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Title: The development of British Indology, 1765-1820
Author: Swanson, K. B.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1979
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India and the Mediterranean world have been in contact since prehistoric times. However India remained shrouded in mystery until the Portuguese established direct contact at the end of the fifteenth century. Accurate information on Hinduism still was not forthcoming, for two reasons - the Christian prejudices of Europeans, and the caste prohibitions and prejudices of the Brahmans - which kept their religion and literature locked behind the barrior of the Sanskrit language. Two factors worked to change this situation. In Europe, the Enlightenment softened prejudices and transformed cultural arrogance into interest. In India, Britain assumed political sovereignty and Warren Hastings instituted a policy of ruling the Indians through their own institutions and languages. Induced by official patronage, East India Company officials learned Indian languages and published on Indology. Sanskrit. remained the obstacle, but overcoming tremendous difficulty, Charles Wilkins, William Jones, H.T. Colebrooke, William Carey and a few others managed to learn it, and present to Europe accurate information on Hinduism. The foundation of the Asiatic Society in 1784 spurred research and for a period of twenty five years British Indology blossomed and bore fruit in a multitude of areas. But the demands of empire and the Industrial Revolution, coupled with the fervor of Evangelical revival, changed Enlightenment toleration into Utilitarian hostility, and after 1810 British Indology withered. After Britain won political dominion in India, Europe was forced to view India through the work of the British Indologists. Use was made of their information by leading Enlightenment and Romantic figures, as well as Continental scholars working in narrow academic disciplines. After the British Evangelical-Utilitarian alliance established the English language as the medium of education and government in India, all practical motivation for study was eliminated and British Indology was destroyed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available