The change of winds.
The junction of eighteenth and nineteenth centuries gave us a fresh breeze of readiness for acceptance of Vedic culture. The European intellectuals talked about an “Oriental renaissance”. They believed that just like the study of Greek culture paved the way to the first Renaissance, so the study of Sanskrit and the Vedas would initiate the second.
Unbiased reactions of the world’s progressive intellectuals of that time can become an indicator of what value the Vedas can bring to the world. But the breezes of appreciation did not last: British Crown had some economic agenda in India to tend and by the turn of the twentieth century all appreciation of Vedic culture became void. Last thing the British wanted was an independent India inspired by the Vedic heritage.
By the early nineteenth century British consolidated their power in India and a debate about its purpose unfolded. While East India Company had strictly economical interests, Christian missionaries seeing themselves responsible for “shedding enlightenment to the lost” were forcing the British government to end East India’s monopoly. In 1857 religious strife helped set off the Indian Mutiny and shortly after that the British Crown assumed all governmental power.
British government had a job to do in India and no trendy fascination of the West was to interfere. The Governor general the Marquis of Hastings upon arriving in India in 1813, declared: “ The Hindoo appears being merely limited to mere animal function, and even in them indifferent…with no higher intellect than a dog.”
The turning of the tide was marked by publishing of “ Observations on the…Asiatic subjects of Great Britain” by Charles Grant in 1796; some of it’s ideas guided British rule for the next 150 years until India’s independence in 1947. A Scottish evangelical, he did away with the Orientalists’ fascination with the Vedic culture:
“ They have had among themselves a complete despotism from the remotest antiquity; a despotism, the most remarkable for it’s power and duration that the world has ever seen….as a people they are void of public spirit, honor, attachment; and in society, base, dishonest and faithless.”
He claimed the “ disease of Hindoo” to be moral and thus requiring “ introduction to light”: “The Hindoos err, because they are ignorant; and their errors have never fairly been laid before them.” Grant called India’s spiritualism as the “work of crafty and imperious priesthood, who feigned a divine revelation and appointment, to invest their own order.”
The “ Observations” dramatically concluded that the Indian were “ every way different” from the British and had absolutely nothing in common. Thus getting rid of all the Oriental sentimentalism Grant was calling for intensive cleansing with the potent detergent of Western knowledge.
Another established literature for purging British appreciation of India was the History of British India published in 1817 by James Mill. Being a celebrated Utilitarian, Mill proposed secular modernization as opposed to Christian conversion prescribed by Grant in “ Observations.” He declared that “no intelligible system of belief could be detected in the wild, impenetrable legends and the language of the brahmins”, the vices of falsehood, indeed, they carry to a height almost unexampled among the other races of man”. He stated about the arts of India that it is “merely void of attraction…music never progressed beyond levels normal for a primitive society.”
His work became a required reading for students preparing for civil service in India and concluded that: “in India’s history there was nothing but constant war between petty states, India only attained high degree of civilization only when dominated by foreigners, even Europe in the Dark ages was superior to the best India could offer, general character of Indian people was deceitful and treacherous.”
It should not come as a surprise that most of the literature written about Vedic culture has been written by scholars outside that tradition, who often had their own private agendas or were not educated in the secret meaning of the Vedas. Needless to say today’s academic world would find the language of Charles Grant and James Mill revolting, yet none of them take seriously Vedic contention that hidden in antiquity, a highly advanced Vedic civilization thrived. Even a concept that the Vedic presentation of ancient humanity may be worth researching is considered ridiculous. Anyone seen to defy the academic establishment in the official version of human history is immediately banned as intellectual outcast with no means to broadcast or air your research.