- Indology has long been the battering ram of Western imperialism to weaken Hinduism by portraying its philosophy as mystical and exotic, thereby helping Christian missionaries convert the “dark heathens” to the “one and only true faith” – theirs.
- Western Indologists worked as a cabal to delegitimize the Brahmins’ intellectual authority by portraying them (the Brahmins) as fraudsters and uninformed of their own texts, thereby positioning themselves as the rightful interpreters of Hindu texts.
- Western Indology played a critical role in shoring up the idea of race and legitimizing racial conquest as a historical and natural fact, thus giving intellectual cover to fiends like Hitler and the Nazi movement.
- Bagchee and Adluri’s ‘The Nay Science’ unmasks Western Indology as a dismal failure and Indologists as parasitic, surviving on a few developments in Western thought – developments they neither authored nor understood.
We British Europeans are Aryans and far more pure and genuine Aryans than the Hindus! And no talk of the Hindus can alter our race or make us any less or any different from what we are. It is the Hindus who have altered and deteriorated, and not we! The Hindu has become the coffee dregs, while we have remained the cream of the Aryan race. The Hindus are like the monkeys who pretended to treat some men with contempt because they had bare white skins without any fur! The Hindu has become a sooty, dingy-colored earthen pot, by rubbing against black aborigines rather too freely; and he consequently pretends to despise the white porcelain bowl! – ACL Carlleyle, Archaeological Survey of India, 1860s
“The worship of Shiva or Vishnu and the other popular deities is of the same, nay, in many cases of a more degraded and savage character than the worship of Jupiter, Apollo, and Minerva; it belongs to a stratum of thought which is long buried beneath our feet, it may live on like the lion and the tiger but the mere air of free thought and civilized life will extinguish it.” – Max Muller, German Indologist
“When the walls of the mighty fortress of Brahmanism are encircled, undermined and finally stormed by the soldiers of the cross, the victory of Christianity must be signal and complete.” – Monier Williams, British Indologist
The above quotes on India don’t merely illustrate the racist mindset of European scholars – they are definitive indictments of Western ideology. An Indologist is a professional who studies the history, cultures, languages, and literature of the Indian subcontinent. By definition, anyone who studies or teaches any subject is assumed to have a passion – if not love or reverence – for the subject. However, Western Indology is unique in that its practitioners are motivated by the desire to denigrate and destroy the very people they study.
Indology is the goof of all time – study Indian texts but without empathy; dissect but misinterpret; explore but mock. Their Indologists’ motive is undeniably ulterior, but the success of their approach can be seen in a myriad of ways – the history they distorted is still taught in Indian schools; their brown leftist successors continue their stranglehold over Indian academia; anti-Hindu movements like Dravidianism created by Indologists remain entrenched; and many Indians suffer from deep inferiority due to centuries of indoctrination that their culture, religion, traditions and skin color are inferior.
Indology has long been a subject of both fascination and controversy. While it has undoubtedly contributed to the popularization of India’s heritage, there are numerous instances where interpretations and portrayals by Indologists have generated misunderstandings and misconceptions that have cast a shadow on India and Hinduism.
The motives and biases of Western Indologists have been exposed by several authors and experts on the subject. These include Sita Ram Goel, Koenraad Elst, Rajiv Malhotra and Srikant Talageri. Complementing their pioneering work is the spectacular takedown of Indology – especially the German school of Indology that emerged in the 19th century – by Vishwa Adluri and Joydeep Bagchee in their book ‘The Nay Science: A History of German Indology.’
At the outset, it needs to be clarified that most Westerners who study pre-Christian cultures are equal opportunity haters. That is, if they hate Vishnu, Shiva, and Durga, they don’t exactly love Zeus, Poseidon and Athena. They dismiss all Judaeo-Christian beliefs as feverish imaginations of the pagan mind. There is no place for Greek, Roman, Norse, Celtic, or Saxon God on the same totem pole as – the equally mythical – Jesus or Yahweh.
