryans were unfamiliar with the aborigines when the caste system evolved. Subsequently, they did interact with the aborigines in central, east, and south India and, unable to place them in the existing four castes, created the pariah caste which was the lowest. Over centuries of history, the pariah caste came to include offspring of some inter-caste marriages, as well as newer groups which the Aryans conquered.
 
482 The basic four divisions were the castes. Each caste was further divided into jatis, primarily representing specific trades and occupations. Over the years the number of jatis proliferated into several hundred. Even though French academics would have been aware of the difference between ‘caste‘ and ‘jati‘, they continued to write only in terms of ‘caste‘. Interestingly Indians themselves use ‘caste‘ and ‘jati‘ interchangeably; the strict separation of the two terms occurs only in academia.
 
483 Ibid: 201-02.
 
484 Ibid: 203.
 
485 In 1872 he was appointed a lifelong member of the Société d‟Anthropologie de Paris, and the title of ‘Voyageur dans l‟Inde, archéologue‘ was bestowed upon him. He continued to have a distinguished career and in 1878 was appointed the secretary to the section of Anthropological Sciences at the Universal Exposition in Paris. For more information about Rousselet see Patrick Chézaud, Louis Rousselet et l‟image de la culture de l‟autre (Saint Pierre de Salerne: G. Monfort, 2005).
 
486 Paul Topinard, L‟Anthropologie. Paris, 1876: 481. Topinard was using Rousselet‘s articles from Revue d‘Anthropologie, specifically ‘Tableau des races de l‘Inde centrale et de l‘Inde septentrionale‘ Revue d‟Anthropologie, Vol 2, 1873 and Vol 4, 1875.
 
487 Ibid. 488―Les Bhils sont en général d‘une taille moyenne; quoique manquant des formes élégantes de l‘Hindou- Aryen, ils sont beaucoup plus robustes; leur force et leur agilité sont quelquefois surprenantes.' Louis Rousselet, ‘Tableau des races de l‘Inde centrale et de l‘Inde septentrionale‘ Revue d‟Anthropologie, Vol 2, 1873: 60.
 
489 Paul Topinard, L‟Anthropologie. Paris, 1876: 481.
 
490 Ibid.

491 ―Les Brahmanes des rives du Ganga, dit M. Rousselet, ont le front haut, développé, la face ovale, le yeux parfaitement horizontaux, le nez saillant, busqué et légèrement épais à l‘extrémité, mais encadré par des narines délicates. Ils sont blancs, mais plus ou moins bronzés par le soleil de ces climates. Leur système pileux noir paraît abundant' Paul Topinard, L‟Anthropologie. (Paris, 1876): 481.
 
492 ―On en trouve dans l‘Inde, notamment chez les Kattees, qui ont quelquefois les <<cheveux clairs et yeux bleus>> (Prichard et L. Rousselet)…Les Bisahuris de Rampoor, non loin des sources du Gange, ont souvent <<le teint très-blanc (very fair), quoique brûlé par le soleil, les yeux bleus, les cheveux et la barbe bouclés et de couleur clair ou meme rouge>> (Frasier)' Ibid: 477- 78.
 
493 Ibid: 529.
 
494 Ibid: 536. Interestingly, Topinard points out that the tribes of central and south India as well as tribes of Australia spoke the Dravidian group of languages, thus providing further anthropological proof of the inferiority of the Dravidians. See Tony Ballantyne, Orientalism and Race: Aryanism in the British Empire. (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2002).
 
495 Ibid.
 
496 Frank H. Hankins, The Racial Basis of Civilizations. (New York and London: A Knopf, 1926).
 
497 Arthur de Gobineau, The Inequality of Human Races. Translated by Adrian Collins. (New York: H. Fertig, 1967): 91
 
498 Ibid. Gobineau divided races into those dominated by the ‘male‘ principle of material desire (purusha) and headed by the Chinese civilization; and those dominated by the female principle (prakriti) of ‘intellectual current‘ and headed by the Hindus (86-87) who chose to focus their entire energy on philosophical and theological ideas to the detriment of material progress (91-92).
 
499 Ibid: 209.
 
500 Comte de Gobineau, Essai sur l‟inégalité des races humaines (Paris: Librairie Firmin-Didot, second edition, 1884), Vol 1: 397.
 
501 Ibid: 446. Also see Wilhelm Halbfass, India and Europe. An essay in understanding. (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1988): 139.
 
502 Ibid: 447 and 449. Ironically these areas were peopled in the nineteenth-century by Muslims (modern day Pakistan) who in the case of Algeria were classified as savages.
 
503 Gobineau‘s pronouncement was typical of the simplification of Indian religion. In reality the Gods of the pantheon were different colors, which may have represented their affiliation to the natural elements or to other aspects of their personalities. For example, while Indra the God of lightning was fair, Agni, the God of fire was described as being of a reddish hue. The God Vishnu, who is touted as being representative of the original ‘Aryan‘ race is dark blue and is described as being handsome but exceedingly dark in the most human of his avatars- that of Rama and of Krishna. This aspect of his color is often overlooked by those who, like Gobineau, looked for references to race in the Hindu pantheon, and pointed to the existence of the dark Shiva, who represented the expansion of Aryan religion to include elements of the indigenous, tribal beliefs.
 
504 See Gobineau: 396.
 
505 Ibid: 447-48.
 
506 Wilhelm Halbfass, India and Europe. An essay in understanding. (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1988): 139.
 
507 From 1890 onwards the Revue d‟Ethnographie and Revue d‟Anthropologie were merged to form the popular anthropological journal, L'Anthropologie, of which Paul Topinard was a prominent founder member and contributor. The journal published a fairly constant amount of news in the form of book reviews, scholarly opinions, and articles concerning developments in Indian anthropology, including the efforts of French and British anthropologists. See Table 1.
 
508 Leon Poliakov, The Aryan Myth: A History of Racist and Nationalist Ideas in Europe. Translated by E. Howard. (New York: Basic Books, 1971): 233.
 
509 A highly vocal participant in the debate on assimilation at the Colonial Congress of 1889, Le Bon was among a minority of those who vigorously resisted assimilation. Since Le Bon believed that races could improve themselves by contact with superior races, he argued that assimilation would undermine the Empire. I discuss the French debate on assimilation in more detail in the conclusion.
 
510 For a detailed examination of le Bon‘s position on this issue, see Martin Deming Lewis, ―One Hundred Million Frenchmen: the ‘Assimilation‘ Theory in French Colonial Policy', Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol 4.2 (Jan. 1962).

511 Gustave le Bon, Les civilizations de l‟Inde. (Paris: Ernest Flammarion. 1900): 77.
 
512 Ibid: 78.

513 Ibid: 87.

514 Robert Allen Nye, An Intellectual Portrait of Gustave LeBon: A Study of the Development and Impact of a Social Scientist in his Historical Setting. (PhD Thesis, University of Wisconsin, 1969): 135-36.
 
515 Gustave le Bon, Les civilizations de l‟Inde. (Paris: Ernest Flammarion. 1900): 178. His pronouncements about the different races will be familiar to scholars of the British theory of martial races. For an excellent monograph on the actual result of the racial categorization of Indians see Mrinalini Sinha, Colonial masculinity: the 'manly Englishman' and the' effeminate Bengali' in the late nineteenth century, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995).
 
516 Ibid: 179.
 
517 Ibid: 608.

518 ―En règle générale, l‘Hindou est faible, timide, rusé, insinuant et dissimulé au plus haut degree. Ses manières sont adulatrices et importunes; il est entièrement dépourvu d‘idées de patriotisme. Des siècles de tyrannie l‘ont habitué à l‘idée qu‘il doit avoir un maître, et pourvu que ce maître respecte les lois de ses caste et ses croyances religieuses, l‘Hindou est résigné d‘avance à subir toutes ses volontés, et se trouve heureux si on lui laisse à peu près la poignée de riz dont il a besoin pour vivre. Les Hindous forment une population douce, patiente, absolument résignée à son sort. Leurs défauts les plus frappants, pour un Européen…sont l‘indolence, l‘absence de prévoyance et l‘absence plus grande encore d‘énergie.' Ibid: 186. Le Bon‘s choice of words itself is interesting in its contradictory approach. Describing the Hindu initially as weak and timid, he later uses the adjectives gentle and patient. This contradictory description may be found in many works of the time, both French and British. See for instance the contradictory explanations of the ‘Aryan village‘ in India in Sir John Phear, The Aryan Village in India and Ceylon. (London, 1880).
 
519 Figure 2.

520 Figure 3.

521 Figures 4 and 5.

522 Figure 4.

523 Figures 2 and 5.
 
524 Figures 6 and 7.
 
525 Figure 6.
 
526 This was a common aspect of early ethnographic images. The ‘staging‘ of images meant that the natives were presented as if in their ‘natural environment‘ thus defining their material additions, clothing, and other accoutrements as intrinsic to their level of culture and development. See Ellen Strain, ‘Exotic Bodies, Distant Landscapes: Touristic Viewing and Popularized Anthropology in the Nineteenth Century‘, Wide Angle 18.2 (1996): 70-100, James Ryan, Picturing Empire: Photography and the Visualization of the British Empire (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998) , Elizabeth Edwards, Anthropology and Photography, 1860-1920 (New Hampshire: Yale University Press, 1994) Paul Landau, ―Empires of the Visual: Photography and Colonial Administration in Africa,' Images and empires: visuality in colonial and postcolonial Africa edited by Paul Landau and Deborah Kaspin (Berkeley and Los Angelos: University of California Press, 2002) and Christopher Pinney, Photography's Other Histories (co-edited volume with Nicolas Peterson), (Durham N.C.: Duke University, Press, 2003).
 
527 Figures 8 and 10.
 
528 Figures 9 and 10.
 
529 Anne Maxwell, Picture Imperfect. Photography and Eugenics, 1870- 1940. (Brighton and Portland: Sussex Academic Press, 2008): 21
 
530 Such as Délibes‘ Lakmé, and Roussel‘s Padmavati.
 
531 Gustave le Bon, Les civilizations de l‟Inde. (Paris: Ernest Flammarion. 1900): 676.
 
532 Ibid: 284.
 
533 ―Elles sont capables de rudiments de civilisation, mais de rudiments seulement.' Gustave le Bon, Lois psychologiques de l‟evolution des peuples, (Paris, Librairie Félix Alcan, 11th edition, 1913): 25.
 
534 Ibid: 26 and passim, chapter 3, ―Hiérarchie psychologique des races'.

535 The British attitude towards the Aryan question in India is well summed up in Joan Leopold‘s ‘'British application of the Aryan theory of race to India', in English Historical Review 89.3, (1974). As Leopold points out the British while agreeing that the Aryans had once created a great civilization in India, argued that races in contemporary India were too mixed to talk about any pure ‘Aryan‘ blood existing. Instead the dilution of Aryan blood in the Indian subcontinent meant that the modern Indian could never reach that state of Aryan greatness again. Other detailed studies on the Aryan issue in India and elsewhere include Tony Ballantyne, Orientalism and Race. Aryanism in the British Empire (New York: Palgrave, 2002) and Thomas Trautmann, Aryans and British India. (Berkeley and LA: University of California Press, 1997). Trautmann also pursues the issue as it was taken up by Indian nationalists as proof of the greatness of Indian civilization and the capacity of India to progress. Hindu nationalists in particular, used the Aryan theory to argue that Indians were well capable of ruling themselves without British domination.
 
536 Gustave le Bon, Lois psychologiques de l‟evolution des peoples, (Paris, Librairie Félix Alcan, 11th edition, 1913): 4, 173-77.
 
537 Despite Le Bon‘s allowance that anthropologically speaking, ‘pure‘ races no longer existed, he managed to obscure the line between his definition of historical and anthropological races, to assign to superior ‘historical‘ races the same physiological features as superior anthropological races. In terms of its application to the Indian context, Le Bon‘s work is clearly a call for the superiority of aspects of Indian civilization because of its Aryan element.
 
538 For more work on the British construction of ‘martial races‘ of India, see Pradeep Barua, ―Inventing race. The British and India's martial races', in The Historian 58.1 (1995), Tony Ballantyne, Orientalism and Race. Aryanism in the British Empire (New York: Palgrave, 2002) and Thomas Trautmann, Aryans and British India. (Berkeley and LA: University of California Press, 1997).
 
539 The Indus Valley Civilization which effectively put an end to the claim that the Aryans were the first highly developed people in India was not discovered until the early twentieth century. Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, the two great cities of the Indus Valley civilization were only unearthed in 1925, and along with them the discovery of an advanced technological and cultural society which had existed several hundred years before the Aryans‘ advent in India was the biggest blow to the theory that only the Aryans possessed the inherent capability to produce advanced civilizations, since the Harappan peoples were clearly not Aryan. Interestingly enough, for all their efforts to rank among the foremost Indologists, the French did not study the Indus Valley civilization much, leaving both the historical and archeological finds to the British.

540 Leon Poliakov, The Aryan Myth: A History of Racist and Nationalist Ideas in Europe. Translated by E. Howard. (New York: Basic Books, 1971).
 
541 Joan Leopold, 'British Applications of the Aryan theory of race to India, 1850- 1870', English Historical Review, 352 (July 1974).
 
542 Fredric Farrar, Families of Speech (London 1870), Samuel Laing, Lecture on the Indo- European Languages and Races (Calcutta, 1862) and India and China, England's Mission in the East (London, 1863).
 
543 Henry Maine, Village Communities in the East and West (London, 1871): 12 and passim.
  
544 Thomas R. Trautmann, Aryans and British India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997).
 
545 Thomas Trautmann, Languages and Nations. The Dravidian Proof in Colonial Madras (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006).
 
546 Leon Poliakov, The Aryan Myth: A History of Racist and Nationalist Ideas in Europe. Translated by E. Howard. (New York: Basic Books, 1971): 257.
 
547 Gustave Le Bon is best known for his works on mob psychology, and his academic position was as a psychologist too. See Gustave le Bon, Lois psychologiques de l‟evolution des peoples, (Paris, Librairie Félix Alcan, 11th edition, 1913). Yet as Robert Nye‘s work on Le Bon shows, his later works on psychology were drawn primarily from his research in India and North Africa. See Robert Allen Nye, An Intellectual Portrait of Gustave LeBon: A Study of the Development and Impact of a Social Scientist in his Historical Setting. (PhD Thesis, University of Wisconsin, 1969).

548 Leon Poliakov, The Aryan Myth: A History of Racist and Nationalist Ideas in Europe. Translated by E. Howard. (New York: Basic Books, 1971): 285.
 
549 Ibid.
 
550 For instance from 1863- 1872, the number of articles on India was at its lowest- 16 during the nineteenth century. Correspondingly the number of articles dealing with French interests in the Far East and Islamic world increased to 103! Journal Asiatique. Gallica.bnf.fr. Accessed on 9/26/2008.
 
551 See Table 2.
 
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Re: Claiming India, by Jyoti Mohan

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Part 1 of 3

Chapter 6: Recasting India in French Indology: Hinduism and the Caste system

In sectarian India at present, and since the appearance of foreign proselytizing religions, caste is the express badge of Hinduism. The man who is a member of a caste is a Hindu; he who is not, is not a Hindu. And caste is not merely the symbol of Hinduism; but, according to the testimony of all who have studied it on the spot, it is its stronghold. It is this, much more than their creeds, which attaches the masses to these vague religions, and gives them such astonishing vitality.552


The influence of anthropology on Indic studies had begun by the mid-century. Indologists who continued to look to language and culture for comparisons between civilizations were in danger of becoming completely superfluous to French academia.553 In order to secure their survival they adapted their studies to larger national academic interests. Another means to ensure survival and continuity was to embrace the anthropological studies which defined race in physiological rather than linguistic terms. This chapter looks at the result of these shifts for the image of India. When Indologists combined traditional philological studies with newer anthropological theories they recast India in terms of the caste system. They also created a hybrid religion called Hinduism to explain the inconsistencies they saw in India.554

The new Indology was the effort of a handful of scholars. Auguste Barth, Emile Sénart, Sylvain Lévi, and Julien Vinson rescued Indology in France and restored it to a pre-eminent position in academia. This chapter follows the new image of India created by French Indologists in terms of caste, racial divisions, and Hinduism.

Caste and the ‘racialization‘ of India

As the previous chapter has shown, studies on race were grounded in the Indian context through the institution of caste. According to Sénart, the word ‘caste‘ arose from the Portuguese understanding of the social divisions they encountered among the Indians.

…the Portuguese were not long in noticing that they were divided into a great number of hereditary, closed sections, being characterized by the specialty of their occupations. They were superimposed in a kind of hierarchy, the higher groups kept with a superstitious care of [precluding] any bringing together with the groups considered [to be] humbler. It is to these sections that they gave the name of castes. 555


While early century scholars had described the caste system in detail and included the rights and duties of the four castes, the addition of race by the mid-century meant that each caste was now correlated to a race. Generally speaking, the brahmins and warriors (kshatriyas) were of Aryan ancestry, while the third caste of Vaiçyas was of mixed blood. The lowest caste of workers or shudras as well as the pariahs or untouchables were a combination of the lowest races- Negroid and Mongoloid.

The use of caste as a measure of the racial make-up of India was first used by the British, who sought to categorize Indians into various castes in the wake of 1857, each caste defined as possessing certain fixed characteristics.556 French colonial administrators in India found that much of their experience centered around caste too. In southern India and particularly in the Comptoirs, conflicts within the native community usually arose around issues of caste privilege, more so than the conflicts of religion which came to characterize British India. In 1871, M. Esquer, who was president of the Pondicherry Tribunal on caste conflicts, wrote a controversial tract on the nature and effects of the caste system in India.557 Witness to the multiple conflicts which occurred between caste, reinforced by the work of British officials in similar positions, Esquer naturally saw caste as a divisive entity which reinforced the tyrannical oppression of a brahminical caste to the compete neglect and absence of a sense of patriotism and nationalism.558 In a sentiment repeated throughout his work, Esquer wrote,

Among the sixty million inhabitants who populate these vast regions, the word of nationality did not have any sense [meaning]: this multitude, in which each individual [is] vegetated, insulated and parked in his caste, as in an insuperable barrier, does not ask any more but to cultivate their rice, to plant their tobacco or their indigo, to supervise the maturity of their sugar canes, [and] to incline [prostrate] themselves in front of [the] Brahmins, [and] to venerate the higher castes.559


Most French writers agreed with Esquer about the divisive aspects of the caste system. For instance, the geographer and savant Vivien Saint- Martin published his own critique of Esquer along with his theory on the caste system.560 Saint- Martin claimed to be knowledgeable not only about the geography of the sub-continent but also about the history of ancient India (through his exploration of the ancient texts of India on historical geography) and social institutions like caste. While challenging Esquer on the historical origins of the system, Saint- Martin accepted that Esquer‘s treatment of the current state of the caste system, of the position, duties and responsibilities of each caste, particularly those in the South were detailed, 561 Saint-Martin also applauded Esquer‘s treatment of the three views of caste: ‘vue historique…vue social…vue philosophique…‘.562

Esquer‘s work integrated the Aryan view into the study of the caste system in India. According to Esquer, the conquering Aryans created ‘India‘ the moment they invaded the Gangetic plains and defeated the indigenous inhabitants or dasyus.563 Esquer waxed long on the historical origin of castes, which he traced to the beginning of Brahminism. When ‘les membres de la blanche famille Aryenne‘ descended upon the indigenous dasyus of India, the resulting contact meant that the latter accepted the superior culture and civilization of the Aryans by centering their thought on two key concepts- the transmigration of souls and the caste system.

We said then how these new Masters of India, giving up their primitive beliefs, to assimilate part of the beliefs of the conquered races, substituted new religious and philosophical dogmas to them, worked out a new social constitution, and created a civilization, strange and imposing at the same time, whose two essential components were the dogma of the transmigration of the souls and the system of the castes.564


In Esquer‘s estimation, the noble Aryans could not have thought of such a restrictive and limiting system of social classification. Therefore, Esquer, having examined a number of ‘ancient texts‘ such as the Manusmriti and Sanskrit plays like the Meghaduta, concluded that the illness of caste came upon Indian society through its exposure and susceptibility to brahminical oratory.565 According to him while the origin of the caste system was an admirable notion, the manner in which it evolved to become hereditary and rule bound meant that all individual freedom was crushed under brahminical tyranny.

"The division of the castes is, one can affirm boldly, a masterpiece of legislation: this system, at the origin, was admirably adapted to the climate of India and to the native practices characteristic of its inhabitants… the system of the castes, undoubtedly, [was] devoted to a disastrous inequality; but it gave to the new society a fixed position [stability], favored the increase in population and the creation of the richnesses [wealth], and permitted a great philosophical, literary, political and industrial rise … But, and there was their great error, the legislators ignored human nature, by declaring that their organization could not be modified… human authority is primarily circumscribed by the imprescriptables rights of freedom, [without it] it becomes usurpation and tyranny… the brahmanic spirit, which inspired this regime of inequality, was really the antipode [of the] Christian spirit."566


Disagreeing with Esquer that the origins of caste could be found in the brahminical orthodoxy which followed the Vedic period, Saint-Martin noted that the division of society was a common feature of many ancient societies. What was remarkable about India was the vigor with which caste had eclipsed virtually any other social order and asserted itself as the basis on which Indian society, economy, polity, and even religion derived authority. According to Saint- Martin,

India is not, with much near, the only region of the world where the division of the castes was introduced. One can say that nature deposited the germ within all human society, from the most negligible and most rudimentary associations, to the highest organizations in the historical and philosophical hierarchy. The largest nations, most famous and most glorious in old or current times, recognized them under various names and under more or less absolute conditions; but nowhere are they developed in such an encompassing and complete, deep manner, as in India. Nowhere did they become as here the single base of the political, religious and civil society, the fundamental institution from which all the remainder derives and to which all is referred.567


His disagreement with Esquer lay in the latter‘s view of the historical origins of the system. ―This view brings us back to the purely historical side of the question of the castes on which M.Esquer, as I said, does not show as much decision as one could wish."568 Unlike Esquer, who had suggested that the caste system had evolved in the period of brahminical orthodoxy, Saint-Martin suggested that the germ of the caste system was contained in the Vedic period itself and in fact, in all human societies. According to Saint- Martin the brahminical contribution to the system was to make it hereditary and inviolable, to impose all manner of regulations as to the interaction and mobility between castes and the equation of caste with a divinely ordained system of hierarchy.

The distinction of the castes as I said, was in [a] germ [germinant form] within the Vedic tribes, as it is at the bottom of all human society. It is its indelible and hereditary character, it is its insuperable limit, it is its religious dedication and divine institution, which marked it [as] so deeply sealed in the brahmanic constitution, and gave him [the brahmin], on the destiny of the Hindu people, an influence that the same social fact, with various degrees of development, had with no other people."569


According to Saint-Martin, the particular development of caste in India was ―the result of the conquest… the historical and social expression at the same time of the control of an ignorant, coarse race, [with] limited faculties, [and] without organization policies, by an infinitely more developed race and [with] much higher physical and intellectual faculties."570 While regrettable from a moral standpoint, it was undeniable from a physiological viewpoint that there were races which possessed nobility, strength and were born superior to other races which were inferior from all angles to the former and therefore must be subordinate to them.571 In India too the caste system was demarcated not merely on the basis of physique, but also on color; the first three castes were fair and the last was dark.572 There were thus two clear races-’a conquering, dominant race and a conquered, enslaved race.‘573

The Aryan antecedents of the system were reinforced in Emile Sénart‘s work on India.574 Sénart held that the caste system sprang from a common Aryan heritage of Greek, Roman and Indian pasts which held family, clan, and tribe as the basic social units, each with its own rules of social contract and behavior. He based his assumption about the origin and common heritage of the caste system on linguistic comparisons of the term for tribe in Rome, gens or curia; family in Greece, phratria, phyle; and the extended family or caste in India, gotra. He interpreted the meaning of the word for caste in Sanskrit, jati, as race.575 According to him, ―Caste is, in my opinion, the normal prolongation of the old Aryan institutions, modeling itself through the vicissitudes that the medium [caste] prepared them [Aryans] which they met in India."576

Sénart‘s position was a middle ground between Esquer and Saint-Martin. In his assessment of the contemporary practice of caste, Sénart pointed out that the system included the categorization of certain castes belonging to the Aryan race, and of furthering the inferiority of the lower castes by grouping them as belonging to the Dravidian race. According to Sénart, the four major castes could be divided into two groups -- the three upper castes who corresponded to the ‘Aryas‘ -- the upper born, ‘twice-born‘ or ‘dvija‘; and the Shudras or lower caste, which was excluded from the ceremonies which allowed the upper castes to take their place in society. The explanation for this division, according to Sénart, lay in the Aryan conquest of the indigenous people of India and the inevitable tensions between the two races. ―Between Aryas and Coûdras, there is certainly in the beginning an opposition of race, that it is more or less absolute."577

In a summary of his work on caste, Sénart presented the following image: the Aryans, upon their entry into India, were already divided into an aristocratic class, a priestly class and ‘the rest of the Aryans [who] were merged in a single category, in the midst of which the various groups operated in their own autonomy‘578 As the invading Aryans successfully subdued the ‘dark-skinned race of inferior civilization‘579, they strengthened the divisions between the various classes to preserve their own exclusiveness and purity; absorbing the conquered people into the lowest strata of their society. As Aryan ideas penetrated the indigenous civilization, simultaneously, continuing expansion meant that the original Aryan ties of family were weakened.

In time, two facts emerged: admixture, only half acknowledged, occurred between the races, and the Aryan ideas of purity gained more and more ground amongst this hybrid population and even amongst the purely aboriginal peoples. From thence arose two categories of scruples, the categories of which were multiplied according to the varying degrees of impurity either of descent or occupation. While the ancient principles of family life were perpetuated, the grouping factors were diversified- that is to say, function, religion, vicinity, and so forth, side by side with the primitive principle of consanguinity, behind which they more or less conceal themselves. The groups grew and overlapped. Under the double influence of their own traditions and of the ideas they borrowed from Aryan civilization, the aboriginal tribes themselves, in proportion as they renounced an isolated and savage life, accelerated the influx of new sections. Caste came into existence.580


As Sénart pointed out, the theoretical injunctions regarding the working of the caste system and the caste regulations of the Law Books of ancient India (Dharmasastras) like the Manusmriti, the codes of Vasishtha and Yagnavalkya notwithstanding, the system never in fact, existed in so pure a form as the texts lead one to believe. 581 The Law Books were essentially collections of customs and usage, which were constantly evolving. While the system was premised upon the working of four tiers each with the right to practice only certain occupations, men constantly chose varied occupations within each caste, and in the late nineteenth century, there were more than eight hundred castes and sub-castes present in India.

He pointed out that the manner in which caste was practiced in India, including rules about marriage, occupations, and social intercourse between castes, indicated that caste could not be equated with the European notion of class. Moreover it was not as stagnant or as rigid as it had been portrayed. Caste was a tool of social organization and not a religious construct. It was also a useful organization for the exercise of authority and jurisdiction in the face of nebulous political authority. As Sénart pointed out, castes were constantly evolving, disintegrating, and forming, and as such were a fact of everyday life in India rather than a religious characteristic. According to him,

Let us disregard some definitely lower racial populations, isolated by geographical circumstances and [by] history, secondly by numerical importance: on the whole India appears to us, not like a simple collection of individuals, but like an agglomeration of corporative units. The number, the name, the characters, [and] the function vary ad infinitum…582


Moreover, the authority of family, of the village as a spatial unit continued to be important, as did competing divisions of left and right hand castes, multiple sub-castes within the four major castes and the rules regarding the social intercourse between these sub-castes.

This development of the notion of caste as an unchanging entity was a result of the Western effort to study the anthropological and racial composition of India. Yet as Risley's copious efforts on cataloguing the nasal indices, and cranial measurements of the members of various castes showed, the races in India were too mixed to divide the caste system into different races. As Sénart pointed out, the only certain knowledge about caste was that it had evolved, possibly from a simpler system of occupational classes during the Vedic period, into a complicated and hereditary system during the period of the Epics and Brahmanas, in order to assimilate the indigenous peoples. ―Caste is the framework of all brahmanic organization. It is to come to brahmanism that the aboriginal populations are constituted as castes, accepting the strict rules of the caste."583 What most scholars failed to see was that the system, created in order to maintain social organization, had undergone several evolutions- from class to caste, the process incorporated different occupations, as well as a need to distinguish different races.584 To see the caste system as an unchanging system was therefore a great mistake. The maturity and tempered judgment of this monograph was unprecedented in French works on India.

Another important contributor to ideas of caste was the Indic philosopher Célestin Bouglé who wrote several essays on the caste system. Bouglé saw the essence of caste as consisting of three tendencies- repulsion, hierarchy, and hereditary specialization.585 Pointing out that the European system, even at the height of feudalism was never as airtight about these three tendencies as India, Bouglé adhered to the French school of scholars who saw the system as specific to India.586 This was an important criticism to the many anthropologists like Gobineau and Le Bon who sought a link between the social systems of the Indo-Aryans and the Aryans of Europe. While Bouglé noted that the Indian system of caste was also particularly noted for the enormous influence and power accorded to the priesthood [the Brahmins] the race theorists like Gobineau ascribed this power and thereby the degeneration of the system of caste from an admirable social construct to a repressive institution to the influx of non-Aryan blood.

The study of caste by French Indologists conclusively proved that India was a racially diverse country. The element of unanimity lay in the origins of the system. The caste system in ancient times had been the product of the invading Aryans. Its division of society into occupational strata was a common enough aspect of most other societies such as Egypt, Greece and Rome. In theory, it represented an admirable ideal. In its earliest and simplest form, therefore, the caste system represented the capacity of the Aryans to organize themselves into efficient groups. The Indologists went on to say that the institution of caste in contemporary India was a divisive force and an example of degeneration. The degeneration of the system had occurred due to the influx of non-Aryan races into the lower echelons of the system, leading to the formation of an oppressive, tyrannical system.

