The India They Saw (Vol-4)
In the wake of the commercial and political expansion of Europe in the eighteenth century, there was a remarkable increase in the number of Europeans visiting India, not merely for trade but also in search of her fabled ancient wisdom. The European rediscovery of India’s cultural heritage led to the emergence of Orientalist scholarship and a belief that India was the original home of the arts and sciences.
In India the great patron of Indie studies was the Governor-General, Warren Hastings. He gathered around himself a select group that included Charles Wilkins, Nathaniel Halhed, and William Jones, the most famous of the Orientalists.
But the growing political ascendancy of the British in India dampened the early exuberance for Indie studies. As conquerors, the British began to feel the need to justify their conquests and exalt their own race and religion. Several other forces were at work to turn the tide against India. The Industrial Revolution in England had created the need to convert India into a market for machine-made British goods. Meanwhile, the Evangelicals pressed for the Christianization and Anglicization of India, which, they felt, would lead to permanent British rule and also change Indian lifestyle to the advantage of British manufacturers. The Evangelicals allied with the Utilitarians to launch a tirade against Indian culture and force the retreat of the Orientalists.
This volume covers the period from A.D. 1700 to 1850. A significant number of travellers visited India during this century and a half. The accounts available to us are primarily those written in English. A considerable amount of the work in French and the rich accounts of the early Danish missionaries on the Coromandel Coast, for instance, have yet to be translated into English.