But here’s the difference. While they outright dismiss ancient Hindu religion and history as imaginary, they at least have an archeological interest in Greek and Roman antiquity. Take the Indus Valley Civilization. This massive population agglomeration died out around 4,000 years ago, but it must have existed at least as many years if not more. In fact, in the 1990s, Indian archaeologists discovered the 9,500-year-old city of Dwarka. Back then, it was 5,000 years older than any city discovered by archaeologists anywhere. A few years later, archaeologists discovered Poompuhar off India’s southern coast, and this city was carbon-dated to be 15,000 years old.
Now compare the tepid response in the West to these groundbreaking discoveries – that pushed back human civilization by tens of thousands of years – to the dogged search for the ancient city of Troy to prove that the Greek epic ‘Iliad’ (with all its supernatural events) was a true story. The treasures found at the site in Turkey were showcased as the jewelry of Helen of Troy and created huge excitement across Europe. In contrast, Indologists love to describe the Ramayana and Mahabharata as fables, with the latter epic being merely a clash of two Rig Vedic tribes.
It is in this context that Adluri and Bagchee chastise Indology as a dystopian field where the practitioners are convinced that Indians are primitive and incapable of articulate speech and, therefore, must be taught what they “really” mean in their texts and discourse. “Indology is the last field where racial prejudices can be lived,” they say.
Motivation for Misinterpretation
European Indologists believe they are doing the unfinished work of their mythical ancestors – the so-called Aryans. In their worldview, blond, blue-eyed Aryans from a mysterious location in Europe (where else?) brought their ancient wisdom (such as Sanskrit, the Vedas, and Bhagavad Gita) to India. While the ancient Aryans, as the archaeologist Carlellye argues, failed in their mission to civilize India because they mixed with the dark-skinned aborigines of the subcontinent, it is now up to modern Westerners to teach Indians the truth. This view is best illustrated by the racist German Indologist Eli Franco, who says that “premodern India was not in possession of its history,” implying Indians ought to be grateful to Indologists for providing them with a history.
Secondly, there is the missionary agenda. Many early Indologists were either Christian missionaries or strong believers who participated directly in missionary activity and saw their work as contributing to Christianity’s triumph. “In this backdrop, the purpose of uncovering and translating Hindu scriptures was to provide foundations for evangelism,” says Adluri. This comes with a sub-agenda – falsify Indian history so that it could be claimed that it all started after the world’s creation according to the childish Christian cosmology, which puts creation at 4000 BCE or 6,000 years ago. So they fixed the date of the Rig Veda – humanity’s oldest book – as 1,200 BCE. Again, the Mahabharata is said to have been composed between 400 BCE and 400 CE.
Thirdly, Indologists had a particular aversion for Brahmins, who were – and still are to a large extent – the custodians of the Hindu religious texts. Brahmins also formed the bulk of the priestly class who inspired Indians to fight foreign invaders – from Alexander in 326 BCE to the Muslims for a thousand years from the seventh century CE down to the modern era against the European Christians. “There has been a sustained attack on Hinduism as a Brahmanic system of thought. Indologists benefited personally as traditional teaching was eliminated,” says Adluri.
To emphasize, the German interest in India wasn’t because of any love for the country. “When Sanskrit was discovered, and it dawned on the Germans that the antiquity of Sanskrit was very great and that Sanskrit and German were somehow related, the Germans suddenly had an answer to the question of their own ethnic and linguistic origins,” says author and historian Kosla Vepa.
“From the beginning, the great interest that Germany showed in Sanskrit had more to do with their own obsessions and questions regarding their ethnic and linguistic origins. It had very little or at least far less to do with the origin of the ancient Indic, about whom they had considerably less interest.”
So widespread was the magnitude of the German immersion in Vedic studies that, when in 1871, the various German states finally consolidated into the German Empire, Henry Maine, a member of the Viceroy of India’s council, declared, perhaps with a tinge of envy, “A nation has been born out of Sanskrit.“
Selective Interpretations of Texts
Interpreting ancient texts is challenging and requires a deep understanding of the cultural and linguistic context. However, there are numerous instances where Indologists have cherry-picked passages or taken texts out of context, leading to misinterpretations of Hindu scriptures. This selective approach has perpetuated stereotypes and reinforced misconceptions about Hinduism.
