Indomania

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Indomania or Indophilia refer to the special interest India, Indians and Indian culture have generated in the Western world, more specifically the culture and civilisation of the Indian subcontinent, especially in Germany.[1] The initial British interest in governing their newly conquered territories awoke the interest in India, especially its culture and ancient history. Later the people with interests in Indian aspects came to be known as Indologists and their subject as Indology. Its opposite is Indophobia.

History[edit]

Historically, India has been widely regarded as a country of various cultures. Due to its ancient civilization and contributions, there are accounts of notable people who visited the nation and reviewed it with praises.

Philostratus, in his book Life of Apollonius of Tyana, recognized the experience of Apollonius in India, he writes that Apollonius described:

In India I found a race of mortals living upon the Earth, but not adhering to it. Inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them, possessing everything but possessed by nothing.[2]

2nd century Roman philosopher Arrian applauded India to be the nation of free people, he cites that he found no slaves in India at all,[3] and he further added:

No Indian ever went outside his own country on a warlike expedition, so righteous were they.[4]

18th and 19th centuries[edit]

The perception of Indian history and culture by Europeans was fluctuating between two extremes in the 18th and 19th centuries. Though the 19th century European writers had seen India as a cradle of civilization, their romantic vision of India was gradually replaced by "Indophobia", which marginalized Indian history and culture.[5][page needed]

Friedrich Schlegel wrote in a letter to Tieck that India was the source of all languages, thoughts and poems, and that "everything" came from India.[6] In the 18th century, Voltaire wrote:

I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges, - astronomy, astrology, metempsychosis, etc... It is very important to note that some 2,500 years ago at the least Pythagoras went from Samos to the Ganges to learn geometry...But he would certainly not have undertaken such a strange journey had the reputation of the Brahmins' science not been long established in Europe.[7]

Much of the early enthusiasm for Indian culture can be traced to the influence of Sir William Jones. Jones was only the second known Englishman to master Sanskrit, after Charles Wilkins. His insight that the grammar and vocabulary of Sanskrit bore a resemblance to Greek and Latin marked the discovery of the Indo-European family of languages. In February 1786 Jones declared Sanskrit to be 'more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either.' Jones translated into English the drama The Recognition of Sakuntala of Kalidasa and published it in 1789. The Calcutta edition was an immediate success and two London editions followed within three years. Jones also discovered that chess and algebra were of Indian origin. Every branch of Indian studies owed something to his inspiration.[8]

An important development during the British Raj period was the influence Hindu traditions began to take on western thought and new religious movements. Goethe borrowed from Kalidasa for the "Vorspiel auf dem Theater" in Faust. An early champion of Indian-inspired thought in the west was Arthur Schopenhauer, who in the 1850s advocated ethics based on an "Aryan-Vedic theme of spiritual self-conquest" as opposed to the ignorant drive toward earthly utopianism of the superficially this-worldly "Jewish" spirit.[9] At the end of the introduction to the World as Will and Representation, Arthur Schopenhauer claimed that the rediscovery of the ancient Indian tradition would be one of the great events in the history of the West.

Goethe and Schopenhauer were riding a crest of scholarly discovery, most notably the work done by Sir William Jones. (Goethe likely read Kalidasa's The Recognition of Sakuntala in Jones' translation.) However, the discovery of the world of Sanskrit literature moved beyond German and British scholars and intellectuals — Henry David Thoreau was a sympathetic reader of the Bhagavad Gita — and even beyond the humanities. In the early days of the Periodic Table, scientists referred to as yet undiscovered elements with the use of Sanskrit prefixes (see Mendeleev's predicted elements).

Scholars like Schlegel also influenced some historians like Friedrich Creuzer, Joseph Görres and Carl Ritter, who wrote history books that laid more emphasis on India than usual.[10]

Max Muller delivered a series of lectures regarding the religion and literature of India. In his fourth lecture, he said:

If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered over the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant, I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself from what literature we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of the Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw the corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human a life... again I should point to India.[11]

Helena Blavatsky moved to India in 1879, and her Theosophical Society, founded in New York in 1875, evolved into a peculiar mixture of western occultism and Hindu mysticism over the last years of her life. Hinduism-inspired elements in Theosophy were also inherited by the spin-off movements of Ariosophy and Anthroposophy and ultimately contributed to the renewed New Age boom of the 1960s to 1980s, the term New Age itself deriving from Blavatsky's 1888 The Secret Doctrine.

20th century[edit]

The Hindu reform movements reached Western audiences in the wake of the sojourn of Vivekananda to the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Mission, a Hindu missionary organization still active today.

