Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Goodness gracious me

From the foreword to G. Sherwood Eddy's "The Students of Asia", 1916:

"India is stirring from her sleep of ages. For centuries Ignorance has drugged her senses and numbed her comely limbs. To-day, her best friends bestir themselves to expel the heavy fumes of ignorance and let in the pure sweet light of knowledge and wisdom. Foremost in this task are missionaries of the Anglo-Saxon race, Christian men and women who are bearing to the farthest and darkest corners of the Eastern world the torch of civilization and progress, spreading the truths of Christian hope..."

I'd pass you the bucket, but I'm using it. Yes, I know it's in the context of colonial Britain, but still. He seems to conveniently forget that Harappa and the Indus civilisation was flourishing whilst his precious 'Anglo-Saxon race' was grunting in tribes and wondering what to do with berries and two pieces of flint.

Ignorance? Sanskrit (and I suspect Ari will back me on this) literature is among the richest and most complex in the world, not least because of a rich and complex religion and Holy Book that is far more subtle and has a more complex understanding of God than the Western Bible. Christianity is religious colour by numbers compared to Hinduism.

So Mr Eddy's ancestors come to India, salivate over the spices, clothing, tea and natural resources; take as much of what they want as they can; make a bloody fortune on it; prevent natural development of the culture by not letting the people do for themselves; leave the place in such a bloody mess that over a million people die (ok, that was 30 yrs later, granted) - and he and others have the nerve to believe that?

Funnily enough, I don't see a Taj Mahal in England. Ignorant and slumbering, my (not so small) ass.

Thank God I've got enough of a sense of humour and history to laugh that ass off during my rant.

1 comment:

Ariel said...

YUCK. Sheesh, that's as bad as some of the sermons I have to parse sometimes. (The one I'm in the middle of is a real beauty.)

Yes, Sanskrit literature is definitely rich and complex. I've only really read bits of the Rg Veda and some later stories, but it's definitely fascinating stuff. Moreover, Sanskrit scholarship was impressive. Ever heard of Panini? He basically invented linguistics - more than two millennia before Western scholars.

I bet food was always better on the subcontinent, too.