Adluri’s main arguments revolve around the idea that German Indology, particularly as practiced by scholars like Max Mueller and others, has misinterpreted and distorted the true nature of Indian philosophy and culture. He contends that these scholars approached Indian texts from a Eurocentric perspective, imposing Western frameworks, biases, and preconceptions onto the interpretation of Indian texts, which led to a skewed understanding of their meanings.
Adluri criticizes German Indology for promoting a “hermeneutics of suspicion” – the view that the received narrative cannot be accepted at face value. This involves reading Indian texts as if they were hiding esoteric, allegorical, or hidden meanings that could be decoded only through the lens of Western philosophical categories. He argues that this approach not only misrepresents the original authors’ intentions but also reinforces a sense of cultural superiority on the part of Western scholars.
The authors point out that it was German orientalist and Indologist Christian Lassen who decisively shaped all Western scholarship about India. Every idea in Western scholarship can be traced to his article on the Mahabharata in 1837.
“Lassen’s central tenet in these reconstructions was that there had been two races in ancient India: the light-skinned Aryans invading from the north and the dark-skinned Dravidians native to the land. Early on, the two groups fought for control of the subcontinent; in this conflict, the Aryans, being physically and militarily superior to the Dravidians, were able to subjugate the latter. Those who did not flee into remote mountain areas (where they endured as the Adivasis or tribals) were reduced to forming the lower castes of Indian society.
This view was acceptable to Westerners because it concurred with their prejudice against Hinduism. “Lassen’s interpretation reified the concept of race and legitimized racial conquest as historical and natural fact…. By claiming Brahmans duped Indians and did not know their texts, he deprived them of intellectual authority. Henceforth, what a practicing Hindu said had less value than what the historically and critically trained scholar had to tell him.”
Furthermore, German Indologists tended to highlight the differences between Indian and Western thought, often portraying Indian philosophy as mystical, irrational, or exotic. This approach ignores the rational and systematic aspects of Indian thought and perpetuates stereotypes that hinder genuine cross-cultural understanding.
The Nay Science’s critique of German Indology centers around the idea that this approach has distorted the interpretation of Indian texts by imposing Western categories and biases onto them. It advocates for a more culturally sensitive and contextually grounded approach to understanding Indian philosophy and culture, which considers the original authors’ intentions and worldviews.
How Indology Helps the West
Indology is – and has long been – helpful for Christian missionaries, who are, in reality, the battering ram of Western imperialism. A nation weakened by Christianity is more easily defeated because the converts become fifth columnists.
During the colonial period, the Aryan Invasion Theory served politically to suggest a common ancestry and dignity among the colonized Indians and their British rulers. Social reformer Keshab Chunder Sen saw the English rule in India as a “reunion of parted cousins.” Sen was also vocal about the benefits of British rule in India. In a lecture in London on April 12, 1870, he maintained that “the lord in his mercy sent out the British nation to rescue India.” On another occasion, he said, “It is Christ who rules British India…None but Jesus ever deserved this bright, this precious diadem, India, and Jesus shall have it”.
In a nutshell, Indology helped fuel discord among various established ethno-racial groups in India. “The oppressed classes vented their frustration towards upper-caste Hindus and fully accepted AIT,” writes Subrata Banerjee of Germany’s Aachen University. “A large section of upper-caste Hindus also accepted it and embraced the newfound brotherhood with their colonial rulers. This policy worked well even later when, during the upper caste-led freedom movement in India in 1935, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill mentioned that ‘the British had as much right to be in India as anyone else there, except perhaps the Depressed Classes, who are the native stock.'”
Given the importance of the invasion theory as a tool, George Nathaniel Curzon, the Viceroy of India (1899-1905), had famously remarked, “The Aryan Invasion Theory is the furniture of the Empire.”