Influential in spreading Hinduism to a western audience were A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (Hare Krishna movement), Sri Aurobindo, Meher Baba, Osho, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (Transcendental Meditation), Sathya Sai Baba, Mother Meera, among others.

Swami Prabhavananda, founder and head of the Vedanta Society of Southern California, remarked that:

Toynbee predicted that at the close of this century, the world would be dominated by the West, but that in the 21st century, India will conquer her conquerors.[12]

During the 1960s and 1970s, there was a similar phase of Indomania in the Western world, with a rise of interest in Indian culture. This was largely associated with the hippie counterculture movement; the hippie trail, for example, was a journey that many Westerners undertook to India during this period. The Hare Krishna movement gained popularity in the 1960s. Indian filmmakers such as the Bengali auteur Satyajit Ray as well as Bengali musicians such as Ravi Shankar gained increasing exposure in the Western world. Indian musical influence, particularly the use of the sitar, became evident in jazz (see Indo jazz) and rock music, among popular Western artists such as The Beatles (see The Beatles in India), The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, among others, leading to the development of psychedelic music genres such as raga rock and psychedelic rock, which in turn paved the way for heavy metal music.

21st century[edit]

In the 21st century, a notable amount of Indomania has been recorded due to India's improvement related to economic conditions, political changes, activism, etc.[citation needed]

Politics

India is the world's largest democracy. The democratic nature of its politics has led many world leaders to praise Indian politics. George W. Bush commented: India is a great example of democracy. It is very devout, has diverse religious heads, but everyone is comfortable about their religion. The world needs India.[13]

Fareed Zakaria, in his book The Post-American World, described George W. Bush as "being the most pro-Indian president in American history."[14] On November 2012, Israel's President Shimon Peres remarked, "I think India is the greatest show of how so many differences in language, in sects can coexist facing great suffering and keeping full freedom."[15]

Education

Indian languages have been taught in multiple nations, including the United States.[16] On 2012, then prime minister of Australia, Julia Gillard talked about Hindi and other prominent Asian languages to be taught in Australia.[17]

A BBC report on 2012 showed how schools in the United Kingdom work together with online Indian mathematics tutors to teach students in the classroom.[18]

Science

Despite anti-Indian sentiment in Pakistan, the Pakistani newspaper The Nation published on 7 November 2013, heading "Don’t hate, appreciate", in which they praised the India's Mars Mission, the report further noted, "Wars were fought, and martyrs were born. But, it’s over. We are not in the race anymore. One of us has been to the moon, and now has their eyes set on Mars to become the first Asian country to reach the milestone."[19]

In response to the mission, the South China Morning Post regarded India as "full of vigour and vitality, boasts obvious advantages and development potential."[20]

By country[edit]

In 2007, a poll conducted by GlobeScan for BBC World Service reported that the strongest pro-India sentiments were found in Indonesia, with 61% expressing a favourable view.[21]

India shares strong cultural, linguistic and historic bonds with Bangladesh. India supported Bangladesh's independence struggle in 1971, and Bangladeshi opinion is generally favourable to India.[22] In 2014, a Pew Research Center survey found that Bangladeshis had the most pro-Indian sentiments worldwide, with 70% expressing a favourable view of India.[23]

Media[edit]

See also[edit]