The French study of caste at the turn of the century was important for several reasons. The first was the confluence of Indology with anthropology. In the study of caste one can clearly see the unity of the race theories of anthropologists with the traditional philological and literary studies of Indologists. At its core, the argument ran thus: the system of caste as conceived by the ancient Aryans was a superior one that had none of the hereditary restrictions or tyranny of the brahmins. This theory could be proved by the superior literature of the day. The latter day degeneration of the system could be studied through literature and the degeneration of the noble language of Sanskrit proceeded side-by-side with the degeneration of the Aryan race in India as they incorporated more and more non-Aryans into their society. According to Sénart,

The classical language of India is distinguished from cognate languages by a striking peculiarity. The finite verb finds small place in the sentence; the thought is unfolded in long, compound phrases, often very ambiguously related. Instead of a solid syntactic construction in which the design is perceptible and the stresses stand out of themselves in clearly defined clauses, the sentence boasts no more than a loose structure in which the constituent parts of the thought, merely juxtaposed, are lacking in relief. The religious beliefs of India are scarcely ever presented in positive dogmas. In the vague outlines of an imperfectly defined pantheism, opposition and divergences rise for a moment only, then sink back into the shifting mass. Contradictions are quickly resolved in a conciliatory syncretism which weakens schisms, and all differences are cloaked by a convenient orthodoxy. Nowhere is there categoric doctrine, consistent and uncompromising. On the social plane an analogous phenomenon appears in the caste system. Everywhere is the same spectacle of plastic impotence.587


The ambiguity of brahminical Sanskrit was mirrored in the need to incorporate, through religious syncretism and contradictory doctrine, the various indigenous people of India into the Aryan society. The language and dogma which increasingly became more complex was a reflection of the Aryan need to incorporate the ideologies of the locals whom they conquered, without losing their own ritual and social superiority. Just as the crisp verses of the Rig Veda gave way to the philosophical conundrums of the Upanishads, the society of the Aryans was becoming more complex with the integration of the local inhabitants at the lower levels of the caste system. Thus caste was merely a symbol of the larger degeneration of Indian society due to the racial mixing that occurred.

Secondly, the study of caste was harnessed to the late-century civilizing mission. For instance, Esquer‘s view was a classic colonial view of the degeneration in Indian society and the ameliorating and civilizing effects of colonial rule. His whole work consisted of a denunciation of the tyranny of caste and an enumeration of the colonial attempt- both British and French- at ameliorating the ill effects of caste. Note however, that the greater success and tolerance of the French, could perhaps explain the acceptance of French rule in the Comptoirs as opposed to the Great Revolt of 1857 in the British ruled areas of India.588 In a fairly typical chapter detailing the efforts of the French government in the Comptoirs to diminish the evils of the caste system, Esquer wrote, ―In taking charge of the populations whose fate was abandoned by the treaties of 1815, France was to think of improving their material wellbeing, at the same time as [being] the moraliser: it was a second means, effective and practical, of civilization, which it was to use in the interest of its Indian subjects."589 In particular, Esquer pointed to the effects of western education in breaking the stronghold of caste in addition to missionary activities. ―A second mode of action, more effective and more practical than the preceding, is employed with success by the friends of India for raising its populations to the height of modern ideas and civilization; this means, surer and less dangerous than the preaching of Christian ideas… is education, the initiation of the masses to [the] arts and [the] sciences of the Occident."590 The bulk of the later chapters of the tract (which was published as an independent tract by a government press in Pondichéry) related to the French effort to cope with, and break out of the caste stronghold in the Comptoirs. Even Saint-Martin and Sénart expressed their reservations about the positive qualities of caste in contemporary India, both noting the attempts of colonial governments to break the stranglehold of caste.591 According to Sénart,

In practical life…the Hindu genius rarely shows itself capable of organization- that is to say, of measure and harmony. In the caste, it has exhausted all its efforts in maintaining and strengthening a network of closed groups, without common action or mutual reaction, recognizing in the long run no other motive-power than the unchecked authority of a sacerdotal class, which has constituted itself the people‘s sole director. Under the leveling rule of Brahmanism, the castes move as the episodes jostle one another haphazardly in the vague unity of an epic narrative. It is enough that an artificial system theoretically masks their incoherence.592


Even though Sénart managed to strike a neutral note in most of his work, noting the distance between the theoretical injunctions of caste and the actual practice of it, he too succumbed to the frustration of most Europeans when faced with this mass of contradictions.

The work of Sénart and Bouglé represented a new, more nuanced image of India as possessing both positive and negative elements. This was a radical departure from previous works which were either completely laudatory or scathing denunciations of Indian civilization. In fact, the tempered judgment of these scholars meant that India could be viewed as an evolving society. Breaking away from the notion of India being a ‘timeless‘ or ‘stagnant‘ society, the work of Sénart and Bouglé, among a small group of Indic scholars in this period, heralded the realization of historical and social progress through centuries of existence.

Caste and Race

The link between the anthropological studies of mid-century and caste studies of the late-century was the focus of the racial origins of caste. Despite a general agreement that caste in India possessed more negative, limiting prescriptions than positive aspects, the origin of caste and its subsequent development was always treated in reference to the racial history of India. This development proceeded side by side with more obvious racial comparisons. A common enough development in the mid- nineteenth century was the inclusion of India in various works on Aryans, such as Adolphe Pictet‘s 1859 work on Origines Indo-européenes ou les Aryas primitives.593 While some of these works were essentially linguistic and philological comparisons of various Indo- European languages, many also made dangerous claims about the origins and abilities of different races. An example of this kind of race theory becoming the most prominent aspect of Indian study is a work by François Lenormant titled Manuel d'histoire de l'Orient jusqu'aux guerres Médiques and published in 1859 in the form of a syllabus594 which included fifty pages on the Aryan societies and extended bibliographies of Indic works as representations of the work that the Aryan intellect had produced such as sections of the Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavata Purana, Lalita Vistara and Manusmriti. These works extolled the Aryan genius. Not surprisingly, the Journal Asiatique, which was a good indicator of trends in Indology, published an increased number of articles relating to Indo-European philology in the period from 1853- 62.595

In the late nineteenth century, the noted Tamil scholar Julien Vinson published a series of articles which demonstrated that the inherent abilities of races were indeed reflected in their linguistic and cultural accomplishments. Vinson focused on the Dravidian race of southern India. By 1886, he was appointed Professor of Hindustani and Tamil languages at the Langues O, as successor to Garcin de Tassy. In 1878, Vinson and Abel Hovelacque collected a number of articles they had authored and previously published in journals like the République française, Revue d'anthropologie, Revue de Linguistique, and Revue ethnographie into a book titled Études de linguistiqe et d'ethnographie.596 Vinson described the relative inferiority of the southern peoples of India, who belonged to the Drâvida race. Unlike Burnouf, who had attempted to demonstrate that ‘Drâvida‘ could not be equated to a specific race, Vinson studied the achievements of the Dravidian race of southern India. He classified the Dravidian languages of India as relatively inferior since they possessed a simple grammar and easy phonetics. According to him, ―Dravidian grammar is of a remarkable simplicity… [its] phonetics does not offer serious difficulties."597 These included Tamil, Telinga [Telegu], Malayala [Malayalam] and Canara [Kannada]. Vinson had worked extensively on the similarities of the Dravidian languages of India and the Basque languages of Europe, both of which displayed a similar disregard for the concept of ‘God‘ and reflected this in their word structure. Vinson speculated that since the synonyms for ‘God‘ in Dravidian languages were prince, king, and master; this reflected the introduction of the concept of ‘God‘ only by the Aryans. His conclusion was that ―…there does not exist any purely Dravidian word which indicates the idea of God…many of these words [can be used] equally [for] ‘prince, king, master, God‘…This belief of God was one of the first effects of the civilization brought to the south of India by the Aryas." 598 The Dravidians had no knowledge of religion or spirituality before their contact with the superior Aryans. ―I thus believe that, before the arrival of Aryas in Dravida, the inhabitants of these beautiful regions were completely atheistic savages… Dravidians, before being in contact with the Indian branch of Aryas, probably did not have any religious idea."599 He further pointed out that there were no metaphysical concepts in the Dravidian languages unlike the complex metaphysical works of the Aryans, or indeed the cultural pastimes of the latter.

The Dravidian vocabulary indicates a very great moral inferiority; one does not find original words for the great metaphysical entities: in spite of the so-called unanimous consent of the people, there was not, in the Dravidian country, before the arrival of the Aryas, ―God", or ‘soul‘, or ‘church‘, or ‘priest‘…it is true that they did not have the advantage of ‘books‘, of ‘writing‘, of ‘painting‘, of ‘grammar‘…600


By the twentieth century, the equation of ‘Dravidian‘ to a specific racial subtype was complete. A clear example of this is Gaston Courtillier‘s Les Anciennes civilizations de l'Inde. Courtillier began his work by placing the subjects, not in the traditional geographical milieu, but by describing the races to be found in the different parts of the sub-continent. He described the Dravidians as the original and oldest inhabitants of India in the Deccan. According to him, ―The study of races retraces the origins and the progress of this settlement: it is in the archaic country of [the] Dekkan where one finds the most ancient samples of the present inhabitants of India… It is to the prehistory also, that [one can create] the installation [or hierarchy] of an ensemble of people united by certain ethnic affinities as by the language and that one is [ac]customed to name Dravidians."601 He described the original inhabitants in terms of their physiognomy- short statured and dark, they followed old customs, were mostly tribals like the Munda tribes of Chota Nagpur and the Santals of Bengal and Bihar and had a certain linguistic and cultural affinity. Moreover, their affinity to the Negroid or black races was certain although their original home was uncertain.602

Yet India was esteemed as the land of the Vedic Aryans. If the Dravidians had been incorporated into Aryan society and had adopted Aryan religion, how could one explain their backwardness? In addition to the opposition of the superior Aryan race and the inferior Dravidian race within India therefore, Indologists created a new ‘Hindu‘ identity.
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Re: Claiming India, by Jyoti Mohan

Postby admin » Sun Nov 01, 2020 2:32 am

Part 2 of 3

Barth and the ‘Hinduization‘ of India.

The term Hindu could be employed in multiple contexts and encompass diverse beliefs and practices as a catch-all phrase that was purposely vague. The origin of the term ‘Hindu‘ was itself obscure, lending itself to geographical and cultural/ linguistic affiliations. The term seems to have become popular after the Islamic invasions of the eighth century, when the Muslim invaders referred to the inhabitants of India or ‘Hind‘ as ‘Hindus‘ and the land itself as ‘Hindustan‘, the land of the Hindus. However, since the peninsula was excluded in the extent of ‘Hindustan‘, the southern people continued to be referred to in various terms, including the geographical label of ‘Dekkani‘. When the European infiltration of India was complete, and particularly after the British conquest of India, the ancient boundaries between ‘Hindustan‘, and the southern kingdoms was erased and the giant subcontinent was unified as ‘India‘. It is at this time, in the mid to late nineteenth-century that the terms ‘Indian‘ and ‘Hindu‘ were blurred. Eventually, in preference to the term ‘Indian‘ to indicate a geographical affiliation, academics began using the term ‘Hindu‘ to indicate anyone in the sub-continent who was not a Muslim, Christian, Jew or Parsi.

In particular Indologists tried to situate the racial history of India within the history of caste and the development of Vedic Aryanism into Brahminism, and eventually into Hinduism. The choice of this hybrid term, ‘Hinduism‘, made it easier for scholars to explain the multitude of contradictions in India as well as the reason for the uneven development of Indian civilization, the development of tyranny and superstition, explanation for the backward, savage aspects of Indian religion.

In tracing the evolution of religion, French scholars once again focused on the Vedic texts as representing the purest thoughts of the Aryans, which were subsequently diluted and degenerated through contact with the indigenous peoples of India. The first major contribution towards the study of ‘Hinduism‘ as a composite Indian religion was made by Emile Sénart. In conjunction with his work on caste, Sénart held that the Veda of the Aryans held the key to all Indic thought. According to him, ―Under the eternal Veda fermented the popular cults, under the authoritarian Shastras, the heresies and controversies; under the dead language of the grammarians, the living idioms [dialects] of the people…"603 Proceeding from this assumption, Sénart studied Buddhism as originating in the tenets of existing Hinduism. ―…the Buddha theory [Buddhist theory], whose superhuman features bind and are harmonized in the unity of an older cycle." 604 According to him the speculative/ philosophical aspect of Buddhism was already contained in the Upanishads, the Epics605 and the concepts of death (mrityu),606 temptation (Mâra, the Buddhist Satan and lord of the senses),607 and meditation as found in the six schools of Yoga. Sénart‘s conclusion was that Gautama was an ascetic who practiced the kind of Yoga which had already been achieved by the Bhagavatas in the Mahabharata.608 He did incorporate certain individual teachings in to Buddhism, but his greatest success lay in his personal reputation and ability to communicate with crowds.

Gautama was a yogin formed [from] among the practices of a Yoga which was finished as a religious sect, [in] the worship of Vishnu-Krishna, in a form [of] whom [the] Bhâgavatas of [the] Mahâbhârata offer a neighboring [close] type to us, though more definite and more advanced. Undoubtedly, he [Gautama] professed certain particular doctrines; especially, he exerted a personal prestige which seems to have been powerful.609


In effect Gautama's achievement was the popularization of forms of mediation and life which already existed in Hinduism. Buddhism, therefore, while repudiating Brahmanical orthodoxy, also depended, at its core, on the fundamental practices of Vedism. ― More or less deteriorated and deformed, a certain Vishnouite heritage survives, carried in the Buddhist currents."610 For Sénart the history of Hinduism was the history of the development of Aryan thought in India, and the vicissitudes it faced due to the admixture of other thought systems professed by the pre-Aryan people of India. Historian Ronald Inden also describes the development of the theory that the Aryan brahmins had conceived a philosophy that was far superior to the indigenous people of India. The subsequent racial mixing, over centuries, of Aryans and the indigenous Dravidians is what spawned the religion of popular Hinduism, with its myriad Gods and popular saints.611

Sénart and Sylvain Lévi612 created a renaissance for Buddhist studies in India. For some time since Burnouf, Buddhist scholars had focused on Buddhism in the Far East, in part due to the French colonial interest in Indo-China. In the last decade of the nineteenth century, however, Sénart and Lévi produced a huge number of articles on the Buddhist origins in India, leading to a renewed interest in India among French colonists. Sénart‘s thesis about Buddhism was that it was inherently Hindu in thought and practice. This was a radical departure from the earlier writings of Burnouf and his followers, who had treated Buddhism as a popular reaction to the tyranny of the brahmins. By closely analyzing the legend of the Buddha, Sénart concluded that the essentials of the personality of the Buddha far pre-dated Buddhism itself and in fact, were culled from existing traits of various Hindu Gods. Furthermore, according to Sénart the core of the personality was inherited from myths of existing Gods and heroes.613 The addition of an intensely mystical element lent itself easily to a new movement, since it drew upon existing injunctions rather than exhorting a radical break from traditional religion. Sénart also reasoned that if these divine types actually were composites of earlier ideas, the ideas within Hinduism were probably older than scholars had earlier believed them to be.614 Sénart thus reified both the superior thought of Buddhism and of Vedic literature.

On the other hand, Sylvain Lévi justified the focus on Brahminism and Brahminic religion in India by pointing to its ability to withstand all challenges and still emerge dominant. According to Lévi Brahmanism had succeeded in drawing attention to itself as the authentic expression of religious feeling in India, in preference of its rivals.615 Since Brahminism had proved its strength in maintaining its superiority it warranted, in his view a scientific study based on literary and epigraphic history. In a triumphant tour of India and Japan in 1897, sponsored by the French Ministry of Education (Ministère de l'Instruction Publique), Lévi, the first French Indologist in a century to actually visit India, emphasized the importance of Sanskrit studies. Recounting his travels in India and his journey to Nepal to discover the Sanskrit roots of Buddhism, Lévi provided the Académie with only a truncated version of his longer report to the Ministry. Describing his journey in Japan, focusing specifically on the Sanskrit Buddhist texts he had found and studied in Japan, Lévi voiced his conviction that the Académie would not be interested in a longer account of his journey in Japan.616 Tracing from the pure form of the Rig Veda, Lévi saw the spirit of Indian religion contained therein.617 It was the manifestation of the varied intellectualism that pervaded Indian religion in the form of the Brahmanas, Sutras, and Upanishads. According to Lévi,

They are not only necessary to supplement the religious history of India; they contain [therein] almost the very whole germ [notion of Indian religion], and the most beautiful result of Indianism will be to find the origin of the infinitely varied manifestations where the intellectual life of India poured forth.618


The twin reform sects of Buddhism and Jainism were merely different manifestations of this spirit yet constituted a 'moment of rupture'619 and were therefore important to the development of Indian religion. The development of Brahminism proceeded through the centuries with the gradual incorporation and transformation of popular beliefs, molded by political conquests, changing social life and the rise of a priestly class which claimed to inherit the religious mantle of India.

Brahmanism was formed gradually by the transformation of popular beliefs under the slow action of convergent forces. The progress of conquest, the modifications of social life, the advent of a sacerdotal caste, substituted a new religion for the former worships by unperceivable degrees; the change was a long time completed when/before it became apparent. The reform of Jina and the reform of Buddha were born, on the contrary, on a determined day, of an individual thought and a conscious will; one and the other felt in one moment of rupture…620


Lévi disagreed with Sénart about the origin of reformist doctrines, holding that Buddhism and Jainism were the products of individual thought and of a voluntary conscience of objection to popular religion. He noted, however that over time, both Buddhism and Jainism degenerated and lost their popularity in India, Buddhism finding a new home in the Far East. Once again Indologists may have disagreed about the relative merits of various religions and doctrines in India, but the conclusion that the most enduring and notable civilization had been provided by the Vedic Aryans was upheld.

Sénart and Lévi may have disagreed on minor issues with regard to the origin of Buddhism, but both of them emphasized the continuity of Indian thought. Rather than the episodic movements presented by earlier scholars, they sought to present the development of Indian thought and religion as a series of interconnected movements, in no way and at no time sealed from other philosophical influences. For instance, both emphasized the varied and eclectic nature of Hinduism as a religion. Unlike other religions Hinduism never progressed in a linear fashion.621 Therefore one cannot describe the history of Hinduism as Vedism, Buddhism, Brahminic Hinduism, and so forth. At any time a number of competing philosophies and religious practices co-existed and were accepted within the broad framework of a 'Hindu' religion.622 According to Lévi, 'Hinduism is a convenient designation to include the innumerable worships that, referencing itself [sic] to a variety of divinity, have nevertheless these common characters recognized as the basis of the brahminical orthodoxy…623

The Indologists of this time were not influenced by any lyrical views of India, but they seem to have been moved by the contemporary representation of social ills in India- caste, poverty, and superstition. Their work was aimed at discovering the origins of Indian thought and philosophy so that they could better effect a cure for contemporary ills. Notwithstanding his view of ancient India as ‘la terre des prestiges‘624, or a ‘veritable Eden‘625, or even of his notion that the religion of India was the result of the genius of the Brahmin, Lévi pointed out that in the modern period it was due to the efforts of European scholars that the history of India had been retrieved from the ‘geography of the fantastic‘ that was the production of the ancient Indians.626 Moreover, according to Lévi, India‘s problems were not merely those of knowledge and history but were in fact, the immediate problems of life and of the starving millions of India: of gross inequalities imposed by tyrannical rulers and priests on the mass of passive Indians.627

This colonial view of India, which integrated anthropological views of Aryans as well as criticism of modern India, was best approached by Auguste Barth in his magnum opus on the religions of India.628 Barth‘s great contribution to Indology was his popularization of ‘Hindu‘ for the Indian civilization. He was the first to focus attention and bring all his professional and personal influence to bear upon this new ‘Hindu‘ image of India which contained all the inconsistencies and weakness of Indian civilization in its history and development.

According to Barth, the Vedic literature was already marked by a complicated theology. Far from being the work of a pastoral Aryan people, who collated their beliefs into the Rig Vedic hymns, Barth held that the Rig Vedic literature was,

pre-eminently sacerdotal, and in no sense a popular one…Neither in the language nor in the thought of the Rig-Veda have I been able to discover that quality of primitive natural simplicity which many are fain to see in it. The poetry it contains appears to me, on the contrary, to be of a singularly refined character and artificially elaborated, full of allusion and reticences, or pretensions to mysticism and theosophic insight; and in the manner if its expression is such as reminds one more frequently of the phraseology in use among certain small groups of initiated than the poetic language of a large community... In all these respects the spirit of the Rig-Veda appears to me to be more allied than is usually supposed to that which prevails in the other Vedic collections, and in the Brahmanas.629


Yet the Rig Veda contained the core of the common Aryan beliefs of nature-worship, which were common to all Aryan societies.630

Barth‘s argument continued the notion that ancient Aryan thought was the manifestation of a superior people. However, he broke with the Indic tradition of seeing this great thought reflected in the Rig Veda. Barth‘s argument was that the corruption of Aryan thought had begun even in the period of the Rig Veda. This corruption was due to the intermingling of Aryan races with the indigenous races of India. So, for instance, while he cited the lack of evidence to argue concretely for the exchange of ideas between the Aryans and the indigenous people, he suggested that the Rig Veda itself indicated the beginning of a priestly class asserting itself in the face of indigenous challenges. Since the Rig Veda was the sacred liturgy of a select group of priests, Barth held that

I am therefore far from believing that the Veda has taught us everything on the ancient social and religious condition of even Aryan India, or that everything there can be accounted for by reference to it. Outside of it I see room not only for superstitious beliefs, but for real popular religions, more or less distinct from that which we find in it…We shall perhaps find that, in this respect also, the past did not differ so much from the present as might at first appear, that India has always had, alongside of its Veda, something equivalent to its great Civaite and Vishnuite religions, which we see in the ascendant at a later date, and that these anyhow existed contemporaneously with it for a much longer period than had till now been generally supposed.631


These religions, popularly referred to as Neo-Brahminic religions which had been seen as emerging in the same period of Buddhism and Jainism were therefore, according to Barth, of earlier origin, even though their popularity occurred later.632 Moreover, the kernel of the Neo-Brahminic religions of Vishnu and Shiva lay in the belief systems of the pre-Aryan peoples of India, in their emphasis on idol-worship and fertility cults. According to him,

‘The sectarian or neo-Brahmanic religions, which we embrace under the general designation of Hinduism, and which are at the present time professed by about 180,000,000 people in British India, Nepal, Ceylon, Indo-China, the Sunda Isles, at the Mauritius, at the Cape and as far as the West-Indies (according to the Census of 1872)… do not form a whole as homogenous as ancient Brahminism, still less Buddhism and Jainism…They constitute a fluctuating mass of beliefs, opinions, usages, observances, religious and social ideas, in which we recognize a certain common ground principle, and a decided family likeness indeed, but from which it would be very difficult to educe any accurate definition. At the present time it is next to impossible to say exactly what Hinduism is, where it begins, and where it ends. Diversity is its very essence, and its proper manifestation is ―sect"…‘633


The essence of Hinduism, according to Barth, was the amalgamation of Aryan and indigenous beliefs. In Hindu worship therefore, we find elements of popular religion side by side with the remnants of Vedic gods. ‘Alongside of the great sectarian divinities and their personal surroundings, their wives, fathers, mothers, sons, brothers, and servants, we meet with the ancient gods of Brahmanism, Agni, Indra, Varuna etc. powers that have fallen mostly into decay, but which survive in what remains of the ancient ritual, especially in the domestic ceremonies.‘634 While Barth was careful with regard to the extent of Aryan and non-Aryan assimilation of beliefs he was categorical about the inferior nature of non-Aryan worship. According to him, the religions of the aboriginal peoples of India,

survive in fact under two forms: either in the condition of popular superstitions, which resemble what they are elsewhere; or, as among the tribes which have remained more or less savage, in the condition of national religions to some extent inoculated with Hindu ideas and modes of expression. These religions, in their turn, if we analyse them, are resolvable, on the one hand, into those beliefs and practices of an inferior type, having relation to idol or animal worship, such as we find in all communities that are uncivilized, and, on the other hand, into the worship of the divinities of nature and the elements, such as personifications of the sun, heaven, the earth, the mountains- that is to say, of systems of worship which are not essentially different from those which we meet at first among the Hindus.635


Furthermore, the remnants of such aboriginal people were to be found to a far greater extent in the south of India, where, ‘Each several district, especially in the Dravidian South, has besides its own local deities, which have been identified in the main with the general types of Hinduism, but rarely to the extent of being absolutely confounded with them.‘636

Barth‘s view of Hinduism while on the one hand providing a nuanced study of the mingling of Aryan and non-Aryan elements to explain the system of belief prevalent in contemporary India also gave voice to the belief expressed by Vinson that the inferior people were to be found primarily in the southern regions of the sub-continent.

Like the ancient religion, Hinduism, then, has its ex-communicated races; but alongside of those who are thus repudiated by it there are some which repudiate it in their turn- we mean the tribes in a more or less wild state, which represent, the majority of them at least, the first tenants of the soil before the arrival of the Aryans. In Hindustan and the north of the Dekhan the great body of these tribes has become indistinguishably blended with the victorious race. In the South they have also adopted the Aryan culture and religion, preserving, however, their languages, which are different forms of the Dravidian, radically distinct from the Sanskrit. It is a question which is not yet ripe for solution, how far they in turn have been able to infect their conquerors with their own ideas and customs. It is probable, however, that some at least of the goddesses of the Hindu religions which sanction the sacrifice of blood are of Dravidian origin… The most interesting and best known are those of the aborigines of the Dravidian race. They have as their common character the adoration of divinities connected with the elementary powers and the earth, mostly female and malignant, the worship of ghosts and other mischievous spirits, which they seek to appease by bloody sacrifices and orgiastic ceremonies which recall the Shamanism of the tribes of Northern Asia…Many of these practices have left traces among all the Dravidian population, even among those that are most thoroughly assimilated….‘637


While not excusing the Indic Aryans of creating a rigid and limiting religious and social system, Barth also suggested that the impetus for much of the ‘backward‘ and ‘pagan‘ rituals in Hinduism may have been the Dravidian element. As a result, Barth concluded that the Hindu religion was in decline, being besieged moreover, by the rational processes of science, industry, administration, police, and sanitary regulation. While Hinduism had consistently met and resolved all challenges to its authority through perpetual reform, each of these had been transient and liable to corruption.638

In the work of Barth the term ‘Hindu‘ came to apply not only to religion but, in fact, to a race of people. By the end of the nineteenth- century, it was an accepted fact that notwithstanding India‘s chequered Aryan past, the current people of India were too racially mixed and therefore too philosophically mingled to single out specific groups as ‘Aryan‘ or ‘Dravidian‘. The term ‘Hindu‘, referring as it did, to centuries of racial intermixing, now came to be used to define the Indian people. In any case, anthropologists were concluding that there were very few ‘pure‘ biological races left, instead using examples of historical or national races. India was therefore peopled by the ‘Hindu‘ race.639 This appellation could be used as a positive term to signify some aspect of Vedism or Aryanism; or it could also be used as a pejorative term to indicate a stagnant thought process or even as an example of ‘oriental tyranny.‘

The British and the uses of caste

Unlike the French theories that the mixing of castes had created so much racial mixing in India that only a term like ‘Hindu‘ could be used to explain the inconsistencies and paradoxes present in India, the British needed to move away from this philosophical discussion of doctrine and actively integrate categories of caste and race into their government.

In contrast to these explanations of caste as an evolving organism, British uses for caste were to create dangerous dissensions within Indian society. The government soon became involved in the issue of caste, with the introduction of the Census. The first India Census of 1871-72 divided the population on the basis of caste, with built-in assumptions about social hierarchy following the caste hierarchy with the brahmins at the top of the caste pyramid. Surveys in Bengal, Mysore, Bombay, Madras and United provinces used caste as the primary unit of classification. Occupations were classified o the basis of caste as well. The Census was meant to catalogue every aspect of Indian life, and the development brought about by British rule. It included statistics on roads and rails, on agricultural and commercial production, on education, of hospitals and medical facilities, on sanitation, on jails etc. In the process, statistics were complied also of the sections of the native population actively involved in these activities- natives involved in agriculture, manual labor, trade and commercial activity were catalogued as well as castes that seemed to have a high percentage of criminal members. This project snowballed into an official ethnographic project cataloging the castes and tribes of India. As Goodwin Raheja suggests the exercise also utilized discourses of consent -- by cataloguing the languages, castes, and ethnic divisions in India, the official enterprise was portrayed as one which was being carried out with the consent and participation of the subjects, even though the writings of Edgar Thurston and other ethnographers clearly stated otherwise.640

The Decennial Census of 1881 continued this system. The total population of British India was divided into three broad categories of brahmins, Rajputs and 'other castes', which included agricultural castes, artisans and village servants, merchants etc.

Under the influence of a growing proliferation of views about the origin and nature of the caste system among Western scholars, the 1891 Census gave up caste -based classifications. The nature of caste as a social or religious institution was questioned in favor of a theory of occupationally- based caste. The case for this classification had been strengthened by writers like William Crooke, Denzil Ibbetson and John Nesfield, whose researches in the Punjab and North West Provinces had concluded with the theory that caste had originated as an occupational division of the population.

In 1882, William Plowden, Census Commissioner for India, suggested that a list of castes and occupations be compiled for each district along with a description of the peculiarities of each. The Government of India, while interested in the project, did not invest any money, leaving it to the discretion of state governments to invest in the project. Only the Bengal Government, pointing out that new communication, travel and education was changing much of the tradition structure of Indian society, suggested that Risley be employed for two years, in 1884, to undertake this project. The survey developed and a number of correspondents for particular cases were appointed. In addition, efforts by anthropological societies were made to extend the study to other provinces.

The 1891 Census divided sixty subgroups of the Indian population into six occupational categories: agricultural and pastoral, professional, commercial, artisans and village servants, vagrants and other races and indefinite titles. Caste was used only to explain long-tern changes for an occupational group. The succeeding confusion was immense. The clear dichotomy between a caste and its occupation, even of various occupations within a single caste, made for some very mixed and inaccurate results.

Finally Crooke's study on the Northern tribes was published and in 1901, Curzon's government allocated money for a comprehensive ethnographic survey of the customs of the tribes and castes of India. Each province was in- charge of its own survey under a Superintendent of Ethnography, who, a government servant, was allocated an extra allowance of one hundred and sixty pounds sterling per annum for undertaking this project in addition to his usual duties. He was to correspond with district officers, who obtained information from people who were familiar with the religion, customs and traditions of particular castes and tribes, and put these informants in touch with the Superintendent. The Superintendent as then to provide these informants with a questionnaire of general questions. The scope of this survey included ethnography and anthropometry.

