India’s enduring image

Left to themselves in a world of their own, without a past, and without a future before them, they had nothing but themselves to ponder on. Struggles there must have been in India also. Old dynasties were destroyed, whole families annihilated, and new empires founded. Yet the inward life of the Hindu was not changed by these convulsions. His mind was like the lotus leaf after a shower of rain has passed over it; his character remained the same, passive, meditative, quiet, and thoughtful. A people of this peculiar stamp was never destined to act a prominent part in the history of the world; They shut their eyes to this world of outward seeming and activity, … The ancient Hindus were a nation of philosophers, … They are absorbed in the struggles of thought, their past is the problem of creation, their future the problem of existence; and the present, which ought to be the solution of both, seems never to have attracted their attention, or called forth their energies. … The only sphere in which the Indian mind finds itself at liberty to act, to create, and to worship, is the sphere of religion and philosophy … (from Chips from a German Workshop Part One By F. Max Muller; ellipsis mine.)

India … a nation of philosophers

Next time when someone says that India is a nation of philosophers (and nothing else), you know who created this imagery. When someone writes a book, The Argumentative Indian, you know where he is getting his ideas from. When someone talks about the supine Hindu, you know the root of that fallacy.

Max Mullers reductio ad absurdum

Max Muller's reductio ad absurdum

Hindu rate of growth …

While many Indians go ballistic about the Aryan Invasion /Migration Theory, they do not see the more important damage. It is the self image of Indians which English East India Company, (EEIC) and Max Muller conspired to change – and have partly succeeded. It is these twisted and false (self) images of India, Indians and Hindus that we need change.

Rambharose Hindu Hotel …

Now we know where these phrases, images and cartoons have come from …

  1. galeo rhinus
    March 1, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    a vague rant – IMO

  2. March 2, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    The point I was making is that many images of India that we subscribe to, owe their existence to Max Muller. These cartoons are an excellent example of this point.

    To reduce the BJP to a temple and vande mataram is intellectual vacuity – much as reducing other components to Indian polity is.

  3. galeo rhinus
    March 3, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    the problem is that Max Mueller cannot be treated with such vagueness. Remember he was “different” than many other Christian Missionaries…

    Apparently, he held the Bhagvat Geeta over his head and danced… his approach was far more clever than others – therefore needs to be rebutted with care.

    For example – what Max Mueller did was the following:

    1. In a period when all Indic values, customs, ancients texts were being attacked, he held them up and praised them.
    2. He used existing evidence to propagate a new theory that basically boxed India to within its geography and any foreign linkages were not Indians setting foot outside, but foreigners setting their foot in India.
    3. He attributed many great civilizational innovations to the Vedic Indians and put them nearly at par with the civilizations in Mesopotamia and Sumeria.
    4. He studied the Vedas and other Indian texts in great detail and became the voice of interpretation.
    5. This disarmed many learned people in India – especially Brahmins.
    6. As a western scholar he “accepted” the greatness of the Indian civilization.. but then propagated that the Vedic civilization has its origins outside of India… and that only a small fraction of the Indian people have superior heritage. That the “two-tier” system of the “foreign Aryans” became the “four tier” caste system in India based on race.
    7. Many learned Brahmins and other “upper” caste people – in the midst of the greatest land grab in India – loved this theory – since it gave sanction to the atrocities they were committing within India.

    Once this artificial racial divisions were complete India was shown to be a perpetual loser that even in its greatness was a dark chapter of the AIT… the “Shudras” – who were primary contributors to the world GDP even in the 1700s – and now had been reduced to nothing – were told that they were victims in perpetuity… the only reason this could be accomplished was because the pathshalas had shut down post 1835. The pathshalas provided education to about 60% of India, the rest were private tutored or homeschooled. A large section of the pathshala population came from the manufacturing sector… now a generation had grown up without economic independence and now without education… they had truly been victimized…

    …but they were new to this dramatic downfall… the manufacturers were *never* in this worse a state before… yet without education, literacy and employment – it was easy to convince them that they were the perpetual victims of “aryan” brutality…

    …Max Mueller called Aryans “brutal and strong”… which fit nicely with the Darwinian theory which had just been published a decade earlier… the idea was that like the Aryans came and took over India… the west’s arrival in the recent centuries was a second Aryan invasion… something that India will be proud of in the end.

    Remember 1850s was a time – when the English were encouraging their people to make India their home… they wanted to “raise the european element” within India… like South Africa…

    …1857 changed all that.