This dynamic hasn’t changed a century later. If converted Christians and Indian Marxists are willing to work for the West, why would the Western elites surrender that card? Although India and the West are now allies in the geopolitical sweepstakes, the West hasn’t relinquished its claims on ancient India’s achievements.
Also, remember that the West has completely appropriated (translation = stole) the Roman and Greek civilizations. Today, the Christians who destroyed these two shining stars of the ancient world ironically claim the legacy of Pericles, Plato, and Marcus Aurelius. Similarly, the German and British scholars who studied ancient Indian texts were awestruck by the depth and wisdom in these books, which made their own philosophy seem infantile and puerile. They salivated at such concepts as Arya (noble) and Aryavarta (land of the noble Hindus), and just like the Christian administrators looted India’s wealth, they claimed ancient Indian knowledge as their own, saying it could only have been developed in Europe.
Future of Indology
Hinduism is a complex and diverse religious tradition with a wide range of beliefs, practices, and interpretations. However, the Indologists have essentialized Hinduism, simplifying it into a monolithic entity. This oversimplification fails to capture the richness and dynamic nature of the religion, perpetuating misconceptions about its true nature.
This is why Adluri and Bagchee describe Indology as a dismal field stuck in a dead end. “The Indologists never rose above obscurity, even at the German university. They were parasitic on a few developments in Western thought – developments they neither authored nor understood. They presented themselves to Indians as the face of Western rationality, but Western thought is so much more: it is Foucault and Nietzsche; it is Plato, Kant, Arendt, and Schurmann. It would be a shame if Indians turned away from this richness. The only reason for critiquing the Indologists was that they stood in the way of philosophical thinking.”
The authors sum up their book: “In the case of Indology, the institutional and hegemonic aspects have so dominated the disciplinary aspects that we can no longer ask the most elementary questions of science: for whom and for what good? Since this science no longer has a positive motivation, such as the reappropriation of tradition or the upholding of ethical values, its effects are negative and nugatory. In Carne-Ross’s memorable words, ‘if the humanities failed to humanize us,’ it is “because we deprived them of their humanity by alternately aestheticizing them and handing them over to scholarship.” In this sense, German Indology is truly worthy of the epithet “the nay science.”
The idea that, ticked off by the Indologists, Indians will turn away from Western thought is not outlandish at all. With the country experiencing a national revival for the first time since the end of European rule, it is discarding a lot of colonial detritus. Western ideas and thoughts could easily end up in India’s dustbin.
Since Indology as a field has failed, its scholars must start again by presenting a more balanced and nuanced view of India and Hinduism. Moving forward, fostering a respectful dialogue between scholars from diverse backgrounds and engaging with indigenous perspectives can contribute to a more accurate and holistic understanding of India’s intricate tapestry of cultures and beliefs.
The Nay Science has truly shaken the pedestal of Indology, and Adluri and Bagchee are now preparing to strike at its very foundation. “This is the final task: to show that the history of India that Indologists provided is a racial history: a story about how civilizing white Aryans invaded India and brought culture to the Aborigines. Once we show this in our next book, all three pillars of Indology — science, philology, and history — will fall.
- Lecture on Missions, London, 1873
- Monier Williams, Modern India and Indians, page 247
- Kosla Vepa, The Pernicious Effects of the Misinterpreted Greek Synchronism in Ancient Indian History
- The Nay Science, Chapter 3, page 298
- Christian Lassen, ‘Beitrage zur Kunde des Altindischen Alterthums aus dem Mahabharata.’ (Contributions to the Knowledge of Ancient Indian Antiquity from the Mahabharata)
- The Nay Science, Chapter 1, page 41-42
- A Global History of Christians: How Everyday Believers Experienced Their World, page 323
- Subrata Banerjee, The Acceptance and Proliferation of the Aryan Invasion Theory in India, https://publications.rwth-aachen.de/record/722781/files/722781.pdf
- Subrata Banerjee, The Acceptance and Proliferation of the Aryan Invasion Theory in India, https://publications.rwth-aachen.de/record/722781/files/722781.pdf
- The Nay Science, page 445