The result of the ethnographic survey was the production of several tomes of the castes and tribes of South India, Bombay, United Provinces, Rajputana, Central Provinces, Punjab and the North West Frontier Province, Assam, Burma, Cochin, Mysore and Travancore. Simultaneously, the appointment of WW Hunter as the Director- General of the Imperial Gazetteer in 1877, began the investigation of the statistical composition by caste, of the military, police, land, market activity, re-inforcing the Survey's conclusions about the innate criminal, martial, intellectual or menial tendencies of certain castes. The results of such exercises in caste composition and analysis were actively utilized in recruitment to the army, clerical divisions of the government, the passing of laws outlawing certain castes and tribes as 'criminal' etc. According to Dirks,

Throughout the nineteenth century, the collection of material about castes and tribes and their customs, and the specification of what kinds of customs, kinship behaviors, ritual forms and so on, were appropriate and necessary for ethnographic description, became increasingly formalized and canonic. Gradually the institutional provenance of caste expanded, affecting the recruitment of soldiers into the army (particularly after the Great Rebellion), the implementation of legal codes applicable on caste lines, the criminalization of entire caste groups for local police purposes, the curtailment of the freedom of the land market when excessive amounts of land we thought to be sold by "agricultural" to "merchant" groups, and the assessment of the political implications of different colonial policies in the area of local administration in caste terms. 641


The next section looks at the manner in which the conflation of caste and race was used to further French and British theories about India.

The Census Commissioner for the 1901 Census, Herbert Risley, was a firm believer in anthropometry as an indicator of race, human development and social status. Caste, which had been increasingly conflated with race theories in the past few decades, was now made the basis of the census. Higher castes were presumed to be descended from Indo- Aryans and therefore their anthropometric measurements were correspondingly more developed. The downward scale of race followed the pattern of the Aryan at the top, followed by the Dravidian, Mongoloid and African. The anthropometric measurements of nasal and cephalic measurements of different castes were now correlated with the race that they were shown to originate from. The result was shown to be the present social hierarchy of India, whereby the Aryan and Aryan- descended castes were the highest castes followed by the Dravidian, Mongoloid and African castes. According to Risley, the Purusha Sukta hymn was only a later manifestation of an originally Iranian derivation of the caste system based on a division of society into priests, warriors, cultivators and artisans. The main conclusions of Risley's ethnological study were:

1. He concluded that there were seven major Indian physical types, of which only the Dravidian was indigenous. These types were Indo- Aryan, Mongoloid, Turko-Iranian, Aryo- Dravidian, Mongolo- Dravidian and Scytho- Dravidian.

2. The main reason for such an intermixture was India's natural barriers, which made it difficult for women to accompany invaders, who resorted to unions with indigenous women.

3. The only exception to this intermixture seems to have been the Indo-Aryans who managed to retain their racial purity to a large extent.

4. The social grouping of Indians occurred both as tribe and caste- there were three types of tribes and seven types of castes.

5. Both of these groups; tribe and caste, were divided into endogamous, exogamous and hypergamous groups.

6. A large number of the exogamous groups were totemistic.

7. Castes could be classified on the basis of social precedence but no scheme of classification would hold for the whole of India.

8. The Indian caste theory, possibly derived from Persia, had no factual foundation but was universally believed to be a fact.

9. The origin of caste could only be the subject of conjecture and not fact.

In making these statements about the nature of caste, Risley was simultaneously denying that India had progressed beyond a primitive form of social organization, and attributing to the prevalence of caste, the wide-spread belief in superstitions, and outdated rituals. Here was the height of the colonial constriction of caste as proven beyond doubt, to demonstrate India's backward social development and corresponding lack of infrastructure to survive in a modern world, without the tutelage of a Western power. Risley's conclusions about the nature of caste prompted him to comment on the role of caste in the social and political life of India. Contrary to notions that caste was breaking up, he pointed out that caste ties in India remained as strong as ever. It prevented the formation of a unified nationalism and democracy. Factors prompting a nationalistic feeling, like a community of origin, common language, common political history, common religion or ties by intermarriage being lacking due to caste divisions, national sentiment in India tended wither to be lacking or to produce dissension rather than cohesion. According to Risley, the existence of whatever little national feeling in India was due to the common intellectual tradition and communication caused by the introduction of English, and the unity provided by a single colonial government and common system of laws. While Risley acknowledged that it was not impossible for a number of castes to form a common national attitude, citing the Marathas as an example, he also claimed that this was a long and frustrating process, which would constantly be impeded by caste.

Interestingly enough, these theories of racial hierarchy were internalized by Indian writers, especially the indigenous elite.642 The echo of Risley, Thurston and Crooke is clear in works such as B S Guha, An Outline of the Racial Ethnology of India (Calcutta, 1937), 'Professor Tagore', in lectures to the Anthropological Society of London in 1863 and 1868, as well as Rajendralal Mitra's contributions to the same society in 1869, Anatha Krishna Iyer, Lectures on Ethnography (Calcutta, 1925), Ramaprasad Chanda, The Indo- Aryan Races and M M Kunte's Vicissitudes of Aryan Civilization in India (Bombay, 1880). In addition the application of these theories skewed accounts of legendary and heroic origins of races, in terms of clashes between Aryans and indigenous peoples, the description of tribals as jungle peoples and semi- savages appears in the works of many early historians.643 This construction of the adivasis, tribals and aborigines has been attacked by several scholars as well, making not only for contentious debates within the public sphere but also in the academic sphere, since no discussion of caste can be separated from social hierarchy.644 As Guha points out, 'the archaeological record offers little support for the mythic history of clashing races that took shape when the brown sahibs and white sahibs sought to escape their fears about the instability of social hierarchy by giving it a biological basis and projecting it into the past…'645

Based on the Censuses, the two most obvious uses of caste and race were to define certain castes as ‘criminal‘ castes, and specific races as ‘martial‘ races. Military handbooks were usually compiled by serving members of the military, theoretically an expression of first-hand experience of the martial qualities of the different racial groups of natives serving in the British Indian army. The aftermath of 1857 and the policy of recruiting specific castes and ethnic segments of the native population into the army was clearly reflected in the creation of martial backgrounds and qualities which eminently suited their employment in the army. As Pradeep Barua points out, the physical qualities of the 'martial' races were measured by the anthropometrical measurement of the skull, the breadth of the shoulders and the physical build- accordingly Pathans, Dogras, Punjabis and other ethnic groups which came closest to the 'Indo-Aryan type' were recruited.646 Another measure of martial quality was the degree of loyalty -- once again the Sikhs and Gurkhas, owing to their loyalty during the Revolt of 1857, were lauded as possessing superior martial qualities.

The handbooks for the Indian army were published from the end of the nineteenth century well into the twentieth century and were circulated among officers of the army as sources of knowledge about the qualities and mannerisms of their native troops. Handbooks on Pathans, Gurkhas, Dogras, Sikhs, Rajputs, Marathas and other 'martial races' were abundant among literature of this sort. The handbooks relied heavily on British histories of India, ethnographic accounts, like those of Risley, Ibbetson, and Thurston, and official sources like Gazetteers, census reports, and intelligence reports to construct an elaborate martial heritage for the races they described.647 The 'martial races' were shown to be possessed of a long lineage of fighting and brave ancestors. They also possessed innately martial natures, based on their willingness to fight, their loyalty and their physical stamina. In the process other groups who had been traditionally recruited were marginalized.648

All of these ideas were compiled into a book by George MacMunn, titled The Martial Races of India. MacMunn traced the martial background of each group, their performance in combat, and their behavior within the unit, including their relations with other ethnic groups, their social skills, and their loyalty to officers. In a testament to the longevity of such theories, certain groups within modern India society continue to join the military as a proof of their ‘martial‘ heritage.649

Far more destructive was the ‘criminalization‘ of certain castes and tribes. These groups were described as having innate tendencies to crime, and these tendencies were reinforced by religious and cultural sanctions. As the work of Máire Ní Fhlathúin indicates this development was a characteristic of the British colonial administration, and one that had no resonance in the work of French colonial writers of previous centuries.650 The government committed to rehabilitate all such castes and tribes, with death and imprisonment as a last resort. While missionaries devoted themselves to saving the souls of these criminal castes,651 the government undertook police and military campaigns against them.652 A famous example of such a group was the Thugees. Described as religious fanatics who committed senseless murders in the name of religion, the Thugs were broken up into their caste components.653 The outlawing of thuggee and subsequent incarceration of all Thugs meant that the government hunted for members of castes which were among the thuggee organization. In the process many individuals who belonged to castes which were prominent among the Thugs, but may themselves not have practiced it, were jailed. Similar reports were compiled for Dacoits in the Central Indian jungles. Books like William Sleeman‘s Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official (1844) which described thuggee and Sleeman‘s suppression of it in detail, and Meadows Taylor's Confessions of a Thug which was written as a biography of an imprisoned thug, but was entirely fictional, reinforced the belief that criminality was inherent in certain castes, just as other castes were possessed of martial qualities, commercial propensities, intellect and the like.

The official verdict on criminal castes was provided by Frederick Mullaly, a senior police officer in the Madras presidency.654 Appointed the first honorary superintendent of ethnography for the Madras Presidency, his work on criminal castes and tribes had each group described in separate chapters, with the historical background and an explanation of the origins of their criminal practices, their customs and rituals, and the kinds of crimes committed by each group. Mullaly‘s work proved to the British that criminal castes were not limited to specific regions of India.

Yet as issues surrounding the ‘criminal‘ nature of these castes continue to plague modern India and prevent any social cohesion prove, the creation of British knowledge about Indian caste was indelibly implanted in India. These castes continue to be persecuted as a result of their ‘criminal tendencies‘.655 More importantly, the government of India has taken on the mantle of the British in insisting on using ‘caste‘ as the central category for the modern Census system.656

Finally, caste was used as a powerful argument by British missionaries to point out the oppression of Hinduism. By equating caste and Hinduism, missionaries overlooked the practice of caste by Muslims, Jew, Christians, and even Parsis in India. For instance, Alexander Duff, an outspoken Scottish missionary, held that caste was both a social and a religious institution that effectively held Indians back from achieving any real equality. He wrote a tract titled, What is Caste: How is a Christian Government to Deal with it?

Another missionary, Robert Caldwell was an example of the correlation and confusion between the concepts of race and caste. While admitting that most converts were from lower castes, Caldwell saw this as a result of the natural degradation, which the caste system imposed upon them and from which they were eager to escape. Caldwell thus opened up the caste system as an imposition of the brahmins on the lower castes, who were eager and willing to escape from the confines of their lowly status. He also put forward a theory of increased Sanskritization -- according to Caldwell, the brahmin caste was the most Sanskritized caste, and in effect, an Aryan intrusion into Dravidian life in the South. The Sanskritized castes were most resistant to change because they held the highest positions in the caste system. On the other hand, the lower castes, who were originally Dravidians who had been inducted into the lower rungs of the Aryan caste system, were more amenable to conversion. Caldwell's views, while purporting to support the lower castes in south India against what he believed was an Aryan Brahmin tyranny, opened up new controversies about the racial status of Aryan and Dravidian. Caldwell's lower castes in south India were aghast that he would term them a Dravidian and therefore, an inferior race. While Caldwell held that Dravidian culture, in its history, language and literature was as highly evolved as Aryan culture, he also described Dravidian religion as being of the more primitive form, relying on witchcraft, superstition and animal and plant worship. The contradiction in his argument placed the Dravidian in an ambiguous position vis-à-vis a linear scale of human development. Moreover, while Caldwell despised the brahmins, he also viewed the rare brahmin convert as the supreme achievement since it signified a true conversion in terms of theology and not merely an escape from the confines of a restrictive institution.

Even missionaries who served in native kingdoms echoed this sentiment. Samuel Mateer described the caste system as the greatest detriment to progress.657 He regarded caste as the external manifestation of Hindu religious doctrines, based on the 'divine' origin of caste sanctions regarding occupation, social status, marriage, social intercourse and rituals. Mateer described caste as

"separates the people into many different classes throughout the whole of India. Each caste is supposed to be as distinct from others as are the various species of animals, such as the horse, the ox or the ass. Those who belong to the highest caste enjoy extravagant privileges, and are almost worshipped as gods, while the lowest are regarded as degraded almost below the level of the beasts of the field."658


He viewed caste as obstructing even basic human kindnesses such as hospitality and kindness to one another. Ironically Mateer's description of caste as a barrier to common courtesies was in stark contrast to other writers of travelogues and descriptive accounts which praise the Indian sense of hospitality. Despairing of the higher castes, particularly the brahmins and the Nayars of Travancore, from ever renouncing their ill- gotten caste privileges, Mateer also provided a 'humane' look into the ill-use of caste in matters of legal status, inheritance and property issues.

The Christian mission in Travancore, according to Mateer, had wrought limited but remarkable improvements in breaking through the prejudices of caste among those who had been converted to Christianity. Describing the efforts of the missionaries at education, particularly at female education, Mateer also attributed the rise of a new class of native teachers, doctors and professionals to Christianity and the freedom from caste. Conversion also greatly improved the manners and morals of natives, since it freed them of caste prejudices, idolatry and rigid dogmas. They were educated in the Christian manner to become honest, upright members of the Church.

Mateer regarded caste as far more insidious than a result of Hinduism. He noted that native Christians and Syrian Christians in Travancore, as well as Muslims in the area had held on to their caste status over the centuries and were recognized as belonging to different castes even by the Government of Travancore until the efforts of the Christian missionaries persuaded the renunciation of caste status by Christian converts. More than eschewing a Hindu philosophy of life, conversion of Christianity was seen by missionaries as leading to a material and moral emancipation from the restrictions of the caste system.
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Re: Claiming India, by Jyoti Mohan

Postby admin » Sun Nov 01, 2020 2:32 am

Part 3 of 3

Conclusion

By the end of the nineteenth century the image of India had undergone much change. From a land of brahminic spirituality and philosophy, the image of India had first been challenged by the discovery of Buddhism and subsequent reform movements. Then in the mid-century studies on race indicated that the subcontinent far from being an Aryan land, also possessed inferior races who had infected the Aryan mind with degenerate concepts of inequality and rigidity. In fact Inden points to the European theory of the medieval decline of Hinduism as the result of the belief of the ‘lower race or lower layer of the human mind‘…gaining ‘the upper hand over the higher‘.659

In response to the race studies, French Indologists at the turn of the century designated a new term, ‘Hindu‘, to refer to the result of the Aryan-Dravidian mixture, both in terms of a race of people as well as their thought processes and civilization. The hallmark of this ‘Hindu‘ civilization was its dependence on caste and ritual. In comparison with the romantic view of the Florists of the early century, French Indologists now held that India, despite her Aryan past, indeed justified the need for a civilizing mission in her current state. In the French case, this evolving image of India came to be represented as two schools of study. Indologists based in Paris continued to focus their studies on Sanskrit texts, and, by extension, the study of North, primarily Aryan India. While accepting that India in the present was a decayed civilization, the implication of a once-advanced Aryan civilization was clear. The suggestion therefore, that given the right circumstances, possibly the right tutor, India could once again achieve a praiseworthy civilization, was made repeatedly in such as Sylvain Lévi‘s writing about the European contribution to the recovery of India‘s glorious past.660

The British on the other used the category of caste as a useful tool to divide and separate the people of India not only for easier administration but also to ensure the internal dissension would overcome any desire to be independent of colonial rule. Their use of caste to define specific ‘martial‘ and ‘criminal‘ castes and tribes was an ingenious mode of divide and rule.

Apart from the difference in the construction and use of categories like caste and race between British and French writers, colonial theories of superior and inferior caste and race was internalized by Indians more than any other creation of colonial knowledge. For instance, in understanding their own past and writing Indian history, Indians from the late nineteenth century used the same categories of race and caste to describe themselves, thus converting the colonial interpretation661 of these identities into self-fulfilling prophecies of exclusive and competing castes and of superior/inferior races which continues to haunt modern India to the present day. For instance there were three major areas into which caste discussion among Indians fell. One was to regard it as a divisive, social evil, a negation of Indian nationhood. This was the 'incubus theory', and was popularized by social reformers like M. G. Ranade, R. Raghunatha Rao, T. V. Vaswani, Rao Bahadur M. Audinarayana Iyer, C Sankaran Nair and other members of the National Social Conference. These men recognized the importance of caste in Indian life but pushed for radical reforms within the system. A more extreme version of the reform movements came with the anti- brahmin movements of the early twentieth century, like E. V. Ramaswamy Naicker's Self- Respect movement, founded in 1925. Naicker called for a repudiation of all Aryan values and organizations, including the caste system, as a manifestation of brahmin tyranny. While some of the reformers visualized a casteless, egalitarian society in India's future, most of them pressed for immediate social reforms especially with regard to educational opportunities, social restrictions of caste and political representation. It is important to understand that these men had internalized the colonial discussion of caste as representing race, a theory that was emphasized by French scholars more than the British, even though all ‘scientific evidence‘ proved that in the modern period, there could be no such conclusion about specific castes representing different races.

In discussing the nature of caste, it is impossible to ignore B. R. Ambedkar's indictment of the caste system as an oppressive, exploitative regime, which needed to be wiped out from India. Well known for his efforts to uplift the Untouchable castes and his disapprobation of the chaturvarna, as it was understood in India, I include here a series of excerpts from Ambedkar's tract on the Annihilation of Caste:

Hindu society as such does not exist. It is only a collection of castes. Each caste is conscious of its existence. Its survival is the be-all and end-all of its existence. Castes do not even form a federation. A caste has no feeling that it is affiliated to other castes except when there is a Hindu-Moslem riot. On all other occasions each caste endeavors to segregate itself and distinguish itself from other castes. Each caste not only dines among itself and marries among itself but each caste prescribes its own distinctive dress.662


Ambedkar accused higher castes of deliberately keeping lower castes economically and culturally deprived. Demonstrating that caste sanctions were imposed by appeals to religious scriptures, he called for an entire overhaul of the religious and social system of India.

The effects of caste on the ethics of the Hindus is simply deplorable. Caste has killed public spirit. Caste has destroyed the sense of public charity. Caste has made public opinion impossible. A Hindu's public is his caste. His responsibility is only to his caste. His loyalty is restricted only to his caste. Virtue has become caste-ridden and morality has become caste- bound. There is no sympathy for the deserving. There is no appreciation of the meritorious. There is no charity to the needy. Suffering as such calls for no response. There is charity but it begins with the caste and ends with the caste. There is sympathy but not for men of other castes.663


The second theory regarding caste was the 'golden chain view' which regarded caste as varna, an ideology of spiritual order and moral affinity and a rallying point for the regeneration of the nation. Proponents of this view included Dayanand Saraswati and Tilak. Tilak saw caste standards as divinely mandated, while Saraswati saw caste as the basis for an ordered Hindu society, while simultaneously allowing for spiritual and sacral access to all. The theory that caste was a means of ordering Hindu society was also popularized by members of societies like the Manava Dharam Sabha and the Prarthana Samaj. While the members of these groups pressed for social reform within the caste system, they nevertheless saw the institution as essential to Indian nationhood.

The third view was of caste as an 'idealized corporation', where caste equated with jati, was a concrete ethnographic fact of Indian life. The proponents of this view included the organizers of Maratha and Rajput movements, valorizing kshatriya values, and extolling the 'natural' attributes of courage, strength and character of kshatriyas. They essentially equated caste with racial identity, taking their cue from British and French ethnographies which defined the castes in terms of belonging to Aryan, Dravidian and aboriginal races.

Modern anthropologists, sociologists and historians who study caste have refuted the different assertions that caste was the sole social identity of Indians664 or that it was rigid, or fixed in its hierarchy665 or in fact that caste had proved to be an impediment to progress.666 Instead the only ‘truth‘ about the caste system was that its significance in ordering the lives of Indians varied greatly, and so did notions of purity-impurity, and dominant-subordinate with respect to the institution. In some circumstances caste was not the predominant identity of Indians, thus allowing for a plurality of identities, each assuming primacy in specific circumstances.667

While Indologists merely pointed out that India had once possessed a great (Aryan) civilization, popular histories took this notion one step further. Not only did these histories clearly state that France, and not Britain, was the proper nation to guide India back to civilization, but by providing a more understandable impression of India to the interested individual than the scholarly philological and philosophical monographs of Indologists, they constituted a far more permanent addition to France‘s ‘colonial memory‘. In addition they demonstrated the dissemination of scholarly images of India to the reading public.

The next section looks at the popular image of India in France. Building on the work of Indologists, historians in France wrote about India in diverse and sometimes contradictory terms. The chapters of the next section explore these images of India.

_______________

Notes:

552 Auguste Barth, The Religions of India. Translated by Rev. J. Wood. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench Trübner and Co, 1891). Third Edition, preface: Xvii.
 
553 See chapter 4.
 
554 The French did not invent the term Hinduism. Instead they adopted this term in the late nineteenth century to explain the degeneration of brahminism due to the influence of foreign (particularly Islamic) incursions and the consequent mixing of races.

555 ‘…les Portugais ne tardèrent pas à remarquer qu‘elles étaient divisées en un grand nombre de sections héréditaires, fermées, se distinguant par la spécialité de leurs occupations. Elles se superposaient en une sorte de hiérarchie, les groupes plus élevés se gardent avec un soin superstitieux de tout rapprochement avec les groupes réputes plus humbles. C‘est à ces sections qu‘ils donnèrent le nom de castes.‘ Emile Sénart, ―Les castes dans l'Inde: Le Présent‖, in Revue des Deux Mondes, (1st Feb 1894): 596
 
556 See for example the exhaustive surveys of William Crooke, The tribes and castes of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh. Four vols. (1896), Sir Denzil Ibbetson, Punjab Castes. (1883), and Herbert Risley, The People of India. Second ed. (1915). For an excellent study on how these works affected the construction and perception of India, see Nicholas Dirks, Castes of Mind (Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 2001).

557 A. Esquer, Essai sur les castes dans l'Inde. (Pondicherry, 1871)
 
558 Ibid, Chapter three and five, passim.
 
559 ‘Parmi les soixante millions d‘habitants qui peuplent ces vastes contrées, le mot de nationalité n‘avait plus de sens: cette multitude, dans laquelle chaque individu végétait, isolé et parqué dans sa caste, comme dans une barrière infranchissable, ne demandait plus qu‘à cultiver son riz, qu‘à planter son tabac ou son indigo, surveiller la maturité de ses cannes à sucre, s‘incliner devant les Brâhmes, vénérer les castes supérieures…‘ Ibid: 10.
 
560 Vivien de Saint- Martin. "Compte rendu de l'Essai sur les castes de l'Inde par M. Esquer, président du tribunal de Pondichéry", Bulletin de la Société de géographie, (Nov 1872): 534-542. Saint-Martin, born in 1802, was arguably the most famous geographer of the nineteenth century. Immortalized in Jules Verne‘s novel, ‘In Search of the Castaways or the Children of Captain Grant‘ (Jules Verne, In search of the Castaways or The Children of Captain Grant. 1867-68. See chapter 7). Saint-Martin had an illustrious academic career which included authoring the Nouveau Dictionnaire de Géographie Universelle and becoming président honoraire of the Société de Géographie de Paris. Although he never visited India, he was considered an expert nonetheless and published three Mémoires sur la géographie de l‟Inde. These were the Etude sur la géographie grecque et latine de l'Inde (Paris 1858), Etude sur la géographie et les populations primitives du Nord-Ouest de l'Inde, d'après les Hymnes védiques (Paris 1859) and Etudes de géographie ancienne et d‟ethnographie Asiatique (Paris, 1850), Vol 1. A fourth work which was to take up the geography of Southern India—though promised and referred to in the third—was unfortunately never published.
 
561 Ibid: 536-37.
 
562 ―Historical view…social view…philosophical view…‖ Ibid: 535.
 
563 A. Esquer. Essai sur les castes dans l'Inde. (Pondicherry, 1871): 481

564’Nous avons dit ensuite comment ces nouveaux maîtres de l‘Inde, abandonnant leurs croyances primitives, pour s‘assimiler une partie des croyances des races conquises, leur substituèrent de nouveaux dogmes religieux et philosophiques, élaborèrent une nouvelle constitution sociale, et créèrent une civilisation, étrange et grandiose à la fois, dont les deux éléments essentiels étaient le dogme de la transmigration des âmes et le système des castes…‘ Ibid: 482.
 
565 Ibid, Chapter 5.

566 ’La division des castes est, on peut l‘affirmer hardiment, un chef-d‘oeuvre de législation: ce système était, à l‘origine, admirablement adapté au climat de l‘Inde et aux habitudes natives et caractéristique de ses habitants…Le système des castes, sans doute, consacrait à une inégalité funeste; mais il donnait à la société nouvelle une assiette fixe, favorisait l‘accroissement de la population et la création des richesses, et permettait un grand essor philosophique, littéraire, politique et industriel…Mais, et c‘est là leur grande erreur, les législateurs ont méconnu la nature humaine, en déclarant que leur organisation ne pourrait être modifiée…L‘autorité humaine est essentiellement circonscrite par les droits imprescriptables de la liberté, elle devient usurpation et tyrannie…L‘esprit brâhmanique, qui a inspiré le régime de l‘inégalité, a été vraiment l‘antipode de l‘esprit chrétien…‘ Ibid: 74-75.
 
567 ‘L‘Inde n‘est pas, à beaucoup près, la seule contrée du monde où la division des castes se soit introduite. On peut dire que la nature a déposé le germe au sein de toutes les sociétés humaines, depuis les associations les plus infimes et les plus rudimentaires, jusqu‘aux organisations les plus élevées dans la hiérarchie historique et philosophique. Les nations les plus grandes, les plus célèbres et les plus glorieuses dans les temps anciens ou actuels, les ont reconnues sous différents noms et dans des conditions plus ou moins absolues; mais nulle part elles sont développées d‘une manière aussi éntendue (sic- entourer ?), aussi complet, aussi profonde que dans l‘Inde. Nulle part elles ne sont devenues comme ici la base unique de la société politique, religieuse et civile, l‘institution fondamentale d‘où tout le reste dérive et à laquelle tout se rapporte.‘ Vivien de Saint- Martin. "Compte rendu de l'Essai sur les castes de l'Inde par M. Esquer, président du tribunal de Pondichéry", in Bulletin de la Société de géographie, (Nov 1872): 534.
 
568 ‘Cette vue nous ramène au côté purement historique de la question des castes sur lequel M.Esquer, ainsi que je l‘ai dit, ne montre pas autant de décision qu‘on pourrait le désirer.‘ Ibid: 537.
 
569 ‘La distinction des castes je l‘ai dit, était en germe au sein des tribus védiques, comme elle est au fond de toutes les sociétés humaines. C‘est son caractère indélébile et héréditaire, c‘est sa limite infranchissable, c‘est sa consécration religieuse et d‘institution divine, qui l‘ont marquée d‘un cachet si profond dans la constitution brahmanique, et lui ont donné, sur la destinée du peuple hindou, une influence que le même fait social, à différents degrés de développement, n‘a eu chez aucun autre peuple.‘ Ibid: 537.
 
570 ―le résultat de la conquête… l‘expression historique et sociale à la fois de l‘asservissement d‘une race ignorante, grossière, de facultés bornées, sans organization politiques, par une race infiniment plus développée et de facultés physiques et intellectuelles très-supérieures." Ibid: 537-38.
 
571 Ibid.
 
572 Ibid: 539-42.
 
573 Ibid: 539. ‘une race conquérante et dominatrice, une race conquise et asservie.‘
 
574 Emile Sénart, born at Rheims in 1847, studied at the Universities of Munich and Goettingue where he got interested in studying India. Sénart‘s prolific work as a scholar alone makes him noteworthy among the ranks of French Indology. Not content with studying only literary texts, or inscriptions alone, Sénart re-set the bar for scholars of India in terms of the qualifications and quality of scholarship. He had, by the end of long career, published three types of works dealing with India. The first body was that of translation. Sénart had translated Sanskrit and Pali works like the Pali grammar of Kacchayana in 1871, the Bhagavadgita from the Sanskrit in 1922, and the Buddhist text the Mahavastu between 1882- 97. The second corpus consisted of epigraphic translations, of Asokan, Indo- Bactrian and Buddhist inscriptions into French. The last, and possibly the richest contribution to Indology, were a series of works on Indian art, history, and religion. These works included a work on the Gandhara school of sculptures in 1906, on Asoka and Buddhism in 1889, on Indian theater in 1891, on the caste system in 1894, on the origins of Buddhism in 1907, and on Buddhism and Yoga in 1900. So in the course of a long and rich career Sénart managed to become as complete an expert as possible on ancient as well as contemporary India, applying his scholarship and theories derived from studies of ancient texts and inscriptions to contemporary institutions like the caste system, economy and religion.
 
575 Emile Sénart, ‘Les Castes dans l‘Inde: Les Origines‘, Revue des Deux Mondes, (15 Sept. 1894): 326- 332.

576 ‘La caste est, à mon sens, le prolongement normal des antiques institutions âryennes, se modelant à travers les vicissitudes que leur prépara le milieu qu‘elles rencontrèrent dans l‘Inde…‘ Ibid: 344.

577 ’De l‘Aryas à Coûdras, il y a certainement à l‘origine une opposition de race, qu‘elle soit plus ou moins absolue.‘ Emile Sénart, ‘Les Castes dans l‘Inde: Le Passé‘, Revue des Deux Mondes, (1st Mar, 1894): 109.
 
578 Emile Sénart, Caste in India. The Facts and the System. Translated by Sir Denison Ross. (London, 1930): 209.
 
579 Ibid.
 
580 Emile Sénart, Caste in India. The Facts and the System. Translated by Sir Denison Ross. (London, 1930): 210- 211.
 
581 Emile Sénart, ‘Les Castes dans l‘Inde: Le Passé‘, Revue des Deux Mondes, (1st Mar, 1894): 94- 105
 
582 ’Faisons abstraction de quelques populations décidément inférieures par la race, isolées par les circonstances géographiques et par l‘histoire, second par l‘importance numérique: l‘Inde tout entière nous apparait, non pas comme une simple collection d‘individus, mais comme une agglomération d‘unités corporatives. Le nombre, le nom, les caractères, la fonction en varient à l‘infini…‘ Emile Sénart, ‘Les Castes dans l‘Inde: Le Present‘, Revue des Deux Mondes, (1st Feb, 1894): 600.
 
583’La caste est le cadre de toute l‘organisation brâhmanique. C‘est pour venir au brâhmanisme que les populations aborigènes se constituent en castes, acceptant les règles strictes de la caste.‘ Emile Sénart, ‘Les Castes dans l‘Inde: Les Origines‘, Revue des Deux Mondes, (15 Sept, 1894): 326.
 