    Max Mueller was only partly successful – because 1857 prevented any large scale migration of europeans into India… the fear psychosis of the false “Cawnpore” propaganda – worked against this plan.

    Yet – today – many “upper caste” Indians love Max Mueller… Pune celebrates the German language and Max Mueller Bhavan is a “happening” place…

    …countering Max Mueller is going to need much more than a vague rant about cartoons…

  4. November 27, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    I specially liked the cartoon and the conceptual link to the Argumentative Indian.

  5. Dr. O. P. Sudrania
    May 13, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    It is interesting and to put it in the said words of F. Max Muller himself, “language forms an impassable barrier between man and beast.”[12] More on:

    However we must not loose sight of alternative views by others whose ideas may compete with ours and we vehemently react to reject them as archaic, wild, naive etc ideas. Please peruse the link hereunder too:

    We are well aware of the pedanticity of Governor General William Bendinct also who studied the Vedas in great details proficiently but only to create a vieled anti-thesis. The Brahmo Samaj created through Raja Ram Mohan Roy (a good Macaulay’s child) at the time was another complicit example of the same double designs by East India Company against India as a colonist vassal state.

    Linking with Brahmo Samaj by Muller must have provided a reay made gullible group to market himself too. East India Co. must have been instrumental in it to help him smoothen the links for the purpose. Rex non potest peccare. Yes the intentions of all of them were decent only to improve the banal slaves! Why doubt it?
    God bless
    Dr. O. P. Sudrania

  6. seadog4227
    December 8, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Suggested reading:
    Pls read “Lies With Long Legs” by Prof. Prodosh aich.

  7. February 27, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    you guys do know that there are two max mullers. right.

  8. February 27, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    You mean two Indologists, living at the same time?

  9. March 1, 2012 at 6:22 am

    perfectly true. max muller cannot be treated with such vagueness.
    he should be ignored. who cares about max muller.
    dayanand saraswati already discredited max muller. and there it ends. people are going to forget max muller and dayanand saraswati. dayanand saraswati’s usefulness has expired with negating maxmuller.

  10. March 1, 2012 at 6:32 am

    the problem with dayanand saraswati is he discredited himself by writing advait mat khandan, vaishnav mat khandan and other khandans. khandan is not the indian way.

    and khandan is not the indian way.
    well harmonising is the indian way. is it not. but ofcourse i am not qualified to say it.

    dayanand saraswati’s usefulness has expired

    sorry not yet. but soon will be.
    i know how that sounds. dayanand saraswati is a great scholar and i am Just a nobody.

    being born as indians you guys should know that vedas produce the mirror effect whenever some one reads the vedas it only reflects one’s mind if the reading was done sincerely.

    society never reaches to the level of the vedas. only individuals can rise to its level and go beyond it.

  11. March 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    the laws of manu were not translated by max muller but george buhler.

  12. March 1, 2012 at 2:42 pm
    This is a link to Manu-Smriti by Max Muller, by Google Books. The publisher is Routledge, 21-Sep-2001 – Religion – 400 pages
    that describes it as “a subset of F. Max Mullers great collection the Sacred Books of the East which includes translations of all the most important works of the seven non-Christian religions which have exercised a profound influence on the civilizations of the continent of Asia.”

    Another recent re-issue of Max Muller’s translation at Google Books.

    Front Cover
    Kessinger Publishing, 26-Jul-2004 – Philosophy – 760 pages

    1886. Translated with extracts from seven commentaries. The Sacred Books of the East series, comprising fifty volumes, has translations of key sacred texts of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, and Islam. The series was edited by the famous linguist Max Muller

    Apart from this, there are other translations also.

    Translations of Manava Dharma Shastra

    The Institutes of Manu by Sir William Jones (1794). The first Sanskrit work to be translated into a European tongue.
    The Ordinances of Manu (1884) begun by A. C. Burnell and completed by Professor E. W. Hopkins, published in London.
    • Professor George Buhler‘s Sacred Books of the East in xxv volumes (1886).
    • Professor G. Strehly’s French translation Les Lois de Manou, forming one of the volumes of the “Annales du Musée Guimet”, published in Paris (1893).
    The Laws of Manu (Penguin Classics) translated by Wendy Doniger, Emile Zola (1991)

    BTW – You have not told us about the second Max Muller.

  13. March 1, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    the second max muller is a christian missionary who lived in the 20 th century. wikipedia disambiguation page. so probably he had nothing to do with this debate.

  14. March 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    i have made another mistake. dayanand was dead before the vedas were translated by max muller.