  • In India I found a race of mortals living upon the Earth, but not adhering to it. Inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them, possessing everything but possessed by nothing.
    • Philostratus, in his book Life of Apollonius of Tyana, recognized the experience of Apollonius in India, he writes what Apollonius described. Quoted in "Brand New World: How Paupers, Pirates, and Oligarchs are Reshaping Business", .74, by Max Lenderman
  • If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered over the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant, I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself from what literature we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of the Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw the corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human a life... again I should point to India.
  • It is there in (Aryavarta) we must seek not only for the cradle of the Brahmin religion but for the cradle of the high civilization of the Hindus, which gradually extended itself in the west to Ethiopia, to Egypt, to Phoenicia; in the East to Siam, to China and Japan; in the South to Ceylon, to Java and to Sumatra; in the North to Persia, to Chaldea, and to Colchis, whence it came to Greece and to Rome and at length to the distant abode of the Hyperboreons."
    • Count Magnus Fredrik Ferdinand Bjornstjerna (1779-1847), Die Theogonie, Philosophie und Kosmogonie der Hindus
  • “I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges, astronomy, astrology, metempsychosis, etc. It does not behoove us, who were only savages and barbarians when these Indians and Chinese peoples were civilized and learned, to dispute their antiquity.”
    • Voltaire, quoted in Sanskrit Reader 1: A Reader in Sanskrit Literature by Heiko Kretschmer
  • An old worldview where Palestine and the Hebrews were the center of the world began to be challenged by a new one where the Indo-Europeans and their original home were seen as the creative center of the world, and ever since then India, Tibet, and the Himalayas have also assumed a special place in Western mythical geography as an alternative axis mundi to "Semitic" Jerusalem and Israel.
    • Arvidsson, Stefan (2006), Aryan Idols: Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science, translated by Sonia Wichmann, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. p. 38.
  • It is misleading to label as anti-Semitic all Aryanist attacks on Judaism and Christianity that were made in the name of universalism and liberalism.
    • Arvidsson, Stefan (2006), Aryan Idols: Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science, translated by Sonia Wichmann, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. p. 108.
  • One might think this position (that the English colonialist should convert their Indian "brethren" to the Gospel) would have endeared Max Muller to missionaries, but in fact it did not. Rather, they found him entirely too sympathetic to the "heathen" and suspected him of being insufficiently committed to the faith. Accordingly, in 1860 he was passed over for Oxford's Boden chair in Sanskrit, which carried responsibility for preparing the Sanskrit-English dictionary, both of which were intended, under the terms of Lt-Col Boden's will, to advance the conversion of Indians to Christianity, not to foster English understanding or respect for India
    • Theorizing Myth: Narrative, Ideology, and Scholarship by Bruce Lincoln, 1999. p. 68.
  • The enthusiasm for Indian culture was widespread. Amaury de Riencourt in his The Soul of India tells us that philosophers like Schelling, Fichte, Hegel, Schopenhauer and Schleiermacher, poets such as Goethe, Schillar, Novalis, Tieck and Brentano, historians like Herder and Schlegel, all acclaimed the discovery of Indian culture with cries of ecstasy: "India, the home of universal religion, the cradle of the noblest human race, of all literature, of all philosophies and metaphysics." And he adds that "this enthusiasm was not confined to Germany. The entire Romantic movement in the West put Indian culture on a lofty pedestal which the preceding Classical Movement had reserved for Greece and Rome."
    • Ram Swarup (2000). On Hinduism: Reviews and reflections. Ch. 4.

References[edit]

  1. Douglas T. McGetchin (2009), Indology, Indomania, and Orientalism: Ancient India's Rebirth in Modern Germany, Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, p.17
  2. "Brand New World: How Paupers, Pirates, and Oligarchs are Reshaping Business", .74, by Max Lenderman
  3. "Slavery", by Richard Oluseyi Asaolu
  4. "The Origins of the Europeans: Classical Observations in Culture and Personality", p. 133 by William S. Shelley
  5. Trautmann, Thomas R. 1997, Aryans and British India. Berkeley: University of California Press., Bryant 2001.
  6. Ludwig Tieck und die Brüder Schlegel, Briefe. Edited by Lüdecke. Frankfurt/M. 1930.
  7. Voltaire, Lettres sur l'origine des sciences et sur celle des peuples de l'Asie (first published Paris, 1777), letter of 15 December 1775.
  8. Keay, John, India Discovered, The Recovery of a Lost Civilization, 1981, HarperCollins, London, ISBN 0-00-712300-0
  9. "Fragments for the history of philosophy", Parerga and Paralipomena, Volume I (1851).
  10. Stefan Arvidsson 2006:38 Aryan Idols.
  11. "India, What Can It Teach Us (1882) Lecture IV"
  12. The Spiritual Heritage of India: A Clear Summary of Indian Philosophy and Religion(1979)
  13. The world needs India: Bush 3 March 2006
  14. Zakaria, Fareed, The Post-American World, 2008 Cahapter VII, pp. 225-226
  15. Israeli President Shimon Peres praises India as greatest 'show of co-existence' (4 December 2012)
  16. "Multicultural America: An Encyclopedia of the Newest Americans, Volume 2", p. 998, by Ronald H. Bayor
  17. Hindi to be taught in Australian schools, October 31, 2012
  18. Indian cyber tutors teach UK classes
  19. Pakistani daily praises India's Mars mission, admits defeat in Asian tiger race 7 November 2013
  20. China media: India's Mars mission, 6 November 2013
  21. "India 'most improved' country: Poll". The Times of India. 
  22. "Why India should rethink its Bangladesh policy". Dhakatribune.com. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  23. http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/07/14/chapter-4-how-asians-view-each-other/. Retrieved 2015-05-31.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

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