584 Emile Sénart, ‘Les Castes dans l‘Inde: Le Passé‘, Revue des Deux Mondes, (1st Mar, 1894): 121.
 
585 Célestin Bouglé, Essays on the Caste System. English translation by D F Pocock. (Cambridge, 1971): 9.
 
586 The most respected scholars of Caste studies continue to be French. Louis Dumont‘s Homo Hierarchicus, published in 1950 is the model of caste that contemporary scholars refer to.
 
587 Emile Sénart, Caste in India. The Facts and the System. Translated by Sir Denison Ross. (London, 1930): 218-219.
 
588 Célestin Bouglé, Essays on the Caste System. English translation by D F Pocock. (Cambridge, 1971), chapter 6.
 
589 ―En prenant la charge des populations dont le sort lui était abandonné par les traités de 1815, la France devait songer à améliorer leur bien- être matériel, en même temps qu‘à les moraliser: c‘était un second moyen, efficace et pratique, de civilisation, dont elle devait user dans l‘intérêt de ses sujets de l‘Inde." A. Esquer. Essai sur les castes dans l'Inde. (Pondicherry, 1871): 353.
 
590 ’Un second mode d‘action, plus efficace et plus pratique que le précédent, est employé avec succès par les amis de l‘Inde pour élever ses populations à la hauteur des idées et de la civilisation modernes; ce moyen, plus sûr et moins dangereux que la prédication des idées chrétiennes…est l‘éducation, l‘initiation des masses aux arts et aux sciences de l‘Occident.‘ Ibid: 425.
  
591 Vivien de Saint- Martin. "Compte rendu de l'Essai sur les castes de l'Inde par M. Esquer, président du tribunal de Pondichéry", in Bulletin de la Société de géographie, (Nov 1872): 542.
 
592 Emile Sénart, Caste in India. The Facts and the System. Translated by Sir Denison Ross. (London, 1930): 219- 220.

593 Pictet was a student of Burnouf at the Collège de France. As early as 1815 Adolphe Pictet had posited the link between the Aryans and the Celtic peoples of Europe in De l'affinite des langues celtiques avec le Sanscrit. Pictet was awarded a prize from the Institut de France for this work in 1856, demonstrating the enormous popularity of this theory of Aryan origin.
 
594 Raymond Schwab, The Oriental Renaissance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986): 125. François Lenormant (1837– 1883) was a French Assyriologist and archaeologist. As early as 1867 he had turned his attention to Assyrian studies; he was among the first to recognize in the cuneiform inscriptions the existence of a non-Semitic language, now known as Akkadian. The inclusion of India in this work was incidental to theories that the Aryans had originated in India but it is clear through this and other works of the day how central race theory was to all branches of knowledge at this time.
 
595 See table in Chapter 3.
 
596 Abel Hovelacque and Julien Vinson. Études de linguistiqe et d‟ethnographie. (Paris, Reinwald and Co, 1878)
 
597 ―La grammaire dravidienne est d‘une remarquable simplicité…La phonétique n‘offre point de difficultés sérieuses" Ibid: 62.
 
598―…il n‘existe pas de mot purement dravidien qui exprime l‘idée de Dieu…beaucoup de mots signifient également <<prince, roi, maître, dieu>>…Cette croyance a dû être l‘un des premiers effets de la civilisation apporté dans le sud de l‘Inde par les Aryas." Ibid: 86
 
599―Je crois donc que, avant l‘arrivée des Aryas dans le dravida, les habitants de ces belles contrées étaient des sauvages completement athées…les Dravidiens, avant de se trouver en contact avec la branche indienne des Aryas, n‘avaient probablement aucune idée religieuse." Ibid: 87.
 
600―Le vocabulaire dravidien indique une infériorité morale très-grande; on ne trouve point de mots originaux pour les grandes entités métaphysiques: en dépit du soi-disant consentement unanime des peuples, il n‘y avait, dans le pays dravidien, avant l‘arrivée des Aryas, ni <<dieu>>, ni <<âme>>, ni<<église>>, ni <<prêtre>>; il est vrai qu‘il n‘y avait pas advantage de <<livre>>, d‘<<écriture>>, de <<peinture>> ou de <<grammaire>>…" Ibid: 64.
 
601 ‘L‘étude des races retrace les origins et les progrès de ce peuplement: c‘est dans le pays archaïque du Dekkan qu‘on trouve les plus anciens échantillons des habitants présents de l‘Inde…C‘est à la préhistoire aussi que remonte l‘installation d‘un ensemble de peuples unis par certaines affinités ethniques comme par la langue et qu‘on a coutume de nommer Dravidiens.‘ Gaston Courtillier, Les Anciennes civilizations de l‟Inde. (Librairie Armand Colin: Paris, 1945). Third edition: 7
 
602 Ibid.
 
603’Sous le Veda éternel fermentent les cultes populaires; sous les çastras impérieux, les hérésies et les controverses; sous la langue morte des grammairiens, les idiomes vivant du peuple…‘ L. Finot, ‘Necrologie. Émile Sénart", Bulletin de l‟École Française d‟Extrême Orient, (1928), vol. 28: 338.
 
604―…le Bouddha théorique, dont les traits surhumains se lient et s‘harmonisent dans l‘unité d‘un cycle plus ancien." Emile Sénart, 'Origines Bouddhiques', in Conférences faites au Musée Guimet. (Paris, 1907): 129. Also see L. Finot, ‘Necrologie. Émile Sénart", Bulletin de l‟École Française d‟Extrême Orient, (1928), vol. 28: 337.
 
605 Emile Sénart, 'Origines Bouddhiques', in Conférences faites au Musée Guimet. (Paris, 1907): 116-120.
 
606 Ibid: 125- 128. ‘Le Mrityu- Pâpman brâmanique est antérieur au Ma- Kâma du bouddhisme.‘: 128.
 
607 Ibid: 121- 129.
 
608 Ibid: 125- 138.

609―Gautama fut un yogin formé parmi les pratiques d‘un Yoga qu‘achevait en secte religieuse le culte de Vishnou- Krishna, sous une forme dont les Bhâgavatas du Mahâbhârata nous offrent un type voisin quoique plus défini et plus avancé. Sans doute, il professait certaines doctrines particulières; surtout, il exerçait un prestige personnel qui semble avoir été puissant…" Emile Sénart, 'Origines Bouddhiques', in Conférences faites au Musée Guimet. (Paris, 1907): 156.
 
610―Plus ou moins altéré et déformé, un certain héritage vishnouite surnage emporté dans les courants bouddhiques." Ibid: 138.
 
611 Ronald Inden, Imagining India (Oxford: UK ; Cambridge, Mass., USA: Basil Blackwell, 1990): 117- 122.
 
612 Lévi was the last great French Indologist of the nineteenth century, whose prolific writing spanned religion, literature, and history, although his greatest scholarly accomplishment was the production of a dictionary of Buddhism.
 
613 Emile Sénart, 'Origines Bouddhiques', in Conférences faites au Musée Guimet. (Paris, 1907): 141 and passim
 
614 Ibid: 147 and passim
 
615 Sylvain Lévi, La Science des religions et les religions de l'Inde. (Paris, 1892): 3. 'Le triomphe écrasant du brahmanisme semble le désigner à nos premières recherches, de préférence à ses rivaux malheureux, comme l'expression la plus authentique du sentiment religieux dans l'Inde'
 
616 ‘Rapport de M. Sylvain Lévi sur sa mission dans l‘Inde et au Japon‘ in Mémorial Sylvain Lévi. By Sylvain Lévi, Eli Franco, Louis Renou (Motilal Banarsidass: Delhi, 1996)::266. Originally published in Comptes rendus de l‘Académie des Inscriptions et Belles- Lettres, 1899: 71-92.
 
617 Ibid: 164.
 
618 ―Ils ne sont pas seulement nécessaires pour compléter l‘histoire religieuse de l‘Inde; ils la contiennent presque tout entière en germe, et le plus beau résultat de l‘indianisme sera d‘y trouver l‘amorce des manifestations infiniment variées où s‘est épanchée la vie intellectuelle de l‘Inde." Sylvain Lévi, La Science des religions et les religions de l'Inde. (Paris, 1892): 4.
 
619 Ibid: 5.
 
620―Le brahmanisme s‘est formé graduellement par le transformation des croyances populaires sous la lente action de forces convergentes. Le progrès de la conquête, les modifications de la vie sociale, l‘avènement d‘une caste sacerdotale substituèrent par d‘imperceptibles degrés une religion nouvelle aux cultes antérieurs; le changement était depuis longtemps achevé lorsqu‘il devint apparent. La réforme du Jina et la réforme du Buddha sont nées, au contraire, à jour déterminé, d‘une pensée individuelle et d‘une volonté consciente; l‘un et l‘autre ont senti en un moment de rupture…" Ibid.
 
621 Emile Sénart, 'Origines Bouddhiques', in Conférences faites au Musée Guimet. (Paris, 1907): 131 and passim.
 
622 Ibid. 
 
623 ‘L‘hindouisme est une designation commode pour englober les cultes innombrables qui, s‘addressant à une diversité de divinités, ont néanmoins ces caractères communs reconnus comme la base de l‘orthodoxie brahmanique…‘ ‘Aux Indes‘ in Mémorial Sylvain Lévi. By Sylvain Lévi, Eli Franco, Louis Renou (Motilal Banarsidass: Delhi, 1996): 166. Originally published as the introduction to Aux Indes, Sanctuaires, (1935)
 
624 Sylvain Lévi, L‟Inde civilisatrice: 9.
 
625 Ibid: 15.
 
626 Ibid: 30. Also see Sylvain Lévi, ‘Les parts respectives des nations occidentales dans les progrès de l'Indianisme‘, Scientia, (Jan 1924).
 
627 Ibid.
 
628 Auguste Barth, The Religions of India. Translated by Rev. J.Wood. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench Trübner and Co, 1891). Auguste Barth was born in 1834 and inducted into the Académie for his works on Sanskrit translations and on Indian religion, primarily Hinduism. By the time of his death in 1916 he was a reputed and respected Indologist whose primary claim to fame came from his editing of the Bulletin de Religion.
  
629 Ibid, preface: xiii.
 
630 Ibid: xxi.
 
631 Ibid: xv.
 
632 Ibid: xvi
 
633 Ibid: 153-54.
 
634 Ibid: 252-53.
 
635 Ibid, preface: xix.
 
636 Ibid: 253.
 
637 Ibid: 286-87.
 
638 Ibid: 290. 
 
639 The use of ‘Hindu‘ to indicate a race is especially clear in nineteenth and early twentieth-century America, where South Asians were referred to as ‘Hindu‘ or ‘Hindoo‘ regardless of their religious affiliation.
 
640 Gloria Goodwin Raheja, 'The Illusion of Consent. Language, Caste and Colonial Rule in India' Colonial Subjects. Essays on the Practical History of Anthropology Edited by Peter Pels and Oscar Salemik (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press 1999).
 
641 Nicholas Dirks, Castes of Mind (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000): 44-45.

642 Sumit Guha, 'Lower Strata, Older Races, and Aboriginal Peoples: Racial Anthropology and Mythical History Past and Present', Journal of Asian Studies 57.2 (May 1998).
 
643 V. Raghaviah, Nomads (Secunderabad, 1968), which carried prefaces by the president, vice- president and other political officials; D D Kosambi, An Introduction to the Study of Ancient Indian History (Bombay, 1956), who used the racial hierarchy to argue for the technological development in pre-historic India, R C Majumdar, and Romila Thapar, who classified the 'Aryan invasion' as the last in a series of racial influxes in India. She has subsequently changed her views.
 
644 G S Ghurye, The Scheduled Tribes (Bombay, 1963), Andre Beteille, 'The Concept of Tribe with Special Reference to India', European Journal of Sociology 27.2, Binay B Chaudhuri, 'The Myth of the Tribe', Calcutta Historical Journal 16 (1994), K Sivaramakrishnan, 'Unpacking colonial discourse: notes on using the anthropology of tribal India or an ethnography of the State', Yale Graduate Journal of Anthropology 5 (1993)
 
645 Ranjit Guha, Dominance without Hegemony (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1998): 438.
 
646 Pradeep Barua, ‘Inventing race: The British and India's martial races‘ Historian 58.1 (Autumn 1995). Similar policies were put into effect in other British colonies. See Timothy Parsons, `Wakamba Warriors are Soldiers of the Queen': The Evolution of the Kamba as a Martial race, 1890-1970‘, Ethnohistory 46.4, (Fall 1999), Marjomaa Risto, ‘The Martial Spirit: Yao Soldiers in British Service in Nyasaland (Malawi), 1895-1939‘ The Journal of African History 44.3 (2003).
 
647 Mary Des Chene, 'Military Ethnology in British India', South Asia Research, 19.2. (1999).
 
648 Philip Constable, ‘The Marginalization of a Dalit Martial Race in Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Western India‘, Journal of Asian Studies 60.2 (May 2001)
 
649 As Heather Streets demonstrates these groups were often socialized to believe that they were of ‘martial‘ stock. Heather Streets, Martial Races: the Military, Race and Masculinity in British Imperial Culture, 1857- 1914 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004)
 
650 Fhlathúin points out that while Jean Thévenot noted the prevalence of murders and dacoits in certain regions of India, he did not ascribe these crimes to any specific section or group of society. Máire Ní Fhlathúin, ‘The Travels of M. de Thévenot through the Thug Archive‘, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Third Series, Vol. 11. 1 (2001).
 
651 The Salvation Army was very active in this area. See Rachel J. Tolen, ‘Colonizing and Transforming the Criminal Tribesman: The Salvation Army in British India‘, American Ethnologist 18.1 (1991).
 
652 Andrew J. Major, ‘State and Criminal Tribes in Colonial Punjab: Surveillance, Control and Reclamation of the 'Dangerous Classes'‘, Modern Asian Studies 33.3 (1999).
 
653 For the colonial construction of Thuggee, see Kim A. Wagner, Thuggee : banditry and the British in early nineteenth-century India (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), Parama Roy, ‘Discovering India, Imagining Thuggee‘, The Yale Journal of Criticism Volume 9.1 (Spring 1996) and Mary Poovey, ‘Ambiguity and Historicism : Interpreting Confessions of a Thug‘, Narrative Volume 12. 1 (January 2004).
 
654 Frederick Mullaly, Notes on Criminal Classes of the Madras Presidency. Madras, 1892.
 
655 For example, Dilip D'Souza, ‘De-Notified Tribes: Still 'Criminal'?‘ Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 34, No. 51 (1999), Susan Abraham, ‘Steal or I'll Call You a Thief: 'Criminal' Tribes of India‘, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 34, No. 27 1999, Meena Radhakrishna, ‘Colonial Construction of a 'Criminal' Tribe: Yerukulas of Madras Presidency‘, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 35, No. 28/29 2000, P. K. Bhowmick, ‘Rehabilitation of a 'Denotified Community': The Ex-Criminal Lodhas of West Bengal‘ Royal Anthropological Institute Newsletter, No. 44 (1981).
 
656 Laura Dudley Jenkins, ‘Another "People of India" Project: Colonial and National Anthropology‘, Journal of Asian Studies,Vol. 62.4 (2003).
 
657 Samuel Mateer, Native Life in Travancore (London, 1893), "The Land of Charity": a descriptive account of Travancore and its People (London, 1871).
 
658 Samuel Mateer, "The Land of Charity": a descriptive account of Travancore and its People (London, 1871): 27.
 
659 Ronald Inden, Imagining India (Oxford: UK ; Cambridge, Mass., USA: Basil Blackwell, 1990): 122.
 
660 Sylvain Lévi, ‘Les parts respectives des nations occidentales dans les progrès de l'Indianisme‘, Scientia, (Jan 1924). 
 
661 Among scholars who have discussed the notion of caste as a colonial construct is Nicholas Dirks, Castes of Mind (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000). 
 
662 B R Ambedkar, The Annihilation of Caste (Bombay, 1936): 26.
 
663 Ibid: 37.
 
664 Brenda Beck, Peasant Society in Konku. A Study of Right and Left Sub-castes in South India (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1972), Niels Brimnes, Constructing the Colonial Encounter. Right and Left Hand Castes in Early Colonial South India (Richmond, Surrey: Routledge, 1999). 
 
665 McKim Marriot, Caste Ranking and Community Structure in Five Regions of India and Pakistan (Poona: Deccan College Monograph Series, 1960), Gloria Goodwin Raheja, The Poison in the Gift: Ritual, Prestation and the Dominant Caste in a North Indian Village (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), Robert Hardgrave, The Nadars of Tamilnad. The Political Culture of a Community in Change (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969). 
 
666 Milton Singer, When a Great Tradition Modernizes (New York: Praeger, 1972), Karen Leonard, Social History of an Indian Caste: the Kayasths of Hyderabad (Delhi: South Asia Books, 1978), Frank Conlon, A Caste in a changing world. The Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmans, 1700- 1935 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), Mattison Mines, The Warrior Merchants: textiles, trade and territory in South India (Cambridge: CUP, 1984).
 
667 Susan Bayly, Caste, society and politics in India from the eighteenth century to the modern age. (Cambridge: CUP, 1999).
 
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Re: Claiming India, by Jyoti Mohan

Postby admin » Sun Nov 01, 2020 5:37 am

Part 1 of 3

Chapter 7: Writing histories, creating ‘India‘

"It is the centre of Asia, of Asia, mother of the world, of this antique fatherland of nations; from Asia, the most vast of three parts of the old continent [world] and oldest [to be] populated, that spread the first germs of civilization with which the human species is honored: it is there that the first empires arose, the nations most famous for their population, their magnificence and their riches [wealth]; it is there that half-savage Europeans went to seek laws, luxury, the fine arts; it is [from] there that they drew all their systems of philosophy, all their moral codes: but it is there too that liberty and civilization are irreconcilable; that the peoples seem born for servitude; that the type of absolute authority and passive obedience increases from age in [to] age from the origins of human society."668


This chapter examines the histories of India which were available to the French public at the end of the nineteenth century. In particular, the most accessible historical information came from school textbooks. The themes presented in these works reinforced with vigor (and often without proof) the images of India which had been constructed by French Indologists, and also the popular notion of India which was presented in the press. The chapter serves as a reminder that academics too were men of the world, and apt to be influenced by powerful rhetoric which they then carried over into their academic works. So the division between the academic and the popular images of India in France became ever more blurred towards the end of the nineteenth century.

Histories of India written by the French were relatively few in the nineteenth century in keeping with the French preoccupation with the linguistic and religious aspects of India. Yet the few histories that did get published were influential disseminators of the academic view of India and helped shape French popular opinion about India. Additionally histories contained composite images of India as opposed to monographs which closely studied single aspects of India. Historians read up on all the available monographs and summarized the opinions contained as one flowing narrative. In effect histories are good mirrors of the kind of ideas that were being created in more isolated academic disciplines like Indology.

There is evidence to suggest that the constructions of India by academics and colonial officials percolated to the masses, even though India, unlike Algeria and Indochina, never really formed a prominent part of the cultural landscape in France. Certainly, many Indologists like Sénart and the archeologist and art historian Jouveau Dubreuil, were key advisors for committees dealing with the large colonial Expositions of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.669 The impact of these Expositions has been studied in many monographs as well as the next chapter.670 Their visual impact cannot be underestimated. In the case of India, while the work of Parisian Indologists may not have interested the masses of rural French, their opinions and theories were certainly present in the staging of countries at Expositions, and also in the school textbooks which became part of a uniform educational curriculum after the Revolution. Moreover India was used as an example to demonstrate theories of race and the degeneration of civilization caused by racial intermixing. Therefore despite the relative marginality of India to nineteenth-century French public life it is instructive to look at the role that India played in creating French images of self, as a colonizer and in conceptualizing scholarly theories (such as Scientific Racism) which would have an immense impact on the world (through the theories of Aryanism and Gallicism).

Arguably an equally effective means of looking at the extent to which academic work of creating images of India percolated to the common French boy and girl is to examine the school textbooks of the era. Indeed as Raymond Schwab points out the inclusion of India in the repertoire of contemporary ideas depended on two vehicles: books and oral exposition.671 In particular history textbooks by Victor Duruy and the team of Isaac and Malet presented an image of India to French school children, beginning in the sixth grade, which contained elements of anthropology and the new Indology which have been discussed in the preceding chapters. This chapter focuses on the themes which these history textbooks contained in reference to India. The different sections of the chapter discuss the elements highlighted with reference to India: Aryanism, and the Anglo- French colonial rivalry.

School textbooks were written according to the prescribed curriculum of the day.672 In France the curriculum changed every now and then, but the manner in which India was portrayed remained by and large the same over the large period of time spanning the middle of the nineteenth century to the first quarter of the twentieth. The two most prescribed sets of history textbooks were written by famous French historians Victor Duruy, Albert Malet, and Jules Isaac who did not have any special expertise in most of the areas they wrote about. They were primarily historians of France and were appointed to write history textbooks in a series which would span the earliest to modern times in world history. Being academics, they used scholarly texts to form their histories. The inclusion of their works represents the impact that the small group of Indic specialists had on a larger intelligentsia. The best known textbooks were written first in the mid and later nineteenth century, by Victor Duruy, and in the early twentieth century, by the team of Albert Malet and Jules Isaac. Duruy‘s textbook covered the pre-colonial period of Indian history while Isaac and Malet focused on the contemporary period. Specifically Duruy‘s history texts discussed India in two works. Histoire de l'Orient was meant for the eleven year-old sixth graders who were beginning the study of history for the first time.673 The book followed the format laid out by the official program of 28 January 1890, which defined the Orient as consisting of Egypt, the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Israelites, Phoenicians, Medes, and Persians. The other work was Histoire des Temps Modernes depuis 1453 jusqu‟a 1789, which dealt with the colonial period.

The texts written by Isaac and Malet which I refer to include L'Orient et La Grèce, which followed the official curriculum of 1931 and was meant for sixth graders. It was presumably prepared to replace Duruy‘s older text. The comparison of Duruy‘s L'Orient and Isaac and Malet‘s L'Orient is therefore interesting for the changes which occurred in the description of India between and 1890 and 1932. The other texts written by Isaac and Malet: XVII & XVIII siècles, XIX siècle. Histoire contemporaine, 1815-1920 and Cours abrégé d‟histoire refer to India in the context of colonial rule, making for a comparison of Duruy‘s Histoire des Temps Modernes and Isaac and Malet‘s work.

Duruy and Aryanism

Victor Duruy, French historian and statesman was born in Paris on the 11th of September 1811. The son of a workman at the factory of the Gobelins, he was at first intended for his father‘s trade but succeeded in passing brilliantly through the École Normale Supérieure, where he studied under Michelet, whom he accompanied as secretary in his travels through France. By 1836 at the young age of twenty-four he was teaching at the École Normale. Ill-health eventually forced him to resign and poverty drove him to undertake to write an extensive series of school textbooks which first brought him into public notice.

He devoted himself with ardor to secondary school education even while his career as an historian took off. He continued to write textbooks while holding a Chair in the Collège Henri IV at Paris for over a quarter of a century. Already known as a historian for his Histoire des Romains 2 vols. (1843-1844), he was chosen by Napoleon III on 23rd June 1863 as the new Minister of Education.674

As a historian Duruy aimed in his earlier works at a graphic and picturesque narrative which was meant to make the study of and interest in history, popular. He made several efforts as Minister of Public Instruction to introduce Indian history into the French secondary school syllabus although these efforts did not bear fruit. However Duruy, who began writing history textbooks prior to his appointment to the ministry to supplement his income, included as much Indian history as he could in his textbooks.675 . It is important to note the continued link in France between the Indic enthusiasts and the academic establishment. His textbooks published by Hatchette became known as 'Les Duruys' and educated many generations of French school children.676 However, the content of his textbooks also spoke of an agenda charged with the intellectual theories of the period. Specifically Duruy focused on the ancient period of Indian history and therefore echoed many of the images which Indologists of the mid nineteenth-century wrote about- images of India as a land of caste, the home of the Aryans etc.

The most significant aspect of Duruy‘s work on India related to the incorporation of race, specifically Aryanism. Since the focus of Indologists and anthropologists in the mid-century was on constructions of race in India, Duruy‘s stress on Aryanism reflected the extent to which these images were disseminated down to the school system. From his theory of the Aryan origins of India Duruy expanded his understanding to include the notion of India as a land of philosophical and spiritual attainment if not of any tangible material accomplishment. The Aryan mind had given India religions which could be compared in theory to Christianity in its organization and core values. Aryans had also invented the caste system which had begun as an admirable social division. In these explorations Duruy wrote only about an ancient India as timeless as it was imaginary and dominated by the spirit of the legendary Aryan race.

In his research on French history Duruy had come to the conclusion that there were many parallels between ancient India and Gaul. According to him, the Celts/ Gauls originated from the plains of Central Asia making them kin of the Indo- Aryans and part of the larger Indo- European family. The Gauls continued to maintain their Asiatic origins in their religious practices and worship of anthropomorphic Gods of nature, even though they had diverged from the original customs, such as the pre-eminence of a priestly/sacerdotal caste and the use of a language which had much in common with Sanskrit. According to him,

The Celts extended and multiplied on this vast territory, not keeping, in testimony of their Asiatic origin, some of the religious dogmas of the East, [like] perhaps the organization of a sacerdotal caste, and a idiom which, [though] more distant than Greek and Latin from Sanskrit, the sacred language of the brahmins of India, is attached however by close links, and reveals the relationship which linked the Celts or Gallic [people] to the big family of Indo-European nations.677


His interest in India therefore stemmed from a belief that the Gauls and the early Indo- Aryans were related. This translated into a thorough examination of the Aryan influence in India.

Chapter Two of Duruy‘s work on the East titled 'Les plus anciennes sociétés', defined the two major racial components of the white race as the Semites in south west Asia and Africa, and the Aryas or Indo- Europeans in the rest of Asia and Europe, who had migrated from their original home north west of the Indus and established colonies in all parts of the world.678 These Aryans were, he claimed, the parent race of the Hindus, Medes, and Persians in the Orient, the Hellenics in Asia Minor, Greeks, Italians, Celts, Germans, and Slavs in Europe. In his estimation, the racial affinities of the large Indo- European family were contained in their languages, which in the nineteenth-century were seen as continuing to have similar vocabularies and grammar, all of which could be traced to Greek and Latin, which in turn were parents to Sanskrit, the parent language of the Indian brahmins which itself was possibly derived from a language spoken by the ancient Aryan tribes. This was Duruy‘s paean to the work of Burnouf and his students who had emphasized the importance of philology. According to him,

The relationship of the Hindus, Medes, and Persians, of the East, of Pélasges and the Hellenes, in Asia Minor, Greece and Italy, of the Celts, Germans and Slavs [people], in the north of the Euxin Sea, Haemus, and the Alps, was noted by the grammatical analogies of idioms and the resemblance of the roots in the essential words. Thus Greek and Latin are linguistic sisters, [and] both [are] close relations of Sanskrit, the sacred language of the Indian Brahmans, and perhaps derived from a older language which all the Aryan tribes spoke at the foot of the plateau of [the] Pamir, before their dispersion.679


Continuing his praise for the fundamental precepts of Indian society Duruy noted that political and religious organization was governed by the Laws of Manu, which he compared to the Pentateuch of Moses as reflecting the same fundamental truths about the origin of the earth and human institutions like family and social hierarchy. According to him,

…because this book claims to expose, after [like] a revelation, the genesis of the world, the sacerdotal or levitic institution, precepts for the individual, the family and the city; duties of the prince and the castes, civil and military organization, criminal and religious laws. All is summarized in two rules: for society, the subordination of the castes; for the individual, physical, and moral purity.680


Since the common belief in the nineteenth-century was that Christianity was the expression of civilization, the comparison of the Manusmriti and the Pentateuch was an important admission as to the equal advancement of Hindu thought. Although many academics (especially the German Indologists) saw parallels between Hinduism and Christianity and put forward their belief in the equal validity of both religions, this admiration for Hinduism in works which were intellectually accessible to the common man was present by and large only in French works. Explaining that the Indian pantheon consisted of the Trinity at the top (Brahma, Vishnu and Siva) and that the concept of hell and heaven (naraka-svarga), of rebirth and transmigration governed the morals of Indians, Duruy traced the process by which Hinduism had tried over the centuries to regenerate and reform itself.681 He cited Buddhism as the great revolt against brahminical supremacy which advocated the equality of men.682 The Buddha, or Çâkyamouni, was portrayed as a sage who preached the attainment of nirvana or deliverance by individual purity and morality.683

This aspect of Indian history was a mid-century phenomenon which followed the work of anthropologists (see Chapter Five) and the resulting changes in Indology (chapter 6). Duruy was certainly not alone in his beliefs. Lamairesse, ancien ingénieur in chief for the French establishments in India in 1890, and author of two histories, dealing with India before the birth of the Buddha and India after the Buddha684 believed that the knowledge of Indian history and culture was necessary to know the Aryan antecedents of Europe. His argument centered on the Aryan origins of the Vedic culture of India. According to Lamairesse the Christian virtues of morality and compassion were contained in the Aryan religions of India -- brahminical Hinduism and Buddhism.685 These religions therefore provided a valuable window to study the development of religion in the West. According to him, ―The conclusion of the Eastern religions of Aryan origin of the East seems a prelude or a reflection of the great religion of Aryans of the Occident.'686 Demarcating the development of religion into the capabilities of each race to transcend the primitive religions of animism and fetishism, Lamairesse concluded that the superiority of the Aryan race, both in the East and the West was clearly visible through its religious expression. It was this link between the Eastern and Western Aryans that made it relevant to study the origins of Aryan religion in India.

The link between Christianity and Hinduism as representing a common genius of the Aryan race was certainly a mid-century phenomenon, but its inclusion in Lamairesse‘s works indicate the long lasting effects of race theory, since Lamairesse was writing towards the end of the century. However the link between Christianity and Hinduism itself was an older tradition of French writings on India dating back to Jourdain de Séverac in the thirteenth-century (see Chapter One). From Séverac to Voltaire French writers had compared the Christian and Hindu religious traditions, in a sense justifying the superiority of the latter by pointing out its similarity with the former- another example of ‘Christianizing Hinduism‘ (see Chapter One, pg. 14, and footnote 43). As late as 1814, Collin de Bar, the Magistrate of the Pondichéry High Court, and author of the two-volume Histoire de l'Inde ancienne et moderne de l'Indoustan,687 recounted the Puranic mythology of the Great Flood and compared it with the story of Noah and the Ark, further drawing a parallel between the Hindu god Brahma with the Hebrew Adam. "Brahma was the first man for the Hindus, like Adam was the first man of the Hebrews."688

Recent scholarship on racism in France689 has demonstrated that, the republican ideal of being colorblind aside,690 France long struggled with issues of racism, directed particularly against Jews, and in the more modern period, towards colonial minorities. In the nineteenth century, the trend of race theory being directed against Jews and culminating with the notorious Affaire Dreyfus cannot be glossed over. As Leon Poliakov points out, even the famous nineteenth-century philosopher at the College de France, Ernest Renan supported Gobineau‘s notion of the pre-eminence of the Aryan race.691 Directly in the Indian context, while the prominent theosophist Louis Jacolliot‘s thesis that there was a close link between Christianity and Hinduism692 was scoffed at by German Indologists like Max Müller693, interest in this theory in France was strong enough to commission at least eight editions of Jacolliot‘s Bible dans l'Inde within a few years.694

For Duruy India was a land which deserved more study, if not for her material accomplishments, at least for her spiritual and philosophical advances. According to him,

We insist on this moral history of India, first because of its political history, then because this country was the large reserve of the philosophical and religious ideas [from] which, took their courses in various unknown directions… Let us add that it is covered with imposing monuments of a rare elegance, of which we know yet very little; it had the [kind of] three glories of Greece: thought, poetry and art. 695


The belief that India had provided, if not many material contributions to the world many advanced systems of thought, was another long-standing French tradition. For Duruy the difference between the Eastern and Western religion was that Western religion placed the individual and his actions first. In the East man was insignificant before God and ultimately strived to unite with the God-soul. For this reason the Hindu had less ambition than the Jew, Musulman, or Christian since he aimed only to unite with God in death rather than to improve his material existence in his present life.696 Duruy‘s summary of the nature of the Hindu was very much influenced by Gobineau‘s description of the Hindu as striving for other-worldly aims rather than a focus on the present life.697 As Duruy put it, ―One sees, by this short history, that if India has done little [achieved little], she has thought much.'698

The antecedents for Duruy‘s belief can be seen in Collin de Bar‘s early-century work, which described India as ―'mysterious and sacred! … the cradle of mankind, the traditional ground religion and morals… the most beautiful area of Asia, the noblest place of the sphere [globe]…'699 By the end of the century, Alfred Le Dain, a member of the Société Asiatique and recipient of an award from the Société Ethnographique de la gironde for his work on ancient India700 was insisting that the exploration of India's past was a fitting beginning to the study of history since India was the ―alma mater of all nations.'701; a great fount of classical religion, philosophy and literature.

In most histories the importance of India as an ancient society lay in her Aryan antecedents. According to Duruy, ‘It was the Aryans, however, who gave India its place in history.‘702 Chapter Seventeen of Duruy‘s text on the Orient was exclusively devoted to India. Titled 'Les Aryas', the chapter briefly ran through Indian history and culture since the advent of the Aryans in India. Duruy described the beginning of Aryan culture in India with the Epics- the Ramayana and the Mahabharata- which he compared to the Iliad and other works of Homer and Virgil.703 The Vedas according to him demonstrated the common origins of many of the ancient beliefs of Greece, Italy, and Europe in their Aryan heritage. He accepted the Epics as historical proof of the Aryans in India and of the history of ancient India. Yet he noted that in terms of documenting Indian history there was no real history of India written until the Greeks invaded, once again echoing the commonly held notion that India‘s past had been documented due to the organization and method of the Western mind.704 As Duruy put it, "This poetic and religious race unfortunately does not have other history than that of its gods.'705 In a single page he summed up the rest of the history of ancient India with a catalogue of invasions- Darius, Alexander, the Bactrians, the Ghaznavids and finally the advent of the European settlements in India with the arrival of Vasco da Gama in India in 1498. The political history of India was described as a string of invasions rather than in terms of the evolving political institutions and forms of government, since monarchy in India was accepted to be a stagnant form of government based upon a vague notion of oriental despotism. This was a common enough feature of French histories of India- the lumping together of centuries of history, the complete lack of a sense of evolving political institutions, and the focus rather, on the Marxist creation of Oriental Despotism. Noting that India had attracted many conquerors for her riches- pearls, spices, perfumes, ivory and precious metals- Duruy continued, ‘Thus here [we have] this intelligent and soft race [which] for [the] nearly ten centuries that [it] existed [has] lost its independence, but kept its social organization, religion and its literature.‘706 In this manner Duruy dispensed with historical event and chronology.

This aspect of Duruy‘s history of ancient India was another long-standing tradition. Located in the efforts of early colonial officials to make sense of the myriad mythological and genealogical stories abounding in India, the conclusion that Indians had no sense of historical chronology in the context of accurate and unbiased reporting meant that Western historians prided themselves on ‘retrieving Indian history‘ from the morass of myths and half-fantastic stories.707 According to de Bar, "For the rest the Hindus do not have history itself, and there still does not exist a complete body of history of the peoples of India. All their chronicles are very imperfect, especially those concerning times before the Moslem invasions.'708 Not surprisingly, de Bar‘s narrative was drawn from external sources -- Greek, Roman, Arab, Persian and European. The only mention of Indian individuals was made in reference to their interaction with foreigners. The situation in India itself was presented as an unchanging milieu into which the march of history, in the form of successive invasions, formed a minor interruption. The Indians themselves resisted any change in their religion and custom. According to de Bar, "This theology [of the Indians] was maintained without change, through a succession of centuries [to] which one could not assign the origin; it preserved its intact system during foreign invasions…' 709

Following this the ‘Hindu‘ religion was presented as a uniform set of beliefs.710 According to de Bar,

…the attentive observer will notice that these vicissitudes, these various changes never affected the Hindu race in a significant manner, [they were] always constant in their manners, their opinions, belief and control. For twenty-two centuries, history has represented them such as we see them today. All changed around them, and in the middle of so much physical and moral change, the original character the Hindu hardly altered.711


The major themes of this textual Hindu culture and religion revolved around the caste system and the supremacy of the brahmins.

In the light of these views it is only natural that the remaining description of Duruy‘s history was centered on social institutions, particularly the caste system. The caste system was ordained, according to the 'Books of the Saints', by the God Brahma, who divided the people into priests (brahmins), warriors (xatryas) (sic), laborers/merchants (vaïçyas) and artisans/cultivators (soudras). The first three castes represented the Aryans and were the dominant castes. Intermarriage between castes was forbidden and the offspring of such unions were low castes, with the offspring of the result of a union of a higher caste with a soudra being the lowest of the low -- a paria. The brahmins alone had the right to read and explain the Sacred books and became the doctors, priests, judges, and poets of India owing to their education and wisdom.712

These histories were propagating a view of the caste system as a stagnant system which, once ordained, did not change for the centuries that it had existed. In fact the caste system was an evolving, living organism where the interaction of different castes was always changing.713 In different regions of India the caste system had different hierarchies714 and significance in governing day to day life.715 Colonial histories thus portrayed a never-changing continuum where institutions ordained centuries earlier, existed without any alteration or addition in the present. According to Duruy Indian government was marked by a ‘regular, changeless machine‘.716 In this manner the complexities of individual choice, historical process, and changing situations in the diverse subcontinent were ignored in favor of a monolithic construct of India which was imagined and propagated by colonialists.

Another manner in which India was ‘constructed‘ was her physical extent. In his first chapter, titled 'Monde connu des anciens', Duruy sketched the physiological environment of India. Touching briefly upon the trade routes of the ancient world (among which India figured prominently due to her easy accessibility via water bodies like the Arabian sea and the Bay of Bengal) he noted that the Indian mountains, the Hindukush range or the Indian Caucuses, and the Himalayas were prominent among ancient geographers as were the rivers Brahmaputra, Ganga and Indus. In addition Duruy included India as one among the six major physical and political regions of the ancient world, alongside the Mediterranean, Red Sea, the land between the Euphrates and Tigris, between the Tigris and Indus and North Asia.

Most historians believed that an extensive topographical description of India was necessary to understand the development of her culture. For instance, according to Lacroix de Marles, author of an extensive six-volume history of India, ―I thought that a geographical note, to which statistical details and interesting descriptions would be linked, would not only arouse curiosity, but that it would facilitate the intelligence of history… the geographical note will form approximately half of the first volume. One will find there a general description of the ground, mountains, rivers, climate, and positive concepts of knowledge that the ancients had of India…'717

Despite this attention to topographical detail, most French authors used several different terms to describe the land- in particular, the terms ‘l‘Inde‘ and ‘Hindoustan‘ were used interchangeably, even though these areas indicated different parts of the subcontinent. Marles discussed the origin of the term ‘India‘ and the various theories which variously attributed the word ‘India‘ to the river Indus, a derivation of ‘Hindu‘, and other theories. Nowhere did Marles express the realization that ‘India‘ meant different geographical limits in the ancient and modern times and that even the boundaries of the entity of ‘India‘ were constantly shifting.718 In a seamless move from ancient to modern times, Marlès described the geography of ancient India in the time of Alexander and Ptolemy to the modern colonial government and administrative organization. Acknowledging that India was composed of diverse peoples like the Sikhs, Rohillas, Jats and Marathas who each had their own cultural and religious belief systems, and that furthermore the divisions within India were made even more complicated by the diversity of origin and religion,719 he nevertheless continues to describe these mini-nations as existing within a recognizable ‘India‘, underlining the process by which colonial powers literally created a geographical space where India was defined.720 In a basic sense, French cartographers and writers were part of the European creation of ‘India‘.721 They were as persuasive as British cartographers and writers that a natural geographical region unified by cultural, religious, linguistic, and political bonds existed as ‘India‘ even though this was simply not the case. As Ian Barrow and Mathew Edney both suggest, maps were a powerful tool for claiming and even creating colonial spaces.722 By the time Duruy wrote a history text on the modern world723, he too referred to India as ‘l‘Inde‘ and ‘Hindoustan‘ interchangeably as a recognizable geographical entity which corresponded to the modern extent of India. For example, he described the Portuguese empire in India as, "By Diu, on the Gujarat coast, Goa on the Malabar coast, the island of Ceylon, and Nagapatam on the Coromandel coast, they encompassed all of Hindustan."724

Duruy‘s seems to have been the rare school textbook which described ancient India. Most other textbooks concentrated only on the modern, colonial period of Indian history. Histories written by Isaac and Malet, which were used by school children well into the twentieth-century, contained little or no reference to pre-colonial India. For instance, in Isaac and Malet‘s L'Orient et La Grèce,725 there was no reference at all to the Far East, the Orient in this case being defined as Egypt, Persia and other areas of the Near East. The reference to India was entirely incidental and occurred in the context of Alexander the Great‘s invasion of India.726 The textbook is comparable to Duruy‘s sixth-grade textbook in content, covering many of the ancient societies of the world. Yet the focus had shifted from the nineteenth to the twentieth-century and to a more Euro-centric approach to ancient civilizations, where the empires of Greece and Rome were the sole reason for the spread of civilization overseas. This was arguably an indication of the development of colonial doctrine. Whereas sixth grade students had earlier learned about ancient India and some of her history and customs they were now presented with one sentence about ancient India in the context of her conquest by Greece.

In the light of this gap Duruy's work was important for how it portrayed India in terms of her Aryan heritage, spirituality and other worldliness, caste system and philosophy. This was presumably the first time that children were encountering India academically making it an influential guide as to how they continued to perceive India. Since Duruy was not a specialist in Indian history all of his narratives were drawn from other, influential French histories of India. His sources included historical, philological, and anthropological sources which are clearly recognizable in his narrative. His work therefore was a hybrid coming together of diverse academic images of India and as such provided a space within which a single, recognizable entity of ‘India‘, however artificial, was presented to French school children. Thus the academic construction of pre-colonial India by Indologists and anthropologists made its way into the school textbooks of the Francophone world. In these pages one can see the resonances of pedagogical influences which were to stay with many of these French students (including the students in the French Indian Comptoirs!) to adulthood and beyond.
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Re: Claiming India, by Jyoti Mohan

Postby admin » Sun Nov 01, 2020 5:38 am

Part 2 of 3

Anglo-French colonial rivalry

In contrast to Duruy, Isaac and Malet‘s textbooks, which dominated the twentieth-century, focused on the colonial period. Jules Isaac, born in 1877 was greatly influenced by the Dreyfus affair. (he was 20 when J'Accuse was published) and by World War I (he was wounded at Verdun). Albert Malet was Professeur agrégé d‟histoire au Lycée Louis-le-Grand. Isaac held the same position at the Lycée Saint-Louis. Together they wrote the history textbooks which were used in schools in the first part of the twentieth century. Between 1923 and 1930 seven volumes of history textbooks written by Isaac and Malet were released by Hachette. In 1936 Isaac was made Inspector General of Education, a post which was revoked in 1940 by the Vichy Regime. In the history manuals he was considered a radical teacher by his peers because of his inclusion of primary documents, the profusion of illustrations with prominent figures given pride of place, as well as images of inventions and great art.

While Duruy emphasized the ancient greatness of India in the nineteenth-century, Isaac and Malet minimized the importance of the ancient period of Indian history. They chose instead to relate the history of the colonial enterprise in India, especially highlighting the growing Indian movement for independence from British rule. While Duruy did include the colonial period in his textbooks, his remarks were for the most part innocuous in opposition to Isaac and Malet‘s criticism of British rule. This was a new aspect of French interests in India. Since 1815, French hostility to Britain over colonies overseas had been veiled, flaring up in the colonial lobby and pro-colonial press only when France was actively pursuing colonies in Africa and Asia during the mid nineteenth-century. By the end of the century and into the twentieth-century however, this simmering hostility had developed into an open criticism of British colonial policy and enterprise as selfish and oppressive.

In textbooks such as Isaac and Malet and even Duruy‘s later work, the chief sentiment by the early twentieth century was a comparison of French and British colonial methods, a reflection of the primacy of Anglo-French rivalries and the need to prove that French colonization was superior to the British. For example, following the empire of the Portuguese, Duruy recounted the formation of the East India Companies of England and France in the seventeenth century and their subsequent rivalry over India. Focusing on the efforts of individual French generals, Duruy noted that, "The French Company extended then [expanded its territories] with speed… profited, like the English, of these competitions to consolidate its establishments, and it charged the care of its interests in these remote areas to two remarkable men: Bourdonnais… and Dupleix…' 727 The focus on individual efforts was very typical of histories which described the French colonial period in India. Duruy continued the military exploits of Dupleix with the career of Bussy in the Deccan, and of Lally-Tolendal following which he recounted the heroic defence by Hyder Ali and his son, Tipu Sultan of Mysore (in alliance with the French), against the British, even describing the latter as "Frederic II of the East: he was at least an energetic representative of Indian nationality, and one of the most remarkable men of modern Asia.' 728 Unfortunately, Tipu died defending his capital, Seringapatam in 1799. "Since this moment the English were the true Masters of India; they still have this vast and rich country where they have 150 million subjects which their first governors exploited with a pitiless cruelty.' 729 The description of British colonization in India as an exploitative and oppressive regime was not a new aspect of French writing although it was infrequently expressed.

The element of Anglo-French rivalry was a long-standing tradition in French histories of India. In the Avertissement to De Bar‘s early history, the editors described his personal interests in advancing the cause of his country and of the métropole.730 In fact, as the editors pointed out, De Bar wrote his History during eight years of captivity, presumably at the hands of the British. His further advantage in possessing the original Mémoires of Dupleix and Bussy allowed him to retrace France‘s glorious moments in India with passion.731 However, according to the editors, this partiality did not preclude him from producing an excellent history of India. According to them, ―For the rest, his work is not limited only to the history of the competitions of France and of England in the peninsula of India, he embraces a wider framework, and as a whole forms a complete body of history.' 732 And again, ―But the part of this work which… deserves more [of] the attention of the historians, the publicity agents, the statesmen, it is indisputably that which treats, with as much interest as of impartiality, of progress and the development of the exclusive domination of Great Britain on almost the totality of the peninsula of India. One especially sees there by which means this imposing power today managed to found one of the richest empires of the world in this end of the world, worsens it is perhaps indebted [i.e. Britain maintains the empire in India] only with the systematic and permanent oppression that it exerts there.' 733 Anglo- French colonial rivalry over India tended to flare up periodically during the nineteenth and twentieth- centuries, based on the larger colonial currents of the day. Initially centered on India herself and Anglo-French rivalry over the subcontinent, the early loss of the French in the latter half of the eighteenth-century and the definitive defeat of French national aims by 1815 was only exacerbated by mid and late-century colonial rivalries in Africa and the Far East where France and Britain were squabbling over territories.

Isaac and Malet‘s later textbooks focusing as they did on the modern period of colonialism were written with this colonial agenda of expansion and Anglo-French rivalry. A textbook titled Cours abrégé d‟histoire734 followed the program of instruction for ‘primaire supérieur' of 1920 and was meant for the schools of primaries supérieures, Cours complémentaires, and Préparation au Brevet élémentaire. The work provided a brief account of French colonial efforts to build an empire in India under Dupleix and Dumas. In the laudatory strain common among French historians recounting colonial efforts in India, Isaac and Malet noted the role of Dupleix in ―founding in India a grand French Empire'.735 Glorifying the exploits of this adventurer, at once ―extremely active and audacious'736 they described Dupleix‘ efforts bearing fruit. ―In 1752 French possessions with vassal states formed an empire of thirty million people, twice as large as France.' 737 In another text, Isaac and Malet elaborated on this feat- ―It was thus a question not only of making trade, but of establishing French domination in India… These extraordinary results had been obtained with limited resources, less than 2000 Europeans and approximately 4000 cipayes, natives commanded by Europeans.' 738 However, the English were not pleased. ―But the policy of Dupleix ran up against the resistance of the English; he was obliged to ask for reinforcements. However in France, the government and the Company preferred peace: Dupleix, ignored and considered as a dangerous adventurer, was treated brutally…' 739 With the Treaty of Godeheu, the French East India Company renounced all her ambitions in India: ―thus, without… doubt, France lost the empire of India.' 740. Isaac and Malet were unequivocal about the decision. Calling it ―this terrible sacrifice' 741 they concluded that ―…the Franco-English competition over the colonies ended in the total ruin of France and the triumph… of England.' 742 In fact, the primary source at the end of the chapter detailing the colonial rivalry between France and England was ‘La programme de Dupleix exposé par lui-même‘, taken from P. Cultru (ed), Dupleix, ses plans politiques, sa disgrace. Paris: Hatchette, nd)743 highlighting the feeling that the loss of India was far greater than any other colonial loss.

The notion of the loss of the French India Empire was exacerbated by the inclusion of the incorrect map showing the extent of French territories in India in 1752 (see map).744 The same map was also included as late as Atlas Général Larousse (Paris: Librairie Larousse, 1959). Even though the French Comptoirs in India were negligible both in size and economic contribution to the French empire, there was a sense of the past grandeur of ‘French-India‘. The maps indicating that France had once possessed an empire spanning almost the entire peninsula were classic of this desire to aggrandize their claims of an empire that never was745; a phenomenon that Magadera and Marsh term ‘France‘s imaginary empire‘746; India thus constituted a space which could have and indeed should have been French territorially speaking, failing which she could be ‘an empire in mind‘. At the height of her colonial expansion in India, France had merely extended diplomatic and military aid to the rulers of Peninsular India, who had employed many French mercenaries as their military advisors. Yet the inclusion of these areas as part of her ‘empire‘ indicates the extent of French desire for India temporally.747 Kate Marsh notes the persistence of this theme of a ‘lost empire‘ in a school textbook on geography under the Third Republic- L.-H Ferrand‘s Géographie de la France et de ses colonies: Cours moyen- certificate d‟études (Paris: Cornély, 1904).748 This agenda extended to the press as well. La Politique Coloniale, which published bi- weekly issues of the news in French colonies as well as serving as the organ of the Parti Coloniale even referred to the French Établissements in India as ‘notre colonie dans l'Inde', a true enough but misleading description of the actual extent of French ownership of India.749 As Camille Guy insisted in his handbook to the 1900 Exposition, ―our posts in French India are all that remains of our immense Indian empire." 750

The information about British India contained in the Isaac and Malet textbooks were to be found in the texts prescribed for the advanced classes of philosophy and mathematics. Focused on the nineteenth century, the book sketched the colonial conquest briefly, and recounted the British conquest of India in a few pages. In two editions of the book,751 modified according to new programs of curricula, the French belief that Britain was unfairly interfering with Indian customs clearly came through. The earlier edition, conforming to the educational curriculum of 1902, consisted of almost 1200 pages of information about the nineteenth century. In a chapter titled ‘Les Puissances européenes en Asie', the English conquest of India was traced from the origins of the East India Company until the Rebellion of 1857. The earlier work portrayed the outbreak of Rebellion as caused primarily by the annexation of native states under Dalhousie‘s policy of Lapse and accorded the incident of the greased cartridge importance only as the proverbial match which lit the fire. In a text meant for the third grade, the Revolt was described as ―a military insurrection… the fundamental cause of the insurrection was the hatred of the Hindus for their winners… the pretext was the distribution of cartridges coated with cow grease, a sacred animal for the Hindus, to the cipayes.' 752 The later edition of Histoire contemporaine (1930) however, gave equal importance to the religious feelings of the Hindus and their belief that the English were interfering too much with their culture and religion. In this text, ―The revolt had military and religious causes.'753 In this case, the incident of the greased cartridges was the last straw. Nikki Frith‘s study demonstrates a similar trend in contemporary newspapers and journals, like the Journal des Débats, La Presse, La Patrie, Le Constitutionnel, and Le Siècle, which referred to the event as a ‘people‘s revolt‘, ‘national revolt‘ and ‘revolution‘.754 According to Louis Jourdan of Le Siècle, ―The revolt of English India is a supreme warning… if, after the victory, they [English] were shown also inhuman, as unknowing of their mission as they were to it… the last hour of their domination would have sounded… More slavery! More constraint! More supreme oppression.' 755

Both editions of Isaac and Malet also recounted the infamous massacre at Kanpur of British women and children by Nana Sahib but while the earlier edition concluded with a brief sentence describing the British reprisals for the massacre and their eventual suppression of the Rebellion756, the later edition included an extended quotation from Valbezen which recounted, in detail, the manner of British reprisal and the violence wreaked on Indians who were seen as responsible for the massacre.757 According to Ernest Dréolle, "it is what one does not like in France, it is to hear about the sheets [newspapers] of London, [who] after having expressed horror [about] the wild excesses which inspired the companions of Nana Sahib, excite the troops of S M Britannique to the same crimes and to the same vengeances.'758 Jules Verne‘s ―The Steam House' which was published in 1880 was a condemnatory novel of 1857 which portrayed the British as killing thousands of innocent non-combatant Indians.759 Jean Richepin‘s play 'Nana Sahib' first performed in 1883 cast Nana Sahib as the first Indian leader to inspire a revolution against British oppression.760 According to Frederick Quinn, it almost seems that Verne lifted his plots from the popular press. His finger was always on the pulse of French readers and he both reflected and helped shape their perceptions of the world beyond their borders, as fanciful and contradictory as it had been in centuries past.‘761 Rousselet‘s novel about the mutiny also demonstrated the French sympathy with the Indians. Noting that,

…After many centuries, Europeans, attracted by the renown of our riches, came to our country; first of all as humble men full of good words. Instead of driving them away as our neighbors the Chinese did, we Hindoos received the white men courteously, we opened our towns to them, and gave them part of our treasures. Little by little they insinuated themselves amongst us, taking advantage of our quarrels and dissensions. At last, becoming the stronger, under the pretext that our skin was dark, and that we worshipped idols, they robbed us of our cities and lands, and shared our wealth among them, as though it belonged to them by right. Now the oppressed Hindoos are rising up against their masters. Who can say they have not right on their side?762


Isaac and Malet continued to follow the course of British colonization of India with the declaration of Queen Victoria as the Empress of India and the transfer of authority from the East India Company to the Crown in the wake of the Rebellion. They described the works which the British undertook in India in the name of development, including reforms in education and society, the building of roads and rails, improving agricultural systems and introducing industries to India, the establishment of a regular administration, civil service, and police to govern India and the other ‘civilizing‘ projects of the British. Having concluded this account of the ‘civilizing‘ mission of the British they then questioned the validity of these works by pointing out that the greatest difference of opinion between the British and the ‘Hindus‘ was over these very projects. "Such is the English thesis. But the few million Hindus who are able to be interested in public affairs bitterly dispute these alleged benefits.” (original italics) 763Accepting that people who questioned British presence in India were a small majority in the earlier edition of the history and that the very geographical entity of India was a result of the British conquest, this edition pointed out that the continuation of British presence in India was a result of the internal disunity among Indians. The later edition however expended more space on the agenda of the Indian nationalists and especially on their critique of colonial rule as being beneficial only to Britain, while draining India of her resources.764 It detailed the Indian nationalists‘ economic and political critique of colonial rule and points out that the British exploited the differences between Hindus and Muslims for their own gains.765 Quoting Piriou, the text pointed out that under other foreign conquerors India had not suffered the material and moral drain that English rule had effected.766 ―Lastly, India succumbs under the triple burden of the treatments of the civil servants [salaries], the national debt and all the diplomatic and military expenditures that England makes in Asia, under the pretext that they [the revenue] are used to maintain the safety of India.' 767 The fact that by 1932 Indians were fairly public images in Europe and that the movement for independence in India had gathered so much momentum undoubtedly had a lot to do with this expanded account of Indian nationalist activities. But it was also in keeping with the French focus on the many dissatisfactions of colonial peoples of the British and their suggestion that British mise en valeur was only lip service to what was actually exploitation of colonies, while France genuinely had her colonies‘ interests in mind as Saussure‘s work had foretold decades before.768

In his early work on Psychologie de la colonization Française, Saussure had made a distinction between colony and possession categorizing India as a possession of Great Britain.769 Furthermore, according to him character was paramount to determining the quality of civilization and life. It was the specific British character that allowed 60,000 English to rule over 250 million Hindus, who were no less to them in intelligence and by far surpassed them in artistic sense and philosophical views.770 It was not religion that constituted civilization but the hereditary mental characteristics of a race. In India, for example, Islam had not freed Muslims from practicing caste, or even a form of Islam closer to Brahmanism than Islam. Mohammad was worshipped in idol form, the mosque was akin to a temple etc.771 In France, the doctrine of assimilation took into account the racial characteristics of each colony and allowed the colony to preserve its culture and way of life. Domination alone could not achieve colonization as was seen from the example of 1857. The policy of assimilation ensured the civilizing effects of colonization without destroying colonial culture. Assimilation was primarily achieved through education, institutions (such as political institutions for democracy, administration, and justice) and language.

This last point was hammered home in the volume by Isaac and Malet in many ways. Noting that the colonial policy of England varied in each country the authors pointed out that while colonies with a dominant European population like Canada and Australia were governed benevolently other colonies were much oppressed and the natives were subjected to a rigorous tutelage. In countries with a long history like India and Egypt, this had led to a violent nationalist agitation which had forced the English to grant some concessions. According to them,

Generally, England was liberal with regard to the colonies where the European element dominated … With regard to the other colonies, the English policy was more oppressive; the natives were subjected to a rigorous supervision. From there, in the countries of ancient civilizations like India and Egypt, a violent nationalist agitation obliged England to make concessions…772


Indeed these textbooks provided official confirmation to the views prevalent in the popular press about the vicious colonial policies of the British. After recounting the efforts of the British to improve the social and economic conditions of the Indians by combating famines and floods, they noted nevertheless that, ―but these measures were impotent to make the plague disappear which, periodically, decimated the population. The famine of 1899-1900 made four million victims.' 773 Moreover, while education was encouraged and developed, ―it is neither free nor obligatory and, consequently, hardly gave results.' 774 On the other hand, education was free in French India until the secondary level with the écoles primaries, écoles centrales, and collèges teaching in the French medium.775

The French colonial policy on the other hand was characterized by ‘la mise en valeur‘ whereby France actively worked for the economic development of her colonies. ―In addition, it is necessary [for France] to practice, with respect to the indigenous populations, a policy of education, of collaboration and of friendship which creates insoluble bonds between the colonies and the metropolis: thus will constitute [themselves in] the world of ‘new France‘ which will be the best representation of old France.' (original italics)776 As the protagonist of Rousselet‘s Le Charmeur des Serpents, André, declared to his faithful servant, ―…it must be confessed that we Europeans are the cause of all these frightful calamities. One thing, however, consoles me, which is, that the French, my ancestors, when they were masters of India for a time, knew how to rule with a light hand and make themselves beloved of their subjects.' To which his servant Mali replied, "Quite true the French were not masters, but brothers, and their memory has always been held dear. All India still deplores their departure.'777 While French newspapers reported the progress of the Independence movement, and particularly the role of Gandhi with sympathy and commiseration778, the Parisian press noted with complacence that, the inhabitants of the Comptoirs, referred to as ‘citoyens français‘ did not desire Independence from ‘la mère patrie‘.779 According to the newspaper Le Monde, ―they fear, perhaps not without reason, of not enjoying the same freedoms [in Independent India] which they benefit from in French India.'780

By the mid nineteenth century, the second wave of French colonialism in the Far East and in Africa was contextualized within the Indian experience. On the one hand, India, and French loss of an Indian empire, was cited repeatedly as an important lesson to French colonialists- ‘Africa must not become for us a trading post like India.‘781 On the other hand, these advances would be ‘a compensation for the loss of India‘782 The French colonial enterprise could even demonstrate the true spirit of the mission civilisatrice to the British in India. In the coverage of the Revolt of 1857, Louis Jourdan wrote, ‘England missed with [in] its duty… This formidable teaching [lesson] should be lost neither for our allies, nor for we who fulfill in Algeria a role similar [analogous] to that of Great Britain in India.‘ 783 As Frith concludes, ‘In short, the Indian mutinies are exploited as a narrative space in which French writing can not only imagine France as a preferable colonial power, but can offer as early as 1857 the [burgeoning] reality of ‘French Algeria‘ as its rhetorical proof. Simultaneously, the apposition of l'Afrique française and l'Inde anglaise erases the memory of France‘s disappointed desires for India to which the presence of its marginalized Indian comptoirs continued to attest.‘784

Similarly, Indo-China was to fulfill France‘s thwarted destiny in India. As Camille Guy wrote, ‘Our [Indochinese] empire has compensated for the losses of the last century.‘ 785 In fact he went so far to describe Dupleix, Lally and Mahé de la Bourdonnais as ‘the direct ancestors and educators of Francis Garnier, Doudart de Lagrée and Coubert in Indochina.‘ 786 Guy, an enthusiastic proponent of colonial expansion and the mise en valeur, was the head of the geographical service of the Ministry of Colonies.787 He was also the author of the handbook on the Indian Comptoirs for the 1900 Exposition coloniale, demonstrating the close link between the production and the dissemination of information about India.788 Further, according to him, ―…the Indo-Chinese Empire will console France for the Indian Empire, conquered by Dupleix and Lally-Tollendal and lost by the Government of Louis XV.'789 In ‘L'Affaire Myngoon Min ou les tribulations d'un prince birman entre rivalités imperialists et entente cordiale (1884- 1921)‘, Karine Delaye notes the tension between Anglo-French colonial lobbies in the latter half of the nineteenth century, particularly with increasing French presence in South East Asia.790 The idea of revenge, of avenging French loss in India, by conquering the Indo-Chinese peninsula, was the central aim of French colonialists. Labeling this ‘the Dupleix syndrome‘, the notion that France had unfinished business in India was a persistent element in French colonial writings. Pointing to several references to ‘l‘Inde perdue‘, the sentiment that England had snatched India away from the French, and the feeling of avenging Dupleix ('jusqu‘à ce que nous ayons vengé Dupleix et affirmé notre savoir faire en matière coloniale') the French empire in Indochina was spurred by the need, after 1870, to redress her defeat in India.791

Penny Edwards has studied the results of the intense sense of loss which the French felt over India and manifested itself in French constructions of Indo-China, particularly the temple of Angkor Vat, which became a site for the exercise of fantasies of what Inde could have become under French rule.792 According to Edwards,

Through on site renovation and global representations, the construction of Angkor as both as site of memory and a site for the exercise of fantasies of what Inde could have become under French rule…saw the celebration and elaboration of a Hindu heritage for Angkor, within the schema of past glory [which the French Protectorate would restore], and the construction of a Buddhist religion for Cambodge, construed through the prism of contemporary degeneracy [from which French scholarship would rescue it].‘793


She points out that the very impetus for protecting and preserving monuments in Indochina was begun by Indologists, who initially constructed Angkor as the French preservation of Hinduism in stark contrast to the British desecration of Indian monuments. As a monument to l'Inde Perdue794, Angkor was frequently compared to the Taj Mahal in India, the constant emphasis remaining on the role of the French in preserving the culture of Indo-China.

Colonial officials, newspapers and administrators openly expressed their belief that Britain was only exploiting India and that France would have made a far more sympathetic and enlightened ruler. The French resentment over India was especially clear once she had colonized Indo-China. While the anxiety of British officials that the French conquest of Indo-China would constitute a challenge to their own Indian Empire had been well documented795 it also sharpened the colonial rivalry with Britain. Beginning with philologist and explorer Henri Mouhot‘s plea to France in 1860 to add Angkor to her imperial glories before the British could snatch it away as they had done in India796 to the report of the Saigon Courrier gleefully reporting the discomfiture of the British in 1864 at having to watch their precious Indian empire being threatened by the Tricoleur in Indo-China797 the contestation for colonial pasts and the French humiliation in India was played out in the construction of Indo-Chine as a Buddhist land.

In the twentieth century, Anglo- French rivalry was echoed in the British resentment at the French insistence on ‘harboring Indian nationalists who were exiled from British India. The Morning Post of 14 Jan, 1909, wrote that ‘the anarchist agitation in India which causes intense concern to the British government, is probably directed from Paris‘ and the Madras Times of 12 Nov, 1910 marked Pondichéry as a refuge for the most dangerous malcontents of British India.798 Pondichéry also became the headquarters of Shri Aurobindo, who, exiled from British India as a result of his seditious activities, first fled to Chandernagore after his acquittal on the Alipur Bomb case of 1908 and then sought refuge in Pondichéry. It was here that he directed various operations in British India and eventually, decided to renounce his worldly life and retreat into spiritualism. He founded an ashram or retreat for like- minded people and his first ‘foreign‘ disciple, was Sylvain Lévi. Eventually the working of the Ashram was taken over by a French woman, who preferred to be called ‘Mother‘ and who, remained the head of the Ashram until her death in 1973. Indo-French relations continued to be based on mutual admiration especially with the founding of the Friends of France Society in India and the Franco-Indian Committee of 8 April, 1914 which implicitly recognized India as a free nation. Subramania Bharathi also went to Pondichéry after his press was raided in 1908 and continued to publish the Tamil weekly ‘India‘ which had news of radical nationalists, for the next eighteen months from Pondichéry. Pondichéry was also the port of entry for nationalist literature from nationalists abroad which was then smuggled into British India.

Conclusion

The histories of India which were written in France at the end of the nineteenth century provided a convenient space to articulate French desires in India as well as colonial rivalries with England. The fact that these sentiments were incorporated into school textbooks demonstrates the strength of such desires and the manner in which they were inculcated into the minds of ordinary French boys and girls, as well as the subjects of France‘s vast colonial empire.

Duruy‘s themes revolved around the issue of the Aryan origins. He believed that the Aryans had created all that was great in Indian civilization: language, customs, and institutions. The degenerated condition that contemporary India found herself was due to centuries of racial dilution, a theory easily traced to the influence of anthropologists like Le Bon.

Isaac and Malet addressed themselves directly to the colonial enterprise and denounced Britain‘s role in impoverishing and ravishing India. Stressing that France would have made a fitter ruler they underscored both the heightened colonial aims of France under Jules Ferry as well as the continued resentment at losing India to the British. Although France had no plans to actually recoup India, the sense of loss translated into a particularly rancorous commentary against the British Raj.

In contrast to these French histories of India, the image of India in British history textbooks from 1890- 1914 was that of an unruly, impoverished and motley collection of small kingdoms and principalities, who had been developed and rescued from their deplorable plight by the effort of the British. Like the French, British school texts were written according to a centrally created syllabus.799 Kathryn Castle, who has studied the representation of India in British history textbooks notes that the primary goal of these school texts was to impress young children with their duty towards maintaining Britain‘s imperial presence in India.800 To that end the history of India prior to British rule was described only in passing, and as a period of time when the chaos and decay in India was arrested only with British intervention. The British in taking over from the oppressive and debauched native princes, provided India with peace and stable government. Any challenge to British authority (particularly the Rebellion of 1857) was represented as the natural unruliness and resistance of native Indian nature to civilized government. The achievement of British administration in providing a stable, prosperous, and modern life to Indians was emphasized.

Indians like Dayanand Saraswati, Tilak, Gandhi and even Ram Mohun Roy, writing accounts of India in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries accepted French paradigms of a degenerate caste system, glorious Aryan past, decline of Sanskrit as expressed in the contemporary vernaculars of India, all of which could be rectified by a ‘return‘ to the older Aryan civilization. I oppose the suggestion by scholars like Chetan Bhatt,801 and Peter van der Veer802 that Indians were influenced by British studies on Aryanism to conceptualize a revisionist notion of India as returning to a mythic Aryan past in order to recapture the glory of a previous age. Rather, this notion was developed in opposition to British works on the degeneration of India, and found support in German and French works on Aryanism. German works were by and large romantic in their paeans to the Vedic origins of the Aryan race. French works actually described the process by which the Aryans in India had apparently become degenerate owing variously to racial intermarriage, climate and inferior cultural traditions of indigenous (defined as Dravidian) peoples. In terms of providing a call to action the French works allowed Indians who dreamed of a return to the Vedic greatness of India a tangible method, a method that has become associated with the radical Hindu movement of ‘Hindutva‘.803 The French connection to Hindutva has become stronger with the adoption of Shri Aurobindo as a champion of the Vedic heritage movement.

Simultaneously British educated Indians like the early leaders of the Indian National Congress (moderates like Dadabhai Naoroji, W. C. Bonnerji and Baddruddin Tyabji) internalized and propagated clichés of corrupt, inept local rulers, the need for India to modernize according to British-defined standards of industrialization and Western education as well as the notion that built-in divisions of caste, race and religion among Indians was only overcome with the central government and administration of the British. Among many modern Indian historians, the fear of appearing revisionist or sectarian leads them to adopt a hyper-critical stance towards the Indian past and particularly caste, as stagnant and backwards. For these scholars, development can only be made by adopting a Western standard of progress, measured in technological terms as well as India‘s ability to conform to international linguistic and cultural norms. The perpetuation of English as the language of rule and of a westernized mode of behavior is implicit in the process of conforming.

History textbooks provide a good view of the image of India. French images were drawn from more than a century of Indic traditions in France. The depiction of India in these textbooks clung obstinately to certain images such as the romantic view of India as a great civilization while simultaneously presenting contemporary India in a state of degeneration. The contradictions in these images do not seem to have bothered Duruy or Isaac and Malet. India in nineteenth-century France had served so many purposes that it was impossible to reconcile all of them to a logical image of India. Moreover the understanding of India as a mass of contradictions could be admirably harnessed to support different theories. So India was presented as a great culture in theory. In ancient times she had achieved much great thought and philosophy. India in the contemporary period suffered from many ailments- some such as the tyranny of caste were social evils brought about by racial dilution. The other major evil was the oppressive and exploitative rule of the British.

In contrast British textbooks sought to highlight the civilizing mission in India. Both traditions of writing have had their impact not just on how the West views India, but on how India views herself.

The conclusion moves the debate on the construction of India into the public sphere. A comparison of India at the Imperial Exhibition of Wembley in 1924-25 and at the Exposition coloniale of Paris in 1931 provides not just a summary of the themes of the previous chapters, but also a vicarious jaunt into the heart of the public conceptions of India in Britain and France.

Figure 14: L‘Inde coloniale. Source: Atlas Général Larousse. Paris: Librairie Larousse, 1959. The same map is incorporated in Isaac and Malet‘s history textbooks: Isaac and Malet, Histoire contemporaine, depuis le milieu du XIX siècle‟. Paris: Colin, 1918. 2nd edition, and Albert Malet and Jules Isaac. Cours abrégé d‟histoire Second edition. Paris: Librairie Hatchette, 1922.

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Re: Claiming India, by Jyoti Mohan

Postby admin » Sun Nov 01, 2020 5:38 am

Part 3 of 3

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Notes:

668 C‘est du sein de l‘Asie, de l‘Asie mère du monde, de cette antique patrie des nations; de l‘Asie, la plus vaste des trois parties du vieux continent, et la plus anciennement peuplée, que se sont répandus les premiers germes de la civilisation dont s‘honore l‘espèce humaine: c‘est là que s‘élevèrent les premiers empires, les nations les plus célèbres par leur population, leur magnificence et leurs richesses; c‘est là que les Européens demi sauvages allèrent chercher des lois, le luxe, les beaux-arts; c‘est là qu‘ils puisèrent tous leurs systèmes de philosophie, tous leurs codes de morale: mais c‘est là aussi que la liberté et la civilisation se montrent inconciliables; que les peoples semblent nés pour la servitude; que le type de l‘autorité absolue et de l‘obéissance passive remonte d‘âge en âge jusqu‘à l‘origine des sociétés humaines. Collin de Bar, Histoire de l‟Inde ancienne et moderne de l‟Indoustan. (Paris: Le Normant, Imprimeur- Librairie, 1814): introduction, i- ii.
 
669 For instance, Jouveau- Dubreuil was the brain behind the Indian exhibit at the Section Retrospective in the Musée des Colonies during the Exposition Coloniale de Paris of 1931. See Rapport Général de Exposition Coloniale Internationale de 1931, présenté par Gouverner Général Olivier (Paris: Imprimérie Nationale, 1933), Vol 5, part I: 134.
 
670 See, for instance Patricia Morton, ― National and Colonial: the Musée des colonies at the Colonial Exposition Paris 1931' Art Bulletin LXXX number 2 (June 1998), Patricia Morton, Hybrid Modernities: Architecture and Representation at the 1931 Colonial Exposition, Paris (Cambridge Mass. and London, England: The MIT Press, 2000), Wendy Shaw, ―Stylizing the French Sudan' Jusûr, 9 (1993), Burton Benedict ―International Exhibitions and National Identity' Anthropology Today, Vol 7.3 (June 1991), Carol Breckenridge ―The Aesthetics and Politics of Colonial Collecting: India at World Fairs' Comparative Study of Society and History, 31.2 (April 1989), Thomas August, ―The Colonial Exhibition in France: Education or Reinforcement?', Proceedings of the Sixth and Seventh Annual Meetings of the French Colonial Historical Society (1980/ 82), Images et Colonies: iconographie et propagande coloniale sur l‟Afrique française de 1880 à 1962, edited by Nicholas Bancel, Pascal Blanchard et Laurent Gervereau (UNESCO,), Tony Bennett, ―The Exhibitionary Complex', New Formations 4 (Spring 1988), Elizabeth Ezra, ―The Colonial Look: Exhibiting Empire in the 1930‘s', Contemporary French Civilization 19.1 (1995), Herman Lebovics, ―Donner à voir l‘Empire colonial: l‘exposition coloniale internationale de Paris en 1931', Gradhiva, no. 7, (hiver 1989- 1990), Patricia Mainardi, ― The Double Exhibition in Nineteenth Century France‘, Art Journal 48.1, (Spring 1989), Jacques Marseille, L‟Age d‟Or de la France Coloniale (Paris: Éditions Albin Michel, 1986), Christopher Miller, ―Hallucinations of France and Africa in the Colonial Exhibition of 1931 and Ousmane Socé‘s Mirages de Paris', Paragraph 8.1, Timothy Mitchell, ―The World as Exhibition', Comparative Study of Society and History, 31.2 (April 1989), Jean-Claude Vigato, "The Architecture of Colonial Exhibitions in France," Daidalos 15, (March 1986), Gwendolyn Wright, ―Tradition in the Service of Modernity: Architecture and Urbanism in French Colonial Policy, 1900- 1930', Journal of Modern History, Vol 59.2, (1987), Gwendolyn Wright, The Politics of Design in French Colonial Urbanism, (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1991), Sami Zubaida, ―Exhibitions of Power', Economy and Society 19.3 (August 1990).
 
671 Raymond Schwab, The Oriental Renaissance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984): 125.
 
672 In fact each textbook contained an outline of the official curriculum for its subject as part of the foreword. This tradition continues today.
 
673 The study of history and geography for a period of 3 hours each week was included as part of the curriculum for the sixth grade.
 
674 In this position he displayed incessant activity and a desire for broad and liberal reform which aroused the bitter hostility of the clerical party. Among his measures may be cited his organization of higher education (enseignement special), his foundation of the conferences publiques, which have now become universal throughout France, a course of secondary education for girls by lay teachers, and his introduction of modern history and modern languages into the curriculum both of the lyceés and of the collèges. He greatly improved the state of primary education in France and proposed to make it compulsory and free. From 1881 to 1886 he served as a member of the Conseil Superieur de l‟Instruction Publique. In 1884 he was elected to the Academy in succession to Mignet. He died in Paris on the 25th of November 1894.
 
675 Raymond Schwab, The Oriental Renaissance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984): 125.
 
676 Sandra Horvath, Victor Duruy and French Education, 1863- 1869. PhD Thesis, Catholic University of America, (1971): 69. As David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery point out in An Introduction to Book History (Routledge: NY, 2005):89 French publisher Louis Hachette who had begun publication in 1826 in Paris successfully and shrewdly won the right to publish school textbooks by the 1860s thus transforming the scale of his company into France‘s largest publishing house. In this context the close link between the government and Indology can once again be seen in the numbers of Indological works published by Hatchette.
 
677 Les Celtes s‘étendirent et multiplièrent sur ce vaste territoire, ne gardant, en témoignage de leur origine asiatique, quelques-uns des dogmes religieux de l‘Orient, peut-être l‘organisation d‘une caste sacerdotale, et un idiom qui, plus éloigné que le grec et le latin du sanscrit, la langue sacrée des brahmes de l‘Inde, s‘y rattache cependant par des liens étroits, et révèle la parenté qui unissait les Celtes ou Gaulois à la grande famille des nations indo-européennes.‘ Victor Duruy, Histoire de France. 2 volumes. (Paris, 1866): 21.
 
 
678 Victor Duruy, Histoire de l'Orient. (Paris, 1890): 12. 
 
679 ―La parenté des Hindous, des Mèdes et des Perses, à l‘orient, des Pélasges et des Hellènes, dans l‘Asie Mineure, la Grèce et l‘Italie, des Celtes, des Germains et des Slaves, au nord du Pont-Euxin, de l‘Haemus et des Alpes, a été constatée par les analogies grammaticales des idiomes et par la ressemblance des racines dans les mots essentiels. Ainsi le grec et le latin sont des langues soeurs, toutes deux proches parentes du Sanskrit, la langue sacrée des brahmanes indiens, et peut-être dérivées d‘une langue plus ancienne quel toutes les tribus aryanes parlaient à pied du plateau de Pamir, avant leur dispersion.' Ibid.
 
680―…car ce livre prétend exposer, d'après une révélation, la genèse du monde, l'institution sacerdotale ou lévitique, les préceptes pour l‘individu, la famille et la cité; les devoirs du prince et des castes, l'organisation civile et militaire, les lois pénales et religieuses. Tout se résume en deux règles: pour la société, la subordination des castes; pour l'individu, la pureté physique et morale.' Ibid: 242.

681 Ibid.
 
682 Ibid: 243.
 
683 Ibid
 
684 E. Lamairesse, L‟Inde avant le Bouddha. (Paris: Georges Carré, 1891) and L'Inde après le Bouddha. (Paris: Georges Carré, 1892). Lamairesse, born in 1817 was inducted into the Legion d‟Honneur
 
685 E. Lamairesse, L‟Inde avant le Bouddha. (Paris: Georges Carré, 1891): 10-11.
 
686 ―La conclusion des religions d‘origine Aryenne de l‘Orient semble un prelude ou un reflet de la grande religion des Aryens de l‘Occident.' Ibid: 16. 
 
687 Collin de Bar, Histoire de l‟Inde ancienne et moderne de l‟Indoustan. (Paris: Le Normant, Imprimeur- Librairie, 1814).
 
688 ’Brahma fut le premier homme des Indous, comme Adam fut le premier homme des Hébreux.‘ Ibid: 47.
 
689 For example, Race in France: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Politics of Difference. Edited by Herrick Chapman and Laura L. Frader (New York: Berghahn, 2004).
 
690 See Sue Peabody, ―There are no Slaves in France”: The Political Culture of Race and Slavery in the Ancien Régime (Oxford: OUP, 1996).
 
691 Leon Poliakov, The Aryan Myth: A History of Racist and Nationalist Ideas in Europe. Translated by E. Howard. (New York: Basic Books, 1971): 206- 08. Ironically, Renan was professor of Semitic Studies.
 
692 Louis Jacolliot, Christna et le Christ. (Paris: A. Lacroix et cie, 1874) and The Bible in India: Hindoo origin of Hebrew and Christian revelation (New York: Carleton, 1870). Jacolliot was a prolific writer, and, having spent some years in India as a colonial administrator, considered himself eminently qualified to write about the parallels between Hinduism and Christianity.
 
693 See Friedrich Max Müller, ―On False Analogies in Comparative Theology (1870)' in The Essential Max Müller: on language, mythology, and religion. Edited by Jon R. Stone. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2002).
 
694 Leon Poliakov, The Aryan Myth: A History of Racist and Nationalist Ideas in Europe. Translated by E. Howard. (New York: Basic Books, 1971): 209.
 
695 "Nous insistons sur cette histoire morale de l'Inde, d'abord parce qu'on ne connaît point son histoire politique, ensuite parce que ce pays a été le grand réservoir des idées philosophiques et religieuses qui, de là, ont pris leurs cours en différentes directions… Ajoutons qu'elle est couverte de monuments grandioses et d'une rare élégance, dont nous ne connaissons encore que la plus faible partie; de sorte qu'elle a eu trois des gloires de la Grèce: la pensée, la poésie et l'art.' Victor Duruy, Histoire de l'Orient. (Paris, 1890): 246- 247.
 
696 Ibid: 246.
 
697 Ibid. For Gobineau, see Chapter 4: 11-12.
 
698’On voit, par cette brève histoire, que si l‘Inde a peu agi, elle a beaucoup pensé.‘ Ibid: 247.
 
699 'mystérieuse et sacré !…le berceau du genre humain, la terre classiques de la religion et de la morales…la plus belle région de l'Asie, le plus noble séjour du globe…' Collin de Bar, Histoire de l‟Inde ancienne et moderne de l‟Indoustan. (Paris: Le Normant, Imprimeur- Librairie, 1814): xii, introduction.
 
700 Alfred le Dain, L‟Inde Antique. (Paris: Société cooperative des letters et des arts, 1896). Even though le Dain‘s thesis, a Theosophist one, was radically different from most histories of the day in insisting that the ‘Rutas‘ or the Dravidians were the true originators of Indic culture rather than the Aryans, he still believed that India was the source of most ancient religions, including Christianity.
 
701 '<alma mater> de toutes les nations' Ibid: I, introduction.
 
702 Victor Duruy, Ancient History of the East. Translated by Edwin Augustus Grosvenor and Thomas Spencer Jerome (T. Y. Crowell & company, 1899):16
 
703 Ibid: 17
 
704 Ibid: 18
 
705 ‘Cette race poétique et religieuse n‘a pas malheureusement d‘autre histoire que celle de ses dieux.‘ Victor Duruy, Histoire de l'Orient. (Paris, 1890): 240.
 
706 'Ainsi voilà près de dix siècles que cette race, intelligente et douce, a perdue son indépendance, mais elle a gardé son organisation sociale, sa religion et sa littérature.' Ibid: 241.
 
707 The most widely read work which publicized this view of India was JS Mill‘s History of British India. 6 vols. (London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1817). In addition, HM Elliot and J Dowson‘s monumental History of India as Told by her Own Historians, 8 vols. (London, Trübner and co., 1867-77) perpetuated this myth by beginning Indian ‘history‘ from the period of Islamic invasions in the 10th century. Several excellent monographs have examined this aspect of constructing India‘s past, including Ronald Inden‘s Imagining India. (Oxford, UK; Cambridge, Mass., USA: Basil Blackwell, 1990). 
 
708 ‘Du reste les Indous n‘ont pas d‘histoire, proprement dit, et il n‘existe point encore un corps d‘histoire complet des peoples de l‘Inde. Toutes leurs chroniques sont très-imparfaites, celles surtout qui concernant les temps antérieurs aux invasions musulmanes.‘ Collin de Bar, Histoire de l‟Inde ancienne et moderne de l‟Indoustan. (Paris: Le Normant, Imprimeur- Librairie, 1814): 48-49.
 
709’Cette théologie (of the Indians) s‘est maintenue sans alteration, à travers une succession de siècles dont on ne put assigner l‘origine; elle a conservé son système intact pendant les invasions étrangères…‘ Ibid: 67. 
 
710 This element was not a uniquely ‘French‘ aspect of writing about India, nor was it a unique quality of De Bar‘s work- most European work on India presented Indian religion in much the same manner- describing Hinduism as being textually derived, without noting the enormous diversity of practice, belief and philosophy.
 
711 ‘…l‘observateur attentive remarquera que ces vicissitudes, ces divers changemens n‘affectèrent jamais d‘une manière sensible la véritable race des Indous, toujours constante dans ces moeurs, dans ces opinions, dans sa croyance et dans sa conduite. Depuis vingt-deux siècles, l‘histoire les représente tels que nous les voyons aujourd‘hui. Tout a changé autour d‘eux, et au milieu de tant de révolutions physiques et morales, le caractère originel de l‘Indous n‘a presque éprouvé aucune altération.‘ Ibid: 93. 
 
712 Victor Duruy, Histoire de l'Orient. (Paris, 1890): 241 
 
713 See Karen Leonard, Social History of an Indian Caste: the Kayasths of Hyderabad. (California: UC Press, 1978), Adrian Mayer, Caste and Kinship in Central India: a village and its region (Berkeley: UC Press, 1960), Milton Singer, When a Great Tradition Modernizes (New York: Praeger, 1972), Frank Conlon, A Caste in a changing world. The Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmans, 1700- 1935 (Berkeley: UC Press, 1977), Mattison Mines, The Warrior Merchants: textiles, trade and territory in South India (Cambridge: CUP, 1984), Robert Hardgrave, The Nadars of Tamilnad. The Political Culture of a Community in Change (Berkeley: UC Press, 1969), Pauline Kolenda, Caste in contemporary India: beyond Organic and Solidarity (California: UC Press, 1978). 
 
714 See Gloria Goodwin Raheja, The Poison in the Gift: Ritual, Prestation and the Dominant Caste
in a North Indian Village. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), McKim Marriot, Caste Ranking and Community Structure in Five Regions of India and Pakistan (Poona, 1960), Brenda Beck, Peasant Society in Konku. A Study of Right and Left Sub-castes in South India (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1972), Niels Brimnes, Constructing the Colonial Encounter. Right and Left Hand Castes in Early Colonial South India. (Richmond, Surrey: Rutledge and Curzon, 1999), MN Srinivas, Religion and Society among the Coorgs of South India. (London: OUP, 1952) 
 
715 See Gerald Berreman, Caste and other Inequities: Essays on Inequality. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), Irawati Karve, Hindu Society: An Interpretation. (Poona: Sangam Press, 1968) 
 
716 Victor Duruy, Ancient History of the East. Translated by Edwin Augustus Grosvenor and Thomas Spencer Jerome (T. Y. Crowell & company, 1899): 16.
 
717―J‘ai pensé qu‘une notice géographique, à laquelle s‘uniraient des détails statistiques et des descriptions intéressantes, ne piquerait pas seulement la curiosité, mais qu‘elle faciliterait l‘intelligence de l‘histoire…La notice géographique formera environ la moitié du premier volume. On y trouvera une description générale du sol, des montagnes, des fleuves, du climat, et des notions positives sur la connaissance que les anciens ont eue de l‘Inde…' Jean Lacroix de Marles, Histoire Générale de l‟Inde Ancienne et moderne depuis l‟an 2000 avant J. C jusqu‟a nos jours. (Paris, 1828): 21-22. 
 
718 See, for example, Susan Gole, Early Maps of India. (New York: Humanities Press, 1976), Matthew H Edney, Mapping an Empire. The geographical construction of British India, 1765- 1843. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997) and Ian Barrow, Making History, Drawing Territory. British mapping in India, c.1756- 1905. (New Delhi: OUP, 2003).
 
719 Lacroix de Marlès, Histoire Générale de l‟Inde Ancienne et moderne depuis l‟an 2000 avant J. C jusqu‟a nos jours. (Paris, 1828), introduction. 
 
720 Prior to British colonization the term ‘India‘ could not be applied to the geographical limits of what is now India. There were independent kingdoms, tribal areas, the massive limits of the Mughal Empire popularly referred to as Hindustan, and the stark division between the Northern and Southern halves of the subcontinent. As Susan Gole has demonstrated in her work on Early Maps of India.(New York: Humanities Press, 1976), ‘India‘ or the ‘Indies‘ could signify a range of areas from Madagascar to the Spice Islands. 
 
721 See Nigel Leask, ―Francis Wilford and the colonial construction of Hindu geography, 1799- 1822', Romantic Geographies: Discourses of travel 1775- 1844 edited by Amanda Gilroy (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2000). 
 
722 Ian Barrow, Making History, Drawing Territory. British mapping in India, c.1756- 1905. (New Delhi: OUP, 2003). Matthew H Edney, Mapping an Empire. The geographical construction of British India, 1765- 1843. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997). 
 
723 V. Duruy, Histoire des Temps Modernes depuis 1453 jusqu‟a 1789. (Paris: Librairie Hatchette, 1870). 5th edition.
 
724 ‘Par Diu, sur la côte du Guzzerat, Goa, sur celle du Malabar, l‘île de Ceylan, et Negapatam sur la côte de Coromandel, ils enveloppaient tout l‘Hindoustan.‘ Ibid: 134. 
 
725 Isaac Malet, L‟Orient et la Grèce (Paris: Hatchette, 1932). The text was composed after the official history curriculum prescribed in 1931. Meant for the sixth grade, the program specified that students needed to receive an hour and a half of historical instruction per day. 
 
726 Ibid: 303. 
 
727 ‘La Compagnie française s‘éntendit alors avec rapidité…profita, comme l‘anglaise, de ces rivalités pour consolider ses établissements, et elle chargea du soin de ses intérêts dans ces régions lointaines deux hommes remarquables: la Bourdonnais… et Dupleix…‘ V. Duruy, Histoire des Temps Modernes depuis 1453 jusqu‟a 1789. (Paris: Librairie Hatchette, 1870). 5th edition: 486-87.
 
728’Frédéric II de l‘Orient: il fut du moins le représentant énergique de la nationalité indienne, et un des hommes les plus remarquables de l‘Asie moderne.‘ Ibid: 490.
 
729’Depuis ce moment les Anglais furent les véritables maîtres de l‘Inde; ils possèdent encore ce vaste et riche pays où ils ont 150 millions de sujets que leurs premiers gouverneurs exploitèrent avec une impitoyable cruauté.‘ Ibid: 490. 
 
730 Collin de Bar, Histoire de l‟Inde ancienne et moderne de l‟Indoustan. (Paris: Le Normant, Imprimeur- Librairie, 1814), Avertissement: iii.
 
731 Ibid, Avertissement: iv.
 
732’Du reste, son ouvrage ne se borne pas seulement à l‘histoire des rivalités de la France et de l‘Angleterre dans la presqu‘île de l‘Inde, il embrasse un cadre plus étendu, et forme un corps d‘histoire suivi et complet dans son ensemble.‘ Ibid.
 
733 ‘Mais la partie de cet ouvrage qui…mérite le plus l‘attention des historiens, des publicistes, des hommes d‘Etat, c‘est sans contredit celle qui traite, avec autant d‘intérêt que d‘impartialité, des progrès et du développement de la domination exclusive de la Grande-Bretagne sur la presque totalité de la péninsule de l‘Inde. On y voit surtout par quels moyens cette puissance aujourd‘hui si imposante est parvenu à fonder un des plus riches empires du monde dans cette extrémité de la terre, empire dont elle n‘est peut-être redevable qu‘à l‘oppression systématique et permanente qu‘elle y exerce.‘ Ibid, Avertissement: vii.
 
734 Albert Malet and Jules Isaac. Cours abrégé d‟histoire Second edition. (Paris: Librairie Hatchette, 1922). 
 
735 ‘fonder dans l‘Inde un grand empire français‘ Ibid: 96. 
 
736 ‘extrêmement actif et audacieux‘ Ibid: 97 
 
737 ‘En 1752, les possessions françaises avec les pays vassaux formaient un empire de trente millions d‘habitants, deux fois grande comme la France.‘ Ibid.
 
738 ‘Il s‘agissait donc non plus seulement de faire du commerce, mais d‘établir la domination française dans l‘Inde…Ces résultats extraordinaires avaient été obtenus avec de faibles moyens, moins de 2000 Européens et environ 4000 cipayes, indigènes exercés à l‘européen.‘ Malet and Isaac. XVII & XVIII siècles. (Paris: Librairie Hatchette, nd): 572-73.
 
739 ’Mais la politique de Dupleix se heurta à la resistance des Anglais; il fut obligé de demander des renforts. Or en France, le gouvernement et la Compagnie préféraient la paix: Dupleix, méconnu et considéré comme un dangereux aventurier, fut rappelé brutalement...‘ Albert Malet and Jules Isaac. Cours abrégé d‟histoire Second edition. (Paris: Librairie Hatchette, 1922): 97. This sentiment demonstrates the influence of colonial desire in the late nineteenth century in France and the return to an older school of historiography which glorified men who had helped to further these temporal ambitions.  
 
740 ainsi, sans…doute, la France perdit l‟empire de l‟Inde (original italics- says much about their views about losing the Indian empire) Ibid. 
 
741 ‘ce terrible sacrifice‘ Ibid
 
742’…la rivalité franco- anglaise aux colonies se terminait par la ruine totale de la France et le triomphe…de l‘Angleterre.‘ Ibid: 98. 
 
743 Malet and Isaac. XIX siècle. Histoire contemporaine, 1815-1920. (Paris: Librairie Hatchette, nd): 590- 592. 
 
744 Malet and Isaac Cours abrégé d‟histoire Second edition. (Paris: Librairie Hatchette, 1922): 97. Similar map in Malet and Isaac. XIX siècle. Histoire contemporaine, 1815-1920. (Paris: Librairie Hatchette, nd): 568. 
 
745 Matthew H Edney, Mapping an Empire. The geographical construction of British India, 1765- 1843. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997). According to Mathew Edney, cartography and imperialism was fundamentally linked in that imperial cartographers created a ‘spatial recognition of territory and empire‘ (pg. 1), a sense of the extent of territorial possession for in order to boost national pride as well as challenge other colonial powers. Edney traces the process by which British cartographers created the territory of ‘India‘. Thus maps were fundamental to the process of national pride in colonial possessions. 
 
746 See Kate Marsh, Fictions of 1947: Representations of Indian Decolonization in French-language texts, (New York: Peter Lang, 2007). Also see Kate Marsh, ―Les cinq noms sonores: The French Voice in the Story of British India 1763-1954', in Journal of Romance Studies, 5 (2005): 65-77 (co-authored with Ian H. Magadera), and ―Representing Indian Decolonization in the Parisian Press 1923-1954', International Journal of Francophone Studies, 5 (2002): 74-84. Marsh argues that French notions of India were shaped by a triad of India, France, and Britain, interacting with each other. 
 
747 As Ian Barrow points out, all colonial cartography was a site for power contestations. Ian Barrow, Making History, Drawing Territory. British mapping in India, c.1756- 1905. (New Delhi: OUP, 2003): 333. 
 
748 Kate Marsh, Fictions of 1947: Representations of Indian Decolonization in French-language texts (New York: Peter Lang, 2007): 30.
 
749 La Politique Coloniale, 1892. 
 
750 ‘nos établissements de l‘Inde française sont tous ce qui nous reste de l‘immense empire indien.‘ Camille Guy, Exposition Universelle de 1900, Les colonies françaises: Les établissements français de l‟Inde. (Paris: Levé, 1900): 1. Quoted in Kathryn Gibbs, ‘The Exposition Coloniale of 1900: Representing and Forgetting l‘Inde française‘. Paper presented at 1st AHRC Study Day: French Subaltern Colonizers and the Grand Narrative of British India. University of Liverpool, Sept 10, 2007. 
 
751 Earlier edition was Malet and Isaac. XIX siècle. Histoire contemporaine, 1815-1920. (Paris: Librairie Hatchette, nd). There were 10 pages devoted to India. The map was on pg. 910, and images provided included a picture of a Sikh man on pg. 911, and a picture of Benares Brahmins with long, matted locks and covered in sacred ash on pg. 915. No sources were provided. The later edition titled ‘Histoire contemporaine, depuis le milieu du XIX siècle‟, of which I examined two copies were published by Colin in 1918 (2nd edition) and Librairie Hatchette, Paris in 1930 respectively. Of a total of 849 pages, only 6 pages were devoted to India, the emphasis now being clearly on France‘s larger and more prominent colonies. The source for this edition was primarily Métin‘s L‟Inde Contemporaine and included extended quotations from Piriou, L‟Inde contemporaine et le movement national. (Paris: Alcan éd., 1905); and from E. de Valbezen, Les Anglais et l‟Inde, tome 1 (Paris, 1875).
 
752 ’une insurrection militaire…La cause profonde de l‘insurrection fut la haine des Hindous pour leurs vainqueurs…Le prétexte fut la distribution aux cipayes de cartouches enduites de graisse de vache, animal sacré pour les Hindous.‘ Isaac and Malet, L‟Epoque contemporaine (Paris: Hatchette, 1907): 552-553. 
 
753 ’La révolte eut des causes militaires et religieuses.‘ Isaac and Malet, Histoire contemporaine, depuis le milieu du XIX siècle. (Paris: Librairie Hatchette, 1930): 484. 
 
754 Nikki Frith, ―’Natural and Necessary Enemies‘: French-Language Representations of the Indian ‘Mutinies‘ and Britain‘s Colonial ‘Failure‘', Paper presented at 1st AHRC Study Day: French Subaltern Colonizers and the Grand Narrative of British India. University of Liverpool, Sept 10, 2007: 4. Also see attached table of Journal nomenclatures. 
 
755 ’La révolte de l‘Inde anglaise est un Avertissement suprême…si, après la victoire, ils (les Anglais) se montraient aussi inhumains, aussi inintelligens de leur mission qu‘ils l‘ont été…la dernière heure de leur domination aurait bientôt sonné…Plus d‘esclavage! Plus de servitude! Plus d‘oppression supreme.‘ Louis Jourdan, ‘Esclavage‘, Le Siècle, Aug. 16 and 17, 1857: 1. Quoted in Nikki Frith, ―’Natural and Necessary Enemies‘: French-Language Representations of the Indian ‘Mutinies‘ and Britain‘s Colonial ‘Failure‘', Paper presented at 1st AHRC Study Day: French Subaltern Colonizers and the Grand Narrative of British India. University of Liverpool, Sept 10, 2007: 4.
 
756 The text, L‟Epoque contemporaine (Paris: Hatchette, 1907): 553 described ‘De là de terribles représailles de la part des Anglais. Il leur fallut plus d‘une année et demie pour écraser l‘insurrection.‘ 
 
757 Isaac and Malet, Histoire contemporaine, depuis le milieu du XIX siècle‟, (Paris: Colin, 1918) 2nd edition: 486.
  
758―ce qu'on n'aime pas en France, c'est d'entendre les feuilles de Londres, après avoir exprimé l'horreur que leur inspire la conduite sauvage des compagnons de Nena-Saïb, exciter les troupes de S.M. Britannique aux mêmes crimes et aux mêmes vengeances.' Ernest Dréolle, Le Constitutionnel, Sept 7, 1857: 1. Quoted in Nikki Frith, ―’Natural and Necessary Enemies‘: French-Language Representations of the Indian ‘Mutinies‘ and Britain‘s Colonial ‘Failure‘', Paper presented at 1st AHRC Study Day: French Subaltern Colonizers and the Grand Narrative of British India. University of Liverpool, Sept 10, 2007: 2. 
 
759 Verne‘s most famous character, Captain Nemo, of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island was also revealed to be a prince of Indian ancestry and a fervent opponent of imperialism, having lost his family and kingdom to the British in the Revolt of 1857. 
 
760 Cited in ibid: 3. 
 
761 Frederick Quinn, The French Overseas Empire. (Westport, CT and London: Praeger, 2000): 170. Also see Nikki Frith, ―Competing Colonial Discourses in India: Representing the 1857 Kanpur Massacres in French- and English-Language Texts and Images' Unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Liverpool, forthcoming 2008. Frith studies the mostly negative French representations of the British during the Mutiny and explains it in terms of their national and colonial rivalry with Britain.
 
762 Louis Rousselet, The Serpent Charmer. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1889): 265- 66.
 
763 ’Telle est la thèse anglaise. Mais les quelques millions d‟Hindous qui sont capables de s‟intéresser aux affaires publiques contestent âprement ces prétendus bienfaits.‟ Isaac and Malet, Histoire contemporaine, depuis le milieu du XIX siècle‟, (Paris: Colin, 1918) 2nd edition: 488.
 
764 Most histories which included a discussion of European colonization and of contemporary India also focused on the British drain of Indian wealth and the rapid impoverishment and exploitation of the country. See for example Baron Auguste Barchou de Penhoën, L'Inde sous la domination anglaise (Paris, 1827) and Paul Boell, L'Inde et le problem Indien (Paris, s.d.). What is very interesting is the close intellectual tie which existed between French Indologists and Indian Nationalists who were working for a greater Indian participation in governance and for eventual independence As Kate Marsh points out, the French press continually compared the Nationalist movement in India to the French Revolution in terms of the desire to overthrow oppression and tyranny. See Kate Marsh, ―Representing Indian Decolonization in the Parisian Press, 1923- 54', International Journal of Francophone Studies 2002, 5.2. The mutual admiration of Indian intellectuals for French support and political ideals is reflected in countless writings and speeches which lauded the Revolutionary ideals of 1789, exhorted Indians to overthrow British tyranny like the peasant of the French Revolution and incorporated French notions of Aryanism which argued that India being the original home of the Aryans was well capable of self-rule. This aspect of French images of India is particularly strong in the speeches of Subhas Chandra Bose. Nationalist writings adopted the tone of Aryan greatness to push the concept that India may have declined over the centuries but that she was essentially home to a superior race which could regain that position of greatness. For example Swami Dayanand Saraswati‘s main argument was of a return to Aryan greatness. The writings of most Arya Samaj followers continue to echo this idea. These writings also fixed India in a timeless continuum which amplified the philosophical and spiritual achievements of the ancient Indians. When nationalists acknowledged the present social inequalities of caste they did so in an accusatory vein which blamed either racial intermixing or the Islamic influence for the ills of Indian society; two scapegoats which had been the creation of French Indologists. This is an intriguing aspect of the nationalist movement which has not been researched. 
 
765 Isaac and Malet, Histoire contemporaine, depuis le milieu du XIX siècle‟, (Paris: Colin, 1918) 2nd edition: 490. 
 
766 Ibid, 1930 ed.: 489 from E. Piriou, L‟Inde contemporaine et le mouvement national. (Paris: Alcan, 1905) 
 
767 ‘Enfin, l‘Inde succombe sous le triple fardeau des traitements des fonctionnaires, de la dette publique et de toutes les dépenses, militaries et diplomatiques que l‘Angleterre fait en Asie, sous prétexte qu‘elles servent à maintenir la sécurité de l‘Inde.‘ Ibid. The same sentiment is in Malet and Isaac. XIX siècle. Histoire contemporaine, 1815-1920. (Paris: Librairie Hatchette, nd): 914.
 
768 Léopold de Saussure. Psychologie de la colonization Française. Dans ses rapports avec les sociétés indigenes. (Paris, 1899).
 
769 Ibid: 19.
 
770 Ibid: 48.
 
771 Ibid: 59.
 
772 ‘D‘une façon générale, l‘Angleterre s‘est montrée libérale à l‘égard des colonies où dominé l‘élément européen…A l‘égard des autres colonies, la politique anglaise a été plus oppressive; les indigènes ont été soumis à une tutelle rigoureuse. De là, dans les pays de civilisations ancienne comme l‘Inde et l‘Égypte, une violent agitation nationaliste qui a obligé l‘Angleterre à des concessions…‘ Isaac and Malet, Cours abrégé d‟histoire Second edition. (Paris: Librairie Hatchette, 1922): 247.
 
773 ‘mais ces mesures ont été impuissantes à faire disparaître le fléau qui, périodiquement, décimé la population. La famine de 1899-1900 a fait quatre millions de victimes.‘ Malet and Isaac. XIX siècle. Histoire contemporaine, 1815-1920. (Paris: Librairie Hatchette, nd): 915.
 
774 ’il n‘est ni gratuit ni obligatoire et, par suite, n‘a guère donné de résultats.‘ Ibid. 
 
775 Preeti Chopra, ―Pondicherry: A French Enclave in India', in Forms of Dominance. On the Architecture and Urbanism of the Colonial Enterprise edited by Nezar AlSayyad (Aldershot and Brookfield: Avebury, 1992): 117.
 
776 ‘D‘autre part, il lui faut pratiquer, vis-à-vis des populations indigènes, une politique d‟éducation, de collaboration et d‟amitié qui crée entre les colonies et la métropole des liens indissolubles: ainsi se constitueront dans le monde des <<Frances nouvelles>> qui seront le meilleur soutien de l‘ancienne France.‘ Albert Malet and Jules Isaac. Cours abrégé d‟histoire Second edition. (Paris: Librairie Hatchette, 1922): 309.
 
777 Louis Rousselet, The Serpent Charmer. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1889): 266. 
 
778 See Kate Marsh, ―Representing Indian Decolonization in the Parisian Press 1923-1954', International Journal of Francophone Studies, 5 (2002):74-84. 
 
779 From Le Monde, 5 Aug. 1947: 1-2. Quoted in ibid: 82. 
 
780 ‘ils craignent, non sans raison peut- être, de ne pas y en (en Inde independant) jouir des mêmes libertés dont ils bénéficients dans l‘Inde française.‘ Ibid. 
 
781 ’l‟Afrique ne doit pas être pour nous un comptoir comme l‟Inde.‘ Lucien-Anatole Prévost-Paradol, La France Nouvelle, Livre III: Quelques notions d‘histoire nationale et quelques conseils à la generation présenté (Paris: Lévy, 1868): 417. Cited in Kathryn Gibbs, ‘The Exposition Coloniale of 1900: Representing and Forgetting l‘Inde française‘. Paper presented at 1st AHRC Study Day: French Subaltern Colonizers and the Grand Narrative of British India. University of Liverpool, Sept 10, 2007. 
 
782 ’une compensation de la perte de l‟Inde.‘ in reference to Indo-China. Publication de la Commission, Exposition Universelle de 1900, Les Colonies françaises: un siècle de l‟expansion coloniale (Paris: Challamel, 1902): 16. Cited in Kathryn Gibbs, ‘The Exposition Coloniale of 1900: Representing and Forgetting l‘Inde française‘. Paper presented at 1st AHRC Study Day: French Subaltern Colonizers and the Grand Narrative of British India. University of Liverpool, Sept 10, 2007. 
 
783 ‘L‟Angleterre a manqué à son devoir…Ce formidable enseignement ne doit être perdu ni pour notre alliée, ni pour nous qui remplissons en Algérie un rôle analogue à celui de la Grande-Bretagne dans l‟Inde.‘ Louis Jourdan, ‘Esclavage‘, Le Siècle, Aug. 16 and 17, 1857. Cited in Nikki Frith, ―’Natural and Necessary Enemies‘: French-Language Representations of the Indian ‘Mutinies‘ and Britain‘s Colonial ‘Failure‘', Paper presented at 1st AHRC Study Day: French Subaltern Colonizers and the Grand Narrative of British India. University of Liverpool, Sept 10, 2007: 4. 
 
784 Ibid: 5. 
 
785 ‘notre empire (Indo-Chinois) a compensé pour les pertes du dernier siècle.‘ Camille Guy, Exposition Universelle de 1900, Les colonies françaises: Les établissements français de l‟Inde. (Paris: Levé, 1900): 1. Quoted in Kathryn Gibbs, ‘The Exposition Coloniale of 1900: Representing and Forgetting l‘Inde française‘. Paper presented at 1st AHRC Study Day: French Subaltern Colonizers and the Grand Narrative of British India. University of Liverpool, Sept 10, 2007. 
 
786 ‘les ancêstres directs et les éducateurs de Francis Garnier, Doudart de Lagrée et Coubert en Indo-Chine.‘ Ibid: 13. 
 
787 Camille Guy, Les colonies françaises: la mise en valeur de notre domaine coloniale. This was volume III of Les Colonies françaises, Exposition Universelle de 1900, Publications de la Commission chargée de préparer la participation de la Ministère des Colonies (Paris: Augustin Challamel, 1900). He later became the Lieutenant-Governor of Senegal (1903-05) French Guinea (1910- 12). 
 
788 Camille Guy, Exposition Universelle de 1900, Les colonies françaises: Les établissements français de l‟Inde. (Paris: Levé, 1900). 
 
789 Camille Guy, ―French Colonial Expansion in the Nineteenth Century', The International Monthly (July-December 1901) Vol IV: 527. 
 
790 Karine Delaye, ‘L‘Affaire Myngoon Min ou les tribulations d‘un prince birman entre rivalités imperialists et entente cordiale (1884- 1921)‘ in Les Relations entre la France et l‟Inde de 1673 à nos jours. Edited by Jacques Weber. (Paris: Les indes savantes, 2002):181.
 
791 Ibid: 182.
 
792 Penny Edwards, ―Taj Angkor: Enshrining l‟Inde in le Cambodge” Paper presented at ‘Indochina‘, India and France: Cultural Representations, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle, England, September 5-7 2003): 3
 
793 Ibid. 
 
794 Marcel Dubois, Preface in Empire Colonial de la France: L‟Indochine. (Paris: Librairie Coloniale Augustin Challamel, s.d): ix. 
 
795 S. P. Sen describes some of these attempts by individual French to launch military campaigns to regain French territory and empire in India. He also documents the correspondence between British officials in India and the Directors of the East India Company in London, particularly the British unease with French colonial gains in Indo- China which would constitute a challenge to their Indian empire. See S. P Sen, The French in India, 1763- 1816. (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1971). For French attempts to regain India see Jean Marie Lafont, La présence française dans le royaume sikh du Penjab : 1822-1849. (Paris : École française d‘Extrême-Orient, 1992), and Indika. Essays in Indo- French relations 1630- 1976. (New Delhi: Manohar, 2000).
 
796 Penny Edwards, ―Taj Angkor: Enshrining l'Inde in le Cambodge” Paper presented at ‘Indochina‘, India and France: Cultural Representations, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle, England, September 5-7 2003): 2. 
 
797 Ibid : 4. Cited from ―Comment Angkor fut révélé au grand public', Courrier de Saïgon, 10 Feb, 1864. 
 
798 Cited in Emmanuelle Ortoli, ―The Time of Friendship', L‟Aventure des Français en Inde. XVII – XX siècles. Edited by In Rose Vincent (Kailash Editions: 1995). Translated in English as The French in India: from Diamond Traders to Sanskrit Scholars. (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1990): 146.
 
799 See Richard Aldrich, ‘Imperialism in the Study and Teaching of History‘, in 'Benefits bestowed'?: education and British imperialism, edited by JA Mangan (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988). 
 
800 Kathryn Castle, Britannia’s Children (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996) and Kathryn Castle, ‘The Imperial Indian: India in British History Textbooks for Schools, 1890- 1914‘ in The Imperial curriculum: racial images and education in the British colonial experience edited by J A Mangan (London and New York: Routledge, 1993)
 
801 Chetan Bhatt, Hindu nationalism: origins, ideologies and modern myths (Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2001).
 
802 Peter van der Veer, Imperial encounters: religion and modernity in India and Britain (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001)
 
803 See for example, Antony Copley, Hinduism in Public and Private Reform, Hindutva, Gender, and Sampraday (Oxford: OUP, 2009) and Jyotirmaya Sharma, Hindutva : Exploring the Idea of Hindu Nationalism (New Delhi: Penguin, 2003)
 
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Re: Claiming India, by Jyoti Mohan

Postby admin » Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:12 am

Part 1 of 2

Chapter 8: Imperial showcase: the visual presentation of ‘India‘

Few countries in the world, without doubt, hold the spirit of 'mysterious India'. Few countries possess such attraction and magnetism.804

India was significant for the French notion of colony and Empire. Despite possessing a mere handful of outposts in India surrounded by the might of the British Raj, the French India Establishments retained an identity of ‘Frenchness‘, defiant in the face of Anglican sahibdom. This dissertation has examined the presence of India in the French academic sphere during the nineteenth century. This chapter explores the problematic representation of India in the International Colonial Exhibition, held in Paris in 1931, specifically in the context of the clear construction of India as devoid of British rule.

The grand Colonial Exhibition, held in Paris from May 6 to November 15, 1931 celebrated France‘s accomplishments in civilizing the ‘noble savage‘. Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Italy and the United States joined France in this unashamed showcase of empire. The only colonial power missing was Britain, financially unable to participate after her own aggrandizing Colonial Exhibition at Wembley in 1924-25 and reluctant moreover, to play second fiddle to France's demonstration of colonial might. Germany had been stripped of its colonies after World War I, and Japan was only starting out on her colonial venture. The 1931 Exhibition was the last great demonstration of colonial power, attracting more than 33 million entries from France and abroad.

The mastermind behind the brave showing at Vincennes was Maréchal Lyautey who envisaged two larger goals for the Exhibition: the promotion of French industrial and business investment in the colonies and the raising of French public awareness of their nation‘s colonial grandeur. National pride was at stake and the exhibition was meant to counter the image of the lethargic French who cared nothing for their colonial holdings.805 It was an effort to galvanize the French public to participate in the colonial effort.

The representation of India at the International Colonial Exhibition of 1931 was really a microcosm of France‘s attitudes and policy towards the French settlements in India and of greater India as a cultural entity. Despite having lost her principal Indian empire to Britain in the late eighteenth century, France continued to retain certain outposts for the prestige of possessing parts of India within her colonial empire. While the French comptoirs were certainly prosperous, they were by no means comparable to French colonies like Algeria or Indo- China in terms of the geographical extent of rule. It seems probable therefore, that the primary aim of France in showcasing her India posts to a far greater degree than their actual importance to French colonial interest warranted, was due to the ideological need to define ‘Frenchness‘ in the colonial context, as an enlightened colonial power that truly cared about her colonies and made genuine efforts to develop them philanthropically and raise their people to a ‘civilized‘ level806.

The Exposition coloniale internationale de Paris elaborated a world view of ‘Greater France‘. Indigenous buildings were reconstructed along French avenues of order, marking the unity of French progress and colonial exoticism in an exhibition that constructed a particular understanding of the French colonial empire.807 Hailed as the apothéose de la plus grande France, the Exposition featured pavilions from all its various colonies and depots. The highpoints of the colonial exhibit were the reproductions of Angkor Vat, Sudanese earth buildings and the North African Casbah. Watching benevolently over these was the palais d'exposition, the headquarters of the French exhibition of colonies. The colonial pavilions showcased French colonial achievements as la plus grande France -- an attempt to rival ‘Greater Britain‘. Yet the central puppeteer was the palais. The colonial pavilions were placed along French avenues just as the French had attempted to re-construct the French quartiers in their colonies by blending indigenous architectural styles with the broad principles of French town planning- broad avenues and open spaces.808

India was represented in many ways at the 1931 Exhibition – structurally, culturally, politically and economically. Structurally, India was represented through two pavilions – the Establishments of French India as part of the French global colonial presence, and the pavilion of Hindustan. Culturally, events such as the Hindu dance night, operas reflecting Indian influence, films, paintings and frescoes depicting India, the arts and crafts of India and even Indian cuisine formed a solid corpus of a typically Indian experience.

The Commissariat of French India was constituted by a decree in 1927 by the planning committee for the Exposition Coloniale Internationale and headed by M. Ginestou, Commissaire and M. Gaudart, the adjoint engineer to the public works of Colonies was Adjoint Commissaire.809 In October 1931 M. Gaudart left for India and was replaced by M. Raoux.

Although the pavilion did not have any other official or administrative support, a local Indian committee composed of volunteers helped during the duration of the Exposition.810 It is not recorded whether the committee was composed of French residents in India or of Indians, or even a mix of both. In any case the representation of French India was a significant insight into the opinion of the inhabitants of French India of their colonial masters. Despite being a considerably exoticized version of India, there seems to have been complete collaboration on the part of the committee, and there was no criticism by Indian visitors to the pavilion like the disgust expressed by Egyptian visitors for the similarly exoticized representation of their land speaks of the high regard of the French in India.

The site for the India pavilion was chosen bordering on the greater French colonies and in the vicinity of the ancient colonies.811 Even though the significance of the French India Posts in terms of France‘s colonial empire was modest, the size and location of the pavilion representing India implied otherwise. Entering from the Cité des Informations, the visitor to the Exposition would have been whisked off to the Grande Avenue des Colonies Français, upon which the pavilion of Indes Français was the second on the left. While it was only a modest 20 m by 6 m, the pavilion was placed in clear view and would have been among the first that the visitor would have seen. (fig. 1) It was larger than many older colonies like the pavilions of Martinique and Guadeloupe and had an enormous number of visitors. The average was calculated based on estimates made ten times each month for the duration of the Exposition and totaled 40,000 people during the week and between 60-75, 000 on Sunday.812 The official record of the Exposition notes that the pavilion was allocated two guards and no untoward incident occurred during the six months of the Exposition.813

The pavilion was allocated a very modest budget, which precluded the hosting of fêtes, or other celebrations other than those organized by the central committee for the Exposition. However, India was a prominent cultural presence during the Exposition. Represented in the fine arts display as well as the displays of songs and dances, India was also a theme of the films shown at the Exposition. Among the various conferences held during the Exposition under the aegis of the Commissariat, India was the sole subject of one held under the presidency of Gouverneur Général Olivier.814 The conference appears to have been well attended and was distinguished by the presence of Senator M. le Moignac.815 The pavilion was also highly visible in the awards that the Exhibition officials made to various categories of products and artifacts displayed by the colonies.

Inaugurated on May 22, 1931, the rose-colored pavilion consisted of three rooms, devoted in turn to India‘s arts, economy and history. One entered the pavilion by way of a grand entrance, which was flanked by sculptures of two huge white elephants (fig. 2) These sculptures were unprecedented in Indian architecture and evocative more of a temple entrance than the entrance to a Hindu house, which was the aim of the Commissaire. Represented with huge tusks, these male elephants were yet calm and submissive, domesticated and docile creatures much in the manner of actual temple elephants used even today in temples in South India. They were adorned with tassels and brocades. The first impression of the pavilion of French India was of these huge, benign creatures flanking the entrance to a flat-roofed one-storey house topped by a small tower. The temple-like appearance of the pavilion was further heightened by the construction of a flat roof and a small tower over the entrance, very much like the gopuram entrances to temples, and by the ornate pillars supporting the roof (fig. 3). The most striking aspect of the interior of the pavilion was the central sculpture of the interior courtyard – Shiva as Nataraja, the Prince of Dancers (fig. 4). Presumably, Lyautey‘s directives to interpret loosely the architecture of a typical Hindu house were taken rather literally to present an exoticised version of the Hindu house as a cross between the interior of a well-to-do Hindu house with rooms constructed around a central courtyard, and the exterior, which was almost entirely the façade of a local temple except for the scale and grandeur on which it was built, which was less ornate than a normal temple. The rose colored pavilion, constructed by the firm of MM. Girves was also constructed to serve the needs of a museum.

It is significant that the reproduction of palaces, buildings and villages at the Exposition were almost always designed by European or American architects, not by the inhabitants of the colonies, even if native materials and craftsmen were used. All sorts of liberties were taken with indigenous styles to fit the demands of the exhibitions.816 In the case of the French India pavilion this was certainly true. The pavilion represented neither a temple nor a domestic residence. The architectural elements which were chosen to be incorporated into this ‘authentic‘ representation of India were strictly from the point of view of maximizing the exotic quality of the pavilion while providing a logical pattern for examining its interior.

A verandah, enveloped in green palms greeted visitors. The verandah contained a "poyal", a largish swing which was meant for high caste Hindus to greet lower caste visitors to their home so that the interior would not be defiled. Ritual lamps provided light to the verandah during the evening and night. The European visitor to the pavilion was free from all cultural restrictions which may have been imposed upon them in India. The visitor to the pavilion was permitted a view into the life of high caste Indians that even lower caste Indians presumably did not have. They could bypass the disagreeable restrictions of caste to experience the full beauty and skill of India.

As Demaison instructed the visitor to the India Pavilion,

All is ritual and caste in India. You are not a stranger or of an inferior caste- walk right in to the center of the house, to the historical room of high interest, to the commercial room where you will find the artistic products of India- jewelry, brocades, furniture, ivory, precious gems and other artifacts of this civilization older than ours, a splendid civilization where gold, gems, ivory and precious wood are fashioned into delicate and magnificent fantasies by the Hindu artisans.817


Each of the three rooms in the interior of the pavilion was painted with frescoes to heighten the effect of the themes of the room. The first, the artistic room, was painted by M. Montassier, who represented scenes from Hindu mythology to form a harmonious ensemble with the figures of Gods and divinities. He depicted, among others, Brahma with four hands and heads holding the four Vedas, four-headed Vishnu with his conch, lotus and discus, Shiva in all his forms (including the Ardhanari- half-man, half-woman), Trimurti (associated with the forms of Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma), Kali, Goddess of Destruction and Death as an old woman riding on a tiger with a garland of skulls, and Ganesha, son of Shiva and Parvati with an elephant-head and accompanied by his vahana (chariot), the rat.818 Thousands of Gods and Goddesses in wood, in bronze and marble and mostly produced by the school of arts and industries of Pondicherry added to the richness of the room. The final touch to the room was the display of Indian jewelry- intricate patterns designed in emeralds, gold, silver, diamonds- for which Indian artisans were world famous, complementing the granite structures of the pavilion perfectly.

On the left was the commercial room. The room was painted by M. Portevin, and was less classical and freer, representing scenes of agriculture and industry. The room displayed the agricultural and industrial products of French India- cotton, jute, copper objects of domestic and religious use, choir mats, precious and exquisite textiles which affirmed the centuries of progress in Indian weaving, reptile skins, shells, essences, cereals, oils, conserves, and examples of the exotic foods of India and of industrial production. Among the new activities of women was an important contribution of beautiful lace and needlework item -- for domestic and decorative use -- done under the teaching of the Sisters of Saint- Joseph of Cluny in Pondicherry.819

One entered on the right by the historical room- rich and precious souvenirs, parchments and maps, engravings and local archival curiosities. Among the treasures of the room were the plans of Pondicherry, dated between 1700 and 1720, loaned by the bureau of the Archives of the Ministry of Colonies.820 M. Poisson, painter of the room, had represented scenes from the history of the French conquest of India. He was also the installer of the precious objects from the colonies and the invaluable art treasures from the collection of M. Loo.821

The blue ceiling of the whole pavilion was decorated by M. Lafitte, the decoration and interior by Claude Salvy, the magnificent floral decoration by M. Nonin and exotic trees of the horticulturist Dupoux.822 The most striking aspect of the interior of the pavilion was the central sculpture of the interior courtyard- Shiva as Nataraja, the Prince of Dancers. This sculpture was loaned to the Commissaire from the collection of M. Loo and left an indelible impression on the visitor of the colorful nature of Indian culture and religion.

Interestingly, most of the artifacts represented in the French India pavilion were not truly ‘Indian‘ in any sense of the word. They certainly did not represent the work of Indian craftsmen. Many of the contributions that comprised the life of the pavilion were by Frenchmen. The exhibit on Indian jewelry was by M. Charpentier, paintings by Montassier, Portevin and Poisson, elephants by Magrou, ceiling decoration by Lafitte, interior decoration by Salvy, and the floral decoration by Nonin, all of these purporting to represent the true Indian style.823 Charpentier was even awarded a medal for his production of 'Indian' jewelry. Except for a few examples of crafts produced by the artisanal workshops at Pondicherry and by the women of Pondicherry under the tutelage of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Cluny, most of the arts and crafts in the pavilion were by French contributors. Significantly enough, even the two workshops representing the work of the Indians were institutions that had been established by the colonial government for the education and development of Indians. Even the division of the pavilion into three rooms was a French categorization. According to Breckenridge a collection ordered India's unruly and disorderly past, at the same time that it pointed towards India's present by ordering her unruly and disorderly practices. A collection also created an illusion of control for the colonial masters, in their orderly categorization and compartmentalization.824 A ‘traditional‘ Indian home would not have been divided up into these compartments.

The pavilion was highly visible in the awards that the Exposition officials made to various categories of products and artifacts displayed by the colonies. The people exhibiting their wares in the pavilion won a total of 16 medals- four grand prizes, two gold medals, six silver and five bronze medals. Collaborators and those who had contributed to decorating the pavilion also won 10- two diplômes d'honneur, two gold, four silver and two bronze medals. Among the winners was the School of arts and industries in Pondicherry, Edmond Gaudart and others.825

The pavilion of French India was the main representation of Indian life. However, there were other exhibits, and cultural performances that provided the visitor with a range of ‘India images‘ (fig. 5). The Section Retrospective at the Musée des Colonies was a great aide to discovering the life and history of the French India establishments and especially that of Pondicherry. Prof. Jouveau-Dubreuil, an eminent Indologist was the brain behind the exhibit which display included a remarkable collection of objects, engravings, tableaux and other artifacts of the history of French colonialism in India. These objects were original artifacts transported to the Musée from India under the supervision of the professor to represent the artistic and historical accomplishments of French India.826 The display included a reproduction of a room in French India from the time of Dupleix. The Commissariat of the Séction Retrospective also sponsored a program on 28 October, 1931 in the salles des fêtes of the Musée permanent des Colonies that included fragments of the musical Les Indes galantes from the time of Dupleix, composed by Rameau and conducted by Poulet as well as performances of music and dance by Indians.827

Other expressions of Indian culture were provided by the Hindu night, which formed one of the many nuits coloniales that were among the highlights of the Exposition. The performance by the dancer Mme. Nyoka Inyota of Bengali dances was the highlight of the nuit hindoue. Ironically Mme Inyota was not herself Indian. However she was a prominent expression of the performing arts during the Exposition and made several appearances- on 8 July 1931 in the presence of the President of the Republic and other members of Government as part of a grand soirée,828 and other receptions for foreign dignitaries visiting the Exposition.829 Other expressions of Indian performing arts included a number of musical performances by Uday Shankar and his company.

Uday Shankar, older brother of the famous sitarist Ravi Shankar, placed Indian dance on the world map. While in London at the Royal College of Art, he choreographed two Indian ballets; ‘Krishna and Radha‘ and ‘A Hindu Wedding‘. The first performance was held at Convent Garden in September 1923. He formed a troupe of ‘Hindu dancers‘ from among his family and friends and on 31st March 1931 at the Theatre Champs-Elysées in Paris, he presented Tandava Nritya or the fearsome Dance of Death attributed to Shiva.

What Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham were to western dance, Shankar was to Indian dance forms. A breath of fresh air in the traditional, guru-disciple dominated field of Indian dance, and performing both traditional and interpretive dances with finesse, Uday Shankar was the first Indian dancer and musician to open these fields to modern methods. He began a school of music, art and dance where students could learn the arts without being bound by the gurukul tradition of Indian education830, freeing the students from nepotism and opening up the fields of art to talent rather than family tradition. Shankar performed in the Exposition a number of times, including a program sponsored by the Commissariat of the Section Retrospective on 28 October, 1931 in the salles des fêtes of the Musée permanent des Colonies. Shankar's choices were an array of cultural interpretations that encompassed classical dances such as the Tandava dance and a musical rendering of Raga Pahari, a peasant dance, and even a sword dance performed by Uday Shankar and Simkie, a member of his troupe.831

Among colonial influences on French music a number of Indian- inspired airs were performed at the Exposition. Lakmé by Léo Delibes, and the duet from the opera Roi de Lahore by Massenet, were among the musicals of Indian origin which were composed in the nineteenth century while fragments of Padmavati by Albert Roussel and the Hindu chant of Sadko conducted by Rimsky- Korsakov represented the influence of India on French music in the twentieth century. Two of the nine performances that represented colonial influences on French music in the nineteenth century were Indian, the majority of the remaining being Middle Eastern while the number for the twentieth century was two from among performances of thirteen of which four were Middle Eastern, one Japanese, one Chinese, and only two Indo-Chinese.832

India figured prominently among the expressions of the fine arts. The importance of the exhibition of colonial art was expressed in a letter by Lyautey to Emile Bayard, in the preface to the latter‘s book, L'Art de Reconnaître les Styles Coloniaux de la France.833 The letter, dated 26 September, 1930, praised Bayard for his efforts to educate the West about the thoughts, institutions, works and lives of the peoples of the Mediterranean, Africa and Asia through a study of their art. Lyautey pointed out that the civilization of a people could be defined by their art style and the knowledge of this was ‘la condition de toute politique coloniale‘ [the main goal of colonial policy].834 In addition to the frescoes decorating the interior of the Pavilion of French India and the sculptures of elephants flanking the entrance of the pavilion, art of Indian inspiration was an attraction at the palace of Fine Arts. The most prominent among these were paintings by Fouqueray- le bain sacré, Côte de Malabar, and Le Port de Malabar -- who was renowned for his exotic paintings.835 Among more eclectic selections were a series of paintings by Mlle Louise Hervieu who represented exotic themes of distant travel and longing for Oriental imagery in her images of India, Mirage indien, and Bouddha.836 The Salon du Maréchal, also called the Salon Lyautey or Salon de l'Asie was decorated with panels representing Oriental religions and myths. Bayard emphasized the influence of religion on the art of the Orient and this was clear in the works included in the Salon.837 The frescoes represented panels from the lives and teachings of Krishna, Buddha and Confucius. Other panels depicted scenes of Oriental music and drama. Painted by the Lemaître brothers, André-Hubert and Ivanna, the paintings were a relatively accurate depiction of "inscrutable Orient" of mysterious religions and complicated mythologies given the Lemaître‘s interest and understanding of Oriental religion.838 The Exposition also screened a number of films at the Cité des Informations. Among ten films on Asia, three were about India- L'Ami hindoue, Mungo, Chasseur de serpents, and Les Indes mystérieuses -- while at least half were inspired by the culture of the sub-continent.839

The element of exoticism however, continued to dominate these representations of Indian culture as much as the pavilion. Mme. Nyoka Inyota was not Indian and her dances represented a stylistic rendition of her interpretation of India. The paintings of India were produced by French artists, none of whom had even visited India. Films and music with Indian themes were created by directors and composers to whom India was by and large a mysterious, exotic construct. While I am not suggesting that the performance of a culture by one who is removed from it is necessarily Orientalist, the same becomes true when the performer uses a repertoire of secondary images and descriptions to depict that culture. Thus the exposition of the French India colonies in the Palais des beaux-arts was faithful to its original, having been supervised by Jouveau-Dubreil, who had spent several years in India learning about the culture of the land that he exhibited.

The representation of French India in the Exposition was a summation of the paradoxes in French colonial policy. French India was the epitome of the French policy of association. France had extended citizenship rights to her thereby confirming that she was truly interested in democratic associationism with her colonies rather than outright autocratic rule. While on the one hand colonialism proceeded along the lines of the imperial conquest of the nineteenth century in that France sought to impose political and cultural hegemony over her colonies, France also claimed that her colonialism was actually different from the simple economic exploitation and Drain of Wealth840 since the political heritage of France was radically different from other colonial nations in Europe. French colonial ideology was developed along with and to accommodate the needs of French national identity in the nineteenth century. To this end, the former was different from the ‘normal‘ process of colonial expansion since France had a republican, democratic foundation to national identity, which had to be extended at least in theory, to her colonies in order to justify the mission civilisatrice. Albert Sarraut‘s Mise en valeur des colonies françaises published in 1923 claimed that "What characterized its [France‘s] colonial policy and gives it its particular definition, is its sense of humanity; it proceeds essentially from the great idea of human solidarity".841

The Pondichérians in French India, for example, were declared citizens of France and some of them continue to be citizens of France even though they are born and live their whole lives in India. The French policy of assimilation was extremely potent in shaping the loyalties of the Pondichérians to France and in creating a social group of ‘foreigners‘ as Kristeva puts it, who owed their loyalties to France and yet remained beyond the pale of true "Frenchness". In terms of nationalism therefore, French India was an ideal example not only of the way in which it perceived of itself as part of France but also how the French perceived French India.

The pavilion of Indes Français at the Exposition Coloniale of 1931 was meant to stand for the enlightened rule that France had provided to the French India posts. Unlike the British, the French had not only disseminated the superior advantages of French language and culture in the posts, but they had also successfully maintained and supported the indigenous cultures and achievements of the Indians. French India could truly be cited as an example of la mission civilisatrice. The relative importance of the pavilion of Indes Français must be seen in the context of the fact that the 1931 Exposition stood as France‘s answer to Britain‘s Colonial Exhibition at Wembley in 1924-25. Indes Français was the perfect antithesis to the British Indian Empire, which, by the 1930‘s was increasingly coming under attack not the least so from the rising tide of Indian nationalism and demand for independence.

The Hindustan Pavilion was a late and intriguing addition to the Exhibition (fig. 6). Apparently completely overlooked in the Rapport Général which was published in 1933, two years after the Exhibition and which therefore had no excuse to exclude even late additions, the pavilion does not seem to have had any official opening ceremony or any receptions, though these were a standard feature of all other pavilions, and faithfully catalogued in the daily calendar of events presented in the Rapport. The pavilion was situated next to the pavilion of the United States, right on the railway line which transported visitors around the Exhibition, another reason why it could not have been overlooked, since it was not hidden away from sight.

Commissioned by M. Bhumgara and constructed under the supervision of M. Heyman, the committee overlooking the activities of the pavilion consisted of an assemblage of high Indians -- both Muslims and Hindus- including the maharajas of Kapurthala, Baroda, Patiala, Burdwan, the Aga Khan, the Begum Shah Nawaz, Sir Mirza Muhammed Ismail and other grand persons who came to attend the Round Table conference in England.842 The Magazine L'Illustration did a prominent article on the visit of Mahatma Gandhi to Paris, before the start of the Round Table Conference.843 The article detailed his rail journey from Marseille to Paris and his immense popularity among crowds of the French who gathered to see him at each stop. It also described Gandhi‘s simple lifestyle, his piety, and his philosophy of non-violence, underlining the peaceful nature of his mission to seek freedom for India. The news coverage of India‘s mission for independence from the British was reinforced by the presence of the Hindustan pavilion.

The monument represented was the tomb of Itmad-ud Daulah, commissioned by his daughter, the Mughal Empress Nur Jahan, wife of Jahangir in 1623. The architectural style was classic Mughal, with arches. The original monument was built in white marble and inlaid with precious and semi-precious stones in the pietra dura style that became popular in the late Mughal period. The pavilion was surrounded by gardens and fountains in true Mughal style. At one side was a reproduction of the Badshahi mosque of Lahore and the Kahs Mahal of Agra, which also held an Indian restaurant and a theatre.844 The pavilion contained treasures from the private collection of members of the committee as well as examples of the arts and industries of India.

The description of the Hindustan pavilion being absent from official accounts of the Exhibition, I have relied primarily on sketchy descriptions in two guide books. While one could suggest that this exclusion was due to an oversight, it is far more likely that the political repercussions of the inclusion of the Hindustan pavilion were far too great from the point of view of Anglo-French relations, even though the pavilion itself existed as an ironic testament to civil disobedience to British rule. It is no coincidence that the committee for the Hindustan pavilion was composed entirely of royalty or high ranking Indians who had come to England to attend the first Round Table Conference to discuss the issue of Home Rule for India.845 It was a statement of the capability of indigenous rulers to rule India successfully while not being a direct challenge to British authority.

In 1921 the Minister of Colonies had invited Great Britain and her colonies and dependencies to participate.846 Britain declined due to financial reasons and in October 1929, Sir Edward Crowe, Controller of the Department of Commerce had communicated to M. Condurier de Chassaigne, on mission to London, his government‘s acceptance of participating in the foreign section in the Cité des Informations, which was formally reiterated in November 1929.847 Great Britain‘s Dominions and Colonies also declined the offer to participate in the Exhibition due to the prevailing atmosphere of economic depression, except for the Union of South Africa and Canada who also participated in the Cité.848 Clearly the Hindustan pavilion was not part of the British stand.

The monument represented a subtle exercise in political tact. The representation of a Mughal monument was a testimony to the unity of Indians, Mughal culture being one of the few issues that bound the diverse cultures of India together and a key issue debated at the Round Table conference. Moreover the representation of the glory of Indian architectural and cultural achievement prior to British conquest simultaneously made it impossible for England to take offence and sent out a subtle message of the glories of India that had been destroyed by the advent of British rule.849 The pavilion was guarded by troops of Indians thus heightening the sense of exoticism for the visitor as well as reinforcing the message that the rulers of India were well capable of self rule.

This was a constant theme in the guidebooks. As Demaison wrote: ‘Contemplate and reflect once again upon India, before the tap of manufacture and the truck of the automobile brutally transformed the people and dried up the human sources of their beauty‘.850 The curious use of the word ‘Hindu‘ and ‘Hindustan‘ to denote India, which was essentially a British creation, is significant too. The French described their settlements in India as the ‘Establishments of French India‘, yet chose to use an indigenous term – Hindu – to erroneously describe a country when it really connoted a religious or cultural community. The Indian committee naturally chose to represent their contribution as ‘Hindustan‘ since this was a hybrid term that was inclusive of the diverse peoples of India and yet not an English import. While their choice of words was an obvious part of passive non-cooperation with the British government, the insistence on the word Hindu to describe Indians, and Hindustan to describe India in all French accounts of the pavilion is significant. It is indicative of a whole imagery of exoticism and romance, indeed of another country which was not overrun by Britain. Demaison extolled the pristine culture of India as,

… the land of the Vedas – immortal books of the wisdom of the sages; of the epics the Ramayana and Mahabharata, where divine animals play as an important role in a single lifetime, as the heroes and demi-Gods. It is the land of many languages, spoken by numerous castes and which has given us many literary masterpieces.

It is the land of famous monuments, of unimaginable joys, of thousands of trades, which are world renowned for their work, the country of grand human movements and of sacred temples which have the inspired fantasies of magnificent artists, yet perfected by their extreme attention to detail.851


While the French had always been far more impressed by the theology and culture of India they had tempered their admiration of India by reference to the lack of reason, the pervasiveness of superstition and prejudice, the strange, sometimes barbaric acts of Indians. While the description of a once-great country that had fallen prey to disorder and moral corruption fits perfectly into the Imperial episteme, Demaison‘s whole-hearted paean to Hindu culture was strangely unlike his tempered descriptions of the French India establishments.

In his description of the monument, Demaison described the construction of the tomb by the Empress Nur Jahan,

whose filial piety was as renowned as her beauty. Nur Jahan, or as she was known, ‘Light of the Day‘, was the wife of the Mongol Emperor Shah Jahan. When she died, Shah Jahan was inconsolable and in her memory, he ordered that a splendid mausoleum be constructed in her memory in Agra. He built the Taj Mahal – one of the world's architectural wonders. This souvenir of the nobility and beauty of Nur Jahan are a timeless testimony.852


The passage had several errors. Nur Jahan, literally ‘Light of the World‘, was the wife of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir who was actually the father of Shah Jahan. The Taj Mahal was in fact constructed by Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. This erroneous description of the glories of India and the great and ancient culture, which had been trampled upon ruthlessly by British conquest, was a theme of the guidebooks describing the Hindustan pavilion. As Patricia Morton notes, the description of pavilions was important to Western visitors, whose gaze and understanding of events was mediated by the often-erroneous explanation contained in the guidebooks.853 The French-India pavilion, on the other hand, was represented as the classic colonial French effort to preserve indigenous cultures and yet introduce them to the material advantages of Western civilization. Thus the arts and crafts of French India were presented as original and authentic manufactures produced under the tutelage of French colonial rule.

This aspect of veiled rivalry between France and Britain was apparent even in scholarly writings on India at the Exhibition. Sir Aurel Stein, distinguished British Indologist, visited Paris during the Colonial Exhibition of 1931. His description of the importance of the exhibition for showcasing Indian culture formed a scholarly, informed view which eluded most visitors to the Exhibition but was influential among other Indologists and their propagation of Indology as a discipline.854 Stein emphasised the impact of Indian culture on Indo-China, on cultural exchanges with China and with the Middle Eastern and African parts of the French empire, as an indication of the influences that India both had and felt during several centuries of civilization in Asia before Imperialism. His description of the Sanskrit inscriptions in Indo-China and the powerful Hindu architectural traditions of Angkor Vat and Borbodur spoke of the long cultural and religious impact that India had on South-East Asia. Moreover Stein‘s suggestion that Indo-China had been colonized by a South Indian dynasty propelled the studies which eventually established that the Chola Empire of South India had in fact extended their empire to Sri Lanka and Indo-China. Stein thus extended the importance of India to include Indo-China and beyond.

The Indian section, it is true, occupies but a modest pavilion among the array of great structures, including a permanent colonial museum, exhibition galleries, halls etc., which, interspersed with ornamental gardens, places of entertainment and the like, spreads itself over an area of more than 250 acres. Yet there is probably at the present day no other place to be found where the powerful influence exercised by the old civilization and art of India over great regions of Asia outside its own limits is presented to the eye in more impressive a fashion.855


Presenting the greatness of Indian civilization as a Western discovery, and therefore part of the showcasing of Western Empires, Stein‘s descriptions of Indian culture credited the Archaeological Survey of India with the ‘unearthing‘ of India‘s past. Similarly, he credited the French École française d'Extrême Orient with the discovery and careful preservation of the cultural heritage of Indo-China, and Marshall Lyautey‘s efforts to preserve the ‘authenticity‘ of traditional crafts in Morocco. Stein advised the Indian visitor to the Exhibition to learn about the greatness of India‘s past through a tour of the Exhibition and by correlating the Indian elements in the Exhibition architecture with India‘s cultural impact in Asia.

The vast extension of Indian cultural influences, from Central Asia in the north to tropical Indonesia in the south, and from the border lands of Persia to China and Japan, has fully revealed to the world at large only during the last seventy years or so and almost entirely through the researches of Western scholars. They have shown that ancient India was the radiating center of a civilization which by its religious thought, its art and literature was destined since two thousand years to leave its deep mark on races wholly diverse and scattered over the greatest part of Asia. Yet India herself may be considered to have remained until quite recently unconscious of this its great rôle in the past. This curious fact can largely be attributed to the peculiar features of traditional Indian mentality. These inter alia account for the fact that amidst the vast stores of Indian classical literature there are to be found but very scanty relics of what may be properly classed as written historical records. However, the fertilizing contact with Western thought through modern education has made its effect felt in this direction also. Some knowledge of a ―Greater India" is gradually being brought home now to a wider circle of the Indian public. It is bound to be justly pleasing to patriotic pride and may be expected to command increasing attention.856


In this spirit of veiled rivalries, one can clearly discern a competing discourse for claiming credit for ‘discovering‘ pasts of colonial countries. While Stein praised the efforts of French scholars in this aspect, he unequivocally established the greater antiquity and influence of the Indian civilization upon the civilization of Indo-China.

If we leave aside the great region to the north-west and north, including Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Tibet, the main share in the work of elucidating the facts concerning that expansion of early Indian culture must be attributed chiefly to French scholars…It is an achievement of which France, that home of sound critical methods in the fields of historical and antiquarian researches, may be proud, and a worthy accompaniment of its great past as a colonizing power. The work was begun by French scientific missions from the very time when French protectorates were first established on the coasts of Indochina in the third quarter of the last century…857


Among French writers however, there was no reference to the cultural exchange, far less the cultural colonization of Indo-China by South India. Only one writer, Claude Farrère, acknowledged the heavy Hindu and Indian influence in the pavilion of Indochina. Describing the immense kilometre long bas-relief on the walls of Angkor from the Ramayana, he marvelled at the depiction of apsaras (nymphs) and serpents, the representation of a civilization of Sikandar (Alexander the Great), and the conquest of the Ganges valley by Alexander in these panels.858 However Farrère did not fail to mention the movement for independence against the British at the time, led primarily by the Bengalis. French descriptions of Indo-China by and large limited themselves to descriptions of the indigenous history and culture of the area, with marginal reference to the impact of colonization by South India in the late middle ages – the introduction of Hinduism and of Sanskrit, Tamil and regional Indian languages, Indian literary epics, dance, music, and architectural forms in particular. The re-enactment of the Ramayana as an Indo-Chinese classic comprising over 200 actors, was a spectacular performance during the Exhibition and had no reference at all to the importation of the epic and its dance form from India, underscoring the French gloss over the colonial influence of India in Indo-China.859 Instead the political unrest and the growing movement for independence in British India was a constant theme of French writings on India. Here was a case of French superiority. Clearly the peaceful India posts and the faithfulness of their population were testimony to the superior nature of French colonization. The Livre d'Or sums up this attitude succinctly. Mentioning that the French India posts had experienced some political troubles, which the Governor-General, M. Juvanon termed regrettable, isolated incidents which were under control, a distinction was created between the political upheavals in British India and those in French India.

In British India there is a national uprising, an organized rebellion against the British system of exploiting the earth and the people, against the whip of Britain. In French India the conception of colonization has always been different and the methods diametrically opposite.860


Thus pre-colonial pasts became grounds of rival claims of superiority between Britain and France in the imperial enterprise.

The political significance of the pavilion, indeed of the French India Posts, was summed up by Maurice Larrouy who hailed the pavilion as ‘a testimonial to the vibrant culture of the French India posts, which faithfully persist in their allegiance to France‘.861 French India was a showcase of France to the British, who at this time were struggling with the nationalist movement in India.

Burton Benedict points out that the Exhibitions were key to the definition of national identity in the inter-war years when many colonial empires were threatened by rising movements for independence. Contemporary observers too noted this fact: ‘The fact that the French Republic has gathered and held together a rich, varied and colorful world empire was impressed upon us over and over again.‘862 The Exhibitions served to reinforce power both for the Imperial powers as well as for the colonies that they were striving so desperately to control. According to Benedict, ‘the imperial powers were displaying their colonies as the era of empires was drawing to a close‘.863

The importance of India and, in fact the representation of what was a minor colony of the French lay in many strands of colonialist propaganda and claims. Firstly, as Carol Breckenridge has pointed out, India was represented at all the major world exhibitions, a process which continues today. At some fairs, illustrative collections of India‘s objects were framed and shaped in the India court or the India pavilion by traders, and at other fairs by professionals and/or officials in government service.864 India served to remind spectators, that France too possessed part of what had come to be known as a huge treasure of wealth and exoticism.

French India was, after all, the remains of a glorious period in French colonial history. It was all that remained of the wise administration of great colonists like Dupleix, Mahé de la Bourdonnais, Bussy, Lally-Tollendal and Dumas. These figures had achieved great feats of development and colonization in India in keeping with the grand enterprise of the French civilizing mission. The India Posts represented all that remained of the moral patrimony of France in the glorious epoch of colonialism.865

This tiny colony was the object of much attention on the part of the mother country [France] in the past. Unfortunately, the position of French India today is that of a poor parent to the flashy French empire.866


Another factor in the display of artifacts and cultural expressions of Indian culture beyond its actual political presence in France was Anglo- French imperial rivalry, which, though veiled, was nevertheless pervasive in the definition of France‘s colonial mission and in fact in the very expression of twentieth century French nationhood. French India was also a foil to other colonies of France who at this time were fighting for independence. Indo-China had begun demanding a freer hand, as had Algeria and France‘s African colonies. French India served to remind spectators of the peaceful nature of French colonies that were content to learn under French tutelage. Indeed French India was treated very well compared to France‘s high-handed treatment of the Algerians and Indo- Chinese. The use of coercion was minimal, the inhabitants of French India were allowed to rise higher in the colonial administration than in these other colonies, and Indians had a greater say in the administration and the system of justice. Part of the reason for this was the value and size of the India Posts. Being maintained primarily for prestige there was really no need to crush the inhabitants with the might of western military and police force. Instead the Posts, being highly urbanized settlements, were models of French education policies, cultural development and peaceful co-existence. Demaison‘s statistics- ‘a tiny territory of 510 km, yet a huge population of 265, 000 people…‘867- served once again to drive home to colonial powers and especially Britain, that France had truly succeeded in colonizing and winning the allegiance of her peoples. The peace in the French India posts was attributed to the administration, its high moral qualities and cordial relations and sympathetic attitude to the land, which allowed order to be rapidly restored with benign justice in a land where ‘imponderables‘ played a major role.868 The disturbances were set at the door of those marginal social elements, who, like the nationalists in Indo- China, were infected by Socialistic and Communist sentiments. However they could only manage to create minor ripples in the peaceful, India Posts who remained loyal to France and the patrie.869

The role of India in French colonial thought in the twentieth century was complicated. While a large part of the educated public would have known that India formed part of the British Empire, the dissemination of India in French popular culture belied this fact. French India stood as a subtle challenge to the British model of colonialism. The impact that these images of India made upon the French public can be captured in the opening words of a memoir by Taya Zinkin, "I thought India was French".870

The pavilions of French India at the various expositions coloniale which were held during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were powerful visual statements about the conception of India in France. The single most obvious fact about all these pavilions were that they were always reproductions of temples (fig 1, 7, 8), reinforcing the religious and spiritual aspect of India over any other. The Indian natives who worked at the pavilions were dressed modestly with an absence of ostentatious jewelry or towering headdresses or even a lack of clothing (like the popularity of naked fakirs at the Philadelphia and New York World Fairs in the early twentieth centuries).

In contrast to the French pavilions, the Empire Exhibition of Britain at Wembley presented India as a land of palaces,871 oriental despots, a land of immense wealth, and simultaneously a land which had been immeasurably improved by British colonization (fig. 9).872 One of the many guides to the Exhibition titled, ‘British Empire Exhibition: The Businessman‘s Opportunity‘ (Wembley, 1925) described the India pavilion.

The steel and plaster pavilion of India, covering three acres of ground, will again enshrine the wonders of many a native state. How far have the arts and crafts of India reached the world beyond? That they have travelled a great way cannot be gainsaid; that they have received full justice must be denied. India‘s carpets and curtains, her carved work in wood and metals and ivory, her great and growing timber trade- all these things will be seen at Wembley this year on a scale worthy of them. The result should be satisfactory to exhibitor and merchant alike.873


The huge size of the pavilion was meant to impress visitors with the place of India in Britain‘s empire (fig. 10). Yet the above passage conveyed the idea that native crafts, which had been neglected by Indian rulers, would finally get their due acclaim as a result of being displayed at the British Exhibition.874 The India Palace at Wembley occupied the same place of prominence as the temple of Angkor Vat did at the Exposition Coloniale of 1931 in Paris. Purported to loosely resemble the Taj Mahal, the palace was placed behind a lake, where visitors could rent boats and enjoy a luxury cruise. The pavilion, illuminated at night, reinforced the notion of an ‘oriental fairyland‘ (fig. 11), albeit one which was constructed by the London architectural firm of Messrs. White, Allom and Co.875

The interior of the palace contained images of princely India, of strapping guards with ornate uniforms and elaborate moustaches and beards, paintings, reproductions of the Peacock throne and of other riches of India. A bazaar street which resembled Chandni Chowk or the Street of Silver, which was traditionally the street where the Mughal Emperors shopped in Delhi allowed visitors to shop like the Mughal Emperors from the choicest arts and crafts of India. The bazaar street led visitors to a restaurant where patrons had a choice between native foods and typical English tea services. They were served by native bearers or waiters, to allow visitors to experience the grandeur of being in the Raj.876 Finally visitors could visit a theater where jugglers, acrobats, and snake charmers rounded off this experience of being in Imperial India. The impact of the Wembley Exhibition on the British public was immense and included newspaper and journal articles, references in juvenile and adult fiction, dramas, TV, radio, and even popular songs of the day.877

The pavilions of India displayed at the French and British colonial exhibitions of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries provided a three dimensional, visual image of their different conceptions of India. French India pavilions of temples, decorated with religious paintings and local crafts clearly contradicted the British Indian palaces of ostentatious wealth, oriental royalty, and power. The conceptualization of India in the intellectual spheres of France and Britain had successfully parlayed their creations into their public imagination and understanding of ‘India‘.

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Figure 15: Postcard representing the Pavilion of Inde Française at the Exposition coloniale internationale, Paris, 1931.

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Figure 16: The exterior of the Pavilion.

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Figure 17: The Pillars of the pavilion

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Figure 18: The inner courtyard

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Figure 19: Panel depicting India

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Figure 20: The Hindustan Pavilion.

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Figure 21: Postcard of the French India pavilion at the Exposition Universelle of 1889.

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Figure 22: Postcard of the French India Pavilion at the Exposition Universelle, Paris 1900.

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Figure 23: Post card of the India palace at the Wembley Exhibition, 1924-25.

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Figure 24: Post card of the Indian courtyard at Wembley.

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Figure 25: Post card of the India Pavilion at night.
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