  15. March 5, 2012 at 7:51 am

    since this is about image of india. and image of india has got mighty to do with swami vivekananda and vivekananda’s page is full and takes lot of time to load. so i put it here.

    “I am unable to send any money for this purpose, and additionally who has given Vivekananda the right to be the representative of the Hindu Religion?”

    -king of ramnad

    the speeches that vivekananda gave at the parliament whether they were representative of hinduism or not.

  16. March 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    To Mr. E. T. Sturdy

    5th August, 1896.
    A letter came this morning from Prof. Max Müller telling me that the article of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa has been published in The XIX Century August number. Have you read it? He asked my opinion about it. Not having seen it yet, I can’t write anything to him. If you have it, kindly send it to me. Also The Brahmavadin, if any have arrived. Max Müller wants to know about our plans . . . and again about the magazine. He promises a good deal of help and is ready to write a book on Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
    I think it is better that you should directly correspond with him about the magazine etc. You will see from his letter which I shall send you as soon as I have replied (after reading The XIX Century) that he is very much pleased with our movement and is ready to help it as much as he can. . . .

    Yours with blessings and love,


    PS. I hope you will consider well the plan for the big magazine. Some money can be raised in America, and we can keep the magazine all to ourselves at the same time. I intend to write to America on hearing about the plan you and Prof. Max Muller decide upon. “A great tree is to be taken refuge in, when it has both fruits and shade. If, however, we do not get the fruit, who prevents our enjoyment of the shade?” So ought great attempts to be made, is the moral.

    vivekananda seems to be using max muller to promote ramakrishna and max muller was trying to (in vain)use vivekananda to promote christianity. this is my take of it.

    promotion of ramakrishna instead of doing anything to propogate Jesus christ only reinforces hinduism. ramakrishna was known to be an idol worshiper. a man who learnt everything thru idol worship. it was the death blow to all arguments in favour of christianity.

    vivekananda had made the gnostic connection of Jesus christ a long time ago. it was only when the nag hammadi library was found that everyone else knew. any indian with advaitic inclinations who reads the four gospels of the new testament at once sees the indianness(i and my father are one and yet my father is greater than me) of it.
    vivekanand did not believe in destroying the faith of another man .to him that was the worst thing that a man could do to another.
    and isnt that what hinduism is about.

  17. March 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    vivekananda had made the gnostic connection of Jesus christ a long time ago. it was only when the nag hammadi library was found that everyone else knew.

    Can you write more about this.

    This is nothing short of incredible.

  18. March 10, 2012 at 10:02 am

    perhaps it was Just speculation on his part. there were already discussions in that period of time comparing buddhism to christianity. and also egyptian religion to christianity.
    vivekananda travelled to egypt and vatican city and greece briefly.
    so he must have speculated based on his observations.

    Still, it has the largest number of followers of any religion, and it has indirectly modified the teachings of all the other religions. A good deal of Buddhism entered into Asia Minor. It was a constant fight at one time whether the Buddhists would prevail or the later sects of Christians. The [Gnostics] and the other sects of early Christians were more or less Buddhistic in their tendencies, and all these got fused up in that wonderful city of Alexandria, and out of the fusion under Roman law came Christianity. Buddhism in its political and social aspect is even more interesting than its [doctrines] and dogmas; and as the first outburst of the tremendous world-conquering power of religion, it is very interesting also.

    (Reproduced from the Swami Vivekananda Centenary Memorial Volume, published by the Swami Vivekananda Centenary, Calcutta, in 1963. The additions in square brackets have been made for purposes of clarification. Periods indicate probable omissions. — Publisher

    may be he was Just speculating

  19. March 10, 2012 at 10:20 am
    Such relevant speculation also requires knowledge, imagination, understanding of the subject, piercing intellect.

    I am not a believer in coincidences.

  20. March 10, 2012 at 11:50 am

    it is really difficult to summarise and get a full picture of things of what india is. but vivekanand does it .
    he doesnt fall in to the elephant trap where each of the blind men thinks that elephant is like a tree, snake, rope, fan by mistaking parts of the elephant to be the elephant itself.

  21. March 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    so far i have been able to locate only one mistake(?) made by swami vivekananda.
    he says chandragupta maurya and alexander were contemporaries. but i have been reading others think that chandra gupta maurya was 1000 years before alexander and this was wilful distortion of western historians.
    i wonder what difference it would have made in his inferences, calculations.

  22. March 10, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Monsieur Jules Bois is a famous writer; he is particularly an adept in the discovery of historical truths in the different religions and superstitions. He has written a famous book putting into historical form the devil-worship, sorcery, necromancy, incantation, and such other rites that were in vogue in Mediaeval Europe, and the traces of those that obtain to this day. He is a good poet, and is an advocate of the Indian Vedantic ideas that have crept into the great French poets, such as Victor Hugo and Lamartine and others, and the great German poets, such as Goethe, Schiller, and the rest. The influence of Vedanta on European poetry and philosophy is very great. Every good poet is a Vedantin, I find; and whoever writes some philosophical treatise has to draw upon Vedanta in some shape or other. Only some of them do not care to admit this indebtedness, and want to establish their complete originality, as Herbert Spencer and others, for instance. But the majority do openly acknowledge. And how can they help it — in these days of telegraphs and railways and newspapers?

  23. March 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    In the present times a huge wave of nationalism is sweeping over Europe, where people speaking the same tongue, professing the same religion, and belonging to the same race want to unite together. Wherever such union is being effectively accomplished, there is great power being manifested; and where this is impossible, death is inevitable. After the death of the present Austrian Emperor, (Francis Joseph II died in 1916) Germany will surely try to absorb the German-speaking portion of the Austrian Empire — and Russia and others are sure to oppose her; so there is the possibility of a dreadful war. The present Emperor being very old, that catastrophe may take place very early. The German Emperor is nowadays an ally of the Sultan of Turkey; and when Germany will attempt to seize Austrian territory, Turkey, which is Russia’s enemy, will certainly offer some resistance to Russia; so the German Emperor is very friendly towards Turkey. -vivekananda

    what say you of this.

  24. March 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    A people of this peculiar stamp was never destined to act a prominent part in the history of the world; …

    except for this above two lines

    everything in your max muller extract seems to be exactly what vivekananda thought. so if it was max muller who conspired to make this image. it was vivekananda who reaffirmed it.
    most of the ideas that are circulating are of vivekananda.

    reductio ad absurdium.
    well you cannot expect max muller to know anything other than religion as he was translating only the religious books of the indians. but perhaps you could find fault with vivekananda and his observation. he should have known better.

    >>They are absorbed in the struggles of thought, their past is the problem of creation, their future the problem of existence; and the present, which ought to be the solution of both, seems never to have attracted their attention, or called forth their energies.

    though idont understand what the above paragraph means.

  25. March 12, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    e ancient history of India is full of descriptions of the gigantic energies and their multifarious workings, the boundless spirit, the combination of indomitable action and reaction of the various forces, and, above all, the profound thoughtfulness of a godly race. If the word history is understood to mean merely narratives of kings and emperors, and pictures of society — tyrannised over from time to time by the evil passions, haughtiness, avarice, etc., of the rulers of the time, portraying the acts resulting from their good or evil propensities, and how these reacted upon the society of that time — such a history India perhaps does not possess. But every line of that mass of the religious literature of India, her ocean of poetry, her philosophies and various scientific works reveal to us — a thousand times more clearly than the narratives of the life-incidents and genealogies of particular kings and emperors can ever do — the exact position and every step made in advance by that vast body of men who, even before the dawn of civilisation, impelled by hunger and thirst, lust and greed, etc., attracted by the charm of beauty, endowed with a great and indomitable mental power, and moved by various sentiments, arrived through various ways and means at that stage of eminence. Although the heaps of those triumphal flags which they gathered in their innumerable victories over nature with which they had been waging war for ages, have, of late, been torn and tattered by the violent winds of adverse circumstances and become worn out through age, yet they still proclaim the glory of Ancient India.

  26. samadhyayi
    March 14, 2012 at 7:20 am

    what do you think about max muller erasing puranic dynasties .

  27. March 14, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Max Muller can erase everything.

    What matters is what we do.

    The problem is that there is a huge overload of manuscripts that need to collated, indexed, translated and – and a proper dating system to be set in place. My feeling is that Indian history till about Islamic kings is about 800 years late. Buddha was atleast, around 100 BC – post Saraswati, in the Gangetic period.

    Though there may be even reason to check out references to Saraswati and Ganga in Buddhist texts.

  28. S
    April 2, 2012 at 8:47 am

    you can read the complete book ‘Lie with long legs’ at

  1. March 9, 2009 at 9:02 am
  2. June 3, 2009 at 6:09 am
  3. August 8, 2009 at 9:52 am
  4. August 8, 2009 at 9:56 am
  5. August 20, 2009 at 4:30